June 30/14

Bible Quotation for today/The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;

Matthew 9,36-38/When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

Pope Francis,s Tweet For Today

May Saints Peter and Paul bless the city of Rome and the entire pilgrim Church throughout the world.
Pape François
Que les saints apôtres Pierre et Paul bénissent la ville de Rome et l’Église en pèlerinage, ici et dans le monde entier

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 30/14

Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma’an - 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready/DEBKAfile/June 30/14

Arabs and the Culture of Dialogue/By: Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat/June 30/14

Is Maliki trustworthy or a source of concern/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/June 30/14

Assad sends ‘message of goodwill’ to the U.S./By: Raed Omari/Al Arabiya/June 30/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 30/14
Lebanese Related News

Lebanese Security Agencies Bust Three Cells Planning Suicide Attacks
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Slams MPs Behavior as 'Disappointing' over Presidential Impasse
Firefighters, Army Helicopters Battling Raging Akkar Blaze
Report: ISIL Names 'Emir' for Lebanon, Sets Up 'Suicide Bombers Training Camp'

Jumblat Heads to Paris for Talks with Hollande

Antiochian Unity Conference Calls for End of Presidential Vacuum, Freedom for Abducted Bishops

Fletcher Says Major Powers Not Interfering in Names of Presidential Candidates

beIN Sues TL over Airing World Cup Matches

Two Rockets Hit Brital, No Injuries Reported

World powers in contact over Lebanon vacuum

British officials dismiss Bakri asylum request

Aoun to launch initiative to end presidential void
Klink defends Assad support following alleged meeting

Bou Saab calls Parliament to pass wage hike
Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 30/14

Arab League, IOC Urge Syria Truce during Ramadan

ISIL Declares 'Islamic Caliphate', Names al-Baghdadi as 'Caliph'

ISIS crucifies 8 rebels in Aleppo: activists

Iraq Receives Russian Jets as it Takes Fight to Militants

Iraqi PM Aide Says Current Iraq Crisis More Dangerous than 2006-2007 War
Saudi King Slams Religious Extremists as Muslims Mark Ramadan
Iran, Qatar to Cooperate against 'Terror'

ISIS crucifies 8 rebels in Aleppo: activists

Kuwait to Send Urgent Aid to Displaced Iraqis

Israeli PM calls for supporting Kurdish independence

Israeli air raid kills Palestinian in Gaza: security
Liberman: Israel should consider reoccupying Gaza in response to rocket fire

Egypt's Sisi approves revised budget with deficit at 10 pct of GDP: statement
N. Korea Launches Missiles ahead of Xi's Seoul Visit

Security Agencies Bust Three Cells Planning Suicide Attacks
Naharnet/Security agencies have busted three suicide rings that allegedly have no direct links to the recent bombings that targeted a police checkpoint and the entrance Beirut's southern suburbs. A security source told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Sunday that the Army Intelligence is questioning the first network, the General Security Directorate the second and the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch the third ring. The source said that one of the suspects detained in the northern Akkar region of Fnaideq, who is identified as Abou Oubaida al-Asli, is managing the three suicide rings.
The army announced on Saturday that detainees apprehended during raids in Fnaideq over the past week confessed to the existence of a cave in the region where they used to prepare explosives. The confessions were made by Alaa Kanaan and Mahmoud Khaled, members of a terrorist bombing who were recently arrested. Also Thursday, the army raided another residence in Fnaideq, seizing a large cache of arms and military equipment. On Wednesday, a Saudi suicide-bomber blew himself up at the Duroy Hotel when he detonated his explosives during a security raid. His accomplice, also a Saudi citizen, survived the blast and is being questioned at hospital. 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 at the entrance of 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.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Slams MPs Behavior as 'Disappointing' over Presidential Impasse
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi considered on Sunday the behavior of lawmakers “disappointing,” wondering if the presidential vacuum is a “normal” matter that doesn't require their attention.
“MPs and those who are behind them are a disappointment for repeating the same behavior every time the parliament is called for voting for a new head of state,” al-Rahi said during Sunday's sermon at the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the town of Hsoun in Jbeil. He wondered if the presidential vacuum “is a normal matter that doesn't prompt any reaction by lawmakers of the civil society.”
Lebanon was plunged into a presidential vacuum after Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader. Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to former President Michel Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by most of the March 8 forces. The eighth session is scheduled for July 2. The patriarch called for reconciliation between the Sunnis and Shiites, the March 8 and 14 coalitions, urging the political arch-foes to “rebuild unity amid the division.”Al-Rahi considered that the “shameful” stage that the country reached requires the implementation of four main factors. Raising children to recognize the importance of the higher national interest, respecting the constitutional institutions, maintaining the country's neutrality and fortifying the national pact and entity. “We are in need for politicians that could be up to the challenges facing the country,” al-Rahi said.

