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Bible Quotation for today/“or
everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will
Luke 18/10-14: "He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December
Mirages of failure: Lebanon cannot wait/Walid Phares/December 21/14
Imagine No Religion: The Western Media and Islamic Terror/Raymond Ibrahim/ December 21/14
Germany, Anti-Islam, and Vladimir Putin/Stephen Schwartz/The Huffington Post/December 21/14
An implicit message behind Taliban’s attack on children/Dr. Theodore Karasik /Al Arabiya/December 21/14
Sisi smartly rekindles Egyptian-Sino relations /Dr. Naser al-Tamimi/Al Arabiya/December 21/14
Sharing a World with Baghdadi/Mshari Al-Zaydi /Al Arabiya/December 21/14
Lebanese Related News published on December 21-22/14
Bodies of 19 Lebanese Killed in Algerian Jet Crash Arrive in Beirut
Lebanon's PM urges France to expedite helicopter deliveries
Syrian crisis has cost Lebanon $20B: Social Affairs Minister
Lebanon says it needs French helicopters quickly to fight militants
Lebanon police raid Syrian regime cell, arrest 7
Rifi urges Tripoli residents not to take up arms
Christian politicians must abide by 'biblical values': Rai
Restricting jobs to Lebanese not racist: Labor Minister
Stricter Security Measure against Syrian Refugees to Take Effect on Jan. 5
Tensions in Bekaa as Jaafar Clan, Deir Ahmar Residents Clash
Two Injured in Clash over 'Rifi's Posters' in el-Mina
Geagea: Kidnap of Lebanese Servicemen Harmed Syrian Revolution
Christian politicians must abide by 'biblical values': Lebanon Maronite Patriarch
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 21-22/14
Kurds advance against ISIS in Iraq and Syria
Peshmerga claim liberation of Sinjar from ISIS
Nearly 10,000’ suspected militants, rioters detained in Egypt in 2014
ISIS could retake Iraqi oil refinery town: MP
Assad says he backs local truces
Coalition strikes hit ISIS north of Aleppo: monitor
PM accuses EU of ‘dirty campaign’ against Turkey
Israel police detain eight anti-Arab extremists
Sisi and Emir of Qatar to meet in Riyadh: sources
Egypt says it backs Palestinian U.N. resolution
Egypt allows in travelers from Gaza for first time since October
Egyptian jailed for 10 years for spying for Israel
Sisi replaces Egypt spy chief
Mass conversion in India PM’s home state sparks anger
Saudi Arabia ‘confident’ oil prices will improve
Jordan Islamists threaten legal action over Israel gas deal
Al-Qaeda 'bursting with pain' over Pakistan school attack
Tunisians vote in historic presidential run-off
Obama vows to 'do everything I can' to close Guantanamo
Saudi teen killed during raid on 'terrorists': residents
Defected Syrian Gen. Manaf Tlass says Assad ‘sold Syria to Iran’
Ahmed Fleiti Says
Tasked by Abou Faour to Mediate in Servicemen Case
Naharnet /Ahmed Fleiti, deputy municipal chief of the Bekaa border town of Arsal, announced Sunday that Health Minister Wael Abou Faour has tasked him with mediating in the case of the servicemen who were taken hostage by jihadist groups.
“Abou Faour tasked me with mediating in the servicemen's case and I met the Islamic State group in Arsal's outskirts today and they accepted my designation,” Fleiti told LBCI television. He also noted that the Lebanese army's Intelligence Directorate has been “aware” of his mediation “since Saturday.” Hassan Youssef, the father of captive serviceman Mohammed Youssef, had told LBCI earlier on Sunday that the captors contacted the hostages' families to inform them that they had accepted Fleiti's mediation in the case.
“This issue will comfort the families, especially that Fleiti can play an important role seeing as he is the son of Arsal and that he enjoys the state's approval,” Youssef added. MTV for its part quoted a Syrian source in Syria's Qalamun as saying that the IS group “has accepted the designation of Arsal deputy municipal chief Ahmed Fleiti as a mediator in the negotiations.”Meanwhile, Sheikh Wissam al-Masri, another supposed intermediary, told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) that his mediation “has not ended until the moment.”“I will head to Arsal's outskirts in the coming hours to discuss means to resolve the case of the servicemen,” Masri said. He revealed that “there is a lot of positivity in the case and communication with the Islamic State is going in a good manner.”
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat had on Saturday announced that Minister Abou Faour will maintain his indirect contacts with the IS and al-Nusra Front over the case of the hostages. On Friday, Jumblat urged the IS to “appreciate” his stance over the negotiations, noting that Abou Faour “has exerted efforts and will continue to do so according to the approach of a swap deal, away from the calculations of the others.” Jumblat voiced his remarks in the wake of a threat from the Islamic State group, which held him responsible for the possible execution of three captives, along with former premier Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. Around 25 policemen and soldiers are being held by the IS and the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front. Four hostages have been executed by the two groups. The servicemen were kidnapped in early August during clashes between the jihadists and the Lebanese army in and around the northeastern border town of Arsal. The militants have demanded that Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jails be released in exchange for the hostages.
