LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28,16-20./The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
We run the risk of forgetting the suffering which doesn’t
affect us personally. May we respond to it, and may we pray for peace in
Il y a le risque d’oublier les souffrances qui ne nous touchent pas de près. Réagissons, et prions pour la paix en Syrie.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 15/14
Lebanon and Syria-Iraq: who is more fragile/By: Hazem Saghieh/June 15/14
What are the heavenly crowns that believers can receive in Heaven?/June 15/14
The Iran you won’t hear about from President Rouhani/John Baird, Canada's Foreign Minister/June 15/14
ISIS Rampages, the Middle East Shakes/By Daniel Pipes/National Review Online/June 15/14
Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 15/14
Lebanese Related News
Ten Hizbullah Fighters Killed in Syria's Ongoing Battles
Report: Ban Postpones Efforts to Push for Presidential Elections over Iraq
Al-Rahi Calls for 'Brave' Initiative to Face Recent Regional Developments
Saniora: Urges Govt. to Assume its Duties, Avoid Endless Debates over its Methodology
Report: Aoun May Meet Hariri on Tuesday to Address Presidential Elections
Ibrahim: Mashnouq's Doha Trip Achieved Advances in Release of Abducted Lebanese
Hariri Telephones Jumblat during Meeting with Abou Faour in Casablanca
Report: Temporary Cash Advance among Proposals to Resolve Wage Scale Dispute
Mashnouq Heads to Moscow for Diplomatic, Security Talks
Lebanon on alert to head off jihadist offensive spillover
Berri slams critics over presidential election
Lebanese internet users to hit 3 million in 2017
Lebanon scrambles to avert Iraq fallout
Syrian embassy celebrates Assad’s victory
Syrian Army shells Bekaa border village
Bou Saab denies exam leaks
Siniora: ‘Friendly’ Tripoli to attract investors
America and its allies responsible for terrorism: Qassem
Constitutional council rejects anti-rent law appeals
Protectionism can save industry: Hajj Hasan
MPs will eventually resolve wage hike row: source
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Canada Condemns Kidnapping of Teens in West Bank
Rouhani: Nuclear deal by July 20 deadline still possible
Top moderate Free Syrian Army officers quit
U.S. warship sent to Gulf to be on standby for Iraq
Iraq's implosion could redraw Middle East boundaries
Hagel orders aircraft carrier moved into Gulf
Consequence of failure
Netanyahu to families of missing Israeli teens: I know these are moments of anguish
Netanyahu to Kerry:
PA's Hamas-backed unity government to blame for missing teens
IDF special forces search for missing Israeli teens
Ya'alon: IDF in the middle of widespread recovery operations for missing teens
Hamas attacks PA for cooperating with investigation into missing teens
Missing Israeli boys identified along with possible progress in search. Hebron
group claims kidnapping
Israel in touch with US, PA in search for teens
IAF attacks targets in Gaza after rocket lands in Israel
Iran intelligence minister blames Israel, US for Iraq crisis
Rebels shoot down Ukrainian plane killing 49 military personnel
Father's Day: Gratitude Vs
By: Elias Bejjani
"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!" (Lydia M. Child, U.S. Author)
Canadians observe Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers and father figures. Father figures may include stepfathers, fathers-in-law, guardians (eg. foster parents), and family friends. Hopefully, all men will have the blessed grace of being fathers. Being a father is a heavenly endowment, a great satisfaction, and a fulfilling Godly obligation as the Holy Bible teaches us: "Genesis 1:28 "God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it."
Almighty God has blessed both parents, fathers and mothers and recommended that they be honored, respected, cared for, and obeyed by their children. God's fifth commandment delineates this heavenly obligation and duty: ""Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which The Lord your God gives you." (Exodus 20:12 )
God is our Holy Father, and we all, men and women, are His beloved children. Fathers on Earth are God's servants who are entrusted by Him to safeguard, raise, embrace, support, provide and teach their children. Meanwhile fathers are required to carry their holy duties in raising their children in the fear of God, with the best of their knowledge, all their resource and means, full devotion and with all required sacrifices. Fathers are the cornerstone of their families upon which children depend, learn, nurture, hold fast and shape their lives. Caring, devoted and righteous fathers are always given a hand by God and blessed for their rearing and erection of boundaries. Today we are celebrating "Fathers' Day", with all those who cherish fathers, appreciate their sacrifices and honor their Godly role. Best wishes to all fathers hoping they will be shown today all the due gratitude from their sons and daughters. On this very special day our deceased fathers' and mothers' spirits are roaming around sharing with us our joy and happiness, God bless their souls. Attitudes of gratitude or ingratitude towards fathers on Fathers' Day, are very sensitive issues that affect and touch the hearts and minds of many people. These two contradicting attitudes exhibit how much a person is either appreciative or ungrateful.
The majority of people hold on dear to their fathers and do all that they can to always show them their great and deeply felt gratitude, while sadly there are those odd ones out who show no gratitude, abandon them and even at times endeavour to ruin their lives and inflict harm and pain on them. By doing so and negating God's commandments that stress an utmost respect for parents, these people make themselves enemies of Christ Himself. Definitely God will be angry about such condemned conduct. This deviation from all human norms occur because of ignorance, selfishness, lack of faith and hope. These people fall into temptation, become proud of what they should be ashamed of, worship things that belong to this world and forget all about "Judgment Day".
Colossians 3/20: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord". Leviticus 20:9: "For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him" Fathers no matter what must be loved, honored, dignified and respected. God Himself is a Father and He will not bless those who deny their fathers' heavenly right of fatherhood and respect. In this context, Billy Graham says: "A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." The Holy Bible in tens of its verses warns and puts on notice all those with callous hearts and numbed conscience who show no gratitude to their fathers and break their hearts.
Isaiah 46:4: "Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save."
Even when fathers are abandoned by their children and denied their heavenly rights, they never ever hold any grudges, feelings of hatred or hostility against them. No matter what, fathers always wish their children health, prosperity and success. One of our Lebanese deeply rooted sayings portray how fathers constantly feel towards their ungrateful children: " My heart beats for my son no matter what, while my son's heart is callous like a rock". Many verses in the Holy Bible overtly call on the children to treat their parents with love, endurance, affection and utmost care. At the same time the Bible instructs parents to value the Godly delegation to them to raise their children with all means of righteous, protection and provision.
Proverbs 23/22: "Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old".
Ephesians 06/01-02: "Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. Respect your father and mother is the first commandment that has a promise added: so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land". Many grown-up men and women do not appreciate their parents' sacrifices unless they themselves have become parents. Back home in Lebanon where the family has always been sacred, we have a saying that shows how important it is in the eyes of the God that parents are always to be respected, honored and loved. "God will not bless or facilitate the life of those who mistreat their parents and He will reply to the parents' wrath when they ask for punishment for their ungrateful children".
