July 08/14

Bible Quotation for today/Saint Mark 13,9-13/When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say

‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them.And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 08/14

Could Lebanon’s Vatican ambassador be the next president/By: Hassan Lakkis/The Daily Star/July 08/14

Kuwait stands on a precipice facing the ‘Islamic Caliphate’/By: Dr. Theodore Karasik/Al Arabiya/July 08/14

Iran’s most crucial three weeks in 30 years/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/July 08/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 08/14
Lebanese Related News

Calls for a united political committee in the camps

Khalil: Legalizing budget not politically motivated

Civil society rejects extended Parliament mandate
Qobeisi withdraws Bassil lawsuit 

Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr Charges 28 with Belonging to ISIL
Libya to help clarify Musa Sadr's fate

Jumblatt: Let's make citizen-oriented policies

Lebanese Army makes series of arrests in Tripoli

Grenade attack shakes Tripoli cafe

Experts urge politicians to tackle trade deficit

Report: Syrian Refugees Practicing Medicine in Lebanon

Kataeb Urges Fair Electoral Law, Firmness against 'Free Sunnis Brigade'
Death Penalty Demanded for 6 Syrians for Forming Terrorist Group
Berri Says Lebanon in 'Wait-and-See' Mode, Electoral Session Hinges on Consensus

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 08/14

IDF preparing for escalation against Hamas, senior army source says

Israeli air raids on Gaza ‘kill Hamas gunmen’

Teen Murder Forces Israel to Face its Extremist Demons
Israel mobilizes more reserves, as Gaza rocket fire gains tempo. Hamas is preparing to hit Tel Aviv

Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen

Israel denies Hamas deaths, prepares for escalation

Israel's Lieberman Breaks Alliance with PM over Gaza
Maliki’s army top general killed west of Baghdad

Iraq delays key parliament session
Al-Qaeda shows images of Saudi border post attack

Sisi sends signal to Egypt courts over jailed reporters
Ghani wins Afghan election on preliminary results

Iran Journalist Says Jailed for Two Years 


Could Lebanon’s Vatican ambassador be the next president?
By: Hassan Lakkis| The Daily Star
With no breakthrough on the horizon in the struggle over the Lebanese presidency, some corners have begun circulating the name of General George Khoury, Lebanon’s ambassador to the Vatican, as a possible consensus candidate. Parliament has failed to elect a new president of the republic eight times since former President Michel Sleiman’s term expired on May 25. The March 24 coalition continues to stand behind Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea, while MP Michel Aoun remains the undeclared March 8 candidate. Meanwhile, March 8 continues its boycott, denying Parliament the quorum needed to vote until a single candidate can be agreed upon. Other potential candidates circulated in the media have included Army commander General Jean Kahwagi and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, as well as MP Walid Jumblatt’s pick, Henry Helou. The Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai has refused to back Geagea or Aoun, while Paris appears to be following up on the issue closely, judging by recent activity at the Elysee Palace and media leaks. Sources in the French capital fingered Khoury as a potential consensus figure, pointing out that he enjoys good ties with both March 8 and March 14 and has proved a skilled diplomat in Rome. The sources added, however, that the Holy See would not get involved in what it perceives to be a Lebanese internal issue. The sources denied that the Vatican was conducting political or diplomatic activities secretly, adding that it would not interfere in the Lebanese presidential elections.
Khoury held various military positions, including head of intelligence from 2005 to 2008, before he was appointed ambassador to the Vatican at the start of former President Michel Sleiman’s term. His name was originally put forward as a potential successor to Sleiman when the latter was voted into office, but he failed to gain as much support as Kahwagi, who would go on to become Army commander.
Khoury enjoys good relations with most politicians, especially the heads of several blocs, and Christians from both the March 8 and March 14 blocs.
Notably, he restored communication with Aoun after the latter’s return to Lebanon in 2005, and the two men continue to keep in touch, with Aoun eager to receive Khoury whenever he visits Lebanon.
His dealings with Geagea remain professional and positive, as the two had occasion to coordinate when Khoury was head of intelligence in Mount Lebanon.
It was Khoury’s position as head of intelligence that also allowed him to build a trusting relationship with Hezbollah, as well as Jumblatt, Speaker Nabih Berri and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, despite the suspicion that tails most Lebanese military veterans of his generation of inappropriate closeness to Damascus.
During his tenure as ambassador to the Vatican, Khoury has built solid relations with the Holy See and strengthened its relationship with Bkirki, especially during the era of Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, who put great trust in Khoury. Khoury is also known for being close with the Vatican’s head of foreign affairs, Monsignor Dominique Mamberti, and senior cardinals were a common sight at the Lebanese Embassy to the Vatican.In light of the current stalemate, the major Christian party leaders all share a small chance of reaching Baabda Palace. This deadlock among the leading parties could open the door to alternative choices like Khoury. However, his name is perhaps being put forth as a means to break the stalemate, as he was also talked about as a potential candidate in 2005.


