July 22/14

Bible Quotation for today/Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me
Luke 10,13-16./‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 22/14

Obama administration is legitimizing Iranian military action in Iraq/By Walid Phares

The Only Thing Between Us and Them is the Sword, ISIS Persecution of Iraq's Christians Intensifies/ Todd Daniels/ July 22/14

Will Iran play the nuclear ‘game’ with the Americans/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya/July 22

Lebanese Related News For July 22

Geagea, Jumblat Slam Attack on 'Christian Presence' in Levant

Berri: We Can't Appoint Premier without a President, Parliament

Three People Abducted on Baalbek International Road
Kataeb Says Parliament Must Have 'Electoral Powers Only,' Rejects Legislative Role

Islamic National Gathering Urges Freeing Sabbagh, Warns of Bid to Undermine Security Plan

Christian exodus from Mosul sparks outrage

Iraqi Christians facing a ‘crime against humanity’

Hezbollah leader says Gaza ‘resistance’ will defeat Israel

Hariri slams Christian Gathering criticism

UNIFIL chief: Mission is a marathon, not a sprint
UNSC demands access to plane crash site

LU dispute sets stage for heated Cabinet session

CPI declines after phone rate cut

Politicians brace for Parliament extension backlash

Lebanese media unite in solidarity with Gaza
Ominous sign as wellspring village dries up


Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 22

Gaza Death Toll Hits 572, Israel Says 7 More Troops Killed

Iran complying with nuclear deal: U.N. watchdog
Israel kills over 500 Palestinians in 14 days

Kerry and Ban in truce bid to save Hamas from defeat. Israel holds reply. Cairo won’t amend truce proposal

US, UN pushing hard for immediate cease-fire in Gaza

Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

Seven more IDF soldiers and officers killed in clashes with Hamas

Hamas claims to have kidnapped soldier

More than 100 Gazans killed on 13th day of op

When Gaza operation became a war

Hamas, not Israel, is running conflict

How Gaza became an underground monster

Rebels press bid to expel ISIS from Damascus
Worse than Genghis Khan?


Christian exodus from Mosul sparks outrage
Agencies/BAGHDAD: Political and religious leaders expressed outrage and demanded action Sunday after ISIS militants drove Mosul’s Christians from the northern Iraqi city, effectively ending a presence there dating back to Christianity’s earliest years. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the actions of ISIS and said it showed “the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of this group.”
He instructed a government committee set up to support displaced people across Iraq to help the Christians who had been made homeless, but did not say when the army might try to win back control of Mosul. “The world must act, speak out,” Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni said, a day after a deadline expired for Christians to choose between death and submission to the rule of the Al-Qaeda splinter group. Hundreds of Christian families left the city ahead of the ultimatum, many of them stripped of their possessions as they fled for safety, the remnants of a community that once numbered in the tens of thousands. “Gunmen lurking like thieves took everything from them – even women’s rings, cars, cell phones ... because they are fanatics,” Warduni told Reuters by telephone from the city of Irbil, 80 kilometers away in the autonomous Kurdish region. The bishop said the solution to the crisis should be in Iraq’s own hands, but that the state was weak and divided, and Muslim leaders had failed to speak out. ISIS gave the city’s Christians a choice: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face the sword. In his weekly public prayers, Pope Francis said that he was troubled by the ultimatum.
“I learned with great concern the news that came from the Christian communities in Mosul and other parts of the Middle East, where they have lived since the birth of Christianity and where they have made significant contributions to the good of their societies,” he said. “Today they are persecuted. Our brothers are persecuted. They’ve been driven away. They must leave their homes without being able to take anything with them.”One Christian who left Mosul last week described how he fled with his family when he learned of the ISIS ultimatum.
“We gathered all our belongings and headed for the only exit. There was a checkpoint on the road and they were stopping cars there,” 35-year-old Salwan Noel Miskouni said.
When the militants saw they were Christians they demanded gold and money. When the family initially said they had none, one of the fighters grabbed their 4-year-old son by the hand and threatened to abduct the child. “My sister emptied her entire handbag with our money and gold and her ID. They let the car pass and the child go,” Miskouni said.
Iraq’s Christian communities date back to the first centuries of the religion, but modern Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from the roughly 1 million people who lived there before the 2003 U.S.-led occupation to just under half, or an estimated 450,000, today. ISIS Saturday claimed responsibility for four bombings in Baghdad, among a string of attacks that killed at least 27 people earlier in the day. The violence was among the most significant in Baghdad since an ISIS-led offensive last month seized large parts of the country. In a statement that was posted online, the group said that two of the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers who were named as Abu al-Qaaqaa al-Almani and Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Shami. The names indicate they were German and Syrian, respectively.
In the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, Iraq’s ailing president returned to the country after more than 18 months abroad for medical treatment following a stroke in late 2012, state television said Saturday.
Jalal Talabani is wrapping up his second consecutive term as president, and is not eligible to run for the post again.

