July 11/14

Bible Quotation for today/I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10,34-39/"‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 11/14

When the Fires Threaten the Arsonists/By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 11/14

The mistake of supporting Islamic groups in Syria/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/July 11/14

PA and Other Arab Reactions to the Gaza Crisis/By: David Pollock/Washington Institute/July 11/14

The Next Steps after an Iranian Nuclear Deal/By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian/Asharq Alawsat/ July 11/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 11/14
Lebanese Related News

U.S. Sanctions Amhaz Electronics Firm for Allegedly Helping Hizbullah Buy Material Used in Drones
Lebanese Cabinet Fails to Approve LU Teachers Decree over Reservations

Jumblat: Aoun, Geagea Challenging the Lebanese, Weakening the Presidency

Cabinet unlikely to resolve issues

Hezbollah closely eyeing Iraq

Health project aims to reduce refugee tensions

Water crisis plan deemed unrealistic

Arrest Warrants Issued against 2 Members of Hotels Terror Group
ISF Says al-Kafaat Doctor was Murdered by Son
Kabbara Slams 'Arbitrary Arrests' in Tripoli: Oppression of Sunnis Leads to Unexpected Reactions

Palestinian Family Escapes Ain el-Hilweh Roof Collapse

Arrest Warrant Issued against Syrian Army Defector for Belonging to ISIL

Official Says Bkirki Rejects Parliamentary Polls amid Baabda Vacuum
Mashnouq Says Tripoli Security Plan Firm, Refuses to Yield to Street Pressure

Wage hike breakthrough expected next week

A wellspring of Lebanese jihadists

Hezbollah on alert in face of ISIS threat
Lebanon exports to Iraq to decline
Bent on aggression
Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 11/14

IDF tells 100,000 Gaza civilians to move back from Israeli border – sign of impending ground incursion
Netanyahu says more 'stages' to come in Gaza operation

Israel’s next move: ground invasion of Gaza?
At least 80 killed in Israeli raids on Gaza

Gazans bury family as Israeli airstrikes persist

Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

Obama tells Netanyahu of concern Gaza fighting could escalate
ISIS intensifies offensive against Kurds in Syria

Iraqi Kurds say ‘hysterical’ Maliki must quit

Life goes on, says Scolari after debacle

U.S. Sanctions Amhaz Electronics Firm for Allegedly Helping Hizbullah Buy Material Used in Drones
Naharnet /The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned a network of firms and individuals in Lebanon, the UAE and China for allegedly procuring sophisticated military equipment for Hizbullah, including materials for aerial drones. “As the Treasury Department announced today, the United States targeted a key Hizbullah procurement network by designating brothers Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz; their business, Stars Group Holding, which is based in Beirut and has subsidiaries in China and the UAE; and certain managers and individuals who supported their illicit activities,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Later on Thursday, a Stars Group manager denied the accusations in remarks to LBCI television, saying his firm had not yet received the sanctions decree in an official manner. “Hizbullah relies heavily on front companies such as Stars Group Holding, which continue to procure dual-use material for the organization to enhance its military capabilities,” the State Department said in its statement. It accused Stars Group Holding of covertly purchasing sophisticated electronics and other technology from suppliers around the world, including “a range of engines, communications, electronics, and navigation equipment.” “These materials have directly supported Hizbullah’s development of unmanned aerial vehicles for its destructive military activities in Syria,” it noted.
The State Department said today’s designation “illustrates yet again the extent of Hizbullah’s international presence and reach,” calling on Washington's partners to take action against “Hizbullah’s illicit networks, which fuel its violent political agenda and enhance its ability to engage in destabilizing activities in Syria, throughout the Middle East more broadly, and around the world.”
The Treasury Department named for sanctions Stars Group Holding, its subsidiaries, its owner, executives Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz, and two Stars Group managers, Ayman Ibrahim and Ali Zeaiter. It also named Hanna Elias Khalifeh, whom it described as a Lebanese businessman and Hizbullah member who worked with the Stars Group. "These individuals and entities have relied on false end-user certificates, mislabeled air waybills, and other fraudulent methods to avoid export restrictions and otherwise conceal Hizbullah as the ultimate end-user or beneficiary of these goods," the Treasury said. The sanctions place a freeze on any of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction and ban Americans from any business with them.
According to U.S. officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the network is run out of Beirut and has successfully procured engines, communications electronics and navigation equipment for Hizbullah from companies inside the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia in violation of American exports laws.
"With disturbing reach far beyond Lebanon, Hizbullah's extensive procurement networks exploit the international financial system to enhance its military capabilities in Syria and its terrorist activities worldwide," David Cohen, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Thursday. "This global terrorist activity and expanding criminal network belie Hizbullah's claimed purpose as a national liberation movement," Cohen added. The Obama administration has increasingly targeted Hizbullah and its financial networks. In recent years, the U.S. has charged the group with running illicit businesses, including drug trafficking, to fund its operations – allegations Hizbullah has repeatedly denied. In 2011, the Treasury blacklisted Lebanon's then eight-largest bank, Lebanese Canadian Bank, for allegedly helping Hizbullah launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits. The bank was eventually taken over by the Lebanese government and liquidated. "It is critical that countries throughout the world work together to combat this dangerous organization and sever it from sources of revenue and support," Cohen said. Hizbullah, along with Iran and Russia, has emerged as a top ally of the Syrian regime in its fight against rebel groups that have sought to overthrow the Damascus government.
Hizbullah has sent thousands of fighters as well as military advisers into Syria, arguing that its military intervention in the neighboring country is necessary to fend off the threat of extremist Sunni groups and prevent the fall of the country into the hands of the U.S. and Israel.


Arrest Warrants Issued against 2 Members of Hotels Terror Group
Naharnet/An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday against a Syrian and a French national, who were part of a group of 28 suspects charged earlier this week with belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the National News Agency reported. First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abou Ghida interrogated the French and Syrian nationals before issuing the warrant. Seven of the 28-member cell are in custody. They were detained in security raids in hotels in Beirut. The 28 members were charged on Monday 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 Beirut. 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 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.