Bodies of 19 Lebanese Killed in Algerian Jet Crash Arrive in Beirut
Naharnet Newsdesk 6 hours ago
A plane carrying the bodies of 19 Lebanese killed in the July Algerian jet crash arrived Sunday at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. The coffins were received in a solemn ceremony at the airport that was attended by a large number of the victims' relatives and friends as well as top state officials. An Internal Security Forces band performed an anthem for the dead as 25 ambulances and 70 medics awaited at the airport to transfer the caskets to the hometowns of the victims. “Putting an end to the death of Lebanese expats in plane crashes is our responsibility and we must address the issue,” Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said at the airport, after he arrived on the same plane that carried the bodies. Representatives of Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Lebanon's religious leaders as well as several lawmakers were present at the airport. PM Salam had declared Sunday a day of national mourning. The National News Agency identified the victims as follows:
- Randa Basma, the wife of Fayez Daher, and her children Ali, Salah and Shayma
- Munji Hassan, his wife Najwa Zayyat and their children Mohammed Rida, Hussein, Hassan and Ruqayya
- Bilal Dhayni, his German wife and their children Malek, Rayyan and Olivia
- Mohammed Akhdar, Fadi Rustom, Omar Ballan and Jospeh al-Hajj
The plane crashed on July 24 during a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers. The wreckage of the McDonnell Douglas 83 jet -- operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie -- was located 50 kilometers north of the Burkina Faso border in Mali's Gossi region. Salam had asked French President Francois Hollande for his country's help in identifying the bodies of the 19 Lebanese victims. France bore the brunt of the disaster, with some 54 French citizens among the overall death toll of 116. Travelers from Burkina Faso, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash.
Mirages of failure: Lebanon cannot wait
Walid Phares /Sunday, 21 December 2014
Some politicians in the mother country, out of solutions, out of ideas and out of strategies, attempt to convince their constituencies that "Lebanon's peace and security will only come after solutions are found to Syria and Iraq's problems and Palestine is a state. "No kidding"
Why not wait for Kashmir, Sudan and Libya and maybe also Yemen? Freedom in Lebanon can and should be ...gained piece after piece, and the free areas 25 years ago should have been defended not sold out. And even when freedom was lost in one day, or even for years, it should have been brought back to wherever is possible, at any time possible, at the right conditions. But the cake was wide and the appetite was endless. Instead, Lebanese were made to wait for the "South" to be seized by Hezbollah, for the Shebaa farms to be "liberated," for "national unity" Governments to be formed and formed again. Then for the International tribunal to meet, for a President to be elected, and later for Hezbollah's withdrawal from Syria, for US-Iranian agreement to work or not to work, for Geneva 2, 3, and 4 to happen, for another President to be elected, for a cabinet to be selected. And when no more tricks are working, how about going back to wait for a "solution" to the unending Arab Israeli conflict and "allah aleem."
Someone has to remind the politicians that freedom was paid for heavily already for 15 years, in city after city, neighborhood after neighborhood and village after village. Lebanon should have regained freedom or part of it at least after 140,000 people were killed. Management of the war and of ending it was bad, very bad. The war was finished with a defeat, a crushing defeat and everything since, is another defeat. But no politicians dare to admit, as long as shining seats are open to bargain. "Walaw!" Some historians have to do their job and tell it as it was, it has been and it is. Sadly they are dead, killed or changed profession...Meanwhile enjoy the Holidays, for Lebanon's problems are not that high on the top list. It used to be when there were leaders like Charles Malek and Bashir Gemayel and it was on its way to come back on the international agenda with a Gebran Tueni and a Mohammed Shatah. Not anymore, for now...
Arsal deputy mayor appointed hostage mediator, meets ISIS
Hashem Osseiran/The Daily Star
Dec. 21, 2014 |
BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour has appointed Arsal Deputy Mayor Ahmad Fliti to mediate talks between the government and jihadi militants holding 25 Lebanese servicemen captive, Fliti and the hostage families said. Fliti told The Daily Star that he was commissioned by Abu Faour under the directive of Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt to take charge of mediation. Jumblatt was “adamant on resuming negotiations to release the hostages,” Fliti said. Fliti added that he met with ISIS militants on the outskirts of Arsal earlier Sunday, during which the group expressed its readiness to work with him. During the meeting, ISIS militants also conveyed their demands, Fliti said, noting that the group wants a unified government stance over the acceptance of a swap deal. Fliti refused to disclose their other demands. Fliti, who would serve as a liaison between the militants and Abu Faour, noted that he was commissioned by only a faction in the Lebanese government and not the Cabinet as a whole. An official appointment by the Lebanese government may be possible, he said. With regards to his next meeting with the captors, Fliti said there was no scheduled date, but highlighted that he would go if Jumblatt or the health minister requested him to. The deputy mayor expressed confidence in his appointment. “I am on the ground, and always at the scene of events so in case of any emergency, I would always be ready,” he said. Earlier Sunday, a spokesperson for the families of the captives, Hussein Youssef, told The Daily Star that one of the family members had received a call from ISIS militants in which the jihadi group announced that it had accepted Fliti's appointment as a mediator in negotiations with the Lebanese government. According to the spokesperson, the Nusra Front has yet to officially accept the appointment. Youssef was optimistic over Fliti’s appointment, expressing his beliefs that the deputy mayor could play a positive role in negotiating the release of the captives. "The acceptance of Fliti's appointment is a very positive indicator," Youssef said. On Saturday, Jumblatt affirmed that Abu Faour has remained in contact with the jihadis despite stalled negotiations. “Upon my authorization, Wael [Abu Faour] will remain in contact with ISIS and the Nusra [Front] because what matters to us are the lives of the servicemen,” Jumblatt wrote on Twitter. Fliti clarified that he has been acting as Abu Faour’s liaison with the militants, denying that the health minister was holding direct contact with the captors. In a series of tweets Saturday evening, Jumblatt called on Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim to join efforts to free the policemen and soldiers by accepting a swap deal. ISIS and Nusra have been keeping the captives on the outskirts of Arsal since August, when they engaged in fierce battles with Lebanese Army troops. Each of the two fundamentalist groups has so far executed two of the servicemen.
politicians must abide by 'biblical values': Lebanon Maronite Patriarch
The Daily Star/Dec. 21, 2014 /BEIRUT: The absence of a president exacerbates Lebanon's already tense situation, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Sunday, reiterating calls for Christians to stay in Lebanon and urging Christian leaders not to lose their "biblical values."
