February 19/14

Bible Quotation for today/Warning against Boasting
James 04/13-17: " Now listen to me, you that say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to a certain city, where we will stay a year and go into business and make a lot of money.” You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” But now you are proud, and you boast; all such boasting is wrong. So then, if we do not do the good we know we should do, we are guilty of sin.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For February 19/14
Before and after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri/By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabyia/February 19/14
New York Times Biased Coverage on Muslim Persecution/By Raymond Ibrahim/February 19/14
DEBKAfile/Nuclear talks open with Iran and three unattainable US pledges to Israel re Fordo, Arak, enrichment/February 19/14
Opinion: Al-Qaeda’s Lebanese Video/By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For February 19/14
Lebanese Related News
Kidnapped Nuns No Longer Bear the Cross
Israeli drone mysteriously crashes near Lebanon
Hezbollah’s two tracks
Committee Tasked with Devising Govt. Policy Statement to Meet Wednesday
Lebanon’s makeshift govt could avert a crisis
Reports: March 14 Ministers to be United, Policy Statement Expected within 2 Weeks
Suleiman to Revive National Dialogue amid Positive Attitudes by Rival Parties
Change and Reform Hopes to Cross Constitutional Junctures with 'New Allies': No One Eliminated in Policy Statement
Safa Meets Rifi to Congratulate him despite Differences
Pioneering Lebanese Poet Ounsi al-Hajj Dies
Report: Jumblat Launches Initiative to Avoid Policy Statement Deadlock
Israeli Troops Remove Parts of Spy Drone near Mays al-Jabal
Rockets Fired from Syria Land in Bekaa
Families of Three Men Charged by Judiciary of belonging to ISIL Denounce Accusations
Tension Escalates in Tripoli as Army Starts Removing Barricades in Rival Neighborhoods
Report: Israeli Paratroopers Hold Drill to Respond to Hizbullah Threat
Berri Urges Kuwait to Play Role in Amending Iranian-Saudi Ties
Aoun Confirms Meeting Hariri, Nasrallah as Part of 'Mediation' Efforts
Lebanese surrenders to Sydney police after allegedly killing wife
Lebanese Man Charged with Murder of his Wife in Sydney
Pioneering Lebanese Poet Ounsi al-Hajj Dies
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Iran defiant as nuclear talks with powers begin
Egypt: Christian Syrian Family Slaughtered
Netanyahu visits IDF field hospital in Golan Heights
Livni: Kerry is a game changer in peace process
Syria Rockets Hit Golan Shortly after Israel PM Visit
UNICEF Calls for Release of Homs Children
Hijacking Egypt’s 2011 and 2013 revolutions

Libya ex-Rebels Give MPs 5-Hour Ultimatum to Quit, Congress Slams 'Coup' Threat
Thai PM Faces Charges as Clashes Leave Four Dead

Kidnapped Nuns No Longer Bear the Cross

A new video of the twelve Christian nuns kidnapped in Syria recently appeared. In it, the nuns are taped sitting in a room and being questioned by an unseen man, presumably a member of the kidnappers. He asks them how they are, if they’ve been mistreated, etc. They respond that they are being treated fine, that they very much look forward to being returned to their convent, that they heartily thank the world for its concern, and that they continually pray that God grant peace to all nations. Their words say one thing, their expressions and demeanor another. Put differently, as female captives of Islamic jihadis, what else could they say but what they were told to say? Even if one of them dared to say the “wrong thing,” it naturally would have been edited out. Who knows how many takes it took to get the video—which includes a bizarre clip of the nuns having a snowball fight with their abductors—just right? One thing, however, although minor, speaks volumes concerning the nature of their captivity. Although these same nuns, in pictures before they were kidnapped, often appear wearing the large pectoral crosses that nuns often wear, these are all gone in the recent video... Keep reading. ©2014 | All rights reserved

Opinion: Al-Qaeda’s Lebanese Video
By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat
The video recently released by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades entitled “The Iranian Embassy Raid” may not give much information. It shows Lebanese suicide bomber Mouin Abu Dahir from Sidon, who was raised in a depressed, marginalized environment. He became a fighter in Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir’s group, which culminated in his blowing himself up in an operation that targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 23 people, mostly civilians. The video follows the same format consistently used by Al-Qaeda in presenting its youth before driving them to their deaths, with sectarian discourse in place of reason. This is the first Lebanese video and it has been late in coming out, months after the attack on the Iranian embassy. In it Abu Dahir threatens that more suicide attackers will target Hezbollah. The recording, which is embossed with the insignia of the Al-Awza’i Foundation—apparently the Lebanese version of Al-Qaeda’s media wing, Al-Sahab—looked like a Lebanese production.
The producers were keen to highlight some parts under the title “Iran’s crimes and its tools against Sunnis,” which contained pictures of bodies of people killed in Syria and speeches by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, supporting his party’s fight alongside the Syrian regime. However, the most worrying part of the video is when Dahir addresses Sunni clerics: “I call on our scholars to urge our youth to commit to jihad, because it is a duty, and if you move, the youth will move with you.” In fact, just as the video appeared, journalists in Amman following the trial of extremist religious cleric Abu Qatada reported his support for suicide attacks in Lebanon. When a journalist asked Abu Qatada about the civilians who were killed in the explosions, he said: “Hezbollah is responsible and the indisputable religious opinion is that they all met what they deserve, according to their intentions.” Qatada issued a fatwa to kill in the 1990s, which terrorist groups in Algeria used to kill civilians, including children.
Some call on journalists to re-think the broadcasting of videos that call for sectarian killings and include statements by extremist clerics, saying they might increase the susceptibility of troubled youth such as Dahir and persuade them to join the ongoing killing spree. However, the ability of news, photographs and videos to reach people is greater than the attempts to control them, and doing so is not a deterrent to those actions in the first place.
Here, we must admit that attempts to contain extremist ideology do not work without the admission of the greater sin which was committed, and is still being committed, by Hezbollah in its participation in the fight alongside the Syrian regime, and its contribution to intensifying sectarian tensions. The important part of fighting takfirism and extremism is that attempts to do so must target both the internal and external causes of the phenomenon, represented on the inside by Qatada and his takfirist ideology, and on the outside by Hezbollah. Anything less than this, and we will continue to receive videos and statements while we live through daily explosions and deaths.

