LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Present Suffering
and Future Glory
Romans 08/18-30: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."
Question: "What does the Bible say about ghosts/hauntings?"
GotQuestions.org/Answer: Is there such a thing as ghosts? The answer to this question depends on what precisely is meant by the term “ghosts.” If the term means “spirit beings,” the answer is a qualified “yes.” If the term means “spirits of people who have died,” the answer is “no.” The Bible makes it abundantly clear that there are spirit beings, both good and evil. But the Bible negates the idea that the spirits of deceased human beings can remain on earth and “haunt” the living.
Hebrews 9:27 declares, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death—judgment. The result of this judgment is heaven for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23) and hell for the unbeliever (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:22-24). There is no in-between. There is no possibility of remaining on earth in spirit form as a “ghost.” If there are such things as ghosts, according to the Bible, they absolutely cannot be the disembodied spirits of deceased human beings.
The Bible teaches very clearly that there are indeed spirit beings who can connect with and appear in our physical world. The Bible identifies these beings as angels and demons. Angels are spirit beings who are faithful in serving God. Angels are righteous, good, and holy. Demons are fallen angels, angels who rebelled against God. Demons are evil, deceptive, and destructive. According to 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, demons masquerade as “angels of light” and as “servants of righteousness.” Appearing as a “ghost” and impersonating a deceased human being definitely seem to be within the power and abilities that demons possess.
The closest biblical example of a “haunting” is found in Mark 5:1-20. A legion of demons possessed a man and used the man to haunt a graveyard. There were no ghosts involved. It was a case of a normal person being controlled by demons to terrorize the people of that area. Demons only seek to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). They will do anything within their power to deceive people, to lead people away from God. This is very likely the explanation of “ghostly” activity today. Whether it is called a ghost, a ghoul, or a poltergeist, if there is genuine evil spiritual activity occurring, it is the work of demons.
What about instances in which “ghosts” act in “positive” ways? What about psychics who claim to summon the deceased and gain true and useful information from them? Again, it is crucial to remember that the goal of demons is to deceive. If the result is that people trust in a psychic instead of God, a demon will be more than willing to reveal true information. Even good and true information, if from a source with evil motives, can be used to mislead, corrupt, and destroy.
Interest in the paranormal is becoming increasingly common. There are individuals and businesses that claim to be “ghost-hunters,” who for a price will rid your home of ghosts. Psychics, séances, tarot cards, and mediums are increasingly considered normal. Human beings are innately aware of the spiritual world. Sadly, instead of seeking the truth about the spirit world by communing with God and studying His Word, many people allow themselves to be led astray by the spirit world. The demons surely laugh at the spiritual mass-deception that exists in the world today.
Recommended Resources: The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena by Ron Rhodes and Logos Bible Software.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 01-02/14
Persecution, torture, murder: Iran blasted on human rights ahead of UN hearing/By Jonathan Wachtel/FoxNews/November 01/14
With support for Syrians, the Iranian project fails/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /AAl Arabiya/November 01/14
IAEA: Iran stopped answering questions about nuclear arms development/Ynetnews/November 01/14
In Syria, no good options for West/Ynetnews/November 01/14
A Century After 1914/By Paul Salem/Vice President for Policy and Research/November 01/14
Pain lingers as violence fades in north Lebanon/Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star/November 01/14
Selective memory: Iran's role in the Marine barracks bombing/Tony Badran/Lebanon Now/November 01/14
Behind the lines: The Jihadi connection between Sinai, Gaza and Islamic State/By JONATHAN SPYER/J.Post/November 01/14
Diplomacy: Back to square one on Jordanian-Israeli relations/By YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post/November 01/14
Lebanese Related News
published on November 01-02/14
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi blasts state inequality, denies dealing with Islamist militants
Hezbollah Reportedly Under Severe Strain From Syrian Civil War
Qatar mediator concludes 3-day talks with Arsal jihadists
Army raids refugee sites in northeast Lebanon
Second suspect arrested in Islamic emirate scheme in Lebanon
Lebanon: Extension vote For Extending Paliament term secured, most Christians not on board
Army defuses five bombs, seizes arms in Tripoli
Bassil makes historic visit to UNIFIL Saudi ambassador hits back at Nasrallah comments Rai condemns tripartite power-sharing idea Authorities await news from hostage mediator Pain lingers as violence fades in north
Sewing provides livelihood for refugees
March 14 forced to choose lesser evil: Harb
Lebanon bought Israeli-linked security system: MP
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 01-02/14
U.S. warns citizens in Mideast to remain vigilant
U.S. tightens screws on financial institutions
Kurdish Peshmerga forces enter Syria’s Kobani after further air strikes
Kurds in mass Turkey rallies against ISIS Rocket fired from Gaza hits southern Israel: army
Syria rebels deploy peacekeepers in Idlib A confused strategy Airstrikes hit Kobani, peshmerga prepare to enter
Peshmerga fighters enter Kobani for IS fight
Report: Kerry, Zarif to hold nuclear talks in
Kurds' battle for Kobani unites a divided people
Abbas urges Kerry to rein in Israel on Jerusalem
Kerry phones Netanyahu to apologize over 'chickenshit' slur
Second terror attack in as many weeks rattles northern Sinai
Saudi arrests woman activist for 'insulting Islam'
Yemen’s Houthis turn up the pressure on Hadi
Below Jihad Watch
Posts For 31.10.14
Hizballah jihadist arrested with weapons and explosives right before launching attack on Israeli and Jewish targets…in Peru
1,000 Muslims streaming into Syria every month to join the Islamic State
Jordan bans Halloween after Muslim Brotherhood condemns it as “homosexual and Satanic”
Boko Haram top dog says abducted girls married off after conversion to Islam
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: UK: Child Sex Exploitation Now the ‘Norm’
One in seven young “Britons” has “warm feelings” for the Islamic State
Islamic State murders 228 of its foes in two days
Spain’s security chief: Islamic State wants to use Ebola as jihad weapon
New UK law would ban critics of Sharia from broadcasting, protesting or even posting messages on Facebook
Islamic State: Children as young as five trained to fight and kill, repeat calls for murder of Western “infidels”
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi blasts state inequality, denies dealing with
Nov. 01, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Saturday that the state should be fair in implementing the nationwide crackdown on illegal arms, saying the Lebanese Army must raid Hezbollah locations in Beirut, hours after denying a report he transferred money to Islamist militants. “We all know that in [Beirut's] southern suburbs there are thousands of arms caches and the Army should implement the security plan equally on all Lebanese areas and citizens,” Rifi told reporters at the home of one of his bodyguards.
“Raids should not be exclusive to Bab al-Tabbaneh. We are aware of thousands of arms caches in Jabal Mohsen as well. Why don't they launch raids as well?,” he asked, referring to the Alawite-majority neighborhood whose residents have repeatedly clashed with those of Bab al-Tabbaneh over the past three years. He also said people who carry arms were not necessarily terrorists, defending Tripoli against claims that the northern city was a bastion of Islamist militants, especially after the Army engaged in deadly fighting with gunmen in Bab al-Tabbaneh. During the four-day clashes, which erupted last week, and in the aftermath of the fighting, the Army launched raids in search of militant suspects, arresting dozens of Lebanese and Syrians and seizing several arms caches in Bab al-Tabbaneh and other northern areas. "Tripoli supports moderation and the Army, and its residents do not need to be given a test of patriotism. They are more patriotic than those who claim to be patriots,” said Rifi, a staunch critic of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime. Rifi, a former security chief, made the remarks at the house of Deeb al-Laheeb, a member of his security detail, hours after the minister denied a report in a local newspaper that he used Laheeb to transfer money to militants holding Lebanese soldiers hostage in order to prevent the execution of one of the captives. “I read this morning what was said in one of the publishing tools of the Iranian alliance and whatever is left of the Syrian regime,” Rifi said in a statement, in reference to Al-Akhbar newspaper’s report.
“I am never surprised by what they do ... but what prompted me to [release the statement] is the fabrication of a fake story.”
Al-Akhbar, known for its close ties to Hezbollah, reported that Laheeb was detained by the Lebanese Army earlier this week for attempting to transfer $280,000 to the kidnappers of Lebanese soldiers and policemen. The money was seen as a bribe to prevent the militants from carrying out their threat of killing one of the hostages. Quoting high-ranking political sources, the report said Laheeb was detained near the border as he made his way to the outskirts of Arsal, where the Islamist militants are believed to be hiding, to prevent them from executing a soldier. The Army refused to release Laheeb and referred him to the public prosecutor’s office, the paper said, adding that the money was secured "from secret expenditures of Lebanese agencies not included in the state budget."
Al-Akhbar also said that Health Minister Wael Abu Faour stepped in and transferred the amount after Rifi’s failed attempt, reportedly ticking off Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, head of General Security. Ibrahim is tasked by the government with following up on the hostage crisis and has recently said he was willing to abandon the case if disruptions continued.
In his statement, Rifi said Laheeb resided in the minister’s Tripoli home. “Deeb al-Laheeb, a member of my security detail, is in my home in Tripoli now and he is bedridden because of back pain, which has left him incapacitated for a long time. He did not go to the Bekaa, did not carry $280,000 nor was he detained,” he said.“I owe it to you [the public] to reveal this intelligence publication for what it is ... I vow to you, honorable Lebanese leaders and citizens, that I will always confront their destructive projects.”
“Those who confronted the conspiracy of the Syrian regime and responded to their terror and assassinations, will not be intimidated by some moral assassination.”Hours after he released the statement, Rifi invited the media into his Tripoli home, where Laheeb was lying on a bed with his wife standing next to him. Rifi, sitting on a chair next to Laheeb, said the bodyguard has been bedridden for over two months while the said he would file a lawsuit against Al-Akhbar for defamation.
