July 03/14

Bible Quotation for today/Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven

 Matthew 18,15-20/‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 03/14

The End of the Islamic Revolution/By: Saïd Arjomand/Asharq Alawsat/July 03/14

How real is ISIS’ statehood bid in the Middle East/By: Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/July 03/14

Lend me your ears, Netanyahu says as Iran's nuclear deal looms/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/July 03/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 03/14
Lebanese Related News

8th Electoral Session Postponed as Country's Political Crisis Expands

Hizbullah Mulls Stance on Aoun's Initiative, March 8 Says Constitutional Amendments 'Impossible'
Berri postpones eighth election session

Geagea blasts Aoun over amendment proposal

Kidnapped Lebanese released after ransom paid

Army raids Beirut neighborhood, arrests two suspects

Need to regulate Syrian labor: Economy Minister

Moqbel after Security Meeting: We Won't be Lenient with Terrorism
Army Searches for Suspects in Tariq al-Jedideh

Riyadh Hails Security Achievements, al-Mashnouq Says 'Situation under Control'
Berri to Hold Talks with MPs to Discuss Presidential, Parliamentary Polls
Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 03/14

After release, Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim speaks out

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemns Boko Haram attack on Nigerian churches

Iran says ‘chance to make history’ with nuclear deal
France's Sarkozy says justice twisted by politics
Violent clashes in Jerusalem’s Palestinian suburbs after Arab boy found dead. Pipe bombs thrown

Chechen in Syria a rising star in extremist group
Merkel warns Russia on sanctions ahead of Berlin talks on Ukraine
Hamas: Israel to pay for Palestinian teen murder

Riots as Palestinian, 16, Killed in Apparent Revenge Act
Arab teen found dead in possible revenge attack
Arab teen's death sparks riots in East Jerusalem

Iron dome intercepts two Gaza rockets over southern Israel
Kerry chides Iran ahead of nuclear talks


8th Electoral Session Postponed as Country's Political Crisis Expands
Naharnet /Lawmakers failed in the eighth consecutive round on Wednesday to elect a new head of state, widening the country's political crisis and threatening the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Speaker Nabih Berri set a new session for July 23 after the legislative session on the election of a president was marred by lack of quorum caused by a large number of boycotting MPs.
The rival lawmakers have so far failed to choose a successor for President Michel Suleiman, who left Baabda Palace at the end of his term on May 25, over differences on a compromise candidate.
The March 14 alliance has backed Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. But the March 8 camp has refused to announce its candidate despite its call for a “strong” president.
Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, who is a March 8 official, has said he would only announce his candidacy if there was consensus on him.
He further complicated the political process on Monday when he called for a constitutional amendment to allow direct elections in two rounds.
MP Alain Aoun, from the FPM chief's Change and Reform bloc, said during a press conference at parliament that the proposal gives justice to all confessions.
“The factions have only two options – either to implement the Taef Accord fully or to amend it - or else we will continue to have crises,” he warned. The proposal would resolve the problem of balance of power in state institutions and the representation of Christians, the lawmaker said.
But Aoun's initiative has been widely rejected by March 14 officials and the centrist Progressive Socialist Party of MP Walid Jumblat. LF MP Elie Kairouz snapped back at Alain Aoun, saying the proposal leads to a “fundamental change in the (political) system.”
He accused the March 8 alliance of paralyzing parliament, rather than attending the sessions to elect a president.
The wife of the LF chief, MP Sethrida Geagea, also wondered whether Aoun made his proposal because he wasn't able to get elected.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, who is a PSP official, told MTV that the details and the timing of the initiative were not appropriate.
The continued failure to choose a president led to repeated warnings by Berri, who was quoted as saying on Wednesday that the parliamentary elections are approaching and the situation looks totally blocked.
The parliament's four-year mandate has been extended for 17 months till November 2014 after the MPs failed to agree on a new electoral draft-law.

Geagea blasts Aoun over amendment proposal
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Wednesday blasted his rival MP Michel Aoun for further obstructing the presidential election by proposing Constitutional amendments, which he said only prolonged the vacuum. “Should we be amending the Constitution at a time the presidential seat has been vacant for over a month?” Geagea said in a televised news conference minutes after Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned a parliamentary session to elect a new president for the eighth time. “Whoever is proposing Constitutional amendments should recognize that Parliament is exceptionally in session and the aim of such suggestions is merely to divert attention away from the presidential vacuum,” he said. Aoun proposed earlier this week that the Constitution be amended, allowing the people, rather than MPs, to directly vote for a president. He suggested two rounds of voting, in which Christians vote in the first round and the entire country casts ballots for the two top candidates in the second.
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 balance between Christians and Muslims. Geagea, a presidential hopeful backed by the March 14 coalition, said Aoun’s proposal was untimely and enforced the presence of a vacuum, questioning the former general’s motives behind such a idea. “[Former Prime Minister Saad] Hariri informed me during our talks in Paris that Aoun would bring up the issue of amending the Taif Accord as soon as he realized that his chances [of becoming president] were slim,” he said.  "Everytime the Taif does not suit him, he proposes amendments.”  Geagea criticized Aoun for bringing up wrongdoings in the Taif Accord, saying history and the coming generations would be the judge of that. “To those talking about the rights of Christians in Lebanon, I want to say that this is the top Christian post. What’s Aoun’s position with regards to the vacuum?” Aoun and his allies in the March 8 group have boycotted eight sessions to elect a new president in a bid to pressure the March 14 to agree on a consensus candidate, rejecting Geagea’s nomination. Aoun, the head of the second largest bloc in Parliament, has been the March 8’s undeclared candidate for the presidential seat. “Parliamentarians should carry out their duty and elect a new president, but it is clear that a group of people are obstructing [this] and that is the problem,” Geagea said. He also spoke about the parliamentary election scheduled in November, saying a president should be elected “before discussing holding the parliamentary poll.”

