July 01/14

Bible Quotation for today/Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks!

 Matthew 18,6-10/"If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes! ‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven."

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Jesus, help us to love God as Father and our neighbour as ourselves.
Pape François
Jésus, aide-nous à aimer Dieu comme un Père et notre prochain comme un frère.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 01/14

Is Lebanon at risk of becoming the next jihadi hub/Misbah al-Ali/The Daily Star/July 01/14

ISIS has reached Saudi Arabia’s borders/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Al Sahrq Alawsat/July 01/14
Iran seeks to appear as counterterrorism partner to the U.S./By: Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya/July 01/14

In Jordan, ISIS hits a wall... for now/By: Dr. Theodore Karasik /Al Arabiya


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 01/14
Lebanese Related News

Ban praises Army, highlights Lebanon risks

Lebanon at risk of becoming jihadi hub

Aoun’s presidential proposal draws rebuke

Aoun's Derailment/Hallow initiative

Kataeb on Aoun's Proposals: Impossible Demands Will Only Exacerbate Crisis

Miqati Slams as 'Coup' Aoun's Proposal on Presidential Impasse

Lebanon rank up in insurance premiums

Jumblatt slams peace envoys, Tony Blair

Report exposes details of Lakkis assassination
Two killed, at least four wounded in Beirut clashes
Arsal reels as medical supplies dry up

Tele Liban court session postponed
Syrian TV: 2 Bomb-Laden Cars with Lebanese License Plates Found in Qalamoun

Man Kills Sister over 'Dishonorable Act' Revealed in Text Message

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 01/14

The three Israeli kidnapped teenagers were found dead in Palestinian Kachil village. Cabinet to meet

Canada Mourns Loss of Three Israeli Teens, Calls for Justice

IDF raids homes of teens' suspected murderers

Can Israel afford PM's plan for Jordan fence?

Netanyahu: Hamas will pay for the murders of the three youths

Hamas behind rockets barrage, first since 2012

At least 16 Gaza rockets hit southern Israel
5 Assyrians, Including Two Nuns, Missing in Mosul
Blast hits near Egypt's presidential palace

ISIS declares new Islamic caliphate

Crucial Iraq parliament session to open
Syria fighters hail declaration of 'caliphate'

Qatar congratulates Sisi on Ramadan

Israel, Turkey back off pro-Kurd independence


Ban praises Lebanese Army, highlights risks posed to country
Elise Knutsen/The Daily Star

BEIRUT: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon praised the Lebanese Armed Forces for its efforts in maintaining calm both within the country and along the Lebanon-Israeli border, in an advance copy of a report seen exclusively by The Daily Star. In the report on the implementation of U.N. Resolution 1701, which is due to be discussed early this month, Ban also expressed his concern over the situation in the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh camp, the presidential vacuum and the government’s decision to curb the number of Syrian refugees entering the country. Praising the Lebanese Army, the U.N. chief thanked the military for its “robust and effective role in addressing security challenges.” New security plans implemented in the Bekaa Valley and Tripoli have “led to the successful interdiction for people and material associated with terrorist activities and to curbing violence in Lebanon,” he said.Hezbollah’s retention of arms outside the state apparatus, he added, posed a direct threat to the country’s stability.
Ban also roundly criticized the Israeli Army’s “continued ... occupation of the northern part of the village of Ghajar” in the Golan Heights, classifying it as a “violation of ... Lebanese sovereignty.”
On 13 separate occasions since last February, he added, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon had witnessed members of the Israeli Army “carrying out operational activities in the occupied area of northern Ghajar.”Ban also criticized Israel’s “unabated” violations of Lebanese airspace, “mostly by unmanned aerial vehicles and fixed-wing aircraft.”
Over the past four months, the Israeli Army has violated the Blue Line that demarcates the border between Israel and Lebanon three times, according to Ban.
The Lebanese Armed Forces “briefly crossed approximately 7 meters south of the Blue Line while taking pictures in the area of Naquora,” he added.
Echoing a chorus of growing concern, Ban underlined the untenable strain on resources and infrastructures in the 1,700 Lebanese communities that are officially hosting at least 1.1 million Syrian refugees. “The limited availability of resources is now an acute issue,” he said. Despite the fact that Lebanon now has more refugees per capita than any country in the world, international donors have been slow in making good on their pledges of support. The U.N. estimates that Lebanon will need $1.7 billion to support Syrian refugees through 2014, but the international community has contributed less than 25% of that sum to date. “I encourage the international community to fully consider the risks if Lebanon is not supported sufficiently to meet these immense challenges,” the U.N. chief said without elaborating.
Yet Ban also expressed misgivings about the Lebanese government’s recently announced policies to limit the number of Syrian refugees entering the country.
“Without prejudice to Lebanon’s right to manage its border, it remains essential that civilians fleeing the conflict in Syria who are in need of safety and protection are granted access and not returned in circumstances where their lives would be at risk.” He said he would work to ensure that the Lebanese government upholds “international humanitarian law” throughout the refugee crisis.
Lebanon’s presidential vacuum raises questions about the country’s long-term stability and makes timely coordination problematic, he continued. “The international community needs an effective partner in Lebanon,” Ban said. Ban expressed particular unease about a spate of violent incidents which have occurred in the southern Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp. “The security situation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el Helweh [sic] is of concern,” he said, adding that the continued presence of military bases in the camps “compromises Lebanese sovereignty.”

Is Lebanon at risk of becoming the next jihadi hub?

