July 04/14

Bible Quotation for today/Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18,21-35/Then Peter came and said to him, Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, "Pay what you owe."Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you." But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, "You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?" And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’


Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Dear young people, do not give up your dreams of a more just world!
Pape François
Chers jeunes, ne renoncez pas à rêver d’un monde plus juste!


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 04/14

The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East/by Walid Phares/July 04/14

ISIS’ Baghdadi is no Osama bin Laden… yet/By:Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/July 04/14

Send them to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s state/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/July 04/14

The Egyptian president’s three challenges/By: Amr Mahmoud el-Shobaki/Al Arabiya/July 04/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 04/14
Lebanese Related News

Coffee shop attacked in Lebanon for not closing during Ramadan

Report: Roumieh Prisoners Running Terrorist Cells

Lebanese Judge Demands Death Penalty for Female Syrian National

Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade Vows to Silence Church Bells in Bekaa

Lebanese to Deal with Further Electricity, Water Shortages during Summer

Plumbly: Tripoli Security Plan should be Coupled with Reconciliation, Development
Derbas Says Lebanon Not Concerned with Illegal Syrian Refugee Encampments

Hoax Bomb Found under Tripoli Bridge as Scuffle Ends in Arrests

Moqbel after Security Meeting: We Won't be Lenient with Terrorism

Bou Saab: Fate of Lebanese University, Students Will Be in Danger if Dispute is Not Resolved

Army Continues Fnaideq Raids, Discovers More Explosives
STL hears testimony from expert witness about Abu Adass
Army uncovers explosive stash in north Lebanon

Cabinet fails to approve LU key appointments

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 04/14

Final Push in 'Historic' Iran Nuclear Talks
Iran, world powers resume push for nuclear deal by July 20

US wants sharp reduction of Iran's enrichment capacity: official
Palestinian teen murder sparks riots

Israel 'Gave Hamas 48 Hours to Stop Rockets'
Israel, Gaza Militants Trade Fire after Teen Killings

Israel sends troop reinforcements to Gaza border. National home front on heightened alert
Pentagon: Syria chemical weapons transfer complete
Saudi king, Obama call for Iraq unity govt
Washington to Tighten Security for U.S.-bound Flights
Egypt army says 17 jihadists killed in Sinai
Extremist group takes Syria's key oil field

Coffee shop attacked in Lebanon for not closing during Ramadan

Nisrine Hatoum, Al Arabiya News /Thursday, 3 July 2014
A café open for customers during the day of the fasting month of Ramadan in the Lebanese city of Tripoli was attacked by unknown gunmen with a grenade, wounding four people and causing material damages to the café. Two unidentified men on a motorcycle threw the bomb at Makiya café whose owner insists on opening his shop for customers who do not observe Ramadan fasting.
Observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. One of the city’s residents, who refused to be named, said that Makiya is one of the cafés in the northern city which opens its doors to non-fasting customers who have chronic diseases, such as diabetes, pressure, kidney and ulcers, pointing out that they are regular customers. He said that this incident reminds him of the time when Tripoli was controlled by the Islamic Unification Movement in the eighties of the last century. The attack comes after a statement issued by the Municipality of Tripoli urging residents to respect the Muslim holy month by not eating in public places. Mayor Nader Ghazal also addressed owners of restaurants and coffee shops to “respect the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan.”But some Tripoli’s residents said not eating in public would be considered as violation of their personal freedom. Ghazal defended his stance and said that “it was not mandatory [not to eat in pubic] as there is no law prohibiting it.”
Tripoli is Lebanon’s second largest city. It has diverse groups including Christians and Lebanese who consider themselves irreligious.

Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade Vows to Silence Church Bells in Bekaa
Naharnet /The vague group known as the Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade vowed to task gunmen to attack churches in Lebanon and in the eastern Bekaa valley in particular. The Brigade announced on its twitter account that a “specialized group of free jihadists were tasked with cleansing the Islamic state of Bekaa in particular and in Lebanon in general from the churches.”“We will target crusaders in the state and in Lebanon to silence the ringing of the bells,” the group said. The Brigade recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant.
The Islamic State declared over the weekend the establishment of the “Islamic caliphate” led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ordering ordered Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to their chief, in a spectacular bid to extend their authority. A "caliphate" is an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire. The mysterious Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade had in the past claimed that it is an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the ISIL later denied that. On March 16, the Brigade engaged in a war of words with the al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, believed to be a local franchise of the Syria-based, Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front. The dispute erupted after both groups claimed responsibility on Twitter for a deadly suicide bombing that rocked the Bekaa town of al-Nabi Othman.
The Brigade has claimed responsibility for several rocket and bomb attacks inside Lebanon, the last of which were the suicide blasts in Dahr al-Baydar and Raouche's Duroy Hotel.

Lebanese Judge Demands Death Penalty for Female Syrian National
Naharnet/Military Examining Magistrate Imad al-Zein demanded on Thursday the death penalty for a Syrian female for the possession of detonators and handing them over to another compatriot, the state-run National News Agency reported. The NNA said that al-Zein issued his verdict against Syrian national, identified as Samia Sh., for the possession of detonators and delivering them to another, who is yet to be identified. A search warrant was issued against Samia's accomplice, The defendant, who has an arrest warrant against her, was referred to the permanent military court. In January, the Lebanese army arrested several Syrians for the possession of detonators in the eastern Bekaa Valley. Some of the suspects admitted to having entered Lebanon illegally and of being in contact with security and military leaders in the Syrian opposition.

Small Fire at Parliament Guards Booth

Naharnet/Firefighters doused a blaze that ripped through a booth for parliament's guards at Beirut's Nejmeh Square, the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday. It was not clear what caused the small fire that broke out early in the morning. The blaze did not cause injuries, NNA said.

Bou Saab: Fate of Lebanese University, Students Will Be in Danger if Dispute is Not Resolved

Naharnet/The cabinet failed on Thursday in resolving the pending disputes linked to granting Lebanese University teachers full-time employment, prompting Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to issue a warning over the fate of the institution and its students. The minister warned: “The fate of the university and its students will be in danger if this issue is not settled.”He made his remarks after a cabinet session that was held at the Grand Serail and chaired by Prime Minister Tammam Salam. “We still have hope that the LU file will be resolved,” he said, revealing that the premier had pledged to address the issue during the upcoming cabinet session, scheduled for July 9. Moreover, Bou Saab added that thousands of teachers are seeking full-time employment at the university, “but only those with proper credentials will be granted their wish.” He stressed that he will present a detailed report on the needs of the Lebanese University during next week's cabinet session. “The case of the LU has been met with political objections, but I will continue with this affair until it is resolved,” he stated. Contract employees at the university have repeatedly demanded that they be granted full-time employment. They have staged numerous protests and strikes to press their demands.

Army Continues Fnaideq Raids, Discovers More Explosives
Naharnet /The army carried out more raids in the northern Akkar region of Fnaideq following similar operations it carried out last week, it announced in a statement on Thursday.
The Army Command said that the military discovered explosives belts and explosives in an agricultural field in the region. The raid was based on the confessions of detainee Mahmoud Khaled. The National News Agency said that the military carried out the three-hour raid in the area between al-Qamouaa and Fnaideq where it dug in the ground in search of the explosives cache based on confessions of detainees who were arrested last week. Earlier on Thursday, al-Jadeed television said that the army discovered in Fnaideq an explosive belt and hand grenades in the residence of detainee Mahmoud Zahraman.
The army announced on Saturday that detainees apprehended during recent raids in Fnaideq confessed to the existence of a cave in the region where they used to prepare explosives. The army said that it carried out a raid of the cave where it discovered bombs that were prepared to be detonated. It also discovered weapons, CDs, several SIM cards, mobile phones, documents, and lessons on how to manufacture explosives. The confessions were made by Alaa Kanaan and Mahmoud Khaled, members of a terrorist network who were recently arrested.
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.

