July 12/14

Bible Quotation for today/Whoever welcomes you welcomes me

Matthew 10,40-42.11,1/‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’ Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities."

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 12/14

Gaza Air Strikes Are a Necessary Show of Force for Israel/By: Michael Herzog/Guardian/July 12/14

A Difficult Phase for Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Ambitions/By: Raghida Dergham/July 12/14

The Storming of Baghdad/By: Wafiq Al-Samarrai/Asharq Al Awsat/July 12/14

Barzani Flying a Kite/By: Amir Taheri/Asharq Alawsat/July 12/14

The New Jihad/By Margaret Coker/The Wall Street Journal/July 12/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 12/14
Lebanese Related News

Hamas rockets move north up to Haifa. Katyushas from Lebanon aimed at Metulla. Israeli artillery returns fire

Arrests Made as Rockets Fired from Southern Lebanon Land in Israel, Drawing Retaliation

Army Arrests Suspects for Aiding Fighters in Bekaa Valley
Berri Gives Cabinet a Push despite Parliament Paralysis

Death Penalty Sought for Rifaat Eid, Jabal Mohsen Top Gunmen

Three Rockets Target Bekaa Town of Brital

Security Forces Deploy Heavily in Tripoli amid Arrests of Suspects

Qazzi Slams Bou Saab over Lebanese University Decree

Taif is an umbrella of stability: Jumblatt

Uber opens its doors to Beirut passengers

Ministers to draft action plan for water crisis
Four rockets hit near Bekaa village

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 12/14

Obama: US willing to mediate Israel-Hamas truce

Netanyahu: All options open for Gaza offensive

Liberman says Israel must 'go all the way and eradicate Hamas regime in Gaza'

Gaza Toll Hits 100 as Netanyahu Says World Pressure Won't Stop Israel 'Striking Terrorists'
Turkey's Erdogan Lashes out at Israel's 'Lies' over Gaza

Palestinians in Gaza launch salvo of rockets toward greater Tel Aviv

Egypt Says Efforts to Halt Gaza Conflict Face 'Stubbornness'

Egypt Says 20 Grad Rockets Smuggled from Gaza Seized

Hamas Taunts Israel with Battle Song in Hebrew

Hamas is fighting, but Israel is winning

Iraq's Boycotting Kurdish FM Replaced

ISIS in control of 60 percent of Syrian oil: sources

ICRC: Displaced Swell Syria Coastal Population by 50%

Iraqi Kurds take over 2 northern oil fields
Suicide and sexual abuse plague Syrian refugees
Iran renews Israel accusation over missing envoys


Stone Ages mentality
Elias Bejjani/He who hears the pathetic rhetoric Gaza war condemnation issued by Arabic Leaders feels pity for these stupid and out of touch creatures

Qazzi Slams Bou Saab over Lebanese University Decree
Naharnet/Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi held Education Minister Elias Bou Saab responsible for the cabinet's failure to approve the decree on the Lebanese University and accused him of harming the consensus agreement reached among its members. “I hold Minister Bou Saab responsible for the failure. He is also harming the concept of consensus in the cabinet,” Qazzi told several local dailies published on Friday. Qazzi, a Kataeb party official, also accused the education minister, who had proposed the decree, of linking the education file with politics and sectarianism. The cabinet members reached an agreement on Thursday on the full-time employment of LU's contract workers but failed to strike a deal on the appointment of deans over differences between Kataeb and the Progressive Socialist Party on their sects. Cabinet decrees require the approval of its 24 ministers in accordance with an agreement reached last month in light of the vacuum at Baabda Palace. “Bou Saab mismanaged the (LU) file academically and politically. He deceived the teachers by claiming that he was capable of giving them their rights and by deluding politicians that he could guarantee their demands,” said Qazzi. The education minister “has been working on guaranteeing the interests and shares of the Free Patriotic Movement,” he added. Qazzi justified Kataeb's dispute with the PSP and the failure to approve the decree by saying that his party would have not asked for Kataeb-affiliated deans if the issue was academic and not political.
“But we do have the right to suggest two names after the choice became political,” he said.

Security Forces Deploy Heavily in Tripoli amid Arrests of Suspects

Naharnet/Security forces staged a number of raids in the northern city of Tripoli on Friday in search of wanted suspects and in light of recent rallies in the city that demanded a halt to the “arbitrary” arrests taking place there. MTV reported that a suspect was arrested during a raid on the government hospital in the district of al-Qobbeh. Security forces have meanwhile deployed heavily in the city, setting up checkpoints backed by armored vehicles, said the National News Agency. The security forces inspected the identification cards of pedestrians in search of wanted suspects. Meanwhile, a leading member of the Mustaqbal Movement told MTV: “Tripoli is not an extremist city. Its residents support the continuation of the security plan in order to achieve justice and see the suspects put on trial.”The Islamic National Gathering slammed on Thursday the “arbitrary arrests targeting the sons of Tripoli”, 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,” Mustaqbal bloc MP Mohammed Kabbara announced after a meeting with the northern city's figures. The 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.”

Three Rockets Target Bekaa Town of Brital
Naharnet /Three rockets landed in the northern Bekaa town of Brital on Friday, causing no casualties. According to LBCI television, the projectiles were fired from the Eastern Mountain Range on the border between Lebanon and Syria. Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said the shelling caused material damage. “The first rocket landed west of the international highway in grape groves belonging to the Jaafar family,” the National News Agency said, adding that “shrapnel hit the nearby houses without causing any casualties.”The second rocket fell in a wasteland east of the international highway.Later on Friday, LBCI said a third rocket struck Brital without leading to any injuries. On Tuesday, a rocket launched from the same region fell near the northern Bekaa town of al-Fakiha. Six rockets fired from the Eastern Mountain Belt landed in and around Brital on June 28 without causing any injuries. Extremist Islamist groups usually claim responsibility for such attacks, arguing that they come in retaliation to Hizbullah's military intervention in Syria.

Death Penalty Sought for Rifaat Eid, Jabal Mohsen Top Gunmen

Naharnet /An indictment issued Friday demanded the death penalty for Arab Democratic Party top official Rifaat Eid and three others on charges of murder and terrorism. Military Examining Magistrate Judge Riyad “Abu Ghida has issued an indictment demanding the death penalty for Rifaat Eid and three leaders of Jabal Mohsen's fighting frontiers on charges of murder and terrorism,” LBCI television reported. The charges also include “starting gunbattles between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.”On April 28, new arrest warrants were issued against Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid, his son Rifaat and others over their involvement in the 18th round of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli. The warrants came as army troops and security forces started implementing an unprecedented security plan in the North and the Bekaa, which resulted in the arrest of dozens of fugitives while many others are still at large, among them Ali and Rifaat Eid.
That was the third arrest warrant against Rifaat Eid, whose father Ali is accused of helping fugitives behind the 2013 blasts against Tripoli mosques escape justice. On April 5, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 12 Lebanese, including Rifaat Eid, with belonging to an armed terrorist group, possession of arms, inciting sedition and involvement in gunbattles between the rival Tripoli districts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh. According to Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, Rifaat Eid fled to Orange County, California. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has noted the party's chief Ali Eid left Lebanon to Syria.