Army raids Beirut neighborhood, arrests two suspects
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army raided several buildings in a Beirut neighborhood Wednesday and arrested two wanted suspects, part of a larger security plan to crack down on terror cells operating in the country. The raid came hours after Prime Minister Tammam Salam chaired a security meeting at the Grand Serail to evaluate the security situation and review ongoing investigations into recent bomb attacks. Blindfolded and handcuffed, the two suspects were escorted out of a building and into a military vehicle. Minutes later, soldiers and Army personnel withdrew and reopened a street they had blocked. Soldiers deployed heavily in al-Tariq al-Jadidah and near the Cola roundabout, searching apartments in five buildings in the area, a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star. They also cordoned off Fleyfel Street, preventing vehicles and passersby from approaching or entering the area during the military operation, which only lasted an hour. Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said the raids were part of a preemptive security plan to crack down on terror cells, reassuring the Lebanese that the security situation was "under control." Kahwagi made his remarks before stepping into the security meeting attended by several high-ranking security and judicial officials along with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel. Speaking after the end of the lengthy meeting, Moqbel said the attendees discussed the results of the ongoing probe into the recent bombings, primarily the June 24 Tayyouneh suicide bombing and the raid in a Beirut hotel. Last week, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a security raid at the capital’s Duroy Hotel to evade arrest. His partner, a Saudi would-be suicide bomber, was arrested and confessed to being recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria to carry out a double suicide bombing targeting a popular restaurant in Beirut's southern suburbs.  In response to a question, Moqbel confirmed that security forces were hunting down would-be suicide bombers and explosive-rigged vehicles. According to the minister, the attendees underlined the critical security situation and the need for security forces to remain on high alert. "They also stressed on the importance of increasing efforts to distance Lebanon from the repercussions of regional events,” he said. Moqbel said Lebanon would combat terrorism and that such a phenomenon was new and "will never find [people who will] cooperate or embrace it."  He said security forces would continue the implementation of the security plan and that a plan would soon be drafted for the capital. During the meeting, Salam praised their efforts in safeguarding national security, allowing them “to foil planned attacks aimed at destabilizing Lebanon and inciting strife,” Moqbel said. Authorities have launched a crackdown on militants suspected of coming into the country from Syria with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks.


Riyadh Hails Security Achievements, al-Mashnouq Says 'Situation under Control'
Naharnet/Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has reportedly held a telephone conversation with his Lebanese counterpart, who stressed that the authorities were taking all measures to thwart terrorist attacks. As Safir daily said that Prince Mohammed called Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq to discuss with him the latest local and regional developments. Prince Mohammed “congratulated” al-Mashnouq on the achievements made by Lebanese security agencies, saying “you have made major progress in your ability to thwart suicide bombings.”The phone conversation comes as Saudi security and intelligence officials are meeting with their Lebanese counterparts over the latest suicide bombing that struck a hotel in Beirut. The bomber of the Duroy Hotel in Raouche was Saudi. Another accomplice, who is also a Saudi national, is being questioned by the authorities. The army and security forces have also arrested several individuals on suspicion of plotting attacks. In remarks to As Safir, al-Mashnouq said that “the security situation is under control.”“All the necessary measures are being taken to limit the capabilities of the terrorists,” he said. The Duroy suicide bombing last Wednesday was the third to strike Lebanon in less than a week. The al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the attack. Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks over the past year that left scores of people dead. Previous attacks have been claimed by the al-Qaida-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. Both groups have warned that such attacks will continue as long as Hizbullah takes part in Syria's civil war alongside President Bashar Assad's troops.

Moqbel after Security Meeting: We Won't be Lenient with Terrorism
Naharnet /A high-level security meeting held Wednesday at the Grand Serail vowed to show no leniency in the face of terrorism, reassuring citizens that the situation is still under control.
“We stress that we won't be lenient with terrorism under any banner and this phenomenon is alien to the Lebanese society,” Defense Minister Samir Moqbel announced after the meeting.
“We emphasized that coordination will continue among the security agencies, which are at the highest level of readiness to confront terrorism,” added Moqbel. The minister pointed out that the army will maintain the "utmost level of readiness.""Until the moment everything is under control," Moqbel said. "Security plans are being implemented in all areas and very soon in Beirut," he said in response to a reporter's question. Moqbel also revealed that officials are mulling possible coordination with Palestinian factions in refugee camps. The conferees pledged to join efforts to spare Lebanon the repercussions of the regional turmoil, the minister added. And despite acknowledging that the security situation is “delicate,” the officials noted that not all media reports about the latest security developments are necessarily accurate, urging citizens to “trust their army and security forces and their ability to foil any plot aimed at undermining their civil peace.”The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Tammam Salam and attended, in addition to Moqbel, by Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Army chief General Jean Qahwaji and the chiefs of the other security agencies.
"The raids in Tariq al-Jedideh are interconnected and part of the preemptive security plan that security agencies are implementing to bust terrorist cells," Qahwaji said as he entered the security meeting.
One person was arrested and a car was seized as troops raided several places in Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh earlier in the day in search for suspects. Heightened security measures are being implemented across Lebanon in the wake of a number of bombings that rocked several regions. Last week, a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up at the Duroy Hotel in Beirut's Raouche area as General Security agents tried to storm his room. His accomplice, also a Saudi citizen, survived the blast and is being questioned. Earlier in June, security forces raided the Napoleon Hotel in Beirut's Hamra district after obtaining information on a plot to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials. Over 100 people were interrogated during the security raid but only a Frenchman who is originally from the Comoros islands was arrested and has reportedly confessed to being sent by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to carry out a terrorist attack in Lebanon.
Suspected terrorist cells were also dismantled in the northern region of Akkar and the eastern Bekaa province.
Also in June, a suicide blast at the entrance of Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others.
The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon killed one person and wounded 30.