Hezbollah’s two tracks
February 18, 2014/The Daily Star/On domestic matters, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said his party had made concessions to facilitate the formation of a new government, calling for “partnership” to move the country forward. But Nasrallah struck a very different tone in defending Hezbollah’s involvement in the war in Syria, which is currently focused on the town of Yabroud. Here, Hezbollah’s stance is unilateral, with no room for debate, much less partnership.Hezbollah’s justifications for fighting in Syria have evolved from protecting shrines near the capital to playing the leading role in “decisive” battles, and the overarching goal of defeating “takfiris.”
Hezbollah’s heavy weaponry and large troop presence, alongside Syrian army troops and Iraqi militiamen, can be expected to achieve victory in Yabroud, just as this overwhelming force won last year’s “decisive” battle in Qusair. Then, it will be only a matter of time before Hezbollah mobilizes for yet another momentous battle, and another one, with no foreseeable end.
With the mobilization for Yabroud, one can only expect more political turbulence in Lebanon. Hezbollah is part of a government in which most members support the Baabda Declaration, namely the exact opposite of the party’s involvement in Syria. The longer that Hezbollah maintains its open-ended, ill-defined commitment to war abroad, the longer that Lebanon’s politics will suffer from tension and debilitating stalemate.


Syrian PM congratulates Salam on Cabinet formation
February 18, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi congratulated Prime Minister Tammam Salam on the formation of his new 24-member government Tuesday, in a rare diplomatic gesture toward Lebanon. In a letter to Salam, who is widely seen as an independent figure allied with the March 14 coalition, Al-Halqi expressed hope for the development of "sisterly ties between the two countries and peoples" and for the two states to "achieve more security and stability.” Ties between Lebanon and Syria deteriorated after Lebanese authorities uncovered a terror plot by former Minister Michel Samaha, a close ally to President Bashar Assad, in August of 2012. Samaha, along with a Syrian general and another Syrian holding the rank of colonel, were indicted for conspiring to assassinate Syrian opposition figures and arms traffickers entering Lebanon and Syria.
The three were also charged with planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon. Not long after, Assad scoffed at the Baabda Declaration put forward by Sleiman and ratified by all Lebanese parties, saying that “terrorists” were crossing into Syria irrespective of the pact. Sleiman hit back at the embattled president saying no one had the right to criticize the country’s policies, and has since lashed out at Syria over air raids on Lebanese border towns.
Sleiman has also said that he was waiting for Assad to clarify the Samaha case. Salam formed a new government on Feb. 15 bringing together rival anti-Assad March 14 and the Hezbollah-lead March 8 groups.

Israeli drone mysteriously crashes near Lebanon
February 18, 2014/By Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star/SIDON, Lebanon: More than 10 Israeli soldiers fired warning shots into the air close to Lebanese Army troops Tuesday as they recovered parts of an Israeli drone that crashed in mysterious circumstances, security sources said. Eleven Israeli soldiers crossed the barbed wire technical fence at Kroum al-Shiraki but did not trespass the Blue Line, the sources said. The troops surveyed the area for approximately 15 minutes, during which they scanned the area with a detector. The Israeli soldiers found three pieces of an Israeli spy drone that had fallen earlier that day under mysterious circumstances next to Mays al-Jabal, security sources said. As they were recovering the drone’s parts, the Israeli troops shot in the air to discourage Lebanese Army soldiers stationed by the Blue Line from approaching. The Israeli soldiers then withdrew and Lebanese Army and UNIFIL troops mobilized in Mays al-Jabal. In a statement, the Lebanese Army said an Israeli patrol “tried to pull the wreckage of an Israeli drone and then shot bullets into the air” at 3:30 p.m. following the crash of the aircraft close to the Blue Line in the border area of Mays al-Jabal on the Israeli side. “The Army units deployed in the area took appropriate defense measures to prevent the enemy’s forces from entering Lebanese lands,” the military added. Earlier in the day, a convoy of Israeli soldiers driving a bulldozer and two large Hummer SUVs made their way to the Israeli settlement of Metula and began excavations around the technical fence close to the Blue Line. Israeli troops in military vehicles simultaneously patrolled close to the technical fence, starting at Metula and passing along the Wazzani River before reaching the occupied Shebaa Farms.
Israeli warplanes also flew over the Farms and the occupied Golan Heights. Four smoke grenades, originating from Israeli artillery emplacements deep in the farms, landed on the western side of Shebaa. An Israeli Apache helicopter also flew over the area.