Misbah al-Ali/The Daily Star

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Foreign jihadists have been immigrating to Lebanon for years, but sources say that following the rapid conquest of territories in Syria and Iraq by Islamist groups, their numbers have recently been increasing to the extent that the country is at risk of becoming a hub for jihadists. And now the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is hurriedly making its way to Lebanon.
Alongside Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration over the weekend that he is caliph of the Islamic State his group is building and an announcement that the group was now called just the “Islamic state,” Abdel-Salam al-Urduni was named as the emir of Lebanon. According to opposition fighters in Syria, Urduni is most likely a Palestinian with a Jordanian passport, and is someone who has lived in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon for a long time.
This dangerous development will likely stir the feelings of a wide range of Islamist militants currently embedded within Lebanon’s social fabric.
When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi became the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and called on Arabs to declare their allegiance to the group, he won the minds and hearts of many fundamentalists, including in Lebanon, beginning with Palestinian Ahmad Abdel-Karim al-Saadi, also known as Abu Mohjen, the leader of Islamist group Osbat al-Ansar. After he was sentenced to death, Saadi fled to Iraq to work there.
Saadi and Walid Boustani, a Lebanese member of Fatah al-Islam, are considered to be among the first to pave the way for jihadists to travel to Syria, specifically to Qalaat al-Hosn or Crac des Chevaliers, after the conflict erupted between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and rebels fighting to unseat it.
Boustani escaped Lebanon’s notorious Roumieh Prison in 2010 after he was arrested, then joined Islamist forces fighting in the Syrian uprising. He was executed by the Free Syrian Army at some point in 2012, with his death captured on a video posted on YouTube in September that year.
Reports have subsequently emerged of an unknown sheikh, reportedly a famed Salafist residing in Tripoli, who issued the decision to kill Boustani. Some of the northern city’s militants have allegedly not forgiven him for his decision as it deprived them of the possibility of establishing their emirate within Syria.
Another key Islamist, Saddam Hajj Dib, was killed in May 2007 in clashes between the Internal Security Forces and Fatah al-Islam in fighting that sparked clashes that summer in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Hajj Dib is the uncle of brothers Motasem and Hasan al-Hasan, both of whom died fighting in Syria.
The Nahr al-Bared clashes were aimed at destroying Fatah al-Islam and its leader Shaker Youssef al-Absi. Absi founded the organization after first meeting Zarqawi in a Jordanian prison, and then Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, who became the leader of the Nusra Front, in a Syrian prison.
“It is all an interconnected series between all of them and it is the dream of establishing a caliphate and building an Islamic state and ruling only through the Shariah law,” a fundamentalist Islamist in Tripoli, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star.
He is one of many Sunnis in the city who are preoccupied with jihad at the moment as a means to escape what they perceive as an unfairly harsh crackdown on their activities.
According to a Salafist activist with ties to jihadist groups, Islamists emigrating to fight is not a new notion at all, “especially since Tripoli is a safe haven for jihadists, beginning with the emergence of a number of notable personalities primarily [the late] Bassam Kanj, known as Abu Aisha, who was the emir of emigration and takfirism, and who was killed ... in 2000.”
Then emerged Boustani and Australian sheikh Abu Sleiman al-Muhajir, who became emir of Qalaat al-Hosn, and is believed to have been killed in the fighting there after recruiting a significant number of young men, including the Hasan brothers.
The Salafist activist did not respond to The Daily Star’s questions regarding young Lebanese men leaving for Syria to fight there, and whose numbers have reportedly exceeded 100, but he did say that Lebanon has turned into an effective jihadist arena.
According to him, Lebanon will soon witness an increased flow of jihadists into the country, as has already been proven with the uncovering of a number of terrorist cells in the past week.
But despite all of this, he said it was still impossible to organize mass jihadist emigrations from Lebanon to elsewhere in the Middle East. He also said it was unlikely that Tripoli would turn into a base for jihad, especially for those going abroad.
“All of our experiences have failed and we all paid the price of unpredictable adventures,” the activist explained. “Most of the Islamists who have adopted fundamentalist thinking are either buried in the ground with their organizations’ secrets, or have been put in prison and reaped nothing but disappointment.”
He denied that he was what he called a “repentant jihadist,” but acknowledged that he was being more careful in his work.
He also said that there was an ongoing debate among Salafist circles between those supporting the Islamic State launching a jihadist operation in Lebanon, and those that believe that the country is uniquely structured – demographically and geographically – and would not be a good place to establish an emirate.
Also notable is the disappearance of Islamist Shadi Mawlawi – who was briefly arrested in Tripoli in 2012 along with Qatari Abdel-Rahman Attieh, reportedly the top supporter for the formation of the Nusra Front, and Jordanian Abdel-Malak Youssef Othman Abdel-Salam – and his brother Nizar.
Reports have emerged that Mawlawi is moving between Syria and Lebanon via the northern border. He is reportedly accompanied by Osama Mansour, known as Abu Mansour, the Salafist sheikh who disappeared along with others such as Hussam al-Sabbagh in Tripoli.
It is possible Mawlawi and Nizar’s disappearance does not mean anything at all. However, it’s also possible that there is a link between their absence and the recent uncovering of a number of terrorist cells, particularly those in Qalamoun and Fnaydeq in north Lebanon.
A high-ranking security official confirmed to The Daily Star that the significant number of terrorist cells flocking to Lebanon was most probably related to the Islamic State’s decision to destroy the previously calm security situation in Lebanon and link the country up with its areas of jihadist activity in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State is believed to be hoping to double its capacity and move its elements around more easily via the Syrian areas adjacent to the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, from where it can take advantage of that fact that many Arab nationals can easily enter the country.
“As with the car bombs, there is no accurate count of foreign suicide bombers in Lebanon, but we are following up diligently on Lebanese areas where maybe cars are being rigged and jihadists are being prepped,” the security source said.
“These areas have a certain element that forces us to work within them differently ... we are alert as we fear painful attacks on all levels as Lebanon is now under the threat of imminent danger.”