Iraqi Christians facing a ‘crime against humanity’

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 21 July 2014
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that the persecution of Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes in Mosul by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants could constitute a crime against humanity, Agence France-Presse reported. Hundreds of Christian families fled their homes in the northern city Saturday as an ultimatum threatening their community’s centuries-old presence there expired. Ban “condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State [of Iraq and Syria] and associated armed groups,” a U.N. statement said.
The United Nations chief highlighted that “any systematic attack on the civilian population or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity.” The militants, who have run the city for almost six weeks, issued an ultimatum to Mosul’s Christians to either convert, pay a tax, leave or face imminent execution.
The city’s new rulers said there would be “nothing for them but the sword” if Christians did not abide by those conditions by 0900 GMT Saturday. While some families initially appeared prepared to pay the “jizya” Islamic tribute to stay in their homes, messages broadcast by mosques on Friday sparked an exodus. Ban was “particularly disturbed by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other IS-controlled parts of Iraq,” the statement read. It added that he was also concerned by “reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property, and that the homes of Christian, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.” Before the 2003 U.S. invasion, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq, including more than 600,000 in Baghdad and 60,000 in Mosul, as well as a substantial number in Kirkuk and in Basra. Until their forced exodus over the weekend, Christians had been continuously present in Mosul for about 16 centuries.

Call for Lebanon's civil society to express solidarity with Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in Iraq
Walid Phares/21 July/14/I urge leaders of civil society in Lebanon to organize peaceful protests in solidarity with the endangered communities and minorities in Iraq, after the ethnic cleansing of Mosul of its Christians and the ongoing persecution of Turkomen, Shabak, Yazidi and moderate Muslims. Lebanon, the country that has maintained a pluralist identity for decades can show the world that the Middle East will remain a land of pluralism. We hope Lebanon's NGOs, Christians and Muslim alike would organize public events in the coming days. This would be the only Middle East country to openly stand by the minorities' victims of barbarism led by IS (Daesh). If Lebanon civil society mobilizes, it would help the international community to raise the issue and address it. This is an opportunity to show a long lost unity among Lebanon Christians. They can come together on this platform. And an opportunity to see Christian and Muslim moderates acting again for the benefit of freedom. Our best regards. We have initiated already contacts with civil society and Church leaders and hope to hear good news. Berri: We Can't Appoint Premier without a President, Parliament
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated his assertion that a president should be elected before holding the parliamentary polls, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Monday.
“We cannot appoint a new prime minister before the election of a president,” he added in response to head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri's declaration that a speaker of parliament cannot be elected before a president. Berri explained that the appointment of a premier requires consultations between the president and the speaker and lawmakers. “The persistence of the presidential vacuum therefore hinders the election of a prime minister,” he stressed. “Officials must therefore elect a president in order to safeguard state institutions,” he remarked. Hariri delivered a speech on Friday during which he proposed a roadmap that includes the election of a new president, formation of a new cabinet that is similar to the current one, withdrawal of Hizbullah's fighters from Syria, and establishment of a comprehensive plan to combat terrorism. He also urged against the extension of parliament's term, but remarked that parliamentary polls should take place after electing a new president.