Hezbollah Reportedly Under Severe
Strain From Syrian Civil War
October 31, 2014 /Author: avatar JNS.org/ the Algemeiner
JNS.org – The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has come under severe strain from its involvement in the Syrian civil war and from increasing attacks inside of Lebanon from Syrian jihadists. According to reports, as many as 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are thought to be in Syria, and hundreds of them have been killed fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Hezbollah is spread thin. They are waging so many battles and are positioned on so many fronts,” Imad Salamey, associate professor of political science at the Beirut-based Lebanese American University, told the Washington Post. At the same time, jihadists from the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terror groups are spilling into Lebanon and launching attacks against Hezbollah strongholds, including a bloody attack on Oct. 5 that killed eight Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 foreign fighters are heading into Syria each month to join Islamic State and other jihadist groups, despite airstrikes by the U.S. and its allies as well as efforts to prevent would-be jihadists from entering Syria. “The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise,” a U.S. intelligence official said, the Washington Post reported.
How Hezbollah indoctrinates preschoolers to embrace 'resistance' against Israel
Lebanese journalist Khaled Alameddine posted images of Mahdi magazine, a children's workbook issued by the Shi'ite terrorist organization. Hezbollah, the Shi’ite terrorist organization in Lebanon, wastes little time in raising the next generation of jihadists determined to fight Israel.A Lebanese journalism student posted an item on his blog which features a children’s magazine geared toward preschoolers who are taught the merits of “resistance” and “martyrdom.” Mahdi Magazine is a monthly magazine issued by Hezbollah’s youth scout movement, which also bears the name “Mahdi.” (According to Shi’ite Islamic doctrine, the Mahdi is the redeemer of Islam who will rule for up to 19 years before the coming of the Day of Judgment, after which he will rid the world of evil.) The magazine features colorful illustrations, rhymes, poems, and written exercises interspersed with military terminology, battle lore from Hezbollah’s wars fought with Israel, and short stories honoring fallen Hezbollah fighters. The cover features a large birthday cake sitting atop a school bus, all under the heading “I resist.”The magazine also includes an instruction guide for parents designed to aid them in indoctrinating “the idea of resistance.”Children leafing through the magazine are also taught that “the reason behind your nationalism should be the love of the resistance.”Perhaps most disturbing of all is the military imagery used in the magazine, where one can see illustrations and drawings of children dressed in military uniform while sitting on a tank. There is also the “grenade and assault rifle pattern exercise” as well as one inventive game known as “help the bunny cross the minefield.” Children are also given a coloring exercise which involves filling in the illustration of a Hezbollah terrorist as he is praying near the battlefront, an assault rifle just a few feet away.
The contents of the magazine was posted by a Lebanese journalist, Khaled Alameddine.
Pain lingers as violence fades in
Nov. 01, 2014
Kareem Shaheen| The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: “My brothers, this is the truth, not a fiery sermon,” the sheikh said as he rose moments before the Friday prayers. “We have been struck by many fires and we have suffered the consequences of many things we do not believe in.”The preacher, Sheikh Abu Sufyan, spoke from his pulpit at the Abdullah bin Massoud Mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh, an austere prayer house with straw mats.
This was the mosque in which fugitive militants Shadi al-Mawlawi and Osama Mansur were allegedly hiding during the latest Army campaign in Tripoli – although some in the neighborhood, the hardest-hit in the fighting, said they had left Bab al-Tabbaneh earlier.
Order and calm had returned to the neighborhood by Friday. Teams of three or four soldiers were stationed at various points in the embattled district, and merchants and shop owners had returned to their stalls. Traders at the historic vegetable market hawked all kinds of produce and residents walked in the tiny streets again.
But a sense of melancholy permeated the embattled neighborhood, whose civilians suffered through rounds of violence with the neighboring Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen over the Syrian war, only to endure the fallout of clashes between the Army and militants.
Friday’s sermon at the bin Massoud Mosque emphasized the need for nonviolence, and told residents to be patient and endure their suffering.
The preacher said the entire city should not bear the responsibility for mistakes made by individuals, but also complained that the neighborhood had been collectively punished by the actions of a few.
“If some people err, are all punished? If one of the soldiers insults me, is it permissible to blame all or to hold the entire state accountable for the actions of one soldier?” the preacher said.
“To the Lebanese state, you would not accept that, and you are right, and we also do not accept that an entire nation is attacked under the excuse of terrorism. “The state did oppress, and it knows that. If you were looking for some individuals then search for them, you have numerous soldiers.”
But the preacher also urged nonviolence and patience by residents. “No Muslim is permitted to kill anyone or to attack anyone,” he said. “But we also advise all those who have authority to be just with the people.”
“Have patience, God will bring ease after suffering. God will question every terrorist who cast fear on people, and God will question everyone who transgressed against people.”The fighting has exacerbated the poverty that has long beset this neighborhood. Unemployment is high among youth, and residents say the poverty allows politicians and extremists to exploit young men. They complain that they face pressure outside the neighborhood, and employers refuse to hire Bab al-Tabbaneh’s residents. In addition, religious conservatives in the area said they were the targets of discrimination. “Unemployment will cause youth to do anything,” said Essam al-Sheikh, a local mosque imam.
Sheikh said any extremism that emerges among the neighborhood’s youth is a result of the supposed dominance of Hezbollah within the apparatus of the Lebanese government. Many here oppose the party’s policies, particularly its use of arms in the May 2008 clashes in Lebanon and its intervention in Syria.
But he said those who do become radicals were from within the neighborhood, dismissing allegations that any outside organizations like ISIS or the Nusra Front were taking hold.
Residents mostly complained that a large-scale offensive was not necessary to clear the neighborhood, and that the Army was capable of simply arresting suspected militants, which they numbered as a maximum of 20. They also believe the use of helicopters was excessive.
They also said the Army ought to have given them more warning before launching the attack – even though the military did allow a cease-fire to evacuate civilians.
Mahmoud al-Sheikh’s son, Ali, was one who did not escape on time.
Ali, who was almost 9 years old, was killed during the fighting. The father said his son was waving at an Army helicopter from their verandah, before shrapnel from a rocket pierced the boy’s stomach, chest and thighs. He was rushed to the Lebanese Red Cross, but died on the operating table.
“He was crying ‘Dad don’t leave me,’” Ali’s grandmother said. “May you never endure such a thing.”
The father, Mahmoud, looked haggard as he described his ordeal.
“He was waving to the helicopter. Then he came inside to me carrying his leg and his guts were falling out.”
Mahmoud said his home should not have been targeted – that it was neutral, by the main road outside Bab al-Tabbaneh, and was housing a dozen other children, nephews and nieces, at the time of the fighting because it was seen as safer. In its myriad campaigns against terrorism, the Army has always taken major precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Speaking to The Daily Star, an Army source denied that Army helicopters bombarded Bab al-Tabbaneh. “We never use air force against crowded areas.” The source said that it was not possible to give a warning for residents to evacuate ahead of time, explaining that the battle was very fast. Mahmoud said he supported the Army and the state and stood against terrorism, but said residents should have been warned to leave the neighborhood and that politicians on both sides of the aisle had fooled the people. For now, Mahmoud has decided to stay with his family at a home close to Tripoli’s center. He said he could not go back to Bab al-Tabbaneh.
“Imagine, how can I go back home? And see my son’s blood still there?” he asked.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai condemns tripartite power-sharing idea
Nov. 01, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Friday that some political parties in the country wanted to change the country’s power-sharing governance formula between Muslims and Christians, and expressed his strong opposition to the idea. “MPs did not elect a president, because they are waiting for a signal from certain states,” said Rai, who is on a trip to Australia. “A dangerous thing is happening now, which I did not believe before could happen, which is that they [certain MPs] want a conference to reconsider Lebanon as an entity and they want a tripartite power-sharing formula,” Rai said. Rivals of Hezbollah often accuse the party of seeking tripartite power-sharing between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians, a claim the party strongly denies. Any new formula would replace the current equal power-sharing between Muslims and Christians. “I say that we will not accept a tripartite power-sharing formula or any conference [to reconsider the Lebanese political system],” Rai said. Rai lashed out at various political factions for failing to elect a president. “It is unacceptable that MPs in Lebanon do not elect a president,” he said. “In the Australian Parliament, the opposition and loyalist parties sit together in Parliament. None of them is absent from the session.”Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum on May 25. Since then, there have been 14 failed attempts to elect a successor to Michel Sleiman. Most March 8 lawmakers are boycotting every Parliament session to elect a president, saying that they would only take part in a session to elect a president if the candidate had been agreed upon ahead of time. “Unfortunately, every [political] group has an affiliation with an external power,” Rai said. The head of the Maronite Church highlighted the need to respect both the Constitution and the National Pact, an unwritten arrangement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state.
Patriarch al-Rahi: I Will Soon 'Spill
Naharnet/Nov. 01, 2014/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi lamented on Friday the “make or break” moral that the political parties raise their youth on, stressing that Lebanese politicians are still waiting for a green-light from foreign countries to elect a head of state. “Soon I will spill the beans,” said the Patriarch, expressing resentment at the almost five month delay in electing a president. He made his remarks during his ongoing trip to Sydney, Australia. The politicians are still waiting for a green-light from abroad to elect a head of state, he was quoted as saying. “I have come to the conviction that they want to change the Lebanese entity. They want a tripartite coalition government which we strongly reject,” he concluded.
Lebanon has been left without a president since May when the term of President Michel Suleiman ended. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the election of his successor.
Saudi ambassador hits back after
The Daily StarظNov. 01, 2014/BEIRUT: Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri said Friday that recent remarks made by Hezbollah leader about the monarchy were not in Lebanon’s interest.
“I ask: Does what [Hezbollah Secretary-General] Sayyed Hasan [Nasrallah] said serve Lebanon’s interests and serve the situation we’re trying to resolve?” Asiri said. “King Abdullah exerted utmost efforts in support of dialogue between sects and we should concentrate on what benefits the nation and unites rather divides it,”He said there should be dialogue between all the religions and sects. Nasrallah said earlier this week during a gathering to mark Ashoura that it was Saudi Arabia’s responsibility to stop the spread of takfiri ideologies in the region. “Sayyed Nasrallah and all Lebanese know what the kingdom did and no Lebanese can ignore this,” Asiri said. “I remind Sayyed Nasrallah of what the kingdom did after the July 2006 war and of how many buildings for the [Shiite] sect itself the kingdom has rebuilt,” Asiri said, in reference to Saudi support of reconstruction efforts in Lebanon after Israel’s 2006 war against the country. “What harms Lebanon’s interests under the current circumstances is not what we need.”