Arrests Made as Rockets Fired from Southern Lebanon Land in Israel, Drawing Retaliation
Naharnet/ Several rockets were fired on northern Israel from the outskirts of the town of Mari in Hasbaya on Friday morning, drawing retaliatory Israeli artillery fire, the Lebanese army and the state-run National News Agency said.The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau later arrested a suspect linked to the attack.
The Lebanese army said militants fired three rockets between 1:00 am and and 6:00 am. But the Israeli army said one projectile fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel causing no harm or damages. "One projectile hit an open space near Kfar Yuval, between (northern Israeli towns) Metula and Kiryat Shmona," a military spokeswoman told Agence France Presse. Israel public radio said two Katyusha rockets slammed into an area north of Kiryat Shmona, one of which struck a road which was deserted at the time.  Military officials told the radio said they believed the rockets were fired by a small Palestinian group in an act of solidarity with militants from Gaza's Islamist Hamas movement who are engaged in a major confrontation with the Israeli army since Tuesday. They said it was unlikely the rockets were fired by Hizbullah movement. A third rocket failed to launch because of a technical malfunction in the area of Ain Arab at around 2:00 am. The rocket exploded while still on its launchpad, NNA said.
According to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3), the Lebanese army found military gear and blood stains in the area. The ISF Intelligence Bureau later arrested Hussein Azza Atweh in the town of al-Habarieh.
He was severely wounded while firing a rocket towards Israel at dawn, reported MTV. VDL (93.3) later said that the suspect is a member of an extremist group, confessing that he was accompanied by two Palestinians when firing the rockets. The army said it also defused two more rockets at the scene. Security forces and the army drew a tight dragnet in the two areas to search for the suspects standing behind the attack. No one immediately claimed responsibility for it. The Israeli army retaliated by firing about a dozen artillery shells on the outskirts of Kfarshouba and surrounding areas. Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said artillery units had fired a barrage at "suspicious positions" sighted over the border. A Lebanese security source said "no one was hurt, the shelling hit the fields, not houses. “The situation at the border is now calm, and one man has been detained by the security forces for questioning," said the source. NNA identified the suspect as Samir Hussein Abou Qais, who hails from the town of al-Habariya. It said the ISF Intelligence Branch arrested him after finding blood stains inside the Renault Rapid he was driving. The ISF suspected that the person behind the failed missile launch in Ain Arab had used the car to escape. UNIFIL said in a press release that Commander Major-General Paolo Serra is “in close contact with the parties urging maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.”It added that peacekeepers reinforced their “presence on the ground and intensified patrols across the area of operations to prevent any further incidents.”Serra said: “This is a serious incident in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area.”“The need of the time is to maintain security vigil and to exercise utmost restraint against any provocation,” he added.Agence France Presse

Hamas rockets move north up to Haifa. Katyushas from Lebanon aimed at Metulla. Israeli artillery returns fire
DEBKAfile Special Report July 11, 2014Another half a million Israelis came under Hamas rocket attack before dawn Friday, July 11, as Hamas again expanded its rocket radius to the towns between Hadera and Haifa, 150 km north of the Gaza Strip. A woman of 70 collapsed and died running to a shelter when she heard the Haifa siren. Metullah, Israel’s northernmost town, was alerted early Friday by two Katyusha missiles from Lebanon. One landed between the Galilee town and Kfar Yuval. The sources of the fire are reported by debkafile’s military sources as two Lebanese villages: Ain Arab, in the Hizballah-ruled Beqaa Valley, and Mari near the southern town of Hatsbaya. The first failed to take off but, because it was launched from a Hizballah stronghold, it is being taken as a possible first omen of Hizballah preparedness to open a second front against Israel to support Hamas – even though their relations have become strained. Israeli artillery directed return fire from Mt. Dov against the Hizballah village of Kfar Chouba. Lebanese army sources reported that at Mari, another two rockets were found ready for launching against Israel. The southern Israeli towns of Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot and Shear Hanegev got their first barrage of the day from Hamas. Iron Dome went into action, intercepting two rockets aimed at Sderot, after knocking out 40 of the 170 Hamas fired Thursday.
For the fourth day, Israeli air strikes continued to hammer the Gaza Strip, hitting 200 targets in the last 24 hours. The air force is seriously restricted in its targeting by deliberately avoiding hitting high-rise residential buildings and hospitals, where Hamas and Jihad Islami have stored their longest-range rockets, as well as being unable to reach the underground bunkers where Hamas keeps its main arsenals and key commanders safely hidden. Nonetheless Palestinian deaths in the four days of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge have climbed to 90 and 660 injured. The option of an IDF ground operation to put a stop to Hamas’s rocket blitz is still on the table.
debkafile reported earlier:
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.

Army Arrests Suspects for Aiding Fighters in Bekaa Valley
Naharnet/The Lebanese army has arrested several gunmen in the eastern Bekaa Valley for transporting aid to fighters based on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, the state-run National News Agency reported. The military said the four suspects, who were in a pick-up truck, were seized in Arsal late Thursday. They are Syrian nationals who entered the country illegally. NNA said, however, that they were transporting food and other urgent needs for the gunmen taking position on the outskirts of the eastern mountain range in Arsal. The suspects were referred to the military police for questioning, the agency said. Upon their arrest, the army consolidated its presence at checkpoints in the Bekaa's North, it added. The army also said in its communique that it arrested an armed Syrian driving an unregistered Nissan Bluebird in the area of Damour in Shouf district. The suspect was carrying a gun, a hunting rifle, a radio transceiver and ammunition, it said. He was referred to the judiciary, the communique added.


Berri Gives Cabinet a Push despite Parliament Paralysis
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed concern over the differences between cabinet members who have again failed to resolve the dispute on the appointment of deans at the Lebanese University. While the ministers reached an agreement on Thursday on the full-time employment of LU contract workers, the education decree was not approved over differences between the Kataeb Party and the Progressive Socialist Party on the appointments.
The issue, which was first discussed last week, was postponed to the cabinet's next session.
According to An Nahar daily published Friday, Berri told his visitors that he was “frustrated” from the situation. He hailed Prime Minister Tammam Salam on his “patience and ability to carry this burden.” “Had someone else been in his position, he would have been unable to stay in the premiership,” Berri's visitors quoted him as saying. The speaker said he was working on the activation of the government's work despite the paralysis of parliament, which has been unable to legislate over the boycott of several blocs. “I insist on supporting it so that it remains and continues” to function, he said.
Berri reiterated that the nation is like the human body. “If one part is damaged, then we should fix it and not damage the other organs as well.”