Good, loving , faithful and God-fearing fathers know no hatred, grudges or despair. They remain, always, hopeful and keep on praying to Almighty God that their children, (grateful or ungrateful ) are constantly healthy, prosperous, happy, and successful . Philippians 04/04-07: "May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.". Happy Fathers' Day to all Fathers.
Ten Hizbullah Fighters Killed in Syria's Ongoing Battles
Naharnet /Ten Hizbullah fighters have died in recent days while taking part in the ongoing Syrian war, most of whom were killed in an attack by the oppositions' fighters in the town of Rankous in Reef Damascus. These reports were confirmed on websites affiliated with the Syrian opposition and with Hizbullah, which also revealed the fighters' identity and noted that while some of them were buried on Friday, others were laid to rest on Saturday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provided details on the battles that resulted in these deaths: “Regime forces, backed by Hizbullah fighters, clashed with opposition and Islamist gunmen in the neighborhood of Jobar in eastern Damascus as explosions were heard at the outskirts of the region. This was followed by regime forces bombing several areas in Jobar.”
"These clashes and the battles in Qalamoun and other areas in Reef Damascus resulted in the death of six Hizbullah fighters,” the Observatory said. Meanwhile, opposition fighters launched an unexpected attack on regime and Hizbullah sites in Rankous between Damascus and the border with Lebanon, the Observatory added. Hizbullah-affiliated websites said the killed fighters were Hussein Hassan Badran from Deir al-Zahrani region in the southern province of Nabatieh, Ali Hussein al-Hallani from al-Hallanieh town in the Bekaa, Raef Munif Dagher from the southern town of Bint Jbeil, Mahmoud Mohammed Fadel from the village of Qana also in the South, Zeid al-Moussawi and Amir Hamdani from the Bekaa's al-Nabi sheet, Hussein Shokr, Mahdi Fakhreddine from Younine in the Bekaa, Mohammed Abdullah Jouni from Haret Saida neighborhood in the southern city of Sidon, and Ibrahim Adel Hijazi from the South's Kafra. Al-Jadeed television reported on Saturday afternoon that heavy gunfire was shot in the air in Haret Saida during the funeral of a Hizbullah fighter. Hussein Hassan Badran, meanwhile, was laid to rest in Nabatieh also on Saturday. Hizbullah had announced more than one year ago that its fighters are taking part in the ongoing war in neighboring Syria to defend the country against the Takfiri threat.
Syrian army shells Bekaa border
June 14, 2014/The Daily Star /AALBEK, Lebanon: The Syrian army and Hezbollah bombarded the Lebanese village Tfeil Saturday, due to battles raging in close proximity to the village in the Qalamoun mountain range in Syria, damaging an old mosque and residents’ houses. Many people were reported wounded, some of whom are in critical condition, according to a Daily Star correspondent in the region.
The village’s residents called on the Lebanese authorities and Army to intervene as soon as possible to put an end to the shelling, and to transport the wounded victims to hospitals. Tfeil, the border Bekaa village, is poorly connected to the rest of the Lebanese state. A lack of roads linking it to Baalbek has left the village dealing primarily with the Syrian state and market, despite being inside Lebanese territory. Both former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and current Prime Minister Tammam Salam have pledged to build roads to link the village with the rest of Lebanon but so far no projects have been undertaken. After the civil war began in Syria the borders were closed, leaving Tfeil essentially under siege conditions. Similar incidents have occurred in the past two years, and many residents of Tfeil have lost their lives due to bombs and missiles coming from Syria.
Al-Rahi Calls for 'Brave' Initiative to Face Recent Regional Developments
Naharnet/Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi voiced calls on all political factions and parties to launch a “courageous” initiative to face the recent dangerous developments in Iraq and Syria, and counter the repercussions that could affect Lebanon, reported the state-run National News Agency on Saturday. “We reiterate calls on candidates running for the presidential post, the alliances of March 8 and March 14 and centrists to launch a brave initiative, towards the needs of Lebanon and to face the recent developments in Iraq and Syria and its repercussions on our country,” said the Patriarch. He lamented the divisions between March 8 and March 14 and said: “To achieve peace in Lebanon we should overcome the divisions between the two alliances which are dividing the nation in two. "Although we were happy that they have come to participate in a national coalition government, it hurts that they are still divided over electing a new president.”Rahi's comments came during a mass at Bkirki.
He said: “Agreement (among politicians), a reconciliation and peace all require bravery that far outweighs the courage required in conflicts and wars.”The Patriarch concluded by stressing the necessity for politicians to gather for dialogue and negotiate away from violence and enmity.
Saniora: Urges Govt. to Assume its Duties, Avoid Endless Debates over its Methodology
Naharnet/Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora demanded on Saturday that the government kick off its duties through adhering to the constitution. He said during the launch of a workshop in the northern city of Tripoli: “The government must go ahead with its responsibilities and avoid becoming embroiled in endless debates about its functions.” The cabinet failed on Thursday to reach an agreement over the methodology it should adopt in conducting its affairs, raising fears of the emergence of paralysis in the government given the vacuum in the presidency. “The government's primary goals should be paving the way for the election of a president,” continued Saniora. “The vacuum in the presidency is unacceptable and we must end this flawed situation,” he stressed.
“Until a new president is elected, the government should concern itself with catering to the people's needs instead of wasting time in endless debates over its methodology,”noted the former premier.
In light of the ongoing vacuum, Saniora said, the parliament should remain “calm and productive”. “The Mustaqbal bloc does not seek to obstruct parliament's work,” he remarked in reference to its lawmakers' boycott of a legislative session aimed at discussing a new wage scale draft-law. Lebanon has so far held six presidential elections sessions, but lawmakers have failed to elect a new head of state due to the ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances. President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25, while the next elections session is scheduled for June 18. The March 14 alliance has remained committed to the nomination of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, while the March 8 camp has yet to name its candidate. Commenting on the new wage scale draft-law, Saniora said: “The bloc is willing to engage in serious dialogue over the hike.” “It is not however prepared to adopt a law that will jeopardize Lebanon's economy and burden it with repercussions it cannot handle,” he warned.
The public sector employees and teachers are holding onto a 121 percent increase in their salaries. But a ministerial-parliamentary committee has proposed to reduce the total funding from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion). It has also called for raising certain taxes, which are a source of controversy among parliamentary blocs. The Syndicate Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has held several protests to pressure parliament to approve the wage scale draft-law without any amendments. Several political and economic officials have warned that approving the draft-law will have a negative impact of Lebanon's economy. The Mustaqbal Movement, along with a number of Christian lawmakers, are boycotting legislative sessions aimed at discussing a wage scale for the public sector to protest the failure to elect a president. Addressing regional crises in Syria and Iraq, Saniora stressed the need to fortify Lebanon against external dangers, demanding that Hizbullah withdraw its fighters from Syria. “The party must immediately withdraw from the neighboring country and avoid drowning further in regional conflicts,” he added. “Protecting Lebanon is still possible, but it cannot be achieved without the unity of all of political powers that seek the people's interests,” he stated. “What is possible to achieve today, may be impossible to achieve later,” he warned. To that end, he called for the election of a new president, demanding that the March 8 alliance name its candidate. “It should announce its candidate or agree on a consensual nominee who would have the ability to launch dialogue in Lebanon and unite the people,” Saniora explained. “A consensual presidential candidate should have a sound national vision for the country,” said the Mustaqbal bloc chief.