Before and after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabyia
Nine years on, the question remains: Why was Rafiq Hariri assassinated?
A closer look at what has become of Beirut and Lebanon can answer part of this question. Nine years after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the picture is getting clearer and clearer. At first, the picture was blurry but as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon kicked off, it is getting clearer. Rafiq Hariri was assassinated because he restored life to Lebanon. He began with Beirut and put Lebanon back on the Middle East map. Some believe he deserved to be killed after all that he did for Lebanon and the Lebanese and after all that he tried to do for every Arab with morals, loyalty and patriotism.
Rafiq Hariri paved the way for Lebanon to become a place for the Lebanese people first and foremost and a place in which all Arabs, Americans, Europeans and anyone who aspires to live in a secure place with their family can come to. Nine years on, it’s become difficult for Arabs and foreigners to come to Lebanon. The aim was to destroy Lebanon and spread misery and displace the rest of its people. The only aim was to make the Lebanese people strangers in their own country and to make them captives of their own sects instead of serving their country. Iran was a silent partner in the American war on Iraq. It facilitated the American troops’ entry to southern Iraq
As time passes, our understanding of why Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, and why Marwan Hamadeh was targeted before him, grows. We can also better understand what led to the long chain of assassinated martyrs that began with Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Francois al-Hajj, Wissam Eid and Wissam al-Hassan and that ended with Mohammed Chatah.
All these martyrs, including the living martyrs like Elias al-Murr, May Chidiac and Samir Shehadeh narrate a story. It’s the story of Lebanon which there are aims to destroy it, impoverish it and displace its people.
After the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trials began, it’s no longer secret who assassinated Rafiq Hariri, Bassel Falyhan and their comrades on that day. It’s no longer secret who refuses that the defendants stand before court. What’s also no longer secret is that he who assassinated Rafiq Hariri could not act back then - on Feb. 14, 2005 - without the cover of the Syrian-Lebanese security regime that was controlling people. As for he who carried out the assassination, now that’s something else. It’s an issue linked to a regional scheme that formed during the American war on Iraq which was launched in March 2003. Iran emerged as the sole victor of that war.
Iran as a silent partner
Iran was a silent partner in the American war on Iraq. It facilitated the American troops’ entry to southern Iraq and their march towards Baghdad. Iran was the only party that supported the Iraqi governing council which was established on a sectarian and regional basis after the Iraqi regime collapsed. It was a must for Saddam Hussein’s regime to collapse but not in the way it collapsed. IT should not have collapsed at the hands of the Americans with their tanks and jets and it should not have happened with implicit Iranian support.
Rafiq Hariri was killed because he made Lebanon into an Arab fort. He turned Lebanon into a country which its people, the Arabs and the international community believe in. Therefore, it’s not a coincidence that nine years after his assassination, no Arab can come to Lebanon. Every Arab now feels threatened in Lebanon. There’s only a place for the Iranian who is implementing a colonial scheme upon a sectarian basis. He’s implementing this scheme at the expanse of every Lebanese citizen, regardless of his sect. This Iranian scheme of expanding control towards Syria - which was launched a long time ago - resembles Israel’s scheme which is based on settling in Jerusalem and the West Bank and on building more settlements to link them to one another via networks of safe roads.
Nothing happens by coincidence in Lebanon. Rafiq Hariri was an obstacle in the face of this Iranian scheme considering he represented Lebanon as a whole, without propagating any sectarian or religious intolerance. He was a man of parity. This is why he was killed. Sectarianism was restored after Hariri was killed and the Christians in Lebanon were reduced to holding mere ministerial posts.
Orchestrating the crime
He who orchestrated the crime is well-known. The accomplice is the malicious Syrian regime which thought that eliminating Hariri would cement its position in Lebanon. However, the crime in which Syria was complicit stripped it of its ability to remain in Lebanon. The Syrian regime was forced to militarily withdraw from Lebanon in April 2005. It left Lebanon for Iran and completely placed itself under the mercy of the Iranian regime. This was the direct result of covering up the crime against Hariri and participating in the crimes that followed. For those who need a proof of that, the question is: would the Syrian regime still control Damascus if it hadn’t been for Iran and for the support of Hezbollah which is a mere brigade in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards? Before the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon had sought to rebuild itself while Syria, even in the shadow of its sectarian regime, had a margin of free maneuverability when dealing with Iran. After Hariri’s death, Lebanon became a captive of Iran and Syria is in the same cage. The Lebanese and Syrian people’s struggles appear to be joined. They both aim to break free from this new sectarian colonizer that acts upon all sorts of primitive instincts.
**This article was first published in al-Rai on Feb. 16, 2014.

Lebanon’s makeshift govt could avert a crisis
Tuesday, 18 February 2014/Octavia Nasr/Alarabyia
The only reason to celebrate the new government in Lebanon is that its formation could help avert a presidential election crisis and an ensuing vacuum. This is the simple reality despite the unwarranted shock and protest by many and the flowery acceptance speeches of ministers. With all due respect to the newly appointed ministers, although many of them are certainly worthy of cabinet positions, none of them was appointed on merit in this round. They were names and confessions color-coded in a game of power balance we all know too well and are even sick of. Thus, we stand baffled by the reaction from crowds who feel “sold out” by their leaders, unable to accept such “concessions” to the other side and feel that this cabinet makes them the “laughing stock” of their foes.
We also stand baffled by their leaders and spin doctors who are busy sending out messages to comfort their camps and assure them this is a “victory” over the other side and it is “temporary” anyway. The numb masses unable to think on their own and formulate opinions independently, take to social networks and express their dismay, proving once more this country cannot be a unified The fact remains that this government is like the ones before it, like the tale proclaiming the end of the war in 1990 and every attempt at national reconciliation
Octavia Nasr
ation ever again. They praise their leaders, they proclaim publicly they trust “their vision,” but they cannot get over the shock. They wanted something to wave in the face of their opponents and tease them that they won and the other side lost. That’s how they were taught the game is played. Here it is all about scoring points and making the other side feel inferior, smaller, less of a patriot. They are looking for proof the other side is made up of traitors and sellouts not nation-building partners. The fact remains that this government is like the ones before it, like the tale proclaiming the end of the war in 1990 and every attempt at national reconciliation, like politicians’ statements about co-existence and the need and reliance on the “other.” It is fiction of major proportions. It is an illusion, the brainchild of people unworthy of a country, unable to rule a country, people who have no legitimacy beyond their clans. It is a fictitious government to avert a vacuum, because no one seems to want a repeat of the vacuum crisis of 1988 whose echo continues to reverberate today and its fingerprints exist all over this cabinet!
**This article was first published in al-Nahar on Feb. 17, 2014.