Two killed, at least four wounded in Beirut clashes
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Two men were killed and at least four others wounded in a shootout on the outskirts of Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, police sources told The Daily Star.
The sources said Lebanese Al-Zir family, which is affiliated with militia leader Shaker Berjawi exchanged fire with Palestinian groups in the Hay al-Gharbi area on the outskirts of the Shatila camp, killing two Palestinian men identified as Ali al-Toll and Jamil al-Issawi. The clashes wounded at least four others. The Lebanese Army sent reinforcements to contain the situation and deployed on the road separating Hay al-Gharbi from the Shatila camp. The clashes significantly eased after the military intervened. The sources said that the clashes were related to drug trafficking issues. Witnesses Monday said that the sound of heavy gunfire ricocheted across the capital and traffic came to a standstill on several highways linking Beirut's center to its suburbs. Berjawi's marginal Arab Movement Party is aligned with the March 8 bloc and supports Bashar Assad. Armed men loyal to his group have been periodically involved in clashes with groups who support the Syrian opposition in recent years. In March, a clash between Salafists and Berjawi's men erupted near Cite Sportive Stadium. One man was killed and thirteen were wounded. In Spring 2012, Berjawi's men were involved in a firefight with Future Movement youths in Tariq al-Jadideh which left two dead. It was the worst case of Syria-related violence to hit Lebanon's capital. The three clashes, each involving Berjawi's men, are the only times in which Syria-related firefights have erupted in Beirut since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

Report exposes details of Lakkis assassination

The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The hit squad entered and exited the parking lot where Hassan Lakkis was gunned down on the night of Dec. 3, 2013 by jumping over the wall that served as a buffer between his apartment complex and the Camille Chamoun Highway, Israel Defense magazine has revealed in a report. The lengthy report, by Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, said that the actual assassination was carried out by two gunmen, armed with silencer-equipped 9mm pistols. The report backed this assertion by citing physical evidence from the scene – notably muddy footprints left by the assassins who had crossed a nearby orchard that night. It said that after the hit squad exited the parking lot, they escaped via a waiting getaway vehicle under the cover of darkness. The report also claimed that Lakkis was not only a senior commander in Hezbollah, he was also a life-long personal friend of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. The report goes into blow-by-blow detail of the events alleged to take place that night. It said two of the occupants dismounted and slipped stealthily into the thick vegetation of the orchard. The route they will follow would lead them, within minutes, to the concrete wall, which they would climb and then jump directly into the roofed area where the residents' reserved parking spaces were located. There, they would find their target – Hassan Hawlo Lakkis – head of Hezbollah’s weapon systems and technological infrastructure development organ.
The report also stated that at least two organizations investigated Lakkis’ assassination: the internal security department of the Lebanese Army and the internal security unit of Hezbollah, headed by Wafiq Safa. It said Hezbollah and Iran were convinced that Israeli intelligence had masterminded the killing and that the actual execution had been carried out by a third party, a state entity such as Saudi Arabia or a local anti- Hezbollah organization. The main question being asked, according to the report, was why the Israelis had decided to assassinate Lakkis using point-blank range gunfire rather than, as attributed to them in previous cases, by attaching an explosive device to his car, employing a sniper or using a lethal injection that would simulate death of natural causes?
The report also gave background on Lakkis’ life, saying that him and Nasrallah “had started out together as youngsters in Baalbek, east Lebanon, where they attended religion classes delivered by Sayyed Abbas al-Musawi, who was eventually appointed Hezbollah chief until his assassination by Israeli forces in 1992.”
It added that in 1983, Iran established – for the first time in Lebanon – a military command near Shaath in the Bekaa Valley, headed by officers of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. One of those officers was Hossein Dehghan who now serves as Iran's Defense Minister. Dehghan was assigned to assume responsibility on behalf of the Revolutionary Guards for the Lebanon sector following the Israeli invasion of 1982. He was also involved in the training of the first nucleus of Lebanese Islamic resistance leaders, including the young Hassan Lakkis, who was later sent to attend the school for command and staff officers at the Imam Hossein University (military academy) of the Revolutionary Guards. Nasrallah was appointed Hezbollah secretary-general in Feb. 1992 after Musawi was killed in an Israeli air raid on his motorcade. As of that year, Lakkis' activity has been on record, the report said, adding that Lakkis enrolled as a student at the Engineering Faculty of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in addition to handling the procurement and weapon system development activities of Hezbollah. As later established, this activity would eventually be conducted by a worldwide network of Hezbollah cells. The report also stated that Lakkis would travel to Tehran occasionally for work visits, and that his acquaintances had said that he attended his first work meeting with Iran's supreme spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, along with Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyah, who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.


Aoun's Derailment/Hallow initiative
The Daily Star/Michel Aoun’s “initiative” to end the political impasse in Lebanon, presented Monday, offered the latest example of how distant the country is from a resolution to the debilitating situation of stalemate. Aoun used his televised news conference to unveil supposedly groundbreaking ideas for electing a president, namely a two-staged election to allow Christians, and then all Lebanese, to select a head of state. In reality, Aoun submitted this idea and a few others in a bid to resurrect his presence after his failure to convince former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Future Movement that he deserved to be considered a compromise candidate for the presidency. Instead of moving in the direction of a possible compromise, the public only heard how Aoun has been right about everything all along, ever since his late 1980s opposition to the Taif Accord. Aoun stuck stubbornly to his stance that only he deserves to be president, as evidenced by his view that an election is not worth holding unless “the right” president is elected, meaning himself. As for the stalemate over parliamentary elections, Aoun also ignored the strong signal by Speaker Nabih Berri that a new law, based on consensus, must be adopted. The FPM leader merely continued to move backward, advocating the notion that MPs should be elected by their sects, a proposal that was dead in the water when it was promoted over the last few years.
In the end, it was a case of behaving cavalierly with regard to matters of huge national significance, and people who have a long enough memory would have been surprised by absolutely nothing in Aoun’s latest proposals and rhetoric.

