LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Quotation For Today/Paul’s Anguish Over Israel
Romans 09/01-06: "speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 03-04/14
ISIS Snuffs Out Ancient Christianity: Muslim Persecution of Christians, June 2014/Raymond Ibrahim
Israel needs both US parties' support/Eytan Gilboa /Ynetnews/November 03/14
Al-Sisi's disengagement from Gaza/Smadar Perry/Ynetnews/November 03/14
Like Arabs, Israelis only understand force/Rafael Castro/Ynetnews/November 03/14
For Israel, midterms spell leverage on Iran talks through Senate/MICHAEL WILNER/P.Post/November 03/14
U.S.-backed Syria rebels routed by fighters linked to al-Qaeda/Liz Sly/The Washington Post/November 03/14
Can Obama Reboot, Does he even want to/By GLENN THRUSH and CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN/Politico Magazine/November 03/14
Prince Turki’s Blunt Message to Washington: Only Assad’s Ouster Can Defeat the Islamic State/Middle East Briefing/November 03/14
Lebanese Related News
published on November
Nasrallah Says Extension or Elections Better than Vacuum, Hails Mustaqbal Stance on North Clashes
New Head of Israel's Northern Command: Terror Groups Could Join Hizbullah
Lebanon's Parliamentary Term Extension: Wrong time to politicize
Lebanon's Arabic press digest – Nov. 3, 2014
Al-Akhbar retracts Rifi allegation over funnel cash to militants
Syria not inclined to help in Lebanese hostage crisis: report
Syria Refuses to Repeat Aazaz Experience, Not Willing to Respond to Demands of Terrorists
Kahwagi off to Riyadh for arms deal signing ceremon
France to Deliver Arms to Lebanon Under Saudi Deal at Beginning of Year
Powers push for inter-Lebanese talks as Iran deal looms
Salam mulls seeking Syria’s help to resolve hostage crisis
Geagea rules out presidential vote
Berri Frustrated over Extension Vote Stances amid Christian Split
Geagea Expected to Make 'Last-Minute Initiative' on Extension Crisis
Hezbollah MP Musawi hits back at Rifi
Sidon politicians raise breast cancer awareness
Sidon reels from flooding after heavy rains
Arsal in grips of hepatitis outbreak
Hermel imposes curfew on Syrians during Ashoura
Hezbollah does not care about Lebanon: Fatfat
Development project defies tenuous climate
Christian-Muslim meet to tackle terrorism: Derian
Suspects Arrested in Tripoli for Assaults on Army
Army Repels Attack by Gunmen in Arsal
Tripoli Fighter Killed in Syria's Kobane
Shahhal: New Defense Tactics to be Unveiled Soon, Arms Incident 'Exaggerated'
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Canada conducts first airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq
Report: 1/4 of wealthiest Russians are Jews Pew poll: Israel most hated country in Turkey
Netanyahu: Muslim worshipers can continue to pray at Temple Mount
Netanyahu: Abbas condolence letter to Glick shooter is act of incitement
Hamas opposes U.N. reconstruction plan
Syrian TV starts Hebrew-language site Iraq on 'high alert' for attacks on pilgrims
Singapore to join coalition against ISIS Syrian al-Qaida forces amass near Turkey crossing Blast rocks Shiite ceremony in Nigeria: witnesses Gunmen free at least 50 inmates in central Nigeria
All Yemen parties agree on technocratic Cabinet Jordan's king vows to stand up to Israel on Jerusalem
Abbas Letter of Condolences Outrages Israeli Leaders
Below Jihad Watch
UK to aid jihadis returning from Islamic State if they have “good intentions”
Leave elegance to the tailor
UK: Muslim sets fire to Army cadet selling Remembrance Day poppies
“One of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims” backs the Islamic State
Jihad suicide bomber at India/Pakistan border murders over 50
Pakistan: 5 jihadis arrested, jihad attack on Shi’ites averted
Islamic State jihadi gets baby to kick severed head
Video: Islamic State jihadis happily discuss buying and selling sex slaves
Egypt: Eight men jailed for appearing in “gay wedding” video
Robert Spencer in PJ Media: 8 of This Week’s Most Absurd Statements About Islam and Jihad
Bangladesh Islamic leader sentenced to death for war crimes
Malaysia: Muslims protest new church, say it’s part of attempt to convert Muslims
Lebanon's Parliamentary Term Extension: Wrong time to politicize
Nov. 03, 2014/The Daily Star/People in Lebanon have been long aware that a second extension of Parliament’s mandate is a done deal, despite some of the rhetoric they are being subjected to these days. There is a time and place for such petty displays of point-scoring by politicians who claim they oppose an extension, but who in the end will help it come to pass. A bit of grandstanding and deceptive rhetoric might be in order when it comes to issues of limited consequences, but the extension of Parliament’s mandate is not one of these occasions. This applies especially to Christian political parties, whose members want to avoid being seen as going along with the extension. But in the end, they will fall in line and actively or passively support the vote. In the abstract, extending Parliament’s mandate is something to be avoided at all costs. But in practice, there is a substantial cost, with Lebanon already reeling from a vacant presidency. If people are faced with a choice between Lebanon limping along, or seeing a total collapse of national decision-making institutions, then extending Parliament’s mandate is the lesser of two evils. If some politicians are trying to convince the public of their seriousness in opposing this move, they should remember that the public has already largely tuned them out and don’t believe that their words will have much of an impact on the situation to begin with. As for politicians who are truly concerned about what people think, they should start working now on a feasible way to hold elections when the next mandate expires – it would be a clear, dramatic break with their performance of the last 17 months.
Kahwagi off to Riyadh for arms deal signing ceremony
The Daily Star/Nov. 03, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi will attend a signing ceremony Tuesday to close a long-awaited $3 billion weapons deal financed by Saudi Arabia and delivered by France, a security source said. The source told The Daily Star that Kahwagi, at the invitation of Saudi Arabia, left Beirut for Riyadh Monday.The final deal between France and Saudi Arabia to provide Lebanon's Army with $3 billion in arms comes after a nearly one-year delay. Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported Monday that the agreement would be signed at the royal palace in Riyadh, citing unnamed French sources. The Saudi aid package was announced late last year, but Riyadh has reportedly held back on finalizing the deal over concerns that the weapons could benefit its archfoe Hezbollah. Lebanon has been engaged in a war against jihadists along the border with Syria after Islamist militants briefly overran the northeastern town of Arsal in early August. The Army has received batches of weapons and military equipment from the United Kingdom and the United States. Lebanon is also waiting on another Saudi military donation worth $1 billion announced in August. Iran has also pledged military aid to Lebanon, and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel last month visited Tehran to discuss the terms of the offer.