ISIS in control of 60 percent of Syrian oil: sources
London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is preparing to seize one of the few remaining major oil production centers in Syria not under its control, according to Syrian opposition officials. “ISIS is already in control of more than 60 percent of Syria’s oil, with a total production rate of 180, 0000 barrel per day” and now plans to seize facilities in the northern province of Hassakah, an official from the Ministry of Energy in the interim Syrian opposition government, Yamin Al-Shami, told Asharq Al-Awsat. Having seized control of the majority of oil fields in Raqqa province, in central Syria, and Deir Ezzor province, along the Iraqi border, ISIS is preparing to mobilize fighters in a new push towards the town of Rmelan, home to the largest oil fields in Hassakah. Rmealn is under the control of Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG. Shami warned that oil production constitutes a significant source of revenue for ISIS, adding that the Islamist militant group is able to sell a barrel of crude oil for around 18 US dollars. Brent crude, a global benchmark, currently sells at around 107 US dollars. Oil is transported from ISIS-held areas with the help of local and foreign brokers, Shami said. Despite its recent advances in Iraq, ISIS has been unable to take control of oil resources comparable to those it holds in Syria, and its recent attempt to capture the key Baiji refinery was successfully deterred by Iraqi forces. But Iraq’s oil infrastructure is far from secure, and there are frequent reports that huge amounts of crude oil are being smuggled out of the country by militants.
“Militant groups, along with ISIS, are stealing crude oil from fields near the Hamrin mountains” in northeastern Iraq, a local administrative official, Shallal Abdool, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Kurdish Peshmerga forces that control the area have seized more than 50 tankers loaded with stolen crude oil,” he added. When asked about the destination to which oil is being taken, Abdool said: “There are many sides inside and outside Iraq that buy crude oil . . . and there are smugglers and brokers in Iraq who buy it for a cheap price in order to sell it abroad.”Valerie Marcel, of London-based Chatham House think tank, said: “Fighters from ISIS can sell oil on the black market to buyers from Turkey, the Kurdistan region and Iran.”“ISIS’s use of temporary refineries allows them to sell oil more easily.” But, pointing to the fact that oil smuggling has been a problem for decades, others played down worries about ISIS’s oil activities. “Oil smuggling operations from these sites exist and have been taking place for a long time before ISIS took over Nineveh province,” the governor of Salah Al-Din province, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Jubouri, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
**Layal Abu Rahal contributed reporting from Beirut. Dalshad Abdullah contributed reporting from Erbil. Najla Habriri and Mina Al-Droubi contributed reporting from London.


Gaza Toll Hits 100 as Netanyahu Says World Pressure Won't Stop Israel 'Striking Terrorists'
NaharnetظIsrael's aerial bombardment of Gaza claimed its 100th Palestinian life on Friday as Hamas pounded central Israel with rockets and Washington offered to help broker a truce.
Diplomatic efforts to end the hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants gathered pace, with U.S. President Barack Obama phoning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities," the White House said. Raising fears of an expanded conflict, at least one rocket fired from Lebanon struck an open area in northern Israel. But despite mounting international concerns, truce efforts were falling on deaf ears, according to Egypt, which has played a key role in mediating previous Hamas-Israel ceasefires. "Egypt has communicated with all sides to halt violence against civilians and called on them to continue with the truce agreement signed in November 2012," the foreign ministry said.
"Unfortunately, these efforts... have met with stubbornness." Neither of the warring sides appeared to have any interest in backing down. After weeks of rising rocket fire on its south, Israel appeared bent on dealing a fatal blow to the Islamist movement Hamas, with Netanyahu reportedly saying talk of a ceasefire was "not even on the agenda". He said on Friday that he would not bow to world entreaties to stop the ferocious military campaign against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. "No international pressure will prevent us from striking the terrorists who are attacking us," he told a news conference at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv. And Ismail Haniya, Gaza's former prime minister and the most senior Hamas official in the coastal enclave, also ruled out any end to hostilities. "(Israel) is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are (simply) defending ourselves," he said. On the other side, Israel's military chief-of-staff, Benny Gantz, warned Gaza's militants the army was intending to "broaden its activity as necessary, with all necessary force".
"Terrorists in Gaza made a grave mistake by attacking the people of Israel. They are bringing disaster upon themselves," he wrote on his Twitter feed on Friday. Israel has confirmed preparations are under way for a possible ground attack, with tanks and artillery massed along the border and some 33,000 reserves mobilized out of the 40,000 approved by the cabinet. Military officials quoted by public radio said the political leadership was expected to take a decision on a ground operation "within 48 hours." Meanwhile, Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, kept up a steady stream of rockets on central Israel, with sirens sending people fleeing for shelter in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and even in the northern port city of Haifa. On Friday morning, three Gaza rockets were shot down over Tel Aviv by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the army said, as the Brigades claimed their militants had fired M75 missiles at Israel's main international airport.
Israel's Airport Authority said Ben Gurion airport had been closed for "nine minutes" but then normal operations were resumed. Hamas warned "all foreign airlines" to halt flights due to "the dangers surrounding all the airports due to the ongoing war". In Gaza, another eight Palestinians, including a woman and seven-year-old child, were killed in three separate Israeli air strikes on Friday, hiking the overall death toll to 100, medics said. More than 500 people in Gaza have been injured.
So far, no-one in Israel has been killed, and less than a dozen people hurt, two of them seriously, medics said. A man in his 60s was badly hurt Friday when a rocket struck a petrol station in Ashdod, after a soldier was severely wounded in a mortar attack the night before, officials said. In northern Israel, at least one rocket fired from Lebanon struck an open area near Metula, prompting troops to hit back with artillery fire, the army said.  Military officials said they believed a Palestinian group had fired in solidarity with Hamas, public radio reported, as fears grew the violence in Gaza could spread to other fronts. As a result of the fire from Lebanon, a Polish passenger jet heading to Tel Aviv was forced to make an emergency stop in Cyprus, before returning to Poland, aviation authorities said.
Over the past 24 hours, the army confirmed hitting 21 Hamas-owned structures, prompting a warning from the U.N.'s human rights office over the number of civilian casualties from strikes on homes.
"Buildings that are ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani. "Even when a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate... and precautions must be taken to protect civilians."A group of 34 charities and NGOs also called for an end to the fighting.
"Military actions by all parties must stop," said a statement signed by groups including ActionAid, CARE, Oxfam and Save the Children. Since the start of Israel's military operation on Tuesday, 460 rockets have struck the Jewish state, and Iron Dome has shot down 121. Another 53 crashed into Israel since midnight Thursday, while 18 more were intercepted, the army said. Agence France Presse