Aoun’s presidential proposal draws rebuke
Meris Lutz/Rima S.Aboulmona| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun proposed Monday that the Constitution be amended to allow the Lebanese people to vote for their head of state, drawing criticism from his political rivals as his allies continue their reticence on his presidential bid. “I suggest a limited constitutional amendment that allows the presidential election to be decided by the people directly over two rounds,” Aoun said Monday at a news conference. Aoun suggested that Christians would vote in a first round, with the top two candidates then facing a public poll open to voters of all sects.
Aoun said a direct election would prevent a presidential vacuum from occurring in the future by eliminating the need for a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament or a two-thirds quorum with an absolute majority. The presidency, which has been vacant since former President Michel Sleiman’s term ended on May 25, is reserved for a Maronite Christian under the National Pact of 1943 that governs Lebanon’s political power-sharing. Aoun resurrected his previous proposal for a new parliamentary electoral law under which each religious group would elect its own members of Parliament.
Aoun complained that under the current law, Christian MPs were being elected by Muslims, leading to losses by his party in the last round of elections because Muslim voters “come in one bloc.”“This is not fair,” he continued, adding that “Christians are not well represented” and this violated the National Pact and Christians’ right to parity with Muslims.“When every religious group elects its own officials, we are ensuring justice and fair representation,” he said. Aoun’s proposal, dubbed the “Orthodox Gathering draft law” when he first proposed it last year, drew criticism at the time from those who derided it as unconstitutional and feared it would lead Lebanon to become more sectarian.
Aoun denied such claims at Monday’s conference, saying “confessionalism is the basis of the Lebanese [political] system ... and implementing justice inside the system prevents any sect’s domination over another.”Aoun also addressed claims the FPM was disrupting the presidential election, telling the public: “You have lived for 24 years in a presidential void ... It is time to end this void. We are trying to wake you up.”
The FPM leader cited a statistical study by Abdo Saad, according to which 86 percent of the Lebanese people support his initiative. The stalemate over the electoral law last year caused elections to be postponed until this fall, with Parliament extending its own mandate by 17 months. Aoun’s proposal drew a flurry of negative reactions from the March 14 movement, as his allies in Hezbollah and the Amal Movement remained tight-lipped, voicing neither support nor opposition to the proposition. Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat called Aoun’s proposal “strange” as well as “un-serious and impractical.”
“This is not an exit from the crisis, it is a complication,” he told The Daily Star, adding that no amendments can be made to the Constitution while Parliament’s mandate has been extended. He said now was not the time to question the entire Lebanese political system.
Regarding Aoun’s proposal for a new parliamentary law, Fatfat said the draft law has “already been rejected.” He went on to question why Aoun would support direct election for the presidency only, and not the other top positions such as the speaker and the prime minister.  Fatfat also dismissed the theory, put forth by some analysts, that Aoun is demanding the impossible in order to push his rivals to “compromise” by backing his presidential bid. “He knows [direct election] is impossible, and he also knows it is impossible for him to become president,” Fatfat said.
Separately, Future Movement MP Ammar Houri told Future Television that the Constitution cannot be amended at this time, emphasizing that the priority should be on electing a new president.
Future’s Christian allies also made clear their opposition to the proposal, with most echoing Fatfat’s concern over making Constitutional amendments during an extraordinary Parliamentary term.
“Aoun is clearly saying: enjoy these long months of vacancy because I didn’t become president,” said Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra, appealing to Aoun’s allies not to put the former general’s ambitions above the welfare of the country.
The Kataeb party responded with a statement in which it said the proposal would “exacerbate the crisis and the [effects of] the vacancy [in the presidential palace].”
It also added, sarcastically, “out of concern for the rights of all sects and ensuring equality, the Kataeb party asks: why not use General Aoun’s mechanism for electing a president to also choose the speaker and prime minister?”
The party called the “obstruction” of the presidential election a blow to national security, and called for dialogue and cooperation among the Lebanese factions.
Information Minister Ramzi Joreige, for his part, who is considered close to the Kataeb, said it was “illogical” to hold parliamentary elections before the presidential poll, as suggested by Aoun.
“How can we ignore all these constitutional issues and hold parliamentary elections in this environment?” he told the Voice of Lebanon radio. “And if a new Parliament is elected [before a president], who will hold the necessary parliamentary consultations on behalf of the president, the current council of ministers? I don’t think this is possible.”
If a new Parliament is elected, the Cabinet immediately loses its mandate, the minister explained, and another caretaker government would only exacerbate the power vacuum in the government.
Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb accused Aoun of threatening to paralyze the government if he is not elected president, likening him to a lovestruck youth who threatens to kill the girl he loves if he is not allowed to wed her. “If the aim is to strike down the Taif Accord and return to a majority rule in our decisions and institutions, I do not think anyone will agree to this step, neither Christians nor Muslims, and not the political parties which are aware of the sacrifices made for us to reach the Taif,” Harb said.


