December 08/14

Bible Quotation For Today/Righteous Christians Conduct
Colossians 03/"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. nd over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 07-08/14
Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi ,Spiritual Head of Muslim Brotherhood Wanted by Interpol/Clarion Project/December 07/14
Lebanon’s political paralysis cannot weather Arab storms/Eyad Abu Shakra /Al Arabiya/December 07/14
What is hiding behind Islamic State/Nadim Shehadi/Chatham House/December 07/14

Netanyahu’s epic understandings with Egyptian, Saudi and UAE rulers – a potential campaign weapon/
DEBKAfile/December 07/14
Ten Ways the Mafia and Islam Are Similar/Raymond Ibrahim/December 09/14
The Doha GCC Summit: A turning point in Gulf ties/Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya/ December 07/14
'Palestine' Europe's only problem?/Noah Klieger/Ynetnews/December 07-08/14

Lebanese Related News published on  December 07-08/14
Negotiations on Arsal Captives 'Very Difficult' as Muslim Scholars Proposal Being Considered
Russia backs Future-Hezbollah talks
Siniora proposes Arab task force to tackle regional problems
East Lebanon dairy farmers protest milk price crash
Bogdanov visits Nasrallah before departing Lebanon
Hezbollah slams captive's execution, Army ambush
Israel installs new spy devices in occupied Shebaa
Salam Heads to Paris Wednesday for Talks with Hollande
Qaouq Welcomes Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Dialogue, Says it Averts Strife
LebanonSyrian Refugee Tents Set on Fire in Akkar as Others Come under Gunfire in Bekaa
Hujeiri: Arsal Not Surrounded by Gunmen

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on  December 07-08/14
Israel launches airstrikes near Damascus: Syria TV
Syria army repels ISIS advance on air base: monitor
Interpol issues arrest warrants for more than 40 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures
Iran must back up words with action: Saudi minister
Saudi Arabia arrests 135 ‘terrorists’
U.S. drone strike in Pakistan kills four, including al-Qaeda suspect
ISIS support grows in Jordan town
Iran must back up words with action: Saudi minister
Gunmen open fire on refugee camp in Lebanon, 2 wounded
Britain to boost military presence in Persian Gulf
Pope Francis says 'Christians are being driven from Mideast'
Iran said to reject claims of concessions for talks extension
USA Vice President Joe Biden: 'We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon'
Haftar to be appointed Libyan military commander-in-chief: minister
Yemeni Houthis receiving heavy weapon shipments via Red Sea ports: sources
Woman, child killed in failed US mission in Yemen
We are keeping ISIS off campus: Salahaddin University president
African migrant boat capsizes off Yemen, 70 dead
Suspects arrested in Jerusalem school attack: police
Syria Foreign Minister to Visit Iran This Week

U.S. Defends Failed Yemen Rescue Operation

Jihad Watch Site Posts For Saturday
Canada arrests 15-year-old Muslim on terrorism charges

Jordan: Despite government efforts, support for Islamic State grows
Jordanian MP: “I hate the Jews. I hate the Jews. I hate the Jews.”
India court: Sharia trumps ban on child marriage
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: Rep. Sherman’s big idea
Germany: Police close mosque for spreading Islamic State ideology
UK Muslims get 12 years for traveling to Syria to join the jihad
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on jihad murderers citing Qur’an and more
UK: Lord Mayor leaves Islamic charity lunch after his lady consort told she had to sit downstairs
Egypt: Ex-Muslim says Islamic State follows Qur’an, Muhammad

Syria: Israeli jets bomb near Damascus airport
By Barak Ravid, Jack Khoury and Reuters/Dec. 7, 2014
State TV says no casualties were caused in strikes on Damascus and town of Dimas, near Lebanon border. Syrian state television said on Sunday that Israeli jets had bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon. It said there were no casualties.  Residents in Damascus said they heard loud explosions. Lebanon's Hezbollah-run al-Manar television said Israeli jets bombed areas near Dimas airport. No Israeli officals have confirmed or denied the report as yet, and it is unclear how reliable it is.

Pope Francis says 'Christians are being driven from Mideast'
Agence France Presse/Dec. 06, 2014/IRBIL, Iraq: Pope Francis said Saturday that Christians are being "driven from the Middle East" in a message to Iraqi Christians forced to flee from Mosul by ISIS jihadists.
"Christians are being driven from the Middle East in suffering," the pontiff said in a video message as French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin visited the Iraqi city of Irbil, where thousands of Christians have taken refuge following the fall of their city in June.

Report: Negotiations on Arsal Captives 'Very Difficult' as Muslim Scholars Proposal Being Considered
Naharnet/The situation regarding the release of the policemen and soldiers kidnapped from the northeastern border town of Arsal is “dangerous” as Lebanon is living “under constant threats,” reported the daily An Nahar on Sunday. Ministerial sources told the daily that negotiations to release the Arsal captives “are very difficult.”They made their remarks after Saturday's extraordinary meeting of the ministerial cell tasked with releasing the captives. The meeting was held in the wake of the Islamists' execution of policeman Ali al-Bazzal on Friday. The gatherers sufficed by issuing a brief statement without divulging their next steps in tackling the case of the remaining detainees. The ministerial sources pointed out however to the initiative launched by the Muslim Scholars Committee aimed at easing tensions.
It called on the state to release detained women and children mentioned by the captors and urged the kidnappers to cease threatening the families of the captives with the execution of their sons. The sources revealed that efforts are underway to possibly implement this initiative. Still under the shock of al-Bazzal's execution, the families of the captives headed on Sunday to his hometown of al-Bazzalieh where they will offer their condolences to his family.
The families stressed that they will not end the sit-in they have been holding in Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square aimed at pressuring the state to exert more efforts to release their loved ones. They explained that ending the sit-in will be interpreted as sign that they have given up on their sons. They urged while receiving condolences at al-Bazzalieh the state to hold direct negotiations with the kidnappers in order to release their loved ones. “Take the bold stand and help bring back our sons,” they said addressing Premier Tammam Salam.
“We must rely on ourselves and only our state can return our sons,” they declared, while blaming the government of failing them. “All self-respecting states carry out negotiations and the state must take a decisive stance to bring back the servicemen,” they added.
“Negotiations should be held as we want our sons to return alive and not be killed one by one,” they stressed. Moreover, they said that the residents of Arsal should not be blamed for the fate of their loved ones. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant threatened on Saturday to execute Lebanese soldiers and policemen in its captivity as the families of abducted servicemen called on the cabinet to resign if it was incapable of ending the kidnapping ordeal. Saturday, the al-Bazzal family called on the state to start executing inmates linked to terrorist groups to ease the tension on the streets after the execution of al-Bazzal by al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra Front said on Friday night that it had killed him to avenge the arrest of Islamic militants' wives and children.
The group did not identify the women and children it said Lebanon was holding, nor did it say how many were missing. Al-Bazzal was one of around 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen abducted by jihadists in August during fighting in Arsal.

Canada arrests 15-year-old Muslim on terrorism charges
Canada teen arrestedHe allegedly robbed a convenience store in order to get enough money to go overseas and join the jihad. “The boy told the officers that he had been living in sin as his country did not practise Sharia law.” What do Canadian authorities, and authorities all over the West, think all this is going to look like in ten or fifteen years? Do they think that the problem will go away if they engage in enough “outreach” and shower enough money on Muslim communities? They are, unfortunately, in for a rude awakening, as the reality inexorably will dawn on them that Muslim leaders they have been relying on to teach their people to be “moderate” have not been doing anything of the kind.

Gunmen open fire on refugee camp in Lebanon, 2 wounded
Reuters, Dubai/Sunday, 7 December 2014 /Lebanese gunmen opened fire on and burned Syrian refugee tents in north Lebanon, wounding two refugees, security sources said on Sunday, two days after a Lebanese soldier was killed by Syrian militants to countrywide outrage.Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, with one in four residents a refugee, many of them living in the poorest areas. Resentment against Syrian refugees has grown amid accusations that the displaced population is hiding militants in tented settlements to stage attacks on the Lebanese army. The security sources said that the gunmen had not been identified but that they were young men from the northern Lebanese town of Mashha in Akkar province, where the attack took place.
Syria's Al-Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front said on Friday it killed a captive Lebanese soldier in retaliation for the arrest by Lebanese authorities of women identified as wives of Islamist militants. The Lebanese soldier was the fourth to be killed by the Syrian fighters.
Families of more than two dozen Lebanese security forces held by Syrian militants blocked roads in Beirut and highways between major cities on Saturday, pressing the government to do more to free them. Spillover from the Syrian conflict has repeatedly jolted neighboring Lebanon, with frequent battles between the army and Sunni Muslim insurgents. Some Lebanese also complain that refugees are taking jobs, driving down wages, overloading schools and hospitals. The government has said it cannot cope with the influx and has asked for funds to help look after them.Around 1.1 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon, according to the United Nations.