Hezbollah is backed by Iran and Syria, the regional foes of Saudi Arabia.
Extension vote For Extending Paliament term secured, most Christians not on
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
Nov. 01, 2014
BEIRUT: Although key Christian parties are split over next week’s session on the extension of Parliament’s mandate, a majority of lawmakers are widely expected to endorse the controversial move in a bid to prevent the country from sinking into further political chaos.
Lawmakers from the Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Forces will attend Wednesday’s legislative session and vote against a draft proposal to extend Parliament’s mandate for two years and seven months, officials from the two parties said Friday. “The five Kataeb MPs will attend Wednesday’s session and vote against the extension proposal,” a senior Kataeb official told The Daily Star. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected MPs from the LF and MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc to join the Kataeb Party in voting against the extension bill. “All Christian lawmakers will attend to ensure the constitutionality of the session as demanded by Speaker Nabih Berri,” he said. He added that only Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Frangieh’s bloc would vote for the extension proposal, in addition to independent Christian MPs and Christian MPs from the Future Movement, Berri’s bloc and MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc.
Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said that the party’s eight lawmakers would attend the session, but no decision had been taken yet on whether to vote for or against the extension proposal. “More than half of Christian lawmakers will attend the session on the extension of Parliament’s term,” Zahra told The Daily Star. He said the LF’s decision on voting would be taken ahead of Wednesday’s session. However, a senior LF source said the eight Lebanese Forces lawmakers would attend the session and vote against the extension bill. The Daily Star’s attempts to reach MPs from Aoun’s bloc were unsuccessful, even though the Free Patriotic Movement leader has repeatedly vowed to oppose any new extension of Parliament’s term, which expires on Nov. 20. Aoun’s bloc had opposed and challenged the first extension of Parliament’s mandate for 17 months in May last year.
In an interview with Al-Manar TV Friday night, Education Minister Elias Abou Saab said MPs from Aoun’s bloc would attend the session and vote against the extension of Parliament’s term. Culture Minister Raymond Areiji, who represents Frangieh’s Marada Movement in the Cabinet, said his party would vote on the extension of Parliament’s mandate.“The Marada Movement has taken a firm decision to attend the legislative session to vote for Parliament’s extension,” Areiji told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. “We reject a vacuum and consider the extension as the lesser of two evils,” he added. Berri has scheduled a legislative session for Nov. 5 to vote on a number of draft laws, including one that would extend Parliament’s mandate.
Berri, who had initially opposed the extension of Parliament’s term, has joined the Future Movement in calling for the extension, arguing that it would be unconstitutional to form a new government during a presidential vacuum if parliamentary elections were to be held.
However, Berri warned Thursday that if the major Christian blocs, namely the FPM, the Kataeb Party, the LF and the Marada Movement, did not attend, the session would not be held. The FPM, the LF and the Kataeb Party have spoken out against the extension, but it is unlikely that their lawmakers would boycott the session.LF George Adwan, who met Berri Friday to discuss next week’s Parliament session, said the speaker had told him that he wanted Christian participation in the voting on the extension and not just the presence of Christian lawmakers. Berri also met at his residence in Ain al-Tineh with Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush who has presented a draft proposal that calls for the extension of Parliament’s term for two years and seven months.
Deputy Speaker Farid Makari rejected Berri’s argument that the four major Christian parties represented the “Christian nerve.” He said more than half of Christian MPs do not belong to political parties.“The presence of Christian lawmakers, whether they belong to parties or are independent, will give a constitutional character to the session,” Makari told the Central News Agency. He added that Wednesday’s session would be in line with the country’s National Pact because MPs from the Marada Movement, the Tashnag Party and independent Christian lawmakers would attend. Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb said the March 14 coalition would be forced to choose the lesser of two evils when its lawmakers vote next week to extend Parliament’s mandate, blaming Aoun and Hezbollah for putting the coalition in such a situation. “Some officials were faced with two options: Either we surrender to the political game, or confront it and have the needed courage to make tough decisions. ... They presented us with difficult decisions which alone can spare the country a disaster,” Harb told a news conference in Parliament. “So we decided to confront it because there is no other alternative ... as we find ourselves forced to accept what we would have never accepted under normal circumstances: An exceptional repulsive extension of Parliament’s mandate until a president is elected,” said Harb, an independent Christian MP allied with the March 14 bloc. He added that the March 14 coalition was forced to choose the extension after the FPM and Hezbollah had obstructed the presidential vote with their persistent boycott of parliamentary sessions to elect a president.
A Century After 1914
By Paul Salem | Vice President for Policy and Research
Oct 31, 2014
A version of this article appeared in Arabic in the Al-Hayat newspaper on Friday, October 31.
As 2014 draws to a close, it is striking to reflect on the parallels between 1914 and 2014, and to consider that the global and Middle East regional orders could be in the process of undergoing changes as profound as the changes that were unleashed in 1914.
A century ago a long period of British global hegemony was declining and new powers were challenging its predominant position. The British navy dominated the seven seas, and Britain led the world in technology and industrialization. It had presided over a fairly stable global order for decades. As other countries in Europe, Asia, and North America caught up with Britain, this unipolar world began to fall apart. Today the United States is the declining global power, and its brief period of unipolar hegemony after the collapse of the Soviet Union might be drawing to an end, albeit slowly. Stymied in the Middle East and challenged in Eastern Europe and East Asia, the U.S. grip on global power is slipping.
A century ago powerful social upheavals were challenging established political orders that had prevailed for centuries. Peoples were revolting against social injustice, poverty and unemployment, and corrupt government. These profound social problems challenged the established political orders of the day and fuelled powerful ideological movements of the left and right, including socialism, communism, and ethnic and linguistic nationalism, as well as pro-democracy movements and religious or sectarian extremism. Today we see similar upheavals, not only in the Arab world, but also recently in Iran, and intermittently in China, Russia, and parts of the Americas.
Today we have the rise of terrorism; a century ago it was called anarchism. But the methods of using theatrical violence, car bombs, and assassination are in many ways the same. The assassination of a symbol of old world power, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, is not altogether dissimilar to the attacks on the symbols of power on September 11, 2001. Both acts unleashed years of armed conflict.
Today we have the Internet, which spreads news and moods across the globe in a flash; a century ago the world was waking up to the power of instant communication brought about by the telegraph. Shots fired in Sarajevo were suddenly heard around the world, and developments raced forward furiously, much faster than old political systems were able to manage and contain.
A century ago rapidly changing military technology was destabilizing power balances that had been established on the basis of large wooden fleets and armies on horseback. Mechanized artillery and infantry and the rise of air power would change all that. Today the dominance of naval fleets and modern air forces is being challenged by the asymmetrical methods of non-state actors, the slow proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the changing dynamics of drone and cyber warfare.
A century ago, the disintegration of the Balkans provided the flash point for global conflict; today the many crises of the Middle East are testing the stability of global order. Yesterday, East and West almost went to war over the expansion of Israel and recurring Arab-Israeli conflicts. Today, global and regional powers are drawn into the war against ISIS and for control of the Levant. Tomorrow, East and West might clash over the future control of Gulf oil as U.S. needs decline and the thirst of Asia for the region’s hydrocarbons escalates.
The Middle East itself is going through crises today not altogether different than those of a century ago. An old Ottoman order was being challenged by domestic demands for progress and change and by external pressures and incursions from a shifting global order. Old imperial principles of government were being challenged by new movements of ethnic, linguistic, and territorial nationalism as well as by religious movements. The role of religion in politics was being contested from both sides—from those who pushed for secularism and from those who thought religion should be revived and more strictly enforced. The role of women was also being contested between those who sought women’s full and real equality and patriarchal traditionalists who sought to keep women confined to a subordinate and second-class position.
A century ago the collapse of the old order began with great promise in the Arab revolt but ended bitterly with the Sykes Picot agreement, the Balfour declaration, and years of Western colonial domination. More recently the uprisings against the established Arab order started with great hopes for a better future, but have ended bitterly for too many countries that have collapsed into state failure and ethnic or sectarian civil war.
The world will have to contend with the challenges of global change, the rise of China, the gradual decline of Western power, and the many challenges of global economic growth, security, and climate change.
The Arab world must contend with many of the challenges that are still unresolved from the last century. In the Levant the state borders that were established by the Sykes Picot agreement are gone, perhaps never to be revived. Lebanon and Jordan are still managing to survive, but Syria and Iraq no longer exist as nation states. In effect there are two Shi‘i/Alawi states, a rising Kurdish state, and an emerging Sunni state of “Syriaq” in between. Yemen is also disintegrating along sectarian and territorial lines, while Libya is tearing itself apart along territorial, tribal, and Islamist/secularist lines.
The question of governance has also been left unresolved between various models of Islamist authoritarianism, monarchical or military rule, and delicate experiments in democracy. The role of religion has come back with a vengeance with claims to rebuild the caliphate, while women still struggle to assert their rights for full political and economic participation, or at least against being sold into slavery or not being sexually harassed or assaulted in public.
The Arab regional order itself is also broken. For most of the past century, an expansionist and interventionist Israel was the main challenge; today, Iran’s interventions from the Levant and Gaza all the way to Yemen pose the strongest threat to Arab order.
Change brings risks but also new horizons, and every crisis can also be turned into an opportunity. The upheavals of World War I ushered in a new world for the Middle East that eventually created conditions for national liberation and many forms of socioeconomic progress. But unlike most countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the Middle East did not take advantage of the opportunities of the last decades of the twentieth century, and instead of leaping forward in terms of economic and political development, most Arab states stagnated. Let us hope that the region learns from the lessons of the past and the crises of the present to look for ways to build a more stable and sustainable future.
Selective memory: Iran's role in the Marine barracks bombing
Tony Badran/01/11/2014/Lebanon Now
As the US moves closer to Iran it has placed the onus of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing on Imad Mughniyeh, even though it was an Iranian operation from top to bottom.