Kataeb on Aoun's Proposals: Impossible Demands Will Only Exacerbate Crisis
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party criticized on Monday Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun's proposals to end the country's deadlock over the presidential and parliamentary elections, deeming them “impossible” demands. It said after its weekly politburo meeting: “Ending the crisis does not require impossible proposals, which will only exacerbate the situation.”
“Out of our keenness on the rights of all sects and in order to achieve fair power-sharing, why shouldn't Aoun's suggestions be implemented for the election of a prime minister and parliament speaker?” it wondered. Moreover, the party noted that any solution to the crisis requires calm and that all members of the national dialogue attend the all-party talks.
“This however is not possible as long as a party is engaged in conflicts outside of Lebanon,” remarked Kataeb in reference to Hizbullah's participation in the war in Syria.
Aoun called on Monday for a constitutional amendment that would allow the people to elect their head of state in an attempt to resolve the presidential deadlock.
He said there should be a “limited constitutional amendment,” allowing Lebanese citizens to elect the head of state in two rounds to avoid the same scenarios that parliamentary sessions are witnessing.
Aoun explained that his proposal lies in allowing only Christians to vote for their candidates in the first round. The system then allows the polls to be held at the level of the entire nation to pave way for both Muslims and Christians to choose the two candidates who received the majority of votes in the first round.

5 Assyrians, Including Two Nuns, Missing in Mosul
Sister Utoor Joseph (left) and Sister Miskintah, who disappeared on late Saturday, June 28 in Mosul (photo: Ishtar TV).Mosul, Iraq(AINA) -- The Assyrian television channel Ishtar TV is reporting that 5 Assyrians have gone missing in Mosul. Two Chaldean nuns from the Daughters of Mary Order, Sister Miskintah and Sister Utoor Joseph, as well as Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba and Aram Sabah have not been heard from for nearly two days. Sisters Miskintah and Utoor managed an orphanage for girls in Mosul, in the Khazraj neighborhood near Miskintah Church. After Mosul fell to ISIS, the two nuns brought the orphaned girls to the city of Dohuk for safety. The Nuns returned late Saturday to Mosul, accompanied by Hala, Sarah and Aram, to inspect the monastery but there has been no contact with them nor any trace of their whereabouts since then.
It is believed they have been kidnapped by Muslims.
Nearly all of the Christians of Mosul have fled the city since it fell to ISIS on June 10. ISIS members bombed an Armenian church which was under construction in the Left Bank neighborhood, near al-Salaam hospital and looted The Church of the Holy Spirit (AINA 2014-06-12). Two days after taking over Mosul, imposed Islamic law (Sharia) (AINA 2014-06-14) and began collecting the poll tax (jizya) from Christians (AINA 2014-06-21). On June 21 ISIS members raped a mother and daughter and killed four women for not wearing the veil (AINA 2014-06-23).
From left: Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba and Aram Sabah.
© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.



God Bless Their Souls

Elias Bejjani/We in the LCCC Fully adopt and support the Canadian Government release addressing the death of the Three Israeli Teens. May God bless the souls of these three civilian victims and grant their parents, families and friends all the needed hope, faith, patience and strength to deal with their great loss. Meanwhile we offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families asking Al mighty God to help all those who are working for a permanent peace in the middle east

Canada Mourns Loss of Three Israeli Teens, Calls for Justice

June 30, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:
“I was personally dismayed to hear the horrific news that three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, were found murdered near Hebron.
“My prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to their families and friends and all Israelis who have been emotionally awaiting their safe return. Canada will be represented at the shivas by our ambassador to Israel, to pay our respects and mourn with all Israelis.
“Terror must never be allowed to stand in the face of any country or people that aspires to bring peace and prosperity to their citizens. Israel is a country that faces unimaginable threats from terrorist organizations, like Hamas, on a daily basis. Canada has, and will always condemn murderous terrorist attacks like we’ve seen today.
“Canada hopes that the perpetrators of this heinous act are swiftly brought to justice, and we call on the Palestinian Authority to work with Israeli authorities toward this end.
“We stand with all Israelis on this painful day, and we offer Canada’s unwavering support as they mourn the loss of three young men who were taken from their families and friends far too early.”
For further information, media representatives may contact:

The three Israeli kidnapped teenagers were found dead in Palestinian Kachil village. Cabinet to meet
DEBKAfile Special Report June 30, 2014/Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both aged 16, were found dead of bullet wounds Monday, June 30, in the Palestinian village of Kachil near Halhoul north of Hebron on the West Bank. They appeared to have been thrown into a field by their abductors after a hasty effort to conceal them. Their parents were informed earlier of the discovery. The families have gone into deep mourning. The all-out search has switched urgently from Operation Brother’s Keeper to discover the boys to the hunt for their kidnappers. The Israeli cabinet was summoned to an emergency session Monday night to determine how to respond to the tragic deaths. The suspected abductors are two Hamas activists, missing from their homes at the same time as the boys’ disappearance. Thursday, June 26, the Shin bet security service named them as Marwan Qwasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha from Hebron. Both have done time in Israeli and Palestinian jails for terrorist actions
The three Israeli teenagers disappeared thumbing a lift home outside Gush Etzion in the Hebron district on July 10. They were believed kidnapped after two days. Investigators deduced that they had been murdered by their kidnappers after hearing the tape of a cellphone call one of the boys put into the emergency 101 emergency desk in Kiryat Arba.. He was heard whispering “I was kidnapped,” followed by an exchange of words in Arabic and gunshots. The cell phone was then abruptly switched off. The investigation could not establish whether all the boys were shot or one or more had survived.
The police officer who received the call treated it as just another prank and passed it on after several precious hours were lost. This week, the commissioner sacked a number of police officers serving in the Hebron District. A burnt car found in another part of the district, the village of Dura, proved to have been the kidnap car. Cartridges of the bullets in the vehicle were the only tangible clues left by the kidnappers to the fate of the boys. The teens’ mothers went to Geneva last week to address the UN Human Rights Council and direct a plea to the international community to help find their sons. Sunday night, tens of thousands of well wishers rallied in Rabin Square at the center of Tel Aviv in support of the boys’ families.