Gaza Air Strikes Are a Necessary Show of Force for Israel
By: Michael Herzog/Guardian
July 10, 2014
Hamas, bankrupt and friendless, hopes to use violence to win support. Israel cannot do otherwise than act.
It may sound like the refrain of a sad, familiar song. But, faced with Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza firing hundreds of rockets at it, Israel had no other choice than to launch a military operation. The immediate trigger was the abduction of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, for which Israel blames Hamas, whose leaders had called for kidnappings. Israel responded with pressure on Hamas's West Bank infrastructure. Hamas pushed back by allowing a massive firing of rockets from Gaza. However, as so often in the Middle East, one should look beneath the surface for the root causes.
Hamas faces an unprecedented economic and political crisis. The Egyptian government regards it as an enemy, has clamped down on smuggling activity, and kept the Rafah border crossing mostly closed. It has lost its Syrian base and Iranian support as a result of the Syrian civil war. Now its authority is weakening inside Gaza: it is on the point of bankruptcy and has been challenged by jihadist groups buoyed up by the success of Isis.
Hamas's political leadership hoped that reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank would be its salvation. It intended to pass on the burden of Gaza's daily governance, while maintaining overall control and independent armed forces. But the PA refused to pick up the tab for Hamas's 40,000 "employees" and Egypt has kept up its pressure. It appears that Hamas's military wing therefore decided to escalate the conflict with Israel in order to improve the movement's position.
Betting on Israel's reluctance to invade Gaza, Hamas wants to demonstrate "resistance" to Israeli pressure and show off its capabilities, including long-range rockets and offensive operations using naval commandos and tunnels. Yet not only have these attempts so far been thwarted, but Hamas seems to have miscalculated yet again. Israel does not tolerate such barrages for long.
Israel's goal is to re-establish a ceasefire that is as stable and long as possible, without rewarding Hamas for violence. To this end its air force is targeting underground launchers, heavy rockets, offensive tunnels and command and control structures, including commanders themselves. By degrading the capacity and motivation of Hamas and other armed groups, it hopes to coerce Hamas to accept a ceasefire and enforce it.
To some in Israel this is too soft, since it can only secure a temporary ceasefire. However, the alternative seems even less desirable. A conquest of Gaza, followed by a lengthy operation to clean up terror infrastructure, would prove costly in human lives on both sides, and divert attention from other regional threats, including Sunni jihadists and Iran's nuclear programme. It could also result in the collapse of Hamas rule and total chaos -- an even worse prospect.
Regrettably, there are innocent Palestinian casualties. But those who blame the casualties on "disproportionate" Israeli actions must suggest what would be a "proportionate" response to hundreds of rockets deliberately and continuously targeting Israeli civilians. Should the fact that the groups firing these rockets use Palestinian civilians as human shields provide them with impunity? Should the fact that Israel has exceptional home-front defences dictate complacency, even as millions rush to shelters daily? Israel takes extensive measures to avoid civilian casualties, warning occupants of targeted buildings with phone calls and leaflets. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders fail to condemn the targeting of Israeli civilians.
So how will this end? Hamas's weakness and the lack of an effective mediating mechanism between the parties may prolong the confrontation. While a ground operation in Gaza is not Israel's desire, it may ultimately feel compelled to launch one should the air strikes not work or Hamas manage to inflict painful casualties. In such a scenario Israel's goal would likely be to destroy Hamas's heavier military capabilities. Given the deep crisis facing Hamas and Egypt's pressure on the border, it could prove extremely challenging for Hamas to then rebuild.
The PA is marginalised by the current conflict, its reconciliation deal with Hamas looking increasingly irrelevant. As a result there is no escape from the conclusion that, ultimately, only a true unity deal -- that allows moderate Palestinians to assume real control over Gaza -- can stop this sad song being played again and again.
***Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, IDF (Ret.), is The Washington Institute's Milton Fine International Fellow and a longtime Israeli peace negotiator and defense official.