Lebanese Cabinet Fails to Approve LU Teachers Decree over Reservations
Naharnet/The cabinet met on Thursday to discuss thorny issues, including the controversial employment of Lebanese University’s contract workers and the appointment of deans.
The government however chose to postpone tackling the LU file after the ministers of the Progressive Socialist Party, of MP Walid Jumblat, insisted on the appointment of a Christian official in the post of dean of the medical school. The discussions will consequently be postponed for a week. Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said after the cabinet session: “Nothing has been decided on the LU file and we will not separate between the full-time employment and the University Board of Deans. “The main problem in the LU file lies in the PSP ministers' insistence that Dr. Antoine Yared be appointed dean of the medical school,” he revealed at the session that was held at the Grand Serail. The LU file was on the government's agenda last week but was postponed until Thursday after reservations expressed by the Kataeb Party and PSP. According to An Nahar daily, Kataeb had objections on the appointment of deans and an “initial conviction” on the full-time employment of contract workers. The PSP, on the other hand, did not reject the appointments but expressed reservations on the fact that the number of contract professors targeted by the decree has risen from 700 to around 1,100. Jumblat told As Safir newspaper that the PSP ministers – Wael Abou Faour and Akram Shehayyeb – will make a proposal during the cabinet session to “please the professors and protect academic levels” by having employees that satisfy the required criteria. The PSP leader refuted claims that he was hindering the adoption of the decree, saying he wanted to have “efficiency.” “There should be a minimum level of academic efficiency particularly after the number of proposed employments rose to 1,100,” he said.Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, who has proposed the decree, told As Safir that he was holding onto his “attempt so rescue the LU.”He said he was ready to provide explanations if the decree had flaws. “Is it possible for us to disagree on numbers?” Bou Saab wondered. Studies showed that the “LU needs the full-time employment of 1,700 workers ... at a time when we haven't exceeded 1,100 teachers,” he said. The minister told As Safir that differences on the appointment of deans was sectarian. “Some parties wanted to appoint certain judges from certain sects. We overcame this issue … and satisfied all sides but I don't know where the problem lies now,” he said. Public schools and the LU “are paying the price of the political cold war,” Bou Saab added. LU contract teachers blocked the Riyad al-Solh road in downtown Beirut as the cabinet session went underway. Their protest was aimed at pressuring the ministers into approving the decree. Bou Saab left the cabinet session to address the protesters. He told them “there is no longer any problem in the full-time employment.”The differences among cabinet members lie on the appointment of deans, he said.

Jumblat: Aoun, Geagea Challenging the Lebanese, Weakening the Presidency
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stressed on Wednesday that Lebanon cannot have a confrontational presidential nominee, urging an agreement on a consensual candidate to end the deadlock in the country's top post. "I don't see an end to the (presidential) crisis because both nominees are confrontational. They have to understand that neither of them can be a confrontational candidate,” Jumblat said in an interview on Al-Jazeera television on Wednesday evening. Jumblat was referring to March 8's candidate Free Patriotic Movement head MP Michel Aoun and to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, whose candidacy is endorsed by the March 14 coalition.  He elaborated: “We have to build on the Baabda Declaration of (former) President Michel Suleiman...I proposed the nomination of (Democratic Gathering MP) Henri Helou but they said 'who is Walid Jumblat to come forward with a Christian candidate,' although the president must be a nominee of all the Lebanese.”
"Until this moment I am faced with rejection,” he noted. Jumblat said the presidential impasse is a local crisis, but remarked that some factions banked on regional developments.
"Some have banked on foreign factors and Hizbullah, for example, thought that things will end quickly in Syria but has reached a dead-end. Others banked on the (Syrian) regime's fall and this did not happen as (Syrian President) Bashar (Assad) has destroyed Syria,” he explained. In a related matter, Jumblat called on Hizbullah and others to “withdraw from the Syrian swamp” and urged strengthening the Lebanese Armed Forces. Also on the Syrian crisis, Jumblat said the neighboring country's regime possesses the capacity to create chaos in Lebanon, like carrying out assassinations or planting bomb-laden cars. "But the main factor is Iran and I do not understand the support for Assad or for (Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki. (Iran) supported two hated figures. This policy has led to the fragmentation of Syria and of Iraq.”He said: “Iranians thought Maliki can rule differently from (Iraqi powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada) al-Sadr, (leader Ammar) al-Hakim and (Grand Ayatollah Ali) al-Sistani... (Iranians) supported, along with Russia, the Assad regime until the end against terrorism.”The Druze leader said Assad is playing a “malicious game... just like (the extremist jihadist groups of) Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”He also pointed out that U.S. President Barack Obama and all “Syria's friends” have let the country down by not providing anti-rocket missiles to the Syrian opposition

ISF Says al-Kafaat Doctor was Murdered by Son
Naharnet/A physician gruesomely murdered Wednesday inside his house was killed at the hands of his own son, the Internal Security Forces announced on Thursday. The ISF said it managed to arrest the 24-year-old culprit in the Beirut suburb of Hadath only hours after he committed his crime. “Following investigations, the Baabda judicial police department arrested the victim's 24-year-old son on Wednesday at 6:00 pm in the Hadath area,” the ISF's statement said. “During interrogation, he confessed to murdering his father over disputes,” the ISF added, noting that the son has “psychiatric and neurological problems.”On Wednesday, the corpse of Dr. Hasan Abdul Hadi al-Sayyed Suleiman Hashem, a 54-year-old general practitioner, was found in his house in the Beirut southern suburb of al-Kafaat, state-run National News Agency reported. The body was burned and suffering six stab wounds to the neck and chest, NNA said. “His house was torched after he was stabbed, in a bid to hide the traces of the crime,” MTV reported.


