February 08/14

Bible Quotation for today/Riches in Heaven
Luke 12/32-40: "32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Provide for yourselves purses that don't wear out, and save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because no thief can get to them, and no moth can destroy them.  For your heart will always be where your riches are. “Be ready for whatever comes, dressed for action and with your lamps lit,  like servants who are waiting for their master to come back from a wedding feast. When he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him at once.  How happy are those servants whose master finds them awake and ready when he returns! I tell you, he will take off his coat, have them sit down, and will wait on them.  How happy they are if he finds them ready, even if he should come at midnight or even later!  And you can be sure that if the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, he would not let the thief break into his house.  And you, too, must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.”

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For February 08/14
Washington and the ‘oil, Israel and terrorism’ trio/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabyia/February 08/14
Inside Baseball on Syrian Rebel Infighting/By: Aaron Y. Zelin/Washington Institute/February 08/14
International Christian Concern/Eight Egyptian Christians Abducted in the Last Week/
February 08/14
The Simple Wisdom of Arab Dictators/By Raymond Ibrahim/February 07/14

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For February 08/14
Lebanese Related News
Suleiman Meets Hollande, Larijani as Paris Vows to Equip Army ASAP
Suleiman Hails New Tunisian Constitution, Calls for Democratic Systems in Region
PSP Seeks to End Cabinet Standstill, Ease Tension among Political Foes
Security Portfolios Delay Cabinet Formation as Salam Seeks to Appease Rival Camps
Raad Hints 'Ploys' in Formation Process May Topple New Cabinet
Mustaqbal Lauds Bkirki Treaty: Combating Terrorism Needs National Solution
Retired British Officer Testifies at STL on Mitsubishi Items Found in Seabed
Qahwaji: We'll Tighten Noose on Suspect Groups, Won't Leave Any Area to Chaos
'Free Sunni Baalbek Brigade' Says Killed Iranian Military Trainer at Hizbullah Camp
Hezbollah opposes two security posts for March 14
Hezbollah supporters demand action
Paris to Host in March Meeting for International Support Group for Lebanon
Politicians praise Rai’s charter, some silentPoliticians praise Rai’s charter, some silent
Lebanon launches crackdown on stolen cars
Ibrahim Farhat appointed new head of Al-Manar
Judge releases three suspects in Shoueifat blast
Report: Soldiers Ordered to Search Suspicious Women at Checkpoints

Miscellaneous Reports And News
Civilians evacuated from Syria's besieged Homs
Syria troops 'retake most of Aleppo prison' from rebels

Rebels storm Aleppo prison, free hundreds
Syria Now 'a Matter of Homeland Security'
Syrian Crisis/An overripe problem
U.S. Diplomats Walk Out of Tunisia Ceremony after Iran Jibe
U.S. Treasury says Iran helping Al-Qaeda in Syria

Putin urged to push 'Olympic truce' in Syria
Turkish F-16 scrambled for Sochi hijack attempt

Sick Saudi Woman Dies after Ambulance Denied Access
Family blames Saudi gender segregation rules for student’s death
In Putin meeting, China’s Xi praises Russia ties
Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes at 5-year high
U.N. refugee workers end West Bank strike
Police: Two bombs wound six officers in Cairo
U.S. says aid to reach Homs starting Friday


The Trojan Micheal Aoun and His Evil Paper of Understanding with the Axis Of Evil
Elias Bejjani/07/02/14/
Eight years passed since the selfish and derailed Micheal Aoun imprisoned himself and his supporters in Hezbollah's locked jails and bunkers. Eight years ago Aoun decided to betray himself, his national record, his patriotic tags and rhetoric, His Maronite Church historic convictions, His Holy Lebanon, His dignity,  his country and the martyr's blood. Eight years ago Aoun succumbed to the evil Hezbollah and signed with its leadership the Anti-Lebanon and notorious "Paper Of Understanding". Exactly like Judas Iscariot  Aoun sold Lebanon and its people for thirty pieces of silver. In conclusion, Aoun gained nothing and lost every thing because his gains were transient false power and earthly benefits. History will have no mercy for this politician or for his likes and shall baldy curse their acts.


Micheal Aoun's Chances to be Lebanon's President are less than a big zero!!
Elias Bejjani/08.02.14/Who yet does not know 100% in Lebanon and Diaspora that Micheal Aoun is not fit by any means and according to any criteria to be Lebanon's coming president? Really almost each and every sane politician in Lebanon is aware of this fact. But Aoun and against all odds still dreaming and Fantasizing  that he will be elected president. Even Hezbollah who used as a facade and abused him in every way since 2005, has never ever nominated him for the presidency post and definitely will never do. This man's political future is over. Can he grasp this reality? No not all because he delusional and totally detached from reality


Question: "Do faith in God and science contradict?" Science is defined as "the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." Science is a method that mankind can use to gain a greater understanding of the natural universe. It is a search for knowledge through observation. Advances in science demonstrate the reach of human logic and imagination. However, a Christian's belief in science should never be like our belief in God. A Christian can have faith in God and respect for science, as long as we remember which is perfect and which is not.
Our belief in God is a belief of faith. We have faith in His Son for salvation, faith in His Word for instruction, and faith in His Holy Spirit for guidance. Our faith in God should be absolute, since when we put our faith in God, we depend on a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient Creator. Our belief in science should be intellectual and nothing more. We can count on science to do many great things, but we can also count on science to make mistakes. If we put faith in science, we depend on imperfect, sinful, limited, mortal men. Science throughout history has been wrong about many things, such as the shape of the earth, powered flight, vaccines, blood transfusions, and even reproduction. God is never wrong. Truth is nothing to fear, so there is no reason for a Christian to fear good science. Learning more about the way God constructed our universe helps all of mankind appreciate the wonder of creation. Expanding our knowledge helps us to combat disease, ignorance, and misunderstanding. However, there is danger when scientists hold their faith in human logic above faith in our Creator. These persons are no different from anyone devoted to a religion; they have chosen faith in man and will find facts to defend that faith. Still, the most rational scientists, even those who refuse to believe in God, admit to a lack of completeness in our understanding of the universe. They will admit that neither God nor the Bible can be proved or disproved by science, just as many of their favorite theories ultimately cannot be proved or disproved. Science is meant to be a truly neutral discipline, seeking only the truth, not furtherance of an agenda. Much of science supports the existence and work of God. Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." As modern science discovers more about the universe, we find more evidence of creation. The amazing complexity and replication of DNA, the intricate and interlocking laws of physics, and the absolute harmony of conditions and chemistry here on earth all serve to support the message of the Bible. A Christian should embrace science that seeks the truth, but reject the "priests of science" who put human knowledge above God.
Recommended Resources: Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things by Alister McGrath and Logos Bible Software.