Lebanese Civil society rejects extended mandate for Parliament
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform slammed Parliament Monday over the possible extension of its mandate, warning against a political environment that appears to be leaning toward extension. “All [indicators] point toward a new extension, confirming again that the political elite in Lebanon do not care for the nation or for citizens residing in it,” said the CCER.
The report stated that this time around officials have learned to tackle extension laws months before the mandate is set to end, a break from the previous year’s last minute extension following Parliament’s failure to set a new electoral law. In an occurrence that is becoming habit, Parliament will appoint MP Nicolas Fattoush to prep an extension law draft and submit it to Parliament, the report said, referring to media leaks that cite Fattoush’s appointment. “The ballot box is a place where the citizen is free to express his opinion of you [MPs], so if you close off the boxes to citizens, what is left?” asked the CCER.
The civil movement urged officials to use the remainder of the extension period to set a new electoral law before August 18 -- the date in which elections should be called, or hold elections on time using the “current fruitless electoral law.” The Lebanese Constitution requires election to be held by November 16, 2014. Lebanon’s Parliament extended its mandate by a period of 17 months in May of last year, when elections had been set for June 2013.

Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil: Proposal to legalize spending not politically motivated
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil Monday dismissed “political motives” behind his decision to block extra-budgetary spending pending the ratification of the 2014 budget and insisted that the country’s treasury was in good shape. “First of all, let’s be very clear - the country’s monetary state is stable, the treasury is in good shape, we don’t have a liquidity crisis and therefore we can pay salaries and dues,” Khalil told reporters during a news conference at the ministry. “Contrary to the general assumption, my proposal is not politically motivated and all that we’re seeking is to legalize state expenditures.”The minister has refused to authorize extra-budgetary spending unless the draft state budget for 2014 he prepared is approved. Khalil’s decision raised fears that the salaries of public sector employees would not be paid at the end of the month. Khalil has argued that he could only finance ministries in need of loans within a legal framework, and at a news conference Monday, the minister said he had blocked requests by various ministers to approve loans that exceed the budgets allotted to their ministries.
“You wouldn’t believe how many problems this has created, even with ministers allied with us,” said Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri’s top aide. Khalil highlighted that a legal framework was needed to authorize spending: “We must legalize state spending so that we are not held accountable on a personal or a political level.”Khalil argued the only solution was to either approve the 2014 budget or for Parliament to issue a law exclusively for this Cabinet.Due to the fact that no state budget has been approved since 2005, Cabinets are obligated under the law to adhere to the financial ceiling of the last approved budget. Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government faced a similar problem but resolved the issue by approving extra-budgetary spending of LL8.9 trillion (nearly $6 billion) for 2011.
Khalil said he was not willing to follow suit. “We shouldn’t be forced to breach the law, even if breaches have become the norm recently,” he said, adding that his proposal should not be viewed as targeting pervious finance ministers. “It is the duty of the Finance Ministry to work on resolving the issue,” he continued. “We have made significant progress in settling owed accounts and we will transfer them to Parliament to legalize them.”Khalil informed ministers during last week's Cabinet session of his decision and warned that approving loans to ministers via a Cabinet decision was illegal: “The issue is now in the hands of the Cabinet.”Khalil’s detractors view his stance as “purely political,” not economic, and say it aims pressure lawmakers to revitalize the work of Parliament, which has been paralyzed in light of some MPs’ opposition to legislating in the presence of a presidential void. Lawmakers have not yet reached a consensus on a candidate to replace former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year term ended on May 25. Khalil said the treasury did not need the intervention of the Central Bank to settle its dues, adding that ensuring that the public sectors gets paid its salaries was a “personal battle.”Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said in comments Monday that funds for the public sector would continually be available, adding that he had informed politicians that the Central Bank was ready to cover those needs at all times.Salameh said there was no liquidity crisis, vowing that the Central Bank would “cover the needs of the state in Lebanese pounds and dollars.”Salameh explained that the budget for 2014 ensures the payment of salaries for public sector employees until September. At a news conference, the Finance Minister slammed the state-run electricity company Electricite du Liban for blaming his ministry for its woes and urged Parliament to hold a session to grill EDL on an array of “problematic” issues. “Those accusations are unfounded and inaccurate,” Khalil told reporters. “The government and the Finance Ministry have approved a proposal by the Energy and Water Resources Minister to fund the EDL deficit and ensure it could buy the necessary fuel oil.”

Lebanese Army makes series of arrests in Tripoli
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army has arrested two foreign nationals in Tripoli accused of breaching security, as part of an ongoing crackdown in the northern city, which also saw five men arrested for tossing grenades at several restaurants and cafes. The Army statement said raids in Tripoli led to the arrest of Ali Hasan Nemri, Fayez Fawwaz Othman, Raja Mohammad Toufic Hijazi and Mohammad Mahmoud Ghassan for tossing hand grenades at several restaurants, cafes and carts last week and threatening citizens. Authorities say the cafe assaults were a message to both coffee shop owners and café-goers for opening during fasting hours in Ramadan. Separately, the Army statement said that an Army patrol arrested in Tripoli a Sudanese national Adolph Nicholas Neyluk and a Tunisian national Nader Bin Omar Bin Mohammad al-Biri for staying in Lebanon without proper residency documents and on suspicion that the two men were engaged in activities that breached security.
Those arrested were transferred to the judiciary for further interrogation, the statement said.