Army Searches for Suspects in Tariq al-Jedideh
Naharnet/Army troops on Wednesday carried out raids in the Beirut area of Tariq al-Jedideh in search for suspects. “The army is carrying out raids in Tariq al-Jedideh in search of suspects wanted on terrorism charges,” LBCI television reported. MTV said troops raided places near the Cola and Corniche al-Mazraa areas in Beirut. Meanwhile, al-Jadeed television said the army staged raids near the Beirut Arab University in Tariq al-Jedideh in search for fugitives. It also reported raids in the nearby Afif al-Tibi Street. According to state-run National News Agency, one person was arrested and a car was seized in Afif al-Tibi. Al-Manar television said the arrested man was a Saudi national, adding that a woman who was with him was also apprehended. "The raids in Tariq al-Jedideh are interconnected and part of the preemptive security plan that security agencies are implementing to bust terrorist cells," Army chief General Jean Qahwaji said as he entered a security meeting at the Grand Serail. Later on Wednesday, MTV said security forces were still encircling a number of buildings in Tariq al-Jedideh. The development comes amid heightened security measures in Lebanon in the wake of a number of bombings that rocked several regions. Last week, a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up at the Duroy Hotel in Beirut's Raouche area as General Security agents tried to storm his room. His accomplice, also a Saudi citizen, survived the blast and is being questioned. Earlier in June, security forces raided the Napoleon Hotel in Beirut's Hamra district after obtaining information on a plot to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials. Over 100 people were interrogated during the security raid but only a Frenchman who is originally from the Comoros islands was arrested and has reportedly confessed to being sent by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to carry out a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Also in June, a suicide blast at the entrance of Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others. The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon killed one person and wounded 30.


Hizbullah Mulls Stance on Aoun's Initiative, March 8 Says Constitutional Amendments 'Impossible'
Naharnet /Hizbullah is mulling its stance from the initiative that its ally Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun proposed recently, as March 8 coalition considers that it's impossible to carry out any constitutional amendment amid the ongoing presidential vacancy. Sources close to Hizbullah told al-Liwaa newspaper published on Wednesday that the party will discuss Aoun's proposal before taking a final stance. The Christian leader 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. The proposal lies in allowing only Christians to vote for their candidates in the first round that would pave way for both Muslims and Christians to choose the two candidates who received the majority of votes in the first round. March 8 sources told the daily that it's “impossible according to the constitution to carry out amendments amid a presidential vacuum as the parliament is only considered an electoral body.”The sources said that some parties affiliated in the March 8 camp have stances that differ from those that Aoun has. “Aoun is our ally but we don't have to agree with him,” the sources said, pointing out that discussing the proposal now will not lead to any positive results. Seven presidential elections sessions have been held so far, six of which were not staged due to a boycott of March 8 camp lawmakers, mainly those of the Loyalty to the Resistance and Change and Reform blocs. The boycott was prompted by an ongoing dispute with the March 14 alliance over a presidential candidate. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea had declared his candidacy, while Aoun has said that he will only run in the polls if there is consensus over his nomination. The term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May.


Berri to Hold Talks with MPs to Discuss Presidential, Parliamentary Polls
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he would hold consultations with the heads of blocs and independent MPs to find ways to resolve the presidential deadlock and prepare for the parliamentary elections. “The parliamentary polls are approaching amid a dead end” on the presidential elections, Berri told his visitors. “The situation seems to be very worrying, that's why I decided to hold consultations with the heads of blocs and independent MPs to find out how to deal with the presidential and parliamentary polls,” he said. Berri's remarks were published in several local newspapers on Wednesday.
“We can't stand idle and we can't overstep the presidential elections,” he said as Lebanon remains without a head of state since the expiry of Michel Suleiman's six-year term on May 25.
Berri told his visitors that it was currently useless to hold national dialogue sessions. “I will replace dialogue with consultations because we are in a sensitive situation – the cabinet is not functioning well and there is no parliament and no president.”He reiterated that his priority is to elect a new head of state and that he would not reject holding the general elections based on the 1960 law, which adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system. Berri has previously stated that he would not object the 1960 law if the rival MPs failed again to agree on a new electoral draft-law. Parliament's four-year mandate has been extended for 17 months till November this year over the differences between the rival blocs that prevented them from reaching an agreement on a new law.
Berri ruled out the possibility of striking a deal, saying there was no time for that. Asked by his visitors about Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun's recent initiative to resolve the country's political crisis, the speaker said: “I don't think that Aoun said the initiative will be implemented now.” Aoun, who is the head of the Change and Reform bloc, proposed direct elections on Monday, calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow the people to elect their head of state in two rounds. The lawmaker also called for a deal on an electoral draft-law in which each sect would elect its own MPs to "create justice" for all confessions.