Report: Aoun May Meet Hariri on Tuesday to Address Presidential Elections
Naharnet /Head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun may travel to the French capital Paris on Tuesday to meet chief of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday. An informed political source told the daily that the two officials will tackle all pending issues, especially the presidential elections. Other sources said that the “dialogue between the Mustaqbal Movement and FPM will resume openly soon.” The resumption of the talks between the two sides will not necessarily mean that the Mustaqbal Movement will endorse Aoun's nomination for the presidency, added the sources. Aoun is scheduled to appear in a television interview on OTV on Monday night. The sources interpreted the lawmaker's rescheduling of the interview from Tuesday to Monday may mean that he is traveling to Paris to meet Hariri. Aoun has announced that he would only run for president if he was presented as a consensual nominee, particularly eying the support of the Mustaqbal Movement. Mustaqbal bloc's MPs, however, are holding onto the March 14 alliance's candidate Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. Lebanon has so far held six presidential elections sessions, but lawmakers have failed to elect a new head of state due to the ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances.
President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. The next elections session is scheduled for June 18.
.Ibrahim: Mashnouq's Doha Trip Achieved Advances in Release of Abducted Lebanese
Naharnet /General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim revealed that Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq's recent trip to Qatar tackled the case of Lebanese abducted in Syria, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday. He told the daily that the trip to Doha achieved “positive results” regarding the kidnapping of a number of Lebanese held by certain armed groups. Ibrahim, who accompanied Mashnouq on his trip, held talks with a number of Qatari security officials to discuss the abductions. “The Qatari officials were receptive of our efforts. In fact, they were motivated to resolve the cases,” revealed the General Security chief. Any deal to release prisoners will include Sky News Arabia cameraman Samir Kassab, who went missing in Syria in October 2013, he added. Kassab, his Mauritanian colleague Ishak Moctar and their Syrian driver, who wasn't named at his family's request, were abducted as they arrived in the Syrian region of Aleppo in October 2013 to conduct a field report on the humanitarian aspect of the Syrians' plight during Eid al-Adha. In addition, Abbas denied that a breakthrough was made in the case of the two abducted bishops, saying: “We are still at square one in this issue.”He explained to As Safir that the identity of the abductors has not been determined yet. He stressed however that he will continue his efforts to reveal the details of the case as soon as possible. The two bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, were kidnapped at the end of April 2013, reportedly near the rebel-held town of Kafr Dael, near Aleppo in northern Syria. The al-Qaida-affiliated Asbat al-Ansar is allegedly the group behind the abduction of the two bishops. Mashnouq headed to Qatar on Tuesday for a short visit. He was accompanied by Ibrahim, Internal Security Forces chief Major General Ibrahim Basbous and several other top officials.
Report: Ban Postpones Efforts to Push for Presidential Elections over Iraq Crisis
Naharnet/United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was seeking to launch efforts on the international scene to push Lebanese powers to stage the presidential elections, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday. It said that Ban was aiming to kick off an initiative to that end, but he postponed his efforts in light of the recent offensive of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq.
Moreover, An Nahar reported that the ambassador of a major power informed a Lebanese minister that his country “has no answers regarding the elections due to the developments in Iraq and their precedence over other regional affairs.”ISIL's insurgency has captured two Iraqi cities and threatened to press forward to Baghdad. Official circles confirmed to the daily that “it has become more difficult for Lebanese powers to wait for regional and international negotiations over the elections given the crisis in Iraq.” Waiting for these negotiations will only prolong the presidential vacuum and expose Lebanon's stability to various dangers, especially since some fears have been raised that ISIL's reach may not be far from the border, added An Nahar. Lebanon has so far held six presidential elections sessions, but lawmakers have failed to elect a new head of state due to the ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances. President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. The next elections session is scheduled for June 18.
Lebanon scrambles to avert Iraq
June 14, 2014/By Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanese leaders struggled Friday to stave off any adverse repercussions of the fast-moving developments in Iraq on the security situation in Lebanon, calling for national unity and the swift election of a new president. The major military gains made by militants from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have sent shockwaves across the political landscape in Lebanon, which is already suffering from a bloody spillover of Syria’s civil war. Meanwhile, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, a close aide to MP Walid Jumblatt, met former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Morocco.
During the meeting, Hariri spoke by telephone with Jumblatt and it was agreed that the two leaders would meet in Paris at a later date, according to a statement released by Hariri’s office.
Abu Faour also carried “ideas” on how to break the presidential election deadlock that he had discussed with Speaker Nabih Berri before flying to Morocco, a political source told The Daily Star.
Earlier this week, Jumblatt told Al-Arabiya TV he would inform Hariri that he would vote for neither Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea nor Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.
Lebanese concerns over the events in Iraq stem from the fact that ISIS and other Al-Qaeda-linked groups claimed responsibility for the deadly car bombings and suicide attacks earlier this year that targeted areas where Hezbollah enjoys broad support, in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the Bekaa region, in response to the party’s military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad.
Berri warned of the grave developments in Iraq, calling for measures to shield Lebanon against any negative fallout.
“I hope that what is happening there will constitute an incentive for us as Lebanese of all [political] trends to close ranks in order to protect Lebanon and shield it against the region’s storms,” Berri told As-Safir newspaper. Prime Minister Tammam Salam also voiced concerns over ISIS’ military advances, saying the Cabinet reviewed the situation during its Thursday meeting, but did not discuss taking any specific measures. “Everyone knows that any regional development will reflect on Lebanon. If it is positive, it will reflect positively on Lebanon. If it is negative, it will reflect negatively on us,” Salam said in remarks published by As-Safir. Jumblatt called for facing the repercussions of what he termed ISIS’ “horrible invasion” by quickly electing a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year term ended on May 25. “We need to protect our internal situation by swiftly electing a president,” Jumblatt said in remarks published by As-Safir. “And also by quickly trying to limit the damage and reverberations ... because definitely there will be repercussions on Lebanon following this suspicious and horrible invasion by the ISIS.” Separately, Aoun telephoned Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to discuss the presidential election stalemate, as media reported that Rai was planning to hold an inter-Maronite reconciliation beginning with a meeting between Aoun and Geagea.Aoun telephoned Geagea Friday to extend his condolences over the death of the LF leader’s father.