Jumblatt: Let's make citizen-oriented policies
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt called on Lebanon’s officials to discard the big headlines and political "delusions" and work on policies that actually affect citizens’ lives. “Why don’t all the political parties agree on the necessity of launching a wide reform campaign for the [public] administration, whose sectors suffer from waste, flabbiness and corruption?” Jumblatt asked in his weekly column in PSP’s Anbaa Online Magazine. He called for the rejection of strategic and purely political stances and an agreement on a series of reforms that concern all the main sectors in the public administration. “The Lebanese presidential election file has surpassed local borders, and its complications now range from Mosul to Damascus and beyond,” he said. “It would be beneficial to pose a series of living conditions-related questions that interest the citizen first, before his interest in this comedic presidential play." Jumblatt’s questions tackled the dozens of problems related to corruption and policymaking in Lebanon. “Why aren’t there any radical and bold decisions concerning electricity and water, the two sectors that cost the budget $2 billion a year?” he asked.
The Druze leader called for the establishment of new plants to end the electricity problem and avoid adding to the “$19 billion in losses since the late 1990s.” He also condemned what he called the “electric generators mafia that intimidate citizens,” calling for limits to be put in place. Jumblatt also mentioned seafront private properties that illegally occupy public lands, asking: "Why are these violations always excluded from any attempt to search for sources to fund the state budget?”He mentioned that there was a draft law proposed in 2006 concerning this, asking why the ministries could not present accurate studies about the potential revenues of taxing private businesses occupying Lebanese coasts. The PSP leader also touched on the Union Coordination Committee and the ranks and salaries scale issue, calling on the workers to present a new objective approach to the policy that provides for their rights without harming the budget. He called for the restoration of the Lebanese University’s academic and administrative independence, saying it had become “a political bazar.” Bringing up the issue of corruption and waste at the Customs Department, Jumblatt said that once reformed, this department could “seriously increase the tax revenues that have been significantly declining despite the increase in imports from 2008 to 2014.” Jumblatt condemned tax evasion by individuals and private businesses that have deprived the Lebanese treasury of $1.25 billion, according to his own figures. Jumblatt summarized his concerns with two final questions: “Why don’t we pay attention to some small details and leave the great strategies to the analysts and intellectuals on the TV screens?” “Why don’t we offer tangible steps to the Lebanese citizen that will improve his living conditions and attempt to fill the huge gap separating him from his state?” he said. Separately, Jumblatt commented on the events in occupied Palestine, saluting “the Palestinian resistance and heroic people."
“There it is, the new intifada that will witness the fall of the Israeli occupation policy, which aims at nullifying the Palestinian cause and transforming it into a mere humanitarian issue,” Jumblatt said.

Libya to help clarify Musa Sadr's fate
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: After years of reticence and denial, the Libyan government has agreed to cooperate with Lebanon in clarifying the fate of missing Shiite Imam Musa Sadr who vanished while on a trip to Libya 36 years ago, the National News Agency (NNA) reported Monday. The NNA said Tripoli has decided to honor a memorandum of understanding signed in March, under which the two countries will coordinate efforts to elucidate the mystery of the vanishing imam and his two companions.  The decision was taken at a Libyan cabinet meeting last Friday, the NNA said.
The Lebanese committee tasked with following-up on the case of Sadr and his two companions hailed the move, which it said “signaled a unanimous interest by the Libyan authorities to heed demands to implement the agreement and work with the Lebanese side.”Sadr, the founder of Amal Movement -- now headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri -- went missing during a visit to Libya on Aug. 31, 1978, along with his two companions -- Sheikh Mohammad Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine. His disappearance caused a rift between Lebanon and the regime of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, which continuously denied any involvement in Sadr's disappearance, maintaining that he had left Libya for Italy. Conflicting reports about Sadr’s fate circulated following Gadhafi’s downfall, with one report claiming Sadr was killed at Gadhafi’s orders and buried in a mass grave outside Tripoli.