International Christian Concern/Eight Egyptian Christians Abducted in the Last Week
2/6/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern)-International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least eight Egyptian Christians from the Minya province have been abducted since January 25, 2014. The abductions, thought to be carried out by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), are just a handful among the hundreds of similar cases in the last few years.
On January 25, a "Muslim mob" abducted a 17-year-old Christian boy named Marcos Zakaria, Ezzat Ibrahim, the director of the World Center for Human Rights in Minya and Assiut, told ICC. Zakaria lived in Upper Egypt in Dier Mawas city in Minya province and is a student in his final year of secondary school. The kidnappers "contacted his family demanding a ransom of million Egyptian pounds for his return," said Ibrahim.
On February 1, a 10-year-old boy named Marcos Ibrahim Ayoub, was abducted "by a Muslim mob" from his father's farm in the village of Barsha in Minya Province, Ibrahim told ICC. That same day, in Khanka city in Qalyubia Governorate, a 10-year-old Christian girl named Sandy Girgis Ramses was kidnapped in a similar fashion while she was playing in front of her home, Ihab Mourad, a Christian in Khanka, told ICC. In both cases, the kidnappers have demanded ransom, though neither of the children has yet to be recovered. Shop owner, 23-year-old Nazlat El Malak, was abducted from his store on February 1 when he refused to pay extortion fees to "armed Muslim thugs," according to Nashat Khalf, a Christian in Sahel Selim. El Malak is from Sahel Selim city in the Assiut Governorate. The day before, on January 31, those same thugs stole a car and pick-up truck from Christians and demanded they be given an exorbitant fee for their return.  On February 2, "masked Muslims abducted Esther Kadis at gunpoint while she was on her way to church," said Ayoub Wasfy, a Christian from her city, Nag Hammadi. That same day, police arrested the kidnappers and released Esther back to her family. "On Monday evening, February 3, a mob of armed Muslims abducted two Christians at gunpoint," said Ibrahim. The two men, Ashraf Sobhi Khalil and Magdy Fayez, are residents of Deir El Malak village and El Bayadeya village respectively. Known to be Christians, the men were transporting sand when they stopped to change a flat tire and were abducted. The kidnappers have demanded a ransom from each of their families. On Tuesday, February 4 a 25-year-old Christian, Kerolos Adel Abdel-Malak, was abducted at gunpoint enroute from Minya city to his home in the village of Towa. The kidnappers demanded a ransom for his safe return and threatened his family that they "will kill him if they report this to the police," Ibrahim told ICC. Jeff King, president of ICC says, "It is clear that Muslim radicals, most likely MB members, are targeting Christians in Egypt, specifically in the Minya province. It is in Egypt's best interest to pay attention to and do something about this matter, as funds received from these illegal activities likely fuel the MB radicalism that is tearing at the very fabric of this great country."


Hezbollah supporters demand action to curb spate of attacks
February 07, 2014/By Nicholas Blanford/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah supporters are pressing the party’s leadership to take direct action to curb the spate of suicide bomb attacks in Shiite areas of the country. The silence emanating from Hezbollah in recent days combined with the demands of its followers suggest that the party could be close to launching an offensive action alongside its current defensive measures in areas under its influence. “Our patience is running out and we are demanding Hezbollah do something. We cannot continue to live like this,” said one resident of a suburb south of Beirut and a supporter of Hezbollah.
That sentiment is now commonly heard in Beirut’s southern suburbs. The streets have emptied and businesses are suffering with outsiders afraid to visit the area to take advantage of cheaper prices. Residents are looking to sell their properties and move out or rent elsewhere in Beirut. Yet more steel anti-parking poles are appearing along with additional CCTV cameras. Hezbollah snipers reportedly have taken to the rooftops and more explosive detection kits have been disbursed to the party’s cadres. Lately, Hezbollah has surrounded the Rassoul al-Azzam Hospital on the old airport road with a dense ring of concrete and steel. Hezbollah fighters wounded in Syria are treated at the hospital which could make it a tempting target for extremist militant groups. The security services have had some success in arresting militants and have been particularly aggressive in pursuing suspects in areas like the Western Bekaa Valley, which has a long association with the jihadist phenomenon. Most of the bomb attacks have been amateurish and poorly planned with relatively small explosive charges, but the fact that the bombers continue to strike underlines the limits of defensive measures as well as the sizable pool of volunteers willing to immolate themselves.
Hezbollah can act with speed and ruthlessness when it feels that its interests are under threat. That was demonstrated in bold fashion in May 2008 when Hezbollah stormed west Beirut in response to the then-March 14-dominated government’s attempt to shut down the party’s private telecommunications network. The intent behind the unprecedented act was to cow the government into reversing its decision, a goal that ultimately was achieved.
But the adversary Hezbollah faces in Lebanon today is more nebulous and requires a different approach. Whatever action Hezbollah chooses to undertake would have to be tailored so as not to further inflame Sunni-Shiite tensions in Lebanon, a development the party has sought to avoid despite its intervention in the Syrian war aggravating the sectarian climate.
A possible hint of what may come occurred on Oct. 11 with the death of Omar Ibrahim Atrash, the alleged mastermind of the car bombing in Ruwaiss in August which killed 27 people. There were various reports of what happened but it appeared that Atrash’s vehicle was halted by an obstacle placed on a track between Arsal and Ras Baalbek and then struck by an anti-tank missile, killing the militant and his companion.
The wilderness between Arsal and the border with Syria has been subjected to occasional Syrian helicopter attacks, but Atrash’s death bore the hallmarks of a carefully planned ambush and execution. Did Hezbollah acquire intelligence on Atrash’s movements and take a decision to eliminate the perpetrator of the Ruwaiss bombing?
Similarly, the twin car bombings of two Sunni mosques in Tripoli, coming eight days after the deadly Ruwaiss blast, initially raised speculation in some quarters that it may have been retaliation by Hezbollah.
Although the investigation pointed to an alternative set of culprits, more than a few Hezbollah supporters referred to the Tripoli bombings as a “two all” equation, meaning two bomb attacks against the Sunnis for the two bombings in Ruwaiss and Bir al-Abed in July.
The rocket barrage against Arsal on Jan. 17 in which seven people were killed, a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up in Hermel, was regarded by the town’s Sunni residents as a revenge attack by Hezbollah. They insisted that the launch site for the rocket attack was to the west of Arsal somewhere between Zabboud and Hermel, Shiite-populated territory where Hezbollah has a presence. Hezbollah denied it was responsible and the Army said that the rockets were fired from the east where the border with Syria lies. A claim of responsibility was made on social media by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) – the extremist group that was disavowed this week by Al-Qaeda – which said it had targeted the “FSA headquarters” in Arsal.
The rockets used were 122mm Grads fitted with anti-personnel warheads containing hundreds of steel ball bearings. Hezbollah is known to possess such rockets and fired some into Israel in the 2006 war. Then again, Hezbollah received the Grads from Syria which makes it possible that ISIS has acquired some of the rockets in its raids against Syrian army munitions depots.
Since the Shoueifat suicide bomb attack, there have been reports that Hezbollah is preparing to launch an attack against the Syrian town of Yabroud in the Qalamoun area, the alleged source of some of the car bomb attacks in Lebanon. According to a security source, the explosive used in the Ruwaiss car bombing was Poladyn, part of a stockpile held in Yabroud. Poladyn, which comes in red sticks, is commonly used in stone quarrying, which is widely practiced in the mountainous Qalamoun area. The vehicle apprehended by the Army in the northern Bekaa Valley on Nov. 22 also contained Poladyn, reportedly some 350 kilograms of the explosive, along with two mortar shells. However, the bombs that have struck Shiite areas this year were smaller than the Bir al-Abed and Ruwaiss attacks last summer and reportedly were constructed mainly from jerry-rigged mortar rounds and rockets rather than a more powerful explosive charge like Poladyn. That may suggest that Yabroud has dried up as a source of car bombs destined for Lebanon, particularly in light of the Syrian army’s offensive against the Qalamoun area since mid-November in which the town has been heavily shelled. Alternatively, it may simply have become too difficult to smuggle bomb-laden vehicles along the army-controlled and Hezbollah-monitored routes that link Arsal to the Bekaa Valley, forcing the perpetrators of the recent attacks to manufacture less powerful devices from whatever available material can be found in Lebanon.


Hezbollah resists handing March 14 two security posts
February 07, 2014/By Wassim Mroueh/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The sputtering Cabinet formation process hit a new hurdle Thursday, with Hezbollah voicing its objection to allotting two security ministries to the March 14 coalition, political sources said. “Talks on the distribution of sovereign portfolios have returned to square one,” a source familiar with the negotiations told The Daily Star. Sovereign portfolios refer to the Defense, Interior, Foreign and Finance ministries. Other sources said that Hezbollah opposed granting the Interior Ministry to the Future Movement and the Defense Ministry to another March 14 figure as initially agreed. The sources added that Hezbollah proposed granting the Interior Ministry to a minister loyal to Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam instead. The source familiar with deliberations said that granting the Interior Ministry to Salam would undo all the progress made in negotiations on the distribution of sovereign portfolios, as it would make it impossible to grant the Foreign Ministry to Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement as offered by Salam earlier this week. The Foreign Ministry in this case would go to the March 14 coalition.
The sources said that Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt was mediating in order to resolve the issue. This latest wrinkle complicates the existing standoff over rotating key ministerial portfolios among sects, which has also hindered the Cabinet formation process, now in its 11th month. The Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Jumblatt agreed last month to form an all-embracing Cabinet based on an 8-8-8 lineup. The deal also stipulated that key portfolios be rotated among sects. The agreement ended nine months of Cabinet impasse during which the Future Movement refused to join a government with Hezbollah before the party withdrew its fighters from Syria. For its part, Hezbollah said it would only support a government based on the 9-9-6 lineup. Aoun, Hezbollah’s ally, argues that the principle of rotation is unconstitutional, violates the National Pact on power-sharing between sects and only aims at stripping his party of the Energy Ministry, currently held by his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil. Hezbollah has failed so far to convince Aoun to accept the principle of rotation. A new government is unlikely to emerge Friday, with President Michel Sleiman, who needs to sign the decree forming the government, traveling to Tunisia to attend a ceremony on the adoption of the new Tunisian constitution. Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc called Thursday for eliminating all obstacles hindering the formation of an all-embracing Cabinet in which all political parties are fairly represented. “The current opportunity should not be lost by having [someone] attempt to be too clever and give [others] justification to challenge the [next] government’s adherence to the National Pact, its constitutionality, or to weaken actual national partnership in its lineup,” the bloc said in a statement released after its regular meeting in Beirut’s southern suburbs.“The formation of a political all-embracing government requires that all relevant officials demonstrate more eagerness and be more dynamic in order to overcome obstacles preventing the participation of all political parties based on their weight,” the statement said.
The bloc added that efforts should focus on opening the door for cooperation between all political factions to spare the country further complications on the eve of presidential polls, which the bloc emphasized should be held on time. The constitutional period to elect a new president starts on March 25, two months before Sleiman’s term expires. Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat said Hezbollah was pushing Aoun to stand firm on his opposition regarding rotation because the party was not interested in having a new government in the first place. “It is very clear that Hezbollah is inciting General Aoun [to oppose rotation] because it does not want a government,” Fatfat told a local radio station. “ Hezbollah made concessions in form on the request of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, but is going back on these concessions in this way.” The lawmaker said Hezbollah was interested in keeping the government of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in power so that it would manage the country when the party prevents presidential polls. – Additional reporting by Dana Khraiche


Ibrahim Farhat appointed new head of Al-Manar
February 07, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Al-Manar appointed Ibrahim Farhat as director-general of the Hezbollah-affiliated television station Thursday, an official at the channel confirmed to The Daily Star. Farhat is the former director of public relations at the channel. His predecessor, Abdallah Qasir, resigned from his post as head of the station in December in the wake of a controversy over a public apology by the Lebanese Communication Group, the parent company of Al-Manar and Al-Nour radio station, for its coverage of Bahrain’s anti-government protests. The apology was disavowed by Hezbollah. Al-Manar declined to say whether the resignation and new appointment were linked to the incident.  The public apology was issued during a meeting of the Arab States Broadcasting Union in Tunis in December and published by the Bahrain News Agency. Hezbollah responded by saying it was not responsible for the apology and reaffirmed its “support for the oppressed people of Bahrain,” adding that it would later decide the fate of the Al-Manar delegation that issued the statement to the small Gulf country. “The stance that was taken by the delegation representing the Lebanese Communication Group was its own and the Hezbollah leadership was not consulted over the issue,” the party said at the time.

Army up to security, political challenges: Kahwagi
February 07, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi Friday said the military would remain the guarantor of Lebanon’s stability in the face of security challenges and political uncertainty including the fate of the presidential election.
“Lebanon is going through a delicate stage of its history for we still lack a government and the fears over the presidential election are growing and in light of the security challenges the Army will remain the nation’s security net,” Kahwagi said in an address to officers. “The Army draws its strength from its legitimacy and will not give up on its right to ensure stability and prevent self-security [by some] and we stress our firm decision to prevent strife in Lebanon and we will not let [Tripoli or any other] region fall to the mercy of [chaos],” he said. Kahwagi said the Army was over the past months devoting its attention toward counter-terrorism and stressed that the military was stepping up these efforts in order to “apprehend these [terror] cells and tighten the noose around all suspect groups. He stressed that the Army only took action against parties targeting citizens and the military.
“The Army does not fight anyone because of their beliefs but because of aggression against citizens and soldiers,” he said, adding that the Lebanese rejected “the terrorist and suicide missions” seen in recent months.
A wave of deadly bombings in Lebanon claimed by Al-Qaeda-linked groups has highlighted the growing impact of the Syria conflict on its neighbor. The attacks have targeted Lebanese regions that strongly back Hezbollah, which is actively engaged in the war between the Damascus regime and rebels in Syria. “You must meet the expectations on you and it is not a trivial matter that every concerned state assures its support for Lebanon’s stability and the Lebanese Army,” he said. He also denounced campaigns targeting the Army, saying the military enjoyed the backing of many states. “There is a contrast in that as some target the Army, there is prominent international and Arab backing and will to strengthen [the military] and this out of conviction in the role of the military establishment,” he said. Kahwagi also said the upcoming constitutional deadlines meant the military had a great responsibility. “[Kahwagi viewed] that the international backing for the Army and its important role in the upcoming [constitutional] deadlines imposes a great responsibility [on the military],” adding that officers needed to raise the bar at the professional and military levels. He also warned against the military getting into politics. “Your sole reference is the Army Command: your sole allegiance to the Army,” he said, adding that “more transparency is needed as well as the culture of eradicating corruption.”


The Simple Wisdom of Arab Dictators
By Raymond Ibrahim/February 7, 2014
After my recent articles documenting how the U.S. is the chief facilitator of Christian persecution in the Muslim world, I received an email from John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, in which he made the following observation: The sad fact is that the ruthless Assad dictatorship has a better record than the United States or its Sunni allies of protecting religious minorities in the Middle East. What Syrian Christian, Alawite or Druze in their right mind would trade the Assad’s time-tested protection for the smooth words of a John Kerry, especially when they can see Sunni supremacist Saudis, Qataris, Turks and a motley array of jihadis over their shoulder?
A sad fact indeed. Still, one of the most nagging questions for Western observers must be: Why would ruthless dictators, most of whom are at least nominally Muslim, care about Christians and bother to protect them?
The answer is related to the popular adage (possibly of Arab origin), “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This has long meant that, whoever is at odds with my enemy becomes my natural friend and ally.
In the context of Arab dictators and Christian minorities, however, the adage changes slightly to, “The enemy of ‘infidels’ is my enemy.”
Put differently, a secular Bashar Assad—ruthless as he may be—knows that those Islamic rebels that attack Christians because the latter are “infidels” also see him as an infidel and are thus his natural enemies.
And so, if anything, finding and neutralizing those “elements” that persecute Christians is one with finding and neutralizing those elements that would overthrow him.
It was the same in Saddam’s Iraq, Mubarak’s Egypt, Qaddafi’s Libya, and the rest.
The point is not that these dictators had any special love for their Christian subjects, but rather that they knew they had little to worry about from them, while those who attack Christians are the ones to worry about.
This is evinced by the fact that, in other contexts, such Arab rulers cast the Christians to the lions as scapegoats for Islamists to vent their rage on—a “better them than me mentality.”
Still, an overarching deduction exists: those who scream “infidels” while burning churches are the same who scream “apostate” while attacking state targets. It’s an unwavering truism.
Even al-Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri recently demonstrated this correlation when he called on Egypt’s jihadis to stop targeting Christians and their churches and focus instead on fighting the current rulers. In both cases, the jihadis see the “infidel”—whether the born Coptic Christian infidel or the “apostate” military—as the enemy. Due to Egypt’s significant Christian population which numbers at least ten million (if not much more), the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” takes on more complete meaning in that nation: the Copts and their church did play a supportive role in the June revolution that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, even as Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with Gen. Sisi and Al Azhar’s Grand Sheikh, Ahmed al-Tayab—only to suffer at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, including al-Qaeda, everywhere. Such is the simple wisdom and instinct for survival of the Arab autocrats of the Middle East—a wisdom that concludes that, “he who targets Christians because they are ‘infidels,’ is he who targets me.”
Meanwhile, far from exhibiting such simple common sense, Western governments in general, the U.S. government in particular, continue to aid and abet those who, by targeting and killing Christians simply because they are “infidels,” are continually exposing their ingrained hostility for the West and everything it once stood for.


U.S. Treasury says Iran helping Al-Qaeda in Syria
February 07, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Iran is assisting key Al-Qaeda figures to transfer Sunni fighters into Syria, the Obama administration charged Thursday. The accusation, detailed in new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury department targeting Iranian terror links, indicates Iranian officials are backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, described by the Treasury Department as an Iran-based Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) facilitator, was designated for providing logistical support and funding to Al-Qaeda's Iran-based network. Iranian officials denied the accusations, to the Wall Street Journal, saying Washington was harming diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. According to the Long War Journal, a respected counter-terrorism blog, the IJU is an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Both groups are closely allied with Al-Qaeda. Sadikov, also known as Jafar al-Uzbeki and Jafar Muidinov, serves as a “key extremist smuggler based in Mashhad, Iran, near the country's border with Afghanistan, and has provided visas and passports to numerous foreign fighters, including Al-Qaeda recruits, to facilitate their travel," the Treasury said, adding that “he assisted extremists and operatives transiting Iran on their way into and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the Treasury said. According to the Treasury statement, Uzbeki has also provided funding to Abdel Aziz Khalil, AKA Yasin al-Suri, who resumed leadership of Al-Qaeda's Iran-based network after being temporarily detained there in late 2011. Suri is believed to be responsible for overseeing Al-Qaeda efforts to transfer experienced fighters from Pakistan to Syria. The Treasury said he is involved in organizing and maintaining routes by which new recruits can travel to Syria via Turkey. The Treasury Department designated Suri in July 2011 and has authorized monetary rewards for information leading to his location. The Treasury department said the Al-Qaeda network in Iran “has facilitated the transfer of funds from Gulf-based donors to Al-Qaeda core and other affiliated elements, including the Nusra Front in Syria.” The U.S. has blacklisted the Syria-based Nusra Front as a terrorist organization for links with Al-Qaeda. “The Iran-based Al-Qaeda network has also leveraged an extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey,” the Treasury added. Iran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's closest ally, providing military, financial and diplomatic support. The U.S. has repeatedly accused Iran of using its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to train and deploy Shiite fighters to bolster Assad’s forces. The Nusra Front is a leading rebel group fighting Assad forces in northern Syria, along the Turkish border and was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2012 as a terrorist organization for links with Al-Qaeda.

Syrian Crisis/An overripe problem
The Daily Star/When it comes to diplomatic efforts to alleviate the horrific situation in Syria, officials in Moscow are fond of adopting a serious tone and talking about how “the time isn’t ripe.”
The catastrophic humanitarian situation is only getting worse, but for Russia, the time isn’t ripe to allow the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution that mentions the Syrian regime’s use of barrel bombs to terrorize civilians. If the regime is failing to meet its international commitment to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, there is also no need to do anything to pressure Damascus, in the view of Russian officials. If the matter concerns getting food supplies to besieged areas around the country, again, there is no need for action – Russia is working on it, diplomats will solemnly say. Some experts say that Russia’s support for the Syrian regime is slowly dwindling, but such nuances mean nothing for the thousands of people whose lives are being torn apart every single day. If these issues – chemical weapons, starvation and barrel bombs – aren’t important enough to require action, what is? Russian officials have every right to believe that outside diplomatic pressure on Syria would be “counterproductive,” but in political terms, the only way to respond is by generating something tangible: an end to blockading, dropping barrel bombs on civilians and procrastination over chemical stockpiles. If Russia can’t pull its weight and act like the world power it aspires to be, it should abandon the pretense that it has influence over its ally, along with the argument that it deserves a seat at the table when it comes to Syria’s future.

Canada/Govt to create longer wait to become Canadian, strip citizenship from terrorists
By Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The Conservative government is poised to finally unveil its retooled plan to reform First Nations education. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will deliver …
More Canada news »TORONTO - The Conservative government has proposed sweeping changes to the Citizenship Act that include beefing up eligibility requirements for immigrants who want to become Canadians and stripping citizenship from terrorists and those who take up arms against Canada.
The changes are aimed at strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship and improving the efficiency of the process required to attain it, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told a news conference on Thursday.
"Canadians take as much or more pride in their citizenship than any other group of citizens around the world," he said. "The rate of application is likely to go up in spite of the fact that we're taking certain measures to reinforce the value of citizenship."
He added that Canadians understand that citizenship should not be "simply a passport of convenience."
The government has called the proposed overhaul the first comprehensive reform to the Citizenship Act since 1977.
Under new legislation, citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are members of armed forces or groups engaged in armed conflict with Canada, and from those convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying.
The legislation will also deny citizenship to permanent residents who are involved in those activities.
Officials say those provisions will likely only apply to exceptional cases. Alexander was asked how the government would determine whether terrorism charges or convictions in other countries with dubious justice systems were legitimate.
"The government of Canada has very clear criteria for terrorism, terrorism entities, terrorist groups," he said. "Committing an act of terrorism is a Criminal Code violation so that is the threshold that would have to be met."
The new law will also require permanent residents to have a "physical presence" in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship, compared to the previous requirement of three out of four years.
They will also need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days each year for at least four of those six years, and will have to file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for citizenship.
"Our government expects new Canadians to take part in the democratic life, economic potential and rich cultural traditions that are involved in becoming a citizen," said Alexander.
While the residency requirements have increased, the government says its new laws will speed up processing times for citizenship applications. It plans to reduce its current decision-making process from three steps to one.
The current backlog sits at more than 320,000 citizenship applications, with processing times stretching to as much as 36 months. The government hopes its changes will mean that by 2015-16, successful applicants get their citizenship in less than a year.
More applicants will also have to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test to attain citizenship, with the government expanding its age range for those requirements to those aged 14-64, compared to the current range of those aged 18-54.
The new legislation would also bar permanent residents with foreign criminal charges and convictions from getting citizenship. Current laws only bar citizenship for those with certain domestic criminal charges and convictions.
In another change, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have a fast track to citizenship.
Meanwhile, the government plans to extend citizenship to the so-called "lost Canadians" who had been wrongfully denied it in the past.
The group of individuals who fell through the cracks in existing legislation include certain children of war brides born before 1947 when Canada had no citizenship laws of its own.
The bill detailing the Citizenship Act revamp was introduced in Parliament Thursday morning.

Inside Baseball on Syrian Rebel Infighting
Aaron Y. Zelin/War on the Rocks/Washington Institute
February 7, 2014
The weeks-long internecine clashes are expected to continue hampering the rebel struggle against the Assad regime, with ISIS fighting on despite being ostracized by al-Qaeda and other jihadists.
A month ago, major fighting broke out between the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (nationalist), Jaysh al-Mujahidin (Islamist), the Islamic Front (Salafi) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS; global jihadi). For the first time, there was a concerted military effort to push back against the ISIS reign of terror that has been tyrannizing the Syrian population as well as the other groups. While there were major successes in the first week, ISIS was able to recover and went on a counteroffensive. Similar to the fight between the rebels and the regime, the fight among the rebel groups has become indecisive and stalemated. The infighting illustrates that the rebels are now in an active two-front war, which could in the medium to long-term severely degrade their capabilities and resources against their original enemy, the Assad regime.
While fighting continues between the Islamic Front and ISIS, it is a lot more complex than reported in the media; though, as the fighting heads into a second month, positions are becoming hardened (more on this below). Further, the bulk of the anti-ISIS fighting has been conducted by the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Jaysh al-Mujahidin. While it appears that there is a unified backlash against ISIS, there are two different dynamics going on with the bulk of the infighting occurring between the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, in coalition with Jaysh al-Mujahidin, and ISIS. The Syrian Revolutionaries Front–Jaysh al-Mujahidin alliance is more based on differences in ideology and potentially a demonstration to outside backers that they can fight against jihadis, whereas the Islamic Front offensive is more a response to abuses perpetrated by ISIS against it along with an attempt to act as a sovereign state in liberated areas. Although in the first few days of infighting ISIS was dealt blows and kicked out of a number of areas, the group has not been defeated. In fact, it has been able to recover in spite of its isolation among the rebels.
Many within the jihadi camp have framed any fighting between ISIS and the Islamic Front as merely fitna (discord), while the fight with the Syrian Revolutionaries Front–Jaysh al-Mujahidin is seen as more akin to a second sahwa movement (similar to what occurred in Iraq last decade). Though, some diehard ISIS activists view Islamic Front as part of the sahwat as well. Originally, when the fighting first began, there were hopes within the jihadi movement that the more complicated dynamics between the Islamic Front and ISIS could to be resolved through mediation, especially with Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda's preferred branch in Syria) as a potential interlocker. In addition to Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, calling for a cease-fire, key global jihadi ideologues such as Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Shaykh Abu Qatadah al-Filistini, Shaykh Abu Basir al-Tartusi, Iyad Qunaybi, and Shaykh Sulayman al-Ulwan have criticized ISIS' excessive use of force. It should be noted that there have also been small skirmishes between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, but in a very limited capacity.
In response to the offensive, ISIS wanted to show that its real enemies were only in the Supreme Military Council and its civilian arm. On January 7th, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani pronounced takfir on the Supreme Military Council, stating, "[it is a] sect of apostasy and kufr … everyone who belongs to this entity is a legitimate target for us everywhere."
And, ISIS in Saraqib posted a statement noting that "we have no problems with our brothers in the Islamic Font, our war is with Jamal Maruf [the leader of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front]."
Further, a couple of weeks later, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said,"Here the [Islamic] State is extending an arm to you to stop fighting it and it would stop fighting you, let's be free to fight the Nusayris and Rafidha [derogatory terms for Alawis and Shi'a respectively]." While this appeal rationally makes sense, those in the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Jaysh al-Mujahidin, and Islamic Front are not buying it.
While the offensive by the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Jaysh al-Mujahidin, and Islamic Front was a shock to ISIS, they have been able to recover. There are five main reasons for why this occurred.
The original attacks were a surprise and ISIS did not expect them. Therefore, the group quickly lost territory and was pushed out of a number of areas. Once it realized what was going on and was able to come up with a counter to it, ISIS was able to retake some territory and remain a player in the north.
There are signs that local groups did not want to take orders from their commanders and some of their brigades even refused to fight ISIS. For example, Katibat Ansar al-Islam and Katibat Salah al-Din of Liwa' al-Tawhid refused to fight. Additionally, Ahrar al-Sham in Manbij refused to fight ISIS and instead went south to fight the regime.
The ceasefires that ISIS was able to secure in certain areas allowed it to shift resources to other areas instead of getting bogged down in a number of fronts. In Maskanah, the ISIS commander in the north, Umar al-Shishani, reached an agreement with Ahrar al-Sham's Abu Khalid al-Suri (who is believed to be Ayman al-Zawahiri's emissary in Syria) to stop all fighting. However, Abu Khalid would later admonish ISIS for starting this fitna and its overuse of takfir. The two groups also came to an agreement in Deir Hafer. A tentative agreement has been signed with ISIS, Ahrar al-Sham, and Suqur al-Sham in Idlib and Hama as well.The Islamic Front and ISIS came to an agreement in Saraqib, handing over the city to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front.
Therefore, agreements such as these provided ISIS the daylight it needed to recapture some of its lost clout. It began by retaking Jarabulus and Manbij. After retaking al-Bab, ISIS released a statement locally calling for all that fought the group to repent and hand in weapons. ISIS also opened a "complaints office." Further, ISIS published a statement in Aleppo saying that anyone who wants to fight the regime can coordinate with the group without having to join. However, although ISIS was able to reclaim a number of areas where it had been strong previously, it lost ground to the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Jaysh al-Mujahidin in Aleppo (including Darat al-'Izzah, Urum al-Kubra', and Urum al-Sughra', among others) and Idlib, highlighting the inconclusive nature of the battle among these factions.
ISIS was able to gain a number of bay'at (pledges of allegiance) since the infighting first began, not only from rebels groups, but also from local tribes (or clans within them), such as the al-'Umur and al-Mawali tribes in Badiyya, al-Ghanim tribe in rural eastern Aleppo, and the clan al-Bu 'Izz al-Din from the al-'Akidat tribe. These along with the pledges below are significant because they highlight that while isolated, ISIS still has been able to carve out its own powerbase.
Two Ahrar al-Sham brigades joined ISIS. Katibat al-Sadiq, formerly of the Islamic Front's Jaysh al-Islam, also pledged ba'ya. The commander of Katibat Dhu al-Nurayn decided to defect. Five groups in Deir al-Zour also pledged. All of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in Tel Hamis, al-Hasakah pledged allegiance to ISIS. Liwa Ahrar al-Furat of Ahrar al-Sham in eastern rural Aleppo joined, too. In the Sahel region, Katibat al-Husayn bin 'Ali al-Sanayah pledged bay'a to ISIS along with Ahrar al-Sham's shari'a official in al-Barkah.
Lastly, besides Jabhat al-Nusra, which has attempted to stay out of the fighting, others have also tried not to take sides all together. On January 12th, Shaykh Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sarmini, a shari'a official in Suqur al-Sham, resigned from the group and called for an end to infighting. Similarly, a week later, Liwa' al-Dawud, which had previously been aligned with ISIS, decided to unaffiliate itself and stopped taking part in any of the infighting. Likewise, Liwa' 'Umar al-Mukhtar of Abu Kamal refused to fight ISIS and moved on to the sidelines.
Although ISIS gained new groups and followers, Jabhat al-Nusra also benefited from the infighting. Due to its neutral stance, some have come to believe that Jabhat al-Nusra is above the politics and pettiness of the infighting and therefore the more trustworthy and legitimate actor. For instance, al-Idarah al-Islamiyyah Li-l-Khidmat al-'Amah, a services organization that was originally affiliated with ISIS, pledged bay'a to Jabhat al-Nusra. In eastern Ghouta, 'Isa bin Maryam, Saraya Salah al-Din, Katibat Dar'a al-Sham al-Islamiyyah, Katibat'Asimat al-Ghutah, Katibat Nur al-Ghutah, and Katibat Junud al-Rahman gave bay'a to Jabhat al-Nusra. Farther south, Katibat Mus'ab bin 'Umayr of Dar'a pledged bay'a to Jabhat al-Nusra. Additionally, the Saudi-led foreign fighter group Katibat Suqur al-'Izz joined Jabhat al-Nusra. Even in Deir al-Zour, which is an ISIS stronghold, Harakat Abna' al-Islam joined Jabhat al-Nusra. An ISIS religious cleric named Haydrah al-Qasim decided to leave and join Jabhat al-Nusra as well.
By the third week of the ISIS backlash, there were perceptions by some on the ground that the infighting was not as severe and potentially could have been stopped through mediation. Many in the Islamic Front, though, were still highly skeptical of ISIS. For example, Jaysh al-Islam's Zahran Alloush, the military commander of the Islamic Front, has consistently been anti-ISIS calling the faction khawarij (in reference to those who did not accept the authority of the Rashidun Caliphate), stating that they are agents of the Iranian government. In a statement, Liwa al-Tawhid of the Islamic Front also called for finishing the job against ISIS. Moreover, Suqur al-Sham's shari'a office in a statement said that ISIS is the "aggressor faction of Khawarij" and that it is mandatory to fight them. Further, the head of Suqur al-Sham Abu 'Isa al-Shaykh called al-Baghdadi and ISIS the same as Shi'a.
In addition there were other barriers to peace: the Islamic Front burned ISIS' famous shari'a court in al-Dana, and ISIS conducted a number of suicide bombings against Islamic Front forces. Hence, leading up to a push for reconciliation at the end of January, it is likely that the situation had already crossed a point of no return making the likelihood of a truce nonexistent.
The main proponent of the reconciliation was the Saudi Salafi ideologue Dr. 'Abd Allah bin Muhammad al-Muhaysini through his idea on January 23rd called "Mubadarah al-Ummah" (the Initiative of the Ummah), which he said was inspired by Ayman al-Zawahiri. The statement called for shari'a to be the foundation for resolving the conflict and was directly aimed at ISIS, the Islamic Front, Jaysh al-Mujahidin, and Syrian Revolutionaries Front. The latter three signed onto the initiative and were endorsed by Jabhat al-Nusra and top jihadi scholars Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Shaykh Abu Qatadah al-Filistini, among other groups and ideologues.
The only group that rejected the initiative was ISIS, which retorted by wanting a clarification on groups' theological positions related to democracy and secularism, the Supreme Military Council, and relations with foreign governments Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
In quick response, the head of Ahrar al-Sham of the Islamic Front Hasan Aboud snarkily responded by rhetorically asking if the Taliban was kufr because of its willingness to engage the international community. If so, then Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda would be kufr too since they gave bay'at to Mullah Umar, calling into question ISIS' behavior due to its relations with al-Qaeda. In a separate video address, Aboud called for ISIS to return to the true path of Islam and stated that it was holding back even in the face of "painful wounds and traitorous stabs," and if ISIS hinders the true jihad against the Assad regime then they will have to defend themselves. A week later, al-Muhaysini weighed in on ISIS' rebuff and was defiant in his criticisms of ISIS stating: "These conditions are not prescribed in the Qur'an or the traditions of Muhammad." He also called -- similar to Zawahiri in May 2013 -- for ISIS to return to Iraq and its members that want to remain in Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham.
On the heels of the failed reconciliation effort, al-Qaeda's general command released a statement disaffiliating itself from ISIS: "ISIS is not a branch of the Qaidat al-Jihad [al-Qaeda's official name] group, we have no organizational relationship with it, and the group is not responsible for its actions." While Jabhat al-Nusra has, on the whole, stayed out of the rebel infighting, al-Qaeda's announcement could lead to a war between it and ISIS, especially since one of Jabhat al-Nusra's senior clerics, Sultan bin Issa al-Atawi, called for members of ISIS to join JN.
Therefore, at the beginning of the second month of infighting, the stakes have been raised for all involved. Highlighting that tension will likely remain status quo for the foreseeable future, as neither side wants to back down (and maintain the potential for things to escalate again), even while many want to refocus on exclusively fighting the regime. As such, the infighting could become a larger liability for the rebels who are actively fighting on two fronts with enemies that play by their own rules. Expect more infighting, with ISIS as a leading actor trying to force ceasefires on its own terms, even if ostracized.
**Aaron Y. Zelin is the Richard Borow Fellow at The Washington Institute and maintains the website

US: Syria conflict a threat to homeland
Ynetnews/February 07/14/Associated Press,7340,L-4485882,00.html
New Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says extremists in Syria are 'actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission'
Israel Newshe civil war in Syria has become a matter of US homeland security over concerns about a small number of Americans who have gone to fight with Syrian rebels and returned home, new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday. Johnson said he and other law enforcement and security officials around the world were focused on foreign fighters heading to the bloody war, including those from the United States, Canada and Europe. In excerpts from his first major speech since taking office last year, Johnson did not discuss how many US fighters may be in Syria. US intelligence officials have said a handful of Americans and hundreds of Europeans have already returned to their home countries. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The State Department has no estimates of how many Americans have gone to fight with Syrian rebels, but British defense consultant IHS Jane's puts it at a few dozen. An estimated 1,200 to 1,700 Europeans are among rebel forces in Syria, according to government estimates.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month that al-Qaeda groups in Syria have started training camps "to train people to go back to their countries" – one of the newest threats emerging in the past year to US security. Clapper told senators that as many as 7,000 foreigners from some 50 countries, including Europe, were fighting with rebels and extremists in Syria.
To Johnson, it's not just people joining the fight in Syria that are a concern."At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission," Johnson said. "Syria has become a matter of homeland security. DHS, the FBI and the intelligence community will continue to work closely to identify those foreign fighters that represent a threat to the homeland."
Much like his predecessor at Homeland Security, Johnson also said he is most concerned about "lone wolf" terrorists who haven't received any specific training from al-Qaeda or other terror groups but instead have become self-radicalized. "In many respects, this is the terrorist threat to the homeland – illustrated last year by the Boston Marathon bombing – that I worry about most," Johnson said. "It may be the hardest to detect, involves independent actors living within our midst, with easy access to things that, in the wrong hands, become tools for mass violence." Johnson also touched on immigration his in prepared remarks, repeating earlier statements that immigration reform also is a matter of homeland security.

Washington and the ‘oil, Israel and terrorism’ trio

Washington and the ‘oil, Israel and terrorism’ trio
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabyia
The United States does not need to deploy warships in the Middle East to sell iPhones and Chevrolet cars or to impose the spread of Starbucks in the region. Our market is not that valuable for American goods and it is not worth the wars. Nevertheless, there are three main reasons to keep the United States present in our region no matter how bored, frustrated or despaired the White House becomes. The trio principle of “oil, Israel and terrorism” is stronger than any other motive that could cause people to pack their bags and flee a region that is constantly on fire.
On April 30 1975, after the fall of the capital Saigon, the Americans departed South Vietnam. It was a long absence and they returned 30 years later as traders and tourists.
The U.S. lost the war in Vietnam and instead of fighting and holding on, they accepted the defeat and turned the page. The U.S. lost the war in Vietnam and thus, Vietnam is no longer mentioned in the U.S. except in Hollywood movies and the memoirs of war veterans.
Can they do it?
The Americans are now planning to leave Afghanistan; they have already withdrawn from Iraq and refused to enter Syria. They contented themselves with waging the war on al-Qaeda via unmanned drones. Can the U.S. government really turn off the light, leave and live in peace?
The truth is that, despite the failure of the United States in the management of political crises in the region, it has succeeded in its oil related mission
There are significant differences between the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia and the battles against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and al-Qaeda. The most important difference is that escaping will not end the war, as it did in Saigon, unless it is done whilst imposing new measures to end the conflicts in the Middle East. This is difficult to achieve in a region that is constantly witnessing an explosive cocktail of conflicts whether historical, religious, political, tribal or economic. In Southeast Asia, the conflict was a political one: axes of the cold war, the West, China and the Soviet Union. As for the Middle East, the U.S.’s mismanagement of local crises has left a legacy of political vacuums in the region.
U.S. priorities
I will stress on three U.S. priorities that are preventing the White House from fleeing the Middle East. The first priority is oil; it is too important to be left to the chaos that will affect the economies of the world. The truth is that, despite the failure of the United States in the management of political crises in the region, it has succeeded in its oil related mission of ensuring a strong presence in world production and ensuring market stability. With the absence of the U.S., global oil production would be out of control and the ensuing chaos will torment world markets.
The second priority is Israel, because all U.S. administrations are committed to protecting Israel. The U.S. cannot contend itself with protecting Israel by taking off Iran’s nuclear claws. The sole solution is to keep on searching for an agreement that will end the conflict, and to carry on with their regional role to protect their ally. As for the third priority, it is the terrorism that constitutes a threat to the whole world, not just to the Iraq’s Anbar province, Syria’s Aleppo, or Yemen’s Aden. The war will last for a decade or two, against organizations like al-Qaeda, which proved to be capable of expanding, spreading and reaching the furthest points of the world.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 7, 2014.