Syria not inclined to help in Lebanese hostage crisis: report
The Daily Star/Nov. 03, 2014 /BEIRUT: Damascus is unenthusiastic about Islamist militants’ proposal to swap Lebanese servicemen for women held in Syrian jails, a Syrian minister was quoted as saying Monday. Damascus "will look into the matter once it receives an official list of names, knowing that the two previous experiences have shown that the terrorists include fake or duplicate names or names of prisoners who had been released under an amnesty or reconciliation," the minister told Lebanese daily An-Nahar. His name was not revealed. An-Nahar said the minister showed a lack of enthusiasm in terms of responding the jihadists’ demands. "We don’t see any justification for repeating the Azaz experience after Beirut failed to thank Damascus for ending one of the bizarre kidnapping stories on the Syrian-Turkish border,” he said. The minister said Damascus had not received any request from the Lebanese government in this respect. Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, tasked with following up on the hostage crisis, has handed the captors’ demands to Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Salam will contact Cabinet members to discuss sending Ibrahim to Syria for talks on the 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held captive by ISIS and the Nusra Front since August, ministerial sources said Sunday. Ibrahim had received the kidnappers’ demands from Syrian Ahmad al-Khatib, who has been appointed by Qatar to negotiate a solution to the 3-month-old crisis. Nusra Front, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, said Saturday that it had given Khatib an initial list of names of prisoners it wanted released in exchange for the 27 servicemen. Nusra suggested three proposals that could ultimately resolve the case: the release of 10 detainees in Lebanese prisons for each captive; the release of seven Lebanese and 30 women held in Syrian prisons for each captive; or the release of five Lebanese and 50 female detainees in exchange for the release of each hostage.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed
Hasan Nasrallah Appears in Person: Our Actual Candidate for President, Michel
Local Editor /Al Manar
Defying all threats, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah appeared in person at Sayyed Shohadaa complex unleashing stances on internal and regional issues. "Our actual candidate for the presidential elections is General Michel Aoun," Sayyed Nasrallah said from Beirut's southern suburb in commemoration of the tenth night of Ashura, adding that "he who's betting on external conflicts to elect the President will wait for years." He said that if the local forces want to engage in national dialogue, "they must first liberate themselves from regional vetoes." "The main dialogue must take place with our candidate, whose name is Michel Aoun," he said. His Eminence added that Tehran rejects any framed settlements along the nuclear negotiations and Syria, despite its interior crisis, announced its acceptance to whatever Lebanese agree upon about the presidential elections. "If the presidential elections had become out of the hands of the Lebanese so let's return it from those of regional powers." Concerning the extension of the parliament, Sayyed Nasrallah asserted that heading to the vacuum in the Parliament is a big blow, especially if it was added to the presidential vacuum. "We totally reject heading to vacuum but a group of the Sunni component does not want parliamentary elections while a team of the Christian component does not want an extension, " the S.G. said. "We are before three options for the Parliament, either an extension, a vacuum or elections." He indicated that extension or elections are better than vacuum. He called on all parliamentary blocs to help Speaker Nabih Berri in order to pull the country out of a major crisis. On security developments in Tripoli, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Lebanese army had bore the brunt in the face of the challenge in Tripoli, "they had also been exposed to lots of abuses on the ground and at media and political levels but they continued their mission and succeeded." "An extra factor that contributed to overstep Lebanon this major catastrophe was the behavior of the residents of Tripoli and the North and the political leaders of the dear Sunni Muslim community," he added hailing the stances of the prime minister, the Mufti and the ex-PMs, "but the main role was played by al-Mustaqbal movement and its leaders." "The resistance has never presented itself as the party in charge of domestic security," he pointed out. "We stress our confidence in the military institution which constitutes the genuine guarantee for Lebanon, civil peace and the survival of the state, whatever the condition of the state was and there's no alternative to the army in maintaining security and stability." Regarding the Iranian grant to the Lebanese Army, the secretary general announced that Iran has always been ready to offer donations to the Lebanese army," he said, adding "in the Iranian grant there are weapons without any compromises and accepting them is the interest of the Army and Lebanon." His Eminence called on all political forces to the dialogue table, and said, "If we want to dissociate our country we must hold talks, and there are some allies who spoke with us and asked us hasn't the time come to a dialogue between Al-Mustaqbal and Hezbollah? We said that we do not mind." Sayyed Nasrallah also tackled the issue of the Lebanese army soldiers abducted by militant groups, saying "this issue is in our mind and heart, the Lebanese government is following up with this issue and I call on the soldiers' families for more patience and more support for the government because in such complicated issue we need to unite and cooperate." Hezbollah leader stressed that the conflict in the region is not a sectarian conflict. "There is an error in diagnosing the nature of the conflict in the region, which is not a Sunni-Shiite conflict. Are the events in Egypt, the attacks on Christians in Iraq, the extermination of Yazidis and the fighting in Kobani related to a Shiite-Sunni conflict?" "We, the Shia, should not be dealing with the conflict as being sectarian, our battle is not with the Sunnis, but with the American hegemony, Israeli scheme and Takfiris (extremist groups)." At the end of his speech, His eminence called on huge participation in marches of the tenth day of Ashura pledging allegiance to Imam Hussein and Sayyed Zainab (AS).
Christian-Muslim meet to tackle
Nov. 03, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A Christian-Muslim conference will be held in Al-Azhar Al-Sharif University in Cairo in December to address terrorism, Grand Mufti of Lebanon Abdul-Latif Derian said Monday. He did not give an exact date for the meeting, but said it would take place at the beginning of December. Derian said the conference will address Christian-Muslim relations in Lebanon and the Middle East as well as terrorism and ways to confront it. His remarks came following a meeting with Elias Aoun, the head of Lebanon's Journalists Union.
Derian stood firm on his position that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. “Islam,” he stressed, “is very far from terrorism. Islam is a religion of moderation and tolerance, love and kindness among all the worshipers of God.”