ISIS has reached Saudi Arabia’s borders
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Monday, 30 Jun, 2014
The heightened state of alert in the region is epitomized in the brief statement issued by the Saudi Royal Court this week, with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz ordering “all necessary measures” to protect Saudi Arabia from the threat of terrorism. The extremists have reached the border. Al-Qaeda is a stone’s throw from three major regional countries: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the most extreme faction of Al-Qaeda, mobilized its forces to confront the Assad regime and most recently has turned its attentions to the Nuri Al-Maliki government in Iraq. ISIS has built an army of thousands of suicide bombers of different nationalities, all of whom are prepared to return to their countries and start a world war.
Similar to what has happened in Syria, what is now happening in Iraq is a genuine revolution against a sectarian, repugnant rule. However Al-Qaeda has become involved in this revolution under different banners: ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar Al-Sham, just to name a few. They claim to support the oppressed people—until they are able to take center stage and hijack the revolution thanks to their extraordinary global capabilities. The group exploited the anger of millions of Sunni people around the world, from Indonesia to Britain, and made them cheer for its achievements. As such, ISIS today is the star at the box office, as my colleague Youssef Al-Dini likes to say.
In order to understand the unprecedented and rapid developments, we must be aware that we have two rivals which we cannot side with: Bashar Al-Assad and Nuri Al-Maliki’s sectarian governments on one side, and ISIS and its terrorist affiliates on the other.
Turkey, which at first confused Syrian nationalists with Islamist extremists, has finally decided to close its borders to Islamist terrorist groups, declaring that they are a threat to its national security, not the Assad regime. Jordan and Saudi Arabia had, from the beginning, distinguished between the moderate patriotic Free Syrian Army and the terrorist ISIS and Al-Nusra Front. This is despite the fact that all three oppose the Assad regime.
Now, one might ask: How could you put these rivals—Assad, Maliki, ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front—in the same basket? Well, the fact of the matter is that were it not for Assad and Maliki, ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front would not have existed. Most of their leaders had been detained in Syrian and Iraqi prisons and were released by these regimes, who believed that this would shuffle the cards. Indeed, the cards have been shuffled: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have announced their readiness to fight these terrorist groups.
All regional and international countries are aware of what is happening. We will surely witness vital collective activity on international military and political levels to confront this threat. It is most likely that this will lead to a military camp that will see a larger-scale war being waged on terrorism.
Nevertheless, the problem is still a political one, as each state perceives the danger from a different angle. We are all against these terrorist organizations, but each state believes in a different solution. The United States faces two competing visions: the first calls for dealing with Iran, and therefore continuing to tacitly support Maliki and Assad; meanwhile, European and Gulf countries want change, believing that without an acceptable strong centralized regime in Syria and Iraq, it will be impossible to eliminate these extremist groups. Therefore, a political solution must be imposed in Syria and Iraq; Sunnis should be mobilized to cooperate and fight against the extremists.
The Gulf states believe that the fight against Al-Qaeda will only succeed through the cooperation of Iraq and Syria’s Sunnis—this is the only way to eradicate these terrorist groups. This will stop Sunnis elsewhere from sympathizing with this group and its ideology. The sectarian policies of Assad and Maliki have triggered this chaos. Therefore, the solution lies in strong central governments in both Baghdad and Damascus with American, Western and regional support.
Limiting the solution to military action against ISIS will result in failure, as seen by the failure of this policy since 2001.