Salam Heads to Paris Wednesday for Talks with Hollande
Naharnet /Prime Minister Tammam Salam is scheduled to travel to the French capital Paris next week where he will meet with President Francois Hollande and a number of officials, reported the daily An Nahar on Sunday. It said that the premier will discuss with the French president the three-billion dollar grant to the army and implementing it on the ground “as soon as possible through providing weapons to the army.”The talks will also address France's role in persuading the international community to present development projects to Lebanon as part of efforts to tackle the burden of Syrian refugees. In addition, Salam will address France’s role, as well as that of Iran, in speeding up solutions to electing a new president. “The persistence of the vacuum will subject Lebanon to several dangers that may eventually lead to the collapse of the state,” said the daily. Salam is expected to travel to Paris on Wednesday and return to Lebanon on Saturday. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the elections. In early November, France and Saudi Arabia inked in Riyadh a deal to provide the Lebanese army with $3 billion worth of French weapons, with Riyadh footing the bill. The Lebanese army will be able to purchase French weapons under the deal at the beginning of 2015.

Israel installs new spy devices in occupied Shebaa
Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star/Dec. 07, 2014/SIDON, Lebanon: The Israeli Army upgraded its spy devices Sunday in the occupied Shebaa Farms, deploying air and ground forces to survey the surrounding areas. Around 1:30 p.m., Israeli soldiers fired heavy machine guns towards the area linking the Rweissa al-Alam post to the nearby Saddaneh hills. Israeli jets flew overhead as technicians prepared the equipment around its spy center.

Russia backs Future-Hezbollah talks
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star/Dec. 06, 2014
BEIRUT: A high-ranking Russian official Friday voiced his country’s support for the planned dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, as well as for the Lebanese Army in its battle against terrorism.
The remarks by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov following talks with top Lebanese leaders came as preparations have been intensified to launch a dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement deemed crucial for defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions and facilitating the election of a consensus president.
They also came as the Army was locked in an open-ended battle against militant groups, who executed another Lebanese soldier Friday, in the latest fallout of the Syrian conflict into Lebanese territory.
Bogdanov arrived in Beirut late Thursday on a two-day visit to attend a ceremony marking 70 years since Lebanese-Russian diplomatic relations were established. He met Friday separately with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, former President Michel Sleiman, Hezbollah lawmakers, Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and MP Talal Arslan to discuss bilateral relations and developments in the region.
Speaking at a ceremony at the UNESCO Palace marking the 70th anniversary of Lebanese-Russian relations attended by Bassil, Bogdanov said Russia was committed to supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of its people, and opposed any external intervention in its internal affairs.
He voiced Moscow’s support for an inter-Lebanese dialogue to resolve long-standing political problems. “Russia believes that all national issues should be settled in a legal framework as part of a dialogue among various political forces,” Bogdanov said. He added that Russia also supported the Lebanese Army and security forces in their battle against terrorism which, he said, threatened peoples in the region.
The Russian official said his country was trying to arrange a meeting between the Syrian government and opposition groups without preconditions.
Asked about a reported Russian initiative to form a salvation government in Syria with the participation of the opposition, Bogdanov told reporters after meeting Berri at Ain al-Tineh: “This information is not accurate. We are in contact with the Syrian government and the opposition inside and outside [Syria]. Our mission is to arrange preliminary consultations for serious negotiations without preconditions so that the Syrians can meet together and begin talking on all issues under discussion.”
He added that eventually it is the Syrian people, represented in both the government and the opposition, who have the final say in deciding the fate and future of Syria.
Russia has been the key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the conflict, which is in its fourth year and where the situation on the ground has deteriorated as ISIS has seized large swaths of land.
The last round of talks between Syria and the opposition collapsed in February due to rifts over Assad’s role in any transition out of the conflict. The main Syrian opposition in exile and its Western and Arab backers want Assad to step down.
Asked whether his visit to Lebanon was linked to the 6-month-old presidential deadlock, Bogdanov said after meeting Bassil: “That’s a secret.”
But speaking to reporters after meeting Sleiman, the Kremlin official said: “Russia shows interest in stability in Lebanon, it encourages the completion of the presidential election and appreciates the role of the Lebanese Army and security forces in fighting terrorism.”
Lebanon has been without a president since Sleiman’s six-year term ended on May 25, with Parliament being unable to meet to choose a successor over a lack of quorum as the factions remain divided over a consensus candidate.
Meanwhile, Nader Hariri, chief of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s staff, left for Paris Friday after holding talks with Future Movement officials and Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil about the agenda for the dialogue with Hezbollah.
Khalil is a political aide to Speaker Nabih Berri, who is sponsoring the dialogue between the two rival groups. Berri said Thursday the Future-Hezbollah talks could begin next week.
Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, who met Berri at Ain al-Tineh, sounded hopeful about the outcome of the planned Future-Hezbollah dialogue.
“I can say the country is in general heading toward dialogue,” Abu Faour said after the talks. “Although the discussion is still in a preliminary phase, it is a promising one. I think all political parties are convinced of the need for dialogue and the adoption of the dialogue logic.”
He said Saad Hariri’s recent positive approach and readiness for dialogue with Hezbollah was met halfway by the party and other political groups.
Abu Faour hoped that the Future-Hezbollah dialogue would lead to a comprehensive national compromise over all pending issues: the presidential election, a new electoral law and reducing tensions.
Ahmad Hariri, secretary-general of the Future Movement, said that what his party wanted from the proposed dialogue with Hezbollah was “to close the gates of evil opened by Hezbollah” with its military intervention in Syria.
“We want to discuss [in this dialogue] how to open the gates of good for the Lebanese and revive the genuine national partnership through which we can confront all dangers, on top of which is the danger of terrorism and extremism,” he said, while representing Saad Hariri at a memorial ceremony in the Western Bekaa marking the passing of 40 days since former MP Ahmad Ftouh’s death.

Netanyahu’s epic understandings with Egyptian, Saudi and UAE rulers – a potential campaign weapon
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 6, 2014
The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rulers meet in the Qatari capital of Doha next week amid high suspense across the Arab world. Its agenda is topped by moves to finally unravel the 2010 Arab Spring policy championed by US President Barack Obama, moves that also bear the imprint of extensive cooperation maintained on the quiet between Israel and key Arab rulers.
DEBKAfile reports that the Doha parley is designed to restore Egypt under the rule of President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi to the lead role it occupied before the decline of Hosni Mubarak. Another is to root out the Muslim Brotherhood by inducing their champion, the young Qatari ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to drop his government’s support.
At talks taking place in Riyadh ahead of the summit, Qatari officials appeared ready to discontinue the flow of weapons, funds and intelligence maintained since 2011 to the Brothers and their affiliates across the Arab world (Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Hamas-ruled Gaza), as well shutting down the El Jazeera TV network - or at least stopping the channel’s use as the Brotherhood’s main propaganda platform.
The Doha summit is designed to crown a historic effort led by Saudi King Abdullah, UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and President El-Sisi to undo the effects of the Obama administration’s support for elements dedicated to the removal of conservative Arab rulers, such as the Brotherhood.
They have found a key ally in this drive in Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who took advantage of the chance of an epic breakthrough in relations with the leading bloc of Arab nations, with immediate and far-reaching effect on Israeli security and its standing in the region.
Yet at the same time, Netanyahu has kept this feat under his hat – even while smarting under a vicious assault by his detractors – ex-finance minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Yakov Herzog of Labor - on his personal authority and leadership credibility (“everything is stuck,” “he’s out of touch.”) and obliged to cut short the life of his government for a general election on March 17.
He faces the voter with the secret still in his pocket of having achieved close coordination with the most important Arab leaders - not just on the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian conflict, but also the Palestinian question, which has throughout Israel’s history bedeviled its ties with the Arab world.
When Yair Lapid, whom Netanyahu sacked this week, boasted, “I am talking to the Americans” while accusing the prime minister of messing up ties with Washington, he meant he was talking to the Americans close to Barack Obama, whom Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, hand in hand with Netanyahu, have judged adverse to their regimes.
This Arab-Israeli collaboration encompasses too many areas to keep completely hidden. Its fruits have begun breaking surface in a string of events.
This week, Israel apparently out of the blue, quietly agreed to Egypt deploying 13 army battalions in Sinai (demilitarized under their 1979 peace treaty), including tanks, and flying fighter jets over terrorist targets.
A joint Saudi-Israeli diplomatic operation was instrumental in obstructing a US-Iran deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Another key arena of cooperation is Jerusalem.
Friday, Dec. 5, Jordan announced the appointment of 75 new guards for the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Temple Mount. The director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, said they will begin work in the coming days.
This was the outcome of Jordanian King Abdullah’s talks with the Egyptian president in Cairo Sunday, Nov. 30, in which they agreed that the Muslim Waqf Authority on Temple Mount must change its mode of conduct and replace with new staff the violent elements from Hamas, the Al Tahrir movement and Israeli Arab Islamists, which had taken charge of “security.”.
The Moslem attacks from the Mount on Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below and Israeli police have accordingly ceased in the two weeks since Israel lifted its age restrictions on Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at Al Aqsa. Israel groups advocating the right to Jewish prayer on Temple Mount were discreetly advised to cool their public campaign.
The Palestinian riots plaguing Jerusalem for months have died down, except for isolated instances, since, as DEBKAfile revealed, Saudi and Gulf funds were funneled to pacify the city’s restive Palestinian neighborhoods.
Cairo and the Gulf emirates have used their influence with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to get him to moderate his invective against Israel and its prime minister, and slow his applications for Palestinian membership of international bodies as platforms for campaigning against the Jewish state.
Concerned by the way the mainstream Arab world was marginalizing the Palestinian question, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal chose his moment Friday - ahead of the White House meeting between the Jordanian monarch and President Obama - to try and re-ignite the flames of violence in Jerusalem. He went unheeded.
Netanyahu may or may not opt to brandish Israel’s diplomatic breakthrough to the Arab world as campaign fodder to boost his run for re-election. Whatever he decides, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Arab emirates and Egypt are turning out to have acquired an interest in maintaining him in office as head of the Israeli government, in direct opposition to President Obama’s ambition to unseat him.