Al-Akhbar retracts Rifi allegation over funnel cash to militants
The Daily Star/Nov. 03, 2014 /BEIRUT: Al-Akhbar newspaper Monday apologized for a false report that Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi had channeled cash to Islamist militants holding Lebanese servicemen hostage in the outskirts of Arsal. Al-Akhbar projected itself as a victim of “misperception,” which it said was the result of information obtained from political and military sources. It backed down on its report published Saturday in which it said Rifi had used his bodyguard, Internal Security Forces member Deeb al-Laheeb, to transfer $280,000 to the kidnappers holding 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage on the Syria-Lebanon border. “We would like to clarify that the person who was [recently] arrested with cash headed to the [Arsal] occupation [force] was not Rifi’s bodyguard, and Laheeb was not the driver who was tasked by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour in coordination with the prime minister and the heads of security agencies to transfer $280,000 to the soldiers’ captors last week,” Al-Akhbar said, while still indicating that the government was responsible for channeling cash to the kidnappers in an apparent effort to prevent the militants from carrying out their threat to kill one of the hostages. “Al-Akhbar apologizes to ISF member Deeb al-Laheeb and declares its readiness to assume any liability resulting from what was published Saturday,” the paper said. But Al-Akhbar was keen to show that its apology did not mean that Rifi was “innocent of any political or security sins.”Rifi, it said, continues to incite sectarian strife, abuse his power, misuse public funds and protect criminals.
Hezbollah does not care about Lebanon: Fatfat
Nov. 03, 2014 /The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s refusal to withdraw its fighters from Syria shows the party does not prioritize Lebanon's interests, Future MP Ahmad Fatfat said Monday. “Hezbollah is not interested in the Lebanese national interest,” Fatfat told local radio station Voice of Lebanon 100.3. Fatfat said that Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah had rejected former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s call to disassociate Lebanon from the Syrian crisis. “[Nasrallah] is still insisting on engaging Lebanon in the matters of the Syrian conflict and defending the regime of Bashar Assad,” he said. “When Nasrallah intervened in the Syrian war, there were no takfiris in Lebanon, and he knows very well that the Syrian and Iraqi regimes were behind the creation of [those takfiris]."
Turning to the controversial issue of a proposed parliamentary extension, Fatfat insisted that most Christian lawmakers supported the measure. “The extension has become more than a necessity, and there is no justification to refuse it,” Fatfat said, claiming that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun was the key Christian opponent of the extension. Current lawmakers have held their seats since being elected in 2009 to four-year terms. They renewed their terms in May 2013 for 17 months, saying that security conditions did not allow for elections. As its extended term ends this month, Parliament is expected to once again extend its mandate, this time for two years and seven months.
France to Deliver Arms to Lebanon Under Saudi Deal at Beginning of Year
Naharnet/The Lebanese army will be able to purchase French weapons under a $3 billion deal financed by Riyadh at the beginning of the year after Saudi and French officials ink the contract on Tuesday, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported. According to the newspaper published on Monday, Saudi and French officials will sign the deal at the Royal Palace in Riyadh after an almost 11-month delay. The deal was announced under former President Michel Suleiman's tenure in December 2013. Saudi Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz al-Assaf and the head of ODAS company Admiral Edouard Guillaud, will sign the deal on behalf of their countries in the presence of French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bertrand Besancenot. ODAS is the French agency in charge of promoting defense sales in Saudi Arabia. Al-Hayat reported that Saudi authorities invited Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to attend the signing ceremony. French sources told the daily that his country will start delivering arms to the Lebanese military at the beginning of the year.
Saudi Arabia had also pledged to grant Lebanon a $1 billion aid for the army.
New Head of Israel's Northern Command: Terror Groups Could Join Hizbullah
Naharnet/The incoming head of Israel's Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, has warned that terrorist groups could join Hizbullah and Iran in carrying out attacks on the Jewish State. “The radical axis of Iran, Syria and Hizbullah, which operated for many years to harm the state of Israel, may be joined by the threat of terror organizations that possess an extremist ideology and can change their goals and begin targeting the state of Israel,” Kochavi said on Sunday. “The Northern Command is at the center of the storm raging in the Middle East, and in the North we can see a concentration of the different processes that are affecting the region and the world,” he said as he accepted his position from outgoing chief Maj. Gen. Yair Golan. “This area shows the struggle between religions, ethnicities and superpowers and it reflects a region that has become more disintegrated, less controlled, and more Islamist and violent,” Kochavi said. He added: “All of these issues promise a continued instability in the area.” Also over the weekend, Israel's Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said that the Gaza Strip is not the only front troubling Israel, and that the Jewish state's other enemies - such as Hizbullah - would do well to learn from the capabilities demonstrated by the Israeli army in the recent campaign. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan “Nasrallah sees that the Israeli society didn't break apart and was ready to pay the price (in Gaza), and that we know to do in Lebanon what we did in Gaza," he warned.
Berri Frustrated over Extension Vote Stances amid Christian Split
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated that quorum is secured in this week's parliamentary session to extend the legislature's term but he expressed resentment at some accusations that he was the sole person backing such an extension. Berri told his visitors on Sunday that quorum is guaranteed for Wednesday's session which is aimed at discussing two draft-laws that call for a technical extension through the suspension of an electoral law deadline for a limited period and a long-term extension of the legislature’s mandate.
But the speaker, whose remarks were published on Monday, said he was waiting for the stance of Christian parliamentary blocs to see whether they would exercise constitutional partnership. Berri warned that the session would undermine this partnership unless key Christian blocs participated in the vote. He also expressed regret that some MPs, who had personally informed him that they would attend the session, have reneged on their decisions. “Some sides are trying to hint in an ironic way that I am the only person who wants to extend the parliament's mandate. But the people and public opinion are now aware of the whole truth,” Berri told his visitors. Asked about the vacuum at Baabda Palace, the speaker, who also heads Amal Movement, said: “There is nothing new in that regard. And by the way, Hizbullah is not paralyzing the presidential elections.”“The party has only 12 lawmakers at a time when the boycott is caused by lack of Christian consensus,” he added. The country's top Christian post has been vacant since the term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May. Differences between the rival lawmakers on a compromise candidate caused a vacuum at the presidential palace after they failed in more than dozen rounds of parliamentary sessions to elect a new head of state.