Kabbara Slams 'Arbitrary Arrests' in Tripoli: Oppression of Sunnis Leads to Unexpected Reactions
Naharnet/The Islamic National Gathering slammed on Thursday the “arbitrary arrests targeting the sons of Tripoli” in northern Lebanon, warning that the “oppression of the Sunni sect will result in unexpected reactions.” "We reject the arbitrary arrests of Tripoli's sons and we hold the Attorney General of the court of cassation and the judges fully responsible for any Sunni's detention,” al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Mohammed Kabbara announced after a meeting with the northern city's figures. Kabbara warned that “the continuous security oppression of the Sunni sect will lead to unexpected reactions,” and deplored the campaigns against Ameed Hammoud. Hammoud was one of those who funded the Bab al-Tabbaneh fighting frontier's leaders in Tripoli and he is believed to be close to al-Mustaqbal Movement. But after the arrest of the fighting leaders, they accused Hammoud of turning his back on them and abandoning them. The al-Mustaqbal MP also called for treating the detainees “according to the law and for taking into consideration citizens' defense of their homes” and demanded transferring them out of the “inhumane” al-Rihaniyeh military prison of Baabda. "Only military personnel should be held in al-Rihaniyeh, according to the law, and it is not suitable for civilians,” he noted. But he called on the city's residents not to resort to blocking roads and roundabouts. Nevertheless, Kabbara also assured that the conferees hold onto the security plan that succeeded in achieving a ceasefire in Tripoli. Al-Mustaqbal bloc had said on Tuesday that many of the arrests in Tripoli were based on investigations that were conducted under psychological and mental pressure, considering that this resulted in launching accusations of terrorism against people “who were merely tasked with carrying guns.”


Palestinian Family Escapes Ain el-Hilweh Roof Collapse
Naharnet/A Palestinian family escaped unharmed after the roof of their apartment collapsed at Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, the state-run National News Agency reported Thursday.
NNA said the roof of one of the bedrooms collapsed when the five-member Shehabi family was having its Iftar meal in the living room on Wednesday. The daughter of Mohammed Shehabi, who has taken refuge in Lebanon from Syria along with her children, was also in the same room when the incident happened, the agency said. The four-story building lies in the camp's Fawqani street near Jal al-Halib area.
The family immediately evacuated the apartment. Shehabi also urged UNRWA to rebuild it, NNA added.


Arrest Warrant Issued against Syrian Army Defector for Belonging to ISIL
Naharnet/An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday against a Syrian national on charges of belonging to the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, reported the National News Agency. It said that Military Tribunal Judge Imad al-Zein issued the arrest warrant against detainee B.M., a defector of the Syrian army. The suspect took part in the fighting in Syria, where he joined the ranks of the Islamic Farouq Brigades. He was responsible for recruiting would-be suicide bombers and sending them to Syria. He was arrested on the Beirut-Bekaa highway, possessing the identification card of his brother in an attempt to conceal his identity. The suspect may face the death penalty if convicted. On Monday, 28 suspects were charged with belonging to ISIL, planning to carry out suicide bombings by using explosive belts and preparing explosive-rigged vehicles.

Man Sustains Gunshot Wounds after Overnight Abduction Ordeal
Naharnet/A Lebanese national was found on the side of al-Zahrani highway after a brief kidnapping ordeal, the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday. According to NNA, B. M. al-Dawoud was found overnight Thursday on the side of the Zahrani highway heading to Tyre. He sustained gunshot wounds. Dawoud was submitted into al-Rahi hospital in the southern city of Sidon for treatment. He was allegedly kidnapped by four assailants in a white Mercedes vehicle, who robbed him and threw him out of the vehicle later on. Dawoud is a pickup truck driver who transfers cattle and cows. An investigation was launched to unveil the circumstances of the incident.

Official Says Bkirki Rejects Parliamentary Polls amid Baabda Vacuum
Naharnet/The seat of the Maronite Patriarchate totally rejects holding the parliamentary elections amid a vacuum at Baabda Palace, Bkirki officials have said. The officials, who were not identified, told al-Joumhouria daily published on Thursday that Bkirki “rejects in principal that citizens head to the polls at a time when MPs don't elect a president.” “The elections would be unconstitutional if the seat of the presidency was vacant,” they said. The officials reiterated that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi believes parliament's role after the vacuum at Baabda Palace lies in only electing a new president. MPs should not legislate in the absence of a head of state, they said. “We won't accept new norms.” President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25 despite repeated pledges by al-Rahi to elect a new head of state to avoid a flaw in the country's power-sharing agreement. Under the National Pact of 1943, the president should be a Maronite, the speaker a Shiite and the premier a Sunni. The presidential deadlock threatens to worsen the country's political crisis as the parliamentary elections loom. Last year, the parliament extended its term until November 2014 after MPs failed to agree on a new electoral law. Some parties have expressed support for holding the polls while others have said they are in favor of another extension. But Bkirki rejects organizing the elections in accordance with the 1960 law which considers the qada an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system. Al-Rahi and Christian MPs in general believe that the law does not guarantee a proper representation for Christians.


Mashnouq Says Tripoli Security Plan Firm, Refuses to Yield to Street Pressure
Naharnet /Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed on Thursday that the security plan enforced in the northern city of Tripoli is “holding up,” pointing out that arrests occur according to arrest warrants. “We will not yield to the pressure exerted by the street” to free detained suspects, Mashnouq said in comments published in As Safir newspaper. The minister said that security forces apprehend felons based on documents that were inherited by the Syrian hegemony, which inflicted a “tensed” situation. Mashnouq said that the matter is being discussed with the Army Intelligence and the General Security Directorate. On Wednesday, protesters blocked roads in Tripoli with burning tires and erected tents at Abou Ali roundabout and blocked it with stones, garbage bins and some trucks demanding the release of the so-called leader of the Souq al-Qameh fighting frontier in Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood Ziad Allouki. Several grenades were also tossed near al-Nasseri mosque. Sources told As Safir newspaper that arrests are based on thorough monitoring and some obtained information, noting that the army swiftly releases “any person wrongfully detained.” In April, the army deployed heavily in Tripoli as it started implementing a security plan established by the government to end violence in the area. Tripoli witnesses frequent gunbattles between two of the impoverished neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which is dominated by Sunnis who support Syrian rebels, and Jabal Mohsen, which is dominated by Alawites, who share the same sect as Syrian President Bashar Assad. Clashes in Tripoli have left scores of casualties during the last round.