Iran seeks to appear as counterterrorism partner to the U.S.
Monday, 30 June 2014
Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya
There is much talk about the unique opportunity emerging from the womb of fragmented Iraq to produce qualitatively new regional and international agreements. Some are saying that the time has come for the “grand bargain.” Others call for adapting to the situation on the ground, and to officially acknowledge the idea of autonomous provinces and the need to transition from a “simple state” to a “compound state” in Iraq. However, there are also some who see Iraqi events as the beginning of collapse, partition, fragmentation, and bloody sectarian warfare in the entire Arab region.
What is happening in Iraq and Syria is extremely serious, and there is no room for any errors, which would be truly devastating. It is time for a new approach at the regional level, especially with respect to Saudi-Iranian relations, and at the international level, especially with respect to U.S. involvement rather than self-dissociation. Barack Obama has started to correct his policies, though concerns remain regarding the possibility of him backing down, at least in the view of those who have been closely observing the U.S. president. The Iranian leadership is trying to take advantage of the events in Iraq to further its interests, especially in the context of Iranian-American relations.
The Saudi leadership believes that U.S. vigilance regarding the layers and repercussions of Iraqi events opens the door to a new dialogue between the two countries on Iraq and Syria, and also on the requirements of mending Saudi-Iranian relations. As for Russia, it is watching with concern the developments in Iraq for fear they may impact its “victories” in Syria. For this reason, perhaps, Russia is downplaying and reducing the Iraqi event as something that solely falls under the category of terrorism, just like it had done with the events in Syria. The difference is that Russia is a direct actor with military contribution in the Syrian civil war, where Russia is in an organic alliance with the ruling regime and President Bashar al-Assad. By contrast, Russia is a marginal player in Iraq.
“The only link between Iraq and Syria in the mind of the Iranians is the need to eliminate ISIS and similar groups in the two countries”
The common denominator among all these parties is that they are all convinced the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a threat to all of them, being a barbaric terrorist group whose main ideology is destruction and the establishment of an Islamic “emirate” to replace any pluralistic and open form of government. The other common denominator is that all these parties are fully aware that what is happening in Iraq is also an uprising against the administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was brought by the United States and Iran to power, and that ISIS is only one out of dozen groups or so that are taking part in the rebellion.
All sides agree
All sides agree on not allowing ISIS to achieve victories that can lead to the creation of that “emirate” it so desires. The difference is that some want to immediately defeat ISIS as a precondition for a comprehensive political process, while others believe that a military solution is not possible without an immediate political process that shuns exclusion, marginalization, and sectarianism. ISIS, in this context, can never be part of a political solution in the mind of any party. It is part of the military solution, which is being discussed to eliminate and defeat ISIS as a terror group.
The problem is that ISIS was practically the vanguard of the uprising that upended the internal balance of power in Iraq, but ultimately, it is only one among many other factions in the Sunni uprising against Maliki’s exclusion of Sunni Arabs. Realistically, ISIS broke the first ring of the siege, and created a new dynamic against Iranian hegemony over the government of Iraq through Nouri al-Maliki. But behind ISIS’s vanguard, many other factions overlap with ISIS, in spite of the differences that will inevitably surface among these groups, which have conflicting objectives and ideologies.
Thus, any talk about decisive victory against ISIS means military action that inevitably requires air strikes, in which the United States will have to have a role through drones, reconnaissance planes, and special forces, which President Obama has now dispatched to Iraq to provide assistance though not to engage directly in combat.
International assistance
The Iraqi government has asked the secretary-general of the United Nations to provide cover for international assistance - meaning U.S. assistance on the basis of previous bilateral agreements between the two countries, and given that Iraqi military capabilities are limited while Iraq lacks the kind of fighter planes needed for such a military action.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari focused on the issue of international support as the key to the solution, and said that important developments are going to take place in the coming period. Zebari stressed that what was needed was a stand against terrorism rather than a stand with the Maliki government or with Shiites, saying that ISIS’ threat affected everyone, though he acknowledged that a military solution is not possible without a political process, and called for proceeding along both paths.
Iran, according to sources, is ready to persuade Maliki to step down, but not before things return to normal as they stood prior to the Iraqi uprising’s seizure of posts and crossings, and not before ISIS is eliminated by means of airstrikes. Tehran wants to cancel what has happened on the ground as a precondition for agreeing to Maliki stepping down. The Iranian leadership believes that there is a golden opportunity now to formulate a bilateral “grand bargain” with the United States to fight ISIS and similar groups, beginning in the Iraqi theater.
To be sure, Tehran may be prepared for Maliki to step down in a way where he can save face, and has in its pockets a replacement who is no less loyal to Iran. However, Tehran categorically rejects any calls for it to similarly abandon Bashar al-Assad in any deal - be it a small or a grand bargain. To be sure as well, Tehran does not feel itself under any U.S. pressure in that direction. In other words, it has not heard from U.S. officials anything about Assad’s fate similar to what they said about Maliki’s.
The only link between Iraq and Syria
The only link between Iraq and Syria in the mind of the Iranians is the need to eliminate ISIS and similar groups in the two countries, reverse any victories on the field achieved by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and head off any Syrian uprising similar to the Iraqi uprising - i.e. where Sunnis ally themselves with the “devil” to get out of the status quo.
Deep inside, the Iranian leadership is aware of the difficulty of achieving what it is touting as an opportunity to its advantage. The Iranian leadership, realistically and practically, is not ready for the “grand bargain” yet, because that bargain requires serious concessions by Iran and also Saudi Arabia. The only player that can push Iran and Saudi Arabia toward that grand bargain is the United States. Perhaps there is a real golden opportunity here if the Obama administration decides it is time for a comprehensive approach to find serious and permanent solutions in both Iraq and Syria, but this requires a coherent strategy and it is not clear whether Obama and his team are up to this or not.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as usual, has been touring, exploring, endeavoring, analyzing, and hoping for things. It is time for his president to boost his efforts with a clear and bold strategy with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is really time for a new, firm, and determined approach that would delineate and limit the Iranian roles in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and defeat Salafist terrorism, something that requires partnership with the Sunnis rather than sectarian wars.
But if the U.S. priority is to seal a nuclear agreement with Iran at any cost, then the Obama administration has only itself to blame in the event of total collapse in Iraq and unchecked growth of Salafist terrorism, as this is the only alternative to the failure of the United States to confront Iran over the consequences of its policies and military intervention in two major Arab countries.
Historical responsibility
Historical responsibility also falls on Saudi Arabia at this serious and decisive stage. It is the time to take advantage of the favorable opportunity to advance ideas conscious to the fate of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and perhaps also the Kingdom itself. Insisting on the exclusion of Iran from regional and international understandings will not do any good. Iran has become a key player in Iraq, in Syria, and in Lebanon, and any solutions in these countries requires negotiations with Tehran.
Certainly, the Saudi leadership is aware more than others that ISIS and similar groups threaten the stability of Saudi Arabia, if they emerge victorious and establish their emirate. Decisions taken by the Kingdom to prevent its citizens from joining extremist organizations and to fight terrorism are important and necessary decisions. Now, Riyadh must not leave the scene and allow Iran to claim that it is the natural partner for the United States in the fight against ISIS and its ilk, and must not allow Russia and even the United States to reduce Iraq and Syria to an issue of terrorism. It is of the utmost importance for Saudi Arabia to make every possible effort to immunize Lebanon from falling into the arms of ISIS retaliation against Hezbollah, because Lebanon’s collapse would be a strategic loss to Saudi Arabia, and not just to Hezbollah and Iran behind it.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is trying to emerge as a natural partner for the United States in the fight against terrorism, and is touting old-new ideas to the U.S. media and the American public - under the title of readiness for regional cooperation and the establishment of a new security regime that includes the GCC, Iraq, and Iran.
The GCC countries are fully aware that Iran’s tireless goal is to break and dismantle the GCC framework and replace it with a security organization dominated by Tehran, which has not forgotten that the six GCC countries once supported Iraq in its war against Iran under Saddam Hussein, along with the United States. Deep down, Iran denies that one of the GCC’s goals in supporting Iraq back then was to prevent the export of Iran’s mullahs-led revolution, and impose the Iranian system of government upon neighboring countries.
It is important for Saudi Arabia to put forward a narrative to counter that of Iran, which has a guise of logic and reconciliation. If Iran’s narrative is unacceptable, then let Riyadh come up with its own to counter it. If it is acceptable with reservations or conditions, then let Saudi Arabia clarify this comprehensively. It is important for Saudi reconciliatory proposals not to be absent and for Riyadh itself not to be absent from making initiatives.