“Lebanon is passing through a very critical phase threatening its foundations,” Rai said during the Sunday mass at Bkirki’s Cathedral, stressing that the absence of a president and the “ongoing violation of the constitution, the national pact, the customs and traditions” were worsening the situation. Lebanon has been without president since May 25 when former President Michel Sleiman left at the end of his term. “I tell the Christians in Lebanon that their role today, more than any past day, is to commit to preserving Lebanon, its essence, people and institutions, as well as its culture and symbolism inside the Arab and Islamic world,” the patriarch added. He addressed Christian political leaders in Lebanon, reminding them of the need to apply "biblical values" and the recommendations of late Pope Jean Paul II in their political behavior. “They should remember that Lebanon owes its uniqueness and its particularity, which distinguish it from other Arab countries, to the Christians in particular,” Rai said. The mass was attended by former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the accompanying delegation, as well as the French Ambassador to Lebaon Patrice Paoli and Lebanon's Ambassador to UNESCO Simon Karam.
urges France to expedite helicopter deliveries
Natalie Huet| Reuters/Dec. 21, 2014
PARIS: Lebanon hopes France will deliver helicopters to its army faster than planned so it can fight jihadis encroaching from neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in an interview on Sunday. France and Lebanon signed a $3 billion Saudi-funded deal in early November to provide French weapons and military equipment to the Lebanese Army, which has few resources to deal with the instability on its border and has been seeking to modernize its military hardware. Paris plans to start supplying the equipment in the first quarter of 2015 and over a period of three years, ending with the delivery of helicopters, a defense ministry source said last month. "We are still in talks for the helicopters to be delivered at the beginning of the program rather than at the end, so that we can use missiles as soon as possible against the jihadis in the mountains," Salam told weekly paper Le Journal du Dimanche. "[ISIS] is present in the region of Arsal, on the Lebanese-Syrian border. If it manages to invade Lebanon, it will impose its extremism everywhere," he said.
Lebanon, whose own sectarian divisions have been exacerbated by the Syrian war, fears Islamist insurgents are trying to expand their influence into Sunni Muslim areas in its north.
Salam said the airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS and al-Qaeda's Nusra Front in Syria were insufficient and symbolic. "To beat them, you need to be on the ground. But at this stage, who wants to go there?," he asked.
Lebanon is also under severe strain from a flood of civilians fleeing the conflict, with over one million refugees now accounting for a quarter of its population. Syrian refugees even had their food aid suspended earlier this month because a U.N. agency ran out of money, before being reinstated after an emergency fundraising campaign. "Nobody has really grasped how fragile our situation is," Salam said. "If the Syrian refugees in Lebanon aren't fed, we will be confronted to a very worrisome situation, maybe even a revolt
Syrian crisis has cost Lebanon $20B: Social Affairs Minister
The Daily Star/Dec. 21, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Sunday that Lebanon’s economic losses resulting from the Syrian crisis had reached $20 billion. “Due to the Syrian war, Lebanon has lost $20 billion,” Derbas said, according to remarks published on Elnashra news agency. “We only received 50 percent of the promised international donations for the relief of the displaced in 2013, and 44 percent in 2014.” The minister claimed the government’s refugee policy, which was based on the decision to stop the flow of Syrian refugees and to diminish the numbers already in Lebanon, has succeeded in decreasing the number of refugees in the country by 100,000, from 1.2 to 1.1 million. But according to the UNHCR, which is considered the most credible authority on Syrian refugees, the figure has actually increased by more than 10,000 since the policy was approved by the Cabinet two months ago. According to UNHCR figures, there were 1,123,398 Syrian refugees in Lebanon on Oct. 22, one day before the Cabinet voted to stop allowing refugees in the country. As of Dec. 10, which is the most recent update, there are 1,135,454 Syrian refugees in the country
jobs to Lebanese not racist: Labor Minister
The Daily Star/Dec. 21, 2014
BEIRUT: Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi denied Sunday that the recent decision to restrict dozens of types of jobs to Lebanese citizens was racist. Azzi called into a morning talk show on Al-Jadeed TV after former state minister Marwan Kheireddine told the program's host that last week's labor ministry decision was intended to bar Syrians and Palestinians from employment and was therefore racist.
“When you say that a decision is racist, this is big [accusation], because racism means hating the other, and not protecting yourself, your society, generations, students and employers.”Azzi announced last week a decision to limit 62 jobs to Lebanese citizens only. The jobs covered the sectors of administration, banking, insurance, education, pharmaceuticals, technical professions, trade, finance, engineering, printing and publishing, medicine, law and auto repairs, among others. The minister has also reserved exceptions for some foreigners such as a manager or a representative of a foreign company registered in Lebanon, a foreigner who has been a resident of Lebanon since birth and a person of Lebanese origin or born to a Lebanese mother. “When we have 1.5 million Syrians competing with us for everything, while the international community is not helping us, I think the least the Labor Ministry and the government can do is protect the Lebanese,” he said. “As Lebanese, we need to learn how to choose the expressions we use to take positions.” He also said it did not make sense to give work permits to foreign engineers, lawyers, and doctors while Lebanon graduates many professionals from those industries.