Hezbollah slams captive's execution, Army ambush
The Daily Star/Dec. 07, 2014/BEIRUT: The killing of a captive policeman Friday was an attempt by jihadis to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council said Sunday. "The killing of martyred policeman Ali Bazzal is a crime against the nation as a whole and all dignity and all of Lebanese sovereignty, because the blood of the Lebanese military is not cheap," Nabil Qaouk said during a memorial ceremony held in Marjayoun Sunday. He also condemned the militant ambush that killed six soldiers and wounded one in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek on Tuesday. The attack “confirms and exposes the reality of the takfiri project in Lebanon and the region,” he said, explaining that no one in the region is immune to the danger posed by such groups. The prevalence of extremist groups makes it a national priority to equip the Army, he added. The threat also justifies whatever next step the government chooses in its attempt to secure the release of the remaining 25 Lebanese hostages being held by ISIS and the Nusra Front. With regards to long-waited talks between Hezbollah and the Future Movement, Qaouk said that the party’s intention to carry out dialogue stems from its concern for Lebanon’s national interest. Dialogue serves to “cut-off the road to sectarian strife” and would help ease sectarian tensions, he added.

“Canada Charges First Teenager For Terrorism-Related Activity,”
by Sounak Mukhopadhyay, International Business Times, December 5, 2014
A Canadian teenager is facing terrorism-related charges after a robbery at a convenience store. He allegedly robbed the store, so that he could have enough money to fly overseas to join an extremist group. The 15-year-old boy from Montreal is the first teenager in Canada to face charges for attempting to go overseas to take part in terrorist activities. He was arrested in October after he had been involved in the robbery where a West Island dépanneur had been held up with a knife by an assailant. The schoolboy apparently avoided eye contact with his father on Wednesday while the court proceedings were going on to charge him for assisting terrorism. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the teenager was responsible for the robbery with the intention of benefitting a terrorist group. The cash (around $2,200) was allegedly going to be used for overseas terrorist activities. The teenager, the first Canadian to get arrested on terrorism charges, was charged under sections 83.181 and 83.2 of the criminal code. He, on the other hand, is pleading not guilty to the charges. It was his father who contacted police after he had found a bag of cash in the backyard. The teenager was arrested while he was at school. When his computer was searched, it allegedly revealed radical material. The boy told the officers that he had been living in sin as his country did not practise Sharia law. Later, he underwent a psychiatric evaluation….

What is hiding behind Islamic State?
December 2014, Volume 70, Number 6
Nadim Shehadi/Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme
Chatham House
In early 18th-century Aleppo there was a schism in the Greek Orthodox Church, and a new sect emerged called the Melkite Church, in communion with Rome. The Melkites, also called Greek Catholics, needed their own church, but it was illegal to build a new church in the lands of the Ottoman Empire; however, if a Christian church already existed, it was protected and it was forbidden to tear it down.
To build their church, the Melkites resorted to a trick that is practised to this day and that may help explain the complex phenomenon that we call Islamic State. The illegal new church was built in hiding, inside a hangar or a large barn, away from the eyes of the law and of rival sects. After a while the Melkites were betrayed and the barn had to be torn down, revealing a fully built church. Once it was out in the open, the church acquired legitimacy and permanency.
This practice is still followed in some slums and refugee camps where only temporary structures with tin or corrugated iron roofs are allowed. To get round this law, homes with solid roofs are built underneath the canopy of a temporary roof; after a while, the tin roof is removed. Once these solid homes are in the open, they are subject to different laws and are de facto recognized.
Islamic State is in fact such a barn or tin roof under which are hiding a complex set of forces; they would be illegal if they tried to consolidate their power over a territory but they will have to be recognized once the roof is removed.
One element is the General Military Council for Iraqi Revolutionaries, former Ba’ath Party officers from Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army with over thirty years of experience ruling the land. Many have been in hiding or in exile, given sanctuary and support by the Syrian regime.
Another important element is the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, a Sufi order which is powerful in the region and with connections that are not well understood. They include senior members of the AK party of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Muslim clergy in Syria and Lebanon.
The third element are Sunni tribes in the western provinces of Iraq who are disaffected with the policies of Shia hegemony of the former prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, and bitter at being abandoned by the Americans with whom they collaborated to get rid of Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the ‘Surge’ in 2007-08. Some of the reported massacres in western Iraq, brutal as they are, may have more to do with Ba’ath-style re-establishment of control in these provinces than with what we think of as the jihadism of Islamic State.
These disaffected Sunnis are the real forces hiding inside the barn. They have local support and connections that may explain the speed with which they took over territory; they may be led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, second in command in Saddam’s regime and the King of Spades in the US’s deck of cards. He is described as the hidden sheikh of the Naqshbandi order.
The fourth element – the one everyone can see – is composed of the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq most of whom have been released or escaped from Syrian and Iraqi jails. These had played an important role in destabilizing Iraq in 2006/7, a role facilitated by the Syrian regime.
This element, joined by foreign fighters, is the barn inside which the rest of that toxic mixture of disaffected groups is hidden. The purported Salafi Islamist creed of Islamic State is incompatible with the other elements within it: the secular nationalism of the Ba’athists is anathema to the so-called caliphate proclaimed by Islamic State; Sufis such as the Naqshbandis are considered heretics and apostates; and tribal leaders are always wary of losing followers to cults.
Islamic State has been described as a virtual entity, its visibility a product of a sophisticated media strategy designed to make it seem like the fount of all evil. This propaganda campaign created the barn and at the same time created the urge to destroy it.
There is much confusion about Islamic State in international policy circles and better understanding of the phenomenon is crucial. All the opposing forces in the region have suddenly found themselves on the same side against Islamic State. In this new alignment, some voices are calling for western re-engagement with the Assad regime in Syria and a shift away from America’s traditional allies among the Gulf states in favour of Iran. The US Vice-President Joe Biden expressed this confusion publicly when he said that US allies were part of the problem.
If some of the forces incorporated in Islamic State represent legitimate elements of Sunni grievance, then focusing on the ‘caliphate’ as the ultimate enemy is diverting attention from two important causes of Sunni radicalization: one is the revolt in Syria, where the regime is now free to barrel bomb its cities and the rebels feel abandoned by the West. The second is the Iranian-sponsored militias such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and many more in Iraq which are now tacitly accepted by the US as part of the fight against Islamic State and have a free hand in their offensives against the Sunni population.
These militias in Iraq, clones of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, have undermined the US-trained Iraqi army. With the army now barely operational, these militias are at the forefront of the fight against Islamic State. Like an arsonist posing as a firefighter, Iran and Syria are now proposing themselves as part of the solution to a problem they helped to create.
The Americans are not blameless. The increase in radical elements in Iraq is also to a large extent a consequence of three decisions taken by the Americans after the invasion of Iraq: The disbanding of the Iraqi army which left its officers outside the system; the crippling of state institutions through the wholesale de-Ba’athification process; and the timing and manner of US withdrawal, which left a vacuum to be filled by Iran.
The moral of the story is that fighting Islamic State in alliance with Iran and Assad is futile: it will increase grievances and exacerbate the problem. What is required is to address these grievances by protecting the Syrian population from the regime and curbing the power of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq and the rest of the region.
The US, instead of defusing Sunni-Shia tension, is sending an inflammatory message: that it is ready to work with Assad and Iran to fight Islamic State and, while engaging with Iran on the nuclear issue, it will disregard Tehran’s power plays in the region.
Engagement should be with the real forces which operate under the cover of Islamic State; these include some unpalatable elements but evidence suggests that they have gained ground for a reason, and if that reason is not addressed they will gain even more.