Kidnapped Lebanese released after ransom paid
The Daily Star/HERMEL, Lebanon: A man who was kidnapped last month was released Wednesday after a ransom amount was paid to secure his release, a security source told The Daily Star.
Murad Makhoul's family paid $50,000 in return for his release as demanded by his abductors, the source, speaking condition of anonymity, said. Makhoul was kidnapped last month in the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal. Arsal Mayor Ali Hujeiri said the kidnappers had handed Makhoul to him. The source said police headed to Hujeiri's house to get Makhoul's statement before he was reunited with his family in Ras Baalbek.

A Crime Can Not Be solved By Another Crime
Elias Bejjani/02 July/14/We believe strongly that the vicious cycle of violence and revenge must end in the Middle East. Meanwhile the heinous crime of killing three teen Israelis can not be solved by killing a Palestinian teen. We in the LCCC condemn this new savage crime and call for justice in both crimes. We totally support, share and adopt our Canadian Foreign Minister's release addressing this new sad event. Below is the Canadian condemnation release

Canada Shocked by Abduction and Murder of Palestinian Teenager

July 2, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement: “I am appalled by the reprehensible abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem today. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this trying time. “While the police have not yet identified his murderers or their motive, nothing can justify such an act. I call for calm and caution all against vigilantism. “Canada hopes that the perpetrators of this heinous act will be swiftly brought to justice.”

Violent clashes in Jerusalem’s Palestinian suburbs after Arab boy found dead. Pipe bombs thrown
DEBKAfile Special Report July 2, 2014/
The discovery of the body of a brutally murdered Palestinian boy in the Jerusalem forest early Wednesday, July 2, unleashed violent disturbances in the Palestinian districts of Jerusalem, which climaxed in mid-morning with three pipe bombs hurled at security forces in the northern district of Beit Hanina at security forces attempting to maintain order. One exploded, injuring a Palestinian. Enraged Palestinians then set fire to three light train stations that serve the northern districts.
Jerusalem has not seen this level of tension and Palestinian violence, including the use of explosive devices, since the suicide bombing uprising of 2000-2004.
According to the Palestinians, the boy, since identified as Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir aged 16 from Shuafat, was kidnapped and murdered by “settlers.” They report a car with three men wrestled the boy into the vehicle and drove off. The Palestinian boy’s body showed stab wounds. It was found charred.
The Israeli police, after imposing a gag order on the investigation and the outbreaks in the Palestinian neighborhoods of north Jerusalem, said only that they are initially exploring several motives for the crime, including the boy’s family’s long history of disputes. Internal Security Minister Aharonovich reported that police reinforcements have been imported to the capital and the police were on high alert in other parts of Israel.
debkafile’s military sources report that large IDF, Jerusalem Police, Border Police and Shin Bet agency contingents are concentrated around the three restive Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Hanina, Sheafat and the neighboring refugee camp. They appear to be waiting outside the centers of the riots, before interfering, in the slim hope that the violent unrest will subside of its own accord.
These forces have blocked the main roads of North Jerusalem from the French Hill junction to Shuafat and Bet Haninah, virtually cutting off the Palestinian neighborhoods from their eastern exits.
The troubles first erupted Tuesday night, July 1, in downtown Jerusalem, immediately after the three Israeli teens, who were abducted and murdered by Palestinians, were laid to rest in a mass funeral in Modiin. Hundreds of rowdy Jewish youths set upon Palestinians employed at places of work there. The police stepped in to arrest 50 Israeli rioters and rescue their victims.
In its first comment, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman Abu Rodeina held Israel fully responsible for the death of the Palestinian boy and the outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem.

The End of the Islamic Revolution?