Geagea, Jumblat Slam Attack on 'Christian Presence' in Levant
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Monday that “news of attacks on Christians and their churches and monasteries in Syria and Iraq, the last of which at Mosul's Saint Behnam, are heartbreaking” because they seek to “uproot civilizations from their land.”“The LF, whose name has been associated with confronting tyranny, condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on Christians, wherever they may happen and whichever side they may come from,” Geagea said in a statement.
He urged “those with good intentions who all belong to all religions, especially Muslims, to confront all forms and types of extremism, whether practiced by organizations or regimes.”
Combating terrorism is “the responsibility of everyone, topped by moderate Islam, which reflects the civilized image of Muslims.”
Meanwhile, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat condemned the persecution of Christians in Iraq's Mosul at the hands of ruthless Islamic State jihadists, describing it as a “severe blow to the concept of diversity, pluralism and coexistence consolidated by the Christian presence in the Levant, which must be preserved no matter what.”
The Druze leader underlined the “importance of forming an Iraqi national unity government, in which all political forces would be represented and which would rescue Iraq from fragmentation and partitioning.”
Hundreds of Christians have fled Mosul following an ultimatum from the IS, which is spearheading a militant offensive in vast areas of northern and western Iraq.
Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako said there were still around 35,000 Christians in the city before the IS launched its sweeping offensive on June 9, proclaimed an Islamic “caliphate” straddling Iraqi and Syrian regions, and made Mosul their main Iraqi hub. He said all had left the city by the time the noon ultimatum expired on Saturday. Separately, Jumblat warned that “the continuous Israeli massacre against Palestine and the Palestinian people will sooner or later create and aggravate feelings of spite, hatred and anti-Semitism, which the West fears and whose indications have started to surface in some Western countries.”“Palestine remains the main cause, and any talk of a ceasefire must be part of a comprehensive deal involving the reopening of all Arab and Israel border crossings and ending the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, in addition to the release of tens of thousands of detainees and captives.”
At least 514 Palestinians have been killed and 3,165 wounded since Israel launched a fierce assault on Gaza 14 days ago.

Kataeb Says Parliament Must Have 'Electoral Powers Only,' Rejects Legislative Role

Naharnet/The Kataeb Party on Monday rejected any legislative activity at the parliament amid the presidential vacuum, warning also of the repercussions of not electing a new president.
"The Kataeb Party reiterates its calls for ending the (presidential) vacuum, refusing to give up to failure and becoming aware of the repercussions of not electing a new president,” the party said in a released statement after its political bureau's weekly meeting. The politburo explained that vacuum threatens Lebanon's democratic system and obstructs the cabinet's work. It also called for considering the looming end of the parliament's term amid the vacuum, “completely rejecting” any talks about a possible new extension of its mandate. Former President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 without a successor to take office in the coming six years as differences between the March 8 and the March 14 camps prevented electing a new head of state. The conferees, meanwhile, said the parliament's legislative power amid the presidential vacuum is a controversial issue on the “constitutional and political levels.” They stated that the parliament must have electoral powers only in the current situation. As for dealing with the contentious issue of paying the wages of public employees, the political bureau said this matter should be dealt with based on an authorization by the cabinet or based on public accountancy laws. In a separate matter, the Kataeb statement denounced the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip. "This is a real assault on Palestinian people who are now under the mercy of the Israeli killing machine, without taking into consideration the international law and its rules which stipulate that civilians must be neutralized and protected,” it said. It also condemned the “international silence and the inability to take an urgent step to stop” the violence in Gaza. Also, the politburo expressed its concern over “attacking Christians in Iraq, and forcing them to abandon their faith or their country.”"Both choices are rejected and this situation calls for international protection for Christians, and for a protection of pluralism in the region in this critical situation.”

Three People Abducted on Baalbek International Road

Naharnet/Unidentified gunmen abducted on Monday three people on al-Hillaniyeh road in the Bekaa, the state-run National News Agency reported. "Armed men inside a midnight blue Nissan Pathfinder intercepted a silver Mercedes Maybach on the Riyaq-Baalbek international road (in Bekaa) and kidnapped three people that were on board,” the NNA said, noting that the abduction took place in the region's al-Hillaniyeh area. The abducted people were then taken to an unknown destination, the same source added. Last week, gunmen abducted an engineer who hails from the Bekaa town of al-Labweh and took him away to the Arsal plains. Few days earlier, Palestinian Mohammed Jaber was kidnapped by an identified group of men in the Khraibeh plains in Baalbek. And on July 8, citizen Joseph Emile Bashaalani escaped a kidnapping attempt after unknown assailants opened fire at his pickup truck in the Arsal region. Bashaalani received 10 gunshots during the kidnapping attempt. These kidnappings come as army troops and security forces have been implementing a security plan in the Bekaa, the North and Beirut. The plan has been successful in arresting several leaders of kidnapping rings.