Lebanon on alert to head off jihadist
June 14, 2014/The Daily Star
HERMEL, Lebanon: Lebanese political and security authorities are carefully eyeing dramatic developments in Iraq, and have adopted a series of preventive measures to avoid ripples of the conflict being felt here, security sources told The Daily Star Saturday. The Lebanese Army continued on Saturday patrols it started one day before of the border area in search of gunmen and terror suspects, the sources said.
Most gunmen have fled the Rankous area in Syria, where regime forces are tightening their grip, to the hills and valleys that separate Lebanon from its biggest neighbor.
The sources revealed that the fleeing gunmen have ambushed a Hezbollah force killing six of its members earlier this week. "In addition to the attack on Hezbollah, the fleeing fighters have carried out several kidnap-for-ransom operations to secure money for their livelihoods," one source said. "This has prompted the army to carry out a preemptive operation to limit the infiltration of fighters into Lebanese territories." Two Syrian camps in the border town of Arsal - a favorite refuge spot for fighters coming from Syria- are currently under the close watch of the Lebanese Army, the source added.
As-Safir newspaper reported in its Saturday issue that Lebanese security agencies have taken “exceptional measures” in the last 48 hours after receiving information that “sleeper cells” affiliated with the Al-Qaeda inspired Abdallah Azzam Brigades are planning operations in Lebanon that would plunge the country back into grimmer times
The major military gains made by militants from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have sent shockwaves across the political landscape in Lebanon, which is already suffering from a bloody spillover of Syria’s civil war. According to As-Safir, Lebanese security forces stepped up their alertness on Lebanese borders, especially in zones considered hot spots, and around some Palestinian refugee camps. Security agencies will also intensify meetings next week to decide on more preventive measures. On Friday, The Lebanese Army Friday arrested six Syrian terror suspects during a series of raids in the Bekaa Valley which aimed at preventing a possible fallout from recent dramatic developments in Iraq. Speaking to The Daily Star, an Army source described the raids as a pre-emptive operation in order to thwart potential security incidents in Lebanon. Lebanese concerns over the events in Iraq stem from the fact that ISIS and other Al-Qaeda-linked groups claimed responsibility for the deadly car bombings and suicide attacks earlier this year that targeted areas where Hezbollah enjoys broad support, in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the Bekaa region, in response to the party’s military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad. “Yes, you can consider it as such, that’s true,” the source said in reference to the purpose of the operation. He described the arrests made as “important.” “We will continue to take action every time we receive information [on suspects],” the source said, requesting to remain anonymous. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk told Al-Mustaqbal daily in comments published Saturday that it was high time the Higher Security Council holds a meeting headed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam to discuss repercussions of the violence in Iraq on Lebanon. Machnouk said preventive measures were necessary, and revealed that Kuwaiti officials informed him during a recent visit that they had banned Iraqis from entering Kuwaiti territories as a result of the clashes in Iraq.The Interior Minister said all Gulf countries have already taken preventive measures and Lebanon must follow suit as Lebanon is a neighbor of Syria where the war is still raging.
In the absence of a president, who usually heads the Higher Security Council, the prime minister automatically becomes the deputy head and chairs all meetings.
Canada Condemns Kidnapping of Teens in West Bank
June 14, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada is deeply concerned by reports that three Israeli teenagers may have been kidnapped in the West Bank, and condemns those aiming to instigate conflict.
“We urge the Palestinian security authorities, who have been trained through Canadian and U.S. leadership, to make every effort to investigate this incident and work diligently to ensure the safe return of these children to their families.
“We call for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers. Whoever has taken this action must be found and brought to justice.”
Lebanon and Syria-Iraq: who is more fragile?
Hazem Saghieh 14 June 2014
The depiction of Lebanon as the most brittle and even artificial nation in its region is based more on myth than reality, says Hazem Saghieh.
Several observers have noted an interesting comparison regarding the presidents of Lebanon and Syria. In the first case, Michel Suleiman quietly left the presidential palace when his constitutional term expired; in the second, Bashar al-Assad pressed ahead with his campaign for “elections” to get a new term, amid the unquantifiable amount of killing, destruction, and displacement that he has caused.
This paradoxical situation in these neighbouring countries serves as a response to a prevalent narrative in Arab political thought, especially in nationalist and radical ranks. This holds that Lebanon is the most artificial and brittle nation of the Arab Mashreq, even of the Arab world as a whole.
True, Lebanon is in some measure artificial and brittle, like most countries born out of the two world wars - which account for the overwhelming majority of United Nations member-states. Moreover, the sectarian configuration of Lebanese society and the impact this has on the country’s political and cultural life beget never-ending crises, such as the conflict that broke out in 1975 and continued intermittently until 1990. Today, the Lebanese are again living through very difficult times.
Yet to regard Lebanon as the most brittle and artificial of the region's states invites qualification. To take but one relevant factor, nearly 1.5 million Syrians have now settled in Lebanon after their displacement by their country's regime and civil war; they follow the around 400,000 Palestinians who were driven out from their homeland in 1948 and again in 1967.
In reality, this common perception of Lebanon is far from completely innocent. Many myths have been woven to form it. One is the claim that Lebanon was carved out of Syria, when it is more accurate to say that both Syria and Lebanon were carved out of the Ottoman empire.
Others reflect elements inherent in radical Arab nationalist culture, which is fond of large countries with vast armies, and major economic markets to serve as a strong "material basis" for production. Such fondness is inspired by the experiences of German and Italian unification from the late 19th century, and that of the Soviet Union after its inception in 1917. Lebanon, needless to say, does not meet such specifications. Nor does the sizeable Christian role in Lebanon’s genesis as well as its history help it attract adulation in the region.
These myths have contributed to the manufactured image of Lebanon as artificial and brittle, which often gets things out of proportion. Even the tragedies of Lebanon are of a small scale compared to those of its neighbours, suggesting that the country's foundations are relatively stronger.
Coup after coup
In the case of modern Iraq and Syria, successive military coups reflected the difficulty facing these two countries in settling on a polity that represents the consensus of their peoples.
Iraq ushered in the era of military coups in the Arab world with the coup led by Bakr Sidqi in 1936, followed by the coup led by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and the fascist "Golden Square" officers in 1941. The monarchy was deposed in 1958 after a bloody coup, which in turn was followed by a Ba'ath-led coup in February 1963. Towards the end of 1963, a counter-coup took place. The Ba'ath again seized power in 1968. In 1979, Saddam Hussein pounced on some of his Ba'athist Shi'a comrades and took power. This sequence omits the numerous unsuccessful coup attempts throughout that period.
Syria has a similar story. In 1949, three years after the country got its independence, its first military coup was carried out by Hosni al-Zaim. There were three other coups in the same year, the last of which was led by Adib Shishakli, who was to lead another coup in the mid-1950s. After Shishakli was deposed, a silent civil war ensued between supporters of alliance with Egypt, who were mostly from Damascus, and supporters of alliance with Iraq, mostly from Aleppo.