IDF tells 100,000 Gaza civilians to move back from Israeli border – sign of impending ground incursion
DEBKAfile Special Report July 10, 2014/Thursday afternoon, July 10, the IDF advised 100,000 Palestinian civilians to leave their homes in the northern Gaza villages of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Greater Ibsen and Smaller Ibsen and head west to the coast or south to remove themselves from danger. This order, issued shortly after a special Israeli cabinet meeting, suggested that an Israel military incursion is impending. During the day, Hamas kept up its barrage. By firing 100 rockets, the Islamists demonstrated that their rocket capability had not been impaired by three days of massive Israeli air strikes.
debkafile reported earlier Thursday: Early Thursday, July 10, two more rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Tel Aviv. Iron Dome intercepted one. By 9 am, 10 more landed in Negev sites. Between Wednesday midnight and Thursday morning, the Israeli Air Force and Navy had carried out 108 strikes in the Gaza Strip - 322 in 24 hours. Targeted were a weapons store, 5 arms manufacturing plants, 5 military compounds, 58 tunnels, 2 surveillance posts, 217 buried rocket launching pads, one command and control base and 46 homes of Hamas and Jihad Islami commanders.
In this time span, the Palestinians fired 234 rockets. On Wednesday July 9, the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he had ordered its expansion “until the [Palestinian] shooting stopped.” debkafile's military sources say that the IDF high command replied that expansion would necessitate adding a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to complement the air strikes. Enough equipment is present around the enclave but not enough troops. The call-up of 10,000 reservists did not meet requirements.
Since the prime minister had not yet provided them with specific orders, the air force continued to bomb rocket-related targets in Gaza, tallying strikes and publishing video clips of exploding targets and pillars of smoke. But the facts in the field speak for themselves. Despite the smoke and thunder, no senior Hamas commander or key command center has been hit – for lack of a clear directive. The Hamas chain of command is therefore still functioning. This situation is fast developing into a standoff. Hamas leaders are perfectly aware of Israel’s dilemmas and quick to exploit them. They hear Netanyahu’s solemn words, but see for themselves that the concentration of IDF ground strength on the Gaza border is short of the numbers needed for an incursion and mobilizing them will take time.
Hamas is also listening to President Shimon Peres, who assured CNN that if Hamas holds its rocket fire, the IDF won't go through with a ground incursion.
The Hamas rocket blitz has so far caused no Israeli fatalities thanks to a highly effective home defense system. On the Palestinian side, they are mounting, which they are beginning to use as a propaganda tool accompanied by vivid footage. This situation decided Hamas Wednesday night to save its rockets, especially the more valuable ones with the longest range, and so confound Israeli predictions of another massive rocket blitz in store that would again widen out to reach Haifa. Israel’s indecision about the next stage of Operation Protective Edge has given Hamas the time and breathing space it needs. Meanwhile, its most effective rockets for longer distances can be reserved for major confrontations. And, meanwhile too, the perceived weakening of the government’s resolve and its reluctance to fix on a clear final objective have become fertile ground for self-doubts and unfounded rumors. The most damaging in circulation claimed that IDF and Air Force chiefs were complaining of a shortage of good intelligence for continuing their operations. Our military sources confirm, without going into details on how much Israel knows about Hamas’ field setup, that the air force has all the intelligence it needs to carry on. What is lacking is not intelligence but a clear decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu about the operation’s ultimate goal and correlatively whether to go through with the ground operation necessary to complement the aerial operation. Until that is settled, Israel’s military operation against Hamas will continue to tread water.

At least 80 killed in Israeli raids on Gaza
By Staff Writer | Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 10 July 2014
At least 80 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israel's offensive on Gaza, medical sources said on Thursday, as international voices rise for an end to violence.
A Palestinian family of eight members, including five children, were killed in an early morning air strike that destroyed at least two homes in Khan Younis, south of Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Another strike on the city killed a 19-year-old man and his 75-year-old father. A four-year-old child who was also injured in one of the strikes on Khan Yunis succumbed to her injuries during the day.
A woman carries an injured child into the al-Najar hospital in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 9, 2014. (AFP)
At least 31 people were reportedly killed on Thursday. Israel's military made no comment on what would be the deadliest strike since the offensive began on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“We have long days of fighting ahead of us,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday on Twitter of the offensive which began after a build-up of violence following the killing of three Jewish students last month and the murder of a Palestinian teen in a suspected revenge attack. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for a ceasefire, calling on the international community to do everything to halt escalating violence in Gaza. “It is now more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to calm and a ceasefire understanding,” he told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.  Palestinian rescuers check a car hit by an Israeli air strike killing the driver in Gaza City on July 9, 2014. (AFP) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for an end to spiralling violence in Gaza during telephone talks with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. “The Russian side stressed the necessity to as soon as possible stop armed confrontation, which leads to multiple victims among civilians,” the Kremlin said after the call between the two leaders. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Beijing for a summit with Chinese leaders, said the U.S. is trying to stem the surging violence in a way that allows the Jewish state to continue defending itself from Hamas rocket fire. He called it a “dangerous moment” for the Mideast. Kerry said he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the operation was going according to plan, with Israel targeting various Hamas interests.
“The military's successes so far have been very significant,” he said. “We will continue until they understand that this escalation is not beneficial to them and that we will not tolerate rocket fire toward our towns and citizens.”[With AFP and Reuters]

Iraqi Kurds say ‘hysterical’ Maliki must quit
Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 10 July 2014
A spokesman for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had “become hysterical” and should step down, a day after Maliki accused the Kurds of hosting the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Maliki “has become hysterical and has lost his balance. He is doing everything he can to justify his failures and put the blame on others for these failures,” read the statement, published on the Kurdish regional presidency website in English. Addressing the Maliki, the spokesman said: “Kurdistan is proud for that fact the Arbil has always served as refuge for oppressed people, including yourself when you fled the former dictatorship.”“Now Arbil is a refuge for people fleeing from your dictatorship. ISIS and other groups have no place in Arbil, they stay with you. It was you who gave Iraqi land and the assets of six army divisions to ISIS,” the spokesman added. The Kurdish presidency demanded Maliki to apologize. “You must apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises.” In another step Kurdish ministers said they were boycotting meetings of Iraq's caretaker cabinet and authorities in Baghdad halted cargo flights to two Kurdish cities. However, the officials would continue running their ministries and “did not pull out from the government,” a senior Kurdish official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters. The virulent statement came after Maliki charged that the Kurdish regional capital Arbil was harboring militants fighting his government, including from ISIS. “We cannot be silent over a movement that exploited the circumstances and expanded,” Maliki said Wednesday, infuriated by a Kurdish announcement that plans for an independence referendum were to speed up. Kurdish troops moved into a swathe of disputed areas after federal security forces withdrew as a jihadist-led alliance of militants swept through northern Iraq last month.
The Kurdish peshmerga fighters were in some places the only rampart against the jihadists, but Barzani has since vowed they would never leave the disputed areas again.
(With AFP and Reuters)