Aoun to launch initiative to end presidential void
The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir/BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun will launch an initiative to end the presidential vacuum in Lebanon, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab told a local radio station Sunday. Bou Saab said dialogue between the FPM and the Future Movement regarding the presidency and other national files was ongoing. “General Aoun will announce Monday his vision to end the presidential crisis,” Bou Saab told Voice of Lebanon. “We hope that the new initiative will lead to an accord among various Christian groups that will pave the way for electing a new president.” Sources close to Aoun told The Daily Star over the weekend that during the Monday news conference to launch his new initiative, Aoun would propose that the Lebanese people directly vote for their new president in a bid to allow for fairer and more accurate representation, instead of having lawmakers choose the next head of state. The sources said Aoun endorsed coming up with a formula that would ensure Christians had the main say in choosing the next president, since custom stipulates that the president of the republic is a Maronite Christian. Aoun has refused to declare himself a presidential candidate until the election becomes serious, but the FPM leader is holding contacts with the Future Movement in a bid to convince it to back him as a consensus candidate to the presidency. In his comments to Voice of Lebanon, Bou Saab highlighted that Aoun was "capable today of communicating with various Lebanese groups."Bou Saab also rejected arguments that in light of the frail security situation, the best option was to elect a military or security figure. "The issue of the presidential election is not linked to security events but rather demands political consensus," Bou Saab said.  The position of head of state has been vacant since former President Michel Sleiman’s term ended on May 25, with the March 8 and 14 political blocs failing to reach a consensus on his successor. Berri has set July 2 as the next attempt for a presidential election session in Parliament, but no consensus has yet been achieved among Lebanon’s political rivals over a candidate. The legislature has failed to elect a new president during the several sessions it has held so far, beginning on April 23.

Jumblat Heads to Paris for Talks with Hollande
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Sunday traveled to the French capital Paris for talks with President Francois Hollande. "Jumblat has left Beirut for Paris," state-run National News Agency reported in the afternoon. An Nahar newspaper reported Sunday morning that Jumblat had received an official invitation to visit France from Hollande. The daily said that the meeting will tackle the latest developments in Lebanon and the ongoing presidential stalemate. Jumblat will reportedly seek support for his presidential candidate Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou. The PSP leader has repeatedly stressed that he will not endorse the nomination of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun or Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea for presidency. He also rejects withdrawing the candidacy of Helou “in favor of the Central Bank chief or Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.”On June 20, the Druze leader held talks with Former Prime Minister and al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri. The two officials stressed during their Paris meeting on the “necessity to strengthen joint action” to secure holding the pending constitutional junctures. The PSP chief also held talks with former President Michel Suleiman.Suleiman left office on May 25 without a successor to lead the state in the coming six years, as differences between the March 14 and the March 8 alliances prevented the election of a new president.

Fletcher Says Major Powers Not Interfering in Names of Presidential Candidates

Naharnet/British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher revealed on Sunday that Britain, France, the United States and Saudi Arabia are seeking to end the Presidential impasse in Lebanon without interfering in the names of the candidates. Fletcher said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called on the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council during Wednesday's meeting to “secure the presidential poll and to urge lawmakers to attend the parliamentary sessions in this regard.” The diplomat said that al-Rahi informed the P5 ambassadors that he is “trying to convince MPs to elect a new head of state.”The meeting between al-Rahi, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly and the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council was held following an invitation from the patriarch. Fletcher stressed that his country “supports al-Rahi's endeavors to end vacuum,” expressing hope that the rival parties would reach common grounds and elect a new president “as soon as possible.”“During our meetings with different parliamentary blocs, except for Hizbullah's bloc because there is no communication with the party, we voice our hope that they would go along with the patriarch's efforts.”Lebanon was plunged into a presidential vacuum after Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader. Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to former President Michel Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by most of the March 8 forces. The eighth session is scheduled for July 2. Fletcher told al-Mustaqbal that Washington, Paris and Riyadh are working with London to press the political arch-foes to resolve the presidential deadlock. However, he remarked: “We are confident that we should remain neutral concerning the name of the new presidential candidate as we consider it a local affair.”

Antiochian Unity Conference Calls for End of Presidential Vacuum, Freedom for Abducted Bishops
Naharnet/The final statement of the Antiochian Conference stressed the importance of ending the vacancy at the helm of the most important Christian post in the state, calling for the release of all abductees in Syria. The attendees called on the rival political parties to end the presidential deadlock and seek to elect a consensual president. They urged officials to maintain civil peace and stability in the country. The meeting kicked off on June 25 at the Balamand University under the title the "Antiochian unity."Former President Michel Suleiman left office on May 25 without a successor to lead the state in the coming six years, as differences between the March 14 and the March 8 alliances prevented the election of a new president. The conferees also urged the international community to seek to resolve the crisis in the neighboring country Syria, calling for peace in the country as it is the sole guarantee for peace in the Middle East. They appealed the international and Arab communities to release all those who were kidnapped, in particular, the two Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped in the Syrian in 2013. The conferees slammed the international and local silence, describing it as “shameful.”The two bishops, Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, were kidnapped at the end of April, reportedly near the rebel-held town of Kafr Dael, near Aleppo in northern Syria.Christians account for around five percent of Syria's population. They have become increasingly vulnerable to attack and abductions in the lawlessness that has engulfed much of the country since an uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted two years ago.

Firefighters, Army Helicopters Battling Raging Akkar Blaze
Naharnet/Firefighters raced to control a blaze that raged through thick bushes of pine and oak in the northern district of Akkar, the state-run National News Agency reported on Sunday.
The blaze began on Saturday night doubled in size overnight and spread toward hill known as Areed Saba, which is between the two Akkar villages of Ayat and Dawra. The hill, according to NNA, contains thick bushes. However, Civil Defense crews later managed to contain the fire at the Areed Saba hill. An army unit arrived to the area to assist Civil Defense teams that asked for backup and more fire trucks to extinguish the blaze, fearing it could spread to valleys that are hard to reach for the absence of roads. Later on Sunday, NNA said the fire spread upwards toward the forests of Ayat and the peripheries of the Bakish neighborhood in the town, adding that the flames had encircled a Civil Defense vehicle and a number of firefighters, who were eventually rescued unharmed. “Hot winds contributed to the rapid spread of the flames in this rugged area, in which blazes can only be doused by helicopters,” the agency added. Firefighting efforts were bolstered by four army helicopters that were attempting to douse the flames. Another fire truck headed to outskirts of the Akkar town of Baino to extinguish a blaze in the forest that is still on fire. Another army helicopter arrived in the area around 4:30 pm to contribute to firefighting efforts. “A huge plastic pool was set up in the town of Ayat to supply the helicopter with water,” NNA said. “Civil Defense crews have managed to prevent the spread of flames towards homes but they have failed to protect the valleys given the absence of any land routes, the thing that necessitated the helicopter's participation to complete this mission,” the agency added.
In the evening, the blaze in Ayat started to abate due to the military helicopter's intervention, NNA said, noting that the extraction of water from artesian wells was not going in an easy manner due to the scarcity of rain this year. The blaze came amid hot weather and strong winds blowing on Lebanon. Temperatures were as high as 31 degrees Celsius in the early morning. It comes ahead of the hotter summer months when fires most frequently break out.