Indeed, many Syrians thought they could escape having to deal with their own contradictions by offering their country as a gift to Nasser’s Egypt. Thus, Egypt and Syria united in one state in 1958, which then collapsed in 1961, the year a coup was carried out against a coup. The situation continued like this until the Ba'athists, in 1963, overthrew the “reactionary” regime. After bloody liquidations of their opponents, the “Ba'athist left” eliminated the “Baathist right” through another coup in 1966. Then, in 1970, Hafez al-Assad led a military coup that got rid of his comrades in the “Ba'athist left.”
Even in the case of the Palestinians, they faced the very hard situation in 1948 of being opposed by a force originating in Europe, which outmatched them in training, preparation, and skill. However, it is also true that the easy victory that the Zionist movement achieved that year would not have been possible without the Palestinian civil war in 1936, between the factions led by the Husseini and the Nashashibi families. This war revealed the enormous gap between Palestinian reality and nation-building in its modern sense, a gap which ended up with the Palestinians' handover as a lifeless body to the armed Zionist military groups.
A space to vent
The coup experiences common in Syria and Iraq are in general unknown to Lebanon, with the exception of two farcical coup attempts: one led by the Syrian Social Nationalist Partyin the last days of 1961, another led by the army officer Aziz al-Ahdab in 1975. Both were ended almost as soon as they began.
Lebanon has been aided in avoiding coups by the fact that the army there does not occupy a central position in the country’s political life. Thus, Lebanon’s freedoms - despite their chaotic nature and predisposition to turn into civil conflict - have allowed the country to vent its communal tensions in often non-violent ways and without the threat of a military takeover.
This contrast does not itself vindicate the Lebanese experience. In its own terms it deserves a lot of criticism; measured against any mature democratic experience in the west, it would seem like a caricature of democracy. However, if Lebanon is measured against the political experiences in the other countries of the Mashreq, it appears ahead of them all, its brand of nation-building far less fragile than theirs.
Missing Israeli boys identified along
with possible progress in search. Hebron group claims kidnapping
DEBKAfile Special Report June 14, 2014/The names and pictures of the three Israeli boys feared kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists outside Hebron Thursday night, June 12, were released Saturday in an unusual step while the massive search for them was in full momentum. They are Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon; Gil-Ad Sha’ar, 16, from Talmon; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad. Security officials declined to explain why their names were released at tis time. debkafile’s military sources attribute the step to possible progress in the massive IDF-Shin-Bet search and investigation of the affair. Palestinian sources earlier ran the boys’ images online.Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday in a statement to the media: “We are in the middle of an intelligence and operational search effort, deploying substantial strength on the West Bank with the accent on the Hebron sector. Detentions are taking place. Our working premise,” the defense minister stressed, “is that the missing boys are alive and, until we know otherwise, we will spare no effort to rescue them.”During 2013, Israel foiled 30 attempted kidnappings by Palestinian terrorists and 14 since the beginning of this year. “This one,” he said,” must have slipped under our radar.”Unlike a previous communiqué signed by a purported Salafi group, Israeli security sources are treating seriously a notice appearing Saturday noon in the name of the “Battalions of the Free Men of Hebron,” claiming responsibility for abducting the three Israeli teens, two of them Yeshiva students:
“In our belief in the revered Palestinian people and in performance of our duty to the heroes held in the prisons of the cruel entity, we declare that we have carried out an extremely precise operation and taken three Zionists captive.” The communiqué adds: “Whatever Israelis may do, they will never reach our captives.”
This last sentence has caused the most anxiety in Israeli security circles
The Iran you won’t hear about from President Rouhani
John Baird is Canada's Foreign Minister.
The original version of this op-ed was published in the
Foreign Policy magazine.
It has now been one year since Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran. Rouhani came into power with big promises -- to tackle entrenched corruption, to grant Iranians basic freedoms, and to unleash the constrained talents and aspirations of Iran's citizens. His very mantra was one of hope and change.
These promises appealed to a wide array of Iran's long-suffering minority groups -- Ahwazi, Baluch, Kurd, Azeri, Christian and Baha'i. And they appealed internationally, where Iran purported to extend the hand of friendship and co-operation, and offered an escape from the downward spiral of zero-sum rivalry and regional turmoil. After the obtuseness of Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, this new language and tone was profoundly seductive to all those who long pined for hope and change in the country.
But one year later, we must be hard-headed, and ask ourselves: who has been accorded the dignity that President Rouhani promised? The honest answer cannot be optimistic. Not the Iranian defense lawyers imprisoned for defending the rights of their fellow citizens. Not the political prisoners beaten bloody by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) forces in Evin Prison's notorious Ward 350. Certainly not Hashem Shaabani, a member of the Ahwazi minority who was arrested, tortured and summarily executed for his poetry.
Indeed, Iranians hoping for moderation were let down almost immediately upon Rouhani taking office. On the day of his inauguration, Rouhani selected Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the former deputy intelligence minister, as his sole nominee for the role of justice minister. Pourmohammadi, as Iranians well know, was one of the key officials responsible for the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran. Later, in 1994, he was head of foreign counter-intelligence when the government of Iran was implicated in court for the deadly bombing of the Israeli Cultural Center in Argentina.
Now, joined in cabinet by old friends from the MOIS, the new justice minister supervises a legal system that has already put to death at least 470 prisoners since Rouhani's inauguration, earning him the unofficial title of "Minister of Murder." Even compared to Ahmadinejad, Rouhani's administration has almost doubled the monthly rate of executions. Their legal processes are as dubious as their purpose, with many charged under the pretext of narcotics-related offences, or the supposed crimes of "enmity against God" or "corruption on earth."
This disturbing trend is one of the more obvious causes for concern. Others have been blurred and obscured by an administration highly preoccupied with PR and perception. For example, to coincide with Rouhani's highly-publicized appearance at the U.N. last year, Iranian officials promised the release of 85 political prisoners as a tangible demonstration of his moderation. The reality? Only a small fraction ultimately made it out of incarceration, the news of which did not garner the headlines generated by the original promise.
Rouhani's administration then released a Draft Charter of Rights, a campaign promise that was meant to symbolize the new government's embrace of human rights. The reality of this document was that it was widely discredited by legal experts, entrenched existing inequalities, and did nothing to advance the rights of the Iranian people. The grand promise of its title was further undermined with the introduction of a "political crime" bill in Parliament last September, which would criminalize any criticism of the state.
In the same month, Rouhani introduced a resolution at the U.N. dubbed "World Against Violence and Extremism," supposedly an Iranian commitment to fighting extremism. Yet the reality of Iran's unwavering moral, financial, political, and military support to the Syrian regime has resulted in the death of over 150,000 people, a more deeply entrenched extremism, and further destabilization of the region. Despite Iran's long-suffering economy, it managed to supply Bashar al-Assad with a $3.6 billion line of credit and a mandate to continue the massacre of his own people. Iran unleashed Hezbollah to protect Assad, to undermine Lebanon, and to wage a clandestine sectarian war that impacts far beyond the immediate region.
