LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’
John 16,25-28/‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 27/14
ISIS is no Hollywood Star/By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat/June 27/14
How popular is ISIS/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/June 27/1
DEBKAfile/As first US advisers reach Baghdad, Iranians and Saudis airlift
weapons to opposing sides in Iraq/June27/14
A Century of Sykes–Picot/By: Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Al Awsat/June 27/14
Fighting ISIS starts by standing up to Maliki/By: Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/June 27/14
Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 27/14
Lebanese Related News
Picture of Suicide Vests Provider Circulated, Bombers Sought to Target al-Saha Restaurant
Intelligence Bureau Raids Hotels Near Duroy Attack Site
Govt. Fails to Enforce New Visa Rules on Gulf Citizens as Salam Vows to Confront
Visas for Gulf nationals on arrival valid: Machnouk
Would-be suicide bomber in Beirut interrogated
Lebanon reels from third blast in a week
Hariri, Kerry Stress Need to Elect President 'as Soon as Possible'
15 Suspected Terrorists Charged with Assassination Plot
Duroy Hotel Terrorists Reportedly Monitored by General Security for a Week
Al-Rahi Says Vast Challenges require Further Unity
Asiri Says Duroy Suicide Bombers Might have Obtained Forged Passports
Report: Lebanon to Enforce New Visa Rules on Gulf Citizens
Geagea Urges Bkirki to Exert Efforts to End Presidential Elections Stalemate
Man Blows Himself Up during Security Raid at Raouche Hotel, 11 Hurt
Terrorist cell planned to kill security official
17-year-old Lebanese girl commits suicide
Future: Hezbollah brought terror to Lebanon
Lebanese Security forces thwart third attack in a week
Abra memo calling for Ramadan ‘respect’ annulled
Young sergeant remembered for final brave act
Presidency void heightens risks, powers warn
Paris talks focused on sectarianism, security
Al-Qaeda group urged attacks against Hezbollah
Jumblat Lauds State's 'Strength,' Ability to Thwart Bombing Plans
Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 27/14
Iraq PM: Syria carried out air strikes inside Iraq
Kerry Says Russia Must Show Goodwill over Ukraine Truce within 'Hours'
Iraq villagers flee militant advance in north
Hague arrives in Baghdad
Report: Iran is sending drones to Iraq
Jordan acquits Abu Qatada of conspiracy charge
Iraq: Mockery of democracy
Iraqi forces land in Tikrit, clash with ISIS
Putin meets with Abbas, calls for renewal of Mideast peace talks
UN calls for Syrian parties to cease military action in Golan
Israeli Army arrests 10 Palestinians amid signs of that hunt for teens drawing down
Picture of Suicide Vests Provider
Circulated, Bombers Sought to Target al-Saha Restaurant
Naharnet /The General Security agency on Thursday circulated the picture of a Lebanese man accused of providing the Duroy Hotel bombers with explosives, as media reports said the two attackers wanted to target al-Saha Restaurant in Dahieh. “Following the authorization of the relevant judicial authorities, the General Security circulated the picture of al-Monzer Khaldoun al-Hasan, who was born in 1990 in Akkar's Bizbina to a mother who hails from (Syria's) Aleppo,” state-run National News Agency reported. The man “is suspected of having provided the cell that was raided at the Duroy Hotel (in Raouche) with suicide vests and explosives,” NNA quoted the security agency as saying. “He has the Swedish nationality (and a passport) with the name of 'Monzer Al HASSAN' and he has been driving two cars – an old beige Nissan and a gray Mercedes manufactured in 2005,” the General Security said, noting that “these two cars may be booby-trapped.”LBCI television said the man was arrested based on the confessions of the Saudi would-be suicide bomber who survived Wednesday's blast and who was captured by the General Security. “The arrested would-be suicide bomber told interrogators that he and his companion had intended to target al-Saha Restaurant near the Great Prophet Mosque in Beirut's southern suburbs," LBCI reported.According to al-Akhbar newspaper, General Security agents overnight raided al-Saha Hotel in Dahieh in search for suspects who might have checked into the hotel. For its part, As Safir newspaper said “the cell yesterday received an order to carry out a double suicide attack through bombers wearing suicide vests against one of the biggest restaurants in Beirut which is part of a large hotel.” The daily said the attack was supposed to take place during peak time when customers would be watching one of the World Cup matches.Later on Thursday, OTV said two brothers of Monzer had carried out a suicide attack in Syria last year. LBCI said the attack targeted the Crac des Chevaliers citadel in Homs province. The General Security reportedly began monitoring the terrorist cell that was busted in Duroy Hotel in Beirut's Raouche area a week before raiding it.
According to As Safir, the General Security investigations proved the group had links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On Wednesday afternoon, a Saudi man blew himself up at the Hotel Duroy as security forces stormed his room, killing himself and wounding several others. An accomplice of the suicide bomber who was also in the room survived the blast but was severely injured. A third person is on the run. The security raid followed the arrest last Friday in a hotel in the nearby Hamra district of the capital of a Frenchman of Comoran origin on suspicion of plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon on behalf of the ISIL. On Monday, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle near an army checkpoint and a cafe just after midnight in the Tayyouneh area on Dahieh's peripheries. The bombing killed one person and wounded 20. Another bombing in eastern Lebanon last week killed a police officer and wounded several others.
Intelligence Bureau Raids Hotels Near
Duroy Attack Site
Naharnet/The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau raided on Thursday hotels near Duroy Hotel a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at his room while his accomplice survived the blast.
According to media reports, the Intelligence Bureau raided Ramada Plaza, previously known as As Safir Heliopolitan Hotel, which is across the Duroy Hotel, in search for suspects. Security sources told LBCI that the raids are a routine measure carried out by the Intelligence Bureau to inspect the identities of the hotel guests. Al-Jadeed television reported that two people from Arab nationalities were detained during the operation in Ramada Plaza. The suicide bomber and his accomplice are allegedly Saudi citizens. The bomber detonated his explosives during a security raid on Wednesday evening, and died in the blast. Another man was wounded and was being questioned by security agents at a Beirut hospital. A third person is on the run. The two attackers entered Lebanon with Saudi passports on June 11.It was the third suicide bombing in Lebanon in less than a week and sparked fears of renewed violence in a country that has been deeply affected by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Security forces began recently enforcing strict measures and carrying out raids in several areas after obtaining information on a plot to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials.
Early Tuesday a suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others. The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon that killed one person and wounded 30.
Govt. Fails to Enforce New Visa Rules
on Gulf Citizens as Salam Vows to Confront 'Terror Scheme'
Naharnet/The Lebanese government failed on Thursday to enforce stronger entry measures against Gulf citizens after the involvement of Saudis in terrorist activities in the country, as Prime Minister Tammam Salam vowed to confront the “fierce, immoral and inhumane terrorist campaign.”The cabinet members discussed the visas issue during a session held at the Grand Serail after As Safir newspaper reported that the authorities were mulling to force Gulf citizens to apply for visas at Lebanese missions in their countries rather than getting the visas upon their arrival in Beirut. Such a measure would be based on reciprocity because Lebanese citizens are required to apply for visas at the consulates of the Gulf countries in Beirut, the daily said. As Safir added that the move would obstruct the possible entry of suspected terrorists to Beirut and provide security for tourists wanting to visit Lebanon. Ahead of the cabinet session, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said there was no need to impose the visa rules.
“If the issue was put up to vote in the cabinet, it should also include Iranian citizens,” said Rifi who is a member of the March 14 alliance's al-Mustaqbal movement that opposes Iran-backed Hizbullah. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, also an al-Mustaqbal member, said the rules were “out of the question.”
“We are keen on our ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council,” he said. Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri told LBCI, however, that Riyadh respects the decision of the Lebanese authorities if they decided to impose visa rules on Saudis. At a press conference after the cabinet session, PM Salam said “we need all people, especially citizens from the Gulf region." "It is our duty to boost our preemptive measures to prevent the infiltration of anyone seeking to harm our country," he added. “The citizens' awareness and intuition is complementing the work of security agencies,” Salam said, adding that “there is a fierce, immoral and inhumane terrorist campaign against the country and they want to undermine our national unity.”
But the premier reassured that “the issue of preserving the atmosphere of national unity is in our hands, not in the hands of these criminals.”
“We are foiling their objectives and this enhances our internal unity and we're determined to continue all measures that boost this confrontation,” said Salam. “The measures and the steps required to preserve the country's security will not stop and I salute all security agencies over this preemptive effort, which is thwarting strife plots in the country,” the PM added. Criticizing the extensive media coverage of the latest security incidents, Salam urged media outlets to “be careful in covering these security incidents,” saying it is not in the country's interest to “expose all things to this extent.”Turning to the mechanism of cabinet's work during the presidential vacuum, Salam said: “Nowadays, the cabinet's permanent mission is facilitating the work of the executive authority in the country, but today it has assumed presidential powers.” “We're always urging everyone to exert all efforts to elect a president. We won't engage in disputes over managing our responsibilities as every issue must be subject to consensus among the government's components and political forces complied with this,” the PM added. “We discussed the agenda and adopted the issues that enjoyed consensus. I sought with all political forces to endorse consensus in practicing our role and jurisdiction and we will put aside any issue that does not enjoy consensus in cabinet,” Salam stated.
He said some agenda items require decrees and others do not require such an authorization. “This also applies to normal decrees that are not on the agenda, which will be discussed during the sessions and the signatures will be made through consensus,” said Salam. “Some might say that these decrees can be appealed but we're trying to grant them the highest level of legitimacy. We're keen to facilitate the issues that have to do with citizens' affairs,” he pointed out. “Decrees will be issued as usual and we'll seek to facilitate the work of cabinet and all state administrations,” Salam said, adding that “things will be endorsed through consensus” or through a vote in absence of unanimity. Several suicide bombers who have struck areas across Beirut have had Gulf citizenship.
On Wednesday, a Saudi blew himself up in his room at Duroy Hotel, located in Beirut's Raouche seafront, as General Security officers raided the premises. They detained a second suspected Saudi bomber in the sweep. A third person is on the run. A string of security incidents over the past week has rattled Lebanon, and Beirut in particular, after what had been a calm and stable stretch of several months. On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a checkpoint in Beirut's Tayyouneh area, killing a General Security officer. Another bombing in eastern Lebanon's Dahr al-Baydar area last week killed a police officer.
Report: Lebanon to Enforce New Visa
Rules on Gulf Citizens
Naharnet/The Lebanese government is expected to enforce stronger entry measures against Gulf citizens after the involvement of foreigners in terrorist activities in the country, As Safir newspaper reported on Thursday. Cabinet members will agree during a session scheduled to be held on Thursday to force Gulf citizens to apply for visas at Lebanese missions in their countries rather than getting the visas upon their arrival in Beirut, it said. The measure will be based on reciprocity because Lebanese citizens are required to apply for visas at the consulates of the Gulf countries in Beirut, the report said. Such a measure would obstruct the possible entry of suspected terrorists to Beirut and provide security for tourists wanting to visit Lebanon, it added. But Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said there was no need to impose the visa rules. “If the issue was put up to vote in the cabinet, it should also include Iranian citizens,” said Rifi, who is a member of the March 14 alliance that opposes Iran-backed Hizbullah. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, also a member of the coalition, said the rules were “out of the question.” “We are keen on our ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council,” he said. Several suicide bombers who have struck areas across Beirut have had Gulf citizenship. Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri told LBCI, however, that Riyadh “respects any decision if the Lebanese authorities decided to impose visa rules on Saudis.” On Wednesday, a Saudi blew himself up in his room at Duroy Hotel, located in Beirut's Raouche seafront, as General Security officers raided the premises. They detained a second suspected Saudi bomber in the sweep. A third person is on the run. A string of security incidents over the past week has rattled Lebanon, and Beirut in particular, after what had been a calm and stable stretch of several months. On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a checkpoint in Beirut's Tayyouneh area, killing a General Security officer.
Another bombing in eastern Lebanon's Dahr al-Baydar area last week killed a police officer.
Asiri Says Duroy Suicide Bombers Might
have Obtained Forged Passports
Naharnet/Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri denounced on Thursday the terrorist operations that are targeting civilians, estimating that the cell busted at Hotel Duroy in Beirut's Raouche area might have been carrying forged passports. “Terrorism has no religion or nationality,” Asiri said in comments published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat. His remarks come a day after a Saudi man blew himself up in Hotel Duroy as General Security agents stormed his room, killing himself and wounding several others. An accomplice of the suicide bomber who was also in the room survived the blast but was severely injured. A third person is on the run. Asiri rejected to confirm the identity of the terrorists who were busted at Duroy Hotel, saying that they might be carrying forged passports. The diplomat strongly condemned the attack, stressing that his country has been a staunch fighter against terrorism. The ambassador didn't rule out the possibility that the two suicide bombers were planning to target the nearby Saudi embassy. In remarks also published on Thursday in the Saudi newspaper Okaz, Asiri stressed that no Saudi nationals reside in the Duroy Hotel as most of the guests are Iraqis. He said that he is following the matter with Lebanese authorities, expressing hope that the Lebanese authorities would be successful in ending the attacks. The Saudi Embassy in Beirut later condemned Wednesday's terrorist attack, congratulating the Lebanese government on its “success in pursuing terrorist cells.” It wished a speedy recovery to the wounded and hoped that stability will return to Lebanon. Security forces began recently enforcing strict measures and carrying out raids in several areas after obtaining information on a plot to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials. Early Tuesday a suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others. The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon that killed one person and wounded 30.
Al-Rahi Says Vast Challenges require
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed on Thursday the necessity to implement peace and dialogue, saying that the country is facing an immense challenge that requires the unity of the Lebanese. “We should fortify the coexistence culture that should include mutual respect and knowledge,” al-Rahi said during the opening of the Antiochian Conference. The Patriarch called on people to denounce the “extremism phenomena” and the “secular atheism.” He stressed the importance of coexistence and unity that would be only guaranteed by a “consensual president.” “A new head of state should be elected today,” al-Rahi said, denouncing the delay imposed by some parliamentary blocs that he held responsible for impeding the polls. He noted that it is an “utmost necessity to achieve peace through dialogue away from any violence and oppression.” The conference opened at the Balamand University under the title the "Antiochian unity." Lebanon has been plunged in vacuum in the presidency since President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May. Lawmakers have so far failed to elect a new president despite staging seven elections sessions. Six of the sessions were obstructed due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by the March 8 camp's Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc and the Change and Reform bloc. March 8 MPs justified the boycott by saying that consensus should be reached over a presidential candidate.
Duroy Hotel Terrorists Reportedly
Monitored by General Security for a Week
Naharnet /The General Security Directorate reportedly began monitoring the terrorist group that was busted in Duroy Hotel in Beirut's Raouche area a week before raiding it. According to As Safir newspaper published on Thursday, the General Security investigations proved the group had links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The network was allegedly ordered to carry out a double suicide bombing in a prominent restaurant in Beirut and a Hotel when people would be watching a world cup game and the two place would be crowded. On Wednesday afternoon, a Saudi man blew himself up in Hotel Duroy as security forces stormed his room, killing himself and wounding several others. An accomplice of the suicide bomber who was also in the room survived the blast but was severely injured. A third person is on the run. As Safir daily reported that the General Security's Elite Force raid was directly supervised by the directorate's chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. A string of security incidents over the past week has rattled Lebanon, and Beirut in particular, after what had been a calm and stable stretch of several months. The police raid followed the arrest last Friday in a hotel in the nearby Hamra district of the capital of a Frenchman of Comoran origin on suspicion of plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon on behalf of the jihadist ISIL group. That is the same group that has spearheaded the offensive by Sunni Arab militants that has swept up a big swathe of northern and north-central Iraq over the past two weeks and also made gains in neighboring Syria. On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a checkpoint outside a cafe just after midnight in the Tayyouneh area. The bombing killed one person and wounded 20. Another bombing in eastern Lebanon last week killed a police officer and wounded several others. Syria's civil war has spilled into neighboring Lebanon on numerous occasions and inflamed sectarian tensions. A series of car bombs have struck Shiite areas across Lebanon, killing dozens of people. The operation also came amid mounting regional tensions over the events unfolding in Iraq.
15 Suspected Terrorists Charged with Assassination Plot
Naharnet/The military prosecutor charged on Thursday 15 suspected terrorists for plotting to carry out attacks and target a top security official in northern Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said Judge Saqr Saqr charged the suspects, only six of whom are in detention, for belonging to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Jund al-Sham in northern Lebanon. The six men have been apprehended in the northern region of Qalamoun, it said, although the Lebanese army claimed on Wednesday the arrest of five suspected terrorists. It identified then as Wassim Ahmed al-Qass, Wissam Ahmed al-Qass, Dani Ahmed al-Qass, Amjad Nouhad al-Khatib and Nabil Kamel Bayda. The suspects attended training sessions on preparing explosives, using arms and booby-trapping cars, the agency said. The charges also include complicity with a plot to assassinate a top General Security officer and to carry out terrorist attacks across Lebanon, NNA added. Saqr referred the suspects to First Military Examining Magistrate Riyad Abou Ghida. Al-Joumhouria daily said Thursday that the target of the plot could either be the chief of the army's intelligence in northern Lebanon Brig. Gen. Amer al-Hassan or Lt. Col. Khattar Nasereddine, who heads the General Security bureau in the North.
Geagea Urges Bkirki to Exert Efforts
to End Presidential Elections Stalemate
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stated on Wednesday that efforts are ongoing to end the deadlock over the presidential elections, saying that the latest of such steps took place during his meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Tuesday, reported the Central News Agency. He told the news agency: “Bkirki should call on Christian lawmakers, not just Maronites, and heads of other Christian sects to convene before al-Rahi, who should hold them to their responsibilities.” “Al-Rahi should turn to those obstructing the presidential elections sessions by saying that they are obstructing the highest Christian national position in Lebanon, which will lead to turmoil in the country,” he added. Asked by the news agency if he believes that all the MPs will comply with the patriarch's call, Geagea replied: “The absence of MPs will expose their true intentions.”Another proposal to end the deadlock, lies in voters who voted for Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun in the parliamentary elections to express their opposition to the obstruction of the presidential elections, he explained. They should voice their desire for the election of a president and that parliament's normal work be restored, said the LF chief. “I do not foresee a third proposal to end the deadlock. We should not deceive the people and I have relayed this position to the patriarch,” he revealed. Asked whether Aoun will be receptive to the suggestions, he answered that foreign powers are too distracted with regional developments to focus on Lebanon “and this is how it should be anyway.”He noted that Hizbullah is exploiting Aoun's “stubbornness” in order to elect a president who serves its interests. “The longer Aoun obstructs the elections, the more the party benefits from the situation,” Geagea remarked. Moreover, he ruled out any connection between the recent bombings in Lebanon and the presidential vacuum. The instability is a product of Hizbullah's involvement in the fighting in Syria, he explained. Lawmakers have so far failed to elect a new president despite staging seven elections sessions. Six of the sessions were obstructed due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by the March 8 camp's Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc and Aoun's Change and Reform bloc. March 8 MPs justified the boycott by saying that consensus should be reached over a presidential candidate. Geagea had announced his candidacy and repeatedly demanded that the March 8 alliance name its candidate. Aoun had announced that he would be willing to run in the elections if consensus is reached over him. Lebanon has been plunged in vacuum in the presidency since President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May.
Hariri, Kerry Stress Need to Elect
President 'as Soon as Possible'
Naharnet/Head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri held talks on Thursday morning with United States Secretary of State John Kerry in the French capital Paris to discuss the latest Lebanese and regional developments. The former premier's media office stated that the two officials stressed the need to end the vacuum in the presidency and “exert all possible efforts to elect a new head of state as soon as possible.” They also tackled measures to ensure Lebanon's stability and bolster the security and military forces. In addition, Hariri and Kerry focused on the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the burden they have on the country. On Tuesday, the former prime minister had held talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and former President Michel Suleiman. Kerry had paid a brief visit to Lebanon on June 4 during which he held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi. He highlighted during his trip the negative impact the Syrian crisis is having on Lebanon, urging Hizbullah, Iran, and Russia to help end the war in the country. He also voiced his concern over the “deeply troubling” political stalemate in Lebanon given the political powers' failure to elect a new president. Suleiman's six-year term ended in May with lawmakers failing to elect his successor due to disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps. Seven presidential elections sessions were held without a new head of state being elected. The eighth session is scheduled for July 2.
Man Blows Himself Up during Security
Raid at Raouche Hotel, 11 Hurt
Naharnet/A man blew himself up at a hotel in the Beirut area of Raouche on Wednesday as General Security members stormed his room. TV footage showed broken windows and flames shooting from the third and fourth floors of the Duroy Hotel, located in Raouche, close to the sea. According to Lebanese Red Cross director George Kettaneh, eleven people were injured in the blast, including seven civilians and four General Security members. They were all rushed to the American University of Beirut Medical Center. “Ambulances have been scrambled to the blast scene where a suicide bomber blew himself up inside his room at the Duroy Hotel in Raouche during a General Security raid,” al-Jadeed television reported. MTV said the suicide bomber was a Saudi national and quoted security sources as saying that “there are no other terrorists in the hotel.”Later on Wednesday, state-run National News agency said "it has been confirmed that the suicide bomber is 20-year-old Saudi national Abdul Rahman al-Humaiqi.”
“The raid was a continuation of the security operation that started at Hamra's Napoleon Hotel and security forces are still tight-lipped over the information,” LBCI TV said, noting that “the security operation is still underway in search for possible bombs and booby-trapped cars in the hotel and its vicinity.”Quoting reports, LBCI said “another suicide bomber might be inside the hotel and negotiations are ongoing to thwart him from blowing himself up.”Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq inspected the blast scene, saying “three General Security members were lightly wounded.” He confirmed that a Saudi would-be suicide bomber was wounded in the blast, describing the security raid as “a preemptive strike by the General Security agency. Meanwhile, the shadowy Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade claimed responsibility for the bombing on its Twitter account, saying “other jihadists” managed to flee the blast scene. “Our blessed operations will not be merciful on (Hizbullah), the Crusader army (Lebanese Army) and anyone targeting the free jihadists,” the group threatened. “The victory that is being achieved by the Islamic State of Iraq (and the Levant) against (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri) al-Maliki's army is a motivation for every jihadist in the world,” the Brigade added.State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr said a suspect was arrested at the hotel, revealing that three General Security members were wounded.
“Two Saudi suicide bombers were at the hotel in Raouche and security forces arrested one while the other blew himself up,” al-Jadeed TV said. It added that two General Security members were “critically wounded.”The TV network said three men of Arab nationalities were arrested at the hotel. OTV said “two suicide bombers of Gulf nationalities” blew themselves up as their room was raided. It said the raid at the hotel had to do with “the cell that was arrested in the North.” LBCI said “a suitcase containing seven kilos of explosives was found in the possession of the two suicide bombers at the Duroy Hotel.”
For its part, NNA said a booby-trapped suitcase was discovered in the vicinity of the Duroy Hotel. “The arrested would-be suicide bomber is from the al-Swainy family and he was born in 1995,” MTV said. The General Security raid followed the arrest last Friday in a hotel in the nearby Hamra district of the capital of a Frenchman of Comoran origin on suspicion of plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon on behalf of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group. That is the same group that has spearheaded the offensive by Sunni Arab militants that has swept up a big swathe of northern and north-central Iraq over the past two weeks and also made gains in neighboring Syria. On Monday, the al-Akhbar newspaper reported that investigators suspected the detained Frenchman was part of a cell of four would-be suicide bombers who had entered Lebanon. The same night, a young, off-duty General Security inspector was killed as he stopped a car driving the wrong way up a street towards a cafe in the Tayyouneh district of south Beirut whose driver then blew it up.The bomber also wounded 12 other people.
Jumblat Lauds State's 'Strength,'
Ability to Thwart Bombing Plans
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat praised on Thursday the state's “strength and its ability to thwart all bombing plans.”"The experience has proven once again that the Lebanese state, and despite all divisions and the complicated political conditions, is strong and capable of thwarting all bombing plots that aim at undermining stability and security,” Jumblat said in a released statement.
The PSP leader continued: “The state and the security bodies' high capacity has clearly shown recently that (we) can be in the same category with other advanced countries that have faced such situations.”He saluted security bodies for their work and efforts, and reiterated his “trust in the state, its institutions, and its national role.”
He also urged “not falling into the desperation trap.” "We should instead look forward to a hopeful, joyful and confident Lebanon as we are used during all tough stages.”Jumblat's statement comes one day after a Saudi man blew himself up at the Hotel Duroy in the Beirut neighborhood of Raouche as security forces stormed his room, killing himself and wounding several others. The security raid followed the arrest last Friday in a hotel in the nearby Hamra district of the capital of a Frenchman of Comoran origin on suspicion of plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon on behalf of the ISIL. On Monday, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle near an army checkpoint and a cafe just after midnight in the Tayyouneh area on Dahieh's peripheries. The bombing killed one person and wounded 20. Another bombing in eastern Lebanon last week killed a police officer and wounded several others.
Future: Hezbollah brought terror to
June 25, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The Future bloc condemned the latest explosions in Dahr al-Baidar and Tayyouneh during its weekly meeting Wednesday, blaming Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria for Lebanon’s security problems. “The latest attacks on Dahr al-Baidar and Tayyouneh reveal the absence of any sympathy toward the perpetrator,” The Future bloc said, adding that “the Lebanese refuse to drift in to terrorism, and are holding on to civil peace and national unity.”The party laid responsibility for these incidents at Hezbollah’s feet. “The continuity of Hezbollah’s involvement in the battle for Syria is behind Lebanon’s terrorism problem,” it said. “Hezbollah has immersed itself in the region’s problems and is requested to withdraw from Syria before tomorrow.” The Future bloc condemned the Syrian regime and Hezbollah's control of the Lebanese border town of Tfail after clashes between Hezbollah-backed regime troops and rebel forces erupted near the border last week. Residents of Tfail have been fleeing the fallout of clashes, making their way toward the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal. “Tfail is subject to the sovereignty of the Lebanese state and the control of Lebanese security.” It said, urging the government to act to allow the Lebanese Army and security institutions to protect the people and ensure their safe return to their homes. The party condemned the deterioration of the situation in Iraq, saying “the proper way out of this, in the face of terrorism and salvation from tyranny, is through the formation of a government of true national unity that includes all parties and sects.”
Lebanese Security forces thwart third
attack in a week reel
June 26, 2014/By Dana Khraiche, Youssef Diab, Kareem Shaheen
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Security services stepped up their crackdown on terror cells across the country Wednesday, as a suicide bomber blew himself up in a room at a Beirut hotel to avoid arrest during a raid.
The suicide bombing, the third to hit Lebanon in less than a week, wounded 12 people, a security source told The Daily Star.
The General Security said members of its elite unit raided Duroy Hotel in the Raouche district of Beirut Wednesday evening after they received information that two guests there were believed to be preparing for an attack.
“When the unit’s members reached the door of the room where the two suspects were staying, one of them detonated an explosives belt, killing himself instantly and wounding three members of the unit, who were transferred to the American University of Beirut Medical Center for treatment,” the statement said.
It added that the second suspect was arrested and is currently in hospital and being interrogated.
“The General Directorate of the General Security reiterates that in coordination with security and Army services, it will show no leniency in pursuing terrorists and will not spare any effort to prevent them from implementing their plans to deal a blow to Lebanon’s stability and drag it into strife,” the statement said. Nine civilians who sustained wounds as a result of the blast also received treatment at Beirut hospitals.
LBCI reported that a person in the hotel lobby may have alerted the bomber to the General Security raid.
Authorities later carried out more raids in hotels in Hamra, Raouche and Ras Beirut in search of suspects.
Security sources had said earlier that services were hunting for two potential suicide bombers in Beirut as well as a huge bomb-laden truck.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the second bomber who failed to detonate his explosives was a Saudi national.
A security source said the suicide bomber was also a Saudi.
“Security measures taken are preventing suicide bombers from carrying out their operations. This is a great thing and the work of all security services should be appreciated for this,” Machnouk said at the site of the explosion. “The suicide bomber in Raouche was planning to blow himself up somewhere else but the General Security has staged a pre-emptive operation.”
Commenting on the blast, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Lebanon’s Muslims despised terrorism and expressed his full solidarity with Lebanese security services in their war against terrorism, calling on authorities to hunt down attackers across the country.“I express my full solidarity with security services: the Army, the General Security, Internal Security Forces and State Security personnel as they confront pockets of terror,” he tweeted. “We call on security forces to pursue the highest levels of coordination and to strike pockets of terror wherever they are.”
“Muslims in Lebanon have no connection to those [who claim to be Muslims but] have no description or sect other than terrorism,” Hariri continued, in reference to the suicide bombers.
The Saudi Embassy in Beirut said it was coordinating with Lebanese security forces to determine the identity of the suicide bomber and whether his identification card was forged.
The explosion comes just two days after a suicide bomber killed a General Security sergeant at a checkpoint in the Beirut southern suburb of Tayyouneh.
That attack followed another suicide bombing last Friday that killed a police officer at a checkpoint in the east Lebanon town of Dahr al-Baidar. The blast coincided with a raid on a Beirut hotel and the arrest of a French national who confessed to having been planning to carry out a suicide bombing.
The three explosions have totally shattered the calm Lebanon has enjoyed over the previous three months following a nationwide security plan, and have dashed any hopes of a summer tourism revival to boost the tattered economy.
Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr said three General Security personnel were among the wounded in Wednesday’s blast, which occurred around 7:30 p.m.
“ Lebanon and anyone who does their job to combat terrorism is being targeted,” said head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, who visited the wounded at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. “Such attacks will not intimidate us.”
An employee at the hotel told The Daily Star that the facility was hosting a function in its lobby when security forces stormed the premises. “Seconds later, the blast happened,” said the man, identifying himself as Mohammad.
Fire raged inside the seven-story building, with plumes of smoke rising from two rooms clearly visible on the city’s skyline.
Media reports said security forces apprehended three people of Arab nationality who are part of a terror cell as they continued raids in the area.
Separately, security forces arrested three Saudi women and two Syrian men in the Bekaa Valley town of Ablah and confiscated a suitcase believed to be stacked with explosives, a security source said.
Also Wednesday, the Army announced it had arrested members of a terror cell planning to assassinate the head of General Security in north Lebanon.
Speaking to The Daily Star, a security source said the cell’s planned target, Lt. Col. Khattar Nassereddine, was close to Maj. Gen. Ibrahim, who was believed to be the target of last Friday’s bombing.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the five-member cell blamed Nassereddine for the arrest of “many young Muslims in the northern city of Tripoli” and oppressing Sunni youths.
Nassereddine was also behind the controversial, brief arrest of Islamist Shadi Mawlawi in 2012 in Tripoli.
The military statement said Lebanese Army Intelligence arrested the terrorist cell in Qalamoun, 5 kilometers south of Tripoli. The Army did not say exactly when the arrests took place, only that they were referred Wednesday to the judiciary. The statement identified the detainees as Wassim Ahmad al-Qass, Wissam Ahmad al-Qass, Danny Ahmad al-Qass, Amjad Nouhad al-Khatib and Nabil Kamel Baida.
The Army said the military was still pursuing other cell members.
Wednesday’s arrest of the terrorist cell came hours after Lebanese authorities said they had detained six members of another criminal cell in Tripoli’s Zahrieh neighborhood including a university professor and two students. – Additional reporting by Nizar Hassan
Iraqi forces land in Tikrit, clash with ISIS
Soldiers run towards a helicopter. The country's security forces launched an airborne assault on the militant-held city of Tikrit on Thursday. (File photo: Reuters)
Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 26 June 2014
Iraq’s security forces launched on Thursday an aerial operation on the militant-held city of Tikrit and seized control of its strategically located university, officials told AFP. Dozens of Iraqi security forces clashed with militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after being flown into the area by helicopters. The security forces eventually gained control of the university. The operation aims at facilitating the recapture of the city that was seized by the insurgents on June 11. The assault in Tikrit, hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, takes place as Iraq’s vice president called on the country’s parliament to convene, in what would be the first step toward the formation of a new government in order for the country to unite against ISIS and other armed militants.(With AFP and AP)
Kerry Says Russia Must Show Goodwill
over Ukraine Truce within 'Hours'
Naharnet /Russia must prove "in the next hours" that it is working to help disarm separatist groups in restive eastern Ukraine, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday after a meeting with his French counterpart. "We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they're moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and to begin to become part of a legitimate process," he told reporters in Paris.
Agence France Presse
Iraq: Mockery of democracy
June 26, 2014/The Daily Star /Amid calls to form a national government by his domestic opposition, much of the Sunni population, Shiite leaders and U.S. politicians, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Wednesday said to do so would be an affront to democracy. It appears Maliki’s definition of “democracy” is a hangover from the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, triumphed by then-President George W. Bush as a political and military success: an interpretation of democracy that allowed Maliki to resume his position in 2010, despite Iyad Allawi winning the most seats in parliament. Maliki was silent on the concept of democratic values then. But his inflammatory position today is an invitation to further and intensified civil conflict. And while the situation inside the country is bad enough, with ISIS capturing more territory and sectarian discord increasing, Iraq is susceptible to spillovers of violence from not just Syria but also Jordan and Iran. The country appears to be also on the brink of fragmentation, with the Kurds having taken charge of important territory in the north, key to their claims of a legitimate state for themselves. And this fracturing of Iraq would be a dream for many of its neighbors, not the least Israel.
There is talk of increasing armed support to the Iraqi army, but it was not for lack of weapons that we have seen so many soldiers abandoning their posts in recent weeks: it is for want of a sense of belonging and the absence of any sense of duty. And this is all Maliki’s doing, thanks to the divisive and sectarian policies he has implemented since he came to power in 2006.
Until Obama and Maliki’s Iranian patrons step up and ensure his exit, bloodshed will only continue.
As first US advisers reach Baghdad, Iranians and Saudis airlift weapons to opposing sides in Iraq
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 26, 2014/When the first of the 300 military advisers US President Barack Obama promised the Iraqi government arrived in Baghdad Wednesday, June 25, Iranian and Saudi Arabian arms shipments were already in full flow to opposing sides in embattled Iraq, debkafile’s military sources report.
At least two cargo planes from bases in Iran were landing daily at Baghdad’s military airport, carrying 150 tons of military equipment. More than 1,000 tons were flown in this past week alone. Tehran has replicated for the Iraqi army the routine it established for Bashar Assad’s army, furnishing its needs on a daily basis as per its commanders’ requests. Those requests come before a joint Iranian-Iraqi headquarters set up at the Iraqi high command in Baghdad for approval and the assigning of priorities for shipment.
At the same time, Saudi arms are flowing to the Iraqi Sunni tribes fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) against the Iraqi army and the Shiite Nouri al-Maliki's government.
They are coming in both overland and by airlift.
Saudi arms convoys are crossing the border into Iraq with Saudi and Jordanian air force cover and heading north up to the Al-Qa'im district near the Syrian border. There, Sunni and ISIS fighters, after capturing this key Anbar district, have begun refurbishing the bases and runways at H-2, once one of Saddam Hussein’s largest airbases. Situated 350 kilometers west of Baghdad, this air base has two long runways and hangars for fighter planes and helicopters.
debkafile's military sources disclose that, on Tuesday June 24, unmarked civilian cargo planes landed at the base, bringing arms shipments from Saudi Arabia.
The response was swift. Syrian warplanes, on their first bombing mission inside Iraq, tried to damage the partially repaired runways at H-2 to prevent any more Saudi air shipments from landing.
Military sources in Washington confirmed Wednesday June 25 that those air strikes were conducted by the Syrian Air Force “in Anbar province” and left at least 57 people dead and 120 wounded - most of them Iraqi civilians. They declined to say what was attacked, referring only to ISIS-related targets.
That incident was a striking demonstration of the tight operational sync between the Iranian command centers in Damascus and Baghdad, which are attached respectively to the high commands of the Syrian and Iraqi armies. This coordination offers Tehran the flexibility for its command centers in both Arab capitals to send Iranian drones aloft from Syrian or Iraqi airbases to feed those centers with the intelligence they need for the strategic planning of military operations to be conducted by the Syrian and Iraqi armies.
Iranian command centers in Baghdad and Damascus are fully equipped therefore to decide which Syrian, Iraqi or Hizballah force carries out a planned operation in either Syria or Iraq. Both are now pushing back against further ISIS advances towards its goal of a Sunni caliphate spanning both countries.
This is just what US Secretary of State John Kerry meant when he said in Brussels Wednesday June 25, after two days of talks in Iraq, that "the war in Iraq is being widened."
He had good reason to sound worried. Shortly before he spoke, the first group of US military personnel, out of the 300 that President Obama had promised, had arrived in Baghdad. But neither Tehran nor Riyadh had consulted Washington before they organized heavy arms shipments to their respective allies in Iraq.
The Iraqi battle arena is become a veritable Babel of war. So far, seven countries are involved in varying degrees: the US, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
Opinion: ISIS is no Hollywood Star
By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 26 Jun, 2014
Yes, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has succeeded in
instilling fear in us. The continuous scenes of their displays of power in areas
they control in Iraq and footage of decapitations, explosions and
assassinations, as well as videos of mass executions and photos of them
recruiting children and forcing them to attend executions are enough to make us
quiver and admit that the organization takes the lead in practicing violence.
The word “ISIS” has become a trademark in the world of murder and violence. But
the truth is, this bloodshed is nothing new. We’ve witnessed similar bloodiness
during the last decade in Iraq, and there are also violent videos that mark
three years of horrifying violations that the Syrian regime has committed and
continues to commit. The history of the region, and indeed the entire world, is
also full of such violence and murder, and some of it is documented in audio and
video formats. What distinguishes ISIS, in addition to its capability to control
and expand in a dangerous zone in Iraq, is its media efficiency. Western parties
have been occupied in following up and analyzing this organization’s energy and
capability to shoot and broadcast videos and to spread them via social
networking websites. For example, ISIS has many pages on Twitter. There is, for
example, a page for “the state of Mosul” and “the state of Nineveh.” The
organization has also begun to issue apps to broadcast its news, such as the Al-Fagr
app. This is in addition to videos of chants, murder scenes and of the
distribution of aid to people. This proves that what ISIS is doing is a
strategic use of media. The organization’s dedication to taking footage of its
violations makes us feel like this murder and violence would not have occurred
had there had been no camera to record it and broadcast it to us. The discussion
here is not the organization’s capability to keep up with the media—though this
has already been done—but about the Western preoccupation with it. The Western
media has fallen into the trap of accepting the allure of the violence that the
ISIS murderers commit. It hass begun to broadcast the group’s bloody videos in a
manner that violates the commitment to standards that particularly distinguish
US media. For example, CNN went as far as comparing a recently published ISIS
video with a famous Hollywood movie showing the pursut of Osama Bin Laden. They
showed many comparisons between the scenes of real murder—such as those caused
by ISIS bombings—and the Hollywood fantasy as displayed in action movies.
Comparison with Hollywood films signifies some sort of admiration for ISIS. Yes,
we do need to understand how this organization was established and why it
managed to impose its control as such. However, we also need to reconsider how
to deal with the fatalistic media material it throws our way every second. Yes,
terror is an effective means of propaganda that in some cases can attract those
in dire circumstances. So, what to do? Prohibiting and banning are not a
successful means to control this media insanity. Here’s ISIS teaching us a harsh
lesson about misleading propaganda—especially when it’s associated with
delusions of power. We—as individuals, media and states—are thus faced with a
challenge to confront the violent rhetoric. Those who are occupied with the
spread of ISIS propaganda must not settle with watching these videos and being
scared by them. There’s a desperate need for a smart-media policy that will
expose this rhetoric and will not depict it as the latest Hollywood blockbuster,
when it is actually based on real-life murder.
Opinion: How popular is ISIS?
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Wednesday, 25 Jun, 2014
After prayers in the Jordanian city of Ma’an last Friday,
around 20 to 30 people took to the streets holding banners saluting the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and announcing that they support the “Islamic
state.” Of course, the fact there were only a few dozen protesters shows there
was not really much support, especially when compared with past protests during
major political events. But there may be more supporters who are hiding their
true sentiments out of fear of being monitored and seen as a threat for their
support of a terrorist organization.
Mohammed Shalabi, a leader of the Jordanian jihadist movement, disowned the pro-ISIS protest and its goals. He even disowned some of the movement’s younger members, saying they had been deceived and that ISIS neither serves his movement nor represents it. If the small number of people who turned out in Ma’an were not enough to cause alarm, then the large numbers of people taking to Twitter to support and sympathize with ISIS must certainly provoke some response. We have not seen anything similar since the days of Al-Qaeda. Back then, Arabic media marketed Al-Qaeda as a group that was supporting Islam and defending the oppressed. It was only after most of Al-Qaeda’s leadership were killed off that any hope the organization would be buried at sea like Bin Laden could be expressed. Back then, we could still have hope that Muslims would turn the page on extremism. The current reality has shattered these hopes. Extremist ideology has been revived once more because of the Syrian war, which brought ISIS infamy as the Syrian president committed crimes against millions of his own defenseless people. Iraq is now going down the same path, and Iraqis in embattled areas are saying they need someone to save them from the government—and in many cases, that someone is ISIS, although they haven’t yet seen ISIS’s dark side.
I fear that ISIS, which has proven itself more brutal than even Al-Qaeda, its ideological parent, has made it into the hearts and minds of the youth. We can see that support in a woman who tries to sneak from Saudi Arabia to Yemen along with her kids to go to Syria and work with the jihadists. We can see it perhaps even more clearly in the number of Western Muslims joining the war in Syria. Examples such as these show us that ISIS has capabilities, it has means to recruit members, and it has supporters beyond just a few on the fringes who are unusually enthusiastic about the Syrian cause.
No doubt, ISIS’s victories in Iraq will be even better advertising. The sectarian war will mobilize more fighters on both sides, and so these factors make it incumbent on everyone in the world to think about the repercussions of what’s happening in these two wars. Without genuine concern, useful intervention, and work toward political solutions, the situations in Syria and Iraq will head inescapably toward outright disaster.
Opinion: A Century of Sykes–Picot
By: Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 25 Jun, 2014
Is this the end of the Sykes–Picot plan for the Middle East? This has become a regular question among Western commentators these days as the world prepares to commemorate 100 years since the start of World War I, a conflict which serves as a historic lesson on how countries can be drawn into major conflicts which kill millions—without considering the consequences beforehand.
The infamous secret agreement known as Sykes–Picot, in which Britain and France agreed with Czarist Russia to share the lands of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, took place in 1916, just over year into World War I, and helped these powers carve up the borders of the nation states in the Levant which emerged at that time and have lasted until today.
The irony is that we would never have found out about this agreement—which divided the Levant, or the Fertile Crescent, between the two major powers of the time, Britain and France—had it not been for the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. That uprising not only toppled the Czars but also brought this secret document out into the open as a result of a Bolshevik propaganda offensive seeking to expose the colonialist leanings of the Western empires. In the Arab consciousness, and especially in the era of Arab nationalist slogans, the document—named after the two men who signed it on behalf of the British and French governments, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot—earned notoriety for a number of reasons. It was negotiated in secret by two of the world’s superpowers at the time, and the areas these two powers carved up were shared between them without informing or consulting with the local parties directly involved. Moreover, the authors of the agreement chose to conveniently ignore a British promise offered to the Arabs—independence and a greater Arab kingdom—if they revolted against Ottoman rule.
This sudden interest in Sykes–Picot is due to events currently ongoing in two of the countries that were part of the initial drawing up of the borders in the Levant: Iraq and Syria. These two countries are going through highly destructive conflicts, with both their central governments losing control of large areas of their territory, leaving the security of their borders and their sovereignty in tatters, and casting doubts over their legitimacy. Warnings against the emergence of new political structures in these countries based on sectarian or ethnic lines started with the deterioration of the situation in Syria and its transition into a full-blown, intensely violent conflict, one whose sectarian dimension the Syrian regime succeeded in fueling after the emergence of extremist groups on the ground.
Iraq has also become the subject of speculation regarding a new political formula—also one with a sectarian and ethnic dimension, where potentially three political regions could be formed: Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish.Then came the recent events in Iraq’s Anbar province, where the view has been totally obscured, with confusion as to who is fighting whom coinciding with the advance of a group like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which with the help of tribal allies and former Ba’athists was able to capture Mosul and other Iraqi cities, as well as a number of border crossings, most prominently those which link Iraq to Syria, where this group is also active. This reality makes the aforementioned speculation regarding the country’s partitioning on sectarian and ethnic lines doubly serious.
The scene may seem encouraging to academics and politicians embarking on a new adventure to redraw the borders of the region. (Certainly not a new pastime in modern history; the Balkan borders were redrawn after breaking up of the former Yugoslavia, for instance.) But in the Middle East itself, there is in fact an attempt to establish a new state: a Palestinian one. This certainly does not alter the fact that the geopolitical environment created by Sykes–Picot has lasted for nearly a century, and it is unlikely there will be a strong desire by the world’s contemporary superpowers to draw a new map of the region—unlike the British, the French and the Russians during World War I—as this would likely result in more wars and bloodshed
The most likely scenario in the absence of a political formula that can create harmony between the different societal groups in Iraq and Syria is that they will become failed or weak states unable to control their borders—and Somalia is the perfect model for that.
Fighting ISIS starts by standing up to Maliki
Thursday, 26 June 2014
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
If $2 trillion in war funding in Iraq has taught the U.S. one thing, it is that military might cannot bring stability to a country unless paired with a long-term political strategy. The collapse of this political strategy under the sectarian polarizing leadership of Nouri Maliki is the main driving force for the radical militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and it would be dangerously naive to think that F-16s or drones or airstrikes can alone reverse it.As ISIS threat looms over the Levant with two bombings in Lebanon, a protest in Jordan and continued fighting in Syria, Iraq is today the most fertile ground for the group. The weak state institutions, deep sectarian divide, the chaos in bordering Syria, and mostly the bad governance on part of the Maliki coalition have allowed ISIS to fester in Iraq, and conquer more territory in North-Western of the country. Those gains and the stacks of millions of dollars in bank robberies, extortions and oil revenues have established ISIS rule in key areas with the help of local tribes, and after the collapse of the Iraqi army in those areas.
Maliki destroyed Petraeus plan
Following the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz war fiascos dragging Iraq into a sectarian bloodbath by 2006, it was the former commander of the coalition forces in Iraq General David Petraeus who saved the country from the specter of ethnic cleansing and partition. The genius of the Petraeus plan was not the military component but a political roadmap extending a hand to the Sunni tribes and the local councils in the Anbar region to roll back the advances and popular of ISIS which was an affiliate of al-Qaeda then. These exact same tribes Maliki lost today.
“There is nothing that ISIS would love more than a government in Baghdad that breeds sectarianism and local militias, and Maliki has been the best man for such job”
The “Sahwa strategy” saw its roots in fostering inclusive governance, bringing Sunnis into the fold, and offering security and economic incentives for the tribes in a post-Saddam Iraq. The Sahwa gave the U.S. confidence that it can withdraw in 2011, assuming that the leadership in Baghdad would build on and sustain this political roadmap. Alas, Nouri Maliki had a different plan in mind, halting payments to tribal forces who were combating Al-Qaeda, and ruling with an agenda of fear and division that only intensified the sectarian rift.
Maliki spread conspiracies about a Baathist take over to orchestrate an authoritarian crackdown and silence the opposition. He saw any national unity government as a threat, and instead used patronage and corruption to sustain a sectarian coalition and pay off friendly militias. The Iraqi Prime Minister made more enemies inside and outside Baghdad than any other regional figure. He pointed fingers at Turkey, Qatar, Saudi, Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, the former Baathists, Al-Qaeda, accusing of destabilizing Iraq. He gave many promises to the Americans but did not deliver. Today, it is Maliki’s policies of marginalizing minorities, isolating Baghdad regionally and taking over security apparatus that broke Iraq and aided ISIS.
In this sense, Petraeus is right, the U.S. cannot heed Maliki’s request for military strikes inside Iraq. Petraeus warned from London last week that “this cannot be the United States being the air force for Shiite militias, or a Shiite on Sunni Arab fight.”
Governance before ammunition
Almost like every other Arab autocrat, Maliki has been promising since coming to power in 2006 that he will be a “one-term” prime minister. Eight years later, he is fighting tooth and nail to stay for a third term, even if it comes over a crumbled Iraq and a shadow central government.
In essence, Maliki keeping the course and staying in power is the best case scenario for ISIS. There is nothing that ISIS would love more than a government in Baghdad that breeds sectarianism and local militias, and Maliki has been the best man for such job. Reversing Maliki’s agenda is the only route that can rescue Iraq from further fragmentation, while employing firepower and airstrikes could backfire in this political environment and rally more Sunnis around ISIS.
Rallying regional efforts around a diplomatic roadmap for Iraq with the help of Turkey, the Arab Gulf states and Iran will be crucial in the next few weeks to save Iraq from a likely partition or becoming a global hub for terrorists. Unless Maliki reverses his destructive style of governance, he is only a liability in such an effort and the best recruiting tool that ISIS can have in Baghdad.