By: Saïd Arjomand/Asharq Alawsat
Wednesday, 2 Jul, 2014

“Has the Islamic Revolution in Iran Ended?” I asked in an article marking the 30th anniversary of the revolution. The answer clearly implied was that it had not. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a child of the revolution, and his hardliner supporters were a throwback to its populist inception. In his first term, his populist measures, championing the urban poor and holding cabinet meetings in small towns, had been popular, and so was his assertive nuclear policy. But his second term was marred by growing corruption and gross mismanagement of the economy. His successor, Hassan Rouhani, promised to reverse Ahmadinejad’s policies and discontinued his revolutionary rhetoric. Furthermore, he wasted no time in embarking on vigorous nuclear negotiations with the United States with the full backing of the Supreme Jurist and Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. As he approaches the end of his first year in office in the 35th anniversary of the revolution, we can affirm that the Islamic revolution in Iran has indeed come to an end.
While assigning nuclear negotiations to his Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Rouhani’s own energy is spent on the domestic front to repair an economy devastated by eight years of Ahmadinejad’s gross mismanagement. He has replaced Ahmadinejad’s incompetent thugs with a well-qualified and technocratically oriented cabinet and competent administrators, and has embarked on an ambitious program of economic development, healthcare and environmental protection. It is too soon to assess the success or failure of his reform program. What can nevertheless be said is that he has made little headway with rampant inflation. On the other hand, small business seems to thrive, and the middle class in the private sector is prospering. Istanbul was flooded with Iranian tourist shoppers during the Nowruz vacations late in March, as was Antalya, and Turkish Airlines and Iran Air had direct flights not only to Tehran but also to other Iranian cities such as Isfahan and Kermanshah. In the early days of June, I found the newly opened complex of extensive large restaurants opposite the new luxury Grand Hotel at the northern gates of Shiraz packed with the affluent bourgeoisie.
Rouhani is not content with hoping for the badly needed stimulus from the removal of international sanctions that would result from a nuclear deal, but is vigorously cultivating economic ties with the Gulf Emirates, including Kuwait, whose ruler he entertained in Tehran in early June before leaving on an official visit to Turkey, where he signed ten deals aiming to double the trade between the two countries to 30 billion US dollars in 2015.
On the environmental front, too, Rouhani is busy undoing his predecessor’s damage. Tehran’s air pollution, widely blamed by victims with respiratory illness on the low-octane “Ahmadinejad gasoline,” has visibly declined with the introduction of high-octane gasoline and other restrictions. Last but not least, Rouhani has launched his national health insurance program and ordered state hospitals, which predominate the health sector, to limit patients’ co-payments for all medical expenses to 10 percent. Supreme Leader Khamenei has chimed in support by ordering the same hospitals to make delivering a baby gratis. Rouhani has taken his healthcare measures without fanfare because, so it is said, he is not sure how to pay for it. But it is no secret, anyway, that he wants to pay for it by phasing out the monthly state “support” (yaraneh), which Ahmadinejad offered in lieu of a wide range of old subsidies and is paid to over 74 million registered citizens.
Rouhani’s reforms were not launched in a political vacuum, but within a constrictive political framework. The strongest factor in Rouhani’s favor is the Supreme Leader’s support. Ayatollah Khamenei has backed all his domestic policies. Unlike the earlier reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who acted more like the leader of the loyal opposition than head of the executive, Rouhani has carried the Supreme Leader along with him. In his speech to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s death on June 4, Khamenei fully appropriated the discourse of the dissident clerics of the turn of the century: He combined Khatami’s idea of “religious democracy,” mardomsalari-ye dini with Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s radical reinterpretation, during his 2005 presidential campaign, of velayat-e faqih, the rule by a supreme jurist, not as a divine mandate to rule but as popular acclamation (bay’at) of the indirectly elected Leader, giving an elaborate description of the regime instituted by Imam Khomeini as a religious democracy where all high offices of the state, including his own, are either directly or indirectly elective, and derive their legitimacy from the will of the people as expressed in elections.
Rouhani needs more than the Supreme Leader’s backing, however. Khamenei is not getting younger, and he has health problems. With the aged President of the Assembly of Experts gravely ill, an influential member of the exclusively clerical Assembly and former intelligence and security minister, Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, suggested that it should proceed to elect Khamenei’s successor now, thus highlighting the clerical elite’s concern with the future of velayat-e faqih after Khamenei.
Of greater immediate concern, however, are Rouhani’s relations with the Revolutionary Guards and security forces. The unceremonious killing of a billionaire businessman detained on corruption charges by security forces in May was indicative of the tacit division of power between the president on the one side and the Revolutionary Guards and security forces on the other. Nevertheless, tension is simmering beneath the surface.
Rouhani seems to have halted the expansion of the economic empire of the Revolutionary Guards, and their Commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, has expressed his hostility to the new administration publicly. The corpulent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Hassan Firuzabadi, has countered by expressing his support for the president, but this may be of little consolation. The recent absence from the political scene of General Qassem Suleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, was difficult to interpret, but the desperate crisis in Iraq forced the Iranian government to dispatch him to Baghdad, and it acted fully prepared to take advantage of the move to talk to the United States.
Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the hardline opposition to Rouhani is restive. The hardliners are uncertain whether to renew Khamenei’s old campaign against Western “cultural invasion,” or to count on his so far unabated anti-Americanism by attacking Rouhani for selling out to the Great Satan.
In short, after a year in power, Rouhani’s program of economic development, environmental clean-up and health care is proceeding smoothly and quietly. But given its political context, could this be calm before the storm? Much depends on whether or not there is a deal with the US by July 20. The likelihood of such a deal has unexpectedly increased by the common interest of Iran and the United States in stopping the collapse of Iraq.

Hamas: Israel to pay for Palestinian teen murder
Agence France Presse/GAZA CITY: Hamas warned Wednesday that Israel would pay for the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager in annexed east Jerusalem, in suspected revenge for the murder of three Israeli teens. "We send our message to the Zionist entity and its leaders, which hold direct responsibility (for the murder), that our people will not let this crime pass, nor all the killings and destruction by your settlers," the Islamist movement said. "You will pay the price for these crimes," it said of the incident, in which the Palestinian youth was reportedly kidnapped and killed early Wednesday. Israel blamed Hamas for abducting and killing the three Israelis, and waged a crushing arrest campaign against the movement's occupied West Bank network, which resulted in the deaths of several Palestinians. Hamas in turn accused Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "giving orders to settlers" to carry out Wednesday's kidnap. It was unclear who was behind the incident. The murder triggered violent clashes in occupied east Jerusalem, as Palestinians hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at riot police, who responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs, injuring dozens of people, an AFP correspondent said.