Lebanese surrenders to Sydney police after allegedly killing wife
February 18, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A Lebanese man turned himself over to police after allegedly killing his wife in Sydney, Australia, Australian media reported.
55-year-old George Tannous allegedly killed his wife Margaret, 47, Monday night in an apartment in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Bankstown. Margaret, who suffered severe head wounds, reportedly died shortly after arrival at the hospital. The Lebanese couple have two children, reports said. None of the media reports offered a motive for the attack. The Australian newspaper reported that Tannous was charged with murder for beating his wife to death. A judge refused Tannous bail, and the suspect did not enter a plea, The Australian said on its website. Tannous, who had a shaved head and spoke through an Arabic translator, showed little emotion during the brief hearing, according to the report. The couple's son, Elie, posted a photo of his mother and an emotional tribute on Facebook. "My mother my angel my life my queen the closest person to me. How could this happen to you," he wrote. "You were the strongest woman, the strongest PERSON i knew, you taught me that the most power you have in this life is in your brain and not your fists or muscles, you taught me to do right by people even though they do wrong to you ... everything in this world you sacrificed for me and my sister ... I'm so proud to be called your son."

Egypt: Christian Syrian Family Slaughtered
A Christian Syrian family living in Alexandria, Egypt, was barbarically butchered to death Monday in their home in the al-Ibrahimya neighborhood, Arabic media are reporting. The family consisted of a father, 44, his wife, 35, their 6-year-old son, Michael, and the wife’s brother. After the murders, the house, where the family had been living for years, was set on fire by the murderers. All four bodies were found bearing several stab wounds and other signs of violence. The wife and child had their throats slit, while the father appeared to have been stabbed to death. Motive is currently unknown; the home was not robbed. According to some preliminary reports, they were killed because they were supporters of the Bashar Assad government in Syria. Islamists all around the Middle East and especially in Egypt strongly oppose and are currently waging a jihad against the Assad government in an attempt to set up a Sharia state in Syria. Most religious minorities, including Christians, are supportive of the secular Assad regime, having seen the great violence done against fellow Christians by the Islamic rebels who deem them “infidels.”©2014 | All rights reserved

Egypt charges 2 'Israeli Mossad agents,' 2 Egyptians with spying
By REUTERS/02/18/2014/CAIRO - Egypt's public prosecutor charged on Tuesday two men it said were Israeli intelligence agents and two Egyptians with conspiring in Israel's interests, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office. "The public prosecutor ordered Ramzy Mohamed, Sahar Ibrahim, Samuel Ben Zeev and David Wisemen - two officers in the Israeli Mossad - to be sent to a Cairo criminal court for spying for the interests of the state of Israel," the statement read. The two Egyptians are already in jail pending investigation, the statement said. The public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the two Israeli officers. It was not clear from the statement if the Israelis were in Egypt. There was no immediate reaction from Israel. The Egyptians are accused of providing information about Egypt to the Israeli officers with "the intent of damaging national interests in exchange for money and gifts and sex." It accuses Mohamed of "sleeping with women who work in Israeli intelligence." The Egyptian is also accused of recruiting the accused woman, Ibrahim, to work for Israeli intelligence. The statement said that the two Egyptians had admitted that they had "committed the crime of spying for Israel" during investigations.

Livni: Kerry is a game changer in peace process

By JPOST.COM STAFF/02/18/2014/Justice minister tells Conference of Presidents that compromise and balance are essential in peace process; "To those who speak against the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, do you really think that Israeli citizens should return there?" Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stressed the importance of compromise in her support for the expected US-brokered framework deal on the Middle East peace process at the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations mission in Jerusalem on Tuesday. "We all need to make decisions," she said. "The Palestinians must understand this is a moment for decision making and there's a price."
Livni stressed that while Israel might not be "in love" with US Secretary of State John Kerry's framework, she is "sure that we can live with it" as long as it is balanced. "Kerry is a game changer in the Israeli Palestinian peace process."Livni said she wants to keep existing settlement blocs for the practical reason of population density, not for ideological reasons of historic right, adding that she doesn't support building isolated settlements or Israeli homes as security buffers. "To those who speak against the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, do you really think that Israeli citizens should return there?" she asked. "Young citizens shouldn't be sent to live somewhere to provide security for the state."The American framework deal Kerry hopes to negotiate by April of this year has met with criticism and skepticism from both Israelis and Palestinians. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has set the precondition that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed. Netanyahu has objected to Abbas' suggestion that NATO troops remain in a future Palestinian state as a buffer force.