ISIS intensifies offensive against Kurds in Syria

Associated Press, Beirut /Thursday, 10 July 2014
Islamic militants using weapons they recently seized in neighboring Iraq intensified an offensive against Kurdish areas in northern Syria as they fight to expand the territory under their control, activists said Thursday. The clashes came as a Syrian watchdog group said the death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has climbed to 171,000, reflecting the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved. Nearly half of the dead were civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and Kurdish fighters have been fighting each other for a year, but the Kurds were usually the instigators until earlier this month when the balance of power appears to have tipped in favor of the Sunni extremists because of the large amounts of weapons they brought from Iraq into Syria. ISIS fighters captured several Kurdish villages and killed dozens of fighters in the area this week, according to activists.
The clashes come after ISIS seized territories straddling Syria and neighboring Iraq and declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate. Most of the land was seized in June during a push across Iraq. They captured large amounts of weapons left behind by Iraqi troops including U.S.-made armored personnel carriers, Humvees and artillery. Kurdish official Nawaf Khalil said members of the ISIS group are trying to capture an area near the Turkish border that would link it with their positions in eastern Syria. He and other activists said the fighting is concentrated in the region of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab.
Mustafa Osso, a Turkey-based Kurdish activist who has wide contacts in northern Syria, says the aim of the offensive is to take the entire Kobani area. Osso says those standing against ISIS are mostly members of the People’s Protection Units, the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party. “We have called for support from Kurds around the world,” said Khalil, an official with the party. Osso said jihadi fighters are using mortar shells and artillery captured earlier in Iraq in their attacks on Kurdish areas. Both Khalil and the Observatory said some of the dead Kurdish fighters were charred without suffering any bullets or shrapnel wounds. The Observatory said the burned bodies “have made doctors suspicious about the type of weapons used.” On Wednesday, ISIS captured three villages near Kobani and pressed forward toward the border town. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up more than 10 percent of the country’s prewar population of 23 million. They are centered in the impoverished northeastern province of Hassakeh, wedged between the borders of Turkey and Iraq. Also Thursday, the U.N. Refugee Agency announced that it began an airlift operation to deliver emergency relief items from Damascus to 50,000 people in Hassakeh. Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011 has led to the displacement of nearly a third of its prewar population of 23 million.
The Britain-based Observatory said in a statement Thursday that 171,000 people have been killed, raising the death toll from the 160,000 it announced in mid-May.
It said the dead included 39,036 government forces, 24,655 pro-government gunmen, 15,422 opposition fighters, 2,354 army defectors and more than 500 Lebanese fighters from the Hezbollah militant group that is backing Syrian President Bashar Assad. The rest were mostly civilians. Meanwhile, the government sent more elite forces to the contested northern city of Aleppo as troops try to besiege rebel-held neighborhoods in the country’s largest city. Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial center, has been carved up since an opposition offensive began in mid-2012. Aleppo is the last large urban area that Syrian rebels hold after losing territory to government forces in other parts of Syria over the past year. Government troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been steadily seizing control of the city’s entrances in recent days, according to activists in the city.

Israel’s next move: ground invasion of Gaza?
By Brooklyn Middleton | Special to Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Since the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Protective Edge during overnight hours on Monday, at least 48 Palestinians have been killed - including several senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants as well as an 8 year-old child and an 80-year-old civilian; meanwhile, Hamas and other Gaza-based militants have indiscriminately fired at least 225 rockets at civilian populations targeting most of Israel’s major cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beersheva, without causing deaths. At least 40 of these rockets were intercepted and destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. The first major Israel-Hamas flare up since the eight-day-war in November 2012 shows little signs of de-escalating in the near term. In the first 48-hours, the intensity of Israel’s operation has already proven far greater than the last with the IDF confirming over 500 targets have been hit. While at the same time, Hamas has already demonstrated an unprecedented capability to hit Israel’s northern cities, with at least one rocket striking Hof HaCarmel, located just south of the major city of Haifa and a total of approximately 145 kilometers away from the Strip.
Moreover, according to security reports, militant factions in Gaza are now in possession of double the amount of rockets they had during the 2012 war - one factor alone that significantly increases the likelihood for a much broader conflict with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly indicated the IDF would expand the operation, asking Israelis to “display patience, because this operation could take time.” While in the coming days Israel will continue and likely step up its airborne assault on positions in the Strip, a ground incursion in the near term cannot be ruled out.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, Daniel Nisman, President of Levantine Group, a geopolitical risk consultancy based in Tel Aviv, noted preparations for a ground offensive were already likely underway and that the longer Hamas fails to stop firing rockets, the greater the likelihood for a ground incursion becomes, perhaps even as soon as within “the next 1-2 weeks,” Nisman said.
He further noted that, “This would be a much larger ground offensive than Hamas is anticipating,” and that the operation, “would first aim to cut the Gaza Strip into different sections, then take control of peripheral areas which are used to launch short and medium range rockets.”Former IDF officer Dror Markus echoed this analysis, in a separate interview, indicating that if Hamas fulfills its goals of inflicting casualties on Israeli civilians, “Netanyahu will be left with no choice other than a limited ground military incursion.”That said, Markus also pointed out what he indicated were “interesting patterns with the rocket fire” with “heavy, simultaneous barrages trying to test the Iron dome system [but with] more focus on shooting rockets at Tel Aviv and the center than [at] Beersheva.”
He noted that this pattern could signify a subtle message that Hamas is unwilling to do something that would immediately guarantee a ground invasion such as launching a massive volley of rockets at the southern cities of Sderot or Beersheva - which would be more likely to cause injuries or casualties than firing a limited amount of rockets at center cities like Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, domestically, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians continue skyrocketing over the grotesque revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager at the hands of radical Israelis.
A ground incursion in the Gaza strip could further exacerbate the unrest, likely triggering riots in East Jerusalem and across Arab-Israeli towns. That said, whether or not a third intifada is indeed imminent, according to Nisman, remains unlikely at the moment. “Palestinian Authority media outlets in the West Bank are not showing sympathy for Hamas,” he noted.
This is an important point; while the embryonic Fatah-Hamas unity government spirals once again into nothingness, Hamas could align itself - politically - with other fringe factions in the Gaza Strip as it has now done once again, militarily.