Hoax Bomb Found under Tripoli Bridge as Scuffle Ends in Arrests
Naharnet/A hoax bomb was discovered on Wednesday evening under al-Khnaq Bridge in the northern city of Tripoli. State-run National News Agency said the device consisted of an unarmed hand grenade and a timer that was connected to it.“Security forces immediately arrived on the scene and removed it,the agency added.Earlier, LBCI TV said “two hand grenades connected to a battery and a timer were found under al-Khnaq Bridge.”Separately, a non-political scuffle broke out among a number of young men in the vicinity of the army's barracks in Tripoli's al-Qobbeh, which prompted the intervention of security forces, NNA said. “The young men were arrested and a number of their relatives rallied outside the Internal Security Forces barracks to protest their detention,” the agency added.
The incidents come after four people were injured in a grenade attack on a cafe in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh area. The motive for the attack was not immediately clear, but there were suspicions the cafe was targeted for opening its doors during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Plumbly: Tripoli Security Plan should be Coupled with Reconciliation, Development

Naharnet/U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly has called for reconciliation and the implementation of development projects in the northern city of Tripoli. In remarks to As Safir daily published on Thursday, Plumbly said the security plan implemented in the city should be coupled with tangible projects that lead to reconciliation and long-term development. The diplomat, who visited Tripoli a few days ago, said “the sustainability of the security plan is essential.”“It is clear that it has a wide political support,he said. The plan was implemented earlier this year after several rounds of fighting between the impoverished neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen left scores of people dead and injured. The clashes were a direct spillover of the Syrian war on Lebanon. Plumbly walked in the neighborhoods for the first time, lauding the efforts exerted to remove the traces of the fighting from the buildings in the two areas, said As Safir. The residential buildings in the district have bullet-riddled facades, the results of years of fighting between the Sunni fighters of Bab al-Tabbaneh and gunmen from Alawite Jabal Mohsen. Asked whether he feared that the fighting would resume, the U.N. diplomat stressed the importance of the end of clashes in April. “This is not a small achievement. But the preservation of calm won't be easy,” he said. Some sensitive issues remain and they can't be solved overnight, Plumbly added.

Derbas Says Lebanon Not Concerned with Illegal Syrian Refugee Encampments

Naharnet/Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said on Thursday that the Lebanese state isn't concerned with the Syrian refugee encampments on its territories and rejects their establishment. These encampments are illegal and are erected without the approval of the state,” Derbas said in comments published in al-Liwaa newspaper. He pointed out that the cabinet failed to reach a decision to organize the presence of Syrian refugees on its land after the March 8 alliance strongly rejected to engage in any discussion over the matter. The minister pointed out that the Syrian encampments are the responsibility of the Interior Ministry and not his. “I am not ready to do anything regarding the matter without the approval of the government,”Derbas said. Lebanon is the only country bordering Syria to practice an open border policy, but highlights the economic burden of the Syrian refugee presence. Refugees now account for a quarter of the population of Lebanon and cost Beirut $4.5 billion (3.3 billion euros) a year, according to Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh. Media reports said recently that humanitarian associations are seeking to establish 5,000 new tents on two stages for Syrian refugees in the northern district of Akkar. In May, the International Monetary Fund estimated that because of the conflict in neighboring Syria, unemployment in Lebanon had nearly doubled. It said the number of people without jobs had hit about 20 percent, and noted that growth of 2 percent was well below pre-Syria crisis levels.

Lebanese to Deal with Further Electricity, Water Shortages during Summer
Naharnet /The lingering electricity crisis is likely to worsen with no solution in the near future as the country is bracing for a summer drought exacerbated by massive influx of Syrian refugees.
According to As Safir newspaper published on Thursday, rationing in Beirut's southern suburbs is daily between 10 and 12 hours while in the South and the Bekaa is between 12 and 14 and reaches around 20 hours in some areas in the North. A parliamentary source told the daily that politicians should be clear and direct with the Lebanese concerning the electricity crisis.
“There is no near future solution.”The sources said that electricity will not be back 24/7 in 2015 as some expected, advising citizens to buy their own generators or subscribe with the one in their neighborhood. Lebanon is in need of 2,500 megawatts of electricity while the current production is only 1,500 MW. The daily reported that any unexpected malfunction in one of the power plants in Lebanon will increase the size of the problem. The report added that the state spends yearly around two billion dollars on electricity while the rationing hours keep on increasing.
The newspaper reported that drought reached several areas and villages as the dramatic situation is exacerbated by waste and an influx of Syrian refugees. The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR warned in February that the presence of more than a million Syrian refugees alongside four million Lebanese would seriously deplete the country's renewable water resources. People in Beirut and several areas have already been forced to buy water from private suppliers and farmers are complaining about crop losses. MP Mohammed Qabbani expected in comments published in As Safir the “situation to worsen in August and to hit bottom rock in September and October.He noted that the Public Works and Energy Parliamentary Committee, which he heads, formed in April a crisis group to deal with the summer shortages, but nothing has been accomplished. “Swift measures should be taken to deal with the situation,” Qabbani said, calling for “courageous and painful decisions.”
Lebanon's meteorological service says the country has had just 431 mm (17 inches) of precipitation since September, less than half last year's 905.8 mm and far below the yearly average of 812 mm.
Ordinarily, Lebanese farmers irrigate their fields by digging channels that divert water from local rivers or wells that fill with rainwater.
But the rain and snow that usually feed the rivers and wells never arrived. The country has just two dams and some 70 percent of the water that flows through its 16 rivers ends up in the Mediterranean.

Report: Roumieh Prisoners Running Terrorist Cells
Naharnet/Security forces and the army have taken strong measures around the country's largest prison over terrorist networks run by inmates and a plan to escape from the facility, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. The daily quoted security officials as saying that the ISF temporarily prevented the passage of vehicles on the road leading to Roumieh prison after suspects told investigators that terrorists were plotting an attack using a bomb-laden truck and inmates were planning a massive escape. The ISF cited “security reasons” for the heavy measures, which went into effect on Tuesday night, but the officials said police had information that two of the prison's Islamist inmates were managing cells outside the facility. “A terrorist network that has been recently busted is directly linked to the two prisoners,” they told al-Akhbar. The authorities have announced the arrest in the past weeks of several suspected terrorists plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon. Previous attacks have been claimed by extremists, who have vowed to carry out more assaults to avenge the presence of Hizbullah fighters in Syria. The Shiite party has sent its members to the neighboring country to fight alongside President Bashar Assad's troops against the Sunni rebels. Dozens of Islamist inmates are held in Roumieh. They are awaiting trial for their alleged involvement in the clashes between Fatah al-Islam terrorist group and the Lebanese army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007. The emir of the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Qalamoun has recently promised in an audio message to free the Islamist prisoners “within days.”Abou Malek al-Shami described the inmates as “Muslim captives and jihadist brethren.”

Washington to Tighten Security for U.S.-bound Flights
Naharnet/U.S. authorities plan to bolster security at some airports in Europe and the Middle East with direct flights to the United States, officials said Wednesday.
Amid concern that terror groups are developing new explosives to circumvent airport security, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced unspecified steps that would be carried out in "coming days," without saying which airports would be affected. "We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry," Johnson said in a statement.
After an assessment of security threats, Johnson said he had directed the Transportation Security Administration "to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States." Johnson said that "we will continue to adjust security measures to promote aviation security without unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public."
The airports were located in the Middle East and Europe, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security. The announcement came before the U.S. Independence Day celebrations on Friday but officials would not say whether authorities had uncovered a specific threat or plot. "There will be enhanced security measures in certain airports that fly non stop to the U.S.," the DHS official told Agence France Presse. "We're targeting certain airports abroad... based on real time intelligence," the official added.
The new measures would be designed in a way to avoid creating major hassles for travelers, without signaling to potential terrorists what those steps would be, officials said.
"Information about specific enhancements is sensitive as we do not wish to divulge information about specific layers of security to those who would do harm," said a second DHS official, who asked not to be named. The official said authorities "may require some additional screening of persons and their property, so travelers should always arrive at an airport with plenty of time for screening to be sure they do not miss their flights."Media reports said the additional screening could apply to shoes worn by passengers and electronic devices.-

Britain to step up security -
In Britain, the Department for Transport (DfT) said late Wednesday that it would "step up some of our aviation security measures" following the warning from U.S. security chiefs, the Guardian reported.
"For obvious reasons we will not be commenting in detail on those changes. The majority of passengers should not experience significant disruption," a spokesman told the BBC.
U.S. counter-terrorism experts in recent months have said there is cause for concern that extremists have come up with new tactics to avoid detection at airports.
Just Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that "battle-hardened" Europeans who embrace jihad in Syria and Iraq threaten the United States because their passports mean they can enter the country without a visa. "We have seen Europeans sympathetic to their (militants') cause traveling into Syria and may now travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened. Then they come back," Obama warned in an interview that aired Sunday on the U.S. broadcaster ABC. These combatants "have a European passport. They don't need visas to get into the United States," he told the program "This Week."
"Now, we are spending a lot of time, and we have been for years, making sure we are improving intelligence to respond to that. "We have to improve our surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence there. Special forces are going to have a role. And there are going to be times where we take strikes against organizations that could do us harm."  Fears about Europeans returning from militant action were underlined when Mehdi Nemmouche, a French-Algerian who fought alongside radical Islamists in Syria for more than a year, allegedly killed four people in a deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24.SourceAgence France Presse

Israel, Gaza Militants Trade Fire after Teen Killings

Naharnet/Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza Thursday and militants hit back with 15 rockets, further hiking tensions after a day of violence triggered by the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager.
But there was no immediate sign of a return to the clashes that had engulfed east Jerusalem on Wednesday, following the kidnap and murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder in what many believed was a copycat killing following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens last month. Israel police have so far insisted the motive for the killing was unclear, refusing to say whether it was nationalist or criminal, and have not said how the Palestinian youngster died. But the lawyer's family told Agence France Presse the body had been burnt "beyond recognition" with a joint Israeli-Palestinian autopsy taking place on Thursday.
It was not immediately clear when he would be buried. The murder triggered an outpouring of rage in Shuafat, where Abu Khder's family lives. Clashes raged between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli riot police raging from dawn on Wednesday until the early hours on Thursday, also spreading to many other areas in east Jerusalem.
The violence injured 232 people, 178 of them in Shuafat alone, said Dr Amin Abu Ghazali, head of field operations for the Red Crescent in east Jerusalem. Of that number 187 were wounded by rubber bullets and six by live bullets, he told AFP. The killing was roundly denounced on all sides, both at home and abroad.
- Gaza rockets, Israeli raids -
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced it as "despicable" and urged both sides "not to take the law into their own hands".
And one of the families of the three murdered Israeli teens described it as a "horrendous act".
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas demanded Netanyahu take decisive against revenge attacks and called for the killers to be caught and punished.
But the Islamist Hamas movement, whom Israel has blamed for the kidnap and murder of the three teenagers in June, said it held Netanyahus' government directly responsible.
"You will pay the price for your crimes," it said. There was no let-up in the violence in and around Gaza, where Hamas has its stronghold, with militants firing 20 rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday, one of which hit a house in Sderot, the army said. No-one was injured. Overnight, the Israeli air force staged 15 strikes on "Hamas targets," among them concealed rocket launchers, weapons storage facilities and militant activity sites, a statement said. Palestinian medics said 11 people had been wounded, one of them seriously. But militants continued the cross-border rocket fire, with a second strike on a house in Sderot, the army said. Again, no-one was injured. So far 15 rockets have hit the Israeli south since midnight. - Funeral unrest fears - Back in Jerusalem, police threw up a security cordon around Shuafat, fearing another outburst of violence after the results of the autopsy, which was due to be completed by mid-afternoon. No time has yet been set for the funeral.
Muhannad Jbara, lawyer for the Abu Khder family, said the police had been in touch late on Wednesday to formally confirm the body found in a west Jerusalem forest was that of their son.
"The body was so badly burned that it was beyond recognition," he said. Eyewitnesses told AFP the youngster was forced into a black Honda Civic by "two Israelis" with a third sitting in the driving seat, which drove off at high speed, evading two cars which tried to follow it. They said the car's registration number had been given to the police, who had also been examining footage from CCTV cameras in the neighborhood. The killing drew condemnation from capitals around the world, including from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which said the abduction and murder of civilians "must stop now". Tensions have soared across the region since June 12 when three Israeli teenagers disappeared in the southern West Bank, triggering a vast search and arrest operation across the West Bank.
Their bodies were found on Monday, but the hunt for their killers continues, with troops arresting another 13 Palestinians overnight, the army said. After the three were buried on Tuesday, more than 200 Israeli extremists rampaged through Jerusalem, dragging people out of cars and chanting "Death to Arabs".Agence France Presse/Associated Press

Saudi king, Obama call for Iraq unity govt
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 3 July 2014
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday reaffirmed the need for Iraq’s leaders to form a unity government amid the violence in the country. In a telephone call, the leaders discussed the threats facing Iraq after militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group (ISIS) seized large parts of the country, according to a White House statement.
The meeting comes three days after ISIS declared a "caliphate" encompassing the entire Muslim world. President Obama and the Saudi king Abdullah stressed on the importance of forming a new government that unites all of “Iraq’s diverse communities.The U.S. president also thanked the Saudi king for his $500 million pledge to help Iraqis displaced by the upsurge in violence.
“The president thanked the king for Saudi Arabia’s pledge of $500 million dollars to help alleviate the suffering of all Iraqis who have been displaced by the violence. The two leaders agreed to continue to consult closely on regional developments,” the White House said.The country's $500 million donation will go through the United Nations to counter Iraq’s humanitarian crisis.
Three days after ISIS declared itself a caliphate, President Obama and King Abdullah agreed to consult closely on regional developments, the White House said. Saudi Arabia shares a 800 km border with Iraq. Iraq has split along sectarian lines between the majority Shi’ite Muslims and the Sunni Muslim and Kurdish minorities. Sunnis and Kurds on Tuesday walked out of the first meeting of Iraq’s new parliament, which failed to name a new prime minister as an alternative to current leader Nouri al-Maliki.

Pentagon: Syria chemical weapons transfer complete
The Danish ship Ark Futura (L), carrying a cargo of Syria's chemical weapons, and the U.S. ship Cape Ray (R) are seen docked at Gioia Tauro port in southern Italy July 2, 2014. (Reuters)
AFP, Washington /Thursday, 3 July 2014The transfer of Syrian chemical weapons from a Danish container ship to a U.S. vessel was completed on Wednesday in an Italian port, the Pentagon said in a statement. The disposal process marks the culmination of a program to rid Syria of its chemical weapons stockpile after the outcry that followed chemical attacks by the Bashar al-Assad regime in the suburbs of Damascus on August 23 last year, that may have killed as many as 1,400 people. “The transfer of Syrian chemicals from the Danish container ship Ark Futura to the Motor Vessel Cape Ray is complete,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. Cape Ray departed the Italian port of Gioia Tauro this afternoon for international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, where neutralization operations will soon begin. “The neutralization process should take several weeks to complete.”Hundreds of tonnes of mustard gas and ingredients to make Sarin nerve gas were transferred from the Danish vessel in the southern Italian port amid tight security. “Secretary Hagel is grateful to Danish and Italian authorities for their support in this process and is enormously proud of everyone who helped make possible this safe and incident-free transfer,” Kirby said.“He extends a special thanks to the men and women of the Cape Ray, Naval Forces Europe, and U.S. European Command teams for their impeccable planning and execution.”

Palestinian teen murder sparks riots

AFP, Occupied Jerusalem /Thursday, 3 July 2014
Violence flared in Jerusalem as angry Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli police following the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teen in an apparent revenge attack, prompting international calls for calm.
Hundreds of masked Palestinians on Wednesday hurled stones at Israeli riot police, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs. Clashes continued into the night.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the “despicable” killing of the 16-year-old Palestinian boy, whose death came after three Israeli teenagers were killed in the West Bank.
Netanyahu urged both sides “not to take the law into their own hands”.And the family of one of the slain Israeli teens, still in mourning, said any revenge murder was a “horrendous act”.
The clashes in the slain teen's Shuafat neighborhood have left at least 65 people wounded, three by live bullets, while some 35 people were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists, according to the Red Crescent.
Palestinians held Israel responsible, demanding Netanyahu's government 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 Mahmoud Abbas. Eyewitnesses told AFP the Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khder, was seen being forced into a car by three Israelis in occupied east Jerusalem. Police confirmed a body had been found in a forest in Givat Shaul in west Jerusalem, although they refused to link the two incidents. But 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, adding that the cause of death was not immediately clear. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called for justice over the “despicable act”, and the International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for the violence to stop.
“At this critical time, the ICRC calls on all sides to stand unequivocally against the abduction and murder of civilians,” said Red Cross president Peter Maurer. “The current spiral of violence, loss and suffering must stop now.”
'Pay the price'
Tensions have soared across the region since 12 June when the three Israeli teenage boys 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 after the teens were laid to rest on Tuesday, dragging people out of cars and chanting “Death to Arabs”.Still, Israel's Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch stressed that “the motive for the [Palestinian] murder cannot be determined for now.”All leads are being pursued,” he said. But Hamas held Israel's government directly responsible for Wednesday's death with the warning: “You will pay the price for your crimes”.During the night Israel launched some dozen air strikes on northern Gaza and Gaza City, wounding nine Palestinians, one seriously, according to Palestinian medical and security sources. Meanwhile, 10 projectiles, including two rockets intercepted by Israeli missile defence systems, were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip during the evening, bringing the total over the past 24 hours to 18, the Israeli army said. And one rocket hit a home in Sderot, causing damage to the neighbouring road and a power outage in the city in southern Israel, an army statement said. Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Wednesday night to discuss punitive measures, but commentators said the murder of the Palestinian boy would seriously limit the margin for manoeuvre. 'Murder is murder' As the clashes raged in the Shuafat neighbourhood, where the streets were littered with burning dumpsters and makeshift barricades, the only place of relative calm was the murdered boy's family home. His mother Suha Abu Khder sat in stunned silence, sometimes breaking down in tears in a room filled with loved ones. A cousin of the teenager, Ansam Abu Khder, said witnesses had written down the car's licence 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. The family of 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, one of the three murdered Israeli teenagers, condemned the Palestinian teen's death as a “horrendous act”.“There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder,” they said in a statement.


Israel sends troop reinforcements to Gaza border. National home front on heightened alert
DEBKAfile Special Report July 3, 2014/Israeli defense officials passed the word to foreign news agencies Thursday, July 3, that troop reinforcements had been sent to the Gaza Strip border amid intensifying Palestinian rocket barrages. debkafile’s military sources report that the reinforcements almost certainly included tanks and self-propelled artillery. A military official added that the Israeli Navy had reinforced its war fleet opposite Gaza’s Mediterranean coast, and the Home Front Command had raised the national level of alert While highly reluctant to embark on a major offensive against Hamas in its Gaza stronghold, the Israeli government could scarcely continue to avoid real action after 30 rockets were aimed on the same day, July 2, against Ashkelon, Netivot, Sdot Negev, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and the Eshkol District. Three slammed Thursday morning into houses in Sderot, causing heavy damage but no casualties. The IDF clearly expects the Gaza missile barrage to widen out from targets in southern Israel to towns further north. Tensions are also simmering in Jerusalem over the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian boy, with further violent Palestinian outbreaks expected to accompany his funeral later Thursday. The various sources said that, by passing word of a military buildup, Israel was most likely broadcasting a grave warning to Hamas to stop the missile barrage or else the IDF would step in for a wider operation than heretofore to achieve this purpose. Thus far, Hamas has not been persuaded by Israeli air strikes to rein in its own or fellow terrorist organizations shooting rockets at Israel.

Iran, world powers resume push for nuclear deal by July 20
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to YouTube on Wednesday to deliver a message that Iran was ready to take steps to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful. (File photo: Reuters)
Reuters, Vienna
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Iran and six world powers resumed talks on Thursday aimed at clinching a long-term deal later this month on the scope of Tehran's contested nuclear program, seeking to bridge still wide gaps in negotiating positions.The cost of failure could be high. If diplomacy falls short, the risk of Israeli air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites could rise, and with it the threat of a wider Middle East war.
After informal contacts on Wednesday, chief negotiators from Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain began a full plenary session shortly after 9 a.m. (0700 GMT), the sixth round of talks in Vienna since February. They have less than three weeks to try to agree on the future dimensions of Iran's uranium enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal. Western officials privately acknowledge that an extension of the talks might be needed. Washington and some of its allies have imposed sanctions on Iran over suspicions that its nuclear program is designed to produce weapons - a charge denied by Iran, which says it is only interested in producing electricity and other peaceful projects. Iran says it is Israel's assumed atomic arsenal that threatens regional peace and stability. July 20 is the expiry date of an interim accord that granted Iran modest relief from economic sanctions after it curbed some aspects of its nuclear work. But an extension of up to half a year of the deadline for a long-term accord is possible. The powers want Iran to scale back enrichment capacity sharply to deny it any capability to quickly accumulate enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb.  Iran says it needs to expand its enrichment capacity to fuel a network of nuclear power plants, although these have yet to be built and it would take many years to launch just one of them.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to YouTube on Wednesday to deliver a message that Iran was ready to take steps to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful but would not "kneel in submission" to do a deal with the powers. In an article in Monday's Washington Post, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran's "public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors". European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is shepherding the negotiations on behalf of the six powers. Zarif heads the Iranian delegation in Vienna.

Send them to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s state

Thursday, 3 July 2014/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
“Our appeal applies to students, religious scholars, preachers, judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields.”
This call was issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who assigned himself as the caliph of Muslims worldwide, not just in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He called on Muslims to immigrate to his state, saying it was the obligation of one billion Muslims across the globe to do so. Social media reactions poured in with plenty of ridicule against ISIS members.
Not all extremists are enthusiastic about ISIS or the al-Nusra Front However, not all people consider ISIS a silly joke. Some people publicize the group and call for fighting in its ranks. Although most of the region’s countries ban travelling to Syria and Iraq due to the violence there and pursue anyone who dares to go to Iraq or Syria, some say the idea of sending over dozens of ISIS-supporting preachers and intellectuals is not bad. Most of those who defend ISIS’ ideology and its state project and encourage fighting among its ranks actually prefer the life which they enjoy in “infidel societies,” whether in the Gulf, or the Arab Maghreb or in Europe.
All talk and no action
In 1990, an Arab imam in a Gulf country used to deliver a sermon every night urging worshippers to fight American troops who came to liberate Kuwait from Saddam’s forces. One night, after he finished his prayers, security forces knocked on his door to inform him that he would be deported due to his provocative speeches. They informed him that they had booked him a free seat aboard a ship headed to the Iraqi port of Basra so he could begin his jihad in Iraq. After crying and attempting to mollify the security forces, he wrote a pledge never to incite violence again.
There are many similar examples, such as those who issue daily fatwas (religious edicts) via the media and who deliver speeches from mosques defending ISIS and encouraging support for it and for other extremist organizations in Iraq and Syria. But they themselves would not accept that their sons travel to the “home of the caliphate.”
We think that after their caliph al-Baghdadi invited them to join his state, it is a duty to remind them that there is now an Islamic state, caliph and caliphate. Therefore, there is no longer any excuse for them to be reluctant and leave their duties to others. It is a duty to send them to live in their utopian state. ISIS’ detractors But not all extremists are enthusiastic about ISIS or the al-Nusra Front. Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, al-Qaeda’s mysterious famous philosopher who was recently released from a Jordanian prison, does not support ISIS, despite being considered the reference point for extremists across the world. He even warned ISIS in a long letter, writing: “Before I was released I heard of abuses committed by media and religious spokesmen of the two disputing parties (ISIS and the al-Nusra Front) and I responded to some of that [abuse] and I condemned it. After my release from prison I also reviewed some of the abuses and depravities by some men who do not deserve to be described as jihadists or men of religion. It would be fitting to describe them rather as street people. They describe people with different views as foundlings, children of prostitutes and the rest of obscenity and low talk, in addition to unworthy lies and slander.”Even al-Maqdisi has urged fighting against ISIS! This is the case of a nation hijacked by those who claim to possess religious truths. Their state is being fought for by a group of thugs and criminals who, under their black banners, kill unarmed men, kidnap children and rape women.

ISIS Baghdadi is no Osama bin Laden… yet
Thursday, 3 July 2014 /By:Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
While many are dubbing the leader of so-called Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the new Osama bin Laden, there are stark differences in strategy and leadership approach between the two. Both have forged a distinct path for each organization, it seems so far. Baghdadi made headlines this week by announcing a Caliphate (an Islamic State), the first since 1924 when Turkish leader Mustafa Attaturk abolished that tradition. The announcement was followed by a roughly 20-minute audio from the “Caliph” himself, in which he pledged to conquer Rome, inaugurated a “new era” and invited jihadists to take up arms and flock to his state.
A more public Osama bin Laden
In theory, the overarching ideological trends of both al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overlap by espousing extreme militant Jihadism and terrorism against Western interests, Arab governments and showing readiness to kill “apostate” and Shiite Muslims. In practice, however, ISIS’ Baghdadi is following a different playbook than bin Laden’s and taking political strides that the former al-Qaeda leader, killed in 2011, might have disputed. ISIS is building its base support on ruthless radical foreign fighters that lacks the local component in places like Syria, and is benefitting from short-term alliances with the tribes against Nouri Maliki in Iraq
Camille Tawil, an expert on militant Islamists and author of the book “Brother in Arms: the Story of Al-Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists,” told Al Arabiya News that Bin Laden was more media savvy then Baghdadi. While there are only two public photos of Baghdadi, “Bin Laden had a long time of exposure to the media, as far as his early days of Afghanistan in the late 1980s.” Tawil speaks of a “charm offensive” that Bin Laden led in the 1990s, inviting Western journalists to his cave in Afghanistan and releasing videos of training camps and video messages to his followers.
Baghdadi “has never granted an interview to any one” and even “his real name is not confirmed” says Tawil. There are several aliases used by the group, and the name Abu Dua released by the U.S. government rewarding $10 million for his capture.

Strategy differences
Bin Laden’s approach in leading al-Qaeda was more cognizant of political realities than Baghdadi’s. Tawil contends that “bin Laden had to take into consideration that he was leading a global organization...and this meant making compromises, such as dealing with the Iranian regime, the Yemeni regime among others.” He adds that “Baghdadi does not seem willing to follow this path” and instead chooses to fight many groups and states at once including Jabhat Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
ISIS is also building its base support on ruthless radical foreign fighters that lacks the local component in places like Syria, and is benefitting from short-term alliances with the tribes against Nouri Maliki in Iraq. It is hard to see how Baghdadi’s caliphate could survive in the long term, if the same tribes that helped him in Iraq reconcile with the government in Baghdad, or if the moderate rebels gain strengths and fight back in Syria. Bin Laden compromised with Shiite Iran when al-Qaeda had members held there” says Tawil, while ISIS refused to do the same and Baghdadi declared a war on the “Persians” as well in his last audio recording. Tawil recalls that in 2006, former notorious al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musaab Zarqawi was “targeting Shias in Iraq, prompting al-Qaeda Central in Waziristan to send him a warning a few months before his death.” The central leadership of al-Qaeda was “upset with Zarqawi’s bloody campaign against the Shias and the way he was beheading people in front of cameras.” These reasons are echoed again today as many Islamic groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda, rejected Baghdadi’s Caliphate, and went as far as labeling him among “Khawarij.” The term refers to a group in Islam who defied the Prophet and tried to kill his companions. The differences between bin Laden and Baghdadi are not “in terms of their interpretation of the Sharia, but that al-Qaeda sometimes seems willing to compromise in a way ISIS doesn’t.” This aspect can hold back ISIS from expanding and achieving al-Qaeda’s pre-2003 stature, and it would limit its threat from a U.S. perspective to attracting foreign fighters and establishing safe havens without capability to stage another 9/11. Tawil does not see Baghdadi as having the ability to emulate Bin Laden. He points out, however, to a clear advantage that the new “Caliph” has which bin Laden didn’t: swathes of land between Iraq and Syria on which he created his Islamic State. If this advantage holds, Tawil warns that “with time Baghdadi may probably become more popular than bin Laden among the jihadists for succeeding where his former boss failed: creating an Islamic State.”

The Egyptian president's three challenges

Thursday, 3 July 2014
By: Amr Mahmoud el-Shobaki/Al Arabiya
The Muslim Brotherhood was toppled after it failed to manage Egypt's affairs. Its one year of governance ended with a popular revolution and the army's intervention. Its ouster ushered in a period of challenges and risks. With the election of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as president, the country has entered a new phase in which its leadership is separate from the military. Even if the latter supports the former, the elected president will bear responsibility for any successes or failures.
There are three challenges confronting Sisi. The first is the absence of a specific political plan capable of uniting a wide segment of Egyptians in order to confront two major projects. The first one is the Brotherhood's opposition to the state and anyone who does not belong to the group. The second project is the secularized rhetoric that implicitly or explicitly rejects the national state and its institutions, that rejects the current path and a president from a military background, and that incites university students and youths to boycott the entire political process.
The presence of peaceful protesting groups is natural. They are part of the political scene in all countries, including democratic ones. Protesting groups have even been the voice of conscience in some societies, not only a voice of terrorism or incitement to violence. Revolutionary and communist groups did not govern Western Europe, but they pressured capitalist regimes to adopt real social-justice policies. Anti-globalization movements at the end of the last century played an important role in highlighting or amending many negative aspects of globalization. The Occupy Wall Street movement and youths' protests in Turkey, Iran and Brazil have all played a role in their societies, and helped attract attention to many defects.
We will not be able to progress economically unless we have a clear vision of how to deal with the deep political problems facing Egyptian society
A protesting voice is a global phenomenon. In Egypt, these voices are represented in blocs found in universities and among youths. They increased following the Jan. 25 revolution. However, there does not seem to be a political vision capable of transforming this huge protesting energy into constructive energy, and of integrating it into the political process. This means transforming a large part of the protesting and revolutionary movement into a real reforming opposition that disagrees with the government and presents alternatives to its policies.
Sisi also confronts an economic and security challenge. This is what pushed the government to cut spending on energy subsidies, a plan that was postponed during Hosni Mubarak's entire presidency out of fear of people's anger. It is true that there is Gulf support for Egypt, but this will not lead the country out of its crisis unless the economy recovers, and attracts investments and tourists.
The third challenge is that of political Islam. We must first differentiate between parties and groups of political Islam. The former include Al-Nour and the Strong Egypt Party. These are part of legal and legitimate political life, regardless of the extent of agreement or disagreement with them.
Groups of political Islam, however, are divided into jihadist terrorists who practice violence against the state and society, or religious groups such as the Brotherhood, with some of its members involved in terrorism, whether by colluding or participating.
Dealing with the Brotherhood
The Brotherhood's problem lies in the fact that its members think that their mere belonging to the group is “jihad for the sake of God,” and that maintaining this group is itself an aim. This quickly turned into a major reason for people to hate the Brotherhood, which is only concerned for its own interests rather than the country's.
The Brotherhood's organizational ties and religious education has made its members feel they are superior. They thus incited against their opponents and isolated themselves from the rest of society. This was clearly and shockingly revealed in the terrifying rhetoric of hatred adopted against society and state institutions after their ouster from power.
The challenge facing Sisi is based on the possibility of dismantling the Brotherhood and integrating its members not involved in violence within the political process through a political party.
This voices the importance of a competent political system and strong state institutions that impose their conditions on this organization and gradually dismantle its infrastructure, so its engagement in the political process can be carried out according to preconditions that are not its own.
What happened in Egypt is the exact opposite of this vision. The Brotherhood attained power after the military council suspended the 1971 civil constitution. Afterwards, the council did not set any organizational rules for the political process. It did not grant the Brotherhood a legal license for its activities, submit the group to the laws of the Egyptian state, or monitor its funds. The Brotherhood attained power and devised a constitution that suited it. It came up with laws that empowered itself, and managed the country from behind a curtain. Mohammad Mursi was a mere figure implementing the orders of the guidance office. The Justice and Development Party remained the mere arm of the secretive group, and continued to obey it.
It is impossible to talk about a secure integration of the Brotherhood as long as it considers itself “a Godly group” above all others. The major cause now is how to politically deal with Brotherhood supporters - not necessarily all its members - and how to integrate conservative religious powers in the democratic process via parties that believe in the civil constitution, national state and republican system.
Political challenges are the most dangerous in Egypt. We will not be able to progress economically unless we have a clear vision of how to deal with the deep political problems facing Egyptian society.