Iran said to reject claims of concessions for talks extension
BY LAZAR BERMAN/ December 7, 2014/The Times Of Israel
An Iranian official denied reports that Tehran made significant concessions in exchange for extending talks on its nuclear program. “The conditions for extending the nuclear negotiations to July 1, 2015 were like the conditions reining the extension of the previous deadlines and no new undertaking has been added to it,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Kamalvandi was responding to an AP report that Iran promised to allow snap inspections of its facilities and to neutralize much of its remaining uranium stockpile. Those terms are included in a document that US officials say represents the terms for a seven-month extension in nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran, agreed to when the last deadline of November 24 passed without an accord. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press. Fars also reported than a source close to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team rejected claims that Iran had put a freeze on testing new centrifuge machines.
“This is not true at all and the trend of R&D on enrichment is moving along its natural track at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran,” said the source.
The authenticity of the document outlining the agreement was confirmed by three US officials and congressional aides familiar with closed-doors discussions in recent days that have included top US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, formerly Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. The officials have been presenting the Iranian concessions to lawmakers in the hopes of convincing them to support the extension and hold off on new economic sanctions that could derail the diplomatic effort.
There is no proof Tehran has agreed to or will follow through on the steps outlined, and negotiators representing world powers and Iran offered few specifics on their progress when they agreed to extend negotiations until July. No signed agreement emerged from that understanding, but administration officials say Iran accepted important limits on its nuclear program in the discussions last month. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the sensitive negotiations and insisted on anonymity.
The US says Iran will further limit its development of new technology for enriching uranium that could be used for energy generation, as Tehran says is its objective, or for use in a nuclear warhead, which Washington and its international partners fear may be Iran’s ultimate intent. It also seems to patch up what critics of last year’s interim nuclear agreement described as loopholes on Iran’s research and development of advanced centrifuges. For one centrifuge model Iran has been working on, the US says Tehran won’t be able to pursue the industrial-scale operation needed for any “breakout” effort toward producing enough material for a nuclear weapon. For other models in the pipeline, Iran won’t be permitted to feed the centrifuges with uranium gas or begin testing on a cascade level, which are needed steps in their development. Iran also has reportedly agreed to turn 35 kilograms of higher-enriched uranium oxide stocks into fuel, making it unusable in the event Iran tries to secretly reach nuclear weapons capacity. That amounts for almost half of Iran’s remaining stockpile of material that could in theory be converted into a form that is close to weapons-grade uranium.
In addition, the administration says Iran will grant international inspectors expanded access to its centrifuge production facilities, allowing the UN nuclear agency to double the amount of visits it makes to sites and to undertake unannounced or “snap” inspections. The monitoring aims to deter Iran from producing centrifuges for any covert facility. Lastly, Iran will refrain from any other forms of enrichment, including through the use of laser technology. Last year’s agreement halted Iran’s progress on its gas centrifuge program, but US officials feared the Iranians could experiment with other technology designed to do the same thing. Iran has attempted laser enrichment in the past, the US believes, but now has committed to refrain from exploring it any further.
It’s unclear how Congress is receiving the message.
Many lawmakers are decrying the stalemate in negotiations and what they perceive as wide concessions by the US and its partners for few steps by Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Several Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are threatening new sanctions designed to pressure Iran into caving in the nuclear talks. The House voted overwhelmingly for new sanctions 17 months ago. However, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any new sanctions legislation while American diplomats continue their push for an accord that would set multi-year limits on Iran’s nuclear progress in exchange for an easing of the international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Senate hawks are still trying to build a veto-proof majority of 67 votes with Republicans set to assume the majority next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi ,Spiritual Head of Muslim Brotherhood Wanted by Interpol
Clarion Project
Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi is charged with incitement and assistance to commit murder, helping the prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft.
Sun, December 7, 2014
A “red alert” has been issued by Interpol, the international police agency, for the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The alert was sent out at the request of the Egyptian judiciary who has brought charges against the 88-year old imam for “agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping the prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft.”
Interpol said it is planning to issue red alerts to its 190 member states for 41 other Muslim Brotherhood associates.
Chief of the Egyptian Police Interpol Gamal Abdel Bary said that issuing arrest warrants for Brotherhood fugitives is an “important change in the international community’s view of the banned group members.”
In mid-November, the United Arab Emirates joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in banning the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. The UAE banned 81 other organizations as terror groups as well, including many Brotherhood affiliates, including the American-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS).
Senior UAE officials stated that CAIR, MAS and other Muslim groups in the West that are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood promote extremism and incite and finance terrorism.
The charges against Qaradawi, who is currently chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, stem from his alleged involvement in a mass jail break that occurred during the 2011 Egyptian uprising against then President Hosni Mubarak. An Egyptian court held the Muslim Brotherhood — as well as Hamas and Hezbollah, two foreign terrorist organizations — responsible for the escape of thousands of prisoners who an Egyptian judge called “a danger to society.”
A total of 11,000 inmates escaped during a well-planned operation that saw prison walls demolished with enormous earth-moving vehicles, followed by trucks and SUVs moving in with mounted machine guns.
Former Islamist president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi was freed in the attack as well as many other Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Egypt accused Hamas fighters of participating in the attack, saying that the militants crossed into Egyptian territory from Gaza a number of days before the attack to join forces with local militias which were also involved. Hezbollah fighters were said to have crossed into Egypt the day before the attack.
One month after Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian people and the military, Qaradawi posted a video where he called on all the Muslims of the world to come to Egypt and wage jihad with their lives in order to return the Muslim Brotherhood to power.
Qaradawi called on anyone and everyone — businessmen, journalists from all around the world, specifically mentioning Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Senegal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan – to become shuhada, “martyrs” who sacrifice their lives for the cause of jihad.
Qaradawi, who was born in Egypt, was stripped of his citizenship by former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. He was arrested four times in Egypt, once in 1949, under the rule of King Farouk, and three times during Nasser’s presidency. In the early 1960s, he fled to Qatar, where he eventually became a citizen. From Qatar, he broadcasts a popular TV program on the Al Jazeera network, “Shariah and Life,” which garners 60 million viewers worldwide.
He is banned from entering both the U.S. and the U.K due to his extremism, including issuing fatwas supporting suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and supporting the killing of Jewish fetuses, calling on Muslims to perpetrate a second holocaust against Jews and expressing of his desire to kill Jews personally.
Qaradawi returned to Egypt after the ouster of Mubarak, making a triumphant appearance in Egypt in Tahrir Square , where he led Friday prayers on February 18, 2011 during the assent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qaradawi founded the website IslamOnline and currently serves as its leading religious scholar.
The following video is a compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist rhetoric: Click Here

