July 09/14

Bible Quotation for today/But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

"Mark 13,9-13/‘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."

Pope Francis, Tweet For Today
With God, nothing is lost; but without him, everything is lost.
Pape François ‏
Avec Dieu rien ne se perd, mais, sans Lui, tout est perdu.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 09/14

It's in our hands to put an end to bloodshed/By: Shimon Peres, Reuven Rivlin/July 09/14
Qassem Suleimani has brought Iran much grief/By: David Ignatius| The Daily Star/July 09/14
Will ISIS unite Tehran and Riyadh/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/July 09/14

Instead of celebrating independence, let’s pause/By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/July 09/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 09/14
Lebanese Related News

Arab world needs the Bible: Rai

Report: Several Options under Discussion to Resolve Baabda Deadlock

Hizbullah Fighters Publicly Appear at Midday in Northern Bekaa
Zahle Prison Guards Foil Hashish Smuggling Attempt

UCC to maintain boycott, calls for general strike
SCC Accuses Officials of Blackmail over Wage Scale, Will Continue Boycotting Correction of Exams
Berri: No Room for Extremism in Lebanon
Jihadist 'Caliph' Vows to Free Roumieh 'Captives,' Attack Judges
Palestinian Security Forces Deploy in Ain el-Hilweh

Lebanese, 22, Dies after Joining IS Ranks in

Jumblatt to Syria's Druze: be wary of sectarianism
Civil Defense raise awareness on earthquakes
Ain al-Hilweh elite force deployed
Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil: Cabinet law only way to end spending freeze

UN: 1 in 4 Syrian refugee homes run by sole woman
Judge interrogates would-be suicide bomber

Father kills son in gunfight in n. Lebanon
Iraq crisis ‘poses economic threat to Lebanon’

Border rebels resist Hezbollah, regime

Change and Reform 'Will Not Accept' Alternative to Aoun's Initiative

Mustaqbal Says to Join Session on Eurobonds, Slams Hizbullah's Bekaa Parade

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 09/14

Israel vows 'lengthy' offensive in Gaza

Netanyahu decides to expand Gaza operation, orders preparations for ground offensive
Five Hamas chiefs killed as IDF Gaza operation gets underway. Nine Israelis injured by Palestinian rockets
Israel army authorized to mobilize 40,000 troops

Israel, Hamas Slide towards Major Gaza Conflict

Freed Kuwait Opposition Leader Vows Protests to Continue

Kerry, ministers may join Iran nuclear talks

Maliki exit path to hope

Turkey PM Vows to Take Combat against Foe to New Level

Afghan Suicide Attack Kills 16, Including 4 NATO Soldiers

France to ban jihadists from leaving the country

Arab world needs the Bible: Rai

The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Tuesday urged Christians to multiply efforts toward promoting the Bible’s culture of love and forgiveness among Arab countries.
“We cannot stand idly by,” Rai told the president of the Maronite Lebanese Missionaries father Malik Boutanios. “On the contrary, we need to boost our activity and increase our hope; and understand that the Arab world needs the Bible for what it says about love and brotherhood, about peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. ”Rai pointed to the difficult circumstances that Lebanon and the Middle East are going through. “This should increase our commitment more and more,” he stressed. “We have a role. We have to work to help our Christian people in Syria and Iraq, and in the Middle East.”“These days we unfortunately live in a culture contrary to the teachings of God: war, violence, terrorism, murder and hatred.”“This should not detract us from our role,” he insisted. “We should remind them that Christians are here to spread the culture of the Bible.”“There is no Arab spring without a Christian spring and there is no Arab spring if there is no Lebanese spring, and this is Lebanon's message,” Rai added.

Hizbullah Fighters Publicly Appear at Midday in Northern Bekaa
Naharnet /Hizbullah fighters heavily deployed in the northern Bekaa Valley in a first-of-its kind appearance by the party that previously sought to move discretely during the night in the area. According to An Nahar newspaper, Hizbullah fighters moved military vehicles, cannons and rocket launchers at midday in al-Labweh, al-Ain and several other areas on the eastern mountain range near the border with Syria. Sources said that the movement aims at confronting the Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side of the border. In April, the army kicked off preliminary measures to begin implementing in the northern and central Bekaa a security plan similar to the one executed in the northern city of Tripoli. The army removed then Hizbullah checkpoints between the regions of Baalbek and al-Hermel and in Arsal is the first sign of the implementation of the plan. The impact of the Syrian crisis has been felt in the Bekaa, with the army arresting a number of gunmen attempting to enter Lebanon illegally from the neighboring country and seizing booby-trapped vehicles that were to be used in terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

Report: Several Options under Discussion to Resolve Baabda Deadlock

Naharnet /Officials involved in the negotiations on the presidential deadlock have discussed several options, including a deal on a compromise Maronite candidate, to resolve the crisis, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Tuesday. The daily said that the officials could demand Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to pressure the current candidates to withdraw their nominations. Their withdrawal would allow Speaker Nabih Berri, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat and al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri to strike a deal with Bkirki and the rest of the Christian parties on a consensual candidate. Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who was the first to announce his candidacy, has received the backing of the March 14 alliance. But his rival Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has said he would become a candidate only if there is agreement on him. The MPs of his Change and Reform bloc and most of the March 8 alliance's lawmakers have boycotted several parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president under the excuse of lack of consensus on a candidate. The lack of quorum caused by the boycott left the country's top Christian post vacant after President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25. Under the National Pact of 1943, the president should be a Maronite. Another option under discussion by the officials is an agreement between Berri and Jumblat backed by Hizbullah, Aoun's ally, that any attempt to paralyze the government would lead to its resignation, al-Liwaa said. Such a measure would pressure the Change and Reform bloc, which has representatives in the cabinet, into heading to parliament to elect a president, it added. A third option could include a deal between Berri and Jumblat to reject any constitutional change amid a vacuum at Baabda Palace and to insist on legislation, according to al-Liwaa. Aoun has proposed a constitutional amendment to carry out direct presidential elections, a move that was widely criticized by the March 14 camp and Jumblat's centrist party.