The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East

by Walid Phares
July 3, 2014/

The decision had already been made a year ago that a deal would be cut with the Iranian regime. If one has a deal, one is not going to enter into a war with the allies of the Ayatollah, such as Syria. That would kill the deal.
These advisors and the pro-Iranian lobby in Washington are not made up only of Iranians. They are made of financial interest groups. For all these years there has been the idea that if we cut a deal with the Iranian regime, they will stabilize Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
When the Iranians moved in to Syria, Hezbollah moved in. When both moved in, Al-Qaeda moved in. That was the end of civil demonstrations.
The current Middle East policy tracks are in the papers of the academics who are advising the administration. All one has to do is go to the libraries and read what the advisors have been writing for so many decades and then deduce the current policy.
We were in Iraq. By looking at a map, one can understand that by being in Iraq, the U.S. served as a wall, disconnecting Iran from going into Syria.
As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, the West in general, and America in particular were targeted by the jihadist movements. Some consisted of Al‑Qaeda and the Taliban, and others consisted of a different type of jihadism: the Iranian regime.
At the time of the USSR's collapse, the American public knew about Iranian and Hezbollah threats. There had been attacks on American targets since the early 1980s -- such as those in Beirut, Lebanon, and the Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia -- by America's Iranian "allies."
What Americans did not know much about, however, were jihadist Salafi movements – even after two declarations of war by Osama bin Laden: the first in 1996, and again in 1998. If Bin Laden's first declaration of war was not clear, his second statement was -- a 29‑minute‑long speech in Arabic, publicized on Al Jazeera.
The next day I thought, "Surely the President of the United States is going to rush to Congress and say, 'We are at war with Al‑Qaeda.'" But it did not happen that way. What did happen was that the New York Times, on page 7,000, said there was a Saudi dissident who declared war against America. The newspaper had its own explanation: "He is a Saudi dissident. He is frustrated with the Arabian royal family. He is a reformer, and he is really not happy with us backing that regime."
That was also the explanation given at the time by the Middle East Studies community in American universities. American scholars looked upon the jihadists who came back from Afghanistan as frustrated, disenfranchised, and then they criticized -- themselves.
What we have as foreign policy today, in blaming America for everything,was actually the stance of academia in the 1990s.
Classroom to Newsroom
It was stunning to see, coming to this country, that members of the U.S. academia were not informing their students about reality, especially about who these jihadist movements are and their goals. When, in 1998, bin Laden finally declared a war against Jews, Christians, crusaders, infidels, and Americans, the reaction in the mainstream media was... almost no reaction.
But people in the media are produced where? In the classroom. They graduate, then go from the classroom -- to the newsroom. Graduates then also find their way into -- the courtroom. This pattern reveals why we also have judges who do not understand how to distinguish jihadists from non‑jihadists. The problem, however, does not end in the classroom or the newsroom or the courtroom. It eventually ends up in the war room.
This was a war of ideas and our entire elite had been misinformed, miseducated and misled on the forthcoming terror.
Minorities Rise in the Middle East
The 1990s also bore witness to the rise of civil society in the Middle East. People saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and understood the liberation of Eastern and Central Europe. In the late 1990s, I began to look at websites and deal with NGOs. In Beirut, I had a magazine, Mashrek International. [Mashrek means "The East."] That magazine, founded in 1982, focused on the struggle of these minorities.
The first type of civil society that arose basically consisted of marginalized minorities who were bringing to light the issues facing ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East. [1] There was a world of minorities moving -- pushing back against both oppressive regimes and against jihadi regimes.
While examining these ethnic and religious minorities, we found other segments of society that were also frustrated and suppressed, such as women in the Middle East and the youth.
What had made these minorities more visible was technology.
On the eve of 9/11 -- the end of the 1990s and into the next decade -- the internet had become available to more and more people, so more writings about these changes were becoming available, along with the ideas of the people writing them.
Immediately after the attacks of 2001, the few who were working on this problem were called upon by members of Congress to "come up with answers."
Looking for Moderates
Most will remember that after 9/11 there were many questions. One was, "Where are the moderates?" Others included, "Where are the anti‑jihadists? Why don't they express themselves?" My argument at the time was that we needed to "meet them halfway." That experiment had been tried in Sudan and Lebanon, when I had worked with the administration on UN Resolution 1559, passed by the Security Council, to ask the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon. But by 2010, a lot had changed in the Middle East. Civil societies had reached a level of intolerance regarding their suppression.
By early 2010, civil societies -- youth and minorities and all of those who are anti‑jihadist in the region -- saw several developments which, ironically, prepared them for both the good news and the bad news that came from the Arab Spring. First, when the U.S. brought down the Taliban and Saddam Hussein (we can have a long discussion if this move was "good" or "bad," move, but that is irrelevant here), and its military was able to maintain a status quo -- meaning that we were not militarily defeated in Iraq or Afghanistan, although we would eventually assure defeat by withdrawing from both -- the real question became: "What do we leave behind us? Who do we leave behind us? Who will replace us and continue confronting the terror forces?"
When the Taliban was removed, not everything in Afghanistan turned rosy.
We do not have a democracy in Afghanistan. But in the eyes of many other people in the Middle East, instead of the Taliban, there is now a parliament where women are allowed. To us, this change is not significant. But to those in these societies, that change is most significant.
In Iraq, instead of having one political party, that of Saddam Hussein, we have now a parliament where people choose among multiple political parties, maybe even throwing shoes at each other. Iraq has changed, and is changing.
Two Revolutions Before the "Spring"
Two more events were going to convince many youths in the region that they needed to act. One was the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, when from 1.5 to 1.8 million people took to the streets of Beirut. They were nonviolent; they were from diverse communities; they included many women; they represented many languages. But there was one desired outcome: To get the Syrians out of Lebanon.
This revolution became known there as the Texting Revolution, after the mobile phone text messages that allowed one million people to come together.
The Cedar Revolution may not have been successful -- Hezbollah continues to control Lebanon. But four years later, in Iran, came the Green Revolution. Another two million people took to the streets. The numbers were revealing: 60% of those who demonstrated were under the age of 20. The regime understands what that means. The future was rising up. These were not senior citizens demonstrating, nor the allies of the Shah. These were people who were born two regimes after the Shah. One‑third of those under-20-demonstrators were girls and women, at least in the first few days of the revolution. Of course, when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took to the streets against them, they fled.
That revolution was known as the Twitter revolution. Without the means, there can be no mobilization. Ideas may be present and strong, but the means and the networking were crucial.
First Waves of the Upheaval
In mid-2010, I wrote a book, The Coming Revolution. When we spoke to, the publisher, he said, "Are you sure? This is a very daring title." I said, "Yes, the revolution is coming. I don't how it is coming or when it is coming. But it is coming." You could read the chat rooms, follow what the Egyptians, the Tunisians, the Lebanese, and the Iranians were talking about. They were actually waiting for an opportunity. I thought, perhaps, the revolution might begin in Algeria with the Berbers. One could see that there was a thin wave of civil society that would rise up. It might not be effective, it might not win -- and in the West, especially in America, we have a microwave mentality: it has to be quick, it has to be successful, or it will not be on TV.
There are some rebellions -- efforts at revolution -- that will come and that will not be successful, but even those open the path for a massive change. In Egypt, the Copts would be the trigger. It was, in fact, a Coptic student demonstration in Cairo after a blast against a church that came first. This bold move encouraged the non‑Christian youth in Egypt to begin their own demonstrations. It also triggered a Facebook page highlighting the response in Egypt. In three days, the page got 85,000 "Likes." From those 85,000 Likes, thousands took to Tahrir Square.
When the first waves of revolution hit Tahrir Square, or Tunisia, or Libya, or Syria, there was a moment in which the United States -- if it had had the right leadership or a leadership that wanted to act, or at least a leadership that did not want to partner with the other side -- could have aided the cause of freedom tremendously. If we had sided with civil society, it might have stood a chance.
In 2011, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria -- and Yemen to a point -- were all experiencing revolutions or civil wars. Tunisia changed quickly, but in Egypt, the first 80,000‑100,000 people were in Tahrir Square and they did not leave. That had never happened before.
In Washington and around the United States and the West, many were arguing, "We should stick with Mubarak." My closest friends were telling me, "It's too risky to abandon Mubarak." My view, however, was if the Islamists are the ones who are rising, yes, of course, we will stay with Mubarak, but if members of the civil society are rising, then we had better immediately link up with them so that if we let go of Mubarak, they are not overwhelmed later by the Islamists.
Washington's Wrong Choices
Unfortunately, the administration did just the opposite. So, when those youths took to the streets and the international community said, "Okay, it is acceptable," the Muslim Brotherhood, who were watching, simply waited -- and actually said on Al Jazeera, "We did not go until we made sure that Tahrir Square is protected, that Mubarak is not going to launch his army."
This made sense: the Muslim Brotherhood had a long history of being suppressed by Mubarak. The administration was basically siding with the Muslim Brotherhood. We were watching those demonstrators growing in the tens of thousands. The narrative coming from the White House was, 'We are going to wait and see how this is going to settle down.'"
It was only when members of the Muslim Brotherhood moved from the edges into Tahrir Square and secured themselves as part of this demonstration that the statements changed in the White House and the State Department, and they finally said, "Mubarak, you leave."
The entire administration may not even have known what was happening, but those who are in charge of the Egypt situation or the State Department's Egypt Desk knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to secure the future leadership of Egypt after Mubarak as one made up mostly of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The same scenario occurred in Libya and Syria, where the situation turned immediately into civil wars -- again because of miscalculations or false calculations from the administration.
In Libya, in the early weeks, secular ex‑Gaddafi bureaucrats, judges, former diplomats, and military men -- and students --rose up against Gaddafi. With them, on their side, were also jihadi Islamist militias, some of whom were actually released by Saif al‑Islam, Gaddafi's son.
In Washington, both the administration and, unfortunately, some members of Congress said, "Well, these are the rebels, so this whole party must be 'the rebels.'" The U.S. did not distinguish, within the rebels, who were the potential partners we needed to work with,and who were the jihadi Salafists.
In Libya, we beat Gaddafi's forces so quickly that the only organized force on the ground was that of the Salafist jihadists. They seized the eastern part of Libya and parts of Tripoli, and that, strengthened by even more forces averse to U.S. interests, is where Libya is today.
Syria's Drama
In Syria, the early waves of revolution that we saw on TV were made of demonstrators from Daraa in the south, to Aleppo and Damascus. So, between March 2011 and January of 2012, we really had a popular uprising. This was a golden opportunity to do something about Syria.
There are sometimes windows of opportunity that if missed, force you to wait for another. The opportunity was there simply because we were in Iraq. By looking at a map, one can understand that by being in Iraq, the U.S. served as a wall, disconnecting Iran from going into Syria. So as long as we and our allies were in Iraq, the Iranian regime was not yet able to connect strategically with the Assad regime.
Also, Hezbollah was not yet heavily inside Syria for the first six to seven months. Al‑Qaeda had not yet penetrated deep into Syria. A better policy would have been to use situation -- even if we might have had to stretch our presence in Iraq a few more months -- to leave Iraq with an ally force and Syria with a non‑Assad regime. Instead, we had to stick with the schedule -- the very political schedule -- of leaving Iraq on December 31 at midnight, regardless of what might happen later.
The Iranians, of course, could and would wait for us to leave. What were they going to do on January first and second and third? Start connecting strategically with the Syrian regime. When the Iranians moved in, Hezbollah moved in. When both moved in, Al‑Qaeda moved in. When everybody was in, that was the end of the civil demonstrations.
Those events take us to 2012, the midst of a presidential campaign: "We do not do foreign interventions." Nobody wants to risk anything unless it will be completely successful in three days and then they can take the credit through to November.
This scenario did not happen. In 2013, once the elections were over, everything in Syria had changed. The map had changed: Iran was in Syria. A short while ago, there was a statement by the head of the al Quds force, the Iranian central force, and the President of Iran, saying, "We cannot leave Syria. We cannot let Assad go."
Hezbollah is also now deeply entrenched in Syria, and Al‑Qaeda has seized, probably, about 40% of Syria's opposition. The Russians -- now even more than before -- have put in their veto, and the Chinese have as well.
Remember when the administration was considering striking Syria for using chemical weapons? That was the final test. We urged Assad, and then we threatened Assad not to cross the red line. He crossed the red line. We ordered our battleships to go -- and then we stopped and asked the Russians to take the problem to the United Nations.
What was behind that, as far as I learned, was that the administration asked the U.S. military and the national security group of analysts, "What is going to happen if we engage or if we strike against the chemical weapons system?" The reports came in: "There is no such thing, in this configuration of forces, as a limited strike." A limited strike in Vietnam did not work, right? We had a 20‑year war against three Communist nations: North Vietnam, China, and Russia. A limited strike in Syria in 2013 or 2014 could mean possible retaliation by four regimes: the Assad regime, Hezbollah, Iraq's Maliki regime, and Iran.
The message was: "President Obama, if you want to do a military strike in Syria, you will be fighting four regimes." In 2011, the U.S. was encircling Assad; he was almost gone. But as soon as the U.S. lifted that option into an agreement with the Assad regime -- which gave Assad every green light he needed to continue his warfare and has actually aggrandized Al‑Qaeda further -- ten or fifteen days later, Washington announced that it had an "interim deal" with Iran.
When the president was considering striking Syria for using chemical weapons, what did he do? He sent that decision to Congress. Since when does a president send his decisions on national security and defense to Congress? But when he cut a deal with the Iranian regime -- after 31 years of the standing U.S. policy, Republican and Democrat alike, of isolating of that regime -- he did not send it for review in Congress.
It seems now, however, that the reason the administration did not strike Syria is not just that it meant engaging those four regimes.
The decision had already been made, a year ago, in the discussions with the Iranian regime, that a deal would be cut with the Iranian regime. If one has a deal to be declared with the Ayatollahs, one is not going to enter a war with the allies of the Ayatollahs. That would kill the deal.
The Administration's Two Tracks
It seems now that the administration, since 2009, had two tracks for its Middle East policy. Track number one, from Morocco to Gaza, would be to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood. On what grounds? Because the academic elite and the advisors for the administration have convinced senior decision makers that the Muslim Brotherhood is a force for "change." This is how the administration sees the Brotherhood. The people of Egypt see the Brotherhood as Fascists, as neo‑Nazis, but to the elite here -- the academic elite -- which, by the way has been generously funded by the Brotherhood, or at least inspired by the petro‑dollars coming under the office of the Brotherhood -- it makes sense that the Brotherhood is a force we can count on. The Brotherhood will secure all of this space, and then civilized business can be done with them, and then they will be secured as a loyal wing.
The other track would run from Beirut to Syria to Iraq to Iran -- if the behavior of the Iranian leadership can be successfully changed.
That these were the current Middle East politics tracks is based on information not hard to find. It is in the papers of the academics who are advising the administration. It is simple to go to the libraries and read what the advisors have been writing for so many decades and then deduce what the current policy is.
These advisors and the pro‑Iranian lobby in Washington are not made only of Iranians, as some of my colleagues believe. They are made of financial interest groups who have been waiting to do business with Iran because for all these years, there has been the idea that if we cut a deal with the Iranian regime, the Iranian regime will stabilize Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Thus the grand design becomes apparent.
And where were the first indicators of that grand design? Look at the 2008 Obama campaign and read what the contributing intellectuals were saying about the Middle East. And then in June of 2009, the president went to Cairo and delivered his speech. Actually, one of the speechwriters went to Egypt and bragged that she was part of the writing of this speech -- and that she has been an advisor in the White House and close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The speech was designed to tell the Muslim Brotherhood that the United States will eventually be changing its policy and that there will be a new day.
All these words were in the speech. The speech was designed not just for the Muslim world, but for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose representatives the White House invited to sit in the front row.
President Obama waves to the crowd attending his June 2009 speech in Cairo. The White House invited Muslim Brotherhood representatives to sit in the front row. (Image source: The White House)
There was also a letter, sent in early June to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, in which was expressed an intention to engage in dialogue. There is nothing secret about this policy. From the early stages of the administration, there was an approach to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood, even before it came to power, and to unfreeze the relationship with the Iranians.
The Arab Spring seems to have come as a surprise to the administration, although many of my colleagues are now saying the administration was behind the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring caused the administration to scramble in choosing which partners they were going to be working with in North Africa and, of course, later on, in Iran.
The administration did not predict the Arab Spring. When it happened, the U.S. corrected its own policy to meet the partners it really wanted to work and cut a deal with. Now, one of the administration's policies, the partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood, is essentially being dismantled -- not by us, but by the Egyptian people.
Egypt's Real Revolution
On June 30th, 2013, 33 million Egyptians rose up. Many in Washington, especially in the administration, immediately called the change of regime in Egypt a "coup." If 33 million demonstrators are a coup, we have to change political science. No, it was not a coup; it was a revolution. Egypt's General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi or Field Marshal Tantawi or any leader without 33 million people on the streets would have never conducted any change, would never have dared tell Mr. Morsi, "stay at home." They would have been removed immediately; the United States would have called them rebels, and they would have been taken to The Hague. Even before the revolution, there had been a petition signed by 22 million people in Egypt.
In the Middle East studies field, academics have been saying, "But Morsi was elected." Well, Benito Mussolini was elected and Adolf Hitler was elected. Half of the voters for Morsi were simply protest voters against the other candidate, who was a relic from the previous regime. Actually, the number of voters for Morsi was about six million. But 22.5 million signed a petition. That is a recall. If I were Morsi, I would have resigned or asked my government to resign. That is what is done in liberal democracies. Think France. If there is an election in France, and the president loses the majority, what happens? The government changes.
But that is not the whole story in Egypt. Early this year there was a referendum. In international law, the last referendum is the last reflection of what people want. 22.5 million showed up for the referendum and rejected the proposed Muslim Brotherhood constitution. This referendum was what opened the path for presidential elections and parliamentary elections. This is the path Egypt is taking.
Tunisia's Struggle
In Tunisia, the Ennahda party, the Islamist sister-party of the Muslim Brotherhood, was smarter. Its leaders understood what happened in Egypt. The opposition in Tunisia is even stronger. They are also secular. Women in the opposition are strong women. The labor unions are strong. Tunisia is a bit more advanced than Egypt.
It seems that the Ennahda government got advice from Europe and from the U.S. to make concessions, to allow changes, to have a national unity cabinet, and to go again for elections. That saved their skin. Those are smart Islamists. Ennahda did not reform. Ennahda conducted a tactical withdrawal. My recommendation in dealing with Islamists has been that the measure by which you know the Islamists have transformed themselves into something else -- Muslim Conservative, Muslim Democrat, etc. -- is that they declare, within their own party, that they have changed, just as when the Communist Parties declared that they were now Social Democrats. We do not usually believe them, but at least they make these declarations.
Nothing of this sort has happened in Tunisia. And in Syria, every day, it is still just going from bad to worse.
Today the region is still witnessing a race between the Islamist forces and the secularists, moderates and liberals.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been struggling to maintain its influence in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, as well as within the Syrian opposition in Jordan and in Iraq.
In the Levant, the Iranian Khomeinists have the upper hand in Tehran, and, through the Baghdad government, in Damascus and in Beirut. In the other camp, a diverse web of NGOs, secularists, women, and minorities are struggling to advance pluralism and democracy.
This race has been affected and will continue to be impacted by Western and U.S. policies and preferences. If Washington continues to give advantage to the Islamists, the Islamists will resist reform, and civil societies will have hard time implementing change toward progress.
But if the U.S. and its Western allies lend their support to civil societies, the culture of reform could take root in the region.
It is my projection that civil societies and secularists will eventually shift the balance of power towards their ideals, but it may be generational. As we see in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the secularists are pushing forward. In the Iranian-dominated Middle East, opposition is also growing against the Ayatollahs. So far it has been a lost Spring, but this is only one season. Another is coming soon, and we need to be prepared for it.
Walid Phares, born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, is a professor and lecturer in the U.S., and the author of six books, the most recent of which is: The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid.
A slightly different version of this article was was delivered as an address to the Gatestone Institute in New York City earlier this year.
[1] These groups included Muslim ethnic minorities, such as Kurds and Berbers; Christian minorities, such as the Copts of Egypt, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Southern Sudanese; and, in Sudan, black Africans -- both Christian and Muslim minorities. In Iran, where 37% of the population is non-Persian, but includes the Kurds and Azeri, student movements were already in place.

Final Push in 'Historic' Iran Nuclear Talks
Naharnet /Iran's foreign minister took to social media Thursday to warn that the outcome of nuclear talks with world powers was unclear, as a decisive final round began in Vienna ahead of a July 20 deadline. "Considering the complexity and inter-connectivity of the several issues that must be agreed upon for the comprehensive agreement, it is really difficult to predict the outcome of the negotiations," Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Facebook page. The accord being sought by Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, would finally ease fears of Tehran obtaining nuclear weapons and silence talk of war. In exchange, punishing sanctions on the Islamic republic would be lifted.
With Sunni Islamic insurgents overrunning large parts of Iraq, and Syria in chaos from civil war, a deal could help Tehran and the West normalize relations at a particularly explosive time in the Middle East.
"In this troubled world, the chance does not often arise to reach an agreement peacefully that will meet the needs of all sides, make the world safer, ease regional tensions and enable greater prosperity," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week. The so-called P5+1 powers have proposed to Iran a "series of reasonable, verifiable and easily achievable measures", he said, warning Iran not to "squander a historic opportunity." "What will Iran choose? Despite many months of discussion, we don't know yet." Zarif, in a video message Wednesday, called the talks a "unique opportunity to make history," saying success would allow both sides to address "common challenges" such as Iraq. But with major differences apparent after five rounds of talks seeking to secure a deal by July 20 -- when an interim deal from November expires -- Zarif said in French daily Le Monde that some among the P5+1 were suffering from "illusions."
The six powers want Iran to drastically reduce its nuclear activities in order to render any Iranian drive to assemble an atomic bomb all but impossible. This would include Iran slashing its capacities to enrich uranium, a process that produces nuclear fuel but also, at high purities, the core of a nuclear weapon. A senior U.S. official involved in the talks said Thursday that Iran's capacities to enrich uranium should be "very limited" and "a fraction" of what they are at present. But Iran insists it has made too many advances in uranium enrichment to turn the clock back and that it needs to expand its program in order to fuel a future wave of power reactors. Demands that Iran's program be "radically curbed" rest on a "gross misrepresentation of the steps, time and dangers of a dash for the bomb", Zarif said.
In theory, the July 20 deadline could be extended by up to six months, and many analysts believe this is already being negotiated. But US President Barack Obama, facing midterm elections in November, is wary of doing anything that could be construed by Republicans as giving Iran more time to get closer to having the bomb. This is the long-standing accusation of Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state which -- together with Washington -- has not ruled out military action. Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief and the six powers' lead negotiator, Catherine Ashton, told reporters he was "not aware" that an extension was being discussed. "The atmosphere is as always very workmanlike... (Negotiators) come here with determination to push the process forward and reach a deal by July 20," he said.Agence France Presse