The mistake of supporting Islamic groups in Syria
Thursday, 10 July 2014/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
The belief that there is an Islamic military group that is friendly and another that is evil is a pure myth. All Islamic organizations we see today, from Afghanistan to Algeria and Nigeria, are hostile and subscribe to a takfirist ideology (which involves accusing others of apostasy). They raise the banners of Islam and resemble the mobs of those who defected from the Muslim community during the dawn of Islam, those who were called the “Khawarij.” History is full of horrific accounts of their crimes. Caliphs Othman, Ali and Moawiya all fought against them.
The Syrian Islamic Front is an example of the mistake of trusting those groups which uphold religious banners. The Syrian Islamic Front was presented to the Syrians as a moderate organization that aims to confront the expansion of extremist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But with time, it has been revealed that the Islamic Front is just like ISIS. It rejects the notion of citizenship and believes in the religious bond. It also considers that its duty is to spread Islam among Syria’s Muslims as if they are “infidels.”
What is strange is that Arab and Western parties believed that inventing another Islamic organizations as an alternative to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s ISIS, Abu Mohammad al-Golani’s al-Nusra Front and other extremist organizations could rid the Syrian revolution of takfirists and terrorists.
The act of taking up arms and the willingness to sacrifice oneself is mostly linked to extremist religious thinking
These religious groups which claim to uphold centrism and moderation have not proven this to be true even once! What happens is that they use moderation to reach extremism. They sneak in, in the name of moderation, and turn the individual who believes in co-existence and civility of the state into a takfirist who rejects other citizens of different religions or sects or those who are not as extremist as he is!
I am not saying that there are no moderates. I am saying that there are no moderate military organizations. The act of taking up arms and the willingness to sacrifice oneself is mostly linked to extremist religious thinking. This is why the Syrian Islamic Front was a naïve, or even an evil idea. It succeeded at strengthening other takfirist groups like ISIS and weakened national civil parties like the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Those who marketed the idea of engaging Islamic groups in the war are the ones who destroyed the idea of change which was based on getting rid of a fascist security regime and replacing it with a civil government that is all-inclusive and ends the Syrian people’s suffering.
Repeating harmful mistakes
What previously happened in Afghanistan - the policy of resorting to jihadist groups to get rid of the communists - was repeated in Syria when the Islamic Front and the al-Nusra Front were formed. On the practical level, it resulted in a similar outcome, or a rather more dangerous and harmful one because it uses people’s faith and builds upon their history to establish a regime that rejects others. It is led by extremists whose aspiration is to rule. They shed blood, violate sanctities and accuse other Muslims of infidelity. These are the exact people that Islam warned of. Later on, dozens of fighters from Syrian brigades joined ISIS, admiring its success and ferocity.
The funds and efforts of those who invented and supported “moderate” Islamic groups were thus funneled in the opposite direction.
Someone told me that a group like the Syrian Islamic Front was invented to fight against ISIS. Hundreds of extremists were actually gotten rid of at the beginning of this year. But look at what happened later! ISIS, thanks to its successes and appalling actions, managed to attract tens of thousands of brainwashed youths. The result was that a few hundred ISIS members were eliminated and replaced by thousands of others!This takes us back to square one - to supporting the national opposition that represents all Syrians and to helping it form parties that represent all Syrians. There are thousands of defectors and former recruits outside Syria as well as thousands of youths who desire to end their country’s crisis. Without building an army that believes in the state and national values - which doesn’t at all contradict with religious values - Syria will remain a destroyed land and a hotbed for terrorists who don’t only consider the regime their enemy but who consider the entire society to be full of infidels who must be saved, purged or fought.
The Syrian fighter in the FSA may not resemble his rival, the suicide bomber and ferocious fighter from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front. However, this does not lessen his value or loyalty. He may reject blowing himself up in a car among the enemy’s ranks because he wants to live. After all, although the world’s armies fight bravely, they don’t necessarily fight mercilessly. The FSA can win through modern technology and can lessen the bloodshed by using the help of most Syrians, especially after they were terrorized by the hideous crimes of the regime, ISIS and similar takfirist groups.
Support the idea of a national army which represents all the Syrians and their aspirations, and work towards a state that is inclusive of all people.