New York Times Biased Coverage on Muslim Persecution

By Raymond Ibrahim on February 16, 2014 in Muslim Persecution of Christians
The New York Times has finally found a victim of Islamic aggression in Nigeria worth reporting on: homosexuals. In a big spread complete with pictures appearing last week, the NYT’s Adam Nossiter wrote “Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays.”
While it’s all well and good to expose the persecution of any group, why does the NYT remain silent about the much more endemic and savage jihad to “sanitize” Nigeria of Christians—a jihad that has seen countless Christians butchered and countless churches destroyed?
A 2012 meeting of Nigerian church heads concluded that “the pattern of these killings [of Christians] does suggest to us a systematic ethnic and religious cleansing.”
Among other things in the group’s bid to cleanse the Muslim-majority north of all Christian presence, it has threatened to poison the food eaten by Christians and “to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women.” The group frequently storms areas where Christians and Muslims are intermingled—from villages to colleges—and singles the Christians out before slitting their throats.
In 2011 hundreds of Christians were killed and 430 churches destroyed or damaged. In 2012, 900 Christians were slaughtered. Indeed, of all Christians killed around the world in 2012, 70% were killed in the west African nation. In 2013, 612 Christians were killed and some 300 churches destroyed. The year 2014 promises to be the same. Just the other day, over 50 Christians were slaughtered by “Allahu Akbar” screaming jihadis.
Thus, from a purely demographic point of view, we may deduce that for every one man who gets exposed as a homosexual in the privacy of his own home, and killed for it, thousands of Christians expose themselves as infidels whenever they openly congregate and worship inside churches, as they do every Sunday, and get killed for it.
Based on numbers alone, then—assuming the NYT can agree that all human lives are equal, that the life of the Christian is equal in value to the life of the homosexual—the dramatically much bigger story has long been the relentless and genocidal jihad on Nigeria’s millions of Christians.
But of course, it’s not surprising that the NYT in general, reporter Adam Nossiter in particular, are biased concerning whose plight to highlight. The NYT and Nossiter are the very ones who, on December 25, 2011—the day after Boko Haram bombed several churches during Christmas Eve services, leaving some 40 dead—published a spread equivocating the truth concerning the Muslim persecution of Christians in the African nation.
Then, on Christmas Day, 2011, the NYT’s Nossiter declared:
The sect, known as Boko Haram, until now mostly targeted the police, government and military in its insurgency effort, but the bombings on Sunday represented a new, religion-tinged front, a tactic that threatens to exploit the already frayed relations between Nigeria’s nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims…(emphasis added).
“Until now”? The fact is Boko Haram had been terrorizing and killing Nigerian Christians and destroying their churches several years before the 2011 Christmas church bombings. Indeed, Christmas Eve 2010—one year to the day before the 2011 Christmas Eve church attacks—Boko Haram bombed several churches, killing 38 Christian worshippers.
Thus Nossiter’s characterization of the 2011 attacks as “represent[ing] a new, religion-tinged front” is not only inaccurate but unconscionable.
Moreover, whereas the NYT’s Nossiter asserted that there are “already frayed relations” between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims, he talks of no “frayed relations” between Muslims and homosexuals: he correctly knows that the “fraying” comes from one direction.
And it’s the same concerning Nigeria’s Muslims and Christians—the “fraying” comes from one direction. Yet, due to Nossiter’s prevarications, the reader is left with the impression that Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims are equally motivated by religious hostility—even as one seeks in vain for Christian terror organizations that bomb mosques in Nigeria every Friday to screams of “Christ is Great!”
When talking about Boko Haram’s jihad on Christians, the NYT’s Nossiter managed to insert another mainstream media favorite: the “poverty-causes-terrorism” meme: “The sect’s attacks [on Christian churches] have been further bolstered by festering economic resentment in the impoverished and relatively neglected north, which has an exploding birthrate, low levels of literacy and mass unemployment.”
Needless to say, when writing about the persecution of homosexuals, “festering economic resentment in the impoverished and relatively neglected north”—precisely where homosexuals are most persecuted—is never cited as a contributing factor.
Such are the ways that “reality” is created or evaded by the mainstream media and, from there, to the unsuspecting masses of the West. The script must always prevail—reality be damned