Iran's campaign for international legitimacy continued in April with its successful bid to be appointed to the U.N. Economic and Social Council's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a body committed to women's empowerment and equality with men. Iranian women cannot get a passport without their husband's permission, and are barred from running for the presidency of Iran, yet their rulers purport to be advocates for women on the international stage. Most shockingly, Iran's appointment to the Commission came only a few weeks after the Rouhani government upheld the hanging sentence of a 26 year-old victim of sexual assault.
Neither the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, nor the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, reported any tangible improvements with regards to the human rights situation in the country in their March reports to the Human Rights Council. According to the secretary general, "The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in," and Dr. Shaheed continues to be denied access to the visit the country in order to carry out his mandate from the international community.
Cynics may see unrealistic rhetoric and unfulfilled promises as par for the course for politicians. But the chasm between Rouhani's style and substance belies a more sinister truth. Under the careful watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the organized machinery of a clerical dictatorship remains in place. The Iranian regime's scale of terrorizing its people at home and sponsoring terrorism abroad is staggering. That continues to be Iran's reality.
Why does Canada care so much about how Iran treats its own citizens and the citizens of neighboring countries? Because we believe those citizens deserve better. They deserve the dignity of an economy free of corruption and cronyism. They deserve deep reform that delivers jobs, not just empty propaganda or deceptive games.
The international community must be a voice for those who are silenced by the Iranian regime. That means, as we work toward a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue, the international community must press Iran to respect human rights and to cease its support for terrorism. Otherwise, Iranian recklessness abroad and oppression at home will continue to feed regional destabilization and deprive a population of over 75 million people their basic rights and freedoms.
Canada has been listening to the voices of all those inside Iran who want to see a better future. Our support to initiatives like the Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran, which now has grown to reach over 4.5 million unique users inside Iran, amplifies the suppressed voices seeking the basic dignity of a peaceful and prosperous life, and those who defend democratic values and human rights.
We are determined to respond to these voices with more than rhetoric. Through Canada's leadership on the United Nations Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, the world calls Iran to account for its appalling human rights violations. Canada has also passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, enabling victims to obtain redress for the awful wrongs done to them by terrorist states like Iran. Plaintiffs recently won a first case against Iran under this act in Ontario's Superior Court, but now the government of Iran, the IRGC and the MOIS have decided to appeal the verdict. To do this, they will benefit from the legal system of an open and democratic country like Canada while at the same time suppressing human rights defenders, jailing lawyers and demonstrating virtually no respect for the rule of law at home.
Let us unite in reminding Iranians of the limitless possibilities of freedom. That a woman who had been jailed and tortured in prison could one day stand for presidential office -- and succeed. That the halls of a notorious prison could one day be permanently closed to its brutal guards and opened to those who wish to reflect on past tyranny. These are not only the powerful true stories of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, or Cambodia's Tuol Sleng prison. These could be the stories of someone like leading Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and of the notorious Evin Prison that confined her and many other political prisoners.
To be truly optimistic about Iran's future, we must be realistic about Iran's present. Until we see reform rather than rhetoric, Canada will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Iran in their desire for real hope and dignity.
John Baird is Canada's Foreign Minister.
ISIS Rampages, the Middle East Shakes
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
June 12, 2014
The jihadis' takeover of Mosul on June 9 won them control of Iraq's second-largest city, a major haul of weapons, $429 million in gold, and an open path to conquer Tikrit, Samarra, and perhaps the capital city of Baghdad. The Iraqi Kurds have seized Kirkuk. This is the most important event in the Middle East since the Arab upheavals began in 2010. Here's why:
Regional threat: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a designated terror group, is in a position to overthrow the governments of Iraq and Syria and perhaps beyond, starting with Jordan. Straddling the Iraq-Syria frontier, it may both erase the nearly century-old border between these two colonial creations and end their existence as unitary states, thereby overturning the Middle Eastern political order as it emerged from World War I. Rightly does the U.S. government call ISIS "a threat to the entire region."
Unexpected strength: These developments establish that the most extreme and violent form of Islamism, as represented by al-Qaeda and like groups, can go beyond terrorism to form guerrilla militias that conquer territory and challenge governments. In this, ISIS joins the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Nusra Front in Syria, Ansar Dine in Mali, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Muslims hate Islamism: Thanks to the ferocious reputation ISIS has established in its capital city of Raqqa, Syria, and elsewhere, an estimated quarter of Mosul's population of almost two million has fled. The current round of ISIS brutality will newly render Islamism obnoxious to millions more Muslims.
Ultimate frustration: Therefore, however much damage the al-Qaeda-type organizations can do to property and lives, they ultimately cannot emerge victorious (meaning, a caliph applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity) because their undiluted extremism both alienates Muslims and scares non-Muslims. In the end, tactically cautious forms of Islamism (e.g., that of Fethullah Gülen in Turkey) have the greatest potential, because they appeal to a broader swath of Muslims and worry non-Muslims less.
Sunnis vs. Shiites: ISIS military advances directly threaten Iraq's Shiite-dominated, pro-Iran regime. Tehran cannot allow it to go under; accordingly, Iranian forces have already helped retake Tikrit and greater Iranian involvement has been promised. This points to a replica of the ethnic lines in Syria's civil war, with Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shiite-oriented central government. As in Syria, this confrontation leads to a humanitarian disaster even as it turns Islamists against each other, thereby serving Western interests.
The Mosul Dam looms: In the 1980s, Saudis and other Arabs funded a poorly constructed quickie dam on the Tigris River about 35 miles northwest of Mosul. Substandard construction means it leaks and needs constant grouting and other expensive measures to avoid cataclysmic collapse. Will ISIS hotheads continue these repair works? Or might they skimp on them, thereby threatening not just Mosul but much of inhabited Iraq with catastrophic flooding?
American failure: More clearly than ever, the success of ISIS forces exposes the overambitious goals of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (and, likewise, of Afghanistan), which cost the West thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars. The fancy façade of $53 billion in American-sponsored institutions, from failed hospitals to the Iraqi National Symphony, have been exposed as the fiasco they are. ISIS soldiers standing triumphant atop U.S.-supplied military equipment bring home the folly of once-high American hopes for "a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq."
Republicans: Republicans unfairly blame the ISIS victories on Barack Obama. No: George W. Bush made the commitment to remake Iraq, and in 2008 he signed the Status of Forces Agreement that terminated the American military presence in Iraq at the close of 2011. For the Republican party to move forward in foreign policy, it must acknowledge these errors and learn from them, not avoid them by heaping blame on Obama.