Last year, parliament extended its term until November 2014 after the MPs failed to agree on a new law and claimed the security situation did not guarantee violence-free elections. A similar extension is set to take place on Wednesday to avoid a further vacuum.Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who is a Free Patriotic Movement official, told As Safir daily that the Change and Reform bloc's rejection of the extension is aimed at pressing MPs to hold the parliamentary polls. An MP from the bloc also told al-Joumhouria newspaper that the decision on boycotting Wednesday's session was not final. Some Change and Reform members are calling for a boycott while others want to attend the session and vote against the extension, said the MP.
The Kataeb party's politburo, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday instead of Monday to decide their final stance from the session. Kataeb sources told An Nahar that the MPs were divided on whether to attend the session and have their say against the extension or to boycott it altogether. But the Lebanese Forces MPs are likely to vote for the extension
Geagea Expected to Make 'Last-Minute Initiative' on Extension Crisis
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is scheduled to launch an initiative to avoid the extension of parliament’s term, which is set to take place on Wednesday. The “last-minute initiative” will be made during a press conference at 12:30 pm Tuesday, Geagea's press office announced. LF deputy chief MP George Adwan told An Nahar newspaper in remarks published on Monday that the main cause of the extension crisis is the failure to elect a new president. “The responsibility for having to choose between extension and vacuum lies on those boycotting the parliamentary sessions and preventing the election of a president,” he said. Adwan was referring to the majority of the March 8 alliance's MPs, mainly his rivals in the Change and Reform bloc of MP Michel Aoun, who have boycotted the sessions aimed at finding a successor to President Michel Suleiman.Baabda Palace has been without a leader since the expiry of Suleiman's term in May. The rival MPs failed to elect a new head of state over their differences on a compromise candidate. The majority of the March 8 camp's lawmakers have boycotted the sessions over their claim that there should be consensus on a candidate first. But their boycott was a clear sign of their rejection to Geagea's candidacy. The LF is likely to vote for the extension of parliament's term on Wednesday despite the rejection of other main Christian parties such as Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and the Kataeb.
Canada conducts first airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq
Nov. 03, 2014 /Salam Faraj/Ammar Karim| Agence France Presse
BAGHDAD: Canada conducted airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq for the first time Sunday, while reports emerged that the jihadist group had executed more than 200 tribespeople in recent days. "Today's strike demonstrates our government's firm resolve to tackle the threat of terrorism and to stand with our allies against ISIL's atrocities against innocent women, children and men," Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement. Canada joined the anti-ISIS coalition Thursday and conducted two days of reconnaissance before sending two CF-18s to attack jihadist positions around the city of Fallujah. The attacks followed reports that ISIS had slaughtered scores of people from the Albu Nimr tribe, which had taken up arms against the insurgents.
Women and children were said to be among those executed over the past 10 days in western Iraq's Anbar province which has been largely over-run by ISIS. Iraq is bracing for yet more violence in the coming days as hundreds of thousands of Shiites prepare to travel to shrines in Karbala for a major annual pilgrimage. ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, is expected to target Ashura pilgrims, and 19 people died in attacks on Shiites Sunday. Accounts varied as to the number and timings of the executions in Anbar, but all sources spoke of more than 200 people murdered in recent days. Police Colonel Shaaban al-Obaidi told AFP that more than 200 people were killed, while Faleh al-Essawi, deputy head of Anbar provincial council, put the toll at 258.
The killings are probably aimed at discouraging resistance from powerful local tribes in Anbar. ISIS also detained dozens of members of the Jubur tribe in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, officials and a tribal leader said.
Jubur tribesmen and security forces have been holding out for months against ISIS in the provincial town of Dhuluiyah. Pro-government forces have suffered a string of setbacks in Anbar in recent weeks, prompting warnings that the province, which stretches from the borders with Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approach to Baghdad, could fall entirely. Security forces who wilted before a lightning ISIS offensive in June are fighting to retake territory seized by the jihadists in Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland.
ISIS has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in territory it controls, imposing its harsh interpretation of sharia law and committing widespread atrocities. Like other Sunni extremist groups, ISIS considers Shiites to be heretics and frequently attacks them, posing a major threat to the Ashura religious commemorations which peak on Tuesday and will be a major test for the new government headed by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. Two car bombs targeting Shiites in Baghdad ahead of Ashura killed at least 19 people Sunday, officials said, while a city center car bombing near a police checkpoint killed at least five. On the Syria-Turkey border, meanwhile, some 150 Iraqi peshmerga fighters were preparing to bolster fellow Kurds in battling ISIS for the town of Kobani, after crossing the frontier late Friday.
Syrian Kurdish militia have held off an ISIS offensive there for more than six weeks, and Kobane has become a crucial symbol in the anti-jihadist struggle. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported fierce clashes in the town's centre, north, south and Kurdish fighters shelling ISIS positions to its east. Prior to Canada's airstrikes, the U.S.-led coalition carried out at least three air raids near Kobani early Sunday, according to the Observatory which relies on a wide network of sources inside the country.
At least 11 jihadists were killed in those strikes and fighting Saturday, it said. The Pentagon said five air strikes near Kobane Saturday and Sunday hit five small ISIS units and destroyed three vehicles. Canada declined to detail damage caused to the targets during its approximately four-hour mission. Details are expected at a news conference Tuesday. Canada's airstrikes come after a gunman whose name was on a terror watch list killed a soldier and attempted to storm Canada's parliament last month. The attack was one of two targeting Canadian soldiers just days apart. Elsewhere in Syria, the Observatory said Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front seized a town and several villages in Idlib province late Saturday, in another blow to Western-backed rebels in the northwest.
It said Al-Nusra captured Khan al-Subul after the withdrawal of the Hazm movement, a moderate opposition group. Al-Nusra also seized another five villages in Idlib held by Islamist and moderate rebel groups.
The advance comes a day after Al-Nusra seized the Idlib bastion of the Syria Revolutionaries Front, another Western-backed opposition group. The advance of the Al-Qaeda affiliate is seen as a setback to US efforts to create and train a moderate rebel force as a counterweight to jihadists and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Lebanon's Arabic press digest – Nov. 3, 2014
The Daily Star/The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Kataeb’s position on parliamentary extension clear, FPM not yet final
A Free Patriotic Movement lawmaker said the party’s position on a legislative session to extend Parliament’s mandate was not yet final.
“Boycotting [the session] is an option on the table, but it is not final,” the MP told Al-Joumhouria. “Some call for a boycott while others call for attending the session without voting.”
Meanwhile, Kataeb Party sources told Al-Joumhouria that the party’s position was clear: no vote on the extension.