Islamic National Gathering Urges Freeing Sabbagh, Warns of Bid to Undermine Security Plan

Naharnet /Tripoli's Islamic National Gathering on Monday warned of an attempt to undermine the security plan in the northern city, urging the immediate release of the detainee Hussam al-Sabbagh and “all those wrongfully accused of terrorism.”“The conferees discussed the meager gestures of the government regarding the so-called rectification of the security plan, which means it has acknowledged that certain practices in Tripoli must be addressed,” MP Mohammed Kabbara announced after a meeting for the Gathering. Prime Minister Tammam Salam had on Sunday announced that he will not accept any “imbalance” in implementing the security plan in all regions, as he noted that “any misconduct or mistakes ... can be addressed calmly and rationally.”But the conferees called on Salam to “quickly correct the violations through deeds, not words.”Sabbagh, an influential Bab al-Tabbaneh Salafist militant, was arrested overnight Saturday at an army checkpoint in Tripoli. Sabbagh holds Lebanese and Australian citizenships and is reportedly wanted by authorities in both countries for belonging to al-Qaida, most notably the Fatah al-Islam group. “Hussam al-Sabbagh did not go into hiding (as the security plan got underway in April) and he was practicing his influence over residents to prevent them from clashing with the army," Kabbara noted, saying "the conferees wondered why he was arrested in the wake of ex-PM (Saad) Hariri's initiative and about the reason behind this rejected gambling with the city's stability on the eve of Eid al-Fitr.""The arrest was suspicious and it must be reversed and Hussam al-Sabbagh must be released immediately," the conferees urged. They warned that there is "accumulating anger due to the fact that fugitives belonging to the 'party of arms' (Hizbullah) and (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's intelligence agencies have not been arrested despite their involvement in terrorist operations, which means that the arrests are only targeting the Sunnis who defended Tripoli's residents" during clashes with the pro-Assad Jabal Mohsen district. “The conferees discussed recent remarks about the intent to address the 'security tragedy' of the General Security's so-called 'subjugation lists', under which Sunni youths are being arrested. Despite optimism, the conferees stressed the need to release everyone,” Kabbara added. He lamented that “the state is not performing its duties against the attacks of the party of arms (Hizbullah) and Assad in the North and the Bekaa.”“There is a clear attempt to undermine the security plan in Tripoli,” he warned.

Hezbollah leader says Gaza ‘resistance’ will defeat Israel
Agence France Presse, Beirut/Monday, 21 July 2014
Lebanon's Hezbollah is backing the Palestinian "resistance" in Gaza to defeat Israel, the Shiite movement's leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday. Nasrallah told Hamas' exiled chief Khaled Meshaal by telephone: "Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance stand firmly on the side of the Intifada and the Palestinian people's resistance, and support Hamas' strategy and the just conditions it has set to end the conflict."Hamas is demanding Israel end its siege of Gaza and has called for the release of scores of prisoners from Israeli jails before it considers peace talks proposed by Egypt.Nasrallah, meanwhile, expressed his "complete confidence in the resistance's capacity to defend itself and to achieve a new victory in July", a reference to Israel's failure to crush Hezbollah in its July 2006 offensive against Lebanon. In a separate phone call to Ramadan Abdallah Challah, secretary general of the Gaza's second-biggest armed group, the Islamic Jihad, Nasrallah said: "The Lebanese resistance is willing to cooperate completely, in order to realise the goals of the Palestinian resistance, and to ensure the failure of the (Israeli) aggression."
Israel's assault on Gaza, the bloodiest in five years, has lasted 14 days, killing more than 500 Palestinians, while 18 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the violence.