Democrats: The execution of Osama bin Laden three years ago was an important symbolic step of vengeance. But it made almost no difference operationally and it's time for Obama to stop crowing about al-Qaeda being defeated. In fact, al-Qaeda and its partners are more dangerous than ever, having moved on from terrorism to conquering territory. The well-being of Americans and others depend on this reality's being recognized and acted upon. Western policy: This is basically a Middle Eastern problem, and outside powers should aim to protect their own interests, not solve the Middle East's crises. Tehran, not we, should fight ISIS.
**Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.
Question: "What are the heavenly crowns that believers can receive in Heaven?"
Answer: There are five heavenly crowns mentioned in the New Testament that will be awarded to believers. They are the imperishable crown, the crown of rejoicing, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, and the crown of life. The Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos (the source for the name Stephen the martyr) and means “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally.” Used during the ancient Greek games, it referred to a wreath or garland of leaves placed on a victor’s head as a reward for winning an athletic contest. As such, this word is used figuratively in the New Testament of the rewards of heaven God promises those who are faithful. Paul’s passage in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 best defines for us how these crowns are awarded.
1) The Imperishable Crown – (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate [disciplined] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (NKJV). All things on this earth are subject to decay and will perish. Jesus urges us to not store our treasures on earth “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). This is analogous to what Paul was saying about that wreath of leaves that was soon to turn brittle and fall apart. But not so the heavenly crown; faithful endurance wins a heavenly reward which is “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
2) The Crown of Rejoicing – (1 Thessalonians 2:19) “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to “rejoice always in the Lord” for all the bountiful blessings our gracious God has showered upon us. As Christians we have more in this life to rejoice about than anyone else. Luke tells us there is rejoicing even now in heaven (Luke 15:7). The crown of rejoicing will be our reward where “God will wipe away every tear . . . there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
3) The Crown of Righteousness – (2 Timothy 4:8) “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” We inherit this crown through the righteousness of Christ which is what gives us a right to it, and without which it cannot be obtained. Because it is obtained and possessed in a righteous way, and not by force and deceit as earthly crowns sometimes are, it is an everlasting crown, promised to all who love the Lord and eagerly wait for His return. Through our enduring the discouragements, persecutions, sufferings, or even death, we know assuredly our reward is with Christ in eternity (Philippians 3:20). This crown is not for those who depend upon their own sense of righteousness or of their own works. Such an attitude breeds only arrogance and pride, not a longing, a fervent desire to be with the Lord.
4) The Crown of Glory – (1 Peter 5:4) “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Though Peter is addressing the elders, we must also remember that the crown will be awarded to all those who long for or love His appearing. This word “glory” is an interesting word referring to the very nature of God and His actions. It entails His great splendor and brightness. Recall Stephen who, while being stoned to death, was able to look into the heavens and see the glory of God (Acts 7:55-56). This word also means that the praise and honor we bestow to God alone is due Him because of who He is (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Galatians 1:5). It also recognizes that believers are incredibly blessed to enter into the kingdom, into the very likeness of Christ Himself. For as Paul so eloquently put it, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NKJV).
5) The Crown of Life – (Revelation 2:10) “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This crown is for all believers, but is especially dear to those who endure sufferings, who bravely confront persecution for Jesus, even to the point of death. In Scripture the word “life” is often used to show a relationship that is right with God. It was Jesus who said, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Just as things such as air, food, and water are vital for our physical lives, Jesus provides us what is required for our spiritual lives. He is the One who provides “living water.” He is the “bread of life” (John 4:10, 6:35). We know that our earthly lives will end. But we have the amazing promise that comes only to those who come to God through Jesus: “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
James tells us that this crown of life is for all those who love God (James 1:12). The question then is how do we demonstrate our love for God? The apostle John answers this for us: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). As His children we must keep His commandments, obeying Him, always remaining faithful. So, as we endure the inevitable trials, pains, heartaches, and tribulations—as long as we live—may we ever move forward, always “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and receive the crown of life that awaits us.
Top moderate Free Syrian Army officers
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 14 June 2014
Nine top officers from the moderate Free Syrian Army resigned Saturday over shortages and mismanagement of military aid from donor countries to their uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Agence France-Presse reported. “We seek your [the rebels’] forgiveness in resigning today, leaving behind our responsibility as chiefs of battlefronts and (opposition) military councils,” AFP quoted the officers as saying in a statement. Their resignation comes more than three years into an anti-Assad revolt, which saw protesters take arms against the regime after the army and security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent. Some Western military aid has trickled into Syria in recent weeks, but overall the United States has been reticent to arm rebels over fears advanced weapons could end up in jihadist hands.
Supreme Military Council bypassed
Weapons shipped to Syria from the West, but more significantly from Gulf countries, are usually sent to specific groups, rather than to the Supreme Military Council, which was meant to coordinate the rebel military effort. Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Abboud told AFP he and the eight other rebel officers resigned because the “SMC has no role any more. Donor countries have completely bypassed it.”
Instead, donor countries have funneled military aid, including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles, to factions of their choosing, Abboud said. “While we thank donor countries for their assistance, it has been really insufficient, and simply too little to win the fight,” Abboud said. Rebels fighting Assad’s regime have repeatedly urged the West to give them specialized weaponry to help tip the balance in the war against Assad’s forces, which is backed by Iran, Russia and powerful Lebanese movement Hezbollah. Earlier in June, President Barack Obama said Washington would “ramp up” support for rebels, signaling a change in U.S. policy.
But, faced with successive military defeats around Homs and Damascus province, rebels say they lack the aid needed to change the course of the war. “We are fighting both the army and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” Abboud said, referring to a jihadist group operating in Syria and Iraq that Syria's opposition turned against in January. “Yet we haven’t got the help we need from countries who say they support our demands for democracy and a civil state.”ISIS has been battling a range of other rebel groups, from moderates like the FSA to Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, since January. The inter-rebel fighting is estimated to have killed 6,000 people. Meanwhile ISIS has put fighting on hold in Syria while it brings in weapons seized inside neighboring Iraq, a monitoring group that tracks the violence said on Friday. ISIS fighters appear to hold back in Syria this week, especially in their eastern stronghold near the Iraqi border, while their Iraqi wing was making rapid military gains, and vowed to advance to Baghdad. On Monday, ISIS fighters spearheaded a major offensive in Iraq, seizing swathes of territory in predominantly Sunni areas and pushing towards Baghdad. In early June, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she favored arming Syria’s moderate rebels but was overruled by Obama. Western officials have also warned of security risks coming from the Syrian conflict. They warned that jihadists, holding Western passports, have joined radical Islamist rebels on ground in Syria and could possibly return to the West.