Ten Ways the Mafia and Islam Are Similar
By Raymond Ibrahim
December 7, 2014
Note: The following article was published on PJ Media and supplemented with clips from various mafia-related movies like The Godfather to help demonstrate the ten similarities. Portions of this article were earlier serialized on FrontPage Magazine.
During a debate on HBO’s Real Time last October, host Bill Maher declared that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f*ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”
Maher was apparently referring to Islam’s “blasphemy” laws, which ban on pain of death any “insult”—as found in a statement, a picture, a book—to Islam and especially its prophet, Muhammad.
While Maher has been criticized for his “Islamophobic” assertion, he and others may be surprised to learn that the similarities between Islam and the mafia far exceed punishing those who say, draw, or write “the wrong thing.”
In what follows, we will examine a number of these similarities.
We will begin by looking at the relationship between Allah, his messenger Muhammad, and the Muslims, and note several parallels with the relationship between the godfather, his underboss, and the mafia.
Next, we will examine the clannish nature of the mafia and compare it to Islam’s tribalism, especially in the context of the Islamic doctrine “Loyalty and Enmity.” For example, in both Islam and the mafia, members who wish to break away, to “apostatize,” are killed.
We will consider how the mafia and Islam have both historically profited from the “protection” racket: Islam has demanded jizya from non-Muslims under its authority/territory and the mafia has demanded pizzo from people that fall under its jurisdiction.
Finally, we will consider what accounts for these many similarities between Islam and the mafia, including from an historical perspective.
1 - Allah and Muhammad/Godfather and Underboss
The padrino of larger mafia organizations and families—literally, the “godfather” or “boss of bosses”—has absolute control over his subordinates and is often greatly feared by them for his ruthlessness. He has an “underboss,” a right-hand man who issues his orders and enforces his will. The godfather himself is often inaccessible; mafia members need to go through the underboss or other high ranking associates.
Compare this with the relationship between Allah and his “messenger” Muhammad (in Arabic, Muhammad is most commonly referred to as al-rasul, “the messenger”). Unlike the Judeo-Christian God—a personal God, a Father, that according to Christ is to be communed with directly (Matt 6:9)—Islam’s god, Allah, is unreachable, unknowable, untouchable. Like the godfather, he is inaccessible. His orders are revealed by his messenger, Muhammad.
If the Judeo-Christian God calls on the faithful to “come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), Allah says “Do not ask questions about things that, if made known to you, would only pain you” (Koran 5:101). Just follow orders.
2 - A “Piece of the Action”
The godfather and his underboss always get a “piece of the action”—a “cut”—of all spoils acquired by their subordinates.
So do Allah and his messenger, Muhammad. Koran 8:41 informs Muslims that “one-fifth of all war-booty you acquire goes to Allah and the messenger” (followed by Muhammad’s family and finally the needy).
3 - Assassinations
The godfather, through his underboss, regularly sends mafia men to make “hits”—to assassinate—those deemed enemies of the family.
So did Allah and his messenger. One example: A non-Muslim poet, Ka‘b ibn Ashraf, insulted Muhammad, prompting the latter to exclaim, “Who will kill this man who has hurt Allah and his messenger?” A young Muslim named Ibn Maslama volunteered on condition that to get close enough to assassinate Ka‘b he be allowed to lie to the poet.
Allah’s messenger agreed. Ibn Maslama traveled to Ka‘b and began to denigrate Islam and Muhammad until his disaffection became so convincing that the poet took him into his confidence. Soon thereafter, Ibn Maslama appeared with another Muslim and, while Ka‘b’s guard was down, slaughtered the poet, bringing his head to Muhammad to the usual triumphant cries of “Allahu Akbar!”
4 - Circumstance is Everything
While the mafia adheres to a general code of conduct, the godfather issues more fluid orders according to circumstances.
This is reminiscent of the entire “revelation” of the Koran, where later verses/commands contradict earlier verses/commands, depending on circumstances (known in Islamic jurisprudence as al-nāsikh wal-mansūkh, or the doctrine of abrogation).
Thus, whereas Allah supposedly told the prophet that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Koran 2:256), once the messenger grew strong enough, Allah issued new revelations calling for all-out war/jihad till Islam became supreme (Koran 8:39, 9:5, 9:29, etc.).
While other religions and scriptures may have contradictions, only Islam rationalizes them through abrogation—that is, by giving prominence to later verses which are seen as the “latest” decision of the deity.
5 - Clan Loyalty
Loyalty is fundamental in the mafia. Following elaborate rituals of blood oaths, mafia members are expected to maintain absolute loyalty to the family, on pain of death.
Similarly, mafia members are expected always to be available for the family—“even if your wife is about to give birth,” as one of the mafia’s “ten commandments” puts it—and to defend the godfather and his honor, even if it costs their lives.
Compare this to the widespread violence and upheavals that occur whenever Allah or his prophet is offended—whenever non-Muslim “infidels” blaspheme them. Or, as Bill Maher put it: “Its’ the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f*ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”
Islam’s “Loyalty and Enmity” doctrine (al-wala’ wa’l bara’)—which calls on Muslims to be loyal to one another even if they dislike each other—is especially illustrative. Koran 9:71 declares that “The believing [Muslim] men and believing [Muslim] women are allies of one another” (see also 8:72-75). And according to Muhammad, “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him…. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth, and his honor”—precisely those three things that mafia members respect among each other. This is why Muslims like U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan, whose “worst nightmare” was to be deployed to fight fellow Muslims, often lash out.)
6 - Death to Traitors
Once a fledging mafia member takes the oath of loyalty to the mafia—including the Omertà code of silence and secrecy—trying to leave the “family” is seen as a betrayal and punishable by death. Any family member, great or small, is given authority to kill the traitor, the “turncoat.”
Compare this to Islam. To be born to a Muslim father immediately makes the newborn a Muslim—there are no oaths to be taken, much less any choice in the matter. And, according to Islamic law, if born Muslims at any point in their lives choose to leave Islam, they are deemed “apostates”—traitors—and punished including by death. Any zealous Muslim, not just the authorities, is justified in killing the apostate (hence why Muslim families that kill apostate children are rarely if ever prosecuted).
In the words of Muhammad—the messenger (“underboss”) of Allah (“godfather”): “Whoever leaves his Islamic faith, kill him.”
7 - Distrust and Dislike of “Outsiders”
Aside from loyalty to the family, mafia members are also expected not to befriend or freely associate with “outsiders”—who by nature are not to be trusted, as they are not of the “family”—unless such a “friendship” helps advance the family’s position.
Similarly, the second half of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity—the enmity (al-bara’)—calls on Muslims to maintain distance from and bear enmity for all non-Muslims, or “infidels.”
Thus Koran 5:51 warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them.” According to the mainstream Islamic exegesis of al-Tabari, Koran 5:51 means that the Muslim who “allies with them [non-Muslims] and enables them against the believers, that same one is a member of their faith and community,” that is, a defector, an apostate, an enemy.
Similar scriptures include Koran 4:89, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22; the latter simply states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims—“even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin.” Koran 60:1 declares, “O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy [non-believers] for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth [i.e., while they deny Islam]?” And Koran 4:144 declares “O you who believe! Do not take the infidels as allies instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allah [“godfather”] a clear case against yourselves?”
8 - Deception and Dissimulation
As mentioned, close relations to non-mafia individuals that prove advantageous to the family (for example, collaboration with a “crooked cop”) are permissible—as long as the mafia keeps a safe distance, keeps the outsider at arm’s length.
Compare this to Koran 3:28 which commands “believers not to take infidels for friends and allies instead of believers… unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.” According to the standard Koran commentary of Tabari, “taking precautions” means:
If you [Muslims] are under their [non-Muslims’] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harboring inner animosity for them … [but know that] Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels rather than other believers—except when infidels are above them [in authority]. Should that be the case, let them act friendly towards them while preserving their religion.
After interpreting Koran 3:28 as meaning that Muslims may “protect” themselves “through outward show” when under non-Muslim authority, Ibn Kathir, perhaps Islam’s most celebrated exegete, quotes Islam’s prophet (“underboss”) saying: “Truly, we smile to the faces of some people, while our hearts curse them.”
Similarly, a few years ago, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan—a leading Salafi cleric in Egypt—asserted on live television that, while Muslims should never smile to the faces of non-Muslims, they should smile, however insincerely, if so doing helps empower Islam, especially in the context of da‘wa.
The idea of hating “outsiders” is apparently so ingrained in Islam that another leading Salafi cleric, Dr. Yasser al-Burhami, insists that, while Muslim men may marry Christian and Jewish women, they must hate them in their heart—and show them that they hate them in the hopes that they convert to the “family” of Islam.
(For more on the doctrine of “Loyalty and Enmity,” including references to the exegetical sources quoted above, see al-Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s comprehensive treatise by that name in The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 63-115).
9 - “An Offer You Can’t Refuse”
Although the novel-turned-movie, The Godfather, is fictitious, it also captures much of the mafia’s modus operandi. Consider, for example, that most famous of lines—“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”—spoken by the Godfather to one of his “godsons,” an aspiring actor and singer. After being turned down by a studio director for a role that he desperately wanted, the godson turned to his Godfather for aid.
As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that the offer that can’t be refused consists of nothing less than violence and death threats: after the Godfather’s messenger to the director asking that the actor be given the role is again rejected, the director awakens the next morning to find the bloodied and decapitated head of his favorite stallion in bed with him. The godson subsequently gets the movie role.
Throughout the context of the entire Godfather trilogy (which captures well the mafia’s approach to business) making someone “an offer they can’t refuse” means “do as I say or suffer the consequences,” possibly death.
Compare this to Islam’s threefold choice. On Muhammad’s orders, whenever Muslims conquer a territory in the name of Islam, its non-Muslim inhabitants are given three choices: 1) convert to Islam (“join the family”), 2) keep your religious identity but pay tribute (jizya, see below) and live as an “outsider,” a subjugated dhimmi or 3) execution.
Throughout history, converting to Islam has been an “offer” that countless non-Muslims could not refuse. In fact, this “offer” is responsible for transforming much of the Middle East and North Africa, which were Christian-majority in the 7th century when the jihad burst forth from Arabia, into the “Muslim world.”
And this offer is still alive and well today. For example, several older and disabled Christians who were not able to join the exodus out of Islamic State controlled territories opted to convert to Islam rather than die.
Like the mafia, then, Islam’s offer to conquered non-Muslims (“outsiders”) is basically “join our ‘family,’ help us and we will help you; refuse and we hurt you.”
10 - The “Protection” Racket
Once the mafia takes over a territory, one of the primary ways it profits is by collecting “protection money” from its inhabitants. While the protection racket has several aspects, one in particular is akin to an Islamic practice: coercing people in the mafia’s territory to pay money for “protection,” ostensibly against outside elements; in fact, the protection bought is from the mafia itself—that is, extortion money, or pizzo. Potential “clients” who refuse to pay for the mafia’s “protection” often have their property vandalized and are routinely threatened and harassed.
Compare the collection of pizzo with the Islamic concept of jizya: The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (emphasis added).”
In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad—in our analogy, the “underboss”—regularly calls on Muslims to demand jizya from non-Muslims: “If they refuse to accept Islam,” said the prophet, “demand from them the jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay jizya, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
The root meaning of the Arabic word “jizya” is simply to “repay” or “recompense,” basically to “compensate” for something. According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary, the standard Arabic-English dictionary, jizya is something that “takes the place” of something else, or “serves instead.”
Simply put, conquered non-Muslims were to purchase their lives, which were otherwise forfeit to their Muslim conquerors, with money. As one medieval jurist succinctly puts it, “their lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya” (Crucified Again, p. 22).
And to top it off, just as the mafia rationalizes its collection of “protection money” by portraying it as money that buys mafia protection against “outsiders”—when, as mentioned, the money/tribute serves only to protect the client from the mafia itself—so too do Islam’s apologists portray the collection of jizya as money meant to buy Muslim protection from outsiders, when in fact the money/jizya buys protection from Muslims themselves.
Conclusion: Mafia—What’s In a Word?
What accounts for all these similarities between Islam and the mafia? One clue is found in the fact that the very word “mafia,” which means “hostility to the law, boldness,” is derived from an Arabic word, mahya, which in translation means “bragging, boasting, bravado, and swaggering.”
This etymology is a reminder that Sicily, birthplace of the mafia, was under Arab/Islamic domination for over 200 years. Aside from a borrowed etymology, could some of the mafia’s modus operandi also have been borrowed from Islam? Isolated on their island, could native Sicilians have co-opted the techniques of social controls that they had lived under and learned from their former overlords—albeit without their Islamic veneer?
The mafia is not the only historical example of a non-Muslim criminal organization to be influenced by Islam. For example, the Thuggees — whence we get the word “thug” — were a brotherhood of allied bandits and assassins who waylaid and savagely murdered travelers in India, often by first feigning friendship. Although they were later associated with the Hindu cult of Kali, the original Thuggees were all Muslim. As late as the 19th century, a large number of Thuggees captured and convicted by the British were Muslim.
The similarities are clear: Along with assassinating his opponents, including, as seen, through treachery, Muhammad also personally engaged in banditry, ransacking the caravans of enemy tribes.
And if the words “mafia” and “thug” have Arabic/Islamic etymologies, the words “assassinate” and “assassin” are derived from a Medieval Islamic sect: the Hashashin, who pioneered the use of political assassination—with promises of a hedonistic paradise for the assassin who almost certainly died—in the name of Islam.
At any rate, when HBO personality Bill Maher recently proclaimed that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f*ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book,” he was barely touching on the similarities between the mafia and other criminal organizations, and Islam.