A Difficult Phase for Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Ambitions
By: Raghida Dergham
The current phase is not convenient for the Islamic Republic of Iran: nuclear negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) have stalled and the desired agreement may not be reached by the deadline set on July 20. The events in Iraq will further weaken Iran if the Sunni uprising against the government of Nouri al-Maliki moves against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in coordination with the United States, as it had done previously with the tribal Sahawat (Awakenings). The developments in Gaza have implicated Iran through the rockets used by Hamas in its battle with Israel, as Israel accuses Iran of supplying those rockets to Hamas and is inciting the U.S. Congress against Tehran. Iran’s main ally Hezbollah is coming under renewed pressure and attempts to blockade it financially by the United States and the Gulf nations, and, relatively speaking, it is under siege on the ground in Syria and Lebanon, with the changing features of crossings and borders there. In Syria, where Iran is sparing no means to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power, there are signs of new U.S. policies that depart from the traditional policies of the Obama administration vis-à-vis Syria and the Syrian opposition.
As concerns the nuclear negotiations taking place in Vienna, which have reached a crucial stage, there are two major differences between the U.S. and Iranian positions, namely: first, Iran’s determination to be in possession of “breakout” nuclear capability that will enable it to acquire nuclear weapons within mere months, while President Obama is unable to go to Congress and the American people requesting their approval for a deal that would make Iran a legitimate nuclear power. And second, Iran wants the sanctions to be lifted as part of an agreement, but Obama is unable to offer anything more than to waive the enforcement of some of the sanctions imposed on Iran by presidential decree.
Dr. Gary Samore, former adviser to President Obama on weapons of mass destruction, said in a telephone interview organized by the Clarion Project with diplomats and journalists, “Both sides are very constrained by domestic politics. President Obama can’t sell a nuclear deal to Congress if it allows Iran to retain a credible nuclear weapons option, and President (Hassan) Rohani cannot sell a nuclear deal to Supreme Leader Khamenei if it requires Iran to give up its nuclear weapons option.”
Samore is strongly opposed to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. He is the president of United Against Nuclear Iran and the executive director for research at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Samore expects that in the event a final deal is not reached, the interim agreement would be extended and renewed for another six months, as this would serve the interests of both sides: Iran would get more gradual sanction relief without abandoning its nuclear program, while the United States (and its allies) would succeed in continuing to freeze the most important part of Iran’s nuclear program.
 Iran “will not make any significant concessions” in the nuclear negotiations until the picture becomes clearer in terms of American-Russian relations in light of the developments in Ukraine. Tehran, according to Samore, believes that open disputes between the United States and Russia weakens the consensus within the P5+1 countries (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) on demanding concessions from Iran. Ultimately, breaking this consensus and the unity among the P5 +1 is an Iranian desire.
Dr. Samore also believes that Supreme Leader Khamenei has realized the credibility of the U.S. military option, and therefore accepted rapprochement, tasking President Rohani to handle nuclear negotiations – but not other outstanding issues – with the United States. For this reason, he will continue to be engaged in the negotiations because it helps him at least to stave off economic disaster from Iran, bearing in mind that lifting the sanctions reinforces Iran’s stability to some extent without it having to give up its nuclear ambitions.
But Iran has so far failed to convince major international companies to return to do business in the country before a final nuclear deal is concluded. The United States had imposed sanctions on Iran under six laws, some related to its nuclear program and others to Iranian support for Hezbollah and Hamas, or human rights abuses inside Iran.
It is not clear how the Obama administration would overcome the obstacles created by these laws and distinguish between one and the other. Obviously, the most severe sanctions that Tehran wants to get rid of are those that prevent foreign (non-American) companies from dealing with Iran, or otherwise be punished by a U.S. boycott.
The greatest damage to the Iranian economy is caused by U.S. efforts that restrict Iran's oil exports and Iran's access to hard currency, as Iran is subject to sanctions that block its access to oil revenues.
Iran wants the sanctions to be lifted completely when a nuclear deal is reached. But this is something that Iran is not going to get, according to Dr. Samore and other experts. The reason is that Iran is calling on the United States to withdraw or cancel sanctions under a new law, which requires the approval of Congress to pass a new law revoking old ones, including the D’Amato Act, which links sanctions on foreign companies to Iranian foreign policy, particularly with regard to its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
The best President Obama can offer, according to Samore, is to exercise his powers to waive the enforcement of sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program every six months. But in theory, Congress can challenge this as well if it obtains the support of two thirds of its members.
Therefore, there are two main – Iranian-American – hurdles in the nuclear negotiations: First, Iran wants a deal to give it legitimate nuclear “breakout” capacity, something that the United States cannot agree to nor Barack Obama can sell to congress or even the public that supports his appeasement of Iran; and second, Iran wants from the Obama administration things that the U.S. president cannot deliver no matter how much he may want to.
In Iraq, Tehran tried to market itself as a natural partner for Washington to crush ISIS and combat Sunni terrorism in Iraq. In the beginning, Iran was able to mobilize support for such a partnership, especially in the media. But it soon became clear to Washington that the best partner to crush ISIS would be Iraqi Sunnis.
Washington realized that it still has ties to Iraqi Sunnis who had helped Gen. David Petraeus in the tribal Awakenings operations against al-Qaeda, as these people are well known to Washington.
If Iraqi Sunnis will be able to defeat ISIS and establish their own government instead of the “emirate” or the “caliphate” in Mosul, this would enable Washington to deal with the tribal Awakenings, as well as Saudi and Jordan, to push for a deal between Mosul and Baghdad for power sharing. This would most certainly hurt Iran, because it would involve weakening its influence and its project, and force Nouri al-Maliki to step down.
In Syria, Washington is aware that is policies there have failed, having ignored for years the moderate Sunni elements in the Syrian opposition. For this reason, Washington is recalculating, and reviewing the nature of its relationship with the Syrian opposition from the standpoint of the balance of power on the ground. There are indications that Washington is convinced that it would not be in its interests to collaborate with the regime in Damascus and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to combat Sunni or Salafist terrorism. Washington is assessing where its interests lie, but also the need to crush the terrorism growing in Syria before it reaches its home soil. Washington believes that this requires a partnership with the Sunni majority in Syria rather than the Alawi minority, according to sources.
There is also the Palestinian-Israeli event, where Israel is crying foul over the rockets launched by Hamas and supplied by Iran. This comes in the midst of the nuclear negotiations that President Obama wants to culminate in a deal, without being hindered by Congress, where an overwhelming majority declares that Israel is a priority and an unparalleled ally in the Middle East.
It is a difficult phase for Iranian aspirations then, whether nuclear, regional, or bilateral at the level of the relationship with the United States. However, this does not mean the end of the rapprochement between Washington and Tehran, and does not mean at all that Barack Obama intends to give up his goal to achieve a historical deal with Iran.
Most probably, the nuclear talks would continue if no final deal is reached by the end of next week. Most likely, all players would prefer the continuation of the status quo where Iranian nuclear capacities are frozen to the satisfaction of Western powers, and sanctions are eased gradually to the benefit of Iran. To be sure, the Obama administration and Rohani’s government do not want to sever the bilateral engagement that had begun between them publicly for the first time in decades – with the consent of Supreme Leader Khamenei.
Still, all this does not mean either than it is going to be impossible to reach a nuclear deal by July 20. Negotiations are ongoing, and interested parties are determined to make them work – each for its own reasons.
Regarding the American blessing of Iran’s regional ambitions, this, ostensibly, and perhaps out of necessity, is undergoing revision because of the conditions imposed on the ground.
At home, President Obama will not be able to obscure developments on the ground from Congress, and he will unable to guarantee that his policies would not bring back terrorism to the U.S. homeland. It is for this reason that he is hedging his bets. Indeed, the last thing he wants is for his legacy to be having brought back terrorism to American cities, as a result of his isolationism and aversion to war, when his predecessor George W. Bush had declared that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan succeeded in taking the war on terror away from American cities.
**Translated from Arabic by Karim Traboulsi