“Should the party decide to attend the session, we will vote against the bill,” one source told Al-Joumhouria.
Kataeb yet to make final decision on Parliament’s extension
The Kataeb Party has intensified talks before a final decision is taken regarding Parliament’s extension.
"Consultations are ongoing to take the appropriate position on the issue of the extension,” a Kataeb source told Al-Liwaa.
He said Kataeb MPs were likely to attend the session but vote against the extension.
Nusra holds half of the hostages, mainly policemen
Sources following up on the hostage crisis said the Nusra Front was holding half of the servicemen, mainly from the Internal Security Forces, while ISIS was holding the Lebanese soldiers and had made no demands so far.
The sources said the Cabinet had the final say in the hostage crisis and not the judiciary or the “crisis cell,” created by the government following the kidnapping of the servicemen from the northeastern border town of Arsal.
They explained that the release of any prisoner from Lebanese jails was a decision to be taken unanimously by the Cabinet.
Nusra, ISIS send written demands for the first time
Sources following up on the hostage crisis told As-Safir that Nusra Front and ISIS had made written demands for thefirst time since the servicemen were abducted from Arsal in August.
“This in itself will set the stage for give-and-take [exchanges] in the journey of a thousand miles, based on the experience of the Azaz hostages and that of the Maaloula nuns,” one source told As-Safir.
Arsal in grips of hepatitis outbreak
Nov. 03, 2014/Elise Knutsen/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A serious but rarely lethal strain of hepatitis is afflicting refugees and locals in the town of Arsal, where sub-standard sanitation, close living quarters and poor nutrition are contributing to the spread of the virus. While local health professionals are concerned about the highly contagious virus, they say the recent outbreak is just one of many serious health issues in Arsal. Approximately 250 people from the town have been infected with Hepatitis A, a highly contagious liver disease. “This is a very simple disease,” said Dr. Bassem al-Faris, a Syrian doctor working in Arsal. “It’s like influenza.”Within one week, patients typically recover from symptoms that include fever, fatigue and vomiting, Faris said. Normally, anti-vomiting drugs and simple paracetamol are administered to reduce fever.
Dr. Qassem al-Zein, another Syrian doctor in Arsal, said 90 percent of the patients in the town were treated at home after being diagnosed. Zein said, however, that the field hospital he managed was running low on anti-vomiting medications.
According to the World Health Organization, Hepatitis A is most often spread when a person ingests food or water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected individual. The disease is most common in areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water.
Inadequate sanitary conditions in Arsal’s numerous refugee camps, said Zein, were to blame for the spread of the disease. “In the camps, they don’t have soap or clean toilets. They don’t have the sanitation standards of the general population,” he said.
Faris blamed the sub-standard public services throughout Arsal. “Here there is no good infrastructure,” he said. “The water sources may become contaminated.”To date, the majority of those who have come down with the virus are Syrian refugees. But Faris said that approximately one-third of the patients who had tested positive for Hepatitis A were Lebanese. “We can see that it is between Syrians and Lebanese, in the camps and in the houses, among men and women, adults and children,” he said.
Faris said he had seen an uptick in infection rates recently. “Over the last three days, I have seen eight cases,” he said. Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said over the weekend that his office was working to arrest the outbreak.
He said the ministry had distributed “an abundant amount” of chlorine tablets in Arsal to sanitize the water, and that it was preparing to implement a Hepatitis A vaccination program. “The vaccines will be provided as soon as possible, to start a nationwide vaccination campaign, in parallel with sending awareness brochures to parents,” Abu Faour said. Zein and Faris said the hepatitis outbreak was just the latest in a slew of serious health crises facing Arsal. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in September that there were 120,000 Syrian refugees in the area of Arsal. The town has around 35,000 Lebanese residents. Both doctors say the town is often in short supply of medicines to treat chronic illnesses like hypertension or kidney failure. Moreover, Zein said that he had seen several infants born in Arsal with congenital diseases or with birth defects. The town has no laboratories to test the toxicity or contamination levels in the water, explained Faris, and so it was difficult to determine exactly which pathogens were plaguing residents. Already understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with such a high number of patients, health professionals have come under further strain in recent months, as most international NGOs have been unable to deliver supplies to Arsal because of the security situation. And while it is possible to treat Hepatitis A with relative ease, health professionals are worried that more serious waterborne illnesses like polio would spread in squalid refugee camps. – Additional reporting by Ghinwa Obeid and Nidal al-Solh
Regional and International Powers push for inter-Lebanese talks as Iran deal looms
Nov. 03, 2014
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star
Western diplomatic sources have told The Daily Star that serious attempts were being made by regional and international powers to launch an inter-Lebanese dialogue in parallel to the ongoing U.S.-Iranian talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. A preliminary deal is likely to be signed between the nations before the end of November under which the U.S. Congress would gradually lift sanctions imposed on Iran. The Islamic Republic will also be allowed to export oil in order to compensate for the losses inflicted on its economy due to the sanctions. In the meantime, talks will continue in a bid to reach a final deal between the U.S. and Iran. The sources said that international activity was accompanying the American-Iranian negotiations. They noted that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had met Russian officials, and that talks between Russian and U.S. officials have also taken place in an attempt to advocate a political solution to Syria’s crisis mirroring that proposed during the Geneva I conference in 2012. According to the proposal, the powers of the Syrian president would be referred to a transitional governing body under American, Russian, Saudi, Iranian and Egyptian sponsorship. The sources also revealed that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem would soon visit Moscow in order to follow up on the U.S.-Russian talks. Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the director of Syria’s National Security Office, is expected to visit Egypt to determine whether Cairo could propose ideas to solve Syria’s crisis.
The sources said countries taking part in the anti-ISIS international coalition and those involved in the region were not opposed to political solutions to regional conflicts. This is because the military option, adopted by both the Syrian regime and opposition, has proved a failure and led to rising extremism that could only be addressed by boosting moderate Islam. The sources said that during their meeting in Berlin last week on the sidelines of an international conference on Syrian refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Tammam Salam discussed rising extremism in the region.
Salam stressed during the meeting that fighting terrorism and enhancing moderation could only happen by first coming up with a just solution to the Palestinian cause, adding that solutions to other regional conflicts should come after that.