In Jordan, ISIS hits a wall... for now

Monday, 30 June 2014
By: Dr. Theodore Karasik
All eyes were on Jordan last week as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) made a run at the Hashemite Kingdom. There were concerns that ISIS’ momentum, plus sleeper cells and admirers of the terrorist group in eastern Jordan, would help to create a back door for the fighters to slip into the country. That plan by ISIS seemed to have failed for several reasons.
Fears were raised when rare pictures of several dozen alleged ISIS supporters were circulated widely on social media and news outlets, including the Washington Post. One picture showed the supporters holding aloft a sign reading “Order of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Maan, Jordan- Victory for the Islamic State-22 Shaaban (June) 1435 (2014),” Importantly, Jordanian tribes are loyal to King Abdullah II. Indeed there are sleepers in Zarqa and Maan, but in the past these individuals have been tracked, detained, released, and now living their lives according to Jordanian sources. But they are still being watched and monitored and hence sleepers or supporters of ISIS are being mitigated.
Maan has a long history of problems with tribes and their networks. As we know, there were major uprisings in Maan during the 1990s and that Salafists are arriving in Maan from other parts of Jordan and Saudi Arabia on a regular basis. This city is seen as a springboard to the Kingdom and Jordan’s role is to act as “gatekeeper.” If the Jordanian government strikes Maan, it is to stop an attack on the Saudi Kingdom. And that is exactly what happened last week when troops apparently went in to settle down the situation. According to a Jordanian official, ISIS attempted to enter Saudi Arabia at Araar. A good marker of any problems in Jordan between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria is to watch Maan: the city is a barometer for tribal and jihadist activity.
Repelling ISIS
Second, the Jordanian military and special operation forces were able to repel ISIS by entering Iraq and attacking the terrorist group’s forward advance. The Jordanian army can act on its own to protect the state. Over the past week, over one hundred Jordanian special operators were in Iraq and in the Ajoun and Northern Jordan Hills watching ISIS’s forward advancement. Jordanian SOF interrupted ISIS’s advances with pinpoint strikes without the assistance of CENTCOM Forward or the SOCOM base in Zarqa according to a Jordanian official. These operations were carried out by the Jordanian military acting on its own without the King’s approval since their mandate allows them to protect the Hashemite Kingdom at any cost.
“Jordan is engaging Chechen leaders in Grozny to work together to capture and detain Chechen and other North Caucasians fighting on ISIS’ behalf”
Dr. Theodore Karasik
Third, Jordan is preparing to launch a counter narrative campaign against ISIS by employing two powerful clerics. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, also known as Isam Mohammad Taher al-Barqawi, was released from a Jordanian prison two weeks ago. Al-Maqdisi’s teachings and writings helped inspire Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led al-Qaeda in Iraq during the height of the Iraq war and who pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004. Al-Zarqawi, of course, was the leader of al-Qaeda Iraq which is now directly linked to the emergence of ISIS and its leader, al-Baghdadi. The other significant cleric is Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman. Previously in the UK, the British sent him to Jordan to stand trial for terrorism acts in Jordan. But his acquittal is seen as a way to free him to serve the Hashemite Kingdom. During the trial, Abu Qatada reportedly spoke out about the conflict in Syria, urging the two main jihadist factions there - the al-Nusra and ISIS - to unite behind the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both of these men will need to be watched carefully by all for what they say next to counter ISIS’ discourse. Others are likely to be part of the information campaign.
Engaging Chechen leaders
Finally, Jordan is engaging Chechen leaders in Grozny to work together to capture and detain Chechen and other North Caucasians fighting on ISIS’ behalf. Jordanian King Abdullah II went to Chechnya two weeks ago to discuss counter-terrorism issues with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. The two men appeared together at anti-terrorist exercises for Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs troops provided a good example of Amman-Grozny interests. According to a Jordanian official, an agreement was reached that the Hashemite Kingdom would invest in Chechnya’s infrastructure in exchange for information and data on Chechens tied to ISIS and other groups in the Syrian battle space. The agreement also included details regarding the capture of these North Caucasian citizens and potentially sending them back to Chechnya proper for prosecution. It is important to remember that Jordan’s Force 71 is comprised of descendants of Chechens who migrated to the Levant in the 19th and 20th centuries. These forces are actively part of Jordan’s current and future anti-ISIS campaign.
Overall, Jordan dodged a bullet for now thanks to Amman’s military and special operations forces. The Hashemite Kingdom is also preparing for the next attempted attacks by enlisting clerics and asking for assistance from others, including Chechnya. Importantly, Israel is providing overhead imagery to Jordan to use in its fight against ISIS on its borders. But new developments mean that Jordan is not out of ISIS’ sights yet: Reports are circulating that parts of al-Nusra have declared bayat, or allegiance, to ISIS. This development means that ISIS’ ranks could grow to over 30,000 members. In addition, ISIS appears to be targeting Lebanon in order to create a sectarian battle in the Eastern Mediterranean state. This “gang” seeks to run rampant to destabilize current governments and capture more territory and physical assets plus infrastructure to build their nascent caliphate. Jordan is not out of danger yet but seems to a have a good plan in place.