Report: ISIL Names 'Emir' for Lebanon, Sets Up 'Suicide Bombers Training Camp'
Naharnet/The extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has appointed an “emir”, or leader, over Lebanon and has set up a camp to train would-be suicide bombers and send them to Lebanon, a media report said on Sunday. According to information obtained by LBCI television, security agencies' investigations have revealed that “the ISIL has appointed Abdul Salam al-Ordoni as an emir over Lebanon.”
Ordoni has been giving instructions to Al-Monzer al-Hasan, the Lebanese intermediary between the ISIL and the two suicide bombers who were busted at the Duroy Hotel in Raouche, LBCI said.
The interrogation of detained Saudi would-be suicide bomber Abdul Rahman al-Shenifi, who survived the Duroy blast, confirmed that the duo were sent to Lebanon by the ISIL, the TV network added.
“According to the plan devised for them by Al-Monzer al-Hasan, the attack on al-Saha Restaurant (in Hizbullah's stronghold Dahieh) required one of them to enter the restaurant and open fire from a machinegun at the biggest number of customers before blowing up his suicide vest,” LBCI's report said. “The second suicide bomber would blow himself up when medics and citizens gather for rescue operations,” it added. Investigations also revealed that the Saudi operatives had three suicide vests in their possession, one weighing three kilograms and the other two weighing 10 kilos each.
"Shenifi was the one who noticed the arrival of General Security forces to the hotel. When General Security members arrived at their room's door, (Ahmed Abdul Rahman) al-Thuwani armed the suicide vest and hurled it at the door where it exploded, which resulted in his death and the wounding of Shenifi and the General Security members,” LBCI said. On Saturday, the TV network said Shenifi told his interrogators that a Syrian man informed him and his partners in the Turkish city of Istanbul that their mission was to attack security forces and army troops in Lebanon. But later, al-Monzer al-Hasan, the man who provided the Duroy bombers with explosives, asked the two Saudi militants to change their target and instead attack al-Saha Restaurant in the southern suburbs of Beirut. On Wednesday, al-Thuwani detonated a suicide vest at the Duroy Hotel room during a raid by General Security officers. LBCI reported on Friday that the suicide bomber and his accomplice had arrived in Lebanon from Istanbul where they had spent five days. The TV network said investigations have highlighted a “key role” for al-Hasan in several suicide bombings. It said al-Hasan receives $50,000 for facilitating the mission of every suicide bomber. Al-Hasan's picture was circulated by the General Security agency on Thursday. Wednesday's suicide attack was the third 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.

Two Rockets Hit Brital, No Injuries Reported
Naharnet/Two rockets fired from the Eastern Mountain Belt landed in the Bekaa town of Brital without causing any injuries, the military institution announced on Saturday evening. “The rockets landed near the village's al-Hajjeh school,” the Army Command said in a communique, adding that no injuries were reported. Following the rocket attack, army troops patrolled in the region. The army also said that a military expert inspected the sites where the rockets landed. Earlier in the day, the state-run National News Agency said four rockets hit the Bekaa area. One of the first two fell near the village's inhabited houses, and the second between the town of al-Khodr and Brital. Meanwhile, the second two were fired a while later and they hit the outskirts of the Bekaa town, said the NNA. All four rockets were fired from the Eastern Mountain Belt, according to the same source. Since Hizbullah's intervention in the fighting in Syria, rockets from the Syrian side of the border have frequently landed mainly in the Bekaa's Hermel and in Brital.

beIN Sues TL over Airing World Cup Matches
Naharnet /beIN Sports has filed a lawsuit against the state-run Tele Liban for airing the World Cup games for free and without permission, TL announced on Saturday evening.
"beIN decided to sue the nation's television channel TL over airing the World Cup matches,” sports analyst at the state's network Ali Alawiyeh announced right before the Brazil-Chile game kicked off on Saturday evening. Tele Liban started broadcasting its first 2014 World Cup match on June 16, although a deal reached between the government and beIN Sports' sole agent in Lebanon did not involve granting TL the rights to air the tournament. On that same day, Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb had announced that the Lebanese would be able to watch the Brazil-hosted FIFA World Cup, which had already kicked off a week earlier, without paying any additional fees. But the National Media Council expressed reservation on the agreement which fell short of allowing TL to broadcast the tournament to citizens who do not have cable subscriptions. beIN Sports is a global network of sports channels jointly owned and operated by Qatari Sports Investments, an affiliate of Al-Jazeera Media Networks. It has purchased the rights to broadcast the World Cup in the Middle East.

Kuwait to Send Urgent Aid to Displaced Iraqis
Naharnet /Kuwait said on Sunday it is sending urgent humanitarian aid to thousands of Iraqis who have been displaced by ongoing fighting in the neighboring Arab country. "The council of ministers decided to send urgent humanitarian aid to Iraqis who have been displaced as a result of deteriorating security situation," the cabinet said in a statement. The statement said the aid would be distributed through the United Nations. It did not specify the amount of aid. International organizations have urged the establishment of humanitarian corridors to provide aid amid the fighting, with 1.2 million people having been displaced by unrest this year in Iraq. Fighting is raging in Iraq following a lightning offensive this month by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other militants that has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced tens of thousands. Agence France Presse

Saudi King Slams Religious Extremists as Muslims Mark Ramadan

Naharnet /Saudi King Abdullah on Sunday sharply criticized religious extremists, vowing not to let "a handful of terrorists... terrify Muslims", in a speech marking the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. Islam is "religion of unity, fraternity and mutual support" but some people "lured in by false calls... are confusing reform with terrorism", the monarch said, in comments carried by state news agency SPA. "Their goal is to sow discord among Muslims," he said in an apparent reference to insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The powerful jihadist group has spearheaded an offensive by Sunni militants in Iraq since June 9, wresting control of northern cities and capturing vast swathes of territory. ISIL operates in both Syria and Iraq and aims to establish an Islamic state straddling the border of those two countries, but their lightning advance in Iraq also poses a threat to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The ultra-conservative Sunni Gulf kingdom -- home to Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites -- shares an 814-kilometer (505-mile) border with Iraq. "We will not allow a handful of terrorists, using Islam for personal aims, to terrify Muslims or undermine our country and its inhabitants," Abdullah said. "We are continuing, with God's help, to face and tackle this scourge," he said. The Saudi monarch also wished Muslims "security, prosperity and stability" over Ramadan, which began in most countries on Sunday. During Ramadan, which is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn until sunset.
Agence France Presse

Arab League, IOC Urge Syria Truce during Ramadan

Naharnet/The Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation launched a joint appeal Sunday for a ceasefire in embattled Syria during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The heads of the Arab League and the OIC, Nabil al-Arabi and Iyad Madani, urged "all fighting military parties in Syria to commit to a total ceasefire and all acts of violence and fighting in all its forms on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan," a statement said. "The appeal is to stop the bloodshed of Syrians and alleviate their suffering and allow relief organizations to carry out their duties and provide urgent humanitarian assistance," they said. The statement was timed to coincide with the start of Ramadan, a month during which Muslims are also encouraged to be more charitable and provide for the needy.
The pan-Arab organisation and the world Muslim body also urged regional and international powers to back their appeal and deploy efforts to persuade Syrian regime forces and rebels to lay down their arms during Ramadan. The war in Syria, now in its third year, first erupted in March 2011 as a peaceful movement calling for reforms but quickly turned deadly after a regime crackdown on dissent.
The U.N. says that more than around nine million Syrians have fled the country or have been displaced internally because of the war, while a Syrian monitoring groups puts the death toll at more than 162,000. During Ramadan, which is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn until sunset.Agence France Presse

Iraqi PM Aide Says Current Iraq Crisis More Dangerous than 2006-2007 War

Naharnet /The militant onslaught that has overrun swathes of Iraq is even more dangerous than a brutal period of sectarian killings in which tens of thousands died, an official said Sunday.
"Now, the danger is definitely more... than 2006, 2007," Amr Khuzaie, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation adviser, told Agence France Presse, referring to the height of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict. Before, militant groups sparked a "sectarian war, but now (the) war is more organized" and the abilities of the militants are greater, Khuzaie said. "ISIL wants to form a... state from provinces in Iraq and provinces in Syria," he said, referring to jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has spearheaded the militant offensive that has overrun chunks of five provinces this month.
ISIL is also a major force in the rebellion against Syria's President Bashar Assad, and controls territory inside Iraq's neighbor to the west as well. Though they are performing better now, Iraqi security forces wilted during the initial militant offensive, in some cases shedding uniforms and abandoning vehicles in their haste to flee. The withdrawal of federal security forces allowed Iraqi Kurds to take control of a swathe of disputed northern areas that Baghdad has long opposed them adding to their autonomous three-province region. Iraqi Kurdistan aims to keep control of these areas, with regional president Massud Barzani declaring the territory dispute finished. Khuzaie had harsh words for the Kurds' actions during the crisis, saying that they "acted as ISIL acts (because) they want to obtain the disputed areas."
Agence France Presse

Iran, Qatar to Cooperate against 'Terror'
Naharnet/The leaders of Shiite Iran and Sunni Qatar vowed Sunday to cooperate to fight "terrorism in the region," President Hassan Rouhani's office reported as Iraqi forces counter a militant onslaught. The pledge to play a "constructive role to establish security and stability" came in a phone call between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Rouhani, a statement from the Iranian president's office said. Rouhani said that in order to defeat "the hurdle of terrorism and extremism all Muslims should come hand in hand and cooperate," it said. Iran is ready, he said, to do just that and "fight security problems and instability in the region" that benefit only "Zionists and the enemies of the Muslim world."He did not elaborate. Predominantly Shiite Iran has vowed to support ally Baghdad against the Sunni insurgency led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose fighters have overrun swathes of five Iraqi provinces since launching an offensive in early June. Iranian leaders insist the Iraq crisis is not sectarian but a fight against terrorism. Iranian media, however, have accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of supporting the jihadist Sunni fighters. Without naming anyone, Rouhani himself warned on June 22 that Muslim states which funnel petrodollars to "these savage terrorists" of ISIL would become their next target. Sunday's statement said the Qatari emir noted "the necessity for cooperation between Muslim nations to prevent the further spread of (the Iraqi) crisis in the region." "We should all cooperate together against terrorism in the region because the current crisis is very dangerous," he said. Qatar's emir and Iran's president spoke as thousands of Iraqi troops counter-attacked against the militant-held city of Tikrit. Agence France Presse

ISIL Declares 'Islamic Caliphate', Names al-Baghdadi as 'Caliph'
NaharnetظJihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq announced Sunday the establishment of a "caliphate," referring to the system of rule that ended nearly 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottomans. In an audio recording distributed online, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "the caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere." "The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the caliphate)... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," said ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani. "The jihadist cleric Baghdadi was designated the caliph of the Muslims," said Adnani. Baghdadi "has accepted this allegiance, and has thus become the leader for Muslims everywhere." "The words 'Iraq' and 'the Levant' have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents," Adnani said, describing the caliphate as "the dream in all the Muslims' hearts" and "the hope of all jihadists." Ever since the Prophet Mohammed's death, a caliph was designated "the prince" or emir "of the believers." After the first four caliphs who succeeded Mohammed, the caliphate lived its golden age in the Omayyad empire from the year 661 to 750, and then under the Abbasids, from 750 to 1517. It was abolished when the Ottoman empire collapsed in 1924.

Iraq Receives Russian Jets as it Takes Fight to Militants
Naharnet /Iraqi forces pressed a counter-attack on Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit Sunday as Russia delivered Sukhoi warplanes to aid Baghdad in what diplomats warn is an existential battle against Sunni militants. Government planes pounded Tikrit with air strikes and clashes broke out across the city Sunday, witnesses said, as thousands of troops advanced in the most ambitious operation Iraqi forces have carried out since insurgents led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran swathes of five provinces weeks earlier.
World leaders, alarmed by the pace of the reverses in Iraq, have meanwhile urged a speeding up of government formation following April elections, warning that the conflict, driven by sectarian divides, cannot be resolved militarily. And while beleaguered Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has conceded that a political solution is necessary to end the crisis, his security spokesman has for days touted successes in the Tikrit operation that could be crucial not only tactically, but also for morale in the security forces. "The security forces are advancing from different areas" around Tikrit, Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told reporters. "There are ongoing clashes." Atta said that troops had detonated bombs planted along routes leading to the city, which fell to militants more than two weeks ago.
Witnesses in the city itself, meanwhile, reported waves of government air strikes in various areas of central Tikrit and Saddam's palace compound in the city.
The Iraqi forces, according to Atta, are coordinating with recently-arrived US military advisers in "studying important targets."
- Kirkuk advance -
Also Sunday, fighters backed by the Kurdish peshmerga force were advancing on the Shiite-majority village of Basheer, south of Kirkuk that was taken over by militants during the offensive, officials said.
The Tikrit offensive comes as Iraq took delivery of the first batch of Sukhoi warplanes from Russia, with the newly-purchased Su-25 aircraft expected to be pressed into service as soon as possible, bolstering Iraq's air power. An Iraqi official said that pilots from Saddam's air force would fly the planes.
Su-25s are designed for ground attack, meaning they will be useful for Iraqi forces trying to root out ISIL-led militants from a string of towns and cities they have seized.
- $500 million Sukhoi deal - Maliki on Thursday announced that Baghdad was buying more than a dozen Sukhoi aircraft from Russia in a deal that could be worth up to $500 million (368 million euros).
While Washington has been sending military advisers to help Iraqi commanders and is flying armed drones over Baghdad, Iraqi officials have voiced frustration that multi-billion dollar deals for US-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have not been expedited.
Washington, which has pushed for political reconciliation in the face of what Secretary of State John Kerry has described as an "existential" threat, has also so far not acceded to Iraq's appeal for US air strikes. The US has stopped short of calling for the premier to go but has left little doubt it feels he has squandered the opportunity to rebuild Iraq since American troops withdrew in late-2011.
American officials have also said a proposed $500-million plan to arm and train moderate rebels in neighbouring Syria could also help Iraq fight ISIL, which operates in both countries.
- Hundreds of soldiers killed - Maliki's security spokesman has said hundreds of soldiers have been killed since the insurgent offensive was launched on June 9, while the UN puts the overall death toll at over 1,000, mostly civilians.
International organisations have urged the establishment of humanitarian corridors to provide aid amid the fighting, with 1.2 million people having been displaced by unrest this year in Iraq.
World leaders have insisted on a political settlement among Iraq's various communities and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, revered among the country's Shiite majority, has urged political leaders to quickly form a government after parliament convenes on Tuesday.
Maliki has acknowledged that political measures are necessary, but politicians have nevertheless cautioned that naming a new cabinet could still take a month or more.
Despite unity calls, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has said Baghdad could no longer object to Kurdish self-rule in Kirkuk and other areas from which federal forces withdrew as the insurgents advanced. Kurdish forces moved into areas vacated by Iraqi federal soldiers, putting them in control of disputed areas that they have long wanted to incorporate into their three-province autonomous region, a move Baghdad strongly opposes. Agence France Presse

N. Korea Launches Missiles ahead of Xi's Seoul Visit
Naharnet /North Korea Sunday fired two ballistic missiles into the sea, Seoul's military said, in an apparent show of force ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the South.
The North fired the missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) Sunday morning, a defense ministry official told Agence France Presse.
"Both landed in international waters beyond its sea border," the official said. He did not elaborate on the type of the missile. But Yonhap news agency, citing a military official, said they were short-range Scud missiles with a range of about 500 kilometers (300 miles).
The launch came three days after Pyongyang fired what were believed to be three short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday.
The North did not officially confirm Thursday's launch but a day later, the state-run Korean Central News Agency hailed what it called the successful test of "cutting-edge" and high-precision missiles, watched by leader Kim Jong-Un. The launches come only days ahead of Xi's state visit to Seoul to discuss issues including the North's disputed nuclear weapons programs.
The July 3-4 trip -- Xi's first presidential journey to the Korean peninsula -- also marks the first time in almost two decades for a sitting Chinese leader to visit the South before having been to the North.
- 'Warning message' from North - China is the isolated North's sole major ally and major economic lifeline that offers precious fuel and food to its wayward ally.
But ties have been tested by the North's pursuit of nuclear programs in defiance of pressure from the international community including Beijing.
The North staged its third atomic test -- its most powerful so far -- in February 2013, triggering new sanctions and condemnation by U.N. Security Council members including China.
The latest missile launches were aimed at increasing pressure on Xi and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye ahead of their talks, said Shin In-Kyun, head of Korea Defense Network, a Seoul-based think tank. "The two leaders will inevitably discuss how to curb the North's nuclear ambition and how to punish Pyongyang if it pushes ahead with the weapons program," Shin said.
"And the North is sending a message of warning in advance, to prevent the leaders from criticizing Pyongyang too harshly," he said.
Tokyo protested at the launch but said it would still go ahead with rare government-level talks with North Korea in Beijing this week as scheduled.
"Japan for its part lodged a stern protest with the North Korean side through embassy channels (in Beijing)," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
He said Tokyo would raise missile and nuclear weapons issues at the talks Tuesday, which concern North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens during the Cold War.
A North Korean foreign ministry official told Japanese broadcaster NHK in Pyongyang that the launch seemed to be a routine military drill and was unlikely to have any particular impact.
- Calls for China to pressure North -
Seoul and Washington have persistently called on Beijing to exert more pressure on the North to abandon its atomic weapons program.
But despite China's growing frustration with the North, it fears the instability -- and flood of refugees -- that a collapse of the regime would bring. The North has often launched short-range missiles or rockets to express anger at perceived provocations, including military drills held south of border.
In March, it launched Scud missiles and rockets to coincide with annual joint army drills between Seoul and Washington.
The North also test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles that flew 650 kilometers off its east coast, prompting a stern reaction from Washington and Seoul.
Cross-border ties have been icy for months, with the two Koreas accusing each other of raising tensions near the maritime border.
Most recently, the North's army threatened Thursday a "devastating strike" against its South Korean counterpart for holding another live-fire drill near the flashpoint border in the Yellow Sea. In March, the two sides traded hundreds of shells across the border off the west coast after the North dropped shells in the South's waters during a live-fire drill. Agence France Presse

Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma’an - 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready’an---104-km-from-Eilat-US-Israeli-forces-on-the-ready
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 29, 2014/Ma’an is the Falluja of Jordan!” shouted thousands of Bedouin Saturday, June 28, in the southern Jordanian town of Ma’an. This legend was inscribed on the placards and flags they bore aloft with one hand in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). In the other, they waved automatic rifles.
Ma’an (pop: 50,000) is in a sensitive location: 218 km south of Amman, it also lies 104 km from the Israeli port town of Eilat and some 60 km from the main artery cutting south from northern Israel to the south. But although pro-Al Qaeda riots have been going on for days in Ma’an, capital of the southern province of the Kingdom of Jordan, military and security personnel have not been seen in its vicinity.
The town has a history of violent unrest. It has in the past suffered curfew and was even, when the rioting got out of hand, stormed by soldiers firing live rounds and leaving dozens dead.
For now, King Abdullah is conferring urgently with his army and intelligence chiefs on how to suppress the Islamist revolt in Ma’an without it spilling over into other Jordanian towns, especially Salt, Irbid and Zerka, which have large clusters of Al Qaeda followers.
There was anxious talk in Washington Sunday about the prospect of Abdullah’s throne being rocked by an Islamist revolt, in which case the Obama administration would have no option but to approve the intervention of American and Israeli special operations forces to defend the king, and push back against an Al Qaeda-ISIS invasion. However the domestic Islamist peril may be more immediate and acute than the external one. A US military source consulted by debkafile revealed that the Jordanian army is now concentrated in three sectors: The Syrian border in the north, the Iraqi border in the east and the capital. In the first case, Jordanian troops are ranged to head off a possible incursion by ISIS forces concentrated in eastern Syria. They are also prepared to withstand a possible Syrian army assault to dampen Jordan’s military support for the Syrian rebels operating in southern Syria in defense of the Jordanian and Israeli borders.
In the second case, the Jordanian army is deployed directly opposite the ISIS forces which have seized control of most of Iraq’s Anbar province adjacent to the Jordanian border. The army’s third sector is the capital, Amman, where it acts as the guardian of the royal regime. Should the Islamist conflagration spread from Ma’an to other corners of the kingdom, its army will be short of fighting manpower for simultaneous defense against internal and external threats.
Our Washington sources report that Brig. Gen. Dennis McKean, commander of the joint US-Jordanian-Israeli underground Centcom-Forward war room established near Amman, has already received instructions to place the 12,000 US soldiers and USAF F-16 fighter squadron positioned in Jordan on the ready.
They also disclose that Brig. McKean is in direct communication with Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the commander of Israel’s Deep Operations command, Maj. Gen. Shay Avital and Israel Air Force chief Maj. Gen. .Amir Eshel. The Deep Operations command was established in case it was necessary to launch operations against Iran or the Lebanese Hizballah in alien territory. This unit may find itself operating against Al Qaeda’s ISIS in Jordan instead Washington, Jerusalem and Amman are mulling over whether to wait for the trouble in Jordan to escalate further before intervening, or to act preemptively before matters get out of hand by punching hard at ISIS forces concentrated along the Iraqi-Jordanian border. In the latter case, there would have to be a second decision as to which army would inflict the punch, its location and a forward estimate of the potential repercussions on Jordan’s internal security.

Israeli PM calls for supporting Kurdish independence
Reuters, Jerusalem/Sunday, 29 June 2014
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for Kurdish statehood on Sunday, taking a position that appeared to clash with the U.S. preference to keep sectarian war-torn Iraq united. Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, seeing in the minority ethnic group a buffer against shared Arab adversaries.
The Kurds have seized on recent sectarian chaos in Iraq to expand their autonomous northern territory to include Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil deposits that could make the independent state many dream of economically viable. But Iraqi Kurds, who have ethnic compatriots in Iran, Turkey and Syria, have hesitated to declare full independence, one reason being the feared response of neighboring countries. "We should ... support the Kurdish aspiration for independence," Netanyahu told Tel Aviv University's INSS think-tank, after outlining what he described as the collapse of Iraq and other Middle East regions under strife between Arab Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Kurds, Netanyahu said, "are a fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence.”Washington wants Iraq's crumbling unity restored. Last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraqi Kurdish leaders and urged them to seek political integration with Baghdad.

Arabs and the Culture of Dialogue
By: Bakir Oweida /Al Arabiya
Sunday, 29 Jun, 2014
Arab countries have been going through a downward spiral on a number of levels over the past few years. In fact, the situation in the Arab world is going from bad to worse. Take the recent UN report on the numbers and conditions of refugees around the world released on June 20, World Refugee Day. According to the report, the number of refugees stands at its highest level since the end of the Second World War. There are a total of 51.2 million registered refugees; the majority of them come from Middle Eastern countries thanks to the raging conflicts and wars there.
At the end of the Second World War, Arabs faced a single major refugee problem: that of the Palestinians who either fled from the brutality of Israeli gangs or were displaced from their villages and cities by the Israel Defense Forces. Today we can see how the refugee problem in the Arab world has worsened as a result of the actions of the Arabs themselves. “It’s a conspiracy!” some shout. “What conspiracy? These are delusions,” others could answer.
And so the argument that has been dragging on for decades continues to provoke emotions and tensions among the public whenever and wherever it is raised, even on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites. The worst part of this lies in the accusations being exchanged between die-hard believers in conspiracy theories and those who staunchly criticize it. Rarely is the etiquette of dialogue being observed in Arab forums. Nor do those claiming to be intellectuals tolerate the fact that possessing different opinions is both healthy and objective, and that this does not mean that the other side is necessarily a “foreign collaborator.”
For example, last week Lebanese–American academic professor Fouad Ajami passed away. Despite the fact that I disagree with many of his opinions, especially his vision of the reasons behind the “Arab ordeal,” so to speak, and the setbacks we have suffered, I was dumbfounded at the amount of animosity expressed towards him during his lifetime by those who disagreed with him solely on an intellectual and political basis. Some of these figures, including academics, had no scruples about criticizing the professor utilizing language they should be ashamed of.
A similar hate campaign was launched against Edward Said when he fell out with the then-president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. The dispute between Said and Arafat was political, not personal. Said’s opposition to the Oslo Accords was intellectual, but some sought to personalize the issue, with some so-called thinkers or media figures making a big story out of Said’s position. Their personal bias went beyond that; even Said’s friendship and collaboration with a Jewish composer was used against him by some of his opponents.
Ajami and Said are worlds apart in terms of their political and intellectual stances. But the two late intellectuals serve as a prime example of how an intellectual position based on an academic and political approach can often be dealt with from a personal point of view. I can imagine some of the so-called intellectuals and journalists shrieking in opposition to my daring to mention these two figures in the same article. It should be noted that the majority of those who use their media contributions as platforms to level accusations and personalize intellectual differences also have their own affiliations with political regimes and parties. In my opinion, they are free to do so simply because no one has the right to hold anyone to account for their allegiances or personal sympathies.
One question remains unanswered: Isn’t it high time Arab thinkers, intellectuals and journalists go about their theoretical business and professionals and academics tackle the reality from a purely realistic perspective, calling a spade a spade without emotions or personal rancor? Can we actually start recognizing the necessity and benefits of disagreements, rather than merely paying lip service to this? Only then will actions be in line with words. Or will we see proponents and opponents of conspiracy theories continue their tirades? The ongoing argument about conspiracy theories will not yield a different result, particularly since more Arabs are being displaced, whether internally or externally, from South Sudan to Lebanon to the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. Meanwhile, those who call themselves jihadists continue their march under Al-Qaeda’s black flag, on the pretext of establishing an Islamic caliphate even if the cost is to legitimize bloodshed and displacement. Under what logic can one accept such crimes or justify such a tragedy? How long will the majority of Arab intellectuals and journalists move between self-glorification and seizing opportunities to personalize differences with others, regardless of who is right or who is wrong?  Unfortunately, this will likely remain to be the case for a long time to come, and there is no end in sight.

Is Maliki trustworthy or a source of concern?
Sunday, 29 June 2014
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose mandate in office has ended, managed to win U.S. support during his visit to the White House in November 2013. Before that visit, the American administration was unhappy with Maliki’s mismanagement of the country following the withdrawal of US troops, as corruption levels surged in Iraq and so did authoritarianism, sectarianism and the services provided to Iran in Syria. Maliki overcame the lukewarm relations with Washington after he was able to convince the Obama administration that he was 1) on the U.S. side in fighting terrorism and 2) committed to holding elections as scheduled in April. Following his return from Washington, he sent his forces towards Anbar claiming that this was to fight terrorism, and he also announced the elections date. The United States gave him diplomatic support and sold him the best of its weapons: Hellfire missiles, drones and Apache helicopters. A year before that, Maliki bought Russia's support with a $4.3 billion arms contract - the biggest military deal for Russia in the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Afterwards, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made his famous statement that the two countries share similar positions on regional issues and increased Russia's support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. “But Maliki's problem is that his concept of governance resembles that of Saddam Hussein - it's based on monopolizing power”With this strategy, Maliki paved the way to govern Iraq for the upcoming decade by making sure that three powers were on his side: the U.S., Russia and Iran.
But Maliki's problem is that his concept of governance resembles that of Saddam Hussein - it's based on monopolizing power. Saddam thought that his massive armed forces, expanded suppression, elimination of rivals either by pursuing them or intimidating them, dominating the state's resources, keeping all authorities under his sole control and financially and militarily satisfying superpowers will protect his regime. Saddam entered a war against Iran for the United States, and Maliki supported Assad for the sake of Iran and he pursued al-Qaeda in Anbar for the sake of the United States. Now Maliki is fighting to defend his existence and not to defend Iraq's security and the regime's safety as he claims. This does not deny that Iraq is truly confronting two grave threats: terrorism and division. The Americans, like many national Iraqi parties, have started to feel that Maliki is the problem and not the solution. If Maliki hadn't marginalized the Sunnis and fought them in Anbar, al-Qaeda organization wouldn't have staged a strong comeback and become a major threat to the entire world. If it hadn't been for Maliki's authoritarianism, the Kurds wouldn't have occupied Kirkuk, sold oil and headed towards independence.
Anger is not limited to minorities. The majority of Shiites as well are not happy with Maliki. Most Shiite leaders and other Iraqi political party leaders have called for immediately forming a government acceptable to everyone, in the strongest political move against Maliki thus far. If the Iraqis want to maintain their united, rich and diverse state and more importantly, if they want to restore peace, they have no other choice but to reconcile under the umbrella of the constitution and the political system. They must establish a government that can achieve reconciliation and put an end to the fascist rule of Maliki.
**This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 29, 2014.

Assad sends ‘message of goodwill’ to the U.S.
Sunday, 29 June 2014
By: Raed Omari/Al Arabiya
Not retaliating for the recent Israeli airstrikes on its territory and, instead, sending its fighter jets to bomb Sunni militant targets inside Iraq is probably the only mystery element in Tuesday’s cross border airstrikes by Syrian warplanes on positions of Islamist insurgents near the border with Iraq and also inside Anbar province.
But still it is not that big a mystery as it has been the norm that Syria responds to the frequent Israeli airstrikes against its territory with just a threat of retaliation one day at the time and the place of its choosing. This was what Syrian officials have been quoted in international press as saying following Israel’s Monday airstrike on targets inside Syria, in retaliation for what Tel Aviv said was a missile attack from Syria on Sunday that killed one Israeli and wounded another in the Golan Heights.
“Assad’s envisioned aim behind the sudden attack on the claimed Islamist insurgents’ targets was a message to the U.S. about its readiness to serve in a war against terrorism, a war against ISIS”
Israel’s action versus Syria’s inaction is not much of an important matter here as it turned into a drama of “words versus deeds.” However, what matters in this context is the Syrian government’s choice to launch airstrikes into western Iraq at the time it is busy with internal fighting against rebels seeking to end the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria has not yet claimed the airstrikes against targets said to be belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the border with Iraq and also inside western Iraq in the Sunni stronghold of Anbar. However, U.S. officials have affirmed that the airstrikes were the work of Assad's government.
Normalization with America
To believe that Tuesday’s deadly airstrike against targets inside Anbar province was launched by Syria’s warplanes, is to understand is that Assad’s envisioned aim behind the sudden attack on the claimed Islamist insurgents’ targets was a message to the U.S. about its readiness to serve in a war against terrorism, a war against ISIS. It was like a “goodwill” message and an indirect normalization endeavor with America that Assad sought through the airstrikes.
Plus, Assad knew that the U.S. has been allegedly considering airstrikes in the ISIS-controlled area stretching across Syria and Iraq since the Islamist militia’s seizure of large swathes of Iraqi territory. Through the airstrikes, the Syrian regime sought to tell Washington: “ We are here and can do the job on your behalf.”
The fact that the airstrikes coincided with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to city of Irbil and his meeting with Kurdish is evidence of such a hypothesis.
The Syrian airstrikes can be also viewed with regard to what has been thought of as the emergence of Iranian-American closeness, which no doubt lured the Syrian regime to ensure a stake and benefit from this growing mutuality between long-time foes Washington and Tehran over the shared ISIS threat.
Allowing ISIS to thrive in Syria
ISIS has also been battling the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.
Why has Syria shown the world that only now ISIS has turned out to be a threat for the country? Why have such airstrikes not been previously launched by the Syrian regime on ISIS’s positions in Syria? Why this time and only this time in Iraq? The answer to such must-be-asked questions has come from the Americans themselves this time, at last realizing the dishonesty of the Syrian regime’s rhetoric on terrorism. Following the controversial airstrikes, the White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan was quoted in international press as saying: “'The solution to the threat confronting Iraq is not the intervention of the Assad regime, which allowed ISIS to thrive in the first place. The solution to Iraq's security challenge does not involve militias or the murderous Assad regime, but the strengthening of the Iraqi security forces to combat threats."
However, there might have been another drive behind Syria’s airstrikes which is to communicate gratitude to long-time ally Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whose Shiite militias’ fighting alongside Assad in Syria is no secret at all. The message here was: “As you support me in my war against the Sunni fighters in my country, I will support you in your war against the Arab Sunnis and ISIS in Iraq.”