The Doha GCC Summit: A turning point in Gulf ties
Sunday, 7 December 2014
Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit will soon be held in Doha amid a new conception for the relationship among the six member states of the GCC, Egypt, and Iran, primarily. This will be the summit that will lay out new policy orientations different from the previous ones that had accompanied the wave of revolutions for change in the Arab region. It will be the summit of cementing a new strategic contract and a new order in the Arab world, and a reinvigorated Arab position in the regional balance of power.
That is, if the Doha summit fulfills what was decided for it during the Riyadh summit held last month, to ensure a Gulf summit would take place on time in Doha. If the summit successfully overcomes the doubts that have marred the relationship between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain on the one hand, and Qatar and Oman on the other, the GCC will usher in a qualitatively new era following this historic summit.
Relations with Egypt will take center stage at the Doha summit, in fulfillment of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s appeals at the Riyadh summit, which he had convened. This is an absolute priority for Saudi and Emirati diplomacy and is not up for bargain.
The UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, said in an interview with Al-Hayat that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques had succeeded in "resetting the compass of GCC joint action back to the right track” in “a prominent instance of historical leadership.” The minister also pointed to the "important strategic developments this year in Saudi-UAE relations” in the context of their shared vision for the bilateral relationship and coordination to face challenges in the region.
These challenges included the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt first and foremost, bearing in mind that if they had survived in power there, they would have taken power in many other Arab capitals.
The Saudi-Emirati support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is part of the strategic commitment for both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to supporting Egypt’s central and pivotal role in the new order in the Arab region.
Qatar’s positions in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the opposition against Sisi have poisoned relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain, which rejected Doha’s denials this year. Even Oman, which also has an atypical relation with other GCC member states, did not bless Qatar’s role in Egypt and its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, officially or otherwise.
A new Arab order
The Riyadh summit broadcasted King Abdullah’s appeal to all those concerned, be they decision-makers or journalists, to stop mutual incitement and ridicule among all parties in Qatar as in Egypt. At the Riyadh summit, Qatar committed itself to closing down Al-Jazeera’s channel dedicated to Egypt – and to incitement against Sisi and to stoking the Muslim Brotherhood’s hopes in returning to power – gradually until the closure is completed shortly before the summit. Meanwhile, Gulf diplomacy has put pressure on the Egyptian media to desist from ridiculing Qatar and provoking its leaders.
“Qatar’s presidency of the GCC Summit in 2015 will see a qualitative shift in Gulf relations and in drafting the new Arab-regional order”
Raghida Dergham
In the mind of Saudi-UAE diplomacy the issues are too pressing to have room for incitement and ridicule. Saudi and the UAE want to convince the youthful Qatari leadership represented by Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to join the strategic contract that will launch the new Arab order and position in the regional balance of power vis-à-vis Iran, Turkey, and Israel, and which requires restoring Egypt as an essential Arab state in this balance.
This in turn, according to Saudi-Emirati diplomacy, requires Qatar – and any other Gulf country – to stop supporting the Muslims Brotherhood anywhere. While Qatari policy may have assumed at one point that the Muslim Brotherhood constituted a ready-made springboard for regional and international influence, the Qatari policy desired in the Gulf today is for Qatar to join regional decision-making and the strategic contract as part of the bid for inter-Gulf harmony.
The summit in Doha will therefore be an important turning point in the Gulf and regional march, and will issue a clear stance on Egypt if efforts do not stumble from now until the session.
Reaching out to Iran
The other tack in the regional challenges that will be addressed by the Doha summit in a different tone is Iran. Reaching out to the Islamic Republic to encourage it to adopt moderation will mark this summit. Gulf doubts regarding Iran’s ability to move away from hardliners persist, but the Gulf decision has been to highlight appreciation, support, and backing for a moderate Iran.
The required strategic outcome is stability in the region, which makes the Gulf countries increasingly supportive of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Any lapse in the nuclear talks, according to a Gulf opinion, would be in favor of Iran because the hardliners there are bent to prevent the moderates from benefiting from the nuclear negotiations. As for the collapse in negotiations, this would be a frightening outcome that could possibly lead to a confrontation with the United States and galvanize hardliners in Iran, a prospect the Gulf countries fear immensely. The positions voiced by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, which stopped a hundred hardline MPs from questioning Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, was met with relief among many in the Gulf, and made them more hopeful about moderates in Iran despite ongoing doubts.
The Doha summit could give its blessing to the role Oman plays in hosting the nuclear talks by praising such constructive steps. Vacuum in the nuclear talks is a scary prospect for the Gulf countries because the alternative is worse. Some are calling for giving blessing to Oman’s role, and even giving it a mandate on behalf of the GCC countries at the Doha summit.
Yet this does not mean that the Doha summit would endorse the Omani attitude vis-à-vis Iran. The mismatch in Gulf attitudes on Iran will continue, especially since Oman’s logic is markedly different from that of other countries in the GCC in terms of diagnosing Iranian goals and regional ambitions.
What may happen in Doha is that the summit could issue something that would appease Oman and its desire to have the freedom to act in the way it sees conducive to removing obstacles in Gulf-Iran relations.
Iranian airstrikes against ISIS will not be criticized or objected to at the Doha summit, according to Gulf sources. The summit will turn a blind eye to Iran’s strikes in Iraq because this is an “intersection of interests” between Iran and the Gulf countries taking part in the anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States. This is a de facto intersection between Washington, Tehran, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. ISIS became a point of intersection among their interests because it poses an existential threat to al sides, and because supporting Iraq and the Iraqi government has become a common denominator.
The Gulf countries do not want an Iranian presence in Iraq, but they want to avoid a confrontation with the Revolutionary Guards and the Hezbollah brigades, and are overlooking the footage of the commander of the Qods Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, dancing in celebration of the triumphs against ISIS. The Gulf countries have concluded that what is needed in Iraq is to help rebuild the Iraqi army and encourage Sunni leaders and factions to take part in the war on ISIS.
Syria, Libya, Yemen and Jordan
Syria too will be present at the Doha summit. Syria’s interior, Syria’s borders, and international proposals involving Syria will be discussed. The summit will issue support for the moderate opposition and the transitional political process represented by Geneva 1 and Geneva 2, rather than the various conflicting initiatives. However Syria, despite the importance of what is taking place there, will most likely not dominate the Gulf summit.
Libya will not be at the top of Gulf positions, though the summit will definitely tackle that issue. One reason is that the Libyans themselves prefer international initiatives over Gulf ones.
Jordan will be higher on the Gulf priorities, because preserving Jordan is an essential part of the Gulf strategy. Jordan will be second only to Egypt in the priorities of the Gulf summit.
Certainly, Yemen will be very present in Gulf talks and decisions, though this will not rise up to the level of the events there, because the general feeling is that no urgent measures are needed as long as al-Qaeda is confronting the Houthis in a war of attrition in Yemen.
The Doha summit will definitely tackle the situation in Lebanon, because of worrying developments there. Palestine will be the top of the necessary issues the summit will address in its statement, especially as the U.N. Security Council is discussing the Palestinian question in a new approach with Jordanian and French efforts.
Putting the Gulf house in order is the top priority for the discussions at the Doha summit, however. Kuwait’s presidency of the GCC in 2014, as one Gulf figure familiar with the GCC work put it, “was able to keep the GCC ship sailing ahead without turbulent quarrels, helping it arrive in the port at Doha charged with hope.”Qatar’s presidency of the GCC Summit in 2015 will see a qualitative shift in Gulf relations and in drafting the new Arab-regional order, providing that the commitments made at the Riyadh summit are fulfilled, led by those related to the issue of Egyptian-Qatari relations.

Lebanon’s political paralysis cannot weather Arab storms
Sunday, 7 December 2014
Eyad Abu Shakra /Al Arabiya
As I was writing this article, the suffering endured by Lebanon's military personnel taken hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front took a dramatic turn. The hostages’ families suspended their street protest upon hearing the news that a woman and child alleged to be the wife and daughter of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader, had been arrested on Lebanese soil. Since then, some reports have been published which say the woman detained in Beirut is linked to a leader of al-Nusra, and not ISIS.
According to Lebanese security sources, who are now the sole official source for both news and leaks in the total absence of truly reliable media reports, the woman and the child with her were arrested by the Lebanese army’s intelligence service. Without casting too much doubt or delving into endless details—details that no-one can confirm as true, or how and when they are being leaked—the most significant point is surely that the woman and her daughter (or, as some reports say, her son) were arrested around 10 days before it was announces. Yes, 10 days!
A surprise such as this highlights several issues, the most important of which is that the mundane political life the Lebanese like to tell themselves they enjoy is gone. With its disappearance, the people of Lebanon are back where they were before, i.e., back to being mere insignificant spectators of a “Game of Nations” being played out by domestic, Arab, regional, and international intelligence agencies in their country. As of today, it is not only the families of the military hostages who are autumn leaves blown by the winds of malevolent political projects, swirling around the corpse of the Lebanese state; it is all the Lebanese and the peoples of the Levant.
Post-independence era
It is no exaggeration to say that Lebanon and other entities in the region have entered a post-independence era, one which follows that which began with the League of Nations mandates of 1920 and the creation of Israel in 1948. Thus these entities are currently facing an existential challenge made more difficult by conflicting sectarian and nationalistic projects, the renaissance of imperialist dreams of non-Arab powers and their penetration of and expansion within the region, and the fear felt by minorities who are now implicitly—or even openly—seeking foreign protection.
“Lebanon, with its weak and fragile institutions and society and political paralysis, is ill-equipped to survive such a war”
Eyad Abu Shakra
Facing a climate such as this, grand political slogans sound like unrealistic dreams, the issue of sovereignty a bad joke, and the idea of a historic leader or “strong president” (as Michel Aoun claims he would be) a silly, quixotic boast.
A few days ago, Gebran Bassil, Lebanon’s foreign minister and Aoun’s son-in-law, made a speech before the 15th Francophone Summit in Senegal, in which he said that “Lebanon is today in the eye of the storm,” and that “both regional instability and the Syrian conflict are reflected in our country, which is now encountering existential challenges that are the most dangerous in its modern history.”
He went on to add: “On the internal political stability front, Lebanon’s political life is finding it difficult to function normally. It is essential that a president is elected without foreign intervention, and vote through a new more democratic and fairer electoral system.”
He also raised the issue of the impact of the mass exodus of Syrian refugees, pointing out that they, along with the Palestinian refugees already in Lebanon, now number more than 2 million, compared to Lebanon’s pre-war population of 4 million. This unhappy situation is a costly one, and Lebanon—as Bassil put it—is forced, given its unique generosity, to balance humanitarian concerns with its unquestionable duty to protect itself.
Bassil also addressed the issue of terrorism, saying that Lebanon found itself in the cross-hairs “of terrorist groups like ISIS, whose aim is to spread fear and extremism and extend its influence to our land.” These groups, Bassil added, “carry a thought alien to our tolerant culture, and our pluralist political system; and we have responded by deploying the army which since then has been fighting them until they are eradicated.”
These are strong words indeed. However, they would have been more meaningful had the speaker been someone other than Bassil. The “Aounist” minister said only one part of a larger truth, a part that suits him and his party.
Subservient to Hezbollah
To begin with, on the issue of “internal political stability,” Mr. Bassil is right in saying that Lebanon’s political life is not functioning normally. But the reason for this is that state institutions, and indeed even the whole state, is now subservient to Hezbollah, which is theocratic–sectarian, militaristic, and whose loyalty and ultimate leadership lie outside Lebanon, and Hezbollah is Mr. Bassil’s party’s main ally. It is now almost impossible to see where the role of Hezbollah ends and the Lebanese government’s begins, bearing in mind that the former claims it believes in Lebanon’s sovereignty. Furthermore, it was the Hezbollah–Aoun alliance that prevented the election of a new president, because Iran and Syria insist on imposing Aoun as president in the same way Hezbollah’s votes have made him leader of the largest Christian parliamentary bloc. Finally, talking of “a more democratic and fairer electoral system,” demographic realities in Lebanon mean that if a fair electoral system is literally adopted it would give the Christians only one third of the seats as compared to the 50 percent ensured under the Taif Accords, which Hezbollah and Aoun oppose.
On the issue of Syrian refugees, these refugees ran away from a bloody conflict stoked by a regime which has killed around 300,000 of its own people, and displaced around 10 million more, mostly old people, women, and children. The irony here is that Mr. Bassil is a friend of that same regime, and is proud to defend and regard it as a political ally; and when the refugees’ plight worsened his party played a leading role in inciting popular anger against them.
Last but not least, on the issue of the terrorist threat, there is no doubt that ISIS poses a great threat to Lebanon, as well as the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, and Fatah al-Islam before them. However, these groups appeared on the Lebanese scene after Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict on the regime’s side. Similar organizations and gangs were implanted and spread out in Lebanon when it was under full control of the Syrian–Lebanese security apparatus, the same way today’s extremist groups were born and grew within Syria itself under the very eyes of its well-known police state.
Bearing this in mind, it could be argued that sectarian terrorism is not exclusive to a single religious sect, and that Washington—which seems happy for the Assad regime to remain in power, and keen to have Iran as an ally—has always viewed Iran as a rogue state and “supporter of terrorism,” and still labels Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Given these facts, there is a serious danger that Hezbollah and the Lebanese state, particularly the Lebanese army, will become two faces of the same coin, and will push the army into a war against terrorists that is pursued selectively and based on double standards.
Lebanon, with its weak and fragile institutions and society and political paralysis, is ill-equipped to survive such a war.

Interpol issues arrest warrants for more than 40 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures
Ahmad Al-Ghamrawi
Saturday, 6 Dec, 2014
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Interpol issued arrest warrants for more than 40 senior Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures, including head of the Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
“Egyptian authorities succeeded in persuading Interpol that these figures are fugitives and terrorists who are inciting violence and crimes,” a high-level Egyptian security official informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.
He revealed that Interpol had issued “red notices” for Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim and 40 other “senior members” of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization.
The Egyptian official said that the figures included on the list are wanted on a number of terror-related crimes.
As for Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who is often described as the “spiritual godfather” of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian official said: “He has issued statements aiming to confuse relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, in addition to inciting violence in Egypt and Syria.” Interpol’s official website confirms that Qaradawi, aged 88, is wanted on a range of charges including “agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft.”
Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim, a controversial Egyptian-Qatari Islamic preacher who was deported from the US in 2005 and has been refused entry to a number of European countries is wanted for “participating in crimes of violence, murder, kidnapping, torture and possession of a firearm without license.”
Ghoneim’s “red notice” did not include a picture at the time this article went to press.
A senior Egyptian judicial figure, also speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat had issued a decision tasking Egyptian security agencies to investigate the activities of satellite television channels and websites affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The judicial source said that the investigations had uncovered attempts to “destabilize” Egypt, including the broadcast of fabricated telephone conversations falsely attributed to Egyptian officials.
This initial investigation resulted in the formation of an expanded prosecution team

Iran must back up words with action: Saudi minister
Obaid Al-Suhaymi /Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 7 Dec, 2014
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs talks about Riyadh's foreign policy on sidelines of Manama Dialogue
Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Any dialogue with Tehran must be based on finding common ground and “credibility, trust and transparency,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Bin Obeid Madani said on Saturday.
In comments on the sidelines of an international security conference in the Bahraini capital Manama, the minister said that Riyadh strongly believes in the concept of “dialogue” and has placed this at the heart of its foreign policy. He denied that Saudi Arabia has any issues with Tehran, but added that any dialogue between the two had to be based on these pre-conditions being met.
Madani’s comments came in response to a question from Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari about the possibility of Saudi-Iranian dialogue during a question and answer session following his speech to the third plenary session of the Manama Dialogue entitled “Countering Extremism in the Middle East.”
The minister praised the strategies pursued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, saying that these are based on good-neighborliness and in line with the principles of international legitimacy and non-interface in the affairs of other states.
“When we consider events over the last couple of decades, we can find out that the GCC countries are dealing [with others] in line with good-neighborliness,” he said.
Madani affirmed that GCC member states, including Saudi Arabia, are ready to undertake high-level contacts with everybody who shares this strategy of non-interference, adding that the GCC is committed to maintaining the stability of all regional states.
He described Iran as an important country that must play a “pivotal” role in regional security and development, calling on Tehran to back up its words with action in terms of “sound and sustainable neighborly relations based on non-interference in others’ internal affairs,” according to Bahrain’s state news agency. Regional security was at the top of the agenda at the Manama conference, not just regional relations with Iran but also the expanding presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the deteriorating security situation in a number of Arab states, such as Yemen, Libya, and Lebanon.

Britain to boost military presence in Persian Gulf
Sunday, 7 Dec, 2014
Manama, AP—Britain has signed a deal with Bahrain that will bolster the United Kingdom’s military presence in the island nation and give it permanent naval base in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, officials announced Saturday.
The agreement marks a strategic shift for Britain, which formally withdrew from its major Gulf military bases in 1971. It comes as the UK, the United States and their allies seek to push back Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group militants that have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria and as world powers work to forge a lasting nuclear deal with Iran, which sits just across the Gulf from Bahrain.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond emphasized his country’s historic links to the Gulf in announcing the plans at a security conference in the Bahraini capital, Manama.
“In a globalized world, our domestic security and prosperity depends on developments beyond our shores,” Hammond said. “Your security concerns are our security concerns.”
Tiny Bahrain already hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for operations around the Arabian Peninsula as well as parts of the Indian Ocean.
The deal ensures a permanent footing for the Royal Navy in the oil-rich Gulf, Hammond said. The Strait of Hormuz, which is the Gulf’s only exit and is bounded by Iran and Oman, is the route for 30 percent of world oil supplies carried by tanker ships.
The agreement will create Britain’s first fixed Gulf base since it pulled out of former imperial outposts commonly referred to as being “east of Suez” over four decades ago.
It calls for improved onshore facilities at Bahrain’s Mina Salman port that officials say will give the Royal Navy a base to plan, store equipment and house military personnel.
Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described the 15 million pound (23 million US dollar) facility as “a permanent expansion of the Royal Navy’s footprint” that will ensure Britain can send more ships and bigger vessels into the Gulf.
“This is a permanent naval presence that will benefit both sides to the agreement. It will give Bahrain the extra security of knowing that Britain is here now, is back for the long term, is back east of Suez for the first time in over 40 years,” Fallon told The Associated Press in an interview in Manama.
Four British mine-hunter warships are already based in Bahrain, and other British ships rely on facilities in the kingdom. Those operations were carried out on an ad hoc basis, and left personnel relying on “frankly very poor temporary accommodation,” Hammond said.
The base is expected to open in 2016.

'Palestine' Europe's only problem?
Noah Klieger/Ynetnews
Published: 12.07.14, 09:34 / Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Even Abbas and his people know there will be no Palestinian state without Israel's consent. So why are European countries rushing to recognize a nonexistent state?
The lower house of the French Parliament has voted in favor of recognizing a state called Palestine. The same resolution will undoubtedly be adopted in a few days by the upper house as well, making the decision official – yet non-binding as far as the government is concerned.
Sweden was the first European state to make the odd decision to recognize a state that doesn’t actually exist. Spain and Britain are expected to follow in its footsteps in the near future.
With all my willingness to understand these decisions – which are anyway devoid of meaning – I just can't comprehend what pushes European countries to make a move which has absolutely no logic or benefit for that inexistent Palestine. Don't the governments of those countries have their own problems which required immediate attention?
Take French President François Hollande, for example. The man who broke the unpopularity record in his country must have more important things to do than, as he stated in recent days, work vigorously for two years to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians – and that is why it is important for France to recognize the Palestinian state.
It's very strange that he's prepared to recognize a state which doesn’t even exist. The fact that more than 10% of France's citizens are Muslim cannot serve as an excuse either, as it is hard to know whether they will all vote for Hollande's party in the next elections.
It's also very strange that the Spanish government believes it should recognize Palestine while fighting an all-out war against the Catalans' independence ambitions. An independent Catalonia? Heaven forbid. And what about the fact that most of the region's residents are in favor of separating from Madrid? It's easier to recognize Palestine, a move which most Spaniards couldn’t care less about, than take care of the real domestic problems, including the shaky economic situation.
In Britain, David Cameron's government put a lot of effort and work in fighting the Scottish people's independence ambitions. It succeeded, but London knows very well that this is only a temporary victory and that the Scots will come back shortly and demand another referendum about separating from Britain.
But alongside the effort to thwart the Scottish people's ambitions, the London parliament did not forget Palestine. Independence for the Scots? Heaven forbid. But for Palestine, no problem. Why Britain has a very high percentage of Muslim residents as well.
These acts of recognition are useless. Do they mean that there is indeed a Palestinian state? Absolutely not. They contain a PR trick, but no essence. Even Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his people understand very well that all the decisions and declarations will not advance their ambitions. Without Israel's consent, there will never be a Palestinian state. They will be able to get one only through an agreement with us. Because when it comes to this issue, the small Israel equals the huge bloc of dozens of Arab and Muslim states and their supporters wherever they are. If they wish to fulfill their ambitions, the Palestinians had better realize that as soon as possible.

USA Vice President Joe Biden: 'We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon'
Ynetnews /Published: 12.06.14/ Israel News
Speaking at 2014 Saban forum, Biden says 'for Israel this tough neighborhood is home, this tough neighborhood is where they live and will live forever'. US Vice President Joseph Biden stressed Saturday that the United States would "not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. Period. End of discussion. It will not happen on our watch."Biden said at the Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday that when he entered politics, "Israel was looked at by world as somewhat fragile", but that "recently the mindset has changed in some parts of the world that Israel is not under siege. . . It amazes me how quickly people's memories fade, how vulnerable individuals in the country remain."Biden underscored the United States' commitment to Israel's security, which is not a mere moral obligation but a "strategic necessity".
He said that his and President Obama's strategy on Iran "has been underestimated from the beginning", but that "the result of our determination has been that the Iranians have begun to show slow flexibility." "We believe we have enough leverage to reach a comprehensive agreement," he continued. Speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Biden stated that the "vast majority" of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. "The quickest way to destroy strategic realignment is to deny a political horizon to a two state solution, or worse, allow a cycle of provocation and violence," he added, also saying that Palestinians "need to do so much more to combat instances of incitement". Biden further stated that nothing justifies killing innocents but "Punishment of families, collective punishment, risks provoking tensions even further." Commenting on the latest wave of anti-Semitic incidents, the vice president said that "anti-Semitism goes hand in hand with what I would call and overall effort to de-legitimatize Israel", as he reiterated that "Israel is not going anywhere."
During the weekend, Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) and former justice minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) traveled to Washington to take part in the 11th annual forum. Speaking at the conference Herzog quipped that he told his way he was going to "invest in some couplehood with Tzipi over the weekend." He went on to say that "I said this from day one, when I was elected chairman of the Labor party, that I will try to form a centrist bloc that will pose an alternative to Netanyahu. I work towards this goal in a cautious and sobered attitude. We're not in negotiations right now, we're here to listen and be heard."