On the local level, there are efforts to capitalize on this international support for compromises in the region through reviving dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah. These talks would be held with the aim of reaching a settlement similar to the deal rival Lebanese political groups struck in Doha in May 2008. Under the sought arrangement, a new president would finally be elected and Parliament would endorse an election law providing fair representation for all political groups, after which parliamentary polls would be held.
This would be followed by a series of civil service appointments which would contribute to reviving state institutions. Sources familiar with these efforts said that the threat of sectarian strife had reached Lebanon, pointing to the recent clashes in the north and Arsal.
Fearing this rising danger, political factions are considering a return to moderate stances. A number of Future Movement officials have traveled to Paris in recent days to discuss a number of issues with Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, including the group’s stance during Wednesday’s Parliament session, which would debate a draft law to extend the legislature’s term. The Future Movement delegation is expected to return to Lebanon within 48 hours. Sources told The Daily Star that during his meeting with French President Francois Hollande last month, Hariri requested that the French leader convince Iran to facilitate the election of a Lebanese president. For this purpose, Hollande decided to dispatch Jean-Francois Girault, the head of the MENA Department at the French Foreign Ministry, to Tehran to discuss with Iranian officials bilateral ties, Iran’s nuclear program and other issues in the Middle East, including the situation in Lebanon.
Salam mulls seeking Syria’s help to resolve hostage crisis
Hasan Lakkis/Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
Nov. 03, 2014
BEIRUT: Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has handed the demands of the captors of the 27 Lebanese servicemen to Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who is contacting Cabinet members over sending the General Security chief to Syria for talks on the hostage crisis, ministerial sources said Sunday. Ibrahim had received the kidnappers’ demands from Ahmad al-Khatib, a Syrian, who has been appointed by Qatar to mediate in the 3-month-old hostage crisis. Salam has begun contacts with all Cabinet members and the country’s main parties to determine if they have any reservations or objection to assigning Ibrahim to officially contact the Syrian regime over the hostage crisis, the sources said. They added that this would help the Cabinet make a decision on pursuing indirect negotiations on clear bases with ISIS and Nusra Front militants who are holding 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage. Without disclosing details of the captors’ demands, the sources stressed that the success of negotiations with the militants required official cooperation between the Lebanese and Syrian governments. Contacting the Syrian government is deemed essential after the Nusra Front demanded, among other things, the release of female prisoners in Syria, in exchange for freeing the Lebanese hostages.
In line with its declared policy of disassociation on the Syrian conflict, the Lebanese government has avoided talks with either the Syrian regime or opposition groups fighting to topple the regime. The Nusra Front, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, said Saturday that it had handed Khatib a list of names of prisoners it wants released in exchange for the 27 servicemen. The group said on Twitter that its representatives met with Khatib Thursday and Saturday to discuss negotiations to end the hostage crisis. The Lebanese government has agreed in principle on a swap deal, the Nusra Front claimed, according to a proposal handed to them by the mediator. After the meeting Thursday between Khatib and the Nusra Front, the mediator held talks with the Lebanese side tasked with following up on the case.
He then returned to meet with the jihadists Saturday and presented them with “an agreement in principle on releasing Lebanese and Syrian prisoners in Lebanon and Syria,” the Nusra Front said. The militant group said it suggested three proposals that would ultimately resolve the case: The release of 10 detainees in Lebanese prisons for each captive; the release of seven Lebanese and 30 women held in Syrian prisons for each captive; or the release five Lebanese and 50 female detainees in exchange for the release of each hostage.
“In case one of these proposals is adopted, the swap deal for the Syrian detainees will take place either in Turkey or Qatar, the swap for the Lebanese prisoners will take place on the outskirts of Arsal or wherever the [negotiator] demands,” the group said. It added that it had handed Khatib a list of names of prisoners they want released in exchange for the captives.
The kidnappers’ demands come as the government remains split over a swap deal with the militants. Health Minister Wael Abu Faour as well as the families of the captured soldiers have repeatedly urged the government to enter into a swap deal with the kidnappers. But this was opposed by ministers from Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement. Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk, who is close to Salam, said the principle of a swap deal has not yet been proposed to the Cabinet.
“The Cabinet has said it agrees to the principle of negotiations. So far, the swap principle has not been proposed to the Cabinet,” Machnouk told Al-Jadeed TV Sunday night. He cited some positive signals over the hostage crisis such as the continued negotiations, the talk about the captors’ demands and the militants refraining from threatening to kill any of their hostages. The negotiations are the first serious sign of progress to free the servicemen since their capture during a five-day battle between the Army and militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front in the northeastern town of Arsal in August. ISIS has executed two soldiers while Nusra has killed one and has recently threatened to kill another in a bid to pressure the Army to ease its measures on the northern city of Tripoli. The militants have long demanded the release of Islamist detainees in Roumieh prison for freeing the kidnapped soldiers. Separately, the Lebanese Army dismantled a bomb discovered near a Hezbollah complex in the southern city of Sidon Sunday night.
The military said an Army Intelligence patrol discovered a device containing 500 grams of TNT connected to a hand grenade and an electrical detonator in Haret Saida near Hezbollah’s Sayyed al-Shuhada complex, where daily gatherings are taking place for Ashoura. A military explosives expert arrived at the site and dismantled the bomb, the statement said. Ceremonies to commemorate Ashoura reach their climax Tuesday. Lebanese security agencies, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have stepped up security measures across Lebanon to forestall potential attacks against Ashoura gatherings by jihadist groups.
Israel needs both US parties' support
Eytan Gilboa /Ynetnews
Published: 11.03.14/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Those seeking to utilize a Republican-controlled Congress against Obama should remember that he still has important Israel-related decisions to make before the end of his term. All signs point to a Republican win in this week's US Congressional midterm election. The Democrats were in control of both houses of Congress only during Barack Obama's first two years as president, and in the four years that have passed since then they continued to dominate the Senate while the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. This time, for the first time in his term, Obama is expected to deal with an oppositional, frustrated, tough, determined and particularly hostile Congress.
The Congressional midterm elections often serve as a referendum on the president's policy and performance on domestic and foreign issues. Obama's grades in both areas are extremely low. When the president is popular and highly regarded by the voters, candidates from his party invite him to stand by their side during election events. This time, many Democratic candidates chose to stay away from Obama and distance themselves from his policy. Surveys showed that many Democratic voters intend on staying home and not voting. In these elections, Obama is perceived more as a burden than as an asset. In the Congressional midterm elections, the incumbent president's party usually loses senators and representatives in favor of the rival party. This happened to Obama in the 2010 election, which took place two years after first overwhelming victory in the presidential election. This time, a possible Democratic defeat will not only be the result of a regular historical trend, but also the result of lack of trust in the administration and a deep rift in the American society.
In recent surveys about the level of trust in institutions and organizations, all three governmental authorities ranked very low. The Supreme Court got 30%, the presidency received 29%, and the Congress – only 7%, a result which pushed it down to the last place. Such grades lead to a protest vote against the party whose representatives control the White House and the Senate.
In a two-party political system, a protest vote against one party means a vote in favor of the other party or abstention. The voter turnout in the midterm elections is anyway low. In the last midterm election of 2010, only 42% of Americans with the right to vote actually voted. A similar or lower rate this time will be seen as an ongoing lack of trust in the political system. It is actually during the term of the first black president in the history of the United States, and perhaps also due to the color of his skin, that the political polarization in the American society reached a peak which has not been seen since the failed war in Vietnam. In order to advance and execute laws and plans, the traditional political culture has always encouraged cooperation and compromises between the two parties. During Obama's term, the public debates were characterized by radicalization, inflexibility and hostility which paralyzed the administration. A continuation of this trend will prevent Obama from advancing and implementing his plans on domestic issues and will force him to focus in foreign affairs, which have not brought him a lot of success. In light of that, there are those in Israel who think they will be able to utilize the new Congress against Obama in order to restrict him. That's a wrong strategy. Israel needs inter-factional consensus and the support of both the Democrats and the Republicans. Utilizing a Republican-controlled Congress against the Democratic president will sabotage the required inter-factional support and make Obama's blood boil even more. Obama will end his term in January 2017. That's a long period of time, in which he will still be required to make important decisions on Israeli affairs and on the regional upheavals. Therefore, we must make every effort to restore relations with him and with Secretary of State John Kerry and stop the personal criticism and statements disregarding the wisdom and motives of the American decision makers.
Pew poll: Israel most hated country in
Ynet /Published: 11.02.14/ Israel News
86% of responders have an unfavorable opinion of Israel, while only 2% view it positively; Turks also harbor a strong dislike to terror organizations - 80% dislike Hamas, 85% dislike Hezbollah.
Israel is the country most hated by Turkish citizens, a Pew Research Center poll released last week found.
Responders were asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a selection of states (US, China, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Israel) and entities (such as the European Union and Nation).
Israel was found the most disliked country of the offered options, with 86 percent of responders saying they have an unfavorable opinion of Israel and only 2 percent seeing Israel in a positive light.
There is of course no reason to be surprised of the negative view Turks have of Israel. A diplomatic rift was opened between the two countries during the 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead. At the height of the still-ongoing conflict was the Israeli commando raid of the Turkish "Mavi Marmara" ship that was attempting to break the blockade on Gaza. The incident left 10 Turkish citizens dead.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan often attacks Israel, publicly accusing it of "genocide" of the Palestinians.
Still, it's interesting to learn just how much the Turkish public dislikes Israel.
Other than having a favorable opinion of their own country (78 percent, according to a 2012 poll), the Turks don't think highly of any of the countries or entities asked about.
The Turks have a lot opinion of the European Union (66 percent unfavorable opinion, 25 percent favorable), China (68 percent negative views, 21 percent positive), the United States (73 percent negative views and 19 percent positive), Russia (73 percent negative, 16 positive), Brazil (65 percent negative, 20 percent positive) and Iran (75 percent negative, 14 percent positive).
Saudi Arabia, however, another Sunni state, is the most liked of the countries asked about, but even then, only 26 percent of Turks have a favorable opinion of it, while 53 percent have an unfavorable opinion of it).
The Turks also have a very negative view of terror organizations, including al-Qaeda (85 percent negative), Hezbollah (85 percent) and Hamas (80 percent).
Al-Sisi's disengagement from Gaza
Smadar Perry/Published:11.03.14/Israel Opinion
Analysis: Sight of vans loaded with furniture and suitcases, evacuees' grim faces and Egyptian soldiers' determination is reminiscent of images from not-so-distant past in Israel. Senior commentators in Cairo are pointing to an Israeli fingerprint behind Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's dramatic announcement that northern Sinai would be cut off, that a deep separation canal would be dug opposite Gaza and that a large concrete fence would be erected along the border with the Strip. According to these commentators, Israeli experts offered advice and recommendations aimed at benefitting Israel as well in the war on terror in Sinai. In the war declared by al-Sisi, a million and a half Sinai residents have been cut off from two million Gaza residents until further notice. And until that notice, which will come at an unknown date, the Egyptian border terminal in Gaza has been shut down – and Gaza has been dumped on us again. Special eyes will follow the transfer of money from the banks of Beirut and Ankara to fund the terror and smuggling of arms and military equipment. But all those involved in the war on terror estimate that the terrorists, not to mention their senders, have no intention of giving up. On the contrary, despite the full curfew announced in northern Sinai, from 4 pm to 7 am, the terrorists are already working on the next attack. Not all tunnels from Gaza have been sealed. The fact is that the assassination cell which murdered 33 Egyptian officers and soldiers in Sinai last weekend disappeared through the tunnels, and a new cell took its place and carried out another attack.
Families leaving northern Sinai. 'Those who tried to forcibly stay on the land
The iron fists of the Egyptian security organizations are finding it difficult to figure out whether it's a local branch of al-Qaeda, a case of cooperation between Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, or that the Islamic State has managed to infiltrate and recruit local volunteers. One thing is clear: Without the Bedouins' help, it's impossible to plan and prepare on the ground. On the other hand, without the Bedouins the Egyptian army would also find it difficult to collect information and pursue the terror cells.