The Storming of Baghdad

By: Wafiq Al-Samarrai/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 11 Jul, 2014
They must be either mad or ignorant, those who think that what has happened in Mosul and Tikrit can be repeated in Samarra and Baghdad. They have been told from the outset that these two cities will be difficult to take over for both military and security reasons. Any leniency on the part of the government will result in an inferno that will leave nothing intact in the Middle East. Regardless of who rules Baghdad, or how dire the situation is there, solutions and methods for tackling security in Iraq are yet to be exhausted. If those solutions run out, the potential inferno will bring nothing but mass destruction, which is not really an option.
Immediately after Mosul fell, a new phase of taking defensive measures began to push back against the threat of the Islamist advance on Samarra and Baghdad. I do not hesitate to put forward suggestions to strengthen this push against the threat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses. Any talk of the presence of an effective, military force other than ISIS does not deserve any attention. Many have attempted to present a different point of view by claiming that Ba’athists are providing ISIS with a deceitful cover to facilitate their return to Iraq. After one month, it has been seen that the role of Ba’athists and other non-ISIS fighters has been only marginal. Nobody outside ISIS has dared raise a flag or take control of the areas that have slipped out of government control.
As for the stories about “Tribal rebels,” no one can deny that suffering has prompted young tribe members to carry arms against the government. However, some tribal leaders have carried out their rebellion against the government from the comfort of their hotels in Erbil. They have left the combat zones and continued issuing statements and threats publicly against the government from Iraqi Kurdistan, calling their goals into question. In addition, some of the tribal leaders used to be fervent supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki before they turned against him. After a closer look at their statements, one can realize that their threats lack credibility and value. Some of them also claim to have a military rank that neither matches their age or qualifications. Some are accused of scams and of forging bank checks, such as the so-called “Article 56 group.” In fact, those fighting alongside ISIS have provided a cover for the Kurds’ dream of establishing an independent state, which marks the beginning of the new Middle East.
Today in Baghdad there are hundreds of thousands of fighters, whether regular forces or volunteers. Those who have expressed their intention to infiltrate Baghdad will only inflict extreme damage on the Sunni Arabs there, who are in an unenviable situation, psychologically at least. The Sunni Arabs of Baghdad side with the government against ISIS. As for Samarra, it has become an impregnable wall, thanks to its religious and historical significance.
Hundreds of former regime generals and Ba’athist officials live outside Iraq. Only a few of them mistakenly believe that what is going on in Iraq is a popular revolution. Revolutions are measured by their outcomes, not by emotions. The destruction and partition of a country, sparking a civil war that may last for a century and turn the region into an inferno, is not the right move when trying to topple a government or a ruler. This is particularly the case since democratic options are available, if only politicians prove themselves sincere and relinquish their illegitimate interests. I have often written articles in this newspaper criticizing the Iraqi government and the role of Iran. But compromising such a sensitive issue as the unity of Iraq and the future of the people is not an option.
Iraq still suffers from an extreme shortage of weapons, but as it has the necessary funds and the arms markets are open to it, the equation on the ground could change dramatically. It would be in the best interests of Arab and regional countries to stand with Iraq in the face of ISIS in order to protect the security of the region. If the mainstream view continues—that ISIS is a product of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus—we should confront it. On the other hand, if Ba’athists consider ISIS as a means to infiltrate the region, they are committing a crime as serious as the invasion of Kuwait. Siding with Baghdad for the time being does not mean siding with its rulers, who can be changed at any time.
The region is in a dangerous situation, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s estimation that Iraq is facing the threat of partition represents a valid strategic point of view.

Barzani Flying a Kite
Amir Taheri/Asharq Alawsat
Friday, 11 Jul, 2014
What do you do when you have walked your cat the wrong way? The reasonable answer is that you walk it right back. This is what Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani should do regarding his talk of a referendum on independence for Iraqi Kurds. Unless he does that, and does it quickly, he risks undermining his credibility as a serious political leader.
Why did Barzani, a seasoned politician, decide to fly that kite at this time? Cynics claim he wanted to divert attention from his seizure of Kirkuk. A Persian proverb says that if you want an adversary to accept fever, threaten him with death. Thus, Barzani is inviting Iraqis to accept the loss of Kirkuk as a lesser evil compared to secession by the Kurdish autonomous region.
While Barzani may not be immune to occasional opportunism—which politician is?—I doubt he would stoop that low. Iraq is facing an existential crisis that affects all its communities, not only Arabs. Another no less cynical explanation is that Barzani wished to hide his party’s electoral setback by casting himself as a champion of statehood. However, that explanation, too, may be questionable. Thanks to Barzani’s father, the legendary Mullah Mustafa, the name Barzani has become synonymous with the Kurdish cause. In any case, the election setback that Barzani and other traditional Kurdish leaders suffered was due to voters’ concern about corruption and opportunities missed by the governing parties, not an outburst of desire for independence.
In fact, independence was not part of any election manifesto. Nor was it at the center of any debate before or during the campaign. If Barzani wishes to respond to the views of his electorate he should offer programs for rooting out corruption, improving the performance of his government and implementing overdue economic and political reforms.
The referendum gambit is a bad idea under any configuration. It has divided the Kurds, including Barzani’s own party, because many activists believe this is no time to raise so vital and complex an issue.
Leaders from different Kurdish parties have publicly criticized the referendum idea. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Jalal Talabani’s party, is campaigning to retain the position of the Iraqi President by fielding Barham Salih as candidate. You cannot seek the presidency of Iraq while planning to carve up the country. “We are passing through a political earthquake,” one Kurdish leader told me on condition of anonymity. “One cannot talk of redecorating a room when the whole house is shaken to its foundations.”
The suggested scheme could, in fact, produce the opposite effect by uniting rival Arab Iraqi factions in opposition to a plan to dismantle their state. Even if nothing concrete happens now, the very attempt at secession may poison Arab–Kurdish relations for some time. Arab chauvinists might be able to claim that they were right after all in suggesting that the Kurds cannot be trusted.
The referendum idea has also reunited rival powers whose divisions have always offered the Kurds some room for maneuver. It is remarkable that the United States, Turkey, Iran and all Arab states are singing from the same hymn sheet in their rejection of a Kurdish secessionist bid, at least at this time.
First developed in 19th-century Europe, by the 1920s the concept of a nation-state had been recognized as the standard format for international relations. Thus, ethnic and religious minorities across the globe, Kurds among them, were persuaded that they, too, would one day end up having a nation-state of their own.
However, the fulfillment of such a dream would mean redrawing virtually every frontier in all continents including Australia, where Aborigines have long dreamt of their own state. In 1993 a European Union conference hosted by France in Paris reported the existence of 113 “national and/or ethnic minorities” within the union. The conference ended with an agreement whereby EU members committed themselves to recognizing their respective minorities and helping them maintain and develop their cultures. Thus, for example, the British declared the Cornish people to be a legitimate minority, and Denmark extended the same favor to its Frisian minority.
The United Nations recognizes many more minorities. According to the UN’s latest estimate, between 600 and 1.2 million people, 10 to 20 per cent of the world’s population, live in more than 190 states as minorities. Giving a state to even some of them could mean creating more than 100 new nation-states.
The Kurds represent one of the largest of those minorities. In addition, the overwhelming majority of them live in contiguous territories in seven countries: Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The four versions of Kurdish spoken in those territories are linguistically close enough to be accessible to all Kurds. As far as religion is concerned there is more diversity with various versions of Islam, Sunni and Shi’ite as well as Sufi and “Ghulat” (“those who exaggerate”) not to mention heterodox communities such as Yazidis. Interestingly, there are more ethnic Kurds in Western Europe, especially Germany, than in Iraq.
As far as Iraq is concerned one problem is that only half of the estimated six million ethnic Kurds live in the three autonomous provinces. Even then, the three provinces are home to other minorities, including Christians, agnostics and Faylis.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against statehood for any minority, let alone Kurds, wherever they are in the world. However, I believe such a scheme should have the genuine support of a majority of the group concerned and be pursued through peaceful, legal and democratic means. Thus, the first step to statehood for Iraqi Kurds is the consolidation of a democratic culture in Iraq.