Will the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Dr. Naser al-Tamimi/Al Arabyia
Through recent rounds of peace negotiations regarding the Middle East, the recognition of a “Jewish state” has become an elementary component of the current Israeli government negotiation strategy. The focus on this concept prompted many Jewish leaders (from the government and opposition) to demand that the Palestinian Authority (PA) recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. This strange and suspicious demand by the Israeli government promotes the obvious question: what is meant by a Jewish state?
Many Israeli politicians have given us various interpretations of this term, but the explanations are ultimately unconvincing and contrary to political logic, not to mention the historical, geographical and demographical facts. How can a state be democratic and called only Jewish? Does Jewish here mean identity, nationalism, or religion? How will the “others” fit into this picture? And wouldn’t it seem hypocritical to accuse some Americans, Europeans or whoever who demand turning their county into a Christian state or something else of anti-Semitism or racism, while they are demanding a Jewish state for themselves? Above all, why has Israel waited for about a quarter of a century of negotiations with the Palestinians to raise the subject now?
Palestinian position
It seems the camp that put pressure on the Palestinian side to accept the Israeli conditions(Arabs and Americans) espouse arguments based on three basic assumptions: firstly, that the aim of Israel’s obstinacy is to push the Palestinians to take up rigid positions in order to put an end to the peace process. Secondly, the Israeli extreme right seeks to make a peace agreement harder to reach, placing the responsibility on the PA in order to stop the negotiation, continue building settlements and take unilateral steps. Finally, that the Palestinians are the weaker side and do not have many options.
From my point of view, the term Jewish state will only add to the complexity of the current situation
If these assumptions are correct, this in turn should make the Palestinians more determined to reject the Israeli conditions, because their acceptance will bring new conditions. Also, the building of Jewish settlements has never stopped; in fact, under the so-called peace process (and under the current Israeli government) the building of settlements has accelerated more than ever in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although it is true that the Palestinians have few options, throughout the history of colonialism the people who have been subjected to occupation never did have many good options.
New conflict
From my point of view, the term Jewish state will only add to the complexity of the current situation and open a door to new conflicts rather than solving the old ones. Indeed, the Middle East has suffered more than enough from religious and sectarian conflicts. Perhaps more importantly, the term of Jewish state might provide the Islamists with new and more affective ammunition and further weaken the already weak Palestinian authority. Here it brings to mind another question: Do some Israelis intentionally want the conflict to take on a religious dimension?
However, on deep reflection through the history of the conflict, the term itself expresses Israel’s anxieties more than anything else. From the Israelis’ perspective, all political solutions represent the process of choosing between bad and worse. Or to put it bluntly: the issue of Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state is only smoke screen to cover-up Israel’s strategic dilemma rather than looking for a solution to the conflict.
More crucially, the situation reminds us of the same predicament that once faced the late Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin in dealing with the first Palestinian Intifada during the 1990s, as a result he famously said that he wished to wake up in the morning and see that “the sea swallowed Gaza.” Rabin was himself killed by a Jewish extremist. Either way, Gaza is still there.
The Arab weakness
The above analysis leads us to the next important point: to impose impossible conditions on the weaker party will not lead to peace. Yes in the circumstances currently prevailing in the Middle East it’s safe to argue that Israel’s current strategic position is secure as it faces no existential threats. Or as the Israelis always repeat among themselves: “We won the war…Why would we want peace and give up land?”
Meanwhile the Palestinians are weak, divided and do not hold any of the “power cards” by which they can become an equal partner in the negotiation process. Perhaps this Palestinian predicament in parallel with the fractious nature of Israeli coalition politics could tempt the supporters of the “Jewish state” to be more ambitious in their wishes than Rabin, as they may wish this time that “the sea swallows all the Palestinians.”
Indeed, as the drama of the so-called “Arab Spring” is still unfolding with its unknown long-term repercussions, the weakness of the Arab side has created a situation in which the Israelis no longer (at least for now) have to worry about any collective Arab conventional military attack. Consequently the Israeli government is taking advantage of this situation to create new realities on the ground.
Israel’s limited options
Nevertheless, Israel’s strategic environment is not as predictable as it may have seemed before the regional upheaval. The protracted conflict with the Palestinians in a small land mass with multiple frontiers, the political uncertainty in neighbouring countries and the strategic repositioning of the United States means there are persistent security risks and an uncertain future.
Logic says that weakness is not permanent, and even the weaker party accompanied with supportive regional and international environment could make a surprise strike from nowhere. Indeed, factors of geography, history and demography still present Israel’s strategists and policy-makers with the same old dilemma, thus making their options limited. This is something that Rabin understood very well earlier - that “the sea will never swallow Gaza” - and he began acting accordingly.
Ultimately, until the supporters of the “Jewish state” understand as Rabin did a long time ago that “the sea will not swallow the Palestinians,” we may witness new chapters in the conflict, but this time in more “innovative” ways.


Hijacking Egypt’s 2011 and 2013 revolutions
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Abdel Latif el-Menawy/Al Arabyia
The controversy is ongoing regarding what Egypt witnessed more than three years ago on Jan. 25 and in June of last year. I don’t think the controversy will come to an end, and I will not engage much in it. But I will highlight some points that I think are major and I will quickly mention them in order to expose the truth as I witnessed it.
What Egypt witnessed more than three years ago was an expression of rejecting a state of serenity that reached the extent of a deadlock as a result of insisting against change and considering that change means either chaos or toppling the regime. What complicated the situation is the people’s feeling that this situation will go on. They felt as such because of hints that the regime will stay even if the president leaves as his son will take over as president - either upon the president’s orders while he’s still alive or by some arrangement after his death.
Regardless of whether this is true or not, what’s certain is that the general public have adopted this story and that it’s become more real than it would’ve been if it had been frankly announced. This road, which many saw as a dead-end and as the opposition of change, is what prepared the ground for people to take to the streets to vent their anger. Regardless of whether these youths, who took to the streets, were trained and prepared for this day or not, the truth is that the atmosphere was appropriate. Most of those who took to the streets back then did so for the sake of venting anger and expressing the desire for change. The ceiling of demands back then was low but the administration, which wasn’t politically smart, contributed to raising the ceiling on what the protesters wanted.
What about the Muslim Brotherhood
But what about the Muslim Brotherhood? It’s become absolutely known that the Brotherhood announced they wouldn’t participate in the Jan. 25 revolution. And it’s also within the context of political opportunism that they ended up participating at the end when they realized that the protests were huge and that by not participating, they would be held accountable. So they participated although they had a prior agreement with state security not to.
The Brotherhood acted with a great deal of cunning and opportunism, and they exploited the regime’s mistakes
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
The question remains: why did the Brotherhood rush to participate in the protests after Jan. 25? The answer here is also linked to the stupidity of the political administration of the then-interior ministry. The ministry issued a statement at mid-night that almost completely blames the Brotherhood although everyone knows that the latter did not participate until the very last minute. But it seems the then-interior ministry’s administration thought the time was right to target the Brotherhood by accusing it of being totally responsible for the day’s events. The Brotherhood analyzed the situation and realized it was placed in a position where it must fight back. To them, the situation was a battle of survival where they either emerge victors or losers. Therefore, the interior ministry’s statement mobilized them to defend their survival. So since Jan. 26, anyone from the Brotherhood and its allies from outside Egypt infiltrated the country via airports, naval and land borders and tunnels. The international organization’s leadership was put on a state of alert announcing zero hour to implement the already-prepared plan.
The Brotherhood acted with a great deal of cunning and opportunism, and they exploited the regime’s mistakes back then. Most importantly, they exploited some opportunists who joined youth groups. They also exploited the innocence of many Egyptians who took to the streets to express their anger and desire for change. Back then, what could be noted was that the Brotherhood did not raise any religious slogans. But at the same time, they almost totally controlled activity in all the different squares. All this happened upon the direct support and supervision of the command of a country which was claiming to be a brotherly country. It also happened with American support and blessing for the sake of achieving its new strategy in the region. On Jan. 28, the Brotherhood controlled all of the revolution’s activities. They exploited the youths and their knowledge of how to confront security forces and launched their mission to burn Egypt. The Brotherhood implemented their mission by exploiting the state of anger by which many were blinded. Many were deceived by what happened and the problem is that they remained deceived for a long time. Some of them were unaware they were being deceived and others knew but they had wanted to continue down the path of destroying the state. Those continued as such until they realized what they had done so they tried to repent and withdraw from what they involved themselves in when they supported the Brotherhood. They had not only hijacked the people’s dreams but also hijacked the entire country and took it towards the unknown. It’s only then that they woke up and joined the real Egyptian revolution for the sake of restoring Egypt to its former glory.
**This article was first published in al-Jarida on Feb. 15, 2014.