Last Thursday marked the 31st anniversary of Hezbollah's twin attack on the US Marine barracks and the French paratroopers base in Beirut in 1983. The date passed quietly; ancient history as far as the Obama White House is concerned. After all, this is the era of US rapprochement with Iran. Under the banner of combating Sunni terrorist groups, which are now defined as the principal threat, Washington has effectively aligned with Iran and its assets. Today, the US is not only providing air cover for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and communicating with its command in Iraq, it has even indirectly shared intelligence with the Guards' Hezbollah arm in Lebanon.
As such, when Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif placed a wreath earlier this year on the grave of former Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh — the man who oversaw the attacks — the White House issued an awkwardly worded condemnation. The statement placed the onus for the terrorist bombings on Mughniyeh alone, drawing a subtle distinction between him and Iran. The White House, in its quest to appease Tehran, deliberately obfuscated both the nature of Iran’s relationship with Mughniyeh as well as Tehran's role in the 1983 bombings.
Mughniyeh has long been the subject of all kinds of theories, and his beginnings as an Iranian operative remain shrouded in confusion. It’s widely known that Mughniyeh first began his life as a militant with the Palestinian Fatah organization. However, the details of this association have not been well understood, and some of the specifics are murky.
For instance, it’s usually said that Mughniyeh was part of Fatah’s elite intelligence unit, Force 17, which also handled security for Yasser Arafat and the senior leadership. However, figures with direct knowledge of Mughniyeh’s association with Fatah paint a different picture. They deny that Mughniyeh was part of Force 17 or that he was Arafat’s bodyguard. Rather, Mughniyeh was one of several young religious Shiites who received training at the hands of Fatah, without being actual members of the organization. This was in 1976, when Mughniyeh was not yet 15 years old. Training these young Shiites, as well as various Iranian anti-Shah cadres working in Lebanon at the time, was supervised by Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir).
Some of the accounts that maintain Mughniyeh was a member of Force 17 have claimed that he was brought in by the head of the unit, Ali Hassan Salameh. However, there might be some confusion here as well, involving another man with a similar name: Ali Deeb, a.k.a., Abu Hassan Khodor Salameh. Also a Lebanese Shiite, and a few years Mughniyeh’s senior, Deeb was working with Fatah. According to this account, promoted by Hezbollah’s circles, Deeb, who later became a senior Hezbollah operative and was assassinated by Israel in 1999, was the one who took in the younger Mughniyeh.
But Mughniyeh’s true recruiter was someone else; an Iraqi-Iranian operative called Mohammad Saleh Hosseini. A devotee of Imam Khomeini, Hosseini had been in Lebanon since 1970 where he worked briefly with Imam Musa Sadr. Hosseini had contacts with Fateh since his days in Iraq. When he came to Lebanon, Hosseini worked directly with young Shiites and, like other senior Khomeinist cadres operating in Lebanon at the time, maintained close ties with the leaders of Fatah’s Student Battalion, where Mughniyeh and his friends sought training. Hosseini’s task was to cultivate these militant and religious young Shiites to become followers of Khomeini. Sure enough, Mughniyeh became a fervent disciple in the line of Imam Khomeini. This was Mughniyeh’s induction into the Khomeinist revolutionary circle, which was run by men who would become senior leaders in the IRGC.
According to leading Hezbollah expert Shimon Shapira, Hosseini maintained a close connection with Mughniyeh between 1976 and 1981, when Hosseini was assassinated in Beirut. By then, the Iranians had made the decision to establish their own group in Lebanon, drawing on the young assets, like Mughniyeh, that they had cultivated since the 1970’s.
Shapira, who has tracked Mughniyeh’s career for many years, says that following Hosseini’s assassination, two other Iranian figures came to exert the biggest influence on Mughniyeh. They are Ali Akbar Mohtashami, former ambassador to Syria, and Hossein Dehghan, the current defense minister.
In one account, Mohtashami met with Mughniyeh and Abbas Musawi in Tehran in 1981, and held initial discussions about training and building up the Khomeinists’ own organization in Lebanon: Hezbollah. As ambassador to Damascus, Mohtashami was well placed to facilitate the arrival of an IRGC contingent to Lebanon. And in 1982, the IRGC training corps entered the Bekaa, led by Dehghan.
By 1983, Dehghan had become the commander of the IRGC force in Lebanon. During this critical period between 1982-83, “Dehghan took Mughniyeh under his wing,” Shapira says. “He was his operator.”
If Dehghan was Mughniyeh’s handler, Mohtashami was “one level above that,” Shapira says. This is the command hierarchy behind the attacks in 1983. Although Mughniyeh is often described as the “mastermind” of the attacks, in fact, he was the tactical commander who directly oversaw the mission. The planning and financing of the operation was Iranian.
At the time, the US National Security Agency intercepted traffic between Tehran and Mohtashami. The intercepts revealed how Hezbollah reported to Mohtashami, and acted on orders that came from the IRGC command and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. They also uncovered that not only was Tehran providing financing and logistical support, but also it was issuing directives to Mohtashami to have their assets in Lebanon “take spectacular action against the United States Marines.” That particular intercept happened on September 24, 1983, a month before the attack happened.
Mohtashami would later explain that Mughniyeh was responsible for carrying out special operations. But the chain of command ran from Tehran to Mohtashami in Damascus, to IRGC commander Dehghan, who handled Mughniyeh in Beirut. It was an Iranian operation from top to bottom.
The regime and its institutions responsible for the attacks remain unchanged — best evidenced by Dehghan’s senior position in the Iranian power structure. The regime’s outlook and objectives are likewise unreconstructed. Instead, the change has happened on the other side, in Washington. Three decades after the Beirut bombings, the shift in the current US administration's attitude toward these same Iranian institutions is nothing short of surreal.
**Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay
Army raids refugee sites in northeast
Nov. 01, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army launched raids on Syrian refugee gatherings in northeast Lebanon Saturday in search of militants, part of a nationwide crackdown. The National News Agency said military units raided refugee sites in Ain al-Shaab, located between Labweh and Arsal in the northeastern region, looking for wanted suspects, including gunmen who took part in attacks against the Army last weekend. Earlier in the day, local reports said the Army foiled an attempt by a group of gunmen into Arsal from the Syrian side of the border. The soldiers engaged in brief clashes with the militants.
Second suspect arrested in Islamic emirate scheme in Lebanon
Nov. 01, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army said Saturday that it arrested an accomplice of an alleged ISIS commander who worked together to establish an Islamic emirate in north Lebanon. An Army unit arrested Ghali Hadara in the northern region on suspicion of forming a terrorist cell in coordination with Ahmad Mikati, an alleged ISIS commander, to establish an Islamic emirate.
Last week, soldiers arrested Mikati who later confessed to plotting to taking over several villages in Lebanon's northern Dinnieh region for the purpose of establishing, according to the Army.
Mikati’s arrest triggered four days of clashes between Islamist militants and the Army in Tripoli and other villages in the north. Since then and after the military successfully drove out the armed groups, the military has launched nationwide raids in search of suspects, detaining dozens and seizing several arms caches. In its statement, the Army said Hadara fled to Bab al-Tabbaneh after the military raided a location where his armed group had taken refuge. He was arrested while trying to escape Bab al-Tabbaneh.
The Army also said it arrested Dany al-Danash who, along with others, fired at an Army patrol unit in May. He is accused of tossing hand grenades at soldiers and being involvement in the recent Tripoli clashes.
Danash was arrested while trying to flee Bab al-Tabbaneh using his brother's identification card. The military said soldiers arrested a Lebanese, a Syrian and a Palestinian for firing at an Army vehicle in October. The three are also wanted over several charges including drug dealing and theft. Meanwhile, the military discovered an arms cache Saturday near the Harba Mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh, a security source told The Daily Star, as other soldiers continue to comb the neighborhood particularly the bastion of two prominent militant leaders there.
Qatar mediator concludes 3-day talks with Arsal jihadists
The Daily Star/Nov. 01, 2014 /ARSAL, Lebanon: The Qatari-appointed mediator Saturday returned from the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal after three days of talks with Islamist militants holding 27 soldiers and policemen hostage, sources said.
The negotiations are the first serious sign of progress to free the servicemen since their capture during a five-day battle with the Lebanese Army three months ago. The mediator, tasked by Doha to negotiate the release of the hostages, held meetings for the past three days with the Nusra Front and ISIS on the outskirts of Arsal, a source familiar with the matter told The Star. The mediator had beeb staying in Arsal, but traveled to Beirut Saturday afternoon. Lebanese officials and Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, who has been tasked by the government to follow up on the case, have said that the militants have yet to issue their full demands in exchange for the release of the captives, taken hostage in August during a deadly battle with ISIS and Nusra militants.
ISIS has executed two soldiers while Nusra has killed one and has recently threatened to kill another in a bid to pressure the Lebanese Army to ease its measures on Tripoli, north Lebanon.
Sources told The Daily Star that the mediator had brought shipments of food with him when he first traveled to the outskirts Thursday.
Local media reports Saturday said the aid was a sign of good will by Qatar. The militants have demanded the release of Islamist detainees in Roumieh Prison held on terror charges without trial for the release of soldiers. But Prime Minister Tammam Salam has publicly rejected a swap deal to end the hostage ordeal. A delegation from the Committee of Muslim Scholars met with the relatives of the soldiers outside the Grand Serail and later told reporters that they would resume negotiations only if the Lebanese government tasked them with such a case.
With support for Syrians, the Iranian project fails
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /AAl Arabiya
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Iran is deploying all efforts to drag the United States to its side in the wide regional battle, especially in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza and Bahrain. This is the first time that Iranians have changed their strategy, which in the past was based on neutralizing the American power through threats or intimidation as in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Today, Tehran adopts a policy of rapprochement with the Americans. Iran is presenting itself as a reliable ally for ending, not just managing, regional crises. It is also portraying itself as is a regional power that can protect major Western interests.
This new approach is a major shift in the Iranian strategy. It recognizes the failure of the old policy which was based on creating troubles for the “Great Satan” and imposing Iran as a nuclear power. Today, it is looking forward to a comprehensive agreement with Washington that will mainly include the nuclear project.