Kataeb Urges Fair Electoral Law, Firmness against 'Free Sunnis Brigade'
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party on Monday reiterated its “urgent call” for the election of a new president, calling on security agencies to “deal firmly” with the sectarian calls of the so-called Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade.“The Kataeb Party expresses its utmost concern over the security, financial and social threats posed by the presidential election crisis … and reiterates its urgent call for the election of a president and approving a new electoral law for parliamentary polls that would ensure fairness and proper representation,” the party said in a statement issued after its politburo's weekly meeting.
“The party rejects the calls signed by the Free Sunnis Brigade and considers the matter to be very dangerous, whether they were issued by fundamentalist groups or fabricated by intelligence agencies,” Kataeb added, urging military and security forces to “deal firmly with this phenomenon” and Christians to “hold onto their land and church.” Last week, the shadowy Brigade vowed to task gunmen to attack churches in Lebanon and in the eastern Bekaa valley in particular. It said 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.”The Internal Security Forces' cyber crimes bureau announced on Friday that the aforementioned Twitter account is being probed. Separately, Kataeb called on the government to “devise an urgent strategy to address the refugee crisis and control the ministers' performance and statements within a unified stance that reflects the executive authority's official viewpoint over this thorny matter.” The party warned that the growing numbers of refugees could subject the country to grave perils. It also condemned the latest Syrian airstrikes on the outskirts of the Lebanese towns of al-Qaa and Arsal, urging stronger military measures by the Lebanese Army along the border with Syria to prevent a scenario similar to the recent invasion of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier by Islamic State jihadists.


Death Penalty Demanded for 6 Syrians for Forming Terrorist Group
Naharnet/The death penalty was asked for six Syrians on Monday on charges of forming a terrorist group, reported the National News Agency. It said that Military Tribunal Judge Fadi Sawan asked for the penalty for detainee Issa Mohammed Rabih and his fugitive brother, Mahmoud Mohammed Rabih. They are accused of forming a terrorist cell with the help of four others, including a defected Syrian officer.
The group was affiliated with the Ziad al-Jarrah Brigades and it sought to carry out terrorist acts. The accused set up in Lebanon a factory to produce rockets and rig explosives. They also purchased weapons in Lebanon and sent them to Syria. Sawan issued an arrest warrant against the two brothers and ordered that the necessary investigations be taken to uncover the complete identity of their accomplices. The case has been referred to the permanent military court.

Report: Syrian Refugees Practicing Medicine in Lebanon
Naharnet/The impact of the refugee crisis on the daily lives of the Lebanese began growing after Syrians started working in fields that are banned for non-Lebanese amid fears they would be nationalized under international pressure. The head of the parliamentary health committee, MP Atef Majdalani, told An Nahar newspaper published on Monday that Syrian doctors are illegally working at hospitals and clinics in the eastern Bekaa Valley. He urged the Lebanese Order of Physicians to defend the rights of Lebanese doctor. But Health Minister Wael Abou Faour said the authorities “stopped the violations after receiving complaints from the syndicate and from (Lebanese) doctors.” He told the daily that Syrian doctors are banned from opening clinics or working at hospitals. But the authorities were only turning a blind eye to volunteers operating at clinics treating Syrian refugees in border areas and mainly the northeastern town of Arsal. “We can't stop a physician from helping his compatriots,” Abou Faour said. Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi revealed, however, that Syrian doctors, assistants and nurses are not just working in the areas mentioned by Majdalani. They are spread in other regions as well, he said, adding 47 percent of refugees form a labor force that competes with the Lebanese. Majdalani told Voice of Lebanon (100.5) that there are no statistics on the number of doctors and nurses working in Lebanon. There are over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned last week that the spiraling crisis from Syria's civil war could pose a serious threat to Lebanon's security. There are now 2.9 million Syrian refugees registered in the region, with 100,000 more added each month.
The crisis has had a severe impact on Lebanon's economy and has been worsened by alleged pressure exerted by the international community to place them in camps. Most of the refugees are living with relatives or have established encampments in the mainly Bekaa region and in northern Lebanon. Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed last week that there is consensus among the rival parties of the government to reject the establishment of camps, saying such a move would result in the nationalization of Syrians. Despite the clear stance announced by the authorities, U.N. officials have asked them to grant Lebanese travel documents to Syrian refugees, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday. The request came in response to a pressure exerted by the West, it said, without giving further details.

Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr Charges 28 with Belonging to ISIL
Naharnet /Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Monday 28 people with belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the state-run National News Agency reported. The NNA said that seven suspects are already in custody. They were detained in security raids on hotels. The 28 felons are charged with belonging to ISIL, planning to carry out suicide bombings by using explosive belts and preparing explosive-rigged vehicles. They are also accused of buying detonators, explosives, explosive belts and weapons and training suicide bombers to carry out terrorist acts in residential areas in the capital Beirut. The case was referred to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abou Ghida. 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 ISIL to carry out a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Lebanon was once again hit by a series of deadly blasts recently, the latest of which was on June 25 when a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up at the Duroy Hotel when he detonated his explosives during a security raid. His accomplice, also a Saudi citizen, survived the blast and is being questioned.