Netanyahu visits IDF field hospital in Golan Heights
Prime minister tours Israel's north to visit base where IDF treats those wounded in Syria, receives briefing on jihadi activity across the border.
Ynetnews/02.18.14/ ynetnews
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the Golan Heights Tuesday morning with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz and GOC Northern Command Major-General Yair Golan.
Netanyahu received a briefing on developments of jihadi activities in Syria, as well as Israel's work on border fortification.
During the Israeli leader's trip to the Golan Heights, he also made a visit to the field hospital where the IDF treats casualties from the civil war in Syria. Netanyahu said this humanitarian mission was the "true face of Israel."
Netanyahu took the opportunity to address the Israeli concern regarding the Iranian nuclear program: "On the day when talks between the major powers and Iran are being opened in Vienna, it is important that the world sees the pictures from this place, which divides the good that is in the world from the bad." The Likud leader chose to emphasize the difference between the Israeli government and the Iranian regime: "The good part is that Israel is saving the lives of those who have been wounded in the daily slaughter that is being perpetrated in Syria. This is the true face of Israel. The bad part is that Iran is arming those who are carrying out the slaughter. This is the true face of Iran." Netanyahu unequivocally blamed the government in Tehran for the enduring conflict, laying responsibility for the horrifying scenes on Iran. "All of the children who have been injured, to say nothing of those who have been killed, were injured as a result of Iran's arming, financing and training the Assad regime in the massacres that it is perpetrating," he said.
The advanced IDF field hospital, where doctors dress in military uniform, has many of the facilities expected of an urban hospital – an emergency room, an intensive care unit, an operating theater, an x-ray facility, a pharmacy, and a laboratory. The base has treated over 700 patients from Syria, and patients are admitted based on need, not because of their allegiance to one side of the conflict. Netanyahu used the humanitarian location to stress his opposition to Iranian actions in the region. "From here, I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character," said Netanyahu. "Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime which is slaughtering its own people. This is the true face of Iran. The world cannot forget this," he added.
Kiryat Shmona in the spotlight
As part of his trip to Israel's north, Netanyahu visited Kiryat Shmona, shining a rare media spotlight on the impoverished city. The prime minister was honored by the Kiryat Shmona municipality, despite the politician's bumpy relationship with the city and its residents. At the ceremony, Netanyahu promised that in the future, a railway will connect Kiryat Shmona all the way down to Eilat and reminisced about a past in which the city was a vital strategic position for Israeli survival: "You are honored citizens of the Galilee and the State of Israel, you remember the tough days when we were less secure and you safeguarded this place, and you never gave up.
But the city's residents did not respond as positively. One resident said, "If the prime minister is honored by the city, then he needs to support us because we are living in fear. Any moment someone can launch a katyusha rocket at us; we live in poverty in Kiryat Shmona. Another resident, David, said that he and his friends "are broke. People here have no work. They walk around aimlessly, there is nothing to do."The lack of opportunity has made negative immigration a major problem in the impoverished northern city, as young residents move to other locales in pursuit of success.
Maor Buchnick and Roei Eisenberg contributed to this report.