He also explained that the decision was not his own invention, and was introduced by former Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, but said the difference was that he was brave enough to announce it.
Palestinians born on Lebanese territory, who are officially registered in the Interior Ministry and are listed in municipal records, are generally not subjected to the restrictions, except with regards to free contractors and other professions legally prohibited for non-Lebanese. For decreeing this exception, Azzi said he received a message from the Palestinian Cabinet praising his policy, saying it “protects the rights of Palestinians in the Lebanese labor market.”“All states make laws to protect national labor,” Azzi said, explaining that the measure does not prevent companies from hiring a Syrian engineer, for instance, if no Lebanese candidate could meet the requirements. “There is a national responsibility on the Labor Ministry to protect Lebanese labor,” Azzi stressed. “I made this decision because Lebanese immigration today exceeds what we witnessed between 1975 and 1977.”
Coalition strikes hit ISIS north of Aleppo: monitor
Agence France Presse/Dec. 21, 2014/BEIRUT: U.S.-led coalition air strikes hit ISIS Sunday in areas north of Syria's second city Aleppo where it has been fighting rival jihadis, a monitoring group said. It was the first time that coalition aircraft had targeted ISIS in the Madajen area, where it has been fighting Al-Qaeda loyalists of the Nusra Front and their allies, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The area lies between the ISIS stronghold of Dabiq and the town of Marea to the southwest, which is held by its rivals."At least 12 coalition strikes hit ISIS positions and weapons depots in areas that had never been targeted before," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. "The strikes might help the rebels and Al-Nusra Front in their fight against ISIS," he added. Nusra and its allies have been battling ISIS in Aleppo province and some others parts of Syria since January. The drive by ISIS to assert its dominance in rebel-held areas which culminated in its declaration of a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria in June prompted armed resistance from the rival rebel groups. Washington launched an air campaign against ISIS in Iraq in August, extending it to Syria the following month with the support of Arab allies.
Imagine No Religion: The Western Media and Islamic Terror
Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine
December 21, 2014
Originally published under the title, "How Western Media Enable Islamic Terrorism."
Western mainstream media habitually conceal the religious identity of Islamic terrorists.
As the West experiences a rise in the sort of terror attacks that are endemic to the Islamic world—church attacks, sex-slavery and beheadings—it is only natural that the same mainstream media that habitually conceals such atrocities "over there," especially against Christians and other minorities under Islam, would also conceal the reality of jihadi aspirations "over here."
As The Commentator reports:
[T]he level of the [media] grovelling after the tragic and deadly saga in Sydney Australia over the last 24 hours has been astounding. At the time of writing, the lead story on the BBC website is of course about that very tragedy, in which an Islamist fanatic took a random group hostage in a cafe, ultimately killing two of them. He did this in the name of Islam. But you wouldn't get that impression if you started to read the BBC's lead story, which astoundingly managed to avoid mentioning the words Islam, Islamic, Islamist, Muslim, or any derivations thereof for a full 16 paragraphs.
The New York Times, which led by calling the terrorist, Man Haron Monis an "armed man", waited until paragraph 11.
In the Guardian's main story – whose lead paragraph simply referred to a "gunman" — you had to wait until paragraph 24. If you'd have blinked, you'd have missed it. [...]
In the wider media, reports about Muslim fears of a "backlash" have been all but ubiquitous.
If these are the lengths that Western mainstream media go to dissemble about the Islamic-inspired slaughter of Western peoples, it should now be clear why the ubiquitous Muslim persecution of those unfashionable Christian minorities is also practically unknown by those who follow Western mainstream media.
As with the Sydney attack, media headlines say it all. The 2011 New Year's Eve Coptic church attack that left 28 dead appeared under vague headlines: "Clashes grow as Egyptians remain angry after attack," was the New York Times' headline; and "Christians clash with police in Egypt after attack on churchgoers kills 21" was the Washington Post's—as if frustrated and harried Christians lashing out against their oppressors is the "big news," not the unprovoked atrocity itself; as if their angry reaction "evens" everything up.
Similarly, the Los Angeles Times partially told the story of an Egyptian off-duty police officer who, after identifying Copts by their crosses on a train, opened fire on them, killing one, while screaming "Allahu Akbar"—but to exonerate the persecution, as caught by the report's headline: "Eyewitness claims train attacker did not target Copts, state media say."
A February 2012 NPR report titled "In Egypt, Christian-Muslim Tension is on the Rise," while meant to familiarize readers with the situation of Egypt's Christians, prompts more questions than answers them: "In Egypt, growing tensions between Muslims and Christians have led to sporadic violence [initiated by whom?]. Many Egyptians blame the interreligious strife on hooligans [who?] taking advantage of absent or weak security forces. Others believe it's because of a deep-seated mistrust between Muslims and the minority Christian community [what are the sources of this "mistrust"?]."
The photo accompanying the story is of angry Christians holding a cross aloft—not Muslims destroying crosses, which is what prompted the former to this display of Christian solidarity.
Blurring the line between victim and oppressor—recall the fear of "anti-Muslim backlash" whenever a Muslim terrorizes "infidels" in the West—also applies to the media's reporting on Muslim persecution of Christians.
The mainstream media shows remarkable consistency in employing an arsenal of semantic games, key phrases, convenient omissions, and moral relativism to portray [Islamist] violence as a product of anything and everything ... not Islam.