Israel kills over 500 Palestinians in 14 days
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Monday, 21 July 2014
Israel has killed more than 500 Palestinians since it launched a military offensive on Gaza Strip 14 days ago, as the airstrikes and shelling killed at least 20 people on Monday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo to try to secure an end to hostilities, a day after he was caught by an open microphone saying sarcastically that the Israeli assault was “a hell of a pinpoint operation”. Speaking in Washington, President Barack Obama said he was increasingly worried by the conflict. “We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire,” he told reporters at the White House. The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting late Sunday on the situation in Gaza.Diplomats said the meeting, open to the public and set for 9:30 pm (0130 GMT Monday), was requested by council member Jordan, following a call by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.The Council's 15 members held a meeting on Gaza Friday but failed to reach agreement on a joint declaration. Since the conflict began on July 8, the council also held a first inconclusive meeting on July 10, before calling for a ceasefire in a unanimous declaration. He condemned the “atrocious action” in Shejaiya and urged Israel to “exercise maximum restraint.” “Too many innocent people are dying... (and) living in constant fear,” Ban told a news conference in Doha. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Doha as part of a Middle East tour to push truce efforts. Palestinian President Abbas has described the killing of 62 civilians in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood on Sunday as “a crime against humanity.” “Those who committed it will not go unpunished,” Abbas added. An Israeli air strike on a home in the center of Gaza City killed eight people, including four children, Palestinian medics said Monday. The new strike came shortly after Israeli shelling of a central Gaza hospital killed at least five people, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP. A relative cries as he carries the body of three-year-old Palestinian girl Haniyeh Abu Jarad, who medics said was killed along with her father and other six members from the same family by an Israeli tank shell, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip July 19, 2014. (Reuters) Al-Qudra said the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department. Al-Qudra also said 45 bodies were recovered from the rubble of areas hit on Sunday, 11 of which were from Shejaiya, increasing Sunday’s death toll to 72, AFP reported. The Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on the third day of a major ground operation. On Monday, Hamas’s armed wing the Ezzeddine al-Qassam brigade said two Israeli soldiers were killed in the Shejaiya neighborhood on Sunday. Al-Qassam meanwhile claimed it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City and West Bank cities.

Kerry and Ban in truce bid to save Hamas from defeat. Israel holds reply. Cairo won’t amend truce proposal
DEBKAfile Special Report July 21, 2014/Three rival groups are in a tug-o’-war over a ceasefire initiative for the Gaza conflict: The US and UN are pulling one way; Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the other; and Qatar, Turkey, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, are trying to manipulate the others.
Monday night, July 21, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo to press their case with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi: Kerry’s directive was outlined by President Barack Obama a few hours earlier, “to focus on bringing about a ceasefire than ends the fighting and can stop the death of innocent civilians.”
Ban came from Doha, Qatar, as part of a whistle stop tour of Kuwait City, Jerusalem, Cairo, Ramallah and Amman. Upon landing in Cairo, he told reporters: “The violence must stop, it must stop now. I urge all parties to stop violence unconditionally and return to dialogue."
Reported to be pushing for a long-term ceasefire, the UN Secretary went on to comment that it was impossible to go back to the situation that caused the conflict. He ruled out the “status quo ante” for the Gaza Strip as untenable.
This was an indirect vote of support for Hamas’s terms for a ceasefire, such as ending the blockade on the Gaza Strip and reopening all the crossings.
The UN Secretary had nary a word to say about the Palestinian Islamists’ long record of terrorism, culminating last month in the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, the shooting of 1,850 rockets at the Israeli population in less than a month and the network of secret tunnels dug especially to burrow under the Israeli border for attacks and kidnappings.
After hearing the two comments, Hamas’ political leader Meshaal Hamas called off the statement he had planned to issue Monday night from his base in Qatar. He saw he had no need to push any further to win the support of the UN and US officials. They were already on his side and he could count on them both to twist Israel’s arm for an early ceasefire to rescue Hamas from defeat before its terrorist machine was completely ravaged by Israeli troops.
Hamas officials also rejected suggestions floated for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire.
Following reports that Cairo had agreed to give in to Hamas demands, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri said firmly that Cairo is not willing to amend its former truce initiative.
The Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had won Saudi endorsement for this proposal in two conversations they held in the last few days. It is based essentially on a ceasefire which, if it holds, would be followed by separate Egyptian talks with Israel and Hamas on future arrangements.
This proposal was accepted by Israel and snubbed by Hamas, which continued to shoot rockets instead. Israel reacted four days ago, by sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip to finally dismantle Hamas’ long-running terror machine.
That Hamas stands by its negative response to the Egyptian ceasefire initiative was underscored by Gaza Prime Minster Ismail Haniya in a pre-recorded statement Monday from his hideout: “Hamas will fight with blood before giving up its terms,” he said. “Their [Israel’s] air strikes did not break us, and neither will their ground attacks.”
Hama leaders have grasped that the truce initiatives promoted by Kerry and Ban will essentially allow them to carry on as before with certain benefits thrown in.
As of writing this report, the Netanyahu government has not reacted to the web of ceasefire diplomacy being woven. His silence can be interpreted in three ways:
1. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been running Israel's campaign against Hamas in close rapport with Saudi King Abdullah and President El-Sisi, is saving his biggest gun – flat rejection of their truce proposals - for use in direct encounters with Kerry and Ban when they arrive in Jerusalem Tuesday, July 22.
2. The IDF needs more time to complete its missions, which are to destroy Hamas’ network of terror tunnels and disarm, or at least degrade, its rocket and military infrastructure.
3. Netanyahu is keeping his cards close to his chest for a reckoning with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, touted as go-between in the ceasefire bid, over his threat Monday to bring charges of war crimes against Israel before the international court in The Hague and UN institutions, as well as accusations of apartheid.
The prime minister may well stipulate that Kerry and Ban rein in the Palestinian leader before Israel gives its attention to any requests for joining a ceasefire.