Change and Reform 'Will Not Accept' Alternative to Aoun's Initiative

Naharnet/The Change and Reform bloc announced on Tuesday its commitment to the initiative launched by its leader MP Michel Aoun aimed at ending the presidential elections deadlock, rejecting the “rash” condemnations issued against it. Former Minister Salim Jreissati said after the bloc's weekly meeting: “We will not accept an alternative to the initiative.” He defended the proposal, while refuting criticism that it violates Lebanon's National Pact that calls for equal power-sharing between the country's Muslim and Christian communities. “Those who believe that Aoun's initiative is a political maneuver are gravely mistaken,” he remarked, stressing that it adheres to the 1989 Taef Accord. “The proposal is a reflection of the Accord and helps preserve its articles,” declared the former minister. “Aoun made his initiative before it was too late. He sought to fortify Lebanon from future dangers,” he explained. Moreover, Jreissati said that the initiative “will liberate the president from the clutches of foreign influence seeing as he will be elected by the people.”He urged its critics to review the proposal once again before making “hasty” judgments. Aoun called for a constitutional amendment that would allow the people to elect their head of state in an attempt to resolve the presidential deadlock. The proposal lies in allowing only Christians to vote for their candidates in the first round that would pave way for both Muslims and Christians to choose the two candidates who received the majority of votes in the first round. Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea had accused his rival of deceiving the public and creating a media stir to win the backing of the rival Lebanese parties in the presidential elections. “Aoun hasn't proposed a serious initiative. He created a media uproar to pressure the Lebanese parties into electing him as president,” he noted. He reiterated that parliament can't make constitutional amendments amid a vacuum in the presidency. The term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May.

Lebanese, 22, Dies after Joining IS Ranks in Iraq

Naharnet /A 22-year-old Lebanese is the first to allegedly carry out a suicide attack in Iraq since the Islamic State's declaration, al-Akhbar newspaper reported. The daily said that the family of Moustafa Abdul Hay, who hails from al-Mankoubin area in the northern city of Tripoli, was informed that he died after carrying out a suicide attack in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Abdul Hay, who was identified as the Lebanese Abou Hafas, blew himself up near a al-Washwash area in central Baghdad. The young man had reportedly headed from Tripoli two years ago to join the ranks of Ahrar al-Sham in Syria, then returned to Lebanon to only pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.Iraqi forces have largely regrouped after the debacle that saw soldiers abandon their positions and, in some cases, even weapons and uniforms as IS-led militants conquered second city Mosul and advanced to within about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of Baghdad.

Jumblatt warns Syria's Druze against sectarian conflict
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt Tuesday urged Syrian Druze not to fall prey to the Syrian regime's plan to incite sectarian strife and drag them into a bloody battle with others, which he said would bolster the regime’s position. “I call on you to be alert for what might happen in the next few days from security campaigns that include people of other sects, be aware not to be dragged into a sectarian war that only serves the regime,” Jumblatt said in an appeal to the residents of Jabal Sheikh in Syria. The Progressive Socialist Party leader said Syrians would eventually gain their freedom as a result of the Druze people’s “sacrifices and solidarity with their counterparts of the free people of Syria from various areas and sects.”“Once again, I come to you via the media to affirm your nationalism and tell you that I rely on your awareness and responsibility to foil the project of sectarian strife that the Syrian regime is trying so hard to plant among you and between your Syrian brothers from other sects.” The aim of the project, Jumblatt noted, was to intervene at the right time and regain control of areas that were liberated from its oppression. Jumblatt, a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has repeatedly urged Druze in Syria to join the revolt. “Your exceptional efforts to foil such plans of the regime to turn Syrian areas against each other and drag them into bloody battles ... affirms that you side with what is right in the face of conspiracies that the Syrian regime has always adopted,” Jumblatt said. “The fact that you refrained from joining the so-called national defense force, which is nothing more than Shabiha groups seeking to oppress, is proof of your nationalism.”

Mustaqbal Says to Join Session on Eurobonds, Slams Hizbullah's Bekaa Parade

Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc announced Tuesday that it is willing to take part in a parliamentary session aimed at issuing treasury bonds, noting that the payment of salaries to public employees and opening lines of credit are legal things that can be approved by the cabinet.
“It is legally possible to dispense these salaries and compensations and the legal authorization can come from the cabinet without the need to issue a new law,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “Awaiting the approval of the 2014 state budget and to avoid paralysis at public administrations and institutions, the cabinet can issue decrees to open lines of credit,” the bloc added.
Turning to the possibility of issuing treasury bonds, or Eurobonds, the bloc said it does not mind taking part in legislative sessions dedicated to discussing “basic and pressing issues,” expressing readiness to facilitate the treasury's requirements. On Monday, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil appeased fears that civil servants would not be paid their salaries at the end of the month because of the paralysis of parliament. Parliament should pass draft-laws allowing the government to approve treasury loans. But lawmakers have been boycotting legislative sessions over the vacuum at the presidency.
Khalil vowed to exert all efforts to pay civil servants their salaries but stressed that lines of credit can't be opened unless they are legal.
Separately, al-Mustaqbal bloc reiterated its call for making the election of a new president a top priority, urging the March 8 forces to announce an official candidate.
Commenting on the unprecedented security plan in the northern city of Tripoli, the bloc lamented that “it was accompanied by violations,” noting that “several arrests were based on illegal memos.”
“Many arrests were based on investigations that took place under torture or physical and psychological pressure and resulted in charges of forming armed gangs or terrorism against young men who merely took up arms,” the bloc said. Al-Mustaqbal also deplored the recent “military parade that Hizbullah staged in the Baalbek-Hermel region,” describing it as “a blatant affront against the state and its institutions and a negative message to the Lebanese interior and the world.” “These practices aggravate the tensions in the country and create further complications,” the bloc warned.
An Nahar newspaper reported Tuesday that Hizbullah fighters moved military vehicles, cannons and rocket launchers at midday in al-Labweh, al-Ain and several other areas in the Bekaa near the border with Syria. Sources said that the moves aim at confronting Syrian rebels on the Syrian side of the border. Al-Mustaqbal also condemned the latest grenade attacks on businesses serving food during daylight Ramadan fasting time in Tripoli, calling them "a flagrant violation of law and attack on citizens' freedoms."