Berri Says Lebanon in 'Wait-and-See' Mode, Electoral Session Hinges on Consensus
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that he would call for a parliamentary session to elect a new head of state as soon as the rival parties strike a deal to resolve the deadlock, saying Lebanon is currently adopting a “wait-and-see” approach. Berri told officials who visited him over the weekend that he would set a date for a session the minute there is an agreement among the different parliamentary blocs. Several rounds of electoral sessions have been adjourned over lack of quorum caused by the boycott of the majority of the March 8 alliance's lawmakers. The speaker expressed regret over the “lack of signs” on the possibility to elect a new head of state. “I can set a session every five minutes. But would this resolve the problem?” he asked. His remarks, which were published in local dailies on Monday, came in response to a call by Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to “hold daily parliamentary sessions to stage the presidential elections to end the vacuum” at Baabda Palace.
“The sessions have become obligatory in accordance with the constitution,” the cardinal said in his Sunday sermon. President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25, leaving the country's top Christian post vacant. On the country's crises in general, Berri said: “We the Lebanese can't resolve our problems by ourselves. We have failed in doing so.”He revealed that he withdrew a plan to meet with the heads of parliamentary blocs to discuss the presidential deadlock and the upcoming parliamentary elections. “I changed my idea after realizing that we are adopting a wait-and-see approach,” the speaker, who is also the head of AMAL movement, told his visitors.

Israel mobilizes more reserves, as Gaza rocket fire gains tempo. Hamas is preparing to hit Tel Aviv

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 7, 2014/The IDF mobilized another 1,500 reservists Monday, July 7, in readiness for a broad operation to curb the escalating rocket fire. A troop buildup at the Gaza border is about to be backed by intensified air strikes against Palestinian rocket launchers. The Palestinians have also redoubled their missile blitz against Israel from day to day these last three weeks. By Monday sundown, 40 rockets had been slammed into Israel, causing damage in several locales – both near the Gaza border and further away up to the outskirts of Beersheba. The IDF is getting set to counter Hamas’ plans to bring its rocket offensive as far north as central Israel. Israel’s military planners have to take into consideration that, while the IDF is fighting in Gaza to knock out Hamas’ missile capability, the country’s heartland may well be beset by an upsurge of violent Palestinian and Israeli disturbances.
debkafile reported Monday morning:
There is not the slightest chance of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas halting its three-week barrage of rockets against Israel in the foreseeable future, high-placed sources in Cairo, Washington and the IDF told debkafile’s military sources Sunday night, July 6. They all agreed that Israeli-Gaza border tensions would continue to escalate in the absence of serious Israeli military punishment for cutting Hamas down
Following this assessment, the Israeli Air Force went into its first serious action against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip during Sunday night – not just bombing empty buildings, but hitting Hamas operatives. Seven were killed in Rafah and another two in Al Bureij.
The Hamas spokesman said that this was the biggest single Israeli hit against the Islamist group since the 2012 Pillar of Defense operation and “The enemy would pay dearly.”
A senior US intelligence official familiar with the sector offered the view that, so long as Israel did not show it was serious about a military reprisal - like for instance positioning two whole IDF armored divisions right up to the Gaza border – Hamas would not feel pressured enough to stop firing rockets and accept a truce. Every passing day without real punishment for kidnapping and murdering the Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shear, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, leaves the Islamists certain they have got away with it and in no mood to talk terms.
The source reported that, as far as he knew, Cairo had given up on its earlier effort at brokering a Gaza ceasefire. Cairo sources confirmed that Hamas had made unacceptable demands of the Egyptian government as its price for halting rocket attacks on Israel. The list was presented to Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, head of Egyptian intelligence, who had been acting as the intermediary between Hamas and Israel in the truce effort.
One of those demands was for Egypt to reverse its six-month crackdown for reducing Hamas’ aggressive capabilities for terror in and from Sinai, including the reopening of the smuggling tunnels Sinai which long furnished the Hamas regime with arms, smuggled goods and revenue. Cairo lashed out against Hamas as a terrorist group harmful to Egyptian security and a helpful offshoot of the proscribed Muslim Brotherhood. There is no sign that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has any intention of meeting Hamas demands. Indeed, all the parties following the conflict agree that the ball is now in Israel’s court and not, as it is presented by Israeli officials, up to Hamas to take the initiative. The Islamist group has already made its decision, which is to continue shooting rockets, in line with its unswerving commitment to fight Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz must decide if and how to fight back.
Contrary to Israeli media reports, the chief of staff and the high IDF command have clearly informed the government that they are fully prepared to undertake any military operation without delay if so ordered. The elimination of seven Hamas members of its fighting army Sunday night may be the first step.

