LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
John 15,22-27/If I had not come and spoken to
them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the
works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen
and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written
in their law, "They hated me without a cause." ‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from
the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because
you have been with me from the beginning.
Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
There is never a reason to lose hope. Jesus says: “I am with you until the end of the world”.
Il n’y a jamais de motif pour perdre l’espérance. Jésus dit : « Je suis avec vous jusqu’à la fin de monde ».
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 20/14
Political Islam and the West/By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat/ June 20/14
Who leads global Jihad, al-Qaeda or ISIS/By: Hani Nesira, Al Arabiya Institue for Studies/June 20/14
The rise of ISIS in Iraq is a neocon’s dream/Dr. Nafeez Ahmed/Al Arabiya/June 20/14
Sectarian monster redraws Iraq map, again/By: Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/June 20/14
Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 20/14
Lebanese Related News
Suleiman Meets Hollande as Paris Prepares for Hariri-Jumblat Talks
Maronite Bishop Synod Slams 'Unacceptable' Behavior by MPs
Lebanese Parliament session on wage hike fails
SCC Issues Stern Warning over Wage Scale, Berri Keeps Session Open-Ended
Jumblatt stands by Helou: 'This is democracy'
Salam vows to shield Lebanon from regional crises
Cabinet Expected to Meet Next Week as Salam Seeks to Resolve Disputes
STL prosecutor: Merhi 'key player' in Hariri murder
Tfail vacated as Syrian army nears
Strike closes ER at Rafik Hariri Hospital
Armed threat? against EDL, employees evacuate
Lebanese Shepherd Mistakenly Thought to Have Been Kidnapped by Israel
Power Generator Blast Sparks Panic in Edgy Dahieh
State Security Seize Expired, Forged Cosmetics Products in Bar Elias
Merhi Defense Presents Opening Statement in Hariri Murder Trial
Zgharta Municipal Chief Dies in Car Crash
Feltman Expresses Fear over Presidential Impasse, Rules Out Prolonged Vacuum
Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 20/14
Israel Fears US Cozying Up to Iran Due to Iraq Crisis
Obama Says U.S. Ready for 'Precise' Military Action in Iraq
How to Manage the Mess in Iraq, The United States must be careful not to overreact
USA House leader John Boehner opposes working with Iran to aid Iraq
U.S. walks a fine line as Iraq sinks into mayhem
Militants fly their flags over Iraq refinery
Iran army chief accuses Israel of creating ISIS
Saudi: Iraq charge it backs terrorism is "ludicrous"
IAF strikes 5 terror sites in Gaza
IDF meets growing resistance from Palestinians in raids to find kidnapped teens
IAF strikes 5 terror sites in Gaza
Palestinians, Israeli troops clash in teens search
Ukraine forces fight fierce battle with separatists
Felipe VI becomes Spain's king
Maher Assad Appears for First Time in Four Years
Feltman Expresses Fear over
Presidential Impasse, Rules Out Prolonged Vacuum
Naharnet /U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman expressed concern over the ongoing presidential deadlock in Lebanon, ruling out that the country would witness a prolonged vacuum similar to 2008. “The continuation of constitutional institutions (in Lebanon) is a key issue in maintaining stability, security and unity in Lebanon,” Feltman told An Nahar newspaper.
Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman's presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader. Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum. The diplomat recalled that the last time a presidential vacuum hit the country for six months, which was resolved after clashes erupted in Beirut. “No one can predict the future,” he said. However, Feltman expressed belief that the country will not witness a similar situation again. “I think all parties learned a lesson from the May 2008 incidents and they realize the dangerous repercussions of imposing a decision” on the other factions, the U.N. official told the daily.
He considered that the security situation in Lebanon is “far from perfect but it's better than the expected.” After the term of incumbent President Emile Lahoud expired in November 2007, Lebanese officials failed to agree on a candidate for around six months until the election of ex-President Suleiman. Feltman recognized the ability of the Lebanese people to maintain stability and unity despite all the local and regional crises.
Suleiman Meets Hollande as Paris
Prepares for Hariri-Jumblat Talks
Naharnet/Negotiations over the presidential deadlock moved again to the French capital after parliament failed for the seventh time to elect a new head of state on Wednesday.
Former President Michel Suleiman met on Thursday with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Media reports also revealed that Suleiman held talks with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Wednesday over the presidential juncture.
Meanwhile, head of al-Mustaqbal Movement and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri is scheduled to meet with Jumblat in the French capital on Friday.
The talks will be the first between the two leaders in over one year.
The Druze leader had delegated Health Minister Wael Abou Faour to the Moroccan city of Casablanca where he met with Hariri to prepare for the anticipated talks.
Jumblat has repeatedly stressed that he will not endorse Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun or Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea for office.
He also rejected withdrawing the nomination of Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou “for the sake of the Central Bank chief or Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.”
Suleiman left office on May 25 without a successor to lead the state in the coming six years, as differences between the March 14 and the March 8 alliances prevented the election of a new president.
Maronite Bishop Synod Slams
'Unacceptable' Behavior by MPs
Naharnet/The Maronite bishops synod reiterated on Thursday Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's stance regarding the ongoing presidential vacuum, considering that the delay in electing a new head of state violates the constitution and the national pact. “The absence of the head of state poses a threat to the country,” the synod said after its annual retreat. The synod slammed the failure of lawmakers to attend parliament sessions to elect a new president, describing their behavior as “unacceptable.”Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman's presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader. Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum. Concerning al-Rahi's recent visit to the Holly Land, the synod said that it “gave hope back” to the Lebanese who fled to Israel. Al-Rahi headed to Jerusalem at the end of May in a visit that sparked local controversy. Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel and bans its citizens from entering the Jewish state. But Maronite clergy are permitted to travel to Israel to minister to the estimated 10,000 faithful there. On the situation in the neighboring country Syria and in Iraq, the synod denounced the situation, calling on the people of the Middle East to end the state of violence.
Merhi Defense Presents Opening
Statement in Hariri Murder Trial
Naharnet /The defense team of Hizbullah member Hassan Merhi told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Thursday that it should not rush the trial in ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination before giving it the adequate time to prepare for the proceedings. The lead counsel said on the second day of the trial's resumption that Merhi's lawyers are unable to develop a detailed line of defense because the trial started in a staggered manner. Mohamed Aouini claimed that the prosecution did not put forward any motive for the crime, which the defense will explore. “The defense will endeavor to protect the interests of the accused on the basis of a possible later appearance of the accused,” he said. Prosecutors presented their opening statement on Wednesday, describing Merhi as a “key player” in the Feb. 2005 attack.
Merhi “played a significant and leading role” in identifying a suitable scapegoat to blame for the bombing and befriending of Abou Adas, who made the false claim of responsibility for the attack through a tape broadcast on al-Jazeera. Prosecutors say Abou Adas cannot be the suicide bomber of the Mitsubishi van that targeted Hariri's motorcade on the Beirut seafront because his DNA has never been found at the crime scene. The five suspects, who are being tried in absentia, are Merhi, Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra and Hassan Oneissi. They are all Hizbullah members. The party denies involvement in the murder and its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the court as a conspiracy by his archenemies — the U.S. and Israel. The prosecution's case is made up of evidence including large amounts of data from mobile phones allegedly used by the plotters to plan and execute the suicide bombing. Next Tuesday, the Trial Chamber will start hearing the evidence of five prosecution witnesses.
Lebanese Parliament session on wage hike
June 19, 2014/By Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Parliament failed to convene to debate the controversial salary scale Thursday, with Speaker Nabih Berri failing to set a date for the next attempt but pledging to convene the assembly as soon as an agreement was reached. "Parliament will remain in open-ended session till consensus is reached over the salary scale to pave the way for discussions," Berri said in a brief statement issued 45 minutes after the session failed to convene for lack of quorum. Public servants and school teachers maintained their pressure on lawmakers ahead of the session, warning that the fate of correcting the official exams was tied to the salary scale being passed. “The salary scale is a red line. It must be solved quickly,” Nehme Mahfoud, head of the Private School Teachers Association, told a news conference in Parliament.
He warned that unless a legislative session scheduled for Thursday convened to pass the bill, the civil servants and teachers would resume their strike at state institutions and hold to the boycott of correcting the official exams. State institutions quickly abided by the call to strike, with public departments across Lebanon opting to continue the work stoppage. At Beirut's airport, employees also observed a two-hour strike to press lawmakers into endorsing the salary raise draft law. Eight incoming flights and nine outgoing were affected by the strike. Mahfoud also warned against plunging the salary raise issue into the country’s political power struggle. “No one can push the UCC into a political conflict,” he said. A flurry of meetings was taking place in Parliament prior to the scheduled legislative session in a bid to sort out the crisis. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met Khalil as well as Education Minister Elias Bou Saad, Transport Minister Ghazi Zeaiter and MP Ibrahim Kanaan from Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc.
Following the meeting at his office in Parliament, Berri held one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Meanwhile, Future MP Bahia Hariri – the only Future MP that supports giving teachers six degrees on every rank – urged reporters to be patient as she walked out of Parliament after a brief presence. “Don’t lose hope,” she said. The UCC had earlier Thursday handed a memo on salary raise demands to Parliament, shortly before the session's scheduled start time. UCC head Hanna Gharib – accompanied by Mahfoud and Mahmoud Haidar, head of the Association of State Employees – arrived at Parliament about an hour before the session was set to begin at 10:30. Gharib handed the memorandum, which reiterates the demands for a wage raise for public employees, to Parliament’s Secretary-General Adnan Daher. A meeting was held at Daher's office between Gharib, Mahfoud and Haidar in addition to Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil. Future MP Ammar Houri told The Daily Star Wednesday that MPs from Saad Hariri’s Future bloc and allies from the March 14 coalition would not attend the session. He said a lengthy meeting held at Berri’s office Wednesday to narrow differences over the salary scale bill made some progress but did not result in “a real balance” between spending and revenues from proposed taxes to fund the salary increases estimated to cost the cash-strapped treasury $1.6 billion annually.
Jumblat: We Will Not Withdraw Helou's
Nomination for the Sake of Others
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat reiterated on Thursday his support for the nomination of MP Henri Helou for the presidency, saying that he acts as a moderate figure when compared to other nominees, reported the Egyptian daily al-Ahram. He told the daily: “We will not withdraw Helou's nomination for the sake of others regardless of what agreements are made. This is democracy.” Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is running for the presidency as the candidate of the March 14 alliance, while the March 8 camp's Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun said that he will only run for the post if there is consensus on his nomination.
“Geagea and Aoun are nominees, whoever wants to, can support them, but we back Helou's candidacy because he is moderate and advocates dialogue,” continued Jumblat.
Asked by the daily about Syrian President Bashar Assad's backing of Aoun's nomination, the MP replied: “It is not an honor for anyone to receive Bashar's support.”
“We will have the final word in this matter,” he said of Syria's support for the FPM leader. Commenting on the rapprochement between Aoun and the head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri over the presidential elections, Jumblat reiterated his Democratic Gathering bloc's support for Helou.
“I have taken a centrist role. Whatever takes place between major political powers is not my concern,” he stressed.
“We are better off electing a president in order to avoid prolonged vacuum in the presidency, but I cannot predict what may happen in the future,” he replied in response to a question about the political blocs' failure to agree on a candidate. Parliament has failed to elect a president after seven rounds of presidential elections. Quorum was met during the first session, while the remaining six were not held due to a boycott of the majority of March 8 lawmakers due to the ongoing dispute over a presidential candidate. Lebanon has been plunged in presidential vacuum since President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. The next presidential elections session is scheduled for July 2.
SCC Issues Stern Warning over Wage
Scale, Berri Keeps Session Open-Ended
Naharnet/The parliament once again failed on Thursday in approving the controversial pay hike for the public sector as the Syndicate Coordination Committee warned officials not to politicize the wage scale.
But Speaker Nabih Berri decided to keep the legislative sessions open-ended. Head of the private school teachers association Nehme Mahfoud accused politicians during a press conference he held at parliament of causing the stalemate on the pay raise. “We don't want the scale to be politicized,” he said following talks with Berri along with other members of the SCC. He made his press conference after Berri informed the delegation, which included Hanna Gharib, the SCC chief, that MPs are still in disagreement on how to fund the scale. March 14 alliance's Christian MPs and al-Mustaqbal have been boycotting parliamentary sessions aimed at discussing the draft-law. A lengthy meeting held at Berri's office on Wednesday failed to narrow the differences on the scale. Parliamentary blocs have expressed their support for the employees' rights but have warned that Lebanon's ailing economy would suffer if the total funding was not reduced from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion). They have also disagreed on how to raise taxes to fund the scale over fears of inflation and its affect on the poor. “All constitutional institutions are being paralyzed … Politicians are causing this situation,” said Mahfoud. “The country will head towards abyss if they continue to hold onto their stances,” he told reporters. “The wage scale is a red line. It needs a solution as soon as possible,” Mahfoud said. He hinted that the teachers will boycott the correction of the official exams and civil servants will hold an open-ended strike. The SCC, which is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, held a meeting later Thursday. Following the meeting, Gharib, who is the head of public secondary school education teachers association, said: “We want our rights and we are not against anyone.” “We back anyone who supports our rights,” he said. “The state should not discriminate between different sectors,” Gharib told a press conference. He reiterated that the SCC rejects the proposal to reduce the pay raise from LL2.8 trillion to LL1.8 trillion. Gharib said that the coalition will announce details of its “practical and escalatory steps” following a meeting on Friday. Ahead of its talks with Berri, the SCC delegation handed the general-secretariat a memo on its demands. The coalitionvowed not to give up its call for a 121 percent wage hike and stressed its rejection to fund the scale by raising taxes at the expense of the poor.
Salam vows to shield Lebanon from
June 19, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Thursday pledged to protect Lebanon from the dangers of regional conflicts, particularly the civil war in neighboring Syria.
“We won’t allow anyone to mess with Lebanon’s security and stability,” Salam said in a speech at the opening of the Arab Economic Forum in Beirut. “We will work with all our strength and willpower to buttress our country against the effects of the fire from our neighbors, near and far,” he vowed. Salam said Lebanon would rely on the Lebanese Army and security forces to protect the country from the effects of the regional conflicts.
USA House leader John Boehner opposes
working with Iran to aid Iraq
The Associated Press, Washington/Wednesday, 18 June 2014
The United States should not talk to Iran about jointly helping the Iraqi government fend off insurgents who have been overrunning large swaths of that country, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives said Wednesday. “Absolutely not,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “I can just imagine what our friends in the region, our allies, would be thinking by reaching out to Iran at a time when they continue to pay for terrorism and foster terrorism” in the region. The U.S. has not had relations with Iran since the 1979 storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the holding of American hostages there for over a year. Boehner made his remarks hours before he and other congressional leaders were scheduled to get a White House briefing from President Barack Obama on the situation in Iraq.
The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been trying to stem a fast-moving offensive by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been overrunning cities and is threatening the country’s largest oil refinery. Aides have said Obama is not expected to approve air strikes but is considering sending special forces and providing the Iraqis with intelligence assistance.
Boehner said he was hoping Obama would describe “a strategy that would guarantee some success for keeping Iraq free and propping up the democracy that we fought so hard to get there.” He declined to say specifically what he would favor doing.
U.S. walks a fine line as Iraq sinks
Dina al-Shibeeb, Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 19 June 2014
The escalation of violence in Iraq has placed the United States in yet another unenviable position, walking on a fine line between the obligation to support its regime ally in Baghdad and its responsibility to keep the country unified. After having lost large swathes of the mainly Sunni heartland to Islamist militants and tribal forces, the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent Wednesday a request to the Obama administration requesting military help to regain full control of the lost areas.Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters Wednesday that Iraq had requested U.S. airpower “to break the morale” of ISIS, which has threated to march into the capital Baghdad. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed during a Congressional hearing having received the Iraqi request but could not say if the Pentagon would honor it. While Gen. Dempsey said it was in their national interest to counter ISIS, he blamed Maliki’s sectarian policies for the collapse of the security situation.
Failing the people
“There is very little that could have been done to overcome the degree to which the government of Iraq had failed its people. That’s what has caused this problem,” Dempsey told lawmakers. The White House, meanwhile, said President Barack Obama has consulted and reviewed options for Iraq with Congressional leaders. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this week that the United States was open to cooperating with Iran, which has long been a traditional foe. And while the Pentagon ruled out any form of open military cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker told TV channel CBS that it is something the United States “can do” given their previous cooperation on Afghanistan. “If we are seen as cooperating too closely with Iran, it is going to further alienate the Sunni element of the Iraqi population. So it’s good we’re talking. We just have to be careful, and they’re going to be cautious too.” Abdelhamid Siyam, a Middle East political expert, told Al Arabiya News “Although there is a missing trust between Iran and the U.S., the recent development in Iraq most likely will bring both side a step closer in cooperation to defeat a vicious enemy like ISIS.” “For the U.S. it falls within its interest to defeat such an extremist group that is spreading havoc and destruction,” Siyam said. “For Iran such an extremist Sunni group prevails, it will threaten its influence and defeat its allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” he added.
Doing whatever it takes
Iran is believed to have already deployed in Iraq as many as 2,000 forces, led by Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force. Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said Wednesday that his government would “whatever it takes” to protect Shiite shrines against possible attacks by the advancing ISIS militants. Iraq Foreign Minister Zebari, meanwhile, said “everything was possible” regarding a possible all-out Iranian intervention in Iraq. Baghdad-based analyst Salim al-Hasani said the approach that adheres to the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” could lead to possible cooperation between Washington and Tehran in Iraq. According to Trita Paris, president of the National Iranian American Council, “Iran and the U.S. need each other. And both of them need to recognize the other’s ability to play a stabilizing role. Few things have been as destabilizing for the region than the U.S.-Iran enmity.”
With or without
Saudi political commentator Jamal Khashoggi told Al Arabiya News that Iraq is already operating in Iraq and could increase its presence there “with or without U.S. cooperation.”“The Americans are no longer able to control Iraq or prevent Iran from entering Iraq. Iran is already there and it does not need permission. The Iranians will try to minimize the losses, meaning to make sure the whole of Iraq does not fall under this revolt.”Khashoggi said the likely outcome from the current crisis in Iraq is a country divided into three. “I anticipate there will contact lines and these lines will draw the new map of Iraq. The lines will separate between the south of Iraq, its center and the Kurdish northern area,” he said. The looming scenario for Iraq is similar to the so-called “soft-partition” plan for Iraq proposed by Joe Biden in 2007. Khashoggi said this scenario could have been avoided if Iraq had “a nationalist not a sectarian government.”
Who leads global Jihad, al-Qaeda or ISIS?
By: Hani Nesira, Al Arabiya Institue for Studies
Thursday, 19 June 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is moving according to strategies and perspectives of a state lying amid violent hotbeds and safe havens. It creeps into structures of unsuccessful regimes while flourishing during their periods of turmoil. This is why ISIS believes it is capable of leading global jihad, unlike Al-Qaeda which focuses on the distant enemy rather than the enemy that is near. Al-Qaeda’s central leadership has weakened and is incapable of supporting its affiliates. This is what qualifies ISIS, with its constant expansion and successes in chaotic contexts on the national, regional and international levels, to take over Al-Qaeda and the leadership of global jihad. We can identify features that distinguish Al-Qaeda from ISIS such as the former’s apparent lack of moral principles, unlike Al-Qaeda, as well as its operational focus on expanding on the geographical level to establish an interconnected state described as the “ISIS crescent.” This sought-after state extends from historical Diyarbakir (southeast Turkey) and includes Raqqah (north central Syria), Mosul and Nineveh (both in Iraq) among others. Leading figures in ISIS also rarely make media appearance, unlike their counterparts in Al-Qaeda.
The two entities can be distinguished in terms of the following seven points:
1- ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Arab revolutions
ISIS did not wait to get involved in the Syrian revolution and almost immediately began accusing parties on the ground of being apostates, mainly the Free Syrian Army, in a practice known as takfir.
The group believes that the FSA is more evil than the Syrian regime and the Sahawat and launched an offensive against the Syrian opposition group, killing many of its activists. Nor did ISIS confront the Damascus regime, choosing instead to focus on fighting revolutionary factions in regions it controlled. This stands in contrast to the stances taken by Al-Qaeda’s leadership which welcomed the revolutions aimed at toppling longstanding regimes in the region. This general view was expressed by the founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, before his death on May 2, 2011. The same stance was expressed by Aiman Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor, who in 2011 issued an address to Egyptians titled a “Message of hope and glad tidings for our people in Egypt.” The late Anwar Al-Awlaki issued a similar stance in his message about the Yemeni revolution. The Libyan revolution was viewed in a similar manner by the late Atiyatallah Al-Libi. This view was repeated in Abdullah Al-Adam’s booklet titled “Revolution of the Peoples: Is It the End of the Protested Kings?” in which al-Adam expressed his desire to wait until the triumph of the revolution before intervening to support the establishment of an Islamic state.
2- Accusing opponents and the general community of apostasy
ISIS is well known for accusing different armies, opponents and general communities – not just rulers – of apostasy, particularly those who do not seek recourse to Sharia as a rule and reference.
In his message to Al-Zawahiri on May 12, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani blamed Bin Laden’s successor and Al-Qaeda, saying:
“We invite you secondly to correct your doctrines; declare openly the apostasy of the Egyptian, Pakistani, Afghani, Tunisian, Libyan and Yemeni armies and all the other armies of tyrants and their supporters; not manipulate legitimate commands and expressions as you have done in your descriptions of “corrupt rule,” “void constitution” and “pro-American army”; issue a frank call to fight the Egyptian army of [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi – the new Pharaoh of Egypt; disassociate from [Mohammad] Mursi and his party as well as openly declare his apostasy and stop causing misconceptions among Muslims.”
Al-Adnani also refuted Al-Zawahiri’s description of Egypt’s ousted president Mursi as being a victim.
ISIS also criticized jihadists belonging to the Nusra Front and their leader, Muhammad Al-Jawlani, who affirmed his allegiance to Al-Zawahiri.
ISIS labeled Al-Jawlani a traitor and insisted on its war against him and maintaining the group’s stance regarding the Sahawat and other factions involved in the Syrian revolution, namely the FSA.
3- Fighting the enemy that is near first
Unlike Al-Qaeda and Al-Zarqawy (1966-2006), ISIS prefers to fight the enemy that near to it, focusing on regions where it is present, and prioritizes the expansion of its influence over offering guidance and forging a spiritual connection among jihadists around the world. The latter was a goal of Al-Qaeda and its central leadership which have become isolated from their supporters on the Pakistani and Afghan borders ever since Sept. 11, 2011. Al-Qaeda is in distress after the loss of its most prominent and influential leaders in recent years such as its founder, Bin Laden, and Al-Libi in 2011, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid in 2008 and many others. The suicide operations by ISIS are conducted exclusively in Iraq and Syria. The group has not conducted sting operations against the West or the United States, in line with ISIS’ conception of itself as a state and not an organization like the Taliban.
4- The strategy of sectarian mobilization against antagonists
Unlike Al-Qaeda, Al-Zarqawi and ISIS have attacked Shiite rallies. Their organizations have published studies that support labeling all Shiites as apostates. Al-Zarqawi has released several videos in which he stresses the righteousness of his practices. He also condemns his critics, mainly Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi. As noted by Fatih Karikar, Al-Zarqawi’s strategy was to work on the sectarian mobilization of Sunnis against the Shiite rise after the fall of Saddam Hussein. He saw it as an opportunity to form a Sunni army in order to achieve the goal of establishing or restoring the Caliphate and the Islamic state.
This is what ISIS is apparently doing in Iraq, supported by the speeches and practices of Nouri Al-Maliki and Bashar al-Assad.
5- Severing links to Iran by divorcing itself from Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda never attacked Iran, nor did it support any Sunni organization targeting the Iranian regime. ISIS was similarly committed and complicit in this arrangement until it broke off from Al-Qaeda and ultimately Iran. Al-Adnani expressed this in his message when he said that the organization abided by these guidelines “in compliance with Al-Qaeda’s order to preserve its interests and supply lines in Iran.”
Apparently, this contradiction reveals the pragmatism of both organizations and their undeclared connection with Iran, which served as a safe haven to many of their leaders after 2011, as per Saif Al-Adel’s analysis of Al-Zarqawi’s statement, which revealed the true identity of Yassin al-Suri, known as “Al-Qaeda’s fox.” In December 2011, the U.S. administration said Al-Suri had been moving freely in Iran between 2005 and 2011.
6- A different and brutal media strategy
ISIS may have benefited from Al-Zarqawi death, which was likely linked to his repeated appearances. This explains why ISIS leaders chose not to make appearances, as opposed to Al-Qaeda’s leaders.
ISIS media focuses on its operations on the ground and facts, avoiding theoretical and intellectual debates with the group’s opponents. In contrast, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the present leader of Al-Qaeda, has made frequent appearances, whether in the open meetings where he has answered questions or fatwas from his opponents or the series of “peoples’ messages” dedicated to the Egyptians among others. ISIS media messages are limited. The group focuses on the military and operational side as part of a fear campaign aimed at its opponents. Their media tactics are similar to those of Al-Zarqawi in terms of the level of violence in the messages. In 2004, Al-Zarqawi posted a video in which he is seen beheading U.S. civilian Nicholas Berg. The video was shocking and terrifying and was highly criticized back then, even from Al-Qaeda’s leaders and strategists. This is what ISIS is doing now.
7- An immoral, tougher and more extreme Salafist Jihadism:
ISIS has no ethics and it seems to rely on the ideological beliefs of extreme Salafist Jihadism, unlike many of Al-Qaeda’s on-ground commanders such as Abdullah Azzam, Al-Zawahiri, Al-Libi, Al-Ayiri, Al-Tuwayli and others whose views were known from their writings. Other Al-Qaeda theorists included Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, Abi-Qatada Al-Filistini and Abdul Qader bin Abdul Aziz. But it seems that ISIS has adopted the firmness of Salafists without referring to Al-Zawahiri’s ideology, nor debated views of fellow jihadists who criticize it and are against it. ISIS is an organization with the perception of a state. Its battles are tangible and not theoretical: it carries out direct confrontations, unlike Al-Zawahiri, who entered indirect confrontations with his critics. ISIS shares Al-Zarqawi’s vision. He was not the most educated or cultivated among leaders of the jihadists’ Shura Council which he established in 2005, but he was always present on the field and enjoyed the strongest of organizational skills.
The rise of ISIS in Iraq is a neocon’s
Thursday, 19 June 2014
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed/Al Arabiya
Following the bulk of western reporting on the Iraq crisis, you’d think the self-styled ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) popped out of nowhere, took the West completely by surprise, and is now rampaging across the Middle East like some random weather event.
The reality is far more complex, and less palatable. ISIS’ meteoric rise is a predictable consequence of a longstanding U.S.-led geostrategy in the Middle East that has seen tyrants and terrorists as mere tools to expedite access to regional oil and gas resources.
In the run-up to the 2003 invasion, oil was of course center stage. While the plans to invade, capture and revitalise Iraq’s flagging oil industry with a view to open it up to foreign investors were explored meticulously by the Pentagon, U.S. State Department and UK Foreign Office – there was little or no planning for post-war reconstruction.
Opening up Iraq’s huge oil reserves would avert what one British diplomat at the Coalition Provisional Authority characterised as a potential “world shortage” of oil supply, stabilising global prices, and thereby holding off an energy crunch anticipated in 2001 by a study group commissioned by vice president Dick Cheney.
Simultaneously, influential neoconservative U.S. officials Cheney and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz co-authored a hair-brained plan to re-engineer the region through the sectarian partition of Iraq into three autonomous cantons for Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites.
The geopolitical jockeying between the U.S., Britain, the Gulf states, Turkey and Iran, has spawned an Islamist Frankenstein - a movement so ruthless even their parent network al-Qaeda disowned them
The scheme was described by U.S. private intelligence firm Stratfor, which observed in October 2002: “The new government’s attempts to establish control over all of Iraq may well lead to a civil war between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish ethnic groups… The fiercest fighting could be expected for control over the oil facilities” – exactly the scenario unfolding now as ISIS rampages across Iraq.
Fracturing the country along sectarian lines, continued Stratfor, “may give Washington several strategic advantages”:
“After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman [Jordan]. Current and potential U.S. geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-U.S. forces.”
Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for U.S. protection - and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh.”
This sort of strategic thinking drove the U.S. to covertly arm both sides. As one U.S. Joint Special Operations University report said: “U.S. elite forces in Iraq turned to fostering infighting among their Iraqi adversaries on the tactical and operational level.” This included disseminating and propagating al-Qaeda jihadi activities by “U.S. psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” to fuel “factional fighting” and “to set insurgents battling insurgents.”
In early 2005, Pakistani defense sources revealed that the Pentagon had “resolved to arm small militias backed by U.S. troops and entrenched in the population.” These militias were in fact “former members of the Ba’ath Party” trained up by al-Qaeda insurgents, receiving covert U.S. support to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement.” Almost simultaneously, the Pentagon began preparing its ‘Salvador option’ to sponsor Shiite death squads to “target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers.”
Divide and rule
This divide-and-rule strategy has fueled sectarianism not just in Iraq, but across the region. For the last decade, both the Bush and Obama administration have worked with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states to supply arms and military support to groups across the Middle East that could counter Iranian influence. Those most capable of doing so, it turns out, are extremist Sunni groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. The short-sighted strategy has included extensive financing and training of jihadist groups in Syria to the tune of up to a billion dollars – a policy that began as early as 2009 according to a former French foreign minister. A glimpse of the end-vision for this strategy was revealed in a 2006 Armed Forces Journal paper by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, former head of future warfare in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. His paper called for a complete re-drawing of Middle East borders through “ethnic cleansing.”
This would somehow establish the “security” and “democracy” necessary to secure “access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.” The plan repeated the Cheney-Wolfowitz scheme to split Iraq into three, but also included breaking apart Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan through “inevitable attendant bloodshed,” from which eventually “new and natural borders will emerge” for a supposedly more peaceful region.
What is playing out now seems startlingly close to scenarios described in 2008 by a U.S. Army-funded RAND Corp report on how to win ‘the long war.’ Recognizing that “for the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources,” the document advocated a “Divide and Rule” strategy to cement U.S. access to Gulf oil.
On the one hand, this would involve fostering conflict amongst the jihadists themselves - “exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.” On the other, it would entail fostering conflict between Sunni and Shi’a by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”Although this could empower Islamist terrorists, the report assumed that this “may actually reduce the al-Qaeda threat to U.S. interests in the short term” by bogging them down in targeting of “Iranian interests throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”In reality, the geopolitical jockeying between the U.S., Britain, the Gulf states, Turkey and Iran, has spawned an Islamist Frankenstein - a movement so ruthless even their parent network al-Qaeda disowned them. In turn, ISIS’ rapid ascent is unwittingly playing into the hands of neocon fanatics in Washington and London, eager to seize the new opportunity to bring their dreams of remaking the Middle East to fruition.
Sectarian monster redraws Iraq map,
Thursday, 19 June 2014
Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya
“Labeiki ya Zaynab,” chanted Iraqi Shia fighters as they swayed, dancing with their rifles before TV news cameras in Baghdad on June 13. They were apparently getting ready for a difficult fight ahead. For them, it seemed that a suitable war chant would be answering the call of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam Ali, the great Muslim Caliph who lived in Medina 14 centuries ago. That was the period through which the Shia sect slowly emerged, based on a political dispute whose consequences are still felt until this day.
The dark forces of sectarianism
That chant alone is enough to demonstrate the ugly sectarian nature of the war in Iraq, which has reached an unprecedented highpoint in recent days. Fewer than 1,000 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) advanced against Iraq's largest city of Mosul on June 10, sending two Iraqi army divisions (nearly 30,000 soldiers) to a chaotic retreat. The call to arms was made by a statement issued by Iraq’s most revered Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and read on his behalf during a Friday prayer’s sermon in Kerbala. “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,” the statement in part read. The U.S. administration is petrified by the notion of getting involved in Iraq once more. The terrorists of whom Sistani speaks are those of ISIS, whose numbers throughout the region is estimated to be at only 7,000 fighters. They are well organized, fairly well-equipped and absolutely ruthless in their conduct.
To secure their remarkable territorial gains, they quickly moved south, closing in on other Iraqi towns: They attacked and took over Baiji on June 11. On the same day, they conquered Tikrit, the town of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, where they were joined by ex-Baathist fighters. For two days, they tried to take over Samarra, but couldn't, only to move against Jalawala and Saaddiyah, to the east of Baghdad. It is impossible to verify reports of what is taking place in towns that fall under the control of ISIS, but considering their notoriously bloody legacy in Syria, and ISIS’s own online reporting on their own activities, one can expect the worse. On June 13, a United Nations spokesperson said hundreds of people were possibly killed in the fighting, many of whom were summarily executed. ISIS’s own gory propaganda video footage and pictures give much credence to the claim. Within days, ISIS was in control of a large swathe of land which lumped together offers a new map fully altering the political boundaries of the Middle East that were largely envisioned by colonial powers France and Britain nearly a century ago.
Ongoing U.S. war
What the future holds is difficult to predict. The U.S. administration is petrified by the notion of getting involved in Iraq once more. It was its original meddling, at the behest of the notorious neoconservatives who largely determined U.S. foreign policy during George W. Bush’s administration that ignited this ongoing strife in the first place. They admitted failure and withdrew in Dec 2011, hoping to sustain a level of influence over the Iraqi government under Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. They failed miserably as well and it is now Iran that is an influential foreign power in Baghdad. In fact, Iran’s influence and interests are so strong that despite much saber-rattling by U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. cannot possibly modify the massively changing reality in Iraq without Iranian help. Reports in U.S. and British media are pointing to possible U.S.-Iranian involvement to counter ISIS, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria. History is accelerating at a frantic speed. Seemingly impossible alliances are being hastily formed. Maps are being redrawn in directions that are determined by masked fighters with automatic weapons mounted on the back of pickup trucks. True, no one could have predicted such events, but when some warned that the Iraq war would ‘destabilize’ the Middle East for many years to come, this is precisely what they meant. When Bush led his war on Iraq in order to fight al-Qaeda, the group simply didn’t exist in that country; the war however, brought al-Qaeda to Iraq. A mix of hubris and ignorance of the facts - and lack of understanding of Iraq’s history - allowed the Bush administration to sustain that horrible war. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis perished in an immoral military quest. Those who were not killed, were maimed, tortured, raped or fled into a borderless Iraqi odyssey.
The Americans toyed with Iraq in numerous ways. They dissolved the army, dismissed all government institutions, attempted to restructure a new society based on the recommendations of Pentagon and CIA analysts in Washington D.C. and Virginia. They oppressed the Sunni Muslims, empowered Shia, and fed the flame of sectarianism with no regard to the consequences. When things didn’t go as planned, they tried to empower some Shia groups over others, and armed some Sunni groups to fight the Iraqi resistance to the war, which was mostly made of Sunni fighters.
And the consequences were most bloody. Iraq’s civil war of 2006-07 claimed tens of thousands to be added to the ever-growing toll caused by the war adventure. No sham elections were enough to remedy the situation, no torture technique was enough to suppress the rebellion, and no fiddling with the sectarian or ethnic demographics of the country was enough to create the coveted ‘stability’.
The ISIS-war connection
In Dec 2011, the Americans ran away from the Iraq inferno, leaving behind a fight that was not yet settled. What is going on in Iraq right now is an integral part of the U.S.-infused mayhem. It should be telling enough that the leader of ISIS, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi is an Iraqi from Samarra, who fought against the Americans and was himself held and tortured in the largest U.S. prison in Iraq, Camp Bucca for five years. It would not be precise to make the claim that ISIS started in the dungeon of a U.S. prison in Iraq. The ISIS story would need to be examined in greater depth since it is as stretched as the current geography of the conflict, and as mysterious as the masked characters who are blowing people up with no mercy and beheading with no regard to the upright values of the religion they purport to represent.
But there can be no denial that the U.S. ignorant orchestration of the mass oppression of Iraqis, and Sunnis in particular during the 2003 war until their much touted withdrawal was a major factor in ISIS formation, and the horrendous levels of violence the extremist group utilizes.
While the Sunni-Shia strive is rooted in over 14 centuries of history, modern Middle Eastern states, with all of its corruption and failures, did manage to neutralize much of the violent manifestation of the historical dispute. The Bush administration had insolently re-centered the conflict into the heart of Arab history. Iran exploited the situation for various reasons for sheer political and territorial interests, coupled with the hope to redeem what many Shias perceive as past injustices. When al-Qaeda was ostensibly driven out of major Iraqi cities by 2008, they simply regrouped. The Syrian civil war, which started three years ago, created the kind of security vacuum which allowed them to make their move. But al-Qaeda itself began to splinter, to a ‘central command’, operating via decrees from Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Islamic Front that hosts several al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, and ISIS, which had its own calculations that go beyond Syria. ISIS believes that the only way to redeem the honor of Muslims is to re-establish the Caliphate, an Islamic state. The heart of that state, as it has historically been is Sham (Levant) and Iraq, thus ISIS’s name.
It is unclear whether ISIS will be able to hold onto the territories it gained or sustain itself in a battle that involves Shiite-controlled Baghdad, Iran and the U.S.. But a few things are also clear:
The systematic political marginalization of Iraq’s Sunni communities is both senseless and unsustainable. A new political and social contract is needed to re-order the mess created by the U.S. invasion, and other foreign intervention in Iraq, including that of Iran. Violence is a dark and destructive energy force that doesn’t evaporate on its own. The current violence in Iraq is the reverberation of the U.S. and Iraqi violence used against millions of Iraqis who refused to embrace the occupation and accept the status quo. Justice in Iraq should supersede any haphazard reconciliation that merely reinvents the present circumstances.
Iraq was allowed to ache in untold pain for over a decade, which itself followed a decade of an earlier U.S.-led war and sanctions. During all of those years, starting in 1991, the only answer to Iraq’s woes has been nothing but violence, which has consistently generated nothing but more violence. The U.S. must not be allowed to once again determine the future of Iraq.
The nature of the conflict has become so convoluted that a political settlement in Iraq would have to tackle a similar settlement in Syria, which is serving as a breeding ground for brutality, by the Syrian regime and opposition forces, especially ISIS. That factory of radicalization must close down as soon as possible in a way that would allow Syria’s wounds, and by extension Iraq’s, to heal.
Those who insist on the violent options are holding onto the same foolish assumption that violence can ever be a harbinger of lasting peace in the Middle East. Even if ISIS scampers back to Syria or disappears into some other opportune landscape in Iraq itself, the fight will not end without a political settlement that confronts the outcomes of the U.S. war, free of the formula of triumphant Shias and perpetually suppressed Sunnis. In order for Iraq to reunify its fragmented territories, it needs to first unify the very identity of its own citizens, as Iraqis first and foremost.
Political Islam and the West
By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 19 Jun, 2014
The only thing that could have further destroyed the
already crumbling and turbulent mosaic of the Middle East was the return of the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the heart of the political scene. Now,
black clouds are increasingly gathering over the region.
To any fair-minded observer there is nothing strange about Iraqis rising up against the sectarian and malicious policies of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
The same is true of the Syrian people, who have risen up against the sectarian dictatorship of the Assad family that has dominated Syria for more than four decades, during which it destroyed any sense of citizenship, trading in and bankrupting once-noble rallying cries.
Nor should we forget the Palestinians rising up against the confiscation of their land, the Judaization of the state, and the discounting of their most basic human rights.
Last but not least, it is similarly easy to understand the exasperation of the Lebanese people with the state of sectarian division that has been created in their “occupied” country by the armed factions on the ground calling for “resistance.” After all, they have always claimed their legitimacy from their objective of “liberating” Lebanon from “occupation.”
Sometimes, people find themselves caught between two bitter choices. In this case, the choice is death or humiliation. What the Fertile Crescent region—or, more precisely, Iraq and the Levant—has witnessed since 2003 in particular has been a general move towards the humiliation of Iraq’s Sunnis as a result of the conceit and arrogance of the country’s ruling pro-Iran, Shi’ite leadership. As a result, Sunni extremists have been overcome with a passion for revenge for what they view as the historic injustices perpetrated against them.
From a sectarian perspective, we have returned to the days of the Battle of Siffin, the main engagement of the First Fitna, or first Islamic civil war, between Ali Ibn Abi Taleb and what would become the Shi’ites on the one side and Muawiyah I and what would become the Sunnis on the other.
Iraq’s Shi’ites, as well other non-Shi’ite Iraqi citizens and neighboring countries, suffered from the injustices of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Meanwhile, in Syria the country’s Sunnis and other minority citizens, as well as the people of neighboring countries, suffered from the injustices of the Assads’ rule. Over the past decades, these Assad regimes, which trumpeted Arabism, secularism and “progressive” politics, abused everything they claimed to represent or believe in.
As for the international community, which has constantly been lecturing others on democracy and human rights, it turned a blind eye to the transgressions being committed by these two regimes as long as its own interests were safe. But as soon as these interests were threatened, we saw that their memory suddenly returned and their archives opened to produce statements and documents ready to justify a desire to seek revenge.
In essence, the Middle East crisis is one caused by denied rights and the decision to retreat back into the safety of religion in the face of political and social challenges. At this point, it is important to mention that the international community did not always oppose that “escape to religion,” as can be seen in its strong support for the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. The international community also used religion—whether we are talking about Islam, Christianity or any other religion—against several national liberation movements during the Cold War.
Following the Afghan experience, however, extremist organizations were disappointed by the realization that the West was only using them to weaken the Soviet Union. This resulted in a sense of bitterness towards the West and its principles.
After that, we saw the rise of Al-Qaeda and several vaguely defined organizations that operated under its banner. The US anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan and its occupation of Iraq on a flimsy pretext as part of its “war on terror” have served to create a new and dangerous political reality in the Arab Mashreq.
I suspect that Iranian hegemony over Iraq following the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime came as no surprise to the US. It is also unlikely that the specter of regional division along religious and sectarian lines did not cross the minds of those who have been proclaiming a new Middle East.
Sunnis make up more than 75 percent of both the Arab and Islamic worlds, and so the emergence of Sunni–Shi’ite tensions must be a natural consequence of Iranian bullying—and that is before we take into consideration the West’s decision to ignore Iran’s nuclear program and machinations in Iraq and Lebanon. All this must have certainly crossed the minds of Western thinkers and planners.
On the other hand, the West is well aware of the ideological objectives of extremist religious groups, including the so-called “jihadist” and “takfirist” groups that are claiming to be “Islamic.” They understand that there are two particularly dangerous sides to such groups.
First, such groups put forward an ultra-simplistic and exclusionary religious facade that does not attempt to understand how other people think, nor does it really care much about the issue. Such groups cannot recognize a balance of power that is not in the interests of Muslims, which means dragging them into confrontations where they are out-muscled. In such a situation, it is easy to create such groups by ensuring conditions on the ground are favorable to their emergence and proliferation. This would come as a prelude to involving them in political and security battles that will ultimately end in their defeat, followed by the implementation of an unfavorable strategic “arrangement” on the ground.
Second, these groups are usually based on cells under the leadership of an “emir,” whose members obey without hesitation or question. This explains the ease with which such groups can be infiltrated by security agencies and then deflected from the original path set forth by the leadership—regardless of that leadership’s goodwill or astute tactics.
We are now three years into the Syrian uprising, which the international community has unscrupulously let down and even betrayed, as well as eight years of Maliki’s sectarian rule in Iraq. And yet, only now has the US suddenly decided to wake up to the threat represented by ISIS in western Iraq.
This group has been present in Syria for years, fighting against the moderate rebels with the implicit blessing of the Assad regime and indirect assistance from the Maliki government. Perhaps the most portentous manifestation of this is that the militants who “escaped” from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2013 joined the fight in Syria under the ISIS banner.
In school, we learned Newton’s famous Third Law of Motion, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Today, we are witnessing the start of a campaign to incite and mobilize public opinion in Western states, which even sober media outlets are taking part in, promoting regional political and security cooperation with Iran on the pretext of confronting the ISIS specter.
On Tuesday, I anxiously listened to two British media figures who claimed to be Middle East “experts” as they discreetly sought to prepare the ground for the general public in Britain to accept the idea of cooperation with the mullah’s regime in Tehran against “jihadists” and “takfirists.”
Of course, this would mean strengthening the grips of Maliki, Assad and Hezbollah on the Fertile Crescent, which tomorrow may be transformed into a “Shi’ite crescent.” This would only incite greater frustration and despair among the region’s Sunnis, subsequently resulting in even more hatred and suicidal reprisals.
Injustice cannot be addressed by counter-injustice. This is the lesson everybody must understand before it is too late.
How to Manage the Mess in Iraq, The
United States must be careful not to overreact.
The Associated Press
Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant
slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
By Michael Eisenstadt
The breathtaking capture of large swathes of northern Iraq in the last week by a relatively small, and lightly armed force of Sunni Arab militants fighting under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS, has altered the strategic landscape of the Middle East.
The successor to al-Qaida in Iraq, ISIL has ridden a wave of resentment felt by Iraq’s Sunni Arabs at the exclusionary sectarian policies pursued by Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Its rise has been greatly facilitated by Syria’s civil war, which enabled ISIL to establish a base of operations in eastern Syria and to transform itself into a lightly armed, mobile force with thousands of experienced fighters (including many freed prisoners and foreign volunteers). Over a year ago, ISIL began shifting resources back to Iraq, operating openly in the western part of the country, initiating a suicide bombing campaign, and early this year seizing control of several towns in Anbar province, including Fallujah.
The ISIL capture of Mosul and of much of the north of the country, then, is part of a multi-phased plan to establish an Islamic state that extends from Lebanon to Iraq. And the next big target for ISIL may be Baghdad.
But ISIL is unlikely to replicate these spectacular military achievements in the Baghdad area. If the Iraqi security forces were seen by many locals as an army of occupation in northern Iraq, in Baghdad it is defending its home turf, and can rely on the support of the thousands of Shiite militiamen that have been mobilized to fight ISIL, as well as much of the population. Already, ISIL’s efforts to take the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, seem to have stalled.
Accordingly, the conflict is likely to take the form of a prolonged and bloody war of attrition. There will be no more easy victories for ISIL, though its ability to wreak havoc in the capital and elsewhere through suicide bombings remains undiminished.
Neither will it be easy for the Iraqi security forces to reclaim many of the areas that were lost to ISIL. They have been trying to do so in Fallujah for months now, without success. For the forces to succeed, they will need to find allies among the Sunnis, in a repeat of the tribal uprising that helped defeat al-Qaida in Iraq in 2006-2007. But having been used and abandoned once before, the tribes won’t come around so easily this time.
ISIL also faces challenges. It is spread thin throughout northern Iraq. If it is to hang onto its territorial gains, it will have to hold together the loose military coalition that it leads, which includes Bathist insurgent groups and tribal militias whose interests diverge from those of ISIL. This won’t be easy. And it will have to avoid the tendency to alienate the very Sunni constituency it claims to represent by its harsh application of Islamic law. These dynamics will create opportunities for the al-Maliki government if it is smart enough to seize them.
So how should the United States respond?
First, do no harm; don’t over-react. There is a good chance that the Iraqi security forces and their militia auxiliaries will be able to keep ISIL at bay on their own. The U.S. should be quietly providing intelligence and advice to the security forces, and it is wise to be positioning forces in the region to provide them with military options. But the United State should not intervene militarily in this nascent civil war — at least not yet. Force should only be used if the U.S. embassy in Baghdad is threatened by ISIL and its allies. The last thing the U.S. needs is to become an active participant in this fight. Extremists often rely on their enemies overreacting. Direct U.S. intervention would be a recruiting boon for ISIL. Don’t grant it this favor.
Israel Fears US Cozying Up to Iran Due to Iraq Crisis
Reuters /Israel fears that a jihadist offensive that has swept up swathes of Iraq may prompt concessions to arch-foe Iran from its longtime ally the United States. "If Washington needs Tehran's help to solve the Iraq crisis, the United States will need to be more flexible in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program," Voice of Israel public radio cited a senior official as saying. Tourism Minister Uzi Landau warned: "We're in a situation where, to confront the threat from the global jihad, we rely on Iran and its allies." The rise of the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized Iraq's second city Mosul and a swathe of its north and center over the past 10 days, has prompted talk of possible cooperation between Washington and Tehran to help stop the insurgency.
A top Iranian official said on Wednesday that Tehran could consider working with the United States over the crisis in Iraq if talks on its nuclear program are successful.
The Iranian official's comments came after US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he would be open to cooperating with Iran on Iraq. "I wouldn't rule out anything that would be constructive," Kerry told Yahoo News when asked if the United States would cooperate militarily with Iran, one of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's key allies. US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns held a brief meeting with Iranian officials in Vienna on Monday on the sidelines of talks between Tehran and the major powers over its controversial nuclear program.
Israel – which reportedly has the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal – is deeply opposed to the talks, which also involve its US ally and aim for a long-term deal to set out clear limits to Iran's nuclear ambitions.