PA and Other Arab Reactions to the Gaza Crisis
By: David Pollock/Washington Institute
July 9, 2014
Abbas and other Arab leaders demand that Israel stop striking Gaza, but not that Hamas stop shooting rockets at Israel. So the United States should demand they correct that imbalance.
The most striking aspect of ongoing Arab reactions to the latest Hamas-Israeli clashes is an act of omission: the Palestinian Authority (PA) and President Mahmoud Abbas are not calling for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities. This contradicts Abbas's recent declarations that the new PA government and its Hamas backers would honor past PA commitments regarding nonviolence against Israel. A new statement from Abbas's office claims that "the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves by all legitimate means" against "Israeli escalation."
In today's latest twist, Abbas and the PA are not just calling for Israel to stop its airstrikes against Hamas targets inside Gaza. According to several plausible press reports, they are also threatening to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court for the "war crime" or "genocide" of responding to Hamas rocket attacks. PA messaging, moreover, makes no effort to distinguish between the Hamas "political leadership" -- which signed the reconciliation agreement with the PA's ruling Fatah Party and may have attempted to restrain the initial rocket salvos -- and the Hamas "military wing," which some PA officials privately blame for trying to torpedo reconciliation by firing indiscriminately at Israel.
The official messages from Fatah, of which Abbas is also the chairman, are even more inflammatory, explicitly praising the rocket fire and threatening all Israelis with death and destruction. Ironically, pro-Hamas Palestinian media are taking the PA to task for offering mere verbal support, even as it largely strives to maintain calm and coordination with Israel in the West Bank territory it controls.
The Arab League and the governments of Qatar and Syria have issued similarly one-sided statements, demanding that Israel stop its "aggression "or "escalation" while failing to acknowledge that Hamas rocket fire provoked the latest conflict, or even to urge Hamas to desist. But none of this rhetoric has been matched with threats of direct action, and some of the pronouncements seem to shift the onus of taking action to others. For example, Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Araby called for a UN Security Council emergency session to "stop Israel's aggressions," with no mention of Hamas responsibility. Overall, Arab official and media commentary has been relatively sparse, likely due at least in part to the worse bloodshed besetting other countries in the region. But coverage of Gaza may well increase over time, as it has in past episodes.Official statements from Egypt and Jordan have been somewhat more balanced. Jordan's foreign minister Nasser Judeh urged Israel to "stop its escalation immediately," but also called for "the restoration of complete calm and avoidance of targeting civilians" and even for "the return to direct negotiations." The office of Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi called for "an immediate ceasefire" out of concern for "the safety of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip."Since Sisi took over, however, Cairo has downgraded its contacts with Hamas; and that decision, while constructive overall, would likely have the unintended consequence of making any Egyptian effort to broker a ceasefire less effective than in the past. And there is no sign this time that Egypt is actively pursuing a deal on reopening its Rafah crossing into Gaza, except for emergency medical and other small-scale humanitarian purposes. A more expansive approach to reopening Rafah might make a ceasefire more acceptable to both Hamas and Israel, as on some previous occasions.
Finally, high-level U.S. statements, from President Obama on down, have so far not asked Abbas to account for the PA's failure to oppose the Hamas rocket fire. Rather, these statements appear well behind the curve, focusing on past peace talks or the recent kidnapping episodes instead of dealing with the immediate military crisis. On Tuesday, the State Department spokesperson "strongly" condemned "the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza," adding that the United States "certainly supports Israel's right to defend itself against these attacks." Yet she added that "both sides" should "de-escalate tensions on the ground," and that Abbas faces "limitations" on his influence in Gaza. In this urgent new situation, Washington should unconditionally demand that Hamas stop shooting rockets into Israel -- and that the PA fulfill its longstanding commitment to precisely that position.
**David Pollock is the Kaufman Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of Fikra Forum.

When the Fires Threaten the Arsonists
By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
The Arab world currently feels like an arid land that has been set on fire. But it seems the arsonists responsible are yet to realize that the wind is blowing their way, and that as soon as the flames begin to spread, they will be the first victims. There are several reasons why the region has become the way it is now. Negligence, dependence, and a lack of care and attention given to the new generation of Arabs are just some of them. As a result, we, in the overwhelming majority of our countries, are paying a hefty price for the loss of generations of young people who were driven by frustration and failure to the verge of despair and a feeling of marginalization. Consequently, they have become easy prey for those who exploit extremism and introversion.
Our governments have failed to tackle corruption, instead deciding to coexist with it, tolerate it, and even justify it under a host of different names over the past decades. Our youth have thus found themselves in a situation where they have had to choose between the lesser of two evils: either to submissively accept the status quo or reject everything and embrace nihilism. Our education systems let them down by neglecting the idea of proper and realistic planning that maintains the right balance between the needs of the labor market and the capabilities required for educational institutions. As a result, the value of a university degree has diminished, and it has now become nothing more than a mere piece of paper required to secure a job. That is why we see long hordes of university graduates lining up to compete for jobs that do not really exist, a case of “masked unemployment.” The nature of the family has also changed. The family, like the individual, has lost the state of balance between openness to change and the preservation of traditions, originality and professional ethics.
Even our economies, particularly in the countries which lack the sufficiency provided by oil, were either improvised under ideologically oriented mismanagement, or have become openly corrupt under the guise of the “free market economy.”All these plagues are internal and structural, but they have worsened in light of recent regional developments whose negative effects cannot be underestimated or denied; although, in most cases, they have been the peg on which the failures are hung, in order to escape admitting the truth.
Let us turn to Israel, then.
It is true that Arabs and Muslims were too late in understanding the reality of Israel and what it represents to its people, to those who believe in it as an idea, and to the Western superpowers. It is these superpowers that promised to establish the State of Israel and have been nurturing and arming it ever since. Arabs and Muslims were late in understanding the truth that Israel is “a Western outpost.” In fact, for a major superpower like the US, anything related to Israel is considered a “domestic issue.”
But, on the other hand, Israel has always believed that the best way to deal with Arabs—whom it continues to believe are determined to wipe Israel out of existence—is the ‘divide and rule’ policy. As a result, Israel has exploited everything that increases the backwardness and misery of Arabs and Muslims. It also stood against any progressive, enlightening or developmental movement, even if the stated goals of such movements resembled the “ideals” promoted in the West and around the globe by the Zionist movement for its “brain child” Israel—even before it was born and became a major regional power.
One example is that Israel rejected, without hesitation, the idea of “a single democratic state” for Israelis and Palestinians, which was proposed by leftist forces from the two sides. This outright rejection was based on the pretext that such an idea would undermine the “Jewish identity” of the state. Even when the barely balanced two-state solution was put forward in the aftermath of the Cold War, Israel was keen to discredit and plant wedges within the Palestinian ranks. In fact, Israel has worked unceasingly towards creating suitable conditions for a intra-Palestinian civil war. Such a policy simply made of the two-state idea a silly and meaningless joke.
Even at this particular moment when Israel is bombarding the Gaza Strip, it is actually seeking to give respectability to the “logic” of Palestinian extremism and to destroy any credibility for any Palestinian side seeking serious, frank and in-depth peace talks not based first and foremost on the principle of unconditional submission.
Israel today follows the school of thought of Netanyahu, Bennett, Lieberman, et al, in not wanting negotiators on the opposite side of the table but, rather, submissive, defeated people who are willing to exist in temporary Bantustans until the time comes for their final “transfer.” There is no better evidence of the dangers of the breeding ground of extremism this school of thought is creating than the sick mentality of the extremist settlers who kidnapped Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khudair and then burned him alive.
However, this “school” and its “breeding ground” could not have developed in isolation. There have been conditions conducive to giving both their pretexts to exist and providing their crimes with precious mitigating justifications such as self-defense and tit-for-tat revenge. For example, the issue of the kidnapping and killing of three Israel teenagers, in particular, urgently requires an investigation. How can such a horrible crime be justified? Who has an interest in this? Who planned it? Who executed it? Why at this time in particular? And how could it be possible that those who planned and executed the crime were not aware there would be a reaction from an extremist Israeli authority that is essentially keen to do whatever it can to placate a band of extremist settlers?
One the other side of the coin are those who claim they are in a permanent “existential battle” with Israel. This group, it seems, is divided into two camps. The first is a hardline Shi’ite camp represented by the velayat-e faqih (rule by a supreme Islamic jurist) system in Iran, and its henchmen and agents across the Arab world. The second is a hardline Sunni camp at the forefront of which are the forces of “political Islam,” along with jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which have grown and proliferated despite both Iranian ambitions and Israeli aggression in the region. But what is now really interesting is that some components of the second (Sunni) camp are closely linked to the first (Shi’ite) camp. This is a well-known fact in Gaza before anywhere else, and we witness it today also in a number of other Arab countries. As seen in the cases of the less-hardline Sunni political Islam of countries like Egypt, Jordan and Sudan, there seems to be no genuine conflict of interest between some strains of political Islam and Tehran’s rulers.
Given this rather bizarre situation, we have to go deeper in order to explore the “intersection” of interests between the three forms of religious extremism: the Jewish settlers, the Khomeinist–Khameneist Shi’ite Islamists, and the Sunni Islamists comprising the Muslim Brotherhood (and, by necessity, Hamas) along with the Al-Qaeda and ISIS jihadist groups.
It is very clear from the catastrophes in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the remainder of Palestine, as well as Western stances towards them, that our backwardness and the decline in the immunity of our nations now provide the widest space for such an “intersection” of interests to play out and destroy the Arab identity in the region. But this may not be the whole picture. Those arsonists who have ignited the fire in the region may soon find themselves threatened by it; especially now that they have lost control of the direction of the blowing wind.