Israeli air raids on Gaza ‘kill Hamas gunmen’

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 7 July 2014/At least nine Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, an Al Arabiya News Channel correspondent reported on Monday. Among those killed are believed to be six gunmen from Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the winged arm of the group said. If confirmed, the attack would be the biggest single hit against Hamas since an eight-day war in 2012, according to Reuters news agency. The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the reported attack which came after at least a dozen rockets were fired at southern Israeli towns and cities on Sunday. The Al Arabiya correspondent reported that one Israeli soldier had been wounded following rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel arrested six Jewish suspects Sunday in the grisly slaying of a Palestinian teenager who was abducted and burned alive last week - a crime that set off a wave of violent protests in Arab sections of the country. See also: Slain Palestinian teen’s cousin in plea for justice Leaders of the Jewish state appealed for calm amid signs the death was revenge for the recent killings of three Israeli teenagers. "We will not allow extremists, it doesn't matter from which side, to inflame the region and cause bloodshed," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a nationally televised statement. "Murder is murder, incitement is incitement, and we will respond aggressively to both." He promised to prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law. The region has been on edge since three Israeli teens - one of them a U.S. citizen - were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank last month. Last week, the teens' bodies were found in a West Bank field in a crime Israel blamed on the militant group Hamas.(With Reuters and AP)

Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Monday, 7 July 2014
The father of an east Jerusalem teenager who was kidnapped and killed last week in a suspected revenge attack by Jewish extremists received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Mohammed Abukhdair was kidnapped and later murdered in a forest near his home in East Jerusalem on Wednesday. An autopsy report showed Mohammad suffered burns on “90 percent of his body” and that he was still “breathing while on fire.”Mohammad’s family say the teen was abducted by right-wing Israeli Jews seeking revenge for the murder of three Israeli teens kidnapped last month in the West Bank. In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said he had spoken with the teenager’s father, Hussein Abukhdair, to offer his condolences and express his outrage over the “abhorrent” murder a day after the security forces confirmed arresting six Jewish extremists on suspicion of involvement. “I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son,” Netanyahu told him. “We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers. We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “We denounce all brutal behavior. The murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being.” Six Israelis have been arrested in connection with the murder. Three of them have confessed to the murder, a source close to the investigation said on Monday. “Three out of six suspects in custody have confessed to the murder and burning of Mohammed Abu Khder, and performed a re-enactment of the crime” in front of officers, the source told AFP, requesting anonymity. The family, who live in Shuafat in east Jerusalem, contacted police just before dawn on Wednesday to say they believed their son had been kidnapped.
His body was discovered shortly afterwards in a forest in west Jerusalem.The grisly attack was believed to be in revenge for the abduction and murder in the occupied West Bank last month of three Israeli teenagers, two of them 16, which Israel has blamed on Islamist movement Hamas. “Mohammad was an innocent boy, he was a 16-year-old boy, he was barely 90 pounds, he wouldn’t hurt anyone,” his cousin, Palestinian-American Wadha Abukhdair, told Al Arabiya News on Sunday. “He had nothing to do with the kidnapping or death of those three [Jewish teens]. No one in his family had anything to do with it, no one in the vicinity had anything to do with it, and yet he’s paid the price for their death,” said Wadha.“Their death caused his death here because the Israeli government and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu continuously spoke of vengeance, they incited their people to riot and into a frenzy and some of them wanted blood. This is what happened; a vigilante act against my cousin and he had nothing to do with it.”

Maliki’s army top general killed west of Baghdad

Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News/Monday, 7 July 2014
A senior general of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s army was killed in battle on Monday, Maliki’s office said in a statement. Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, the army commander of the sixth division in charge of securing part of the capital Baghdad “met martyrdom on the battlefield as he was fighting ... terrorists,” the statement said, without giving further details. Army spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told AFP that General Abdullah Ali was killed by “hostile shelling” west of Baghdad. The general was killed in the Abu Ghraib area, just west of Baghdad, near where security forces have been locked in a months-long standoff with militants who have seized control of the city of Fallujah, according to AFP. The government lost control of Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi in January, and Iraqi forces have so far failed to retake them. More recently, a jihadist-led offensive overran swathes of four provinces north of Baghdad and more areas in Anbar, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, alarming the international community and heaping pressure on Maliki as he bids for a third term as premier. General Abdullah Ali is the latest in a series of senior Iraqi officers to be killed by militants and the highest-ranking casualty since a major jihadist-led offensive began on June 9. Meanwhile, at least seven people including four policemen were killed in northern Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives at a checkpoint, police and medical sources said, according to Reuters.  The sources said that 17 people were wounded at the checkpoint in the mainly Shi'ite Kadhmiya district. Security across Iraq remains very volatile as the government battles Sunni Islamist insurgents who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country over the past few weeks. On Dec. 29, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a military convoy in the northern city of Mosul, killing four soldiers, among them a brigadier general, a colonel and a lieutenant colonel.
And five senior officers, including a division commander, were among 15 soldiers killed during an operation against militants in Iraq's Anbar province on Dec. 21.[With AFP amd Reuters]

Al-Qaeda shows images of Saudi border post attack
Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News/Monday, 7 July 2014/Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQP) claimed Monday responsibility for last week's attack on a Saudi border post and released photographs of their preparation for the terrorist attack. The images, which appeared to be still grabs from a video, show the faces of some militants and the launching of a Grad missile toward a border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  In one of the pictures, the militants appeared being trained by a Yemeni militant leader in a desert area. One of two militants who blew themselves up on Saturday at a Saudi security building appears in another picture, smiling and carrying a Kalashnikov. He is known as Ayoub al-Sueid, 22 years old, and has been on an interior ministry's wanted list for the past two years.
In third image, Okasha al-Sharouri, who is one of the three militants who were first shot dead during their operation, appears sitting next to another militant. Sharouri's real name is believed to be Faraj Ayaf al-Siary. The death toll in the attack reached five security officers - on both sides of the border - and five militants, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. The authorities said a sixth militant was arrested. Al Arabiya News published last week exclusive pictures of the bodies of the al-Qaeda militants.

Iran’s most crucial three weeks in 30 years
Monday, 7 July 2014/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
In just 18 days, the future of Iranian-American relations will be specified at the historical negotiations held between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations, plus Germany.
The issue of reaching a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program can also be considered as the international community’s acceptance to include the Islamic Republic among its ranks. Reaching an agreement is tantamount to a very important step for Iranian diplomacy as this agreement would not only greatly contribute to settling the nuclear issue but will also pave the way for Iran to be considered as an important member among international powers. The final and intensified nuclear negotiations kicked off on July 2 and they are supposed to last until July 20. A temporary agreement was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group six months ago in an attempt to narrow the gap between both parties in order to seal a permanent agreement during these six months or to extend this duration or not reach an agreement.
If negotiators cannot commit
If negotiators cannot commit to the specified date of these nuclear talks, it’s possible to extend the duration to a few weeks or six months at maximum. This depends on what the meetings held in Vienna for three weeks will result in. The U.S. has sent a large delegation to Vienna - a delegation that consists of 15 members headed by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Both the U.S. and Iran - who are keen on reaching an agreement during these three weeks - are probably aware of the difficulties they may face if the duration is extended for few more months or if talks fail.
Reaching a final agreement may improve the Iranian economy and will help lift the imposed sanctions on Iran
The negotiations’ failure will provide the conservatives - whether in Iran or the U.S. - and the opponents of these developments with the opportunity to carry out maneuvers that do not serve the talks and threaten future talks. The failure of talks without the possible extension of the time duration may push Iran to manufacture a nuclear bomb (despite its permanent denial that its nuclear program aims to manufacture a nuclear bomb) and the U.S. will also have no other choice but launch an attack against Iran. American President Barack Obama has previously clarified that the failure of talks will lead them down the path to war. Reaching a final agreement may improve the Iranian economy and will help lift the imposed sanctions on Iran and improve its regional political affairs. Thus things will be in the interest of those who want change. For example, the efficient and responsible member who belongs to the international community will not secretly send a militia to Syria or Iraq. We can see that the current policy adopted by Iran towards Iraq highlights Iran’s desire to alter its policy in case settling the nuclear program goes well.
Adopted American diplomacy
The adopted American diplomacy shows that that the local political behavior of governments does not represent huge importance for the U.S. as much as these government’s behavior on the foreign level does. In the Iranian case, what mainly concerns the U.S. is to stop Iran’s intervention in regional struggles and have Iran become a responsible member of the international community. If they succeed at reaching an agreement, President Obama will have convincing evidence of the efficiency of the diplomatic tool. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani can present the hardliners with convincing evidence that the style he’s adopted of resorting to talks and diplomacy has actually worked, unless what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has always said that he’s “not optimistic regarding the talks.” Some in Iran understand how critical these historical talks are. An example is Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who before talks kicked off in Vienna published a message on YouTube saying: “During the three upcoming weeks, we have a unique opportunity to make history to end this unnecessary crisis that has distracted us from addressing together our common challenges such as the horrifying events of the past few weeks in Iraq.” This way, Zarif has granted the U.S. a direct message that stipulates granting Iran the opportunity to return to the international community and then the door can be open to discuss other regional issues. Now, the whole thing is considered in Iran’s hands and the U.S. must commit to encouraging calm during these three weeks and do something that history records. On the morning of July 3 as Zarif was in Vienna, he published a message on Facebook addressing the Iranians. He said: “It’s difficult to predict the results of these negotiations. Don’t take the ideas broadcast by Western media outlets seriously. We are doing our best. All you have to do is pray for us and support us during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Kuwait stands on a precipice facing the ‘Islamic Caliphate’