Arab teen's death sparks riots in East Jerusalem
Hassan Shaalan/ynetnews/ 07.02.14
Politicians decry murder as 'despicable', while Palestinian protesters hurl stones at security forces, Shuafat residents say teen's death was retribution to kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens: 'We will sacrifice our lives for the Shahids.' Hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been rioting in East Jerusalem since the early hours of Wednesday morning, following the murder of an Arab teen from Shuafat. Two photojournalists were injured, including a Ynet photographer. Hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been rioting in East Jerusalem since the early hours of Wednesday morning, following the murder of an Arab teen from Shuafat. Two photojournalists were injured, including a Ynet photographer. Protesters in Shuafat burned tires, hurled stones, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and pipe bombs at IDF and police forces at the scene and called out "we will sacrifice our lives for the martyrs." Security forces used stun grenades to disperse the crowd and cordoned off the area to stop others from entering the neighborhood.  Meanwhile, Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the murder and vowed security forces would work to find the killers. However, they were careful not to claim it was retribution for the murder of three Israeli teens that were presumed to have been kidnapped since June 12 but were discovered dead in a West Bank valley late Monday.
The burnt, dead body an Arab teenager was found early Wednesday morning in Jerusalem Forest, and police were investigating a possible connection to the reported kidnapping of a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem earlier in the day. Another possibility being investigated is that the boy was killed as part of a domestic issue or "honor killing."  The incident occurred only a day after Israel buried three teenagers.
Protesters also vandalized three light rail stations in East Jerusalem, smashing glasses and destroying security cameras. Protesters also threw stones at security forces in Beit Hanina, as well three pipe bomb. One of the pipe bombs exploded, and one person was hurt and taken to hospital. There were no injuries among the policemen. Two news photographers were hurt during the clashes, one of them a Ynet photographer. Several hundreds of the Shuafat residents have also made their way to the slain teen's home to offer their condolences to the family. Residents condemned the murder, saying their son was a victim of the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens.
Murder is murder
Meanwhile, Israeli politicians from both the left and the right quickly condemned the boy's death. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat vigorously condemned the murder, and said: "This is a horrible and barbaric act which I strongly condemn. This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice. I call on everyone to exercise restraint."
Justice Miniser Tzipi Livni Tweeted that "the murder of the Arab boy in Jerusalem (is a) shocking incident that must be condemned, (and we should have) zero tolerance for it." Livni vowed security forces work to bring those behind his death to justice.Rightist Housing Minister Uri Ariel also condemned the murder, saying via Twitter that "The murder of the Arab boy and the burning his body this morning is a despicable act and shocking. I call the police to spare no efforts, to reach the killers fast and bring them to justice."The family of Naftali Frenkel has also commented on the death and said "If the Arab youth was murdered because of nationalistic motives then this is a horrible and horrendous act. "There is no difference between (Arab) blood and (Jewish) blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder," said Yisahi Frenkel, Naftali's uncle.
Omri Efraim and Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to this report.

After release, Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim speaks out
Ibrahim's husband and children have remained at the American embassy, while her location remains undisclosed.
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman previously sentenced to death for apostasy, spoke up for the first time, sharing her fears for the health of a daughter born in extreme conditions in prison, and her concerns over an unknown future for her family. "I gave birth chained. Not cuffs but chains on my legs. I couldn't open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn't attached to the table," Ibrahim told CNN in a telephone call. Doctors feared that the delivery circumstances could have permanent consequences on the newborn."I don't know in the future whether she'll need support to walk or not," Ibrahim added. Ibrahim, who married a Christian South-Sudanese-American, was recently spared a death sentence for converting to Christianity. Only a day later, the 27-year-old and her family were arrested at Khartoum airport, while trying to leave the country with her family. Ibrahim was detained because of using travel documents issued in South Sudan’s embassy. In response to her new charges, Ibrahim insists that her travel documents are legit. "How can my paperwork be wrong? My paperwork came from the embassy. It's 100% correct and it was approved by the South Sudan ambassador and the American ambassador," she said. Ibrahim and her family were freed again on Thursday, Ibrahim’s lawyer told The Associated Press. Since the release, her husband and children had all been staying at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum – granted on the condition that Ibrahim stays in Sudan. The new mom’s location is not disclosed. "I’m currently in a safe place. It's definitely safe but not comfortable," Ibrahim told CNN. Sudanese authorities faced huge international pressure over Ibrahim’s case. Last May, Washington and London summoned the Sudanese charge d'affaires, in protest against Ibrahim’s death sentence.
Last Update: Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemns Boko Haram attack on Nigerian churches
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 2 July 2014
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the killing of at least fifty-six people and the destruction of Churches reportedly by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria.
The secretary-general of the OIC, Iyad Ameen Madani, made the statement last week following attacks on at least four villages near Chibok in northeastern Nigeria, allegedly by Boko Haram members.
The official restated the solidarity of the organization with Nigeria. Meanwhile, foreign minister of Nigeria has said that authorities are working to curb the extremist group. In an interview with the OIC Journal on the sidelines of the 41 Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Jeddah on 18-19 June 2014, Bashir Aminu Wali, the foreign minister of Nigeria, said his government was trying to tackle the extremists. He commented on Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls this year who have still not been found. ““I appeal to the international community to think in terms of the lives and safety of those girls rather than getting them quick, that is not as important as getting those girls back alive and well,” he said. Commenting on the Islamist group’s motivations, Wali said: “they are nothing more than misguided and what they are, is just criminals.”Last Update: Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How real is ISIS’ statehood bid in the Middle East?

By: Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya
What is there to say about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? To its supporters, it is the coming into being of a long overdue, legitimate, Sunni sovereign state, in a geographical area where a Sunni majority has been ruled over by Shias, Alawites and Baathists. To its detractors, it is but an upstart band of thugs with enough firepower to cause serious instability in an already fragile region – a terrorist group that is exploiting the current weakness of the states in Iraq and Syria in order to further an extremist agenda. And if anything sets them apart from any other militia of the Arab Spring, it is simply a higher degree of organization and more military success. The far more frightening prospect is that in reality, even though we might find it difficult to think it, ISIS might be both those things at the same time. Now, this is not a piece about ISIS. This is a piece about the political realities of the Middle East: how to understand them, and what, if anything, can be done to stabilize the region.
The nature of the state
The first step in this is to understand the nature of the state in the region, and the role it plays in the political lives of the people. What is a state? Normally, the minimum meaning of a state is a social/political set of institutions that, on the one hand, claims a monopoly over the legitimate use of force within a territory, and on the other, successfully exerts the most force within that territory, irrespective of questions of legitimacy. It’s also a nice extra when such a political reality is recognized by other states in the international community, and there are normal international treaties and interactions with other states in the United Nations to reflect this. And everyone is happy when this state is accepted by the local population, or as much of it as possible. This is especially so if it is legitimated by peaceful means every few years, by having elections and democratic means of discussing the nature and the future of the state. “ISIS is just a bunch of thugs with guns. But, they have as good a claim to statehood in the area as either the governments of Iraq or Syria”
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
The problem in Syria and Iraq, however, is that the respective Syrian or Iraqi governments represent states in a U.N. council meeting much more than they represent actual existing states in Mosul, in Tikrit, in Fallujah, or in ar-Raqqah. The problem is that an Iraqi Kurd is not, and does not feel, Iraqi, in the same way that a Frenchman might feel French. He is a Kurd, and that is all. He just happens to be in a place that on U.N. maps shows up behind a certain line, in a place labeled Iraq. The problem is that the maps of Syria and Iraq are lying about the political realities of these places. In so far as Iraq and Syria are states as we would understand them, they are so at most over half of the territories they claim on maps - if that.
For decades, in Iraq, a Kurd, or a Marsh Arab was not citizen in whom the government was interested. If one was not a Baathist, just as if now one is not Shiite, the government may try to impose its rule over them, but has very little claim to be doing so legitimately. In Syria, the majority Sunni population has been discriminated against systematically for decades. But now, these states can no longer exert power over their claimed territory. And since they have forfeited their claim to legitimacy a long time ago, the political reality is that the state of Iraq does not exist in Tikrit, any more than the state of Syria exists in ar-Raqqah. Is ISIS then the sovereign state over these cities? Perhaps we would prefer to answer “no.” ISIS is, after all, just a bunch of thugs with guns. But as things stand, they have as good a claim to statehood in the area as either the governments of Iraq or Syria. Neither of these governments has behaved that differently to thugs with guns for a very long time. And so long as that remains the case, the people of this region will not be citizens: they will be members of their tribe, they will be fighters for their families, they will be devotees to their religion (whether Sunni, Shiite, Alawite, Christian and so on) and they will defend themselves and their political groups with guns and bloodshed.

Iran says ‘chance to make history’ with nuclear deal
By AFP | Tehran/Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday his country and world powers have a “unique opportunity to make history” by agreeing on a nuclear deal, as talks enter a crucial final round.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking as the five permanent members of the United Nations, plus Germany, prepare to sit down with Iran in Vienna Thursday in a bid to reach a historic deal by a July 20 deadline. The world powers want Iran to scale down its nuclear activities in order to ease long-held fears that Tehran might develop atomic weapons. Iran, subject to damaging UN and Western sanctions, insists its nuclear programme is purely peaceful and even wants to expand key parts of it. Speaking a video uploaded on YouTube, Zarif said forging a deal would “end an unnecessary crisis that has distracted us from addressing together our common challenges, such as the horrifying events of past few weeks in Iraq.”
He claimed an agreement could have been reached in 2005 when he had been nuclear negotiator, but that the administration of then US president George W. Bush “torpedoed the deal”. They then opted for pressure and sanctions. For eight years.” But he said sanctions “didn’t bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission. And it will not now nor in the future.”
“We are trying to reach a deal,” he added. “Not a good deal or a bad deal, but a doable and lasting deal.” A sixth round of talks starts officially on Thursday. It could potentially last until July 20 when an interim deal from November expires, although this could be extended by up to six months. Without elaborating, Zarif said “we are willing to take concrete measures to guarantee that our nuclear programme will always remain peaceful. “We still have time to put an end to the myth that Iran is seeking to build a bomb.”Western powers and Israel have long suspected Iran of using its civil nuclear energy programme as a cover for developing weapons capability, which Tehran has consistently denied.

Lend me your ears, Netanyahu says as Iran's nuclear deal looms
Wednesday, 2 July 2014 /By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
At the most sensitive and crucial moment of Iran’s nuclear talks with Western powers, any distraction could prove critical. Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani set the goal of improving foreign diplomacy and removing sanctions on the country. A year has passed and it is time to see if Rowhani’s policy has borne any fruit. The next round of Iranian nuclear talks is set for July 2- 20 and the P5+1 team will meet the Iranian negotiating team for the last time until the interim agreement expires. They must come to a final agreement or extend the deadline. “This past year, Iran has done its best to avoid controversy and avoid harming the nuclear talks” This past year, Iran has done its best to avoid controversy and avoid harming the nuclear talks. In a rare occurrence, Iran’s many governmental organizations have been supporting Iran’s nuclear talks. The six month interim deal with Western powers is set to expire on July 20 and it is extendable for another six months, only if there is a deal in sight.
Israeli worries
While Iranians see themselves as close to reaching a permanent agreement, the Israeli government, who are against the deal, are doing their best to trouble the talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged international negotiators on Sunday not to “surrender” to Tehran, three weeks before the nuclear deal’s deadline. Also on Sunday, a day before the nuclear talks began in Vienna, an Israeli delegation of intelligence and nuclear experts and national security advisors arrived in Washington to talk. The urgent Israeli delegation’s meeting with their U.S. counterparts gives the sense that a deal is looming. Still, Israel has three weeks to use all the tricks in the book to prevent the deal by trying to prove that Iran lies about its nuclear program. But all that angry Netanyahu has done so far is portrayed himself as an angry man who cannot understand that the times have changed and the U.S. has different goals.
Netanyahu spoke to Sky News, asking what it would mean if Iran could kick aside inspectors and rush to make enriched uranium at any time.
Arms embargo
While there are no open ears willing to hear Netanyahu out, there are those at the United Nations Security Council willing to listen about Iran’s violation of the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.
According to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday, a U.N. expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons seized by Israel last March in Red Sea came from Iran.
Israel publicly claimed that the seized arms were destined for Gaza, an allegation which was dismissed by Hamas and called a fabrication. Iran also denied having any involvement.
The permanent nuclear deal would lift international sanctions on Iran, which includes the arms embargo in exchange for Iran limiting its controversial nuclear activities. This new allegation by the U.N. investigators related to the seized weapons cargo can hurt the nuclear talks. Last week Russia’s ambassador at the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, complained that, “any information not backed up by concrete facts could have a negative impact on the conduct of negotiations of the group of six and Iran.” A reference to the current arms shipment report provided by the U.N. experts.
While the other members of the U.N. sanctions committee believe in Iran’s regular illicit methods of circumventing sanctions, they also reportedly believe that Tehran’s illicit program has slowed during its negations with the six powers. It is not only illicit programs and circumventing the sanctions that have slowed, but also the verbal battle between Israel and Iran.
Iran has been biting its lip to hold itself from responding to Netanyahu’s provocation. Iranian officials and the six powers’ negotiators say they are hoping to meet the deadline on July 20. If Iran holds itself for another three weeks, perhaps the best answer negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif can send to his Twitter followers will be “Mazel tov!”

Riots as Palestinian, 16, Killed in Apparent Revenge Act
Naharnet /A Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed Wednesday in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths, triggering violent clashes in east Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders denounced the killing, holding Israel responsible and demanding the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu act to prevent revenge attacks. "I demand the Israeli government punish the killers if it wants peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples," said Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. Netanyahu also condemned the "despicable murder" and ordered investigators to work "as quickly as possible" to track down the perpetrators, while urging both sides "not to take the law into their own hands". Eyewitnesses told AFP 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder was seen being forced into a car by three Israelis in east Jerusalem. And police confirmed a body had been found in a forest in Givat Shaul in west Jerusalem, although they refused to link the two incidents.
However, DNA tests proved the body was that of the missing teenager, his father said.
"The body belongs to my son," Hussein Abu Khder told AFP, saying his identity had been confirmed through tests but the cause of death was not immediately clear.
The attack is widely believed to have been carried out in revenge for the kidnap and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian militants, with Israeli police raising the alert to the second highest level across the country. Shortly after dawn, crowds of angry Palestinians began gathering outside the teenager's home in Shuafat, with violent clashes erupting at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) and showing no sign of easing some eight hours later. Clouds of black smoke rose into the sky as hundreds of masked Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli police in riot gear, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.
The Red Crescent said at least 65 people had been hurt in the clashes, three by live bullets. At least 35 people were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists.
The normally-bustling main road through Shuafat was littered with stones and the light rail service which passes through the neighborhood was suspended. Clashes were also reported in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud near the Mount of Olives. As concerns about further attacks grew, Israel police raised the alert to the second highest level. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat denounced the murder as a "horrible and barbaric act" and called for all sides "to exercise restraint". Tensions have soared across the region since June 12 when three Israeli teenagers disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Their bodies were found on Monday, with Israel blaming Hamas and vowing to hit it hard. Calls for revenge followed, with more than 200 Israelis rampaging through Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, dragging people out of cars and chanting "Death to Arabs," police and witnesses said. As the clashes raged in Shuafat, where the streets were littered with burning dumpsters and makeshift barricades, the only place of relative calm was the family home. Wearing a blue headscarf, 40-year-old Suha Abu Khder, mother of the missing teen, sat in stunned silence, sometimes breaking down in tears in a room filled with relatives and friends.
Ansam Abu Khder, one of the teenager's cousins, said witnesses had written down the car's license plate number and police were examining CCTV footage.
"We knew about Mohammed's kidnapping by three Israelis just before the dawn prayers. A witness saw them," he told AFP.
In a related development, police also spoke to another Shuafat family who had on Monday reported an attempt to snatch one of their children, the father told AFP.
Family of 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, one of the three murdered Israeli teenagers, issued a statement condemning the incident as a "horrendous act".
"If the Arab youth was murdered because of nationalistic motives then this is a horrible and horrendous act," it said. "There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder." But Hamas, accused by Israel of the triple killing, vowed Israel's government would pay for the Palestinian teen's death.
"We send our message to the Zionist entity and its leaders, which hold direct responsibility (for the murder), that our people will not let this crime pass," he said.
"You will pay the price for these crimes."Also on Wednesday, suspected Jewish extremists set fire to the ground floor of a house in the West Bank village of Aqraba near Nablus, writing "Revenge of the Jews" in Hebrew on the wall, police said. Agence France Presse