The Next Steps after an Iranian Nuclear Deal
By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 10 Jul, 2014
After a decade of failed nuclear negotiations, Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) signed an interim nuclear deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), in Geneva on November 24, 2013. This hopeful effort put in motion talks to reach a mutually agreed, long-term, comprehensive solution that ensures Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. In a broader sense, a successful outcome of the nuclear negotiations with Iran will have a profound impact on nuclear non-proliferation. It could be a significant step towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East.
A final comprehensive agreement is meant to be concluded within a year of the interim deal. In theory, Iran will accept limitations on its uranium enrichment program and submit to intrusive inspections. In return, world powers will remove sanctions, respect the country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology——including enrichment——and normalize Iran’s nuclear file.
The components of an agreement would include a specified and mutually agreed timeframe for interim confidence-building measures, which that reflect the rights and obligations of parties under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Safeguards Agreement. They would also include the comprehensive lifting of UN, multilateral, and national nuclear-related sanctions, including restrictions on Iran’s access to trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon.
If diplomacy fails and the interim deal does not produce a permanent solution, it will ultimately lead to heightened tensions, possibly even all-out war, and force Iran to withdraw from the NPT. Now that, against all odds, the United States and the European Union appear to be closer to making a deal with Iran, skeptics and opponents have started mobilizing again——in both Tehran as well as in many other capitals, including Washington.
The road to a comprehensive solution is strewn with obstacles. Challenges to a final agreement include differences over Iran’s Heavy Water Reactor at Arak, its uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, the overall capacity of Iran’s enrichment program, and levels of transparency regarding the program as a whole.
All these obstacles will be overcome only if the six world powers agree, in return for Iran’s offer of interim limitations and extra transparency, to respect Iran’s legitimate right to peaceful nuclear technology (including uranium enrichment), lift all sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, withdraw Iran’s nuclear file from the UN Security Council, and normalize its relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Finalizing a deal will require compromise by all parties. One of the key challenges will be the likely American US insistence that Tehran make concessions far beyond the requirements of the NPT. As an NPT member state, Iran will not accept what it perceives as discrimination against it in the application of this treaty. To resolve the IAEA’s concerns about a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program, Iran could agree to a specific timeframe to give the IAEA managed access to some facilities.
As stated, a comprehensive agreement with Iran will give impetus to the creation of a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free-Zone in the Middle East. The seeds for this were already planted on December 9, 1974, when the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 3263, sponsored by Iran and Egypt, calling for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the region. The zone would remain in force indefinitely and commit regional countries not to manufacture, acquire, test or possess nuclear weapons.
With fourteen 14 countries now operating or building enrichment plants, boosting interest in nuclear energy among Middle East countries, a successful resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis could provide a model for dealing with other countries with nuclear breakout capability, and contribute positively to non-proliferation. It is clear that a final deal with Iran could ensure the maximum level of transparency and all necessary confidence-building measures to assure observers that the Iranian nuclear program will remain peaceful forever. This could be the model for all other Middle East countries to follow as the first big step towards realization of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
As the only country in the region with a civilian enrichment program, Iran could play a pioneering role by embracing ideas like such as a regional or international consortium for nuclear technology, multinational partnerships for uranium enrichment, and multilateral fuel arrangements in the Middle East.
A comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran could be a model for future talks with regional countries and others who are on the verge of entering the nuclear arena. The international community has the moral responsibility to settle the differences with Tehran in an amicable and sustainable manner. It must then force Israel to join the NPT and dismantle its nuclear arsenal. The future of non-proliferation in the region and beyond is at stake. This article is adapted from an essay in the Summer 2014 edition of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs (