June 25/14

Bible Quotation for today/A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me

John 16,16-19/‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"; and "Because I am going to the Father"?’They said, ‘What does he mean by this "a little while"? We do not know what he is talking about.’ Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"?

Pope Francis`s Tweet For Today

How I wish everyone had decent work! It is essential for human dignity.
Pape François
Comme je voudrais voir tout le monde avec un travail décent ! C’est une chose essentielle pour la dignité humaine.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 25/14

Why Religious Freedom Matters/By David Anderson, Canadian MP for Cypress Hills – Grasslands/June 25/14

Save Syria, Iraq is already lost/By: Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/June 25/14

The case for a Ministry of Human Rights in Lebanon/By: Reina Sarkis/Al Arabiya/June 25/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 25/14

Lebanese Related News

Geagea after Meeting al-Rahi: There is a 'War of Elimination' on Presidency

Officer killed, 25 wounded in Beirut suicide blast

Hodroj Hailed as Hero as His Hunch Prevents Possible Massacre
Abdullah Azzam Brigades to Hezbollah: more attacks

Al-Qaeda-affiliated group warns Hezbollah of more attacks

Salam: Blast an attack against Lebanese unity

Maronite bishops: Mideast turmoil threatens to change regional map

Contentious scholar Fouad Ajami, dies aged 68

Palestinian factions call for distance from conflict

Hezbollah: Gulf states will regret funding ISIS

 Lebanon's Arabic press digest – June 24, 2014
Hariri holds talks with French FM

ISIS recruited French detainee for suicide attack

Hezbollah joins official condemnation of bomb attack

UN peacekeeping chief holds talks in Beirut

Hariri Hospital staff back to work

Peacekeeping Official: U.N. Making Every Effort to Garner Assistance for Lebanese Army

Change and Reform: Returning to Constitution Resolves Presidential Vacuum
Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 25/14

Canada Congratulates OPCW-UN Joint Mission on Removal of Chemical Agents from Syria

The Sudani Christain, Meriam, Disabled Husband, Toddler and Infant Re-arrested for "National Security Concerns" in Sudan

Iraq battles militant onslaught as Kerry presses unity

First US military advisers deploy in Iraq: Pentagon

Shock, horror! When ISIS steals the headlines

Syria won't dirty own hands in response to IAF
Israel PM praises Abbas remarks but slams Hamas pact

Iron Dome intercepts Gaza rockets in barrage fired at southern Israel

Silent journalists' protest for jailed Al-Jazeera staff

Cameroon troops kill 8 suspected Boko Haram gunmen: official

Geagea after Meeting al-Rahi: There is a 'War of Elimination' on Presidency
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea expressed pessimism on Tuesday on the ability of rival parties to elect a new president, saying he was not seeing light at the end of the tunnel amid an ongoing “war of elimination.” “The patriarch hasn't been able to convince MP Michel Aoun to attend electoral sessions,” Geagea said following talks with Cardinal Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki. There is a “war of elimination” on the post of the presidency, he said, adding “no one is allowed to paralyze the country as a means to increase his chances” to reach Baabda Palace. Geagea has slammed the boycott of Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and most of the March 8 camp's MPs of legislative sessions aimed at electing a president. Unlike the LF chief, Aoun has refused to announce his candidacy for the presidency, saying there should first be consensus on him. But the March 14 alliance continued to back Geagea, and its members remained adamant to head to parliament to elect a president despite the lack of the needed two-thirds quorum. The dispute between the March 8 and 14 camps led to a vacuum at Baabda Palace after President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25. Geagea said he was “not yet seeing any light at the end of the tunnel although the solution is in our hands.” He said earlier this month that March 14 was ready to agree with March 8 on narrowing down the presidential race to two candidates.

Officer killed, 25 wounded in Beirut suicide blast
June 24, 2014/By Youssef Diab/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A suicide bomber who killed a security officer and wounded 25 people in a midnight attack in Beirut neighborhood had intended to carry out the bombing in the capital's southern suburbs, a judicial source said. The bomber was heading to a bigger target in suburbs, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star, adding that the perpetrator deliberately drove through Tayyouneh’s inner streets to escape the Lebanese Army checkpoint. The suburbs have been a target of several suicide attacks both last year and early this year claimed by Islamist groups fighting in Syria. Primarily these attacks have come from the Nusra Front, who have said that the bombings were in retaliation to Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian crisis. The source said the bomber’s vehicle experienced a sudden malfunction, forcing him to stop in the middle of the road outside a café in the neighborhood. The car’s sudden stop raised the suspicion of two General Security personnel who happened to be driving along the same road. The two men stepped out of the vehicle and questioned the bomber. The bomber’s nervous behavior prompted Ali Jaber to race to the Army checkpoint to alert them while Abdul-Karim Hodroj, a General Security sergeant, stayed with the bomber to make sure he did not escape. Seconds later, the bomber detonated the vehicle, which the source said was stacked with at least 25 kilograms of explosives. Luckily, one of the detonators malfunctioned, preventing a bigger catastrophe, the source said.  DNA tests confirmed that Hodroj, who was reported missing just after the blast, had been killed.
A security source said 25 people were wounded in the 11:40 p.m. explosion in Tayyouneh, one of the main entrances into Beirut's southern suburbs. Lebanese Red Cross official George Kettaneh said the wounded, many from the Abu Assaf Café, suffered minor injuries in the attack. The café-goers were watching the Brazil vs. Cameroon World Cup game. Kettaneh told The Daily Star that most of the wounded had left the hospital. He said a foreign domestic worker was among the wounded. The security sources said that Hodroj and another General Security officer, Ali Jaber, had intercepted the bomber's car after he drove the wrong way down the street. Hodroj had put his gun to the driver's head, while Jaber rushed to get help from the nearby Army checkpoint, when the bomber blew himself up.
Hodroj was ripped apart in the blast, while Jaber was wounded and taken to Sahel Hospital. An Army statement said the white Mercedes was rigged with 25 kilograms of TNT. The security sources said Jaber heard the bomber speaking with a Syrian accent. The state-run National News Agency said the force of the blast had tossed the suicide bomber against the wall of a fourth-floor apartment in a nearby building. Human remains and blood littered the balcony floor. Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr ordered security agencies to launch an investigation. Saqr, who visited the blast scene Tuesday morning, said explosives were planted everywhere in the car. He would not give further details pending outcome of the investigation. Immediately after the explosion, dozens of people flocked to the bombing site, prompting the Lebanese Army to fire shots in the air to disperse the crowd and facilitate rescue and evacuation operations. Eyewitnesses noted that the bombing caused significant material damage and wrecked several cars. Lebanon has been on high alert since a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway last Friday. A police officer was killed and 33 people were wounded in that bombing, which has fueled fears of violent spillover from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.


Hodroj Hailed as Hero as His Hunch Prevents Possible Massacre
Naharnet/A hunch by a young Lebanese security officer prevented a potential massacre as scores of people watched a World Cup match in Beirut's Tayyouneh area, but it also cost his own life.
The intuition and bravery of 20-year-old General Security inspector Abdul Karim Hodroj meant he was hailed as a hero on Tuesday. Hodroj had been driving home late on Monday with a colleague, Ali Jaber, when they saw a white Mercedes driving against the traffic flow towards the popular Abou Assaf Cafe, a senior General Security official told Agence France Presse. At the time the south Beirut cafe was packed with scores of people watching the Brazil-Cameroon clash. "The vehicle stopped in the middle of the road, and a man got out. (Hodroj and Jaber) stopped him and questioned him. The man said his car key was broken, and he couldn't drive any more," the official said on condition of anonymity. The two officers were immediately on guard in a country where car bombings have become common, and south Beirut -- heartland of Hizbullah -- has been a frequent target. Jaber went to the closest army checkpoint to report his suspicions, while Hodroj stayed to ensure the man did not get away, the official said. Jaber was 30 meters away when "the explosion happened," he added. Hodroj was killed, and Jaber and several bystanders were wounded.
The densely populated neighborhood of Shiyyah was in shock Tuesday, as Hodroj's 47-year-old father Fadel received condolences at a hall in the Two Martyrs Cemetery. "Your son is a hero," one visitor told the bereaved shopkeeper whose eyes were red with tears as he chain-smoked to help him cope with the pain and muttered "God keep you" to mourners. "He saved the neighborhood. He saved us from a massacre. We consider him a hero. We are proud of him," Hodroj's uncle said. Hodroj was the sole fatality of the car bombing that also wounded 20 people.
"Some 200 people were watching the match. Abdel Karim (Hodroj) loved football and was impatient to watch his favorite team Italy play Uruguay on Tuesday," his uncle told AFP. "He was so young. We should have been organizing his wedding, not his funeral ceremony." The pain of loss was especially difficult to bear for Hodroj's father Fadel -- Abdel Karim was his only son.
A photograph at the funeral depicted a young man with black hair, fine features and smiling mischievous eyes. He joined the General Security agency just 18 months before he died. An inspector, he worked in its IT department. Elie, who studied with Hodroj, told AFP: "Everyone liked him. He loved life, and was enthusiastic about his work." His uncle added: "He loved to joke, and put everyone at ease. Anyone he'd meet would soon feel he was an old friend." Hodroj's black-clad mother and her two sisters sat in another room, mourning their loss. The family is from the village of Bazouriyeh in southern Lebanon.
The explosion that killed Hodroj took place at midnight Beirut time (2100 GMT Monday), at the entrance to the Shiyyah district. An AFP photographer saw several cars ablaze as firemen fought to douse the flames and ambulances ferried the wounded to hospital. The attack came just three days after a suicide bombing in Dahr al-Baydar in the east of Lebanon killed one person and wounded around 30.
"The war against terror is being fought all across the world. In Lebanon, there are sleeper cells. When the conditions are there -- like in Iraq -- or when the political situation is especially unstable in Lebanon, the cells wake up," a high-ranking General Security official said. The official also said the U.S. intelligence services had warned Lebanon that new "terror" strikes were imminent. "All the country's security services were mobilized to try to stop them," he said. Beirut's southern suburbs, a stronghold of Hizbullah, have been targeted by attacks for months. Most of the attacks were claimed by Sunni extremists who said they were because Hizbullah sent thousands of fighters into neighboring Syria to support President Bashar Assad's forces battling rebels. SourceAgence France Presse

Al-Qaeda-affiliated group warns Hezbollah of more attacks
June 24, 2014 /The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The Abdullah Azzam Brigades announced Tuesday that explosions in Beirut’s southern suburbs were a series of many attacks to come as long as Hezbollah was fighting in Syria, in an indirect claim to Monday’s suicide attack that killed one and wounded 25. Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, the Al-Qaeda affiliated group’s religious guide, tweeted that the recent targeting of General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and the explosions in the southern suburbs confirmed that “you [Hezbollah] will not be living safely, until safety is returned to the people of Syria and Lebanon.” A suicide bomber killed a security officer and wounded 25 people in a midnight attack in the Beirut neighborhood of Tayyouneh, intending to carry out the bombing in the capital’s southern suburbs, which had witnessed a series of explosions at the beginning of this year and the end of last year. A suicide bomber also blew himself up last week at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway in Dahr al-Baidar, killing one police officer and wounding 32 people. Ibrahim said he narrowly escaped that attack after the blast went off just 200 meters away from his convoy.
According to Zuraiqat, Hezbollah "brought trouble" on itself through its "adventures in Syria.” He also tweeted that “the battle with Hezbollah is no longer only against us, but with the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon." Zuraiqat said the recent suicide attacks were “proof that Hezbollah’s war is not against takfiri organizations as it claims,” and that “all Sunnis are beginning to defend themselves.”
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades have claimed responsibility for several suicide attacks in Lebanon.


Hezbollah joins official condemnation of bomb attack
June 24, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah, whose party headquarters is located in the oft targeted southern suburbs of Beirut, has issued a statement condemning Monday night’s suicide bombing that killed one and wounded 25.
In a statement released Tuesday Hezbollah condemned “this cowardly action and whoever is responsible for it,” adding that the party “hails the recent achievements by the relevant military and security forces, calling on them to keep up their blessed efforts in order to topple the criminal conspiracies and plans against Lebanon.”Prime Minister Tamman Salam blasted the attacks in a speech Tuesday at the Grand Serail, saying “the criminal action that targeted innocents in a secure residential area is a clear attempt to shake Lebanon’s stability and smash its national unity.”While Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk linked the ongoing violence to the involvement of Lebanese players in Syria, despite saying that the nervousness of the bombers showed that security situation was under control.
“The situation cannot settle as long as Lebanese indulge in the Syrian fire, whether alongside the regime or against it.”Other Lebanese and foreign officials joined in condemning the latest terrorist attack to shake Lebanon, expressing sympathy and frustration over the bombing in Tayyouneh. Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora condemned the attack that shook Beirut overnight, saying that national unity was the only way to confront such dangers. “Terrorism has no religion. It is a disease and a lesion that should be confronted using all arrangements and cautions, to eradicate it and prosecute [those responsible] for it,” he said. Similarly, MP Bahia Hariri released a statement to comment on the event, saying that its purpose is to destroy the Lebanese people’s hopes for stability and security.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt condemned the bombing calling “for transcending the national interests above all other considerations.” He stressed the necessity to avoid any disruption of the political institutions, and to maximize collaboration between the state’s different security forces. Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement released a statement condemning the terrorist plans to hit the Lebanese people and destroy their national unity, calling on “political officials to quickly work on the immunization of the official security forces.” The United States Embassy Tuesday also condemned the terrorist attack, pledging full support for Lebanese security forces in the struggle against terrorism. “The United States condemns this morning’s terrorist bombing in Tayyouneh. We wish a full recovery to those wounded in the attack,” the embassy tweeted. “The United States reaffirms its support for the Lebanese Army and Lebanese Internal Security Forces in their mission to uphold security."
United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly expressed similar sentiments in a press release Tuesday afternoon. He “paid tribute to all that the security forces are doing to sustain security and stability in the country,” calling for Lebanese unity in the face of terrorism. Tom Fletcher, British ambassador to Lebanon, expressed sympathy with the injured in the bombing and called the attack “another despicable effort to intimidate and divide.” Likewise, many Lebanese politicians and religious figures have expressed condemnation of the terrorist attack that killed a General Security officer and wounded 25 near an Army checkpoint in Beirut’s southern suburb. “[It is sad] that the series of explosions continues, stealing the lives of innocents and spreading chaos,” Culture Minister Raymond Areiji said, calling on all political parties to support the security forces against the terrorist threats.
Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Naim Hasan condemned the terrorist bombing, calling to “speed the election of a new president and activate the functioning of the legislative and executive authorities.”
“It is our fate to pay the price of the extremism hitting the region,” said Michel Musa, member of Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc, adding that he expected more attacks to occur.
A member of the same bloc, MP Ali Khreis commented on the bombings saying that “there are countries that aim to burn Lebanon [similarly to] what is happening in Iraq. [They] plan to divide the region into sectarian fractions.”In this vein, MP Ibrahim Kanaan called for a separation between political conflicts and security threats. “We must deal with the security tremors independently of the political crisis,” he said, referring to the presidential vacuum and the disruption of the country’s political institutions. Speaking in an interview with Al-Jadeed TV, Wehbi Katisha, an adviser to Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea, said that securing the borders was the only way to confront terrorism. “No one can stop a suicide bomber even in major countries,” he said. “However, these countries protect their security starting by the airport and the borders.” Former Minister Wiam Wahhab’s Tawhid Movement released a statement commenting on the bombing, saying it belonged to “a cruel Takfiri plan expanding from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, aiming at shedding the Lebanese people’s blood and ruining their security, national unity and their civil peace.”


Hariri holds talks with French FM
June 24, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Tuesday with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris on the situation in Lebanon and the region. According to Hariri's office, the meeting took place at the ministry's headquarters and was attended by a number of French officials, including French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli.
Hariri also met with former President Michel Sleiman in Paris and discussed various developments in Lebanon and the region Sleiman and Hariri discussed the presidential election deadlock and possible solutions to the political crisis as well as efforts needed to hold the poll as soon as possible, the former president’s office said. They also spoke about the work of Parliament and Cabinet and the need to continue the work of such institutions to meet the demands of the people. They also stressed on the need to distance Lebanon from surrounding conflicts and "commit to the Baabda Declaration to protect the country from terrorism, sectarian strife and regional turmoil."


Change and Reform: Returning to Constitution Resolves Presidential Vacuum
Naharnet/The Change and Reform bloc lamented on Tuesday the state of affairs in Lebanon, condemning the ongoing vacuum in the presidency. MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the bloc's weekly meeting: “The vacuum is a product of deliberate neglect and the solution lies in returning to the constitution.” “What is to become of the presidency if we do not respect the constitution and National Pact?” he wondered. Lebanon has been plunged in vacuum in the presidency since the term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May. Lawmakers failed to elect his successor after seven presidential elections sessions following a boycott of the majority of March 8 alliance MPs, mainly those of the Hizbullah and Change and Reform blocs, over an ongoing dispute over a candidate. Addressing the bombing in the Tayyouneh area in Beirut earlier on Tuesday, Kanaan said: “Condemning bombings is no longer enough.” He criticized how such incidents are being exploited to achieve political goals. “Is it reasonable to link them to political files?” he asked. “Aren't the security developments being used to impose certain realities on the Lebanese people?” Kanaan continued. “The security developments should be tackled through security, not political, measures,” he demanded. One person was killed and at least 20 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated himself at an army checkpoint at the Tayyouneh roundabout at the entrance of Beirut's southern suburbs in the early hours of Tuesday. The car bombing came three days after a suicide attack in the east of the country which left one person dead and 30 wounded. The attack was the first in Lebanon since March.


Peacekeeping Official: U.N. Making Every Effort to Garner Assistance for Lebanese Army

Naharnet/U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous said Tuesday that the world body was exerting all efforts to help the Lebanese army. “We are well aware of the resource constraints the army faces and we are making every effort at every level to garner international assistance necessary to bolster its capacity,” Ladsous said following talks with Lebanese officials. “I expressed my deep appreciation for the commitment that the Lebanese Armed Forces has continued to show in working with UNIFIL on the tasks mandated by (Security Council) resolution 1701, not allowing the competing demands on its resources to distract it from this critical imperative,” said the official after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, PM Tammam Salam and army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji. “It is this spirit of dedication to the call of duty that has rendered the Lebanese Armed Forces today a beacon of Lebanon’s strength, and earned it the utmost respect not only of all the people of Lebanon but also of the international community,” he said. UNIFIL said in a press release that during his meetings with the Lebanese officials, Ladsous discussed issues related to the implementation of resolution 1701, with particular focus on the situation in UNIFIL’s area of operations south of the Litani River, and the cooperation between the peacekeepers and the army.
Ladsous also visited the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura, where he was briefed by the mission's commander Maj.-Gen. Paolo Serra and the Mission Staff on the operational aspects of UNIFIL, said the press release. He also held a townhall meeting with UNIFIL personnel and mingled with peacekeepers, both civilian and military, in informal interactions, it added.

The case for a Ministry of Human Rights in Lebanon
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
By: Reina Sarkis/Al Arabiya
As a psychoanalyst, researcher and Lebanese citizen, who has collaborated with NGOs and worked on the field for the past 10 years, I have come to realize that a major absentee when it comes to addressing human rights violations in Lebanon is its government. It is based on this simple observation that the initiative of creating a Ministry of Human Rights, MoHR in Lebanon struck me as the most obvious, natural “next step” in light of the rapidly and exponentially deteriorating human rights conditions in Lebanon. Whether in quantity or quality, daily accounts of human rights violations have become seriously worrisome and alarming. In light of the fact that over 16,000 Lebanese NGOs are officially registered in the Ministry of Interior, I am not sure what is scarier: the massive number of these organizations, with their sole raison d’être being directly or indirectly related to Human Rights, or in parallel the colossal breaches of these same rights and the scandals they never cease to cause: it just doesn’t add up. But here’s an explanation to the paradox; finding logic is always liberating. The fact that the considerable majority of these NGOs end up, sooner rather than later as ghost entities, that are non-efficient and non-active, is somehow a relief, as it reduces the absurdity of the outcome. In fact, the few who are active and doing a good, and sometimes great, job either do not know of each other’s existence, or when they do, and when they serve the same cause, often perceive each other as competitors and work in a counterproductive manner to the detriment of the initial reason for which they came to exist. I have had some very sad and even traumatic experiences trying to collaborate with quite a few NGOs… In any case, even if we were to believe that all 16,000 Lebanese NGOs are held by devoted saints, one thing is certain; they are obviously totally swamped and overwhelmed by the needs of the terrain which intriguingly seems to be getting worse, not better.
Immense void
It is there for an almost zero risk deduction to say that all the efforts deployed by civil society, although remarkably noble and appraisable, remain severely insufficient in scope to fight the incessantly growing number of human rights violations. More and more cases of violated and murdered women make it to the news; the incessant denouncement of which, combined with public demonstrations of protests led by active NGOs have only succeeded in making the parliament vote a half-aborted law against “domestic” violence. Establishing that fact and adding to it the full blast human invasion of one and a half million Syrian refuges to a country of only 4 million inhabitants, we find ourselves in an inacceptable and unsustainable situation.
We can prove to be the Black Swan, our MoHR will stand a much better chance if it’s kept out of political rope pulling
There is clearly an immense void waiting to be filled by a ministry of human rights; a MoHR that aligns with international values, which in theory, Lebanon signed up to in the 40s. The MoHR should be created to secure sustainability in the country if Lebanon wants to live up to its image –or save what’s left of it- of openness, freedom, diversity, culture, education and all other values carried by the international convention.
Where are government policies from all that?
On the other hand, isn’t it a recognized sociopolitical fact that civil society is most active when government actions and policies exist? If nothing else, the huge numbers of registered NOGs gives us a loud and clear idea of the enormity of the government’s absence!
Moreover, I cannot think of one international institute, from U.N. offices dealing with human rights issues to Human Watch, Amnesty International, the EU commission, USAID and everything in between, that does not have an antenna here in Lebanon. The relation of all of the above with various NGOs remains linear and efforts move horizontally. It is high time to triangulate this relation and make it rise to a healthy pyramid of centralization and transparency. This is where a Ministry of Human Rights comes in. It is evident that the answer is not by creating additional NGOs.
Around the world
The human rights file is a crucial issue and it deserves to be given its rightful, symbolic and effective place.
The research I have done to see what’s happening out there and whether other countries have such a ministry has revealed that it is only those with serious violations of human rights that have, understandably, adopted an MoHR are Pakistan, Brazil, Serbia, Peru, Iraq, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Yemen and more recently Tunisia.
Three of those countries made it to the gloomy top 10 worldwide countries with highest score of human rights violations. This goes to show us that such initiative comes as a response to a serious and national problem. A problem serious enough to assign a full ministry to it.
While one (or many) might rightfully argue that the above mentioned countries continue to suffer from dreadful human rights violations and their ministries have a poor performance, I say the problem is never in the enterprise itself but in its executives.
In that regard, we can prove to be the Black Swan, our MoHR will stand a much better chance if it’s kept out of political rope pulling, it will also need to be and remain an independent entity, as in opposite of being twinned with other ministries such as the one of Interior, Justice or Social Affairs.
A country is measured by the worst and not the best it has to show for, I am sure I am not alone with my irritated rictus at the desuetude Lebanese formula of swimming and skiing on the same day. Lebanon today is a country where a woman is killed by her husband and a horde of refugees has crossed its frontiers in the same day… Not exactly a tourist attraction.
Reina Milad Sarkis is a leading psychoanalyst, spearheading a number of groundbreaking initiatives in her native Lebanon and abroad. Sarkis currently runs her own practice and for nearly a decade has been focusing her research and her work around topics related to Human Rights. Most recently, Sarkis established a program to provide group therapy for torture victims, breaking with social norms that pressure the victim into silence. The program is the first of its kind in Lebanon and the region, attracting the attention of both local and international media. Leading initiatives, such as co-founding the group “Springhints” which carried out an extensive survey on reforms in Lebanon, culminating with the publication “Reforms; the Spring of Interrogations”, and “Citizen L” a group of academics who take interest in political matters and reforms, which places the Lebanese citizen at the center of its priorities, Sarkis’s aim is to generate debate and grassroots movement to galvanize Lebanese society towards reform. Sarkis is also an associate researcher at Collège de France and IFPO Institut Français du Proche-Orient, sits on the editing board of Transeuropéennes, an international journal of critical thought, is a member of SIHPP International Society of History of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis, and a professor at USJ Université Saint Joseph where she teaches doctorate students in the psychology department a seminar about “living memory and testimonials.”



The Sudani Christain, Meriam, Disabled Husband, Toddler and Infant Re-arrested for "National Security Concerns" in Sudan

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, Daniel Wani and children Arrested by Sudanese Military at Khartoum Airport
06/24/2014 Washington, D.C.(International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, her husband, Daniel Wani, and two children were arrested at a Khartoum airport earlier this morning. The arrest follows Ibrahim's court-ordered release from prison and acquittal of charges of adultery and apostasy just yesterday.
Ibrahim, a 27-year-old mother of two and wife of a United States (U.S.) citizen, was sentenced to death for her Christian faith on May 15 by the El Haj Yousif Public Order Court in Khartoum. Ibrahim's case was filed with the Khartoum Court of Appeals on May 22, which ordered her full acquittal and immediate release from the Omdurman Federal Women's Prison, where she and her two children, 22-month-old, Martin, and 4-week-old, Maya, had been held for 126 days. In speaking with a member of Ibrahim's legal defense this morning, ICC learned that Meriam, Daniel, and their two children were arrested for "national security concerns" by members of the Sudanese military.  According to that same defense lawyer, the Ibrahims were, at the time of this release, being held at a "National Security Office." In speaking with ICC, Ibrahim's defense expressed great concern over the situation, repeatedly stating that "no one can do anything." The defense explained that no legal mechanism exists by which to intervene on the Ibrahims' behalf. Some ICC sources also reported that the Ibrahims' legal defense have been threatened with arrest by Sudanese authorities.
Though the Ibrahims' legal defense did not confirm the destination the Ibrahims were scheduled to fly to, the BBC has reported that Daniel stated his intention Monday to "leave for the U.S." Unconfirmed reports, however, have speculated that the family was on its way to South Sudan, Daniel's home country.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "We are deeply concerned by Meriam, Daniel, Martin and Maya's arrest this morning at the hands of military personnel. The implication that an educated mother, debilitated father, toddler and infant pose a national security concern is absolutely absurd. Just yesterday, a Sudanese court not only released Meriam and her children, but acquitted her of all charges, dropped all imposed sentences and recognized as legal her marriage to Daniel, which had previously been annulled by a lower court. For the Sudanese State to violate not only its interim constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter for Human and People's Rights and now a decision by one of the highest courts in its allegedly independent judiciary is inexcusable. In arresting Meriam and her family this morning, the al-Bashir Regime has once again confirmed its commitment to the violation, not the protection, of human rights and religious freedom, and the international community must respond immediately."

Why Religious Freedom Matters
June 19, 2014
By David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills – Grasslands
Religious freedom is not an issue that shows up on the grid of the average Canadian. In fact, when you mention it to someone, you typically get a range of responses. Some people express a genuine interest, but most people’s eyes slowly glaze over like you told them you wanted to discuss the significance of protein values in wheat. Others stare back at you blankly as their mind races to try and determine how this could possibly be relevant to anything.
But while most may not realize it, religious freedom is extremely relevant for at least three reasons.
First of all, religious freedom matters. Religious freedom is an extension of three foundational rights: Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of association. History has shown us that religious freedom and democratic freedom are inseparable, and that a decline in one will inevitably result in a decline of the other.
Consequently, it should come as no surprise to us that societies which protect religious freedom are more likely to protect all other fundamental freedoms and are typically more stable and more prosperous. On the other hand, societies which fail to protect religious freedom usually find that the freedoms of conscience, speech and association also come under attack, eroding the very foundations of democracy.
The second reason we should be paying attention to this issue is because religious freedoms are under severe attack in much of the world. Pew Research, a US-based think tank monitoring religious freedom, calculates that 76% of the world’s population currently live in countries which are experiencing high or very high restrictions on religion.
For example, if you are a Christian in Pakistan, you live under the constant shadow of violent extremism and vigilantism. If you are a Muslim living in Burma, Buddhist in China, a Jew in Iran, a Sikh in India, or any of these in North Korea, you may be watched, harassed, censored, detained, intimidated, imprisoned, tortured, or killed, simply because of your religious beliefs. The problem is real and wide-spread.
The third reason why religious freedom should be on our grid is because the debate over religious freedom and its accompanying anxieties have reached our very doorstep.
It is easy to get the mistaken impression that restrictions on religious freedom or belief only take place in third world countries or faraway places. Not so. While violations in the West may be minimal when compared to brutal violations elsewhere, the West is clearly struggling with how to define and protect religious freedom.
In his book, “The Global Public Square”, Os Guinness notes that government restrictions on the freedom of religion in France have “increased to the point that they exceed Cuba.” In Britain, “social hostility toward religion has risen so sharply that the British stand with Iran in the category of high social hostility toward religion.”
In Canada last fall, Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values threatened to forbid government employees from wearing religious symbols to work. This spring, Trinity Western University – a private Christian university – finds itself under attack for its Community Covenant Agreement where students agree to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. Two provincial bar associations have already refused to accredit TWU unless it removes the offending statement from their Community Covenant Agreement.
Canada is a strong supporter of religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Yet even here at home the way forward is not always clear. Efforts to increase our religious freedom literacy are well-advised and contribute to an informed public discussion on what religious freedom means and how it should be best protected.
David Anderson is Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills – Grasslands. First elected in 2000, David currently serves as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has been committed to raising awareness of the need to protect religious freedom around the world, hosting annual Parliamentary Forums on Religious Freedom and working with fellow MP Bev Shipley to present and pass Motion 382, which unanimously declared the Parliament of Canada’s support for religious freedom around the world.
Additional resources on religious freedom can be found here:

Canada Congratulates OPCW-UN Joint Mission on Removal of Chemical Agents from Syria
June 23, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada congratulates the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]-United Nations Joint Mission on having successfully overseen the removal of Syria’s declared chemicals from its territory. Though today’s achievement is a significant landmark, it unfortunately does not mark the end of the operations.
“Canada remains concerned about Syria’s constant delay tactics on its obligation to destroy the facilities that produced and housed the chemicals. We continue to have serious questions about Syria’s declarations on its chemical weapons program. And certainly, the alleged continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons remains unacceptable and must be investigated so that the perpetrators may be identified and brought to justice.“Canada will continue to work closely with all those states who have contributed to this unprecedented international effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal to ensure that they are never again used against the people of Syria.”

Hezbollah: Gulf states will regret funding ISIS
June 23, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc said Monday that they will confront the sponsors of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) at home, one day after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned Gulf States that funding terrorism will cause a backlash. “We know how to confront your plan in its own home, and how to topple all your delusions,” said MP Mohammad Raad at Hezbollah’s Monday ceremony in Deir al-Zahrani, according to the National News Agency. Raad did not clarify who would carry out the pledged "confrontation." He accused the funders of ISIS of using the Islamist fundamentalist group after their plans had failed in Syria and Iraq. “It will come back to you when our people in Iraq overthrow it,” said Raad, warning parties who are investing in ISIS. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had made a similar warning Sunday, calling on the “petrodollar states” to stop funding terrorism, specifically ISIS, or else they should expect to become its next target. "I advise Muslim countries that support the terrorists with their petrodollars to stop," he told an Iranian news agency Sunday. Rouhani didn’t specify the Gulf countries he was addressing, but Iranian media had widely accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding Sunni jihadist groups. "Tomorrow you will be targeted ... by these savage terrorists. Wash your hands of killing and the killing of Muslims," said Rouhani. The United States, a long-time ally of Saudi Arabia, also condemned any funding that might reach the terrorist organization's hands. ISIS is “a threat not only to Iraq, but to the entire region,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo Sunday, warning against the funding of activities that could end up bolstering the group. “There is no safety margin whatsoever in funding a group like ISIS,” Kerry said, “and we particularly discourage individuals in the region who may have been sending money through some illicit charity or through various back-channel initiatives under the guise this is for the general welfare and benefit for people who have been displaced, but then that money finds its way into the hands of terrorists.”

Maronite bishops: Mideast turmoil threatens to change regional map
By Doreen Abi Raad /Catholic News Service
BEIRUT (CNS) — Maronite Catholic bishops expressed their concern about the war in Syria and Iraq and warned that Lebanon’s presidential vacuum poses a dangerous risk to the country, particularly amid the escalating regional turmoil that they said threatens to change the map of the Middle East.
The term of former Lebanese President Michel Suleiman ended May 25, and rival political blocs are still divided over a new leader.
Lebanon’s institutional system, based on the National Pact of 1943, provides that the office of the president be occupied by a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the parliament a Shiite Muslim. In a statement June 19 at the conclusion of their annual synod at the patriarchal seat of Bkerke, the bishops said they completely support the views expressed by Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, about the presidential stalemate, and “his tireless efforts to push (parliamentary) members to perform their duty” and vote.
“The stance by some parliamentarians to refrain from entering the parliament and cast their ballot in the presidential election … is unacceptable and places the country at great risk, particularly amid the regional developments that threaten to change the map of the Middle East and dismantle the states, which will have repercussions on Lebanon,” the statement said.
“The absence of a president … represents an absence of a state, and it is a danger to the unity of the country as well as its security and economy.”
Addressing their concerns about the war in Syria and Iraq, the bishops urged people to “break the cycle of violence that is threatening their fate, and work on resolving the conflicts in peaceful ways until they reach a comprehensive reconciliation. Everyone should recognize the rights of others and build their societies on equal citizenship.”
They denounced “what innocent people are suffering from, Christians and non-Christians alike, as a result of the conflicts.”
The Maronite bishops also demanded the release of two Syrian bishops — Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo — kidnapped in April 2013, as well as the release of all detained priests.
In their statement, the bishops praised the Catholic charitable agency Caritas Lebanon for its efforts to serve the needy in Lebanon and encouraged the international community to show solidarity with Syrian refugees “in the hope of a speedy return” to their homeland. Currently more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees — equal to at least one-quarter of Lebanon’s resident population — are living in Lebanon.
The bishops noted Patriarch Rai’s visit to the Holy Land in May, in conjunction with the visit of Pope Francis, in which the patriarch met with former members of the South Lebanon Army, the Lebanese militia that fought alongside Israel during its occupation of South Lebanon and fled to the Jewish state following Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.
The patriarch’s visit “gave hope to a resolution to the issue of the Lebanese exiled in Israel” and showed that “the spirit of reconciliation between the country’s citizens is possible,” the bishops said.


Palestinian factions call for distance from conflict
June 24, 2014 /The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The political committee of Palestinian nationalist and Islamist factions in Lebanon Monday highlighted the importance of keeping Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria out of any internal conflicts. During a meeting at the Palestinian Embassy in Beirut, attendees discussed last week’s suicide bombing, warning against “attempts to elevate sectarian tensions again.” The committee, which includes representatives of both Hamas and Fatah among others, praised a recent initiative to create an elite security force in the south Lebanon camp of Ain al-Hilweh.

Contentious scholar Fouad Ajami, dies aged 68
June 24, 2014/By Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Fouad Ajami, the controversial Lebanese-American author and academic who said the Arab world would “erupt in joy” when the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein, died Sunday aged 68 after a battle with cancer. A Shiite born in the south Lebanon village of Arnoun whose family originated in Iran, Ajami moved to Beirut when he was 4 years old before emigrating to the U.S. in 1963. He won the MacArthur genius award in 1982, becoming a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and later the director of Johns Hopkins University’s Middle East Studies program. He also taught at the American University of Beirut. Ajami was a staple of American television news networks and penned numerous essays and op-eds for outlets including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs. But it was Ajami’s support for the Iraq War, his elevation among the ranks of Bush administration advisers and backing of Israel in the latter decades of his life that aroused the most ire among his Arab critics. In a speech in August 2002, then- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney cited Ajami in an effort to reassure Americans that their military would be received with jubilation in Iraq if they overthrew Saddam Hussein. “As for the reaction of the Arab street, the Middle East expert professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy,” Cheney said.
In his book, “The Foreigner’s Gift,” written three years after the Iraq War, Ajami also condemned the Arab world for harboring what he described as a “culture of terrorism” that provoked the U.S. into launching what he said was, in essence, a noble war.
Despite initial apprehension of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Ajami became increasingly interventionist in the years after the first Gulf War. In a July 2003 article for Foreign Affairs, he said American hegemony in the Middle East must persist. “No large-scale retreat from those zones of American primacy can be contemplated,” he said. “American hegemony is sure to hold and so, too, the resistance to it, the uneasy mix in those lands of the need for the foreigners order, and the urge to lash out against it, to use it and rail against it all the same.”
Ajami had also criticized the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 as misguided and aimed at intimidating the Palestinian people.
“The invading army that came into Lebanon with such devastating force came with a great delusion: that if you could pound men and women hard enough, if you could bring them to their knees, you could make peace with them,” he said. But he would later say, in a U.S. News and World Report op-ed at the time of the Madrid peace talks that it was “too late to introduce a new nation between Israel and Jordan.” Ajami’s growing interventionism and sweeping characterizations of Middle Eastern societies earned him opprobrium.
Adam Shatz, a contributing editor at the London Review of Books, described Ajami in a critical 2003 profile as the “native informant,” whose Arab roots gave him a perceived authority in critiquing Arab society and culture. Shatz also quotes instances in which Ajami praised Israeli leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu.
“A leftist in the 1970s, a Shiite nationalist in the 1980s, an apologist for the Saudis in the 1990s, a critic-turned-lover of Israel, a skeptic-turned-enthusiast of American empire, he has observed no consistent principle in his career other than deference to power,” Shatz said. Ajami advised U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was a friend of Paul Wolfowitz, a senior Pentagon official and key architect of the Iraq War. “The death of Fouad Ajami this weekend ... deprived this country and the world of a uniquely powerful voice – one that is at the same time both Arab and American – that could have helped guide us, as he has in the past, through the hazards and complications of his native Middle East,” Wolfowitz said in an obituary published on the website of the American Enterprise Institute.
Ajami was a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which described him in a press release as “truly one of the most brilliant Middle East scholars of our time.”
Ajami authored a series of books about the Middle East, including “The Arab Predicament,” “The Dream Palace of the Arabs,” and “The Vanished Imam,” an account of Imam Musa Sadr, the founder of the Amal Movement.
His writings also include some 400 essays on Arab and Islamic politics, U.S. foreign policy and contemporary international history.

Iraq battles militant onslaught as Kerry presses unity
June 24, 2014ظBy W.G. Dunlop /Agence France Presse
BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces held off attacks on a key town and an oil refinery as top US diplomat John Kerry pushed Tuesday for unity in a conflict the UN says has killed nearly 1,100.
But those successes were marred when civilians were killed by air strikes aiming to push back Sunni Muslim insurgents, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have seized swathes of five provinces north and west of Baghdad. The onslaught has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, alarmed world leaders and put Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki under pressure at home and abroad.
After wilting in the first attacks two weeks ago, loyalists appear to be performing better, holding off assaults at the Baiji oil refinery in the north, the country's largest, and the strategic western town of Haditha.
Repeated assaults on the complex, which once provided some 50 percent of domestic refined petroleum products, have caused jitters on world markets. Brent crude for August delivery added two cents to $114.14 a barrel in London Tuesday. Elsewhere, security forces and allied tribal fighters saw off a militant attack on Haditha in Anbar province, after recaptured the Al-Waleed border crossing with Syria on Monday.
- Air strikes -
Iraqi forces also carried out air strikes on the town of Baiji, outside the refinery, and on Husseibah in Anbar province, west of the capital. State television said 19 "terrorists" were killed in Baiji, but officials and witnesses said the casualties were civilians. In Husseibah, six civilians were among 13 killed.Loyalists have struggled to stem the insurgent advance, with Maliki's security spokesman saying hundreds of soldiers have been killed since the offensive began on June 9 -- the most specific official information so far on government losses. The UN said Tuesday at least 1,075 people were killed and 658 wounded between June 5 and 22. Militants were able to overrun the strategic Shiite-majority northern town of Tal Afar and its airport after days of heavy fighting and, at the weekend, swept into Rawa and Ana towns in Anbar province after taking the Al-Qaim border crossing with Syria. On Tuesday, the cabinet decided that salaries of all government employees in militant-controlled areas will be held back until the conflict ends, meaning some civil servants may be unpaid for an extended period. Kerry was in the autonomous Kurdish regional capital of Arbil to urge president Massud Barzani to work to uphold Iraqi cohesion. He told him "this is a very critical time for Iraq and the government formation challenge is the central challenge that we face." Kurdish forces were "really critical in helping to draw a line with respect to ISIL," he added. Kerry had met Maliki and other leaders in Baghdad Monday to urge the speedy formation of a government following April elections in order to face down the insurgents.
Washington's "support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together, it will be effective," Kerry said. "This is a critical moment for Iraq's future."
US leaders have stopped short of calling for Maliki to go, but there is little doubt they feel he has squandered the opportunity to rebuild Iraq since American troops withdrew in 2011.
Barzani told Kerry, who has since departed, that Kurds seek "a solution for the crisis that we have witnessed," but warned that it had created a "new reality and a new Iraq."
The militant offensive allowed Iraqi Kurds to take control of disputed territory they want to incorporate into their autonomous region over Baghdad's strong objections.
- 'The time is here' -
Speaking to CNN before Tuesday's talks, Barzani called for Maliki to step down, blaming him "for what has happened" in Iraq. Pressed on whether Iraqi Kurds would seek independence, he said: "The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold." President Barack Obama has offered to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq, but has so far not backed air strikes as requested by Baghdad. ISIL aims to create an Islamic state incorporating both Iraq and Syria, where it has become a major force in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. It has commandeered an enormous quantity of cash and resources during the advance, bolstering coffers already the envy of militant groups worldwide.

Save Syria, Iraq is already lost
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
By: Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
Have you recently taken a look at the original map of the Sykes-Picot border? It includes Iraq’s second city Mosul and Greater Syria, which are the lines currently being drawn. So is there an aim to set things straight?
The first draft of the map was as such before it was amended to the current borders between Syria and Iraq by the preferences of Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot in London and Paris. But why was this amendment done? We need a historian to answer this. However, anyone who knows history is aware that no Islamic state was established in Mosul without expanding to Aleppo and the rest of the Levant. So is Mosul the natural extension of the Levant and vice versa? This looks like a fun exercise during a history session but when it comes to politics, it's a nightmare for the region. The state we're talking about is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). I think it's time we give them the “respect” they deserve after the victories they achieved last week and after they forced themselves on the region. We must thus call them "the state," as they like to be called, despite our huge differences with them and the mandatory fear of them.
A dark relationship
ISIS is also knowledgeable about history, and it dreams of a caliphate state as it eyes the Levant. This truth must remain clear amid claims that ISIS is an "Iranian product" and that it is "allied with Assad." These are just conclusions and not facts. Yes, ISIS secretly dealt with these two regimes and their intelligence but recent events show that this was an exchange of benefits between two parties that have contradictory aims. This dark relationship between two fanatic parties which despise one another has always been a huge mystery that can only be interpreted as a result of Iranian slyness and an evil strategy to incite sectarian strife wherever Iran is active.
ISIS is knowledgeable about history, and it dreams of a caliphate state as it eyes the Levant
This is how Iran justifies its sectarianism and its mobilization of the region's Shiites - by making them feel continuously threatened. The policy, however, backfired and the genie was let out of the bottle threatening Tehran and Damascus and eliminating the fool among them. It's clear now that the al-Qaeda organization has used them both as much as they used it. Everyone gambled and al-Qaeda won.
Sykes-Picot border agreement.
Saving Syria can be achieved by preventing its fall in the hands of ISIS. This of course cannot be carried out by saving Bashar al-Assad and his regime as Assad is the cause and he's the one who brought about all this evil. It's only a matter of time before the borders between ISIS and the Shiite Iraqi South are drawn. Borders with the Kurdistan region are already established. But the responsibility of confronting Kurdish ambitions in Kirkuk and what's around it of the central government (previously) in Baghdad will be that of Commander of the Faithful who rules from his secret chamber. In the end, everyone will agree on borders. Of course, the agreement will not be signed at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo but it will be a fait accompli.
ISIS benefitted from its previous mistakes and expanded its alliances. Some are experts and strategists from the old Baath regime. It's also not considered an "organization" but a real state that has oil resources factories, farms and national production and which is in charge of few million people's security and livelihood. Therefore, it's acting like a state and a government. Of course it's different from the world's definition of "government" as the latter definition is based on acceptable common international relations. The world actually rejects and despises ISIS which is gradually progressing and avoiding failed wars. This was clear via its movement when it progressed towards Baghdad last week moving around Samraa which it knows there's no popularity or anger like those it used to win the support of people of Mosul and Anbar.
Upcoming battles
The upcoming battles will reveal the extent of ISIS’ maturity. Most probably, it will stop at the maximum extent in the south like it now with the North’s Kurds and it will rest a little benefitting from international incompetence. The U.S. will of course not launch war. Deterring ISIS will not be achieved without a complete war that's no less than the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. America and Obama don't want such wars or what's even lesser than that. Iran knows that the truce with "al-Qaeda-ISIS" has ended and remember the message which "Salafist jihadism" sent in 1994 via Ramzi Youssef who was behind the bomb explosion of Imam Reza shrine in mashhad and who's currently serving time in the U.S. for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Someone from ISIS or al-Qaeda must've sent the Iranians saying: "Remember what we can do when your borders are open to us, from the east and west."
The second easy target for ISIS and where the circumstances are similar to Mosul, Anbar and Ramadi before they took over them is Syria where there's Sunni suppression, daily murder and international reluctance. ISIS is hated there but it has supporters. Success will bring it more victories and power alters previous convictions. Jabhat al-Nusra and its emir, Golani, must be more worried now. However there must be common ground that justifies some sort of reconciliation with them, with the Islamic Front and with the rest of Salafi organizations. The Free Syrian Army is almost finished off and the upcoming ISIS attack will completely finish it off. The anti-aircraft missiles which the U.S. prevented Syrian rebels from attaining are now available to ISIS. No one will prevent the latter from transferring some of these missiles to Syria. And just like we woke up few days ago to the news of Mosul's fall into the hands of ISIS, we will soon wake up to the news of the fall of Aleppo and other cities in the hands of ISIS. Is this good news? He who wants to be saved from Assad's daily barrel bombs and from the international community's reluctance and who desires some peace will accept ISIS.
Those who are worried by the expansion of this fundamentalist state which wants to change all the region's rules of politics and who prefer to besiege this state in its current Iraqi zone until it destroys itself, should better go forward, topple Assad and his regime and establish a pluralistic system that adheres to constitution and elections.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on June 21, 2014.

Shock, horror! When ISIS steals the headlines
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya
Blame the media for the rise of ISIS and blame them for empowering an extremist Islamic group that has nothing to do with Islam and its teachings and has everything to do with anger, hate and lack of opportunities for a decent life. Blame our societies both eastern and western. They became so focused on materialistic interests and forgot that human beings are still at the essence of everything. Mothers give birth to babies and raise them with a set of beliefs influenced largely by her education and environment. Children are shaped by events around them and they are brainwashed while very young on purely man-made skewed ideas such as patriotism, religion, resistance, war and peace, right and wrong… In Arab cultures, generations were raised under different genres of monarchies. Others were offered dictatorships with modern titles. They acted exactly the same as monarchies ruling for life and passing the baton from father to son unchallenged. Who are the members of ISIS if not our own sons seeking “righteousness” and “justice” as they were taught at home, in schools, in the streets or at mosques? Who brainwashed these young men into believing the world needs them and their version of Islam? Was it a mother, a father or a relative or sibling? Was it a teacher or school administrator or fellow student who shared a book or a desk? Was it a clergy or was it an inspiration from the likes of bin Laden, Zawahiri or Zarqawi?
Cannot be removed from memory
The media has focused on the end result of ISIS and what its members do. Graphic images we can’t remove from our memory: Beheading, mass executions, crucifixion, not much different from what some programs offer on TV or in film these days for entertainment. Our societies became so focused on materialistic interests and forgot that human beings are still at the essence of everything
Watch a statement by one of the real-life heartless young murderers, notice his passion. It must be coming from a nearby place that you know well. That’s where we need to search and change.
ISIS is not much different from other fundamentalist groups born in various parts of MENA. They are the same except more extreme and, if not eradicated at the root, will expand and turn into a bigger problem. Collective actions and reactions give birth to extremism and help it grow and spread. Can we stop being shocked at what ISIS is doing as if this just happened?
Arabs and Muslims must have the courage to admit wrongdoing and examine themselves critically. If not, extremism will continue to spread until the ISIS-type world is the only one available for all of us to live in!
This article was first published in al-Nahar on June 23, 2014.