Nuclear talks open with Iran and three unattainable US pledges to Israel re Fordo, Arak, enrichment
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 18, 2014/The second round of talks between the six powers and Iran – this time for a final, comprehensive resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program – opened in Geneva Tuesday, Feb. 18. But first, the Obama administration gave the Israeli government three pledges, DEBKAfile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources reveal. It must be said, however, that none of those pledges is realistic.
One was a commitment to insist on the absolute shutdown of Iran’s underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordo. The second was the conversion of the reactor under construction at Arak from a heavy to a light water plant, in order to preclude the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons; and the third, to place a cap on the low-grade 5-percent enrichment of uranium.
Our Iranian and military sources affirm that there is not the slightest chance of Iran’s negotiators acceding to any of these demands. Its leaders have made it clear that Fordo will not be shut down under any circumstances. They are willing to discuss aspects of production, such as the number of centrifuges used and the purity level of the enriched uranium. But closure is out of the question.
With regard to the Arak reactor, Tehran may consider imposing a ceiling on plutonium production, but no other commitment.
With regard to their stockpiles of enriched uranium, the Iranians are ready to negotiate a limit on quantities, but not the number or types of centrifuges they are allowed to operate. Tehran will thus retain the capacity to go back whenever it chooses to enriching any quantities of enriched uranium it likes.
To preserve this capacity, the Iranian negotiators will reject the Western demand to dismantle the 18,000 new centrifuges already in place in the enrichment chambers (not all of them functioning) and keep only 1,000 of the older IR1 machines.
In view of the long list of rebuffs the six-power negotiators (US, Russia, UK, France, China and Germany) expect from Iran, an aura of gloom enveloped both sides Tuesday as the talks got underway. Western sources called them a “daunting challenge,” while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented: “I have said before… I am not optimistic about the negotiations. It will not lead anywhere, but I am not opposed either.”
Answering tough questions on Jan. 20 ahead of the final round ot nuclear talks, US senior negotiator Undersecretary Wendy Sherman assured the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that “there will be an additional step or steps between the Phase 1 deal and the final deal, to bring Iran into compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.”
In other words, the current round is not expected to fulfill its avowed purpose of reaching “a final and comprehensive accord.” The Obama administration is gearing up instead for more interim accords with Iran.
DEBKAfile sees the Sherman comment as giving away Washington’s negotiating tactics with Tehran: The intention is to drag out a final resolution of this irreconcilable issue along the two years remaining of President Barack Obama’s term in office, i.e. up to 2016, and land the decision on how to handle it in the lap of his successor in the White House.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has walked in step with Obama on the Iranian nuclear issue since the fall of 2012, when he turned away from his earlier determination to destroy Iran’s nuclear bomb capacity by military force. And of late, he no longer demands the total dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear capability either.
When Netanyahu sits down with Obama at the White House on March 3, he will likely be reduced to calling for a ceiling on the number of operational centrifuges allowed Iran, as a last-ditch effort to delay Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. But both are obviously reconciled to Iran’s rejection of any limitations on its military nuclear capacity, along with the inability of any Western power to impose its will on the Islamic Republic.


Iran defiant as nuclear talks with powers begin
February 18, 2014/By Fredrik Dahl/Reuters
VIENNA: Iran says it will not cede its "right" to install advanced machinery to refine uranium, signalling defiance on what looks likely to be a serious sticking point in its nuclear talks with world powers that began on Tuesday.
Iran's development of new-generation centrifuges is under scrutiny in the West as they would enable a much more swift accumulation of fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons if enriched to a high degree.
Faced with technical hurdles and difficulty in obtaining parts abroad, Iran has been trying for years to replace the erratic, 1970s vintage IR-1 centrifuge it now operates at its underground Natanz and Fordow uranium enrichment facilities. Although Iran's progress so far appears limited, it is believed to be an issue that Western officials would want to see addressed as part of any final settlement of the decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.
A senior U.S. official said last month research and development (R&D) was among issues that "will have to be dealt with in the comprehensive resolution", without making clear how.
"Iran's development of more advanced centrifuges would greatly ease its ability to conduct a secret breakout to nuclear weapons," a U.S. think-tank, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said in a report.
"More significant limitations on Iran's R&D combined with greater transparency of this programme should be included in the final step of a comprehensive solution," ISIS added.
Tehran says it needs to produce low-enriched uranium to fuel a planned network of nuclear power plants and denies allegations by the United States and its allies that it is seeking the capability to assemble atomic bombs.
" Iran will not accept any limitation on its right to replace centrifuges with more advanced machines," a member of the Iranian delegation said on the sidelines of this week's talks in Vienna with the six powers - the United States, France, Russia, China, Germany and Britain. It has often portrayed Western demands on the country to curb its nuclear programme as an attempt by its foes to deny it the kind of scientific advances they themselves are free to enjoy, making it an issue of national prestige. "I do not think technology and science has anything to do with proliferation," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters and The International Media Associates, a television production company, in an interview this month.
The meeting in the Austrian capital is the first in an expected series of rounds of negotiations over the coming months aimed at reaching a lasting deal on the permissible scope of Iran's atomic activities in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions that are crippling its economy.
Western states want Iran to roll back its uranium enrichment programme to deny it any ability to produce enough highly-enriched for a bomb without the outside world being able to detect it and stop it in time.
To achieve that, experts say, Iran should agree to slash the number of centrifuges it runs and also limit its development of more advanced such machines that spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope.
Dennis Ross, a former Middle East adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, said he believed Iran should not have more than 10 percent of the 20,000 centrifuges it has installed, of which roughly half are operating.
"That number, moreover, cannot include any next-generation centrifuges, which even now the Iranians are trying to improve with new advances," he wrote in Politico magazine last month.
The issue was a big bone of contention already in talks late last year that yielded a breakthrough, interim agreement under which Iran halted its higher-grade uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of some sanctions.
The six-month accord - which took effect in January and is designed to buy time for the final settlement talks - says Iran cannot go beyond the existing centrifuge R&D it has been conducting at an above-ground site at Natanz, including testing of four new models.
Iran says it has the means and expertise to build new centrifuges but many nuclear experts believe its push has been held back by sanctions that make it hard for it to obtain the specialised steel and other materials needed.
It alarmed Western powers early last year when it rapidly installed about 1,000 so-called IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz production facility with the declared intention of starting to operate them to refine uranium, indicating it could assemble at least some such equipment despite the trade restrictions.
But Iran agreed in its Nov. 24 deal with the powers not to start them up and it remains unclear how well they would run.
However, ISIS, the U.S. think-tank, said the interim agreement allowed Iran to continue the development of centrifuges which are much more efficient than the IR-1.
"A centrifuge 10 times more capable than the IR-1 centrifuge would require 10 times fewer centrifuges to make the same amount of weapon-grade uranium for nuclear weapons, allowing for much smaller facilities," ISIS said.