Obama administration is legitimizing Iranian military action in Iraq
By Walid Phares/The Hill.Com/July 21, 2014
The Obama administration’s narrative on Iraq this week produced—intentionally or not—two strategic mistakes regarding the U.S. posture on Iran and the current ongoing conflict in Iraq.
The first error was when the Pentagon’s spokesperson stated that "no Iranian regular forces" are operating inside Iraq, while admitting that "regime forces" are deployed and engaged in operations. Those comments are contradictory.
The second mistake was to acknowledge the legitimacy of having Iranian forces intervene inside Iraq against the forces in opposition to the Maliki government—because some of these forces are part of the Jihadi network. The U.S. is giving a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad the right to seek military intervention by their protectors in Tehran.
On July 8, 2014, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a news conference: "There are no indications that Iran has regular military forces on the ground inside Iraq." He added: "We know that there are some Iranian operatives—Quds Force operatives—inside Iraq that are training and advising some Iraqi security forces but more critically Shia militia. And we also know that Iran has flowed in some supplies, arms and ammunition and even some aircraft for Iraq’s armed forces."
Yet both of these forces are regular armies of the regime, and both are under the authority of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini. The Quds force, as the admiral stated in his press conference, "is a special branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, responsible for operations outside of Iran." The Quds force is a division of the regime’s military, and thus when it acts on foreign soil, it constitutes Iranian military action outside the borders of the Islamic Republic.
And those in Washington must, apparently, be reminded that the Quds force is on our list of terrorist organizations. Even if this terror entity is fighting another terror organization, even al Qaeda or ISIS, this does not change its terror designation – and the same can be said when Hezbollah fights al Qaeda or al Qaeda fights ISIS. They are all still terrorist organizations and fighting amongst themselves does not alter that.
The U.S. administration should not legitimize the militant activities by a terror group under these or any circumstances.
Shockingly, the Pentagon narrative went so far as to state that, “Iraq has the right to reach out to its neighbors for support,” indirectly legitimizing Iranian intervention in Iraq. This unprecedented statement goes against a U.S. posture to interdict Iran’s meddling in Iraq since 2003 while also breaching U.S. counterterrorism guidelines regarding the terror group designation of the Quds force.
We are talking about a major shift by the Obama administration to quasi-officially recognize Tehran's military role inside Iraq, confirming the argument made in my latest book, The Lost Spring, that Washington has transferred influence to Iran after its withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011.
The Iranians have taken full advantage of the weakened U.S. posture over the past three years by immediately inserting the Quds force inside Iraq, by backing Malaki's government suppression of traditional Sunni politicians, by using Iraq—with U.S. admission—to transfer assets to Syria, and last but not least, to destroy the exiled Iranian opposition inside Iraq, particularly in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.
In Washington, the Iranian military factor in Iraq has almost vanished from national security assessment. Kirby noted that the United States is “dividing U.S. forces between two missions: diplomatic security and assessment of the cohesiveness of Iraqi security forces.” According to Kirby, about 640 troops are divided between the two missions, and the assessment mission includes six teams, based mostly in and around Baghdad, and two joint operations centers—one in Baghdad and one in Irbil.
The question is: how does the Administration perceive the threat in Iraq? Is it solely ISIS or is it Iran's involvement as well? From these latest statements, it appears that Washington is committing in Iraq a mistake converse yet eerily similar to the mistake it committed in Syria – where by backing the ‘rebels’ who opposed the Assad regime without distinguishing them from the Jihadists, the Administration cleared the path for al Qaeda and ISIS to rise in Syria. And now, by welcoming into the fold all supporters of the Maliki regime combatting ISIS, the Administration is clearing the path for Iranian terrorist militias the flourish in Iraq.
Phares is the author of The Lost Spring: US Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid. He is co-secretary general of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism.