Ain al-Hilweh elite force deployed
Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star
SIDON, Lebanon: The newly formed elite security force responsible for stabilizing security in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp deployed Tuesday, after a ceremony that gathered the forces with residents and officials. “It [the deployment] is backed and welcomed by all the residents of the camp as well as its parties and factions,” Gen. Khaled Shayeb, a senior member of the Fatah Movement, told The Daily Star.The deployment adhered to the previously assigned lines of action, taking the Tahtani and the vegetables market streets, passing by what were previously known as the green lines between Fatah and the Islamists. Those green lines are the main streets in Ain al-Hilweh that have witnessed significant security incidents. They also include the Safsaf neighborhood, the Fawqani Street, Fatah’s offices at the camp’s main entrance and the Jabal al-Halib area east of the camp. There were no opposition to the force among the Palestinian factions, and their deployment has so far not faced any obstacles.
The camps Palestinian factions say that the initiative is a way of standing alongside their fellow people and the resistence in Gaza. 40 members will carry out patrols and escorts, 30 for intervention or executive forces, 20 for social security, 35 for traffic, 25 prison guards and members of the inquiry committee. Also, the force include an investigation and information committee, a technical team, a committee on social reform, an awareness and guidance committee and a financial management crew. A high-ranking Fatah official had told The Daily Star that the forces’ headquarters would be at the Ziad al-Atrash Hall and would include a prison to protect the new security status quo from any agitations.  The force's members were gathered in a public ceremony in Ziad al-Atrash hall, along with party officials and Islamic religious figures. Jamal al-Khattab, an influential religious figure and Secretary of Islamist Factions in the camp, gave a speech in which he highlighted the role of the elite force.
“[The force] will have a brotherly and mild attitude toward the camp’s people,” he said. “We are not in a battlefield, and the force will be a police that protects the security and stability of the Palestinian community.”  Fatah’s secretary in Lebanon Fathi Abu al-Ardat echoed Khattab’s words, calling on the new force to be “flexible” in their attitude toward residents.
The two leaders stressed that the purpose of the plan is to ensure the safety and stability of the Palestinians until they return to their homeland. “Returning to our land is the ultimate goal,” Khattab said, explaining that any arrangements in the camps serve this final end. “The Lebanese authorities have encouraged this initiative, out of their keenness our security, because if we are fine, our neighbor will be fine,” he added. Asked by The Daily Star about any expected resistance to the security force and its plan, the force’s commander said that no factions have noted any remarks or pledged opposition.
“But we will not tolerate any security violation,” Shayeb said moments before the beginning of the ceremony. The 150-member force was formed in response to the infiltration of radical groups in the camp, as well as the fighting that had occurred between the Fatah Movement and the extremist Fatah al-Islam. The elite security force includes members of both Fatah and Hamas, as well as all major Palestinian parties. A Hamas official will be appointed as deputy head of the force.  Fatah’s Lebanon leader Fathi Abu al-Ardat expressed his optimism about the success of the new security force.
“All the success elements of the security forces are there,” he told An-Nahar newspaper Tuesday. “Its action is supported by all Palestinian factions, and it answers security needs inside and outside the camp.”Al-Ardat also said that the security force will not tolerate any suspicious actions aimed at involving the camp in internal Lebanese politics. “The Palestinian factions insist on protecting the camp against strife,” he said. “And we don’t want it to be a letterbox for any party." The elite force had their first meeting on July 3rd, where representatives of the different factions discussed the distribution and deployment of their forces. In parallel to the security committee, a suggestion for a political committee has also been touted. The head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee met with Hamas’ political leader in Lebanon Ali Barakeh Monday to discuss the idea. The latter expressed support for such initiative, saying that “subsequent steps would initiate joint security and political forces in the Beddawi and Burj al-Barajneh camps.”

Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil: Cabinet law only way to end spending freeze

The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil Tuesday said the only means to allocate extra-budgetary spending was via a Cabinet law, maintaining that his move to block funds to ministries was not politically motivated. “I personally am not convinced that there is another solution but for the Cabinet to issue a law to allocate the funds,” Khalil told reporters after the end of the Parliamentary Finance Committee meeting. “What I read in the newspapers today does not answer questions [over funding] but the responses were political and aim to find cover for violations that had happened in the past.”
“The easiest and fastens way is to look for legal solution.” The Finance Committee convened earlier Tuesday and adopted Khalil's decision to refrain from approving extra-budgetary spending unless Parliament passes an exclusive law that would allow the Cabinet to do so. Khalil has refused to authorize extra-budgetary spending for ministers unless the draft state budget for 2014 he prepared is approved. Khalil’s decision had raised fears that the salaries of public sector employees would not be paid at the end of the month. He has argued that he could only finance ministries in need of loans within a legal framework and at a news conference Monday, said he had blocked requests by various ministers to approve loans that exceed the budgets allotted to their ministries. Faced with increased expenses, the government of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati approved extra-budgetary spending of LL8.9 trillion (nearly $6 billion) for 2011 without Parliament’s authorization. The Cabinets of Fouad Siniora resorted to a similar step between 2006 and 2009, spending around $11 billion over budget. The March 14 alliance has expressed its willingness to attend a session to legalize extra-budgetary spending for the Cabinet only if the extra-budgetary spending by Siniora’s Cabinets were also legalized, according to sources from the coalition. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel Tuesday said the decision to freeze funds for ministries pending the approval of the draft state budget obstructs the work of the Lebanese Army at a critical time. After meeting with his ministry’s staff to discuss the budget for the year 2014, Moqbel said: “I will discuss the issue of funds with the finance minister and others in both that ministry and the defense one.” “My talks will aim at removing all obstacles preventing the Army from doing its job in terms of securing needed funds, particularly as this stage requires [us] to pay great importance and attention to strengthening the Army and its abilities.” Moqbel also discussed with the ministry staff, obstacles disrupting the work of the Army in terms of securing needed funds to finance its demands in medicine, laboratory equipment, and hospital expenses.

