LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Matthew 16,13-20/When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. ’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 21/14
Iran nuclear deal has a future /By: David Patrikarakos/Asharq Alawsat/July 21/14
Iran nuclear deal has no future/By: Samih Maaytah/Ashasrq Al Awsat/July 21/14
The Christians' ordeal with Muslim extremists/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/AlArabiya/July 21/14
Reports From Miscellaneous
Sources For July 21/14
Lebanese Related News
Maronite Patriarch wishes that Sleiman's term was extended
Terrorist killed, militiaman arrested in Tripoli
Hezbollah condemns Shejaiya massacre
Hariri's initiative receives mixed reactions
Father arrested after shocking child on child attack
Salam: no discrimination in security crackdown
Protest in support of Gaza outside US embassy
Contradictions and Compromises in Lebanon
Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 20/14
Iran, P5+1 agree nuclear talks extension
Bloody Sunday as 97 Gazans, 13 Israeli soldiers killed
Iran, P5+1 agree nuclear talks extension
Bennett: Ground invasion stopped mega-attack
Thirteen IDF Golani soldiers killed in Gaza, at start of urban stage of Israel’s operation against Hamas
Israel PM says 'very strong' world support for Gaza assault
Gantz: Hamas is sustaining blows 'every hour'
IDF destroys 6 tunnels in Gaza, some leading into Israel
At least 40 dead in Israeli attack on Gaza district: hospital
Turkey, Qatar involved in Gaza ceasefire negotiations:
Hamas politburo member
McIlroy wins third major at British Open
Kerry caught on open mic, apparently concerned by Israel's Gaza operation
60 Syria soldiers dead in battle with jihadists: report
French PM defends ban on pro-Gaza rally after violence
Rebels take full control of plane crash bodies
Kerry planning Middle East trip 'very shortly'
Cameron demands Russia cease support for rebels
Congratulations Assad, You Won
More than 700 killed in Syria as ISIS tightens grip on east
3 killed as Libyan militias fight over airport
Tunisia arrests 63 terror suspects, tightens security around militant hideouts
Iraq's Christians Exodus from Mosul.
Walid Phares /Iraq's Christians Exodus from Mosul...West silent, some churches officials busy with Gaza...
Thousands of Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans and other minorities fleeing Mosul as threats of ethnic cleansing were leveled by 'the Islamic State" (Daesh) against the 'kuffars.' For the first time in 5,000 years the native Mesopotamians have abandoned Mosul and its surroundings. The slogan of "living under the protection of the big guys" has now shattered again. The tragedy is happening in front of our eyes, while the White House, Elysee', and Ten Downing Street are silent on this exodus. Better some Church officials are busy shaking the airwaves for Gaza, no time for their own Christian people. Well the Christians of Iraq don't have a Qatar or an Iran to help them. They are on their own in the wilderness of their mountains. They rest of the Middle East Christians as well as liberal Muslims and seculars should rise to help these weak communities. For what is happening to them, could happen elsewhere.
Maronite Patriarch wishes that Sleiman's term was extended
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Sunday said he wished the term of former President Michel Sleiman was extended until a new president is elected and urged the international community to help the Christians of Iraq. Addressing Sleiman during a mass to commemorate the anniversary of Mar Charbel, a revered Maronite saint, Rai said he wished the former president would have stayed in office until a new head of state was elected. “But what to do, those who support void rejected the suggestion,” Rai said in a veiled reference to the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah. “They opted for shutting down the presidential palace after President Sleiman kept it open.”Rai called on lawmakers to free themselves from all allegiances and head to Parliament to practice their national duties.