The New Jihad
By Margaret Coker/The Wall Street Journal
A new generation of Islamist extremists battle-hardened in Iraq and Syria sees the old guard of al Qaeda as too passive.
Islamic State militants drive a tank in a June 30 parade in Syria's Raqqa province to celebrate the declaration of a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria. Photo: Reuters
Last week, a self-described heir to the Prophet Muhammad declared himself the supreme leader of a new Islamic state stretching from eastern Syria to northern Iraq. How did Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the nom de guerre of a mediocre Iraqi religious scholar in his mid-40s, outmaneuver al Qaeda as the new vanguard of jihadist ideology? How did he and his followers—armed with Kalashnikovs, smart phones and their ominous black banner—so suddenly take over the campaign to rid the Muslim world of Western and secular influence?
The rise of Mr. Baghdadi and his newly proclaimed "caliphate" highlights what had been a closely held secret of the Sunni jihadist movement: a split in the ranks that had been festering for years. It pits a new generation of shock troops hardened by battle in Iraq and Syria against al Qaeda veterans who had built the movement but were increasingly seen as too passive, both politically and theologically.
Mr. Baghdadi's proclamation was stunningly brazen. The leader of a faction of puritanical Sunni militants who have plagued Iraq with suicide bombings and beheadings, he was long considered a relatively inconsequential cog in the larger al Qaeda machine. Few people outside jihadist circles had heard of him, let alone seen him, before last month, when his followers in the militia known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, rolled across northern Iraq, conquering Mosul, one of the largest cities in the country. Then on July 4, Mr. Baghdadi emerged at Mosul's al-Nuri Grand Mosque, promising to restore to his Sunni brethren their "dignity, might, rights and leadership," according to a video of the sermon distributed by his group.
Mr. Baghdadi's military offensive has startled the U.S. and its Middle Eastern allies, who fear that it portends prolonged regional instability and terrorist attacks far afield from Iraq. Yet for the man leading what he now calls simply the Islamic State, the latest campaign has meant more than territorial conquest. Mr. Baghdadi's victories also mark the crescendo of a 10-year theological battle between veterans of al Qaeda, the core organization started by Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and now led by the Egyptian-born extremist Ayman al-Zawahiri, and its rebellious affiliate in Iraq, which Mr. Baghdadi took over in 2010. The prize: purported leadership of the world's estimated 1 billion Sunni Muslims and of a jihad supposedly waged in their name.
The rupture between Mr. Zawahiri's old guard and Mr. Baghdadi's new guard escalated last year, when Mr. Baghdadi refused Mr. Zawahiri's demand to formally declare his obedience and instead called the al Qaeda leader's rulings antithetical to God's commands. It was an audacious snub within the puritanical circles of al Qaeda and its fellow travelers. It was also the start of a slow-moving coup against the established jihadist hierarchy.
Today's strains flow from decades of wrangling over Islamist doctrines of religious and political revolution. In the 1940s and 1950s, during heady days of nationalism and rebellion in the Middle East, the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb—widely considered the father of contemporary jihadist thought—merged Quranic verses, Islamic prophecies and Third World revolutionary fervor to produce a seminal tract advocating Islamist political violence.
The early jihadist intelligentsia that adopted Qutb's views included a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden and other members of a fringe movement called Salafism, which holds that Muslim society should adopt a governing and religious framework that adheres to Muslim practices from the early days of Islam's founding in the seventh century. Those who espouse using violence to achieve such a puritanical state are known as Salafi jihadists.
Among the followers of this creed, the battle between Mr. Zawahiri and Mr. Baghdadi is a pivotal development. "Like the old saying goes: The revolution devours its own," says Jérôme Drevon, a fellow at the Swiss National Science Foundation who specializes in Islamist movements. "What we are seeing is a generational split between older jihadis who have learned pragmatic lessons [of overreach]…and a younger, more brutal generation who don't believe in or haven't lived long enough to learn those lessons."
Al Qaeda (which is Arabic for "the base") had significant though limited ideological appeal and recruiting power throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Its charismatic leader, bin Laden, recruited Arab radicals and others to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He also turned his sights on what he considered impure and impious Arab tyrannies—above all in his native Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.
Bin Laden also broadened his scope to target the U.S. and the West, which al Qaeda came to call "the far enemy" for propping up Israel and Arab autocrats such as the Saudi royal family and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Al Qaeda's allure was strengthened by its spectacular Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and by satellite television and Internet technology that spread its message across the globe.
The group's brain trust had always relied on a division of power between the ideologues—such as Mr. Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s alongside Qutb and his followers—and the executives like bin Laden and his military chiefs, who secured the money, inspired the recruits and perfected the bombs and the battle tactics.
Mr. Zawahiri honed al Qaeda's basic tenets. He declared that the world, including most Muslim societies, languished in a state of impurity and that it was al Qaeda's religious duty to cleanse it. The main culprits, according to Mr. Zawahiri's teachings, were the secular West and its Arab allies, both marked as primary targets in al Qaeda's holy war.
After 9/11, the U.S. and its partners drove al Qaeda out of its haven in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and weakened its operational abilities. Mr. Zawahiri also became vulnerable to criticism from an even more fanatical end of the jihadist spectrum over a doctrinal issue that lies at the core of the Salafi quest to build a pure Islamist state.
The dispute centers on Mr. Zawahiri's belief that a caliphate—a state that can demand allegiance from all Muslims and declare jihad against the enemies of the faith—can emerge only after the wider Muslim world has been purified. Mr. Zawahiri hopes to bring Muslims out of their unredeemed state of jahiliyya—the type of spiritual ignorance that existed before the Prophet—by excising all contact with corrupting Western influences and placing governing institutions in the hands of administrators who share this vision and can promulgate it to the mass of Muslims.
This religious interpretation was shared by the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar—which is why al Qaeda didn't declare a caliphate when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in the 1990s, according to Hassan Abu Hanieh, a Jordanian scholar and former Salafi who is an independent expert in Islamist groups. "A caliphate has to be based on the consent of the public," Mr. Abu Hanieh said. "Afghan society was at war, and thus, according to [al Qaeda's] religious understanding, the time was not right for this desired goal."
But Mr. Baghdadi and his followers reject this doctrine of an evolving religious and social consensus. They believe instead that a pure Islamic regime can be more swiftly imposed by force. This basic split has existed for a decade between al Qaeda and its one-time offshoot in Iraq, which formed after the U.S. invaded in 2003 and helped establish the first Shiite government in Iraq in centuries.
The doctrinal dispute first came to light in the mid-2000s in a set of letters that bin Laden and Mr. Zawahiri wrote to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the infamous founder of al Qaeda in Iraq—a Jordanian responsible for a wave of beheadings, bombings and kidnappings. Bin Laden, in hiding after fleeing Afghanistan after 9/11, scolded Zarqawi for attacks that targeted Iraq's majority Shiites and shed Sunni blood as well. Such tactics, he argued, divided Muslims, alienated many Iraqi Sunnis and diverted efforts away from al Qaeda's focus on killing Americans and toppling heretical Arab regimes.
But to Zarqawi and his followers, killing anyone who rejected their puritanical views—including Shiites or even dissenting Sunnis—was a step toward purity. They chafed at bin Laden's reprimand, but they didn't break ranks. Zarqawi formally pledged bay'a—or obedience—to bin Laden, effectively papering over the ideological division.
By the late 2000s, however, U.S. forces had killed Zarqawi, and the Iraqi offshoots of al Qaeda had gone through several incarnations. By then, Mr. Baghdadi had appeared on the scene. After years of imprisonment by the U.S., he joined what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI. The group had published a pamphlet titled "The Birth of the Islamic State Declaration," reasserting its belief that Muslims had a holy duty to create—by force if necessary—the conditions that would allow a caliphate to re-emerge.
In many ways, the doctrinal differences among Salafi jihadist factions mirror the dispute that raged among Russian communist factions at the start of the 20th century. The two major factions—the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin—split over the basic question of the party's role. Should it work to develop the social consciousness that would move humanity toward a perfect workers' state, or should it try to bring about such change immediately through violent revolution?
"Every radical movement has its wings, its pragmatists and its puritanical firebrands," said Haras Rafiq, a counterterrorism adviser for the U.K. government and a scholar at London's Quilliam Foundation, which seeks to counter Islamist extremism.
Lenin supported the path of aggressive force and outflanked his Menshevik opponents politically after 1903. By 1918, he had solidified his rule over the communist movement by leading it to victory over Czar Nicholas II's dying empire.
Mr. Baghdadi's rise to power mirrors Lenin's in its efficiency and brutality. By 2010, Mr. Baghdadi—whose main success up until that time was winning a doctorate in religious studies from a mediocre Iraqi university—had taken over ISI. After U.S. forces killed bin Laden in May 2011, Mr. Baghdadi gave up any pretense of unity with al Qaeda. His followers swore allegiance to their own leader, not to Mr. Zawahiri, bin Laden's successor and longtime deputy—a stinging show of defiance.
Mr. Baghdadi spent the next few years locked in ideological battles with Mr. Zawahiri, especially after 2011, when Sunni jihadists began to join the worsening civil war in Syria. Tension mounted in September 2013, when Mr. Zawahiri issued a pamphlet called "General Guidelines of the Work of a Jihadist," codifying al Qaeda-approved rules of warfare. It circumscribed religiously sanctioned killings.
But followers of Mr. Baghdadi continued to insist that anyone who disagreed with their movement's harsh interpretation of Islam could be labeled an apostate—a practice used to justify the group's decadelong practice of killing Shiites and fellow Sunnis who rejected its views. As the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—the leader of a dictatorship dominated by Alawites, a small sect descended from Shiite Islam—grew bloodier, Mr. Baghdadi rebuffed Mr. Zawahiri's treatise as incompatible with the war he was fighting in Syria and across the border in Iraq.
The power struggle finally came to a head on April 9, 2013, when Mr. Baghdadi launched his first outright rebellion against al Qaeda. In an audio recording released online, he declared a hostile takeover of the Nusra Front, a Syrian jihadist rebel militia linked to al Qaeda whose leader had pledged allegiance to Mr. Zawahiri. Mr. Baghdadi declared that the two groups would merge under a single name: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.
Sunni jihadists were jolted by the move. The Nusra Front immediately rejected Mr. Baghdadi's takeover bid and refused to swear allegiance to him. In June, Mr. Zawahiri released a three-page letter intended to extinguish "the fire of sedition" ignited by Mr. Baghdadi. In the missive, Mr. Zawahiri ordered Mr. Baghdadi to retreat from Syria while retaining control of the jihadist project in Iraq. But in a reply disseminated through the Internet, Mr. Baghdadi not only refused to retreat but also said he had "chosen the command of God over the command in the letter [by Mr. Zawahiri] that contradicts it."
Al Qaeda's old guard was outraged at this affront to their gray-bearded leader. For months, several elders of the movement had tried to reconcile Mr. Baghdadi to the larger al Qaeda group—to no avail. On Feb. 3, Mr. Zawahiri formally disowned ISIS, and later that month, Mr. Zawahiri's personal emissary to mediate the Syrian struggle was killed by a suicide bomber. Syrian rebels accuse ISIS of the murder, a charge that the splinter group denies.
By spring, Mr. Baghdadi was in full ascent, sweeping aside al Qaeda's sanctimoniousness with tangible military gains. His forces solidified control of a swath of Iraqi territory, and he prepared to launch a high-profile operation to recruit others to his doctrinal and political views. His forces stunned the region by conquering Mosul and marching south toward Baghdad.
Mr. Baghdadi's expanding empire, which includes control over some of Iraq's prime oil facilities, has put al Qaeda on the back foot—and left the U.S. and its allies worrying about the security threats that could emerge from this new, virulent form of jihadism. The chunk of territory that Mr. Baghdadi's followers have carved out of Iraq and Syria affords them a haven in which to train and plot—one that, unlike pre-9/11 Afghanistan, lies at the heart of the Arab world and close to Europe and Israel.
Some intelligence officials fear that this new competitor to al Qaeda could redouble its attempts to launch a spectacular terrorism attack in Western Europe or the U.S. On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder warned that the danger that radicalized Westerners could return home from Syria's civil war to plot terrorist attacks now amounts to "a global crisis."
Meanwhile, the aftershocks from the jihadist rupture are still reverberating. Since Mr. Baghdadi's sermon last week declaring himself caliph, al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen have denounced him. So too has the mainstream Sunni religious establishment, including Cairo's al-Azhar seminary, which has always opposed al Qaeda's actions, and Yussuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric widely seen as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But it is still unclear what effect, if any, such censure will have on the audience that Mr. Baghdadi has shown himself adroit at cultivating: the younger Islamist radicals, including dozens of European Muslims, who have been flocking to him.
"There is a wellspring of disillusioned Muslims in Western Europe vulnerable to radicalization" by the Islamic State, says Richard Barrett, the former head of counterterrorism for MI6, the U.K.'s foreign spy agency, and now an adviser at the Soufan Group, a private counterterrorism consulting firm. "They are looking for a leader who doesn't sit back and cogitate but who acts on his beliefs, who understands their feelings of marginalization"—a leader who offers "promises of greatness."