SCC Accuses Officials of Blackmail over Wage Scale, Will Continue Boycotting Correction of Exams

Naharnet /The Syndicate Coordination Committee accused on Tuesday officials of blackmailing them and the nation regarding the approval of the new wage scale, rejecting their excuses over the failure to adopt the hike.Head of Public Secondary School Education Teachers Association Hanna Gharib said during a press conference: “We will continue on boycotting the correction of official exams until the scale is approved.” He announced that the SCC will hold a general strike on Wednesday and stage a 24-hour sit-in in front of the Education Ministry to press its demands. Addressing the parents, Gharib said that they should hold MPs responsible to fulfill their pledges. “They are blackmailing us and you at the expense of our rights and nation,” he declared. “We have no choice but to confront them together. We have strength in unity,” he added.“It is time for a million Lebanese and thousands of students to unite and end this dispute in their favor,” he stressed. “The SCC calls on the parents, students, contract workers, tenants, and all concerned to continue the boycott of the correction of official exams until the new wage scale is approved,” he said. “We are completely committed to the vows we made regarding the new wage scale,” Gharib continued. “We will not become embroiled in the political disputes in Lebanon and we will not be dragged towards taking sides. We are not responsible for any lawmaker who does not attend a legislative session,” he stated. “We reject officials' excuses that the vacuum in the presidency and the turbulent security situation are thwarting the approval of the wage scale,” he said. “Officials have backed down from numerous agreements and pledges they had made with us. We demand that they fulfill their commitments and therefore hold them responsible for the suspension of the correction of official exams,” he added. “We call on all lawmakers to perform their duties regarding the approval of the new wage scale,” he continued. “We will only abandon our rights for the sake of the poor,” remarked Gharib. The SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has held numerous strikes and rallies to pressure officials to adopt the new wage scale draft-law. Parliamentary blocs have expressed their support for the employees' rights but have warned that Lebanon's ailing economy would suffer if the total funding was not reduced from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion). They have also disagreed on how to raise taxes to fund the scale over fears of inflation and its affect on the poor. Their differences have been exacerbated by the boycott of the March 14 alliance's MPs of the sessions aimed at discussing the draft-law under the excuse that parliament should not legislate in the absence of a president.

Berri: No Room for Extremism in Lebanon
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri hailed on Tuesday the role of security agencies in combating instability in Lebanon and the rise of terrorist networks, voicing his rejection of these groups.He said: “There is no room for extremists in Lebanon because all factions in the country have shunned the calls to join their ranks.”He made his remarks during a meeting with the head of the Maronite Council Wadih al-Khazen. “Religion has nothing to do with these extremists,” added the speaker. 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. 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. Meanwhile, the shadowy group of the Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigades recently 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.

Zahle Prison Guards Foil Hashish Smuggling Attempt

Naharnet/Guards at the prison of Zahle in the Bekaa seized on Tuesday a large quantity of hashish and narcotic pills hidden in three kilograms of meat pastries. 28-year-old J. K. tried to smuggle 116 pills stashed in the pastries, a communique issued by the Internal Security Forces said. The visitor, who was carrying them, was detained and will be questioned to reveal the source of the hashish and the people behind the incident. In June, security forces thwarted an attempt by a man to deliver a quantity of hashish hidden inside apricots to an inmate at the same prison.

Palestinian Security Forces Deploy in Ain el-Hilweh
Naharnet/uesday at the southern refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh to implement a security plan. Their deployment came in conformity with an agreement reached on Saturday between Palestinian factions in Lebanon. The 150-member force spread in four fixed positions - the vegetable market area, al-Barksat (in the northern part of the camp), al-Safsaf-al-Shohadaa mosque region and the Bustan al-Yahoud area. Its main responsibility is to maintain security inside the camp, which has on several occasions witnessed clashes between rival groups. Ain el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in the country and home to about 50,000 refugees, lies near the southern city of Sidon. It is known to harbor extremists and fugitives because by long-standing convention the Lebanese army does not enter Lebanon's refugee camps.

Jihadist 'Caliph' Vows to Free Roumieh 'Captives,' Attack Judges
Naharnet/Self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has vowed to release Muslim “hostages” from jails in Arab countries, including Lebanon, and promised to “liquidate their butchers.”
According to a video posted on YouTube on Sunday, the shadowy jihadist said the “butchers” include judges, security forces and guards. Al-Baghdadi heads the Islamic State (IS) group, which led a lighting offensive in Iraq that has overrun swathes of five provinces north and west of Baghdad. A text appeared in the video, accusing the Lebanese state of being a U.S. and Israeli ally. It also showed Mohammed Zwawi, a Palestinian-Syrian, who claimed that he is an inmate in Roumieh, Lebanon's largest prison. The video was allegedly shot at Roumieh's bloc B. Zwawi has been sentenced to death over his involvement in the fighting between Fatah al-Islam militants and the Lebanese army at the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007. Last week, the emir of the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Qalamoun promised in an audio message to free Islamist prisoners in Roumieh “within days.” Abou Malek al-Shami described the inmates as “Muslim captives and jihadist brethren.”
The threats come amid strong measures taken by security forces and the army around Roumieh over an alleged plot to carry out a truck bombing and a plan by prisoners to escape from the facility.
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.

Afghan Suicide Attack Kills 16, Including 4 NATO Soldiers
Naharnet/A Taliban suicide bomber killed 16 people, including 10 civilians and four NATO soldiers, in an attack in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, officials said, as foreign troops wind down their war against the insurgents. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying one of its suicide bombers had blown himself up near a NATO patrol in the province of Parwan, north of the capital Kabul. The attack comes as Afghanistan is mired in political crisis, with a bitter row raging over allegations of fraud in the presidential runoff election. "Four International Security Assistance Force service members died as a result of an enemy forces attack," a statement from the NATO mission said. In line with coalition policy, it did not name the nationalities of the victims. Parwan governor spokesman Waheed Sediqqi told Agence France Presse that ten civilians and two policemen were killed in the attack. The insurgents said 15 U.S. special forces soldiers were killed. They routinely make exaggerated claims after such attacks.
About 50,000 NATO troops are still deployed in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 150,000 in 2011. NATO's combat mission will wrap up at the end of this year, with 10,000 U.S. troops staying into next year if the new president signs a security deal with Washington. About 3,450 coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 when the Taliban regime was ousted from power. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday that any attempt to seize power in the election crisis would cost the country its international aid. Initial results released on Monday showed former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani had won the election, but a spokesman for his poll rival Abdullah Abdullah rejected the outcome as "a coup against the will of the people". Fraud allegations immediately stoked concerns of instability after the figures showed Ghani collected 56.4 percent of the run-off vote against ex-foreign minister Abdullah's 43.5 percent.Agence France Presse