“We had hoped that we will celebrate the anniversary of Mar Charbel with a new president but the dysfunctional Parliament has prevented us from doing so,” he said. The Patriarch, without specifically mentioning him, has repeatedly blasted Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun over his continued boycott of parliamentary sessions. Lawmakers have not yet reached a consensus on a candidate to replace Sleiman, whose six-year term ended on May 25. Aoun, the head of the second largest bloc in Parliament, has been the March 8 coalition's undeclared presidential candidate and has attempted to hold contacts with his rivals in the Future Movement to convince them to vote for him as a consensus candidate, but to no avail. The presidential hopeful has refused to officially announce his candidacy and continues to boycott parliamentary sessions until parties agree on a consensus candidate. Rai also touched on the situation in Iraq, where dozens of Iraqi Christian families have fled the city of Mosul now controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. “We voice complete solidarity with the Christians of Mosul and the Church of the Christ in Iraq and we ask the international community to protect those people,” he said.
Terrorist killed, militiaman arrested overnight in Tripoli
Misbah al-Ali| The Daily Star/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Tensions ran high in Lebanon’s second largest city Sunday after a terror suspect was killed and a wanted Salafist militiaman was arrested overnight during raids carried out by Lebanese security forces, security sources told The Daily Star on Sunday. Supporters of militiaman Hussam al-Sabbagh – one of those who orchestrated clashes related to the Syrian war - took to the streets and blocked road in Tripoli as the Lebanese Army worked on clearing the streets and restoring calm, the sources said. The Army blocked the road near the Abu Ali roundabout over fears of sniper fire from Bab al-Tabbaneh, where around 150 men brandished their weapons again and deployed heavily inside the impoverished neighborhood that has long served as Sabbagh’s main quarters, the sources added. Sabbagh is considered as the military commander of Salafists in Tripoli and his arrest is likely to spark a wave of anger within Islamist circles, according to the sources. They added that Sabbagh was immediately transferred to the military prison at the Defense Ministry in Beirut. The eventful night also witnessed the killing of suspected terrorist Monzer al-Hassan, accused of providing a terror cell with explosives, during a raid of his apartment at 1 a.m. in the posh City Complex building in Tripoli. Security forces had intelligence that Hassan provided explosive belts and material to a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out major attacks in Lebanon. Late in June, a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up at the capital’s Duroy Hotel during a raid by General Security personnel. A would-be suicide bomber survived the blast and is undergoing interrogation. Hassan is suspected of being the main supplier of the two Saudi bombers.
The sources said Hassan was killed during clashes with security forces at the apartment that lasted from 1 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. The 24-year-old was wearing an explosives belt and had threatened to blow himself up. The Army attempted to negotiate with Hassan in a bid to convince him to surrender, even asking his paternal aunt to take part in the negotiations. But Hassan was killed after tossing a stun grenade at security personnel that were holding him up at the apartment. The sources said Hassan was using the apartment of one of his cousins.
“Coordination between various security apparatus has paid off,” head of the Higher Relief Committee Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir told reporters following a tour of the City Complex apartment.
Shortly after the City Complex raid, the army arrested Sabbagh, who is wanted for dozens of outstanding arrest warrants for his pivotal role in fighting this year between the Tripoli neighborhoods of majority Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh, where pro-Syrian revolution sentiments prevail and the predominately Alawite Jabal Mohsen.
The sources said the Army arrested Sabbagh at the Al-Manar checkpoint in Tripoli. An Army statement said Sabbagh along with Mohammad Ali Ismail Ismail were both arrested at the checkpoint and transferred to the concerned judiciary for interrogation. Following the arrests, an urgent meeting was held at the residence of a top Salafist sheikh, Salem al-Rafei, to discuss “escalatory measures,” they added. The sources feared a renewal of tensions in the northern coastal city, reminiscent of violence witnessed in the past few years before the formation of the Tammam Salam government and the implementation of a nationwide security plan. Back in April, the Lebanese Army launched a security plan in the northern city, which resulted in the arrest of dozens of gunmen and militia commanders from both Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods. The security crackdown largely brought calm to Tripoli, which had witnessed numerous rounds of violence over the last several years, linked to the civil war in Syria
Hariri's initiative receives mixed reactions
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The content of a roadmap announced by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to safeguard Lebanon received mixed reactions over the weekend, with Hezbollah implicitly retorting that it didn't need any consensus to pursue its role in defending Lebanon. Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah said Hezbollah was not waiting for a defense strategy, or for consensus or approval over its fighting of the so-called Takfiri groups that constitute a danger to Lebanon. “Because when we are attacked and invaded and killed none of those strategies will bear fruit as is quite obvious across the entire region,” Fadlallah told a gathering in south Lebanon.