France deports jihadist recruiter
On Saturday, France announced that it has deported a Tunisian who was accused of recruiting young jihadists to fight in Syria, deeming him a threat to national security, AFP reported. The interior ministry said the 28-year-old was expelled to Tunisia on Thursday “as a matter of absolute urgency in view of the threat that his presence posed for public safety and state security.” A French official said the Tunisian “played a central role in the recruitment of young jihadists” in the southeastern French city of Grenoble. He is suspected of having taken part in the recruitment of young jihadists who were trained in Tunisia before being sent to Syria. On April 23, the French government adopted a plan to fight jihadist networks which called for the immediate expulsion of foreigners implicated in them. On June 3, Prime Minister Manuel Valls increased France’s estimate of the number of its nationals embroiled in Syria's civil war to more than 800 and warned that they pose an unprecedented security threat. The warning followed the arrest of Medhi Nemmouche, a French jihadist suspected of carrying out last week’s Brussels Jewish Museum killings after spending a year fighting in Syria. (With AFP)
U.S. warship sent to Gulf to be on
standby for Iraq
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 14 June 2014
The United States will deploy one of its naval aircraft carriers to the Gulf to give President Barack Obama military options in light of the situation in Iraq, CNN quoted a U.S. official as saying, as the government in Baghdad bolstered the capital’s defenses against any possible attack by al-Qaeda inspired militants. The U.S. official told CNN that Washington plans to move the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier to provide the American president with options for possible airstrikes. Obama on Friday set the bar high for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, where a string of areas have fallen to militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, ruling out the possibility of putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. But the U.S. leader did say he was considering a range of other options drawn up by the Pentagon. The Associated Press quoted administration officials as saying the options Obama was considering are strikes using drones or manned aircrafts, as well as boosts in surveillance and intelligence gathering, including satellite coverage and other monitoring efforts. The Baghdad government is facing a growing insurgency led by ISIS militants who this week seized a number of areas including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and vowed to advance on the capital. Fighters under the black flag of ISIL are sweeping toward the capital in a campaign to recreate a mediaeval caliphate carved out of fragmenting Iraq and Syria, Reuters news agency said. The government has bolstered the capital’s defenses.
“We put in place a new plan to protect Baghdad,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan told AFP Friday.
“The plan consists of intensifying the deployment of forces, and increasing intelligence efforts and the use of technology such as [observation] balloons and cameras and other equipment,” Maan said. U.S. intelligence agencies assess that Baghdad is unlikely to fall, according to officials who were briefed on the matter but could not be quoted by name because the briefings were classified, the Associated Press reported. The growing insurgency against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has raised the specter of a civil war in Iraq. Iraq's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric urged followers to take up arms against the insurgency. In a rare intervention at Friday prayers in the holy city of Kerbala, a message from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the highest religious authority for Shiites in Iraq, said people should unite to fight back against a lightning advance by militants from ISIS. "People who are capable of carrying arms and fighting the terrorists in defense of their country ... should volunteer to join the security forces to achieve this sacred goal," said Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, delivering Sistani's message. Those killed fighting ISIL militants would be martyrs, he said as the faithful chanted in acknowledgement. There are concerns that sectarian and tribal conflict might dismember Iraq into Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish entities.
On Friday, Iraq's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric urged followers to take up arms against a full-blown Sunni militant insurgency to topple Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a conflict that threatens civil war and a possible break-up of the country. Obama Friday left himself a clear off-ramp by making military action in Iraq contingent on a "serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian differences" between the nation's Sunnis and Shiites. "We can't do it for them," he said. "And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won't succeed."(With AP and Reuters)
Iraq… welcome to hell
Saturday, 14 June 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Ashaq Al Awsat
I will not be exaggerating at all if I say that in Iraq we
are facing a new crisis more dangerous than Syria, Libya and Yemen. In Iraq,
there are all forms of madness and crazy people who have lost their minds. All
this is happening and the U.S. president has not yet understood the gravity of
the situation in the whole region. With every day that passes, he shall await an
increasingly difficult and expensive tomorrow.
Now in Iraq, a new war is about to begin, and it has already started in three provinces. Incitement to war is at its highest level, as Shiite clerics call upon millions of their followers to defend the holy sites. The mufti of the Sunnis has asked millions to support the rebels. As for the government, it is represented by Nouri al-Maliki, a Prime Minister whose term has expired and is in a case of euphoria as he sees that his chance to stay in power is increasing. He is also in contact with the Iranian regime. Iran is increasingly eager to expand into Iraq under the pretext of supporting the Shiites.
Today, civil war has come closer than ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Regional and international reactions are now urgently needed to curb the prospect of civil war.
Distinguishing between facts and myths
Amid all this anger, it is necessary for us to understand the constants and variables, and distinguish between facts and myths. We should keep in mind all the possibilities for months and perhaps years.
At the same time, Arab Sunnis should not keep silent about criminal and internationally wanted groups that take advantage of their misery and step up to defend their cases
Of course, the crisis had backgrounds leading up to the fall of Mosul, Iraq's second city, as it was preceded by clashes in Anbar six months ago. We can say that it actually all goes back to 10 years ago with the start of the American invasion, or 20 years ago when Saddam invaded Kuwait, or 30 years ago with the war against Iran.
It can even go back to earlier when an Iranian cleric reached power in Iran and immediately announced a religious and sectarian regime, and threatened its neighbors to export the revolution, or when Saddam isolated his president Hassan al-Bakr paving the way for a dictatorial and terrifying reign in Iraq. We can also go back to 14 centuries ago, when the Sahaba (The Prophet's companions) killed each others for power. First, Caliph Uthman was assassinated and 5 years later, Caliph Ali was killed. The history of Muslims has changed since that day!
When talking about the roots of the crisis, we can pick out any year and build on it a proper defense, according to whatever political theory we want. But this does not eliminate the most important fact, which is that the crisis was always instigated by new conditions. The responsibility is on those involved in it today, whatever the motives and justifications were.
Maliki and Obama are responsible
There is no doubt that Maliki is fully responsible for this crisis. President Obama is also to be blamed as he had the ability to put pressures on the Iraqi prime minister to adopt a conciliatory political project involving various Iraqi forces, but he did not do so.
Maliki has taken over power, taking advantage of this American protection. He has expelled his Shiite allies and took all the decisions by himself. He excluded and offended about one-third of the Iraqi population, Arab Sunnis, and therefore this situation can only generate a continued disobedience, which threatens the stability of Iraq and the state’s structure.
At the same time, Arab Sunnis should not keep silent about criminal and internationally wanted groups that take advantage of their misery and step up to defend their cases, mainly ISIS and al-Qaeda. Unlike what irresponsible people and pretenders might say, they are threatening the Sunni countries; and here is Turkey calling for the NATO intervention after ISIS seized its consulate and kidnapped about 50 diplomats and citizens. Log into the Iraqi ISIS website and you will find that it is a replica of the Syrian ISIS website, which succeeded in tarnishing the Syrian revolution and served Assad’s regime. Their speech is the same as the one that threatened the security of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, and is now wreaking havoc in Yemen.
Are those taking part in the uprising members of ISIS, of the Baath party, or clan members?
I will continue this discussion tomorrow.