Israel, Hamas Slide towards Major Gaza Conflict
Naharnet /Five Palestinians were killed on Tuesday as Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza at the start of a new campaign to stamp out rocket fire by Hamas militants on southern Israel. It was the most serious flare-up in and around the territory since November 2012 and came as Israel struggled to contain a wave of violence in Arab towns over the grisly murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas demanded Israel "immediately stop" its air campaign, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, and asked the international community to put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Netanyahu was expected to order a "significant broadening" of the operation at an afternoon meeting with security chiefs and instruct the army to "take off the gloves," a source close to him told army radio. After nearly four weeks of restraint in the face of intensifying rocket fire on the south, Israel appeared bent on dealing the Islamist Hamas movement a heavy blow, with officials speaking of a "staged escalation." In central Gaza, one man was killed in an air strike west of Nusseirat refugee camp, with medics naming him as Ashraf Yassin. Witnesses said he was a militant of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement. Shortly afterwards four men were killed when a missile slammed into a car in the center of Gaza City, the emergency services said, without giving further details.
Three more militants were killed in air strikes on Monday, two from the Popular Resistance Committees and one from Hamas. Another five Hamas militants died when a tunnel collapsed near the southern city of Rafah. A total of 29 Palestinians were injured on Tuesday, two of them seriously, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. The Israeli army said the air force and the navy had struck around 50 "terror sites" overnight in a joint operation which had three aims -- returning calm to the south, "eliminating Hamas's capabilities" and destroying Gaza's "terror infrastructure." It also destroyed the homes of four Hamas militants it accused of firing on Israel. The Israeli army was preparing all options to stamp out militant rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground assault, a senior official told AFP. "The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard," military spokesman General Moti Almoz told the radio, saying the operation would take place "in stages".He also confirmed Israel was preparing for a possible ground offensive.
"All options are on the table, all these steps are being considered. Two brigades, which are currently stationed around the Gaza Strip, are prepared and ready, and in the coming days, more will arrive," he said. Around Gaza, dozens of tanks and soldiers could be seen massing along the border, AFP correspondents reported.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned it was likely to be a protracted campaign.
"We are preparing for a campaign against Hamas, which will not end in just a few days," he said in a statement which defined the aim as being "to exact a very heavy price from Hamas." Since June 12, when the current round of tit-for-tat violence began, Gaza militants have fired more than 320 rockets over the border, with 250 of them hitting Israeli territory and another 40 intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. So far there have been no Israelis killed. In the past 12 hours, militants have fired at least 26 rockets at southern Israel, an army spokeswoman said. The education ministry canceled all summer schools and camps within a 40 kilometer (25 mile) radius of Gaza, except those being held in protected spaces, army radio reported. "We have to hit Hamas because our power of deterrence has been reduced," Interior Minister Gideon Saar told public radio. "No one is enthusiastic about the idea of a military confrontation, but we cannot hesitate any more. "We cannot restore the calm without proving to Hamas that it is absolutely in its interest to halt attacks on Israel, but to do that, we must hit it sufficiently hard. The latest flare-up comes as Israel battled to contain a wave of Arab unrest after the grisly kidnap and murder of the Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists in a suspected revenge attack. Three of them have confessed, an official close to the investigation told AFP. The killing sparked five days of clashes between angry protesters and riot police in annexed east Jerusalem and Arab towns across Israel. Police arrested another 39 people overnight, raising the overall number of people detained to 299. Agence France Presse

Freed Kuwait Opposition Leader Vows Protests to Continue
Naharnet /Prominent Kuwait opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak sent a defiant message to the government hours after he was released from jail saying protests will continue in the oil-rich Gulf state.
"Putting us in jail will only strengthen our determination," Barrak told an opposition rally Monday night near the central prison where a number of activists are still detained. "We will not stop protests until we achieve the elected government that comes out from ballot boxes," the nationalist leader told a cheering crowd celebrating his release. Forming an elected government to replace the existing ruling family-led cabinets is one of the main demands for the Kuwaiti opposition groups which include Islamists, nationalists and liberals. Barrak, a former MP, was freed from jail on Monday after a judge ordered his release following six days of detention on charges of insulting the judiciary. During his speech at the night rally, Barrak repeated his criticism of the judiciary and warned them "not to challenge the Kuwaiti people".
After Barrak left the area, riot police fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protesters who responded with small firecrackers. There were no reports of arrests or injury in the sixth straight night of violence. Kuwait police clashed in the past five nights with opposition activists who were protesting the arrest of Barrak, rounding up over 50 demonstrators. At a public rally last month, Barrak alleged that former senior officials, including ruling family members, had stolen tens of billions of dollars from public funds and engaged in money-laundering. The scandal was later linked to claims that the same officials were seen in video footage plotting a coup. Those allegations were made in a lawsuit filed last month by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, a senior ruling family member and former energy minister.
Sheikh Ahmad was himself questioned as a witness. The new developments plunged the oil-rich emirate into a new political crisis following months of relative calm. Since mid-2006, the Gulf state was rocked by a series of political crises leading to dissolving parliament on six occasions. Most opposition groups are not represented in parliament after boycotting a July 2013 election in protest at Kuwait's amended electoral law.Agence France Presse

Turkey PM Vows to Take Combat against Foe to New Level
Naharnet /Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed to take the fight against an ally-turned-foe Muslim cleric to a new level if he is elected president in August 10 elections. "If elected president, I will take the fight against the parallel structure to the next level," Erdogan told lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament. Erdogan has long accused followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of establishing a "parallel structure within the state" by using its sway in Turkey's police and the judiciary and of concocting a vast corruption scandal in December to unseat his government. His comments came after local media reported Monday that Turkish police have ordered a major new investigation into the Gulen movement. In a written order sent to the police departments in 30 provinces, the movement is accused of working to overthrow Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government and seize control of the state by forcibly abolishing the constitutional order. Erdogan appears to be stepping up the fight against Gulen as he heads into the presidential elections which he is widely expected to win in the first round. The Turkish premier also voiced concern that some within his own party failed to demonstrate the courage to fight against what he called "treacherous network". "We see some pockets of resistance in the fight against the parallel structure that threatens our national security ... Unfortunately, there are also those among us who fail to show the necessary reaction," said Erdogan. "We see some municipalities and ministries do not tackle this issue courageously."
"Those who tolerate this treacherous network must know that both we and our nation have taken note of this." Agence France Presse