In his blueprint, Hariri renewed his call on Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Syria, arguing that it would be difficult to insulate Lebanon fully from regional risks and establish a political, economic and security fence that would protect the country from the surrounding storms with the continued involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian war.
While the Free Patriotic Movement came out with a lukewarm reaction saying Hariri’s initiative did not offer a real breakthrough, the Lebanese Forces and the spokesman of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai considered it a tool to break the impasse over the presidency.
Reform and Change bloc MP Alain Aoun said in comments Sunday that Hariri’s initiative did not offer anything new but was rather a rehash of previous stances. Aoun, an FPM official, described Hariri’s roadmap as “contradictory,” saying Hariri cannot claim to support coexistence and parity when he attacks the FPM initiative that calls for electing a new president by direct popular vote.
During a televised speech Friday, Hariri outlined a road map to safeguard Lebanon’s stability and protect it from the reverberations of the turmoil in Syria and Iraq, by calling for the election of a new president and the withdrawal of Hezbollah from the war in Syria. Hariri stressed that breaking the two-month-old presidential stalemate was the key to holding parliamentary polls scheduled in November, while strongly rejecting any attempts to renew Parliament’s mandate. The head of the Future Movement said he would soon begin consultations with his allies in the March 14 coalition and his March 8 rivals to end the ongoing presidential deadlock.
“I will launch consultations with my allies in the March 14 coalition and political parties outside the coalition to discuss ways to end the void in the presidential seat as soon as possible ... so we can hold parliamentary elections and form a government,” he said. Aoun, who disclosed that the FPM was looking forward to consultations with Hariri, said the former premier should have proposed a “mechanism” that would ensure that the voice of the majority of the Christians in Lebanon. The MP said Hariri’s argument that “Christian accord” was needed to elect a new president was counterproductive.
In contrast with Aoun, Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra praised Hariri’s initiative as a “roadmap we should build on.”
Zahra told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in comments Sunday that Hariri’s plan was the “only means to save Constitutional life in Lebanon and end the presidential void.”
As for the concept of Christian accord that Hariri highlighted in his speech, Zahra accused FPM leader Michel Aoun of standing in the way of accord by “obstructing Parliament sessions to elect a new president and refusing to announce his candidacy.” Bkirki’s spokesperson Walid Ghayyad said the Maronite Patriarch endorsed Hariri’s initiative and all the initiatives aimed at breaking the impasse. Ghayyad added that Rai believed that initiatives must be coupled with “action and concessions” to safeguard the country. “We are in need of moderate voices and Hariri’s words about moderation are certainly praiseworthy,” Ghayyad said. “More than ever we are in need of moderate Sunni and Shiite voices to draw the East away from terrorism and fanaticism.”
Salam: no discrimination in security crackdown
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam justified the security crackdown in Tripoli Sunday, stressing that security forces operate in accordance with the law and do not discriminate between citizens. “We refuse any imbalance in the implementation of the security plan and the instructions given to security apparatus stress respect for the state in all areas and upholding the rule of law above all, without discrimination or exclusion,” said Salam to a delegation of religious figures from the northern city.
With respect to the arrest of militiaman Hussam al-Sabbagh, Salam stressed that security forces do not discriminate between Lebanese citizens, referring to allegations from local community members that security forces are targeting the Sunni’s of Tripoli. Salam said the state does not target one group at the expense of another and security forces operate in line with the law.
“If a person is detained and then proved innocent he will surely be released” said Salam, emphasizing that “the goal is not retribution, but a movement in the direction of law and security in order to stabilize security in Tripoli.”Salam pointed out that mistakes or shortcomings in the practices of security forces could be resolved wisely. The Prime Minister stressed on the need to combine efforts to restrain reactions to the recent arrests in Tripoli. "I count on your wisdom and your foresight and invite you to help in controlling the exaggerated reactions that may bear more harm than benefit,” said Salam, addressing the delegation. With respect to Sheikh Hussein Atwi, who was arrested after firing a rocket from the town of al-Marri toward occupied Palestine, Salam vowed to issue instructions calling for better treatment and care for his case. Tensions ran high in Lebanon’s second largest city Sunday after a terror suspect was killed and Hussam al-Sabbagh was arrested overnight during raids carried out by Lebanese authorities, security sources told The Daily Star.The Army arrested Sabbagh at the Al-Manar checkpoint in Tripoli along with Mohammad Ali Ismail Ismail and transferred the pair to the concerned judiciary for interrogation.Supporters of militiaman Hussam al-Sabbagh – who is believed to have orchestrated clashes linked to the Syria crisis - took to the streets and blocked roads in Tripoli as the Lebanese Army worked on clearing the streets and restoring calm, the sources said.The Army blocked the road near the Abu Ali roundabout over fears of sniper fire from Bab al-Tabbaneh, where around 150 men brandished their weapons again and deployed heavily inside the impoverished neighborhood that has long served as Sabbagh’s main quarters, the sources added.
Sabbagh is considered a militant commander of Salafists in Tripoli and his arrest is likely to spark a wave of anger within Islamist circles
Hezbollah condemns Shejaiya massacre
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah condemned the hours-long Israeli “massacre” on Shejaiya near Gaza City Sunday, slamming the Israeli forces for preventing medical teams from entering the ravaged area to rescue the wounded. “This horrific massacre which did not distinguish between young and old, or [spare] children and women, is a continuation of the Zionists’ racist and criminal approach by committing the crime of genocide,” said the statement. Hezbollah slammed Israeli forces for preventing medical personnel from entering the neighborhood to save the wounded and evacuate the bodies of the victims, saying that such restrictions “increases the horror of the massacre, and reveals the amount of hatred harbored in the hearts of those criminal Zionists.”The statement also condemned the “criminal silence” of international and Arab organizations, arguing that the absence of a clear response implied “dangerous justification” for the crimes committed by Israel. “This reminds us of the complicity of international and Arab organization during the resistance’s war in July 2006, and this is what places the responsibility for these crimes on international organizations, major powers and the Arab regimes which are participating in the global war on Gaza and its people,” added the statement. Most of Sunday's Palestinian victims were killed in a blistering hours-long Israeli assault on Shejaiya near Gaza City, which began before dawn and has so far claimed 62 Palestinian lives. With ambulances unable to reach the area, the International Committee of the Red Cross called for an urgent temporary ceasefire to allow paramedics to evacuate the dead and wounded, which was agreed on by the two sides. Following a night of terror in Shejaiya, thousands began fleeing for their lives at first light after heavy shelling left casualties lying in the streets, an AFP correspondent reported. At least 87 Gazan Palestinians and 13 soldiers were killed Sunday as Israel ramped up a major military offensive in the bloodiest single day in the enclave in five years.
Thirteen IDF Golani soldiers killed in Gaza, at start of urban stage of Israel’s operation against Hamas
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 20, 2014/
The IDF Golani Brigades lost 13 soldiers in combat with Hamas early Sunday, July 20, in the Gaza Strip district of Shejayia, the military spokesman announced Sunday evening. The unit’s commander, Col. Rosan Aliyan, was seriously injured. The urban stage of the IDF’s Operation Defensive Edge has taken Israel into one of its most perilous wars, launched as Hamas’ rocket barrage against the Israeli population continued without pause. After accepting a brief truce, that was requested and then violated by Hamas, Israeli forces went back to the operation begun overnight in the Hamas Sheijaya stronghold, which bristles with large rocket stocks and arms factories and is the site of concealed openings of terrorist tunnels that snake under the border into Israel 2 km away to a point opposite Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Still ahead of the Israeli operation, after the troops finish cleansing Shejaiya are similar challenges to dismantle Hamas’ offensive capabilities in another three of their Gaza City strongholds: Shaati, Al Bureij and Nuseirat, before Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure can be said to have been disarmed.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz praised the Israeli units fighting in the Gaza Strip and pledged they will carry on for as long as necessary, until Israel is safe from Hamas terror. While regretting the loss of Palestinian civilian life, Gen. Gantz held Hamas responsible for the innocent casualties, by forcing them to stay in place in spite of Israel’s warnings to them to escape. Hamas could have provided the population with shelters, schools and hospitals, instead of investing in rockets and tunnels for Israel’s destruction, he said.
During Sunday, July 20, Israeli commanders rejected, then accepted, a Hamas request relayed via the Red Cross for a three-hour truce for the removal of its dead and wounded from the embattled Shejaiya district. The Palestinians reported 60 dead and 200 injured in Sunday’s battles there.
The truce was extended by two hours, despite attacks by armed Hamas bands on Israeli troops, in breach of the ceasefire, which was the third Israel had accepted in the 12 days of its Gaza operation.
Earlier, debkafile reported that the IDF tried to mitigate the bad news from Hamas warfront by releasing it in stages: first, the four soldiers killed Saturday night and later, the 13 Golani fighters.
The first four were Maj. Amotz Greenberg, 45, from Hod Hashorn and Sgt. Adar Bresani, 20, from Nahariya, were shot dead Saturday when their jeep was attacked by Hamas infiltrators bursting out of a tunnel. On the Gaza battlefield, Paratrooper Staff Sgt. Bana Roval, 20, from Holon, was shot dead by a terrorist from another tunnel, and 2nd Lt, Bar Rahav, 21, from Ramat Yishai, was killed by a missile defense system in a nearby tank. Hamas is not only bringing its deadly tunnels into play, but also planting small commando units heavily armed with anti-tank rockets across the paths of advancing Israeli armored forces. Saturday, those commandos fired 10 anti-tank rockets. Without their Windbreaker armor, many tanks would have been destroyed and the casualty toll much higher.
However, most of all, Hamas is fighting to save its tunnel system from systematic destruction by IDF demolition teams. This system was designed to be the Palestinian Islamists’ highest strategic asset, comparable in importance to the IDF’s chain of fortifications along the Syrian border.
Around 16,000 men, around 15 percent of Hamas’ fighting strength, were assigned to the tunnel project in the last five years and substantial funds. The IDF will not be permitted to demolish this flagship project without a savage fight. The most important conclusion for Israel’s war planners, from the first days of the ground phase of Israel’s Operation Defensive Edge, is that Hamas is standing firm and not cracking, even under the relentless pounding of their military infrastructure by Israeli artillery and air might, and appears determined to fight on.
Its commanders believe they can keep going for another 4 to 6 weeks, while also maintaining a steady hail of rockets against the Israeli population.
This estimate has spurred a major buildup of Israeli military strength for the Gaza operation. Another 50,000 reservists were called up Saturday night and a large number of infantry brigades started moving into the Gaza Strip overnight and will continue to arrive Sunday. The extra forces have made it possible to embark on the second, urban stage of the IDF operation, the breaching of the densely-populated towns. A different type of combat lies ahead from the project for destroying tunnels. It is tougher and more perilous. But there is no other way to reach Hamas’ command centers and its longest-range rockets. With this mission still unaccomplished, talk of a ceasefire sounds as though it comes from another planet. Hamas feels strong and confident enough to spurn the Egyptian-Israeli ceasefire proposal, which is firmly backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Every attempt to sway its political leader Khaled Meshaal, when he was buttonholed in Kuwait, ran into a blank wall. He summarily rejected invitations from Egypt and the Arab League to travel to Cairo and discuss the cessation of hostilities. The various international mediation efforts have therefore nowhere to go.
As far as Hamas is concerned, no incentive has been offered tempting enough to persuade its leaders to give up their predestined war on Israel.
US Secretary of State John Kerry changed his mind about visiting the region for the second time this month, when the Obama administration decided to stay out of it and let Egypt handle the crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who scheduled a visit for Saturday, postponed it indefinitely. Israel has accordingly won a rare opportunity to deal with Hamas without being stopped short and the enemy saved by international intervention. But although it has wide popular support, this opportunity confronts Israelis with one of the cruelest, costly and drawn-out conflicts in their embattled history.
Iran nuclear deal has no future
Samih Maaytah/Ashasrq Al Awsat
When we talk about a possible agreement between Iran and the P5 +1, not only are we talking about a technical military agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program, but we are also implicitly engaging with Iran’s expansionist ambitions, which are part and parcel of its foreign policy. It is this expansionism, in the context of Iran’s nuclear program, that raises concerns in Israel and the West. But these concerns do not include fears of Israel being wiped off the map or Iran championing Arab interests in Palestine.
Iran is not interested in developing a full nuclear program. Rather, it wants to control certain levers of power that will allow it to realize its expansionist ambitions. Its incomplete nuclear program is one of these levers, as is Hezbollah, which has high levels of influence in Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border.
Iran is aware that expanding its influence in the region requires posing a risk, albeit theoretically, to Israel. This means doing some saber-rattling and calling for the liberalization of Arab land, but in reality its aim is to force the major powers to placate Iran by ceding to its demands on regional issues. This allows Iran to interfere in the Gulf and even infringe upon those countries’ internal affairs.
Coming to an agreement on the nuclear program is not, in and of itself, a goal for Iran. Resolving the matter through a definitive agreement does not advance Iran’s expansionist platform. This is because the nuclear program must remain a tool Iran can use to exert pressure and further its wider interests.
Iraq, for example, occupies a special place in Iranian foreign policy. It will be decades before it has disentangled itself from Iraq’s internal affairs. Iran, which aligned itself militarily with the United States on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has achieved a remarkable amount of influence in that country. But the situation in Iraq has now changed, to the detriment of Tehran. Iraq has relapsed into chaos and its Sunni minority has reclaimed some clout, and Iran continues to engage with the Iraqi Kurds and their ambitions for statehood.
Then there’s Syria, where Iran has waged war as though its own existence depended on the outcome. It has provided extensive financial support to the Syrian regime and has dispatched advisors with field experience in Iraq. It continues to exploit the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in its fight against opposition forces. This has all been done in order to preserve Iranian influence, which would suffer a fatal blow if the Syrian regime—its key ally—were to fall. Tehran knows that change in Syria means a change in the landscape in Lebanon. This in turn would affect Hezbollah’s influence and increase the strength of those opposed to Iranian expansionism.
If Iran becomes mired in political and military conflicts on two fronts—Syria and Iraq—its influence will be threatened, just as it lost influence along the Lebanese–Israeli border when Hezbollah committed to Security Council Resolution 1701. Iran’s commitment to the Syrian regime has weakened its relationship with Hamas, which has taken an anti-regime stance after having previously benefited from the regime’s political and security cover.
Iran is aware that the most important aspects of its expansionist toolkit are located close to the Israeli border. It must be close geographically, through Hezbollah and Hamas, and close politically, through the influence of its nuclear program.
This is why I do not foresee any future agreement between the major powers and Iran regarding its nuclear program—not because the agreement would be difficult to reach, but because Tehran wants the project to act as a platform from which it can advance its interests in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf, and elsewhere in the region. Iran wants to force the international community to accept that it will always be a presence on the regional stage. This is why Iran will draw out the talks for years and years, until, finally, negotiations reach an impasse. All the while, it will have been pursuing its actual goals.
As long as the region’s issues remain unresolved, the crux of Iran’s foreign policy will be to ensure negotiations on the nuclear issue continue. Iran will be at the table as long as this subject is on the table, and that will allow it to influence other issues in the region. It will never resolve issues it can use as leverage to achieve its goals and further its sectarian agenda.
Last but not least, one of the obstacles to the nuclear deal is that it concerns the Arabs, and especially the Gulf. The weight of the Gulf countries’ concern will always be brought to bear in the negotiations. Gulf states recognize that a real agreement would strengthen Iran’s influence, both because it would hold nuclear technology and because the economic blockade on the country would be reduced, if not completely eliminated. More importantly, this agreement—if it takes the form of a contract—would include understandings between the world powers and Iran on key issues in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, which are also of great interest to the Gulf countries.
Again, the nuclear issue is not independent of the already existing understandings between major powers and the countries of the region, and it cannot be made independent. Thus, the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program cannot succeed without first gaining a comprehensive reading of the region’s political landscape.
The Christians' ordeal with Muslim extremists
Sunday, 20 July 2014
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/AlArabiya
Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled their city of Mosul to Sunni Kurdish areas up north after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened to kill them if they don't convert to Islam or pay tax. Extremists of the al-Qaeda-inspired group began implementing their threats by burning a church in the city. A new chapter of hatred and terrorism has just begun.
See also: ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul
To understand this situation and deal with it, there are two points, one religious and another political. I haven’t advised that the issue be resolved because the perpetrators are chaotic, terrorist and illegal groups pursued across the world. On the religious level, we expect all religious references and institutions to condemn and confront this increasing radicalism which currently threatens the region's social fabric and religious co-existence. ISIS and similar Sunni or Shiite extremist groups first attack followers of their own sect. They then attack people of different sects and then people of different religions. The ISIS destroyed Sunni Sufis' shrines as well as Shiite shrines in Iraq. It also accused Sunnis who didn't announce their pledge of allegiance to it of apostasy and killed them. Before that, they kidnapped nuns from Syria's Maaloula and did not release them until receiving a hefty ransom. They wreak havoc in Sunni areas a lot more than they do in other areas because they consider them their major targets for establishing power. “The Syrian war, like all wars, brings out the worst in humans. What Arab Christians are confronting is part of the chaos affecting the entire region”
The political angle of this crisis is represented with the infiltrating and directing of these extremist groups. There's increasing evidence that these groups are being used to reshuffle alliances. Iraq is only the second part of this narrative and it's too early to say how or where these suspicious groups will expand to and whether they are expanding towards Baghdad or Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Regarding Syria, ISIS and al-Nusra Front were formed about a year and a half ago by men who fled al-Qaeda prisons in Iraq and Syria. These men were linked to extremist groups - Baathist and al-Qaeda affiliated - and managed by the Syrian regime during the American occupation of Iraq.
Harming the Arab world
These groups have only succeeded at harming the Syrian revolution and they have currently succeeded at sabotaging the three Iraqi provinces' uprising against Nuri al-Maliki's practices. But it doesn't matter now how these groups were born. What matters is to intellectually besiege them and to fight them on ground. Pursuing ISIS does not mean changing the formula of confrontations, if this is the reason why the group was found because in Iraq correcting the situation is a popular demand and in Syria efforts to remove Assad are irreversible. The security vacuum, chaos, war and the lack of a central authority, like in Syria, or a weakening central authority, like in Iraq, will prolong the age of extremist groups and other groups who are slaughtering civilians in Iraq and Syria - groups like the League of the Righteous and the Badr Brigades which are the Shiite version of ISIS.