Monday, 7 July 2014
Dr. Theodore Karasik/Al Arabiya
Last week, Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior announced a full military alert because of the Islamic Caliphate’s push west and south towards Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The alert coincided with a similar move by Saudi Arabia and Riyadh sent a mixed force of Saudis, Pakistanis, and Egyptians to protect the kingdom’s northern border. Jordan repulsed an Islamic Caliphate attack for now and was able to maintain law and order among the salafists and Sunni tribes in the eastern part of the Hashemite Kingdom. Now there is concern about Kuwait’s internal dynamics and how well the al-Sabah rulers can control the undercurrents that are increasingly coming to the fore. Kuwait is divided into two key groups: the Nomads (Hadhar) and the Bedu. The Hadhar are divided into a Sunni majority and a Shiite minority. According to an Arab official, the Sunnis are concentrated in four of the main governorates: Ahmadi, Mubarak al-Kabier, Jahra and Farwaniyah which comprises the bulk of the country outside of Kuwait City and on the borders of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. According to Kuwait officials, the Shiites make up 30 percent of the population and the remaining 70 percent is Sunni. Of this 30 percent of the population, 6-9 percent are Arab Shiites, 12-15 percent are Persian Shiites and 5-6 percent are Hassa Shiites from the “Eastern Province” of Saudi Arabia. These Kuwait officials are quick to point out that Arab Shiites and Persians Shiites include some Turkomens, Shirazis, and “Lore.” The al-Sabah ruling family has its hands full with the country’s multi-level mix of nomads, bedu, tribes and a sectarian divide that challenges the security order in the country
The Bedu are extensively tribal and these tribes cross over into the Hadhar where the tribes are Kuwaiti or Saudi affiliated. Importantly, Kuwaiti officials are thinking that messages from the Islamic Caliphate are giving additional momentum to a mix of tribal Sunnis who see greater “enlightenment” in the events in Iraq and Syria. This fact is sending shock waves throughout the states of the Arabian Peninsula where the tribal-sectarian mix is possibly beginning to fissure.
The key factor
The tribal element in Kuwaiti society is a key factor. After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s, the bulk of the tribes went to Saudi Arabia to stay with Saudi-based relatives. Once they returned to Kuwait, and ever since that time, the tribes are affecting Kuwait’s internal and external policy by asking for greater rights for Salafism and growing inclusion in the parliamentary processes. This situation is seen, for example, in the Kuwaiti emir’s constantly dissolving the country’s parliament and the ongoing problem with the Sunni tribal leader Musallam al-Barrak. The situation is making tribal members susceptible to recruitment, according to a Kuwaiti official.
Kuwaiti leaders are recognizing the Islamic Caliphate’s threat. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah gave a critical speech on the eve of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Kuwait’s ruler told viewers not to threaten stability by playing “games” with politics, pointing to the turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere as examples of the dangers of political division. The emir stated: “are you aware of what is going on not far from us?” Although the message by the emir targeted the ongoing disputes in the country regarding struggles over the parliament, corruption charges, and an attempted coup, the real message focused on events to the north. According to a Kuwaiti official, the emir needs to keep the political, tribal, and religious divisions peaceful because the Islamic Caliphate represents a clear and present danger not only to Kuwait, but to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Kuwaiti official feels that Jordan will not let the Islamic Caliphate into the country and will take pre-emptive measures to protect the al-Sabah rulers. In other words, the Hashemite Kingdom is seen as protecting Kuwait and Northern Saudi Arabia from his point of view. Indeed, Jordanian riot control police were active in Kuwait following the Arab Spring - these forces may easily need to return soon.
Recruiting from Kuwait
Finally, the Islamic Caliphate may see a robust base from which to recruit young people from Kuwait to their cause because of the past mistakes of Kuwaiti Sunni religious leaders who worked to donate funds and supplies. In Kuwait, 75 percent of the population are young people. An Arab official asserts that Kuwait is fertile ground for potential “want to be” extremist violent jihadists because of the detaining of Musallam al-Barrack as well as the activity of Kuwait’s Ikhwan who are purportedly energizing these young people “to act out.” Consequently, Kuwaiti officials are now required to boost their monitoring of the country’s youth in order “to keep them quiet” and to avoid their being absorbed into the Islamic Caliphate.
Kuwaiti Shiite youth are also seen as a threat because of the sectarian disaster in Iraq. The four main Shiite neighborhoods in Kuwait City and surrounding areas of Dasma, Rumaithia, Daia’a, and Jabria are increasingly restive. According to a Kuwaiti official there is a “manifestation” of “new Persian radicals” in Kuwait attempting to create a “Persian cultural society” for Kuwaiti Persians of both Sunni and Shiite extraction. Another factor to recall is from 2008 when Kuwaiti Shiite politicians attended a public ceremony mourning the assassination of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah. Such displays of sectarianism are thought to be returning to Kuwait if events in Iraq between the Islamic Caliphate and Shiite militias and the 90 percent majority Shiite Iraqi army deteriorate. Any event to the north or elsewhere in the Levant is likely to inflame the Kuwaiti domestic situation as long as the government is locked in constant internal battle.
Clearly, Kuwait seems to be on a precipice. The al-Sabah ruling family has its hands full with the country’s multi-level mix of nomads, bedu, tribes and a sectarian divide that challenges the security order in the country. As long as the Islamic Caliphate exists in its current state, Kuwait will require help to quell any internal dissent because any social disruption will open the door to Caliph Ibrihim’s supporters to exploit collective gaps in the country. The impact on northern Saudi Arabia, as well as the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, is momentous.