Five Hamas chiefs killed as IDF Gaza operation gets underway. Nine Israelis injured by Palestinian rockets
DEBKAfile Special Report July 8, 2014/Israeli air strikes singled out Hamas chiefs Tuesday, July 8, at the onset of the IDF’s Operational Solid Rock. Hamas Naval Commando chief Mahmoud Shaaban, 24, and three passengers were killed when their car was hit from the air. Another airborne raid bombed the Rafah home of Abdul Rahman Juda which served as a command and control center. Thirty Palestinians were injured. Magen David Adom has treated nine people for minor injuries and anxiety attacks from emergency call centers in the southern and central Israeli regions under rocket attack.
The high-density rocket barrage from Gaza – 50 by Tuesday mid-afternoon - has seriously disrupted normal life for millions of Israelis in the rocket-blasted regions – especially within a 40km radius from Gaza. Ashdod port has stopped working, major transport routes like the Ashkelon-Sderot railway halted, end-of-term exams in colleges postponed, children sent home from summer camps and social events called off. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to broaden its Gaza operation.
DEBKAfile reported earlier Tuesday: Israeli finally launched its military operation Solid Rock against Hamas Monday night, July 7, after the Palestinians directed a steady stream of 100 rockets from Gaza to expanded targets as far as Rehovot, 50 km away. Most of the 50 IDF strikes were conducted from the air and two from the sea. Ten destroyed Hamas infrastructure facilities plus 4 private buildings which, according to the Palestinians, included the homes of the Hamas commander and a Democratic Front operative in Khan Younes, after Israel gave them advance warning. Hamas reported 17 injured - but kept on shooting rockets through the night and early Tuesday, threatening to further expand the range of their rocket fire.
The government and the IDF have billed the operation as a long-term, staged offensive to destroy Hamas’ logistical and strategic infrastructure, to be escalated stage by stage as needed, up to a limited ground incursion, which would require additional reserve call-ups, as well targeted assassinations. This progression will be adjusted to the enemy’s response and how quickly “quiet is restored to the South.”
The population has been forewarned that the contest may be protracted and asked to refrain from public events within a 40km radius from Gaza.
Iron Dome batteries are in place. Israel’s security cabinet and the IDF command are counting on the prospect of losing its infrastructure deterring Hamas and persuading it to halt its rocket war on Israel.
But Hamas has its own game book and is unlikely to play by the rules dictated by Israel. Both sides have therefore entered a dark corridor in which the two adversaries will try and outdo each other in damage. Israel began by limiting itself to air strikes. Hamas hit back with a mighty barrage of 100 missiles and expanding its range of targets.
The rules of Operation Solid Rock now require Israel to scale its response up to the next stage, in response to which Hamas will no doubt go for Tel Aviv. No one seems to know how this tit-for-tat duel will end. The inherent weakness of the thinking behind Israeli military operation is that it requires the IDF to catch up with and undo the damage caused by Israel’s passivity after the three boys, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped and murdered on July 12. The IDF’s campaign against its facilities on the West Bank left Hamas more confident than ever. In the space of a month, the Palestinian Islamists have maneuvered Israel into launching not one but two major operations – Brother’s Keeper to find the kidnapped boys and their abductors (who are still at large) and now Solid Rock – and they still hold the initiative against Israel, as well as the whip hand in the Palestinian movement. They certainly owe their advantage in part to the atrocious murder by a handful of Israelis of the Palestinian boy Muhammad Abu Khdeir from Shuafat, Jerusalem. This was a gift which Hamas had never dreamed of. The Islamists have been able to assert control over and calibrate Palestinian fury across the board, in Gaza, the West Bank and the Israeli Arab community – a second front against Israel. With all these cards stacked against Solid Rock, the IDF will have its work cut out to repair the damage and bring its operation to a successful conclusion. On the diplomatic front, Israel suffered another letdown when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi disappointed the hopes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had vested in him to intercede powerfully with Hamas for a ceasefire. El-Sisi decided that the Israeli-Hamas conflict was a minor episode in regional terms and no real threat to Egypt’s national interests and dropped his role as peace broker. This was a bitter disappointment to Jerusalem. It left Israel facing the Palestinian aggressor alone, but for the Europeans. They are willing to assume this role, but they are seeking the restoration of the short-lived Palestinian reconciliation and a unity government, which is the direct opposite of Netanyahu’s most fervent objective.