If, in the upcoming few days, the Iraqis form a new acceptable government and name a prime minister and a president – who lives up to the barely required needs - then we can say that Iraq will recover and that Iraqi powers will unite to fight extremists. But the Syrian problem will remain, as repairing the regime is almost impossible and the war will go on until the end. The Syrian war, like all wars, brings out the worst in humans. What Arab Christians are confronting is part of the chaos affecting the entire region. Therefore, this chaos does not only target them as it threatens the entire region's people and religions. It also threatens civil peace which took us long to achieve in an Arab world made up of dozens of religions, sects and races.
Iran nuclear deal has a future
By: David Patrikarakos/Asharq Alawsat
So the interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 world powers, the UN Security Council powers and Germany, has been extended. In spite of last-minute efforts from international convoys fueled by hope and desperation in Vienna this weekend, it is now clear that no final agreement has yet been reached. The chances were always slim. Months of talks yielded little progress, and agreement on several of the key issues is still very far away. Iran remains adamant that it needs to expand its uranium enrichment activities in order to produce a suitable amount of nuclear fuel for the reactors it intends to build at some point in the future. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), has said that while the AEOI does not necessarily intend to carry out all enrichment activities inside Iran, it needs to be able to produce nuclear fuel for power plants because it cannot rely on international promises to provide fuel. Salehi is merely echoing a longstanding Iranian position that was outlined to me by Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, some years ago. In his elegant Vienna office, Soltanieh told me that just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution Iran paid for US nuclear fuel that was never delivered following the revolution. Iran, he explained, cannot therefore trust foreign fuel supply guarantees. This attitude has driven Iranian thinking throughout the crisis, and chimes with the more general imperative that the state must be “self-sufficient,” a demand also enshrined in its constitution. To get Iran to compromise on this issue has so far proved impossible.
The P5+1, however, is equally adamant that Iran must scale back its enrichment activities, which, it rightly points out, could be used as a means of producing a nuclear bomb. There is also (again, rightly) skepticism about Iran’s claims that it must produce its fuel indigenously, especially since no nuclear plants yet exist for it to supply. Speaking on July 10, Britain’s (newly replaced) foreign secretary, William Hague, was blunt: “Achieving an agreement is far from certain,” he said. “Significant differences remain . . . which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue.” In this, Hague was probably correct. Huge divisions between the two sides may remain, but they are still at the negotiating table. The Iranians and Americans have started talking after more than 30 years and, whatever happens, it is unlikely they will stop now. Things have changed, irretrievably I suspect. Both US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have taken a significant political risk in pursuing negotiations, and both have done so in the face of significant domestic opposition. A total breakdown in the talks would be disastrous for both men, and each will do everything he can to ensure it does not happen. That is because these talks are not just about the localized problem that is the nuclear crisis. Obama came to office with a clear intention to work towards some form of détente with Iran. One of his first foreign policy statements was to address the Islamic Republic leadership directly with a qualified offer of compromise. Rouhani similarly came to office determined to repair Iran’s international image. This is critical. What is at stake in these talks—more than merely resolving the nuclear program—is the future of Iran’s place in the international community. The nuclear crisis is only a symptom of a much wider problem between Iran and the West, and as a result it is ironically both the biggest obstacle to détente and the only means through which it can be achieved. If Iran is to compromise, it will need sanctions relief and various economic and political inducements that will inescapably draw it back into the international system. If the P5+1 is to provide these inducements, it will need Iranian guarantees that assuage many of its well-founded fears about Tehran’s behavior.
And for these reasons it is inescapable that, over the long term, the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, must play some sort of role in the process. Riyadh is not directly involved in negotiations (though its stance on them is clear and vociferous) but Iran’s gradual reintegration back into the international fold cannot be achieved without talking to the “Sunni Lion.” Regional stability depends on it.
Even though the talks have been extended, the situation remains precarious—but at least the willingness to continue is there from all parties. And while they continue to talk there is at least a chance of resolution, however slim. Iran is too significant a regional actor to be ignored forever. The time has come to resolve the issue, however difficult it may be. The alternatives for a region already in the grip of chaos are too depressing to contemplate.
The counterpoint to this article can be read here.