A February 2012 BBC report on a church attack in Nigeria that left three Christians dead, including a toddler, objectively states the bare bone facts in one sentence. Then it jumps to apparently the really big news: that "the bombing sparked a riot by Christian youths, with reports that at least two Muslims were killed in the violence. The two men were dragged off their bikes after being stopped at a roadblock set up by the rioters, police said. A row of Muslim-owned shops was also burned…"
The report goes on and on, with an entire section about "very angry" Christians till one confuses victims with persecutors, forgetting what the Christians are "very angry" about in the first place: nonstop terror attacks on their churches and the slaughter of their women and children.
A New York Times report that appeared on December 25, 2011—the day after Boko Haram bombed several churches during Christmas Eve services, leaving some 40 dead—said that such church bombings threaten "to exploit the already frayed relations between Nigeria's nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims…" Such an assertion suggests that both Christians and Muslims are equally motivated by religious hostility—even as one seeks in vain for Christian terror organizations that bomb mosques in Nigeria to screams of "Christ is Great!"
Meanwhile, Boko Haram has torched 185 churches—to say nothing of the countless Christians beheaded—in just the last few months alone.
Continuing to grasp for straws, the same NYT report suggests that the Nigerian government's "heavy-handed" response to Boko Haram is responsible for its terror, and even manages to invoke another mainstream media favorite: the poverty-causes-terrorism myth.
Whether Muslim mayhem is taking place in the Islamic or Western worlds, the mainstream media shows remarkable consistency in employing an arsenal of semantic games, key phrases, convenient omissions, and moral relativism to portray such violence as a product of anything and everything—political and historical grievances, "Islamophobia," individual insanity, poverty and ignorance, territorial disputes—not Islam.
As such, Western media keep Western majorities in the dark about the Islamic threat, here and abroad. In short, the "MSM" protects and enables the Islamic agenda—irrespective of whether its distortions are a product of intent, political correctness, or sheer stupidity.
**Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).
Germany, Anti-Islam, and Vladimir Putin
Stephen Schwartz/The Huffington Post
December 21, 2014
Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (PEGIDA) has organized numerous demonstrations in Germany against what it calls the Islamization of Europe during the last two months.
On Monday, December 15, as reported by the German news service Deutsche Welle (DW), some 15,000 people massed in Dresden, Germany, under the banner of a new and seemingly informal movement calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West -- PEGIDA by its German-language acronym. The incident was the ninth PEGIDA rally in Dresden since the marches began in October "in response to clashes between Kurds and Sunni Muslims [in Germany] over the West's intervention in Syria," according to DW.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the PEGIDA phenomenon, declaring, "There is no place in Germany for those who are instigating hatred against immigrants."
Americans and other Westerners have become accustomed to public criticism, some of it extreme, of Islam. But certain aspects of the Dresden events may have escaped their notice, and are enigmatic, to say the least.
Dresden, in the German state of Saxony, near the border with the Czech Republic, although the center of the anti-Islam movement, has the fewest population of foreigners in Germany, according to Rick Noack, writing in The Washington Post. Since Dresden is in former East Germany, or the "German Democratic Republic" (GDR), where economic immigration from Islamic lands was rare, most foreign workers in the GDR came from Communist Vietnam or from Soviet-aligned countries in Africa.
Anti-Islam rallies are taking place in a part of Germany where there are almost no Muslims.
The pattern of German Muslim concentration in former West Germany, or the "Federal Republic of Germany" (FRG), has not changed. The whole of former East Germany -- the "new states" -- has only 25,000 Turks, or 0.2 percent of the entire population in the ex-Communist zone.
In 2010, even cosmopolitan Berlin had only 175,000 Turks, or 5 percent of its population of 3.5 million, overwhelmingly in the former West Berlin. This contrasts with the western industrial state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW), with the largest Muslim representation, where Turks count a million, somewhat more than 5 percent of the total NRW state population of 18 million.
Why, then, are anti-Islam rallies taking place in a part of Germany where there are almost no Muslims? One explanation might be that having little experience with Muslims, the inhabitants of Dresden are frightened of any newcomers, especially refugees from Syria. "Many eastern Germans know only few or no foreigners; they are scared because they have no idea what to expect from the influx of refugees," said Dresden-based political scientist Werner Patzelt to the previously mentioned Rick Noack.
But other factors merit consideration. The Dresden anti-Islam demonstrations have included slogans decrying Chancellor Merkel's sharp attitude countering the aggressive machinations of Russian president Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and other former Communist countries, now independent.
Two photographs reproduced on The Huffington Post UK on December 9 showed signs from a PEGIDA mass meeting reading "Frieden mit Russland! Nie wieder Krieg in Europa!" ("Peace with Russia! Never again war in Europe!") and "Wollt ihr den totalen Russlandfeldzug?" ("Do you want a total war campaign against Russia?"). The latter included a rudely defaced photograph of Merkel as an American servant.
Writing for Bloomberg View on December 17, Leonid Bershidsky spelled out a disturbing context for the Dresden turmoil. He pointed out that the anti-immigrant National Front in France "has loudly bucked Europe's ongoing policy of ostracizing the Russian president, and has received millions of euros from Russia in return." Given the PEGIDA mix of anti-Islam and pro-Russian slogans, he stated, "Putin's strategy seems to be to build up a 'fifth column' of far-right parties in Europe willing to cooperate with the Kremlin."
Bershidsky, citing the authoritative German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, noted that a seemingly bizarre slogan displayed at the PEGIDA turnout on December 15 was "Putin, hilfe uns!" ("Putin, help us!").
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung itself published an image from the December 15 Dresden gathering of a placard reading "Weg mit der Kriegstreiber-Regierung! Deutschland RAUS aus der NATO!" ("Fight the warmongers' government! Germany OUT of NATO!").
Dresden and Saxony, like much of the rest of the former East Germany, remain influenced by Russia. Bershidsky referred to economic links, but political channels may be more significant. Vladimir Putin, serving as an officer of the former KGB, was headquartered in Dresden. It is certainly not beyond imagining that the Russians left networks behind them in Germany as "sleepers" after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
For her part, Angela Merkel was born in Hamburg (West Germany) but lived most of her life, before 1989, in East Germany. Her father, a Lutheran pastor, had gone to the Communist zone to administer a church there.
Putin may view support for the anti-Islam uproar in Dresden as a way to mobilize his former agents and an additional option in challenging Merkel over the destiny of the former Soviet empire. Raising a furor over Syrian refugees could also be a ploy to reinforce Moscow's alliance with Damascus dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Mingling of anti-Islam and pro-Russian rhetoric in Germany could reflect mere opportunistic exploitation of the former movement by adherents of Moscow, but that seems unlikely.
PEGIDA and its founder, Lutz Bachmann, have sought to distance themselves from neo-Nazi agitation against immigrants, especially Muslims.
PEGIDA and its founder, Lutz Bachmann, have sought to distance themselves from neo-Nazi agitation against immigrants, especially Muslims. Rather, it claims, "We want to preserve our free-thinking, our free and open lifestyle for ALL people living in Europe!" Regarding participants in PEGIDA, Deutsche Welle has cited the academic expert Patzelt affirming that "the majority are completely normal people. Of course, they're not people who usually vote Green, or the Left party, or the SPD [Social Democrats], but they're not extremists."
Reviewing the pro-Russian verbiage visible at the PEGIDA manifestations, one may conclude confidently that Germany will not leave NATO, and that even in his most unrestrained moments, Putin would not interfere directly in the former East Germany as he has in Ukraine.
Many observers may see in PEGIDA no more than another example of the "new populism" in Europe. But an anti-Islam, pro-Russian alliance is dangerous for its advocates. Alignment of Russian ambitions and German discontent has been seen before: in the Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939, which allowed Germany to conquer most of Europe before turning on Russia. Germans should be wary about these issues.
***Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, D.C. and author of The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony (2008), Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook (2005), and The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role In Terrorism (2002).
An implicit message behind Taliban’s attack on children
Sunday, 21 December 2014
Dr. Theodore Karasik /Al Arabiya
The killing of 132 children at the Army Public School in Peshawar by a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a dangerous development. The TTP is ripping apart Islamabad’s future generations. That fact opens doors of opportunity for other extremists to attack children of military and official elites as an operational and tactical tool.
The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack on the school children by arguing that the extremist terrorist group was seeking vengeance for military assaults last summer in North and South Waziristan and retaliation for “targeting families and females” by not only the Pakistani military but by American drone strikes. Muhammad Umar Khorasani, from the Jamatul Ahrar faction of the TTP, stated “We want them (the Pakistani military) to feel the pain.”
In addition, TTP Commander Jihad Yar Wazir stated “The TTP is ready for a long, long war against the U.S. puppet state of Pakistan. We are just displaced, but we are still in positions to attack wherever we want.” Yar Wazir justified the killings as fitting the TTP’s implementation of justice: “The parents of the army school are army soldiers and they are behind the massive killing of our kids and indiscriminate bombing in North and South Waziristan. To hurt them at their safe haven and homes—such an attack is perfect revenge.”
Khalifa Omar Mansoor, who allegedly organized the attack, argued that ordinary Pakistanis have disregarded the predicament of inhabitants in the two Waziristans. Mansoor is the chief of the TTP chapter that originates from the tribal region of Darra Adam Khel, in northwestern Pakistan. The group made headlines when it beheaded a kidnapped Polish engineer five years ago.
Pakistan has 146 Army Public Schools around the country, and many other schools administered by other arms of the military. Mansoor threatened to target similar institutions around the country. He said: “I want to tell the Pakistan government, and the directors, teachers and students of the army’s affiliated institutions, that you are the ones strengthening this un-Islamic democratic system,” he said. “It is these institutions that graduate future generals, brigadiers and majors, who then kill Taliban and innocent tribal people.” Mansoor’s point is clear: to kill off future generations of leadership.
It is important to illustrate the changes ongoing in the TTP within the past two years. A U.S. drone strike killed TTP leader Hakimullah Meshud in 2013. Maulana Fazlullah became the group's new leader in late 2013 after a succession struggle because Fazlullah is not from the Meshud tribe. Over the past few months of divisions within the TTP and its mother organization, the Pakistani Taliban, are becoming more apparent. As such, the Pakistani Taliban is a misnomer because the extremist group is an umbrella organization divided among tribes and other factions. Currently, the two hard-line and most effective groups within the TTP are the Mohmand Taliban, led by Umar Khalid, and the Dara group led by Khalifa Omar. The Dara group is active around the Peshawar valley region and have been involved in most of the deadly attacks there. Significantly, in late 2014, the TTP fragmented into at least four groups because of the influence of the Islamic State. The pledging of "bayat" or allegiance to ISIS’s leader Al-Baghdadi by the subgroups meant that this faction would quickly adopt more stringent and violent tactics that we may now be seeing.
“The TTP mindset is based on retribution and the targeting of children of the Pakistani military is warranted according to their ideology”
Dr. Theodore Karasik
It is clear that the TTP mindset is based on retribution and the targeting of children of the Pakistani military is warranted according to their ideology of striking at those who do not fit their shariat paradigim. But it is important to note that TTP has attacked children at schools or in school transport in the past. It was the TTP, in a previous incarnation that shot now Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in the head.
But in this day and age the TTP faction Jamatul Ahrar is going to target more children. Clearly, in 2014, children are being killed not only in Nigeria by Boko Haram but also in areas under ISIS rule where children are sold into slavery or butchered by decapitation or other forms of death, including the slaughter of Yazidis. Although attacking schools and killing children is not new across the world—the 2004 Beslan, Russian Federation attack, the 2007 Al-Qataniyah and Al-Adnaniyah Yazidi towns attack, the 2007 Baghlani-jadid, Afghanistan attack, and the 2011 lone-wolf Anders Breivik shootings in Norway come to mind-- the frequency of such attacks is rising due to the high shock value of any such strike. What makes the attack in Pakistan all the more important is indeed the targeting of future generations.
Now, it is quite possible the killing of the offspring of the Pakistani military of any state is a very specific endeavor that extremists and terrorists will capitalize upon. The Army Public School in Peshawar strike ups the ante: Is it truly open season on children of public servants and elites from West Africa to South Asia? The answer, sadly, may be yes. The time is now to plan to mitigate terrorist operations targeting children of military and state elites who will go to school after the New Year.
Sisi smartly rekindles Egyptian-Sino relations
Dr. Naser al-Tamimi/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 21 December 2014
In August 2012, only two months after assuming the presidency of Egypt, former President Mohammad Mursi visited China. From there, he declared that Cairo is looking to strengthen its relations with emerging powers, China in particular. Two years later, the Egyptian officials announced that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is scheduled to visit China on December 23, just 5 months after he became president. Although the two presidents, the current and the former, stand on opposite ends in Egypt's political spectrum, but both share one goal: the need to develop strategic relations with China.
The two visits within the last two years are very important as they give strong indications about the future trajectory of Egyptian-Sino relations. Although the ties between the two countries date back more than 58 years, bilateral trade has only blossomed in recent years. Over the past decade, trade between Egypt and China has increased significantly. It has increased almost tenfold, jumping from only $1.089 million in 2003 to nearly $10.21 billion at the end of 2013, according to the latest International Trade Centre. Tellingly, Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour expects commercial exchange between Egypt and China to stand at US $ 11.5 billion by the end of 2014, with Beijing becoming Cairo's top trade partner.
However, the trade balance tilts considerably in favor of China with $ 8.38 worth of Chinese exports to Egypt in 2013. Manufactured items such as textiles, clothing, machinery. electrical and electronic equipment, plastics and articles and vehicles form the bulk of exports from China to Egypt; while petroleum, crude, natural gas, liquefied gas, glassware, marble and cotton form the bulk of Egypt exports to China. Not surprisingly, cooperation in energy is a driving force in Chinese-Egyptian trade ties. According to the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation's "China Global Investment Tracker," between 2005 and the end of 2013, China's investments and contracts in Egypt reached $ 8.4 billion, where $ 5.6 billion (66.6%) went to the energy sector, $ 1.4 billion (16.3%) to real estate, $ 940 million (1.1%) to metals and the rest to transportation.
Economic growth first
Acknowledging China's importance as one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, Cairo expressed its readiness to engage Beijing on a long-term basis. For Egypt, China is the 17th largest market for its exports, accounting for nearly 2% of its global exports. Consequently, there is considerable scope to increase Egyptian exports to the Chinese market. In terms of imports by Egypt, China ranks first and is the source of around 10.5% of Egypt's total imports.
“Over time, we may witness a growing Chinese role in Egypt”
For Egypt, boosting economic growth, attracting more foreign investment, and providing jobs for the unemployed, are the most important priorities. In this regard, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that Egypt's inward foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2013 was $ 5.55 billion, compared to $ 6.88 in 2012 and pre-crises (200-2010) annual average of $ 8.3 billion. Looking forward, Egypt is hoping to attract investments (http://www.icn.com/en/article/2014/11/23/Egypt-seeks-new-investments-at-March-economic-conference/index.aspx ) worth $10-12 billion in 20 projects in the areas of energy, transport, water and grain storage, when it hosts a three - day international economic summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm elSheikh on March 13, 2015. To underscore Cairo's view of Beijing as a critical partner, Egypt has pushed back that summit meant to boost investment and aid from February 2015 to mid March to avoid it conflicting with Chinese holidays.
Although the economy is the top priority for Cairo, but the political dimensions of the Egypt-China relations are impossible to ignore. Egypt looks to China as an attractive alternative to balancing its' foreign policy to give more focus to its relations with the East. Interestingly, Egypt's International Cooperation Minister, Naglaa al-Ahwani, told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that the "main purpose of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's expected visit to Beijing is to create a kind of strategic partnership with China." Indeed, Cairo attaches great importance to its relations with Beijing as Egypt has recently established a cabinet unit specified for China led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to strengthen relations with Beijing.
Through Cairo's lens, China could be regarded as a valuable source of political support as Egypt continues on a path of economic reforms whilst also seeking to deflect Western pressure in the area of democratization. Most importantly, China may play an important role in supplying Egypt, especially with weapons that the United States refuses or is reluctant to sell, such as long-range missiles, unmanned planes and satellite and nuclear technology. In this regard Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, who is also the Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy, met recently with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and expressed China's willingness to strengthen mutual political trust with Egypt and deepen bilateral cooperation in infrastructure, new energy, security and law enforcement.
As for China, access to a consumer market of over 90 million people is very attractive. At present, Egypt is China's third largest export market in Africa (after South Africa and Nigeria) and could soon become the top one. More importantly, relations with Egypt enhance the Chinese presence in Africa and the Mediterranean region or to put it in Chinese President Xi Jinping words "Egypt is a leading country in the Arab world, Africa and the Islamic world, and a country that has traditional friendship with China". At a strategic level, gaining a foothold in Egypt may prove to be of vital importance to China's long-term Maritime New Silk Road strategy. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has expressed this sentiment in his last visit to Egypt openly by saying "China's strategic conception of building the - one belt and one road - tallies with Egypt's strategy of national development". Egypt is wary also of the Israeli so- called Red-Med project. The project that would connect by rail links more than 300 kilometers between "Eilat" on the Red Sea and "Ashdod" Port on the Mediterranean Sea. Cairo may seek more clarifications and assurances about the Chinese participation in this project.
Difficult road ahead
Against this strategic backdrop, The IMF, in its latest report, praised the Egyptian government's policies, but said the road to recovery is still difficult. Egypt's economic prospects "have improved significantly", the IMF said at the end of Article IV consultations with Cairo, the first since April 2010. However, IMF warned that "The main downside risks are domestic, and stem from possible setbacks in the political transition which could delay the recovery of FDI and tourism. Most importantly, the World Bank urged Egypt to amend its investment regulations and implement promised legal and bureaucratic reforms ahead of an international conference in March. In the World Bank's Doing Business 2015 Index Egypt ranked 112 out of 189 economies so there is much scope for improvement.
Despite these obstacles, Sino-Egyptian relations will surely be enhanced during the coming period. Over time, we may witness a growing Chinese role in Egypt.
Sharing a World with Baghdadi?
Mshari Al-Zaydi /Al Arabiya
Sunday, 21 Dec, 2014
If you don’t like what you are seeing in reality, you can escape to your imagination, fleeing from the known to the unknown. This is the reality for people today, particularly those in the Middle East who are facing desperate hardships, whether we are talking about the brutal butcher knives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the provocative discourse of the turbaned imams of Khomeini’s Iran. In addition to all this, we have unemployment, overcrowding and a series of wars, conflicts and crimes stretching from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, Yemen and Libya. So what is left? Oh, yes, there is the chaos that is raging in Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Away from political corruption and ideological crises, there are a number of other problems that do not differentiate between one’s color or creed; here I am talking about issues that will affect the entire earth.
There has been a population explosion; the earth is teeming with people, putting pressure on food and water resources, and even our atmosphere. This is not to mention talk about energy crises and the like. However the greatest problem of all is the issue of global warming and climate change—this is a problem that has created, according to some analysts and researchers, a new ideology of secular humanism.
Mostly in the West, there are those who believe that climate change is man-made, due to humanity’s reckless burning of fossil fuels, and so there is a move now to place limits on greenhouse gas emission. However there is another camp that believes that this phenomenon has been exaggerated, or indeed completely made-up, for political purposes and specifically in order to target developing countries.
The Nature journal issued a special analysis this month indicating that 41 percent of all amphibians on the planet are now facing extinction, while 26 percent of mammal species and 13 percent of birds face similar threats. This is a state of affairs that threatens the world with a “mass extinction”—defined as one involving a loss of 75 percent of species or more—within the next few centuries. This is all, according to the report, due to man-made practices.
At the same time, other respected international scientists have said that all this talk about global warming is politically, not scientifically, motivated. While every now and then, we hear news that an asteroid or meteorite is on course to hit the Earth, potentially wiping out all life—just like what happened millions of years ago to kill off the dinosaurs, according to some accounts.
In the meantime, we follow news of space exploration missions to nearby planets searching for any sign of extraterrestrial life, particularly in our closest neighbor the red planet Mars. NASA continues to bring us news, and even images, of this distant world taken from its rover Curiosity, which continues to relay images and information.
So yes, there is scientific passion, and economic considerations, in all of these efforts; but this does not hide the basic concern that we have regarding the state of affairs on our own planet.
Who wants to share a world with ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi or Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Al-Suleimani or Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah? What about Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi or Al-Qaeda in Yemen leader Nasir Al-Wuhayshi?
Ultimately, it is the image of Islam itself that is being harmed the most by this corruption, destruction and chaos. The solution lies in focusing on fixing the problems on this world, not seeking out another.
Defected Syrian Gen. Manaf Tlass says Assad ‘sold Syria
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 21 December 2014
A senior Syrian army general who defected in 2012 said in a recent interview that President Bashar al-Assad had sold out Syria to Iran and opted to use repression and violence as a means of snuffing out dissent right from the start of the uprising against his rule in 2011.
“Bashar never opted at any time for serious and credible reforms, but instead chose to destroy the country rather than lose power,” former Syrian army Gen. Manaf Tlass told the Wall Street Journal in an article published on Friday.
“He sold Syria to the Iranians,” Tlass, who lives in France now, said.
The article looked into the July 18, 2012, bombing in Damascus that killed four senior Syrian officials, including Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, just weeks after Tlass defected.
The article said new revelations about the bombing pointed to a “startling theory” that it may have been an inside job in order to silence regime voices that had been open to accommodating with the opposition at the time.
It said two dozen people, “including past and current regime officials, opposition leaders, activists and rebels, and politicians in neighboring countries with ties to Mr. Assad,” believed the bombing resulted from a split over whether or not the regime should engage with the opposition groups.
Tlass, who said he believed the regime was connected with the bombing, told the paper that he and Shawkat were among those calling for talks with both peaceful and armed regime opponents, which ran contrary to Assad’s view on how to respond to the popular uprising.
Tlass, one of the most senior officials to abandon the regime, defected two weeks before the July bombing after guards found six explosive devices planted outside his office in Damascus.