Qassem Suleimani has brought Iran much grief
By:David Ignatius| The Daily Star/With the sudden rise of the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), a little-noted aspect is that Gen. Qasem Suleimani, the supposed strategic genius of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has blundered disastrously. By overreaching in Iraq and Syria and triggering a violent response, Iran now faces dangerous instability on its border for years to come.
Most commentary on Iraq has focused on American errors and potential dangers to U.S. interests, and there are plenty of both. But on this July 4, perhaps we Americans can put aside our national myopia and look at what recent events mean for Iran, which shares a 900-mile border with Iraq and desperately wants political hegemony there. It’s not a happy picture.
“Suleimani’s orchestration of brutal military campaigns in both Syria and Iraq set the stage for the Sunni Arab response turning to extremism,” explains Derek Harvey, a longtime Iraq intelligence analyst who now teaches at the University of South Florida. Harvey lists some of Suleimani’s mistakes: “He missed opportunities for moderation while still protecting Iranian interests. His partnership with extremism in Syria resulted in the threat growing in Syria and rebounding to Iraq. His refusal to counsel some moderation and inclusion by [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki developed a fertile environment for ISIS and others to exploit.” Suleimani’s reversals are significant because he has become something of a cult figure among those who follow the paramilitary Quds Force he directs. I have likened him in past columns to John le Carre’s fabled spymaster, Karla. The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins chronicled what Arabs call Suleimani’s “khilib, or understated charisma,” in a memorable profile last September. Suleimani seemed a man who could run circles around rival commanders. Not anymore.
Viewed from Iran’s perspective, there was a catastrophic aspect to the declaration by ISIS of a caliphate in northwestern Iraq and neighboring areas of Syria. Iran is now rushing to mobilize its Iraqi allies to stop the marauding Sunni insurgents from seizing Baghdad’s airport. The Iranians, watching the collapse of the U.S.-trained Iraqi army, have turned to Shiite militias that are trained and run by Suleimani’s operatives. But this reliance on sectarian militias only deepens the potential for violence; indeed, it’s probably the polarizing response ISIS hoped to trigger.
Another aspect of Suleimani’s unfolding disaster is that the rise of ISIS has hastened Kurdish independence. After the collapse of Iraqi government forces in Mosul and Tikrit, the Kurds quickly pushed west to seize the disputed area of Kirkuk and its oilfields. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has called for a referendum on Kurdish self-determination, and Israel’s prime minister has already declared support for a sovereign Kurdistan. A Kurdish state could rouse nationalist feelings among Iranian Kurds, who make up at least 10 percent of Iran’s population, creating domestic instability.
Unfortunately for Suleimani, his best chance to keep Kurdistan part of Iraq is by reducing his Shiite allies’ control in a future Iraqi federal state. Similarly, the best way to suppress ISIS – short of a potentially ruinous, all-out attack by Iranian-backed troops – is by empowering Sunni tribal fighters and their patrons in Saudi Arabia. For Suleimani, it’s a lose-lose situation.
The Quds Force chief has preferred a “light footprint” in Iraq and Syria, operating through proxies such as Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shiite militias, argues Farzan Sabet in the “War on the Rocks” blog. But this light touch won’t be sufficient now, with Iranian allies overstretched on two fronts. “The creation of a hostile Sunni Arab state on Iran’s frontiers may give its regional foes the perfect vehicle for destabilizing its already fragile western border,” writes Sabet. Gone, too, is Suleimani’s hope that Iran can avoid being seen as a Shiite, Persian power in a predominately Sunni Arab world. Suleimani tried to convey that secular breadth by allying with Christians in Lebanon, Alawites in Syria, and Sunnis in the Palestinian territories. “What they’ve done in Syria and Iraq has exposed Iran as a sectarian power,” argues Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Suleimani is a reflection of an Iranian political culture that believes compromise projects weakness and that tends to prioritize tactics over strategy,” Sadjadpour says. It’s this unyielding culture that has crashed against ISIS’ rocks. These reversals come as negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are hitting a decisive final stage in Vienna.
It must be said that Iran is playing a somewhat weaker hand than it might have hoped a few months ago.
**David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.

Netanyahu decides to expand Gaza operation, orders preparations for ground offensive

LAST UPDATED: 07/08/2014/
Prime minister says "Hamas chose to escalate the situation and it will pay a heavy price for doing so"; preparations underway for further call up of reservists. Following high level security deliberations Tuesday morning Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to expand the military operation in Gaza, including beginning preparations for a ground operation. The deliberations took place following a Monday night rocket barrage on Israel and the feeling in Jerusalem that Hamas is interested in escalation. No time limit was put on the operation but senior diplomatic officials said it could be "for a long time."Preparations are underway to further call up reservists and in a number of hours there will be announcements by the IDF Home Front Command on how citizens should behave. The objective of the operation, according to the officials, is to return quiet to the South, but the equation that "quiet would be met with quiet" was no longer the operative principle. During the day Netanyahu expected to talk to a number of world leaders to explain Israel's position and another security cabinet meeting will be held later in the afternoon if necessary. Netanyahu said Tuesday that the time had come to "take off the gloves" against Hamas. "Hamas chose to escalate the situation and it will pay a heavy price for doing so," the prime minister said. Following the launching of Operation Protective Edge to extinguish Hamas rocket fire, Israel declared a "special situation" in all areas of the South within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. A special situation is a legal decree that allows various authorities to safeguard public safety through a variety of means reserved for times of conflict.
The decision came after Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon completed a security evaluation meeting with the Home Front Commander, Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg, as well as other civil defense chiefs, in which they examined the latest developments in the clash with Hamas. "We are prepared for a campaign against Hamas, which will not end within days. Hamas is leading the current confrontation to a place in which it seeks to exact a heavy price from our home front. There is a need for patience," Ya'alon said at the end of the meeting. The defense minister called on the public to behave in accordance with Home Front Command safety instructions, adding that it is vital that the Israeli home front not sustain casualties. "In recent hours, we have struck with force and hit dozens of Hamas assets. The IDF is continuing with the offensive effort, in a manner that will exact a very heavy price from Hamas. We will not tolerate missile and rocket fire on Israel, and we are prepared to expand the campaign through all of the means available to us, to continue striking Hamas," he continued. "I'd like to send my support to residents of the South and to local government leaders there, who are displaying leadership and responsibility, and are allowing us to continue with the offensive efforts," Ya'alon added. ** Staff contributed to this report.

It's in our hands to put an end to bloodshed
By: Shimon Peres, Reuven Rivlin
Published: 07.07.14/Ynetnews,7340,L-4538798,00.html

Exclusive: Israel's outgoing president and president-elect call on Jews and Arabs to end violence and incitement, and have faith in ability to live together. 

Cursed is he who says: Revenge!" wrote poet Hayim Nahman Bialik. Cursed is the ruining, destroying revenge, which is painful for the sake of pain and harms innocent people

A national struggle does not justify acts of terror. Acts of terror do not justify revenge. Revenge does not justify destruction, plunder and desolation. Even in the face of the rage and frustration, the violence and the pain, things can be done differently. Things must be done differently.  In the State of Israel there is no difference between blood and blood. The democratic State of Israel sanctifies the moral right to life and the equal right each person has to be different. The murder of a boy or a girl, Jewish or Arab, is an unacceptable act. Murderers' traces will not be blurred, there will be no cover-up and things will not be swept under the rug. The criminals who murder and take human life will be caught and punished with the full severity of the law.  We have the choice: To give in to the destructive world view that the racists and extremists are placing in front of us, or to fight it to the point of total elimination; to give in to wild and brutal Muslim or Jewish terror – or to put an end to it in every way possible.
We are allowed to argue. We even have to argue. We, all of us, have all the ways to express our pain, our opinion and our world view. But incitement is not the way. Collective accusation is not a solution.
It is our duty to stop the journey of incitement. We must understand that we have no other way but to live together. The bloodshed will only stop when we all realize that we have not been sentenced to live together, but destined to live together. Any hesitation or compromise on this issue will lead to deterioration which could be disastrous not just to our life together, but to our actual life.
The history of our people has taught us that words can kill. We are now turning to each and every citizen in our country: Respect the law and watch what you say. At this time we must not get dragged into incitement which will lead us to a slope of hatred and animosity – that is not our way. We aspire to live in peace between us and to allow our neighbors to live in peace. We must be a nation united in its restraint and style. These days, of the month of Ramadan and ahead of the three-week Bein Hametzarim period, should be days of tolerance and construction, not days of destruction. We call on each and every one of us – whether Arab or Jewish – to stop. This is the time to choose the joint way. This is the time to find what unites us and not what divides us. This is the time to believe in our ability to live here together, on this land.  We have no other option, we have no other land. It's time to prevent the next bloodshed. It's in our hands