However, the Iranian regime has to come a long way to reach a broad agreement beyond its nuclear file and become a partner in regional security. Tehran has to prove it is capable of managing battles on the ground and impose its political choices, whether in the face of terrorist organizations like ISIS, or through enabling Baghdad to impose its authority over all Iraqi territories, defeating the rebels in Syria, upholding the role of the Houthis and their allies in Yemen, achieving stability in Lebanon through Hezbollah, and finally ensuring good behavior of its ally in Gaza, Hamas.
Returning to the Syrian crisis
Achieving this mission is beyond the Iran’s capacity, but if it succeeds in one crisis, like Syria for instance, it will be able to end the crisis in Iraq, and it won’t be difficult to rein in Hamas in Gaza. What is being said about American-Iranian rapprochement seems to be true but it is based on illusions that Iran is capable of resolving difficult issues due to claims that Tehran is party in those conflicts.
“The Iranian regime has to come a long way to reach a broad agreement beyond its nuclear file and become a partner in regional security”
In my opinion, it is not difficult to prove that the Americans are mistaken in believing that Iran is incredibly influential. In order for Iran to fail to deceive the world into believing it is the golden key to the region, and in order for us to prove that it is in fact a party that failed to resolve any crisis, we must return to Syria.
This battle needs to be resolved. Iranians claim that they are about to resolve it, trying to convince the international coalition, led by the United States, to cooperate with them to support the Syrian army with intelligence and help it crush terrorist groups and degrade the Free Syrian Army.
We can see that the United States is using the expression of “forcing Assad to return to the negotiating table!” This is unclear and it could mean implementing the old Russian-Iranian project to keep the Syrian regime in power and Assad as president with some ministerial posts for the opposition. Here we have two types of opposition: one is created by Assad himself and is totally rejected by the majority of Syrians. The second is the legitimate opposition, which attended the Geneva II conference earlier this year. Forcing Assad to negotiate instead of resigning is in the interests of Iran. Through imposing a regime that suits it, the Islamic Republic can later dominate Iraq and Lebanon to become almost the only country that has the security guarantees of Israel’s safety and a powerful actor for any future regional peace agreement.
It is important to understand the overall scene and not just the sporadic battles, as we are facing a new shift in Iranian politics. We are dealing with an American president, who appears to suffer from a phobia of the Middle East’s problems that he eagerly wants to avoid. The American president believes that Arabs are passing through an idle stage, especially with the absence of their most powerful countries. President Barack Obama is perhaps ready for any convenient deal, so he gave up on the 500 centrifuges sticking point to triple that number, and is ready to lift sanctions on Iran without going through Congress.
This all reflects his strong desire to reach a quick agreement, after which Obama will score a media victory for a historic achievement. However, on the long-term such a deal would empower Iran, which is the regional source of all evils since 1979. The Americans will discover later that they have empowered the forces of evil in the entire region.
The Arab world should thoroughly think about the seriousness of the consequences of what is happening. This is not a conspiracy; it’s a chess game, and Syria is the Queen. In my opinion, Syria is the Iranian strategic point of weakness and it will be difficult for Iran to triumph there despite all claims. Unlike Iraq, 80 percent of the Syrian population is against any regime loyal to Iran, whether headed by Assad or not. Today, the regime, is barely controlling one-third of the country. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), despite it being shattered by ISIS and al-Nusra Front, remains the only combat camp qualified for development and governance later on. It represents all the components of the Syrian people. We support and back the FSA, the United States will have to deal with this, and the Iranian project to control the region will eventually fail. Consequently, Iran will automatically become weaker in Lebanon and Iraq. Sadly, we have noticed a decrease in the support for the FSA. There are only American promises for the FSA, which even if fulfilled at a later stage, they will be conditioned by the acceptance of an unfair deal in Damascus. This will weaken the FSA and not serve its objectives; it will only be a military brigade in the American-Iranian project for the new Syria.
Thus, the countries that are trying to wipe out the coalition and the FSA, such as Turkey, should be aware that they are committing a serious political mistake. The consequences of it will enable the Iranians to take over Damascus, similarly to when they enabled Hezbollah to take over Beirut in the past decade, for which the Lebanese and Arabs are sadly still paying the price for. They attacked the moderate Lebanese side 10 years ago, and now they are doing the same to the moderate Syrian civilian opposition.
Hisham Melhem/A;l Arabiya
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Next Tuesday, many voters participating in the mid-term elections will find themselves on the horn of a dilemma. Trying to square an impossible electoral circle, many will decide on how to punish President Obama and his party, while not rewarding the Republicans. Welcome to dysfunctional America circa 2014.
President Obama’s approval is around 44%, and barely 21% of Americans approve of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling their job. Only 14% of Americans approve of how the divided Congress is handling its job. The mood of the electorate is downbeat, with a majority of Americans saying that they cannot trust the federal government in Washington to do what is right or its ability to solve the big domestic and international problems facing the country from the Ebola virus, to the new challenge of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to Russia’s revival of Cold War tactics in the Ukraine and beyond.
At stake in Tuesday’s election are all 435 House of Representatives seats, 36 Senate seats and 36 governorships as well as 146 ballot initiatives in 42 states ranging from restricting abortion to legalizing marijuana, to providing additional information about what ingredients are in the food people consume. But the stakes go beyond the contested seats, because the elections are taking place at a time of growing internal and international uncertainty about American leadership and amid mounting questions about the ability of President Obama to lead the country and protect its vital interests and the interests of its allies during the last two years of his tenure.
We are accustomed to reading articles and books about the dysfunction in Washington caused by entrenched partisanship and parochial politics, but in the last few days we read a spate of articles about the dysfunction within the administration implying that Obama is presiding over a “team of bumblers”, lacking cohesion and clarity in the face of ISIS, and pursuing a disastrous policy in Syria.
Big Mo belongs to the Republicans
Most opinion polls show that it is very hard for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate and that the momentum which was once dubbed by the late President Gerald Ford as “Big Mo,” belongs to the Republicans who are on the verge of capturing the Senate and even enlarging their majority in the House of Representatives, thus controlling both chambers of Congress for the first time during Obama’s presidency. The Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win a simple majority in the Senate and they have many paths that could lead them to winning 51 seats.
“In recent years, the political and ideological polarization within the American political system has reached its lowest levels since the 1850s”
President Obama’s diminishing popularity, and his inability to pass any of his priorities in his second term from Immigration reform to raising the minimum wage, has made him radioactive to many Democratic candidates who shunned him and refused to appear with him on the campaign trail as if he should be quarantined at the White House until the elections are over. Senator Mary Landrieu (Democrat- Louisiana) waded into that forbidden territory of race when she said to NBC’s anchor Chick Todd “I will be very, very honest with you; the South has not always been the friendliest place for African Americans.” Of course, these Democratic candidates will always welcome the funds that the President has consistently raised from the Democratic base, which despite its disillusionment with some of his decisions, is still loyal to the promise of his 2008 campaign.
And once again, President Obama finds himself operating in the shadows of his former formidable opponent and later collaborator Hillary Clinton and that old reliable Democrat for all seasons Bill Clinton. And yet, watching the Democrats and listening to their pleas for funds, and their calls on the base to turn out and vote, given that many voters don’t bother with midterm elections, one senses that the prize, that is the Senate will be lost. In fact you can hear some Republican lawmakers and operatives sharpening their long knives and passing the ammunition for the kill. The hostility some Republicans in Congress harbors towards the President, some of it personal or related to his ethnic and social background more so than to his political views, will likely lead them to spend the next two years tormenting a president on the defensive, even if the spectacle of such a display of crass Schadenfreude is damaging to the national interest.
Decay and dysfunction
In recent years, the political and ideological polarization within the American political system has reached its lowest levels since the 1850s when the Northern and Southern states could not resolve their differences over slavery (whether to extend the abominable institution to the western states) which was one of the fundamental reasons that led to the civil war, the bloodiest and most traumatic event in American history.
In a recent groundbreaking essay titled “America in decay”, historian Francis Fukuyama posits that political decay occurs when institutions fail to adapt to changing external circumstances either because of intellectual rigidities or because of the ability of entrenched elites to block change. Fukuyama believes that “this is precisely what has been happening in the United States in recent decades, as many of its political institutions have become increasingly dysfunctional”. He ominously adds, “And there is no guarantee that the situation will change much without a major shock to the political order.” Of course we don’t need a civil war to break the decay and dysfunction, but Fukuyama’s warning is well taken.
Such dysfunction will become more salient if the Republicans win a majority in the Senate. There are some analysts who would argue that the Republicans will be forced to become less ideological and will seek common ground with the president to avoid alienating the electorate in 2016. But if recent history is any guide, and if some tea party candidates are elected, their roar and intimidating power will immobilize any moderate Republicans seeking accommodation to pass important legislation. More ominously, a president who already suffers from a perception of leadership deficit will be weakened further in the eyes of his domestic opponents and his international enemies, when bereft of congressional cover. Even with a Democratic Senate Obama’s exercise of international leadership was hesitant, tentative and wobbly as we have seen in the case of Syria and the Ukraine.
A Republican Senate and its discontents
A Republican Senate will attempt to roll back as much as possible of President Obama’s legacy, including repealing his signature achievement; the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), even though this will be an exercise in futility as most analysts would say, but such exercise would appeal to the “hell no” wing of the Republican party. There will be efforts to force Obama to allow for more oil and gas exploration on federal land and expand off shore drilling, and push for a vote on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, which is opposed by environmentalists and something that President Obama has resisted so far. The proponents of these moves claim that such decisions will make the U.S. self-sufficient in energy production and end its dependence on foreign oil. The control of the Republicans of the committees of the Senate will give them the powers to subpoena any senior official to testify in front of their committees. These powers will make it practically impossible for the president to nominate judges or ambassadors that the Republicans deem too liberal or progressive. There is no reason to believe that the Senate that some Republicans dubbed a legislative graveyard will cease to be so under Republican control. Washington will be more toxic, acrimonious and paralyzed, for two more years, a period that would feel like an eternity.
A Republican Senate will propel some of President Obama’s harshest critics such as Senator John McCain into leadership positions. Senator McCain is expected to become the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee should Republicans take the upper chamber. McCain and the other Senate leaders will try to put more constraints on the ability of the Obama administration’s dealing with Iran and will insist on preventing Iran from enriching Uranium and will seek tougher sanctions on Tehran if the P-5 plus one negotiations with Iran collapse. In a Republican Senate, calls for arming the Ukraine, a policy opposed by the Obama administration, will be louder and will be supplemented by tougher sanctions on Russia.
But the biggest confrontation between the Republican Senate and the Obama White House will be fought in the fluid Syrian-Iraqi theatre where ISIS has been challenging America’s supposedly formidable deterrence. Senator McCain has criticized Obama’s limited military strategy against ISIS. He said recently that “we may be able to ‘contain’ but to actually defeat ISIS is going to require more boots on the ground, more vigorous strikes, more special forces, further arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and creating a no-fly zone and buffer zone in Syria”.
Recent press reports about the dysfunction within the Obama administration regarding Syria will provide ammunition for a Republican Senate to expose the inherent contradictions of the administration and its obfuscations about Syria.
A memo from the secretary of defense Chuck Hagel to National Security Advisor Susan Rice warned that the administration’s strategy towards the future of Syrian dictator Assad is not clear, and that this ambiguity would endanger the international coalition, since some Arab partners are seeking explicitly the demise of the Assad regime. Also the decision by the White House to write off the Free Syrian Army’s active forces fighting ISIS and al-Nusra Front and instead try to establish a new small force from scratch by recruiting fighters from refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, and then not task this force with fighting ISIS or the Assad regime strikes many as another indication that the Obama administration is not serious about confronting the Syrian regime.
A recent report in the Wall Street Journal quoted a senior U.S. defense official working on Iraq as saying, “They [the U.S.] want to focus on ISIL [ISIS] and they are worried about antagonizing the Iranians, which they say may cause them to react –or the Shiite militias in Iraq to react –against our embassy and interests in Iraq and derail the [nuclear] talks,” He added “They are articulating in high-level interagency meetings that they don’t want to do anything that’s interpreted by the Iranians as threatening to the regime” of Bashar Assad. One could only imagine how senior Obama administration officials being grilled in congressional hearings organized by newly minted Republican chairmen.
Watching the numerous photos of Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s commander of the Quds Force, a division of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, smiling broadly with Peshmerga units and Iraqi Shiite militias, and observing his role in Syria and in Lebanon as the de facto commander of Shiite forces, one is tempted to call him Iran’s viceroy in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
If the U.S. and Iran are moving towards a new ‘détente’ as the Wall Street Journal is alleging, seeing a nuclear deal and the need to combat a new common enemy, ISIS as the basis of such a ‘détente’, then Washington should not be surprised if the Arab members of the international coalition see this arrangement as extending Iran’s borders to the Mediterranean and ceding Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Iran’s political orbit. If the Republicans control the Senate, one would hope to see a serious probe into the reasons why the Obama administration has actually abandoned the Syrian people to the tender mercies of the monstrosities called the Assad regime, ISIS and al-Nusra Front. President Obama’s approach to the Syrian tragedy amounts to a massive, shameful criminal negligence.
Persecution, torture, murder: Iran blasted on human rights ahead of UN hearing
By Jonathan Wachtel/·FoxNews.com
Published October 31, 2014
On the eve of Iran's defense of its human rights record Friday before a key United Nations panel, a lawyer for the woman executed in the Islamic Republic over the weekend for allegedly killing her attempted rapist accused the regime of widespread torture and murder.
A UN-appointed human rights advocate had already prepared a voluminous account of Tehran's egregious transgressions, including persecution and imprisonment of religious minorities, alarming numbers of executions and systematic disregard of due process by Saturday, when Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 27-year-old woman who had spent the last seven years in prison, was hanged. Jabbari became an international symbol of the regime's brutality, with the UN and rights groups such as Amnesty International decrying her death sentence. Jabbari's execution served to punctuate this week's hearings, including the independent forum in Geneva on Thursday and a procedure today before a UN Human Rights Council panel.
“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies.”
- Marina Nemat, former prisoner in Iran
"Because Reyhaneh Jabbari's case created a lot of attention inside and outside of Iran, a lot of people tried to save Reyhaneh Jabbari, but because of the power of Iran, on Saturday, they hanged her," Iranian Human Rights Attorney Mohammed Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari as well as some 200 death penalty defendants, told the independent watchdog group UN Watch on Thursday. "I'm sure we can -- if the Iranian government stopped the death penalty -- we can improve human rights in Iran."
Mostafaei, who represented Jabbari before fleeing Iran under threat, said Iranian jurisprudence disregards the concept of intent in determining guilt and meting out punishment, relying on sharia law. Once defendants are arrested, coerced confessions are common, say critics.
On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council conducted its periodic review of Iran's record in Geneva. Iran has long denied access to the UN’s independent experts and so-called special rapporteurs, including Ahmed Shaheed, the world body's special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. The meeting in Switzerland provided a rare occasion for UN member states to engage with the Iranian authorities, who have submitted a rebuttal which claims the regime does not engage in torture.
Iran's justice minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, blamed Jabbari's death on the west, and several allies of Tehran, including Venezuela and Belarus, actually praised the Islamic Republic for defending human rights.
In this picture taken on Dec. 15, 2008, Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari, center, sits while attending her trial in a court in Tehran, Iran. Jabbari was hanged on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, who was convicted of murdering a man she said was trying to rape her, the official IRNA news agency reported. (AP)
According to a 28-page report submitted by Shaheed, some 852 people were reportedly executed between July 2013 and June 2014 in “an alarming increase” over already high rates from previous years. In 2014 alone, at least eight people executed were believed to have been under the 18 at the time when they allegedly committed their crimes.
While capital punishment is permitted under international law for cases involving intentional homicide, Shaheed noted, Iran applies it to economic and drug crimes and even homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law. In addition, children often view the public executions, typically carried out by hanging convicts from cranes in public.
"Eighty-percent of the 800 documented [executions] were for drug offenses," Shaheed said.
And the real problem, according to Shaheed, whose report notes prosecution of journalists, labor and education activists and forced marriages of girls as young as 9, is that Iranians cannot feel secure under the rule of law.
"When your rights aren't guaranteed [and] they depend upon the human fancy of those in power, then you live in either self-denial or self-limitation," he said. "There are reprisals against those who cooperate with international human rights mechanisms. I think it is fair to say that there is a climate of fear in terms of people not being able to exercise their rights fully."
The election more than a year ago of President Hassan Rouhani, who ran as a moderate and stoked hopes of a more tolerant regime, has not brought about the hoped-for reforms. Although some say the religious clerics who carry more power in the Islamic Republic, are responsible for the continuing human rights violations, critics say Rouhani could do more.
At least three American citizens are believed to be held in Iran, including Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Boise, Idaho, married father of two who went back to his homeland to help establish a secular orphanage and was imprisoned for proselytizing; Amir Hekmati, a U.S. Marine who went to visit an ailing grandparent and was arrested and accused of being a spy and Robert Levinson, a former FBI and DEA agent who disappeared while investigating a cigarette -smuggling ring in the Kish Islands and is now believed to be the longest-held hostage in American history. Iran denies it is holding Levinson, but the State Department says it is.
Thursday's hearing by UN Watch served as something of a prelude to the UN's official inquiry on Friday. In addition to Mostafaei, the panel heard from former prisoners of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, who recalled the horrors they endured. Marina Nemat, who was sent to Evin in 1981 at age 16 and says she was interrogated and tortured and even raped and forced to marry a prison guard, scoffed at Iran's defense of its human rights record.
"Iran doesn’t torture? Iran respects women’s rights?" an incredulous Nemat, now a professor at University of Toronto, asked at Thursday's forum. "They hired a fiction writer. I hope there is someone at the UN who would hold them accountable.
“I ask you to not allow for Iran to get away with lies,” she said in a direct appeal to today's UN gathering. “There are so many people who are more than willing to testify against it."
**The Associated Press and FoxNews.com's Perry Chiaramonte contributed reporting to this story.
Behind the lines: The Jihadi connection between Sinai, Gaza and Islamic State
By JONATHAN SPYER/11/01/2014 /J.Post
What kind of relations do the jihadists of northern Sinai and Gaza have with Islamic State, and with Hamas? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month national emergency this week, following the killing of over 31 Egyptian soldiers in a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists in northern Sinai.
No organization has issued an authoritative claim of responsibility for the bombing, but it comes amid a state of open insurgency in northern Sinai, as Egyptian security forces battle a number of jihadist organizations. Most prominent among these groups are Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen; the attack on the Sinai military base came a few days after an Egyptian court sentenced seven members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to death for carrying out previous attacks on the army.
In subsequent days, Egyptian officials pointed an accusing finger at the Hamas rulers of Gaza, asserting there is “no doubt that elements belonging to Palestinian factions were directly involved in the attack.” Cairo is now set to build a new barrier separating the Strip from northern Sinai.
In a number of Arabic media outlets, unnamed Egyptian government sources openly accused Hamas members of aiding the assault, assisting with planning, funding and weapons supply.
Are the Egyptian claims credible? Are there links between Hamas or smaller jihadist movements in the Gaza Strip and the insurgents in northern Sinai? And no less importantly, is the armed campaign in northern Sinai linked to Islamic State? First, it is important to understand that jihadist activity in northern Sinai is not a new development. Long before the military coup of July 3, 2013, and indeed before the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, this area had become a lawless zone in which jihadists and Beduin smugglers of people and goods carried out their activities.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis emerged from this already existing jihadist milieu in the period following Mubarak’s ouster.
At this time, Egyptian security measures in the area sharply declined.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has not confined its activities to the Sinai area; rather, it has directly engaged in attacks on Israeli targets. Recently, the group beheaded four Sinai locals who it accused of being “spies for the Mossad,” also carrying out two rocket attacks on Eilat this past January.
The claim of links between Hamas and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been raised in the past. In September, Egyptian security forces claimed to have found uniforms and weaponry identifiable as belonging to Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam brigades.
It is worth remembering that the current Egyptian government has, since its inception, sought to link salafi jihadist terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as part of its strategy of marginalizing and criminalizing the Brotherhood.
The current statements seeking to link Hamas directly to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis may form part of this larger strategy.
For its part, Hamas indignantly denies any link to this week’s bombing.
But what can be said with greater confidence is there is, without doubt, a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture which encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza – with various organizations possessing members and infrastructure on both sides of the border.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis itself and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen both have members in Sinai and Gaza. Working tunnels smuggling goods and weapons exist between Gaza and northern Sinai, despite Egyptian attempts to destroy them. It is also a fact that Hamas is aware of these tunnels and makes no attempt to act against them, benefiting economically from their presence.
From this standpoint, Hamas authorities in Gaza are guilty by omission of failing to act against the infrastructure supplying and supporting salafi guerrillas in northern Sinai, whether or not the less verifiable claims of direct Hamas links with them have a basis.
Given this reality, it is also not hard to understand the Egyptian determination to build an effective physical barrier between the Strip and Egyptian territory.
What of the issue of support for Islamic State? Should these jihadist groups be seen as a southern manifestation of the Sunni jihadist wave now sweeping across Iraq, Syria and increasingly, Lebanon? From an ideological point of view, certainly yes.
From an organizational point of view, the situation is more complex.
According to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadist groups currently based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the Middle East Forum, neither Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis nor Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen have formally pledged their allegiance to the caliphate established by Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Nevertheless, Tamimi confirmed, both organizations have expressed “support” for Islamic State and its objectives, while not subordinating themselves to it through a pledge of allegiance.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is known to maintain contacts with Islamic State, which has advised it on the mechanics of carrying out operations. Islamic State, meanwhile, has publicly declared its support for the jihadists in northern Sinai, without singling out any specific group for public support.
Tamimi further notes the existence of two smaller and more obscure groups in Gaza with more direct links to Islamic State.
These are Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of Helpers/ Supporters of the Islamic State in Bayt al-Maqdis), which carries out propaganda activities from Gaza and helps funnel volunteers to Syria and Iraq, and the Sheikh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Battalion, a Gazan contingent fighting with Islamic State in these countries.
So, a number of conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, Hamas, in its tolerance of and engagement with smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, at least indirectly permits the jihadists networks operating these tunnels to wage their insurgency against Egypt – even if the claims of a direct Hamas link to violent activities in Sinai have not yet been conclusively proven.
Secondly, the most important organizations engaged in this insurgency support Islamic State, and are supported by them, though the former have not yet pledged allegiance and become directly subordinate to the latter.
Islamic State is not yet in northern Sinai, but its close allies are. Their activities are tolerated by the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip – as long as they are directed outward, against Egypt and Israel.
La voie de la paix
Farès SOUHAID* | OLJ
Le Moyen-Orient se trouve actuellement à un tournant majeur de son histoire. Face à ce tournant, les chrétiens sont perplexes, craintifs, voire même apeurés et dépassés par les événements.
Leurs institutions ecclésiastiques et politiques semblent tétanisés devant l'ampleur des changements en cours et affichent : « Cerveau en panne ! »
C'est au moment où notre intelligence est plus que jamais nécessaire pour analyser et prendre des décisions qui pourraient assurer notre avenir et celui de nos enfants que nous avons décidé d'abolir nos capacités intellectuelles et de nous montrer inefficaces dans une région où s'entremêlent les conflits de religion, les guerres d'influences entre puissances régionales, et les intérêts internationaux. Pour être encore plus clair, les événements de la région ouvrent la porte à une nouvelle réalité politique qui, après avoir traversé une période transitionnelle incontournable, aboutira à de nouvelles données politiques, sociales, économiques et autres.
Devant un changement qui se fait dans la douleur en Syrie, en Irak, dans le Golfe jusqu'au Maghreb arabe, faut-il attendre, vingt ans peut-être, avant de décider du choix à faire ? Faut-il tourner le dos aux événements en cours et considérer qu'il s'agit d'une guerre interminable entre les deux ailes de l'islam qui ne nous concerne pas? Ou bien faut-il tirer les leçons de nos expériences passées pour essayer de prendre les bonnes décisions ?
Après la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale et la mise en place du mandat franco-britannique, le monde a assisté à une série de changements qui étaient à l'époque d'une importance capitale : la disparition de l'Empire ottoman, le passage de l'Allemagne de la monarchie à la République, la victoire franco-britannique et la révolution bolchevique.
Durant cette période, il y eut le massacre des Arméniens par l'armée des « Jeunes Turcs » patronnée par Moustapha Kamal, un des rares généraux qui réussit à surmonter l'effondrement de l'Empire pour se replier dans la région d'Alep.
À la même époque, les chrétiens de Mossoul furent massacrés, et les chaldéens, les syriaques et d'autres contraints à l'exode.
Et c'est précisément face à ces bouleversements régionaux et internationaux que notre Église d'Élias Hoayek avait opté pour un Grand Liban, en 1920, basé sur la convivialité islamo-chrétienne ; cette même Église avait demandé au mandat la création d'un Liban porteur d'un message de paix, elle avait rejeté l'idée du Liban pays refuge des chrétiens de la région. Nous avions par la suite jeté les bases d'une Constitution, en 1926, nous nous étions opposés au mandat français, en 1943, et avions participé à la création de la Ligue arabe, puis à la rédaction de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme.
Nous sommes fiers, et parfois même arrogants (contrairement aux Tunisiens qui réussissent en gardant une modestie exemplaire) :
– Nous sommes fiers parce que nous avons rejeté le statut de minorité apeurée en faveur d'une communauté dynamique, aspirant sans cesse à consolider son partenariat avec les autres.
– Nous sommes fiers parce que nous avons bénéficié de l'apport culturel assuré par les congrégations religieuses françaises après les massacres de 1860, sans pour autant croire que nos ancêtres étaient effectivement gaulois.
– Nous sommes fiers parce que, malgré le récit du général Jean d'Hautpoul sur le massacre de Deir el-Qamar, nous avons réussi à triompher de nos blessures et à établir de nouvelles relations avec les druzes de la Montagne, ainsi qu'avec l'islam, basées sur la convivialité.
– Nous sommes fiers parce que notre opposition au mandat français a collaboré à la création d'une identité politique arabe, après 400 ans d'Empire ottoman et 20 ans de mandat.
– Nous sommes fiers parce que ce choix a permis à nos jeunes ingénieurs, avocats, médecins et cadres d'apporter leur pierre à l'édification du monde arabe dans un climat d'entente culturelle et sociologique.
– Nous sommes fiers parce que nous n'avons pas eu recours à l'édification d'un mur entre nous et le monde arabe pour délimiter des frontières culturelles et politiques.
Une communauté qui a hérité d'un patrimoine aussi prestigieux dans le passé devrait pouvoir trouver sa voie aujourd'hui. Cette voie est à portée de main, il faut la saisir : notre rôle est de promouvoir la culture de la paix face à la violence.
La paix entre les deux ailes de l'islam.
La paix entre juifs et musulmans, entre Israéliens et Arabes.
La paix entre les sociétés arabes et leurs régimes politiques.
La paix entre les deux rives de la Méditerranée.
La paix entre le monde arabe et l'Occident.
Notre société était globalisée avant la globalisation.
Notre Église est rattachée à Rome depuis près de 1 000 ans.
Les thèmes débattus par notre classe politique (la décentralisation, la loi électorale...) ne suffisent plus à nous donner espoir. Il faut agir, entreprendre, voir grand pour pouvoir surmonter nos peines quotidiennes. C'est le moins que l'on puisse faire pour le Liban.
* Coordinateur général des forces du 14 Mars
New UK law would ban critics of Sharia from broadcasting, protesting or even posting messages on Facebook
Robert SpencerOct 31/14
The last free person in Britain, if there is one, might as well turn out the lights. If this becomes law, Britain is finished as a free society. As the law would also forbid opposition to gay marriage, it would be interesting to see what would happen if a proponent of Sharia protested against gay marriage — but Muslim groups are largely for it, since it opens the door to the legalization of polygamy.
In any case, future free historians, if there are any, will look back at David Cameron and Theresa May as essentially saboteurs and traitors who administered the coup de grace to their own nation as a free republic. If Britain were still a sane society, as soon as this law was suggested there would have been a no-confidence vote and the Conservative government would have fallen — followed by the arrest of Cameron and May and criminal proceedings against them. Instead, Britain appears prepared to go quietly, although civil war still very likely looms in its future. “Sharia law or gay marriage critics would be branded ‘extremists’ under Tory plans, atheists and Christians warn,” by John Bingham, the Telegraph, October 31, 2014:
Anyone who criticises Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an “extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission. Mrs May outlined the proposal in a speech at the Tory party conference in which she spoke about the threat from the so-called Islamic State – also known as Isis and Isil – and the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram.
But George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”.
He explained that that the new orders, which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to any activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
.The obvious problem with this is that Leftists and Islamic supremacists constantly advance the false claim that opposition to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism is justifying hatred against people, and the Cameron government clearly endorses this view — hence the ban on Pamela Geller and me. So this law will be used to curtail any opposition to the advance of Sharia in the UK.
He also disclosed that anyone seeking to challenge such an order would have to go the High Court, appealing on a point of law rather than fact.
The National Secular Society and the Christian institute – two organisations with often diametrically opposing interests – said they shared fears that the broad scope of extremism could represent a major threat to free speech.
Keith Porteous Wood, director of the NSS, said secularists might have to think twice before criticising Christianity or Islam. He said secularists risk being Islamophobic and racist because of their high profile campaigns against the advance of Sharia law in the UK.
“The Government should have every tool possible to tackle extremism and terrorism, but there is a huge arsenal of laws already in place and a much better case needs to be made for introducing draconian measures such as Extremism Disruption Orders, which are almost unchallengeable and deprive individuals of their liberties,” he said.
“Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what are ‘harmful activities of extremist individuals who spread hate’ is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government.”…
A Conservative spokesman said: “Freedom of expression and freedom of speech are a vital part of a democratic society….
Yes, but obviously not of British society. Not anymore.
Jordan bans Halloween after Muslim Brotherhood condemns it as “homosexual and
Robert Spencer/Oct 31, 2014
“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” — Ayatollah Khomeini
“Jordan bans ‘gay, Satanic’ Halloween,” by Darren Wee, GayStarNews, October 31, 2014 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Jordan has banned Halloween fearing of a backlash from Muslim fundamentalists who condemn the festival as ‘homosexual and Satanic.’Ministry of Interior spokesperson Ziad Al Zoubi confirmed the decision to Al Ghad daily. He said all sorts of activities surrounding Halloween had been banned to prevent a repeat of the previous two years’ riots in the capital Amman. The ministry was forced to make the ban public after several groups asked the department permission to hold celebrations.
In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attacked Halloween celebrations and set fire to a cafe where a party was being held. ‘We watched with disgust and shame last night homosexual and Satanic rituals in an Amman cafe. This presents a challenge to the values of the Jordanian people and their Arab and Muslim identity, as well as a violation of religious laws,’ the group said in a statement on its website. They even demanded the party organisers be tried for the ‘grotesque act.’
IAEA: Iran stopped answering questions about nuclear arms development
Ynetnews/11.01.14/ Israel News
NYT report cites Amano as saying Tehran failed to stand behind commitment to provide information regarding past attempts to develop components of nuclear bomb.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday during a visit to Washington that Iran has stopped answering the agency's questions regarding its efforts in the past to develop components of a nuclear bomb, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Amano said that Iran failed to stand behind its commitment to provide information regarding what he termed as "possible military dimensions” of a nuclear program. He added that although he had received assurances from Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani that he would explain the ambiguity surrounding the matter, the cooperation did not develop any further.
"What is needed now is action,” the NYT quoted Mr. Amano as saying in reference to dozens of topics that Iran has refused to address. Iran, on the other hand, claims that the evidence obtained by the agency is false.
Meanwhile, Deputy US national security adviser Ben Rhodes compared an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program to Obamacare, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
"Bottom line is, this is the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian issue diplomatically, certainly since President Obama came to office, and probably since the beginning of the Iraq war,” the site quoted Rhodes as saying. “So no small opportunity, it’s a big deal. This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is healthcare for us, just to put it in context.”
Kerry, Iran minister to meet ahead of deadline for atom deal
Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Iran's foreign minister and the European Union foreign policy chief in Oman on Nov. 9-10 to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue ahead of a looming deadline for a final agreement, the US State Department said on Friday. Kerry's talks in Muscat, Oman with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's Catherine Ashton are due to take place two weeks before a Nov. 24 deadline for Tehran and six major powers to reach a long-term agreement on Iran's nuclear program. The high-level gathering is one of series of meetings in the final weeks before the deadline. Before heading to Oman Ashton will meet senior foreign ministry officials from the six powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States in Vienna on Nov. 7, Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann said.
The six will then begin meeting again with the full Iranian delegation in Vienna on November 18, he added. EU coordinates the negotiations on behalf of the six powers. "The aim of the talks is to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran by Nov. 24, under which it would reassure the international community about the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program," Mann said in a statement. Last week the top US negotiator in the Iran talks, Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, said Iran will be widely seen as responsible if a comprehensive deal to curb its nuclear program is not reached. Both sides say they still aim to meet the Nov. 24 deadline for a deal, despite doubts among many experts that they can reach an accord that would end a decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program with just a few weeks remaining. Relations with the West have thawed since Hassan Rouhani was elected president last year seeking to end Iran's international isolation, and the talks are aimed at easing concerns about Tehran's atomic activities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. But Western officials say there are still differences in the positions of the two sides, especially over the future scope of Iran's uranium enrichment program, which can have civilian and military uses.
The United States, France, Britain and Germany would like the number of enrichment centrifuges Iran maintains to be in the low thousands, while Tehran wants to keep tens of thousands in operation. It now has about 19,000 installed, of which about 10,000 are spinning to refine uranium. Iran and the six powers reached an interim deal last November under which Tehran received limited sanctions relief in exchange for halting the production of medium enriched uranium. That six-month accord took effect early this year and was extended by four months in July.
Diplomacy: Back to square one on
By YOSSI MELMAN/11/01/2014
Marking the 20th anniversary of the peace treaty with Jordan, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon this week talked about the importance of the “strategic alliance” between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom. The alliance, said Ya’alon at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Center, was created by the events of September 1970. But that is only partially true. Indeed, the 1970 events were pivotal in lifting the special yet secret relations that existed between the two sides to a new level, but they were the result of a close, clandestine intelligence and security cooperation that had began a decade earlier, as well as of their unique mutual geo-strategic posture. A brief reminder: After three years in which Yasser Arafat’s PLO had created in Jordan a state within a state, threatening the very existence of the regime, King Hussein decided that enough was enough. He declared war on the PLO, and his army – the welltrained Arab Legion founded by the British – butchered Palestinian combatants. President Hafez Assad of Syria, who with his radical anti-monarchist approach saw himself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, sent in tanks to help the PLO. The Jordanian monarch feared the invasion would result in his being toppled by the joint Syrian-Palestinian force. Encouraged by the Nixon administration, which perceived the king as a pro-American regional asset, Israel was brought into the frame. Jerusalem concentrated forces on the Israeli-Jordanian border and sent its air force to patrol the skies, signaling to the Syrian invaders that it was ready to act. The message was received loud and clear in Damascus.
Assad ordered his tanks to roll back, and the king’s life and regime were saved by Israeli intervention – and it was not the first time. At his Rabin Center lecture, the defense minister also referred to the relations between the two countries as a “secret alliance,” without elaborating. At the center of this is the perception that both countries share common interests and are exposed to the same threats, namely Palestinian terrorists and Arab radicals. Thus, Jordan was and still remains Israel’s best strategic asset in the region.
THIS UNDERSTANDING goes all the way back to the pre-state days when King Abdullah I, who founded the kingdom with the help of the British, started flirting with Zionist leaders. On the eve of the War of Independence, he secretly met twice with Golda Meir, hoping to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel while offering the Jewish community of Palestine an autonomous entity within the Hashemite Kingdom. The offer was rejected by Meir, but the two sides reached a tacit understanding.
Israel would allow the Arab Legion to conquer the territory allocated by the UN Partition Plan to an “Arab state,” namely the West Bank, and in return Jordan would not invade areas allocated for the Jewish state.
Aside from some local battlefields around Jerusalem, the two sides respected the understanding.
After the 1948 war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and ruled the two banks of the Jordan River. Because of his dealings with the Jews and Israel, three years later Abdullah was assassinated by a Palestinian gunman. In 1952 his grandson, the young Hussein, was crowned.
For a decade, the new king struggled to survive in the rough sea of Pan-Arabism preached by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who conspired to oust the king. In that period, Israel helped the king survive such attempts at least twice, by providing him with intelligence tips about the plot to kill him by Syrian and Egyptian agents. Jerusalem, which saw Amman as buffer zone against the expansion of Arab radicalism from Iraq and Syria, had a strong interest in the king keeping his crown and ensuring Jordan remained pro-Western. Yet only in 1963 did the now mature king realize that having better relations with Israel was to his benefit, and that Israel was the best guarantor of his regime’s survival. That year he met secretly in London with Yaacov Herzog, then deputy director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office. The broker was Dr. Emmanuel Herbert, a British Jew who was the king’s private physician but also an ardent supporter of Israel with close ties to British Zionist leaders such as Lord Sieff, one of the owners of the Marks & Spencer chain.
Yet his secret ties didn’t prevent him from making Jordan’s biggest mistake. The king couldn’t resist Nasser’s request and threats, and joined Egypt in waging war against Israel. In that Six Day War, Jordan lost the West Bank.
After realizing his error and regretting it, the king renewed secret ties with Israel; he went on to meet with Israeli leaders, sitting down dozens of times with Mossad chiefs, long before signing the peace treaty in 1994.
In fact, from 1968, until his death in 1999, Hussein met with every Israeli prime minister - with one exception, Menachem Begin, who made peace with Egypt but refused to see the Jordanian monarch.
In the meetings, the king exchanged views and intelligence estimates about regional developments. He also occasionally provided information, as he did in a meeting with Meir in September 1973, warning that Egypt and Syria had decided to attack Israel. Israeli chiefs of intelligence and the political echelon refused to believe him; two weeks later, the Yom Kippur War broke out. That was another poor judgment call by the king in terms of Jordanian interests. Had he joined the invading armies, he may have forced Israel to withdraw at least partially from the West Bank, as it did from Sinai and Quneitra on the Golan Heights.
THE 1994 peace treaty aimed to normalize relations primarily on two fronts.
One was to bring out into the open some of the secret security ties between the two nations. Jordanian intelligence was one of the Mossad’s best partners, to the point that they acted together against a common enemy – the Palestinians. The Jordanians would tip off the Mossad about terrorists, handing them over to Israel on occasion and letting Israeli experts observe interrogations of radical Palestinians. Jordanian intelligence even showed readiness to assassinate Hamas and Hezbollah guerrillas if needed.
The second aim was to generate economic ties and help Jordan strengthen its economy.
While the security aspect has been satisfactory, economic relations between the two sides never really took off. True, Israel pumps from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) to provide Jordan with desperately needed water. And true, some Israeli textile firms opened factories in Jordan, mainly because of the low cost of the workforce. Very recently, an agreement to supply Amman with Israeli natural gas from its Mediterranean fields was signed, and there is also a direct aviation line between the two countries.
But these transactions and activities are not enough, and Jordan has suffered from Israeli red tape disguised as security concerns.
The gloomy reality of a cold peace has not met the great expectations for peace dividends.
Towering above all this is the unsolved Palestinian problem. Jordan has an enormous interest in seeing the creation of a Palestinian state; otherwise, it fears that one day Israel will expel Palestinians from the West Bank to make room for more Jewish settlements.
This would eventually make Jordan, which already has a Palestinian majority of some 70 percent, into a Palestinian state.
Thus, what remains of the great vision for peace with Jordan? A shattered dream, and mutual interests in the realm of security and intelligence.
In other words, we are back to square one, to where we were before the peace treaty was signed.
**Yossi Melman is an Israeli journalist and writer who specializes in security and intelligence affairs. He is co-author of "Spies Against Armageddon: inside Israel's Secret Wars.