The Only Thing Between Us and Them is the Sword ,ISIS' Persecution of Iraq's Christians Intensifies
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East/ICC
Date Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - Facing the promise of execution if they do not embrace Islam or pay tribute for being Christians, the remaining Christians in Mosul, Iraq fled before the deadline of noon on Saturday, July 19. The aim of the militant group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, now shortened to Islamic State) to create an Islamic state emptied of all Christians has moved closer to a reality.
"Nothing for Them But the Sword"
In the last week, ISIS began marking Christian homes throughout the city. The Arabic letter "N," standing for the Arabic word "Nasrani," a name for Christians, was painted on Christians' homes around Mosul, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports.
"We do not know what will happen in future days," Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako said. "It is clear that the result of all this discrimination legally enforced will be the very dangerous elimination of the possibility of co-existence between majorities and minorities," he lamented.
Patriarch Sako's fears would be quickly realized. On Friday, July 18, an 1,800-year-old church was set aflame, even as the remaining Christians attempted to evacuate the city before the deadline set for them to flee or face death expired.
On Thursday, July 17, ISIS released a statement in Mosul laying out the only three options for Christians who had remained in the city following its takeover last month.
Below is an excerpt of the statement, translated by AINA, which was said to come from the "Office of the Judiciary" of the Islamic State:
"It was decided to offer them one of the three:
1. Islam (to become Muslim).
2. Pay Jizya (which is taking tribute for being Christians).
3. If they refuse, there is nothing for them but the sword.
The Prince of the Faithful Caliph Ibrahim -- God Glorify him -- will allow them to evacuate themselves only from the borders of the state Alkhalafah by Saturday, Ramadan 21, 1435 [July 19, 2014] noon hour, and after this date, the only thing between us and them is the sword."
The deadline was reportedly set by Caliph Ibrahim, the title claimed by ISIS' leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi when declaring the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. The offer of "Islam, tribute, or sword" was the same offer that ISIS made in Raqqa, Syria, a city that has now become its base of operations. ISIS controls a large swath of territory across northern Syria and into Iraq. They are moving to set up an Islamic state and driving out all Christians, along with Shi'a Muslims, and other religious minorities.
Mosul Emptied of Its Christians
According to Tera Dahl, writing from Erbil, "The last Christian reportedly left Iraq's second largest city of Mosul at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, ending over 6,000 years of Assyrian history in the city. Assyrians have lived in Mosul for over 6,000 years, converting to Christianity over 2,000 years ago. This all came to an end on Saturday, when the last Assyrian Christian left the city."
The Christians who fled said that under ISIS they were being forced to comply with puritanical laws that were now causing many Muslims, who had stayed, to try to leave. "It is like the Taliban in Afghanistan," one Mosul resident said.
"Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians," Patriarch Sako said in an interview.
As hundreds of families were trying to flee before the deadline, ISIS reportedly set up checkpoints and was robbing them of their possessions, AINA reported. "ISIS took money from the Assyrians, as well as cars, cell phones, food, money, gold, fake jewelry, electronic items and even medicines. Over 85 families who had fled Baghdede (Qarawosh/Hamdaniya) reported being robbed of all of their possessions."
Dispossessed of their cars, hundreds of Christians were forced to continue their march of nearly 50 miles on foot. This latest stream of refugees joins the hundreds of thousands who fled when ISIS first took Mosul in early June.
"It looks like the history is repeating itself when in June 1941 in Baghdad, Iraq thousands of innocent prosperous Iraqi Jews were dispossessed and fully stripped from their belongings and properties and then attacked by the Arab Islamists,' Joseph Kessab, president of Iraqi Christians and Advocacy and Empowerment Institute (ICAE) told ICC.
"Now the ISIS Islamists are doing just that to thousands of Christians in Mosul, where they are asked to convert to Islam or face the sword, or they are forced to flee with only some clothes on their backs while their churches are burned and their monasteries attacked and seized," Kessab continued.
What will be the Response?
As the world witnesses the mass exodus of Mosul's Christian population, adding to the nearly one million Christians who have already left Iraq, some are labeling it "a Christian version of the Holocaust and nothing less."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon issued a statement strongly condemning the persecution of religious minorities. "Any systematic attack on the civilian population, or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, for which those responsible must be held accountable," Moon said.
The U.S. State Department also condemned the persecution of Christians in a statement released on Friday. "We are outraged by ISIL's recent announcement that Christians in Mosul must either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face execution in the coming days. [...] It should be clear that ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region."
While there have been statements of support for the Iraqi people and condemnation of ISIS, no clear plan of action has been outlined. The first steps are being taken to secure the immediate needs of the thousands displaced from their homes, but as for the future of Iraq's Christian community, that is entirely unclear.
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East:

Will Iran play the nuclear ‘game’ with the Americans?
Monday, 21 July 2014
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya
During the last few days before the expiry date of Iran’s interim nuclear deal, uncertainty clouded the air at the nuclear talks in Vienna.
The uncertainty came from Iran’s delegation giving foreign journalists mixed and confusing signals; it wasn’t clear whether Iran would continue the talks until July 20 or wrap up two days earlier on Friday.
I believe that the significance of these back and forth mixed signals and confusion, which must have upset the American delegation, can be translated into meaning Iran couldn’t make the decision to accept the U.S. conditions and reach the comprehensive deal or extend the talks and used the signals as a tool to pressure their American counterparts.
Last week, rumors spread among the journalists on the ground in Vienna suggesting Iran would leave the city two days before the official deadline. U.S. President Obama’s positive speeches later on and the news of Secretary of State Kerry meeting with Congress on Thursday relaxed Iranians a bit, according to people I have spoken with.
A murky future

While the U.S. is seeking a significant reduction of Iran’s nuclear capabilities in return for a deal which would gradually lift sanctions, the negotiators didn’t disclose the exact differences preventing a comprehensive agreement being reached and also how this gap can be closed by an extension in the near future.
“What if Iran played a game to push the Americans into accepting their conditions by taking a tough and non-negotiable position? ”
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
During the past six months, the modest sanctions relief has boosted Iran’s automotive industry, the second most active industry after oil and gas in the country. This was the first positive sign of the interim deal signed in Geneva last November between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany).
Intense negotiations
The significance of intense negotiations between Iran and the Western powers, especially the United States, helped the paralyzed economy including the auto industry which has improved according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which said that stability and prospects have improved in the country. According to the IMF report, which was published in February 2014, the economic situation in Iran “remains highly uncertain.” However, perhaps a fresh assessment would show more improvement in the auto, oil and gas sectors.
However long this extension may last, the case has been made for the continuation of Iran freezing its nuclear program in return of more sanctions relief. The possible scenario post July 20 is either Iran or the U.S., as the major negotiating parties, accept the other’s condition to reach the final agreement or they risk walking away from the talks which this is not what the U.S., Iran and Iran’s neighbor are wishing for.
President Obama on July 16 said that Iran has made significant efforts to fulfill its promise to scale back its nuclear program but still, “significant gaps” have remained.
In Iran, the public expectation was to hear that a deal had been reached by July 20, according to people I have spoken with. However, Iran’s lead negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif secured the extension and perhaps managed to make some anxious Iranians happy and also smooth the path for the upcoming meetings.
The question that needs to be asked is: what if Iran played a game to push the Americans into accepting their conditions by taking a tough and non-negotiable position? Stretching the time of the negotiations just allows for more opponents to get involved and makes the talks harder. But still, Zarif is to be commended for leading the talks and giving Iranians something to look forward to in the coming months.