Will ISIS unite Tehran and Riyadh?
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Until a few weeks ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was only known in some areas of Syria. But today, the entire world is in a state of alert due to the threats posed by the organization, which expanded to Iraq and reached the borders of Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Due to its propaganda and on-the-ground victories, its army may quickly grow from 5,000 fighters to 50,000 fighters capable of threatening countries in the region and the rest of the world. The United States has put its entire security services in a state of alert. It restored and expanded its security measures at airports. European Union countries also mobilized their security services to pursue suspects linked to calls for jihad in Syria. The hypothetical question which hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind yet is: Can ISIS, which declares war on everyone, force enemies to unite against it? For example, will Iran and Saudi Arabia - the two major regional rivals in the region - meet together and agree on cooperating against ISIS and other al-Qaeda factions?
Fading rivalries?
Rivalries do not last forever. Iran’s repeated signals to cooperate with Saudi Arabia regarding Iraq and other issues points at Tehran's readiness for rapprochement due to its different reasons. Saudi-Iranian competition and even fighting on the military, diplomatic, media and religious levels is no secret. Iran took up the mantle of confrontation after it used to enjoy violating the region’s sovereignty under fake Arab and Muslim slogans. It did so via the Syrian regime, Hezbollah and Hamas.“Can ISIS, which declares war on everyone, force enemies to unite against it?”
That phase has ended and it has been replaced by a new one. It’s no longer possible for the Assad regime to stay in power in Syria. Hezbollah’s domination will not continue to reign over the entire Lebanese people. Hamas no longer has the ability to compete with the Palestinian authority and Nouri al-Maliki’s government in Iraq will no longer have the same ability and power to eliminate half of the Iraqi people.
State of defense
Iran is in a state of a defense. It realizes that it is confronting a new political reality which will affect its security and stability now that its regional agents have been struck by chaos. Between complete loss and partial loss, Iran can ensure the safety of its borders, participate in providing regional security and support parties loyal to it. It can achieve all this through cooperation with the region’s major powers. But this must happen within the context of accepting the new reality. Cooperation calls for abandoning three figures: Bashar al-Assad, Nouri al-Maliki and Hezbollah’s leaders. Iran’s alternative is to cooperate in order to enable and empower mixed systems - systems that represent all national powers except terrorist and destructive forces. This means accepting the Arab Sunnis in Iraq and the Alawites in Syria.
Some may think that Saudi Arabia does not have the upper hand or the ability to propose a new regional system in the region because it is itself threatened by ISIS from its Iraqi and Yemeni borders. This is not true! ISIS and the other extremist Islamist parties are only capable of destroying areas where there are political vacuums or exhausted by military rivalries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Sunni provinces in Iraq. After all, ISIS is an organization used to spread chaos and deepen crises. It can threaten Saudi Arabia’s domestic security, as al-Qaeda did before, but it’s not capable of threatening the state itself. If the Iranians really want to reach a consensus in Iraq so they don’t lose influence over it, they can do so by recognizing the Arab Sunnis and engaging them in politics. They must also abandon the policy of domination which saw the Iranian government enabling certain individuals and groups to dominate an entire country. They did this with Maliki, via the Assad regime. Chaos and threats provide an opportunity to cooperate in order to restore stability in the region and end the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran so the circle of fire does not expand.

Instead of celebrating independence, let’s pause

Tuesday, 8 July 2014
By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya
What if instead of celebrating independence or a national day, and instead of military parades and proud displays of national colors on hats, shirts, bathing suits and flip flops, we pause and reflect on whether we are actually where we need to be in this world and the best ways to preserve our freedom and wellbeing? What if instead of barbecues and fireworks, we observe the importance of remaining active to fight corporations that treat us as disposable numbers and financial institutions that sink us further into debt and slavery? What if we challenge the healthcare system to ensure it takes care of our health instead of making us sicker to satisfy its greed? What if we keep the political system in check instead of allowing our affiliations dehumanize us and degrade us endlessly?
Can we observe our constant need for change to adjust to a fast moving world in order to make it a better place instead of allowing imbeciles to ruin our experience?
Global movements for change
The current state of world affairs leaves me with a desire for positive and peaceful global movements for change. I am rebuffed by anyone still celebrating a rotten global status quo and a desperate existence.
“What if instead of barbecues and fireworks, we observe the importance of remaining active to fight corporations that treat us as disposable numbers and financial institutions that sink us further into debt and slavery? ”
Octavia Nasr
Warmongers abuse the innocent; strong countries invade smaller ones, occupy them and act at will, and the world watches. Wars – some of them silent and under wraps -- are raging. Then you have the anomaly of extreme losers like ISIS, their absurd existence and more absurd spread. Why can’t goodness spread at the same rate and inspire the masses?
In a land men tell women they can’t drive, in others corporations decide how birth control is administered; while women cannot vote, serve as a witness or pass their nationalities to their children in some parts of the world. The number of refugees is swelling and human rights abuses continue to rise. People still die of famine, disease, in revenge or honor killing. Our atmosphere is getting warmer and some still question climate change. On social networks, we enjoy distractions of people celebrating little victories: birthdays, marriages, new babies, weight loss, races, promotions and surmounting diseases. We also see simple lies and photo edits to make people’s losses look like gains or to exaggerate actual victories. Deep down, in real life as in the virtual one, the eternal truth remains: people want what they don't have and joining the “happy” bandwagon masks the pain of disappointment. The danger is that it does so only temporarily. Thus, we need a global movement of serious change before we deserve to celebrate anything!