Only the leaders and elders of the Bedouin tribes are familiar with the concealment caves and hiding crevices. They are afraid of the Egyptian army's revenge, and are even more afraid of the terrorists who have beheaded people in the ISIS style in Sinai too. This affair has not been mentioned by the Egyptian media, and not incidentally. Journalists are kept away from Sinai. This is al-Sisi's old-new survival battle. An Egyptian attorney rushed to the State Security Court in Cairo on Saturday to file a petition against ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his ousted successor Mohamed Morsi for forfeiting Sinai's security and letting the Gaza tunnel industry flourish. This attorney is invited to violate the Egypt Bar Association's boycott of any professional cooperation with Israel, and base his claim on a long series of Israeli complaints about the forfeited security in Sinai in the tunnels along the Philadephi Route: Tunnels have been dug, weapons have been smuggled, Islamist terrorists have raced back and forth from Gaza to Sinai. Dozens have been ordered to stay and set up local terror systems. The northern Sinai exodus operation has been going on for four days now. Some 1,100 families on the Egyptian side have received an evacuation-compensation order. An immediate evacuation of 800 homes, stores, two mosques and a school along the border with Gaza. They are promising to set up three agricultural villages for them in the heart of Sinai, pay each family 300 Egyptian pounds (about 250 Israeli shekels) in order to rent an apartment for the next three months, and another 1,200 Egyptian liras (1,000 shekels) for each square meters in a deserted building which was bombed in favor of the canal and separation fence. Those who tried to forcibly stay on the land received an unequivocal threat that they would be thrown, without the compensation, into jail. The sight of vans loaded with furniture and suitcases, the grim faces of the evacuees and the determination of the Egyptian army's soldiers is reminiscent of images from the not-so-distant past in Israel.
Like Arabs, Israelis only understand
Rafael Castro /Ynetnews
Published: 11.02.14/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Political and diplomatic events of past 40 years suggest that Israeli Jews tend to make concessions under duress rather than thanks to diplomatic moves and goodwill gestures.
One of the most-loved mantras of the Israeli street is that Arabs only understand the language of force. The list of opportunities Arabs have missed to come to terms with Zionism corroborates this claim. Yet Israeli Jews are woefully unaware that in this respect they are far more similar to their Arab cousins than they realize.
Reviewing the political and diplomatic events of the last 40 years – up to the very aftermath of the last war in Gaza – suggests that Israeli Jews, just like Arabs, tend to make concessions under duress rather than thanks to diplomatic moves and goodwill gestures.
This is a pattern of behavior that is not restricted to governments of the dovish left, but also encompasses those identified with the hawkish right, which over and over again subordinate strategy to tactics and principles to expediency.
The Camp David Agreements with Egypt were the result of the 1973 October War exposing Israel’s vulnerability to a concerted assault by neighboring states. The Oslo Agreements were the consequence of US President George H. W. Bush blackmailing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, which led to the latter’s ouster by the Israeli electorate.
A few years later, Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was not the fruit of negotiations with the Lebanese government but rather a withdrawal under Hezbollah fire. The dismantlement of settlements in Gaza was another instance of Israel caving in to force; years of negotiations by the Palestinian Authority did not yield the fruits that Hamas was able to attain with its deadly ambushes. Furthermore, years of peaceful vigils by Palestinian families failed to hasten the release of minor lawbreakers, while the murderous kidnapping of Gilad Shalit secured the release of over 1,000 terrorists.
One would expect the Jewish nation with its deep-seated historical consciousness to learn from the past, but the events of 2014 do not reveal any lessons learnt. Hamas lobs over 4,500 rockets into Israel and earns in return the freedom to pay salaries to its employees and import hundreds of tons of steel and cement to rebuild destroyed infrastructure – including bunkers and tunnels.
Hamas leader Haniyeh vows to destroy Israel and celebrates the murder of Jewish civilians and is rewarded with privileged medical care for his daughter in Israel’s finest hospital.
It is tempting to assume that these gestures are evidence of quintessential Jewish compassion. But if this is so, why has Issa Amro, the leader of the Hebron civil resistance, been jailed for such murderous initiatives as leading European and Israeli observers dressed in Palestinian garb through Hebron’s Shuhada Street?
If Israel is really interested in discouraging violence and terrorism why has Abdullah Abu Rahma been sentenced to a two-year prison sentence for organizing the notorious –yet non-violent – protests against the separation barrier at Bil’in?
Add to all this, the fact that the Palestinian Authority has been unable to secure any significant concession from Israel and a clear pattern emerges: Successive Israeli administrations ignore goodwill gestures and suppress non-violent resistance with the pretext that these are insincere or provocative, yet are ready to compromise every time the enemy forces it to shed blood and take casualties.
From a tactical viewpoint, each Israeli concession seems pragmatic at the time it is made. Yet cumulatively these actions reveal that Israelis understand best the language of force. Israelis are proud to believe they are a bastion of civilization in the benighted Middle East.
However, they must realize that to make compromises only under threat – be it from Arabs, Europeans or Americans – will secure neither peace nor respect from their neighbors.
That is the reason those who blame Israel for the Israeli-Arab conflict are short-sighted, while those who deny Israel’s responsibility in abetting violence as the preferred strategy of Arab resistance are blind.
For Israel, midterms spell leverage on Iran talks through Senate
By MICHAEL WILNER \ 11/03/2014/Post
WASHINGTON – Over the last six years, Democrats have driven policy on Iran and its nuclear program virtually unchallenged. Midterm elections on Tuesday may change that dynamic overnight.
Republicans seek a majority in the Senate and full control over the legislature this year, and polls suggest their goal is in sight: Key races in Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Alaska are leaning red, according to various polls conducted over the weekend.
Should the GOP succeed this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has vowed to present legislation long opposed by US President Barack Obama. He will challenge the president to use his veto power or, alternatively, invite Republican leadership to sit at their table on matters of foreign policy, particularly concerning ongoing negotiations with Iran.
That will be a victory in the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, which has angered the White House in its efforts to circumvent the president on Iran, lobbying Congress for sanctions legislation Obama publicly opposes.
Efforts this year by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported by Netanyahu cabinet members, to trigger new sanctions against Iran should negotiations fail were blocked by current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
The majority leader has the authority to set the schedule for debate and voting on the Senate floor, and Reid, as its known on Capitol Hill, “filled the tree” with matters that prevented discussion of the proposed measure.
That much will certainly change, as will leadership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee itself. Its chairmanship will likely move to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), an ally of current Chairman Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) but a hawk much less interested in assuaging the president’s position and keen on establishing hearings and votes that will reject a deal insufficient to the Israeli government.
Over the summer, Corker surprised his colleagues by attaching language to the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act that would trigger such hearings, as well as a non-binding resolution vote, on any future deal announced with Iran.
Whether a newly unified Congress will have the power to truly gut a nuclear agreement is unclear. That appears unlikely.
But Senate control will provide Netanyahu with a sharpened tool that he has long sought in Washington: actionable leverage on the president that might change the course of crisis with Iran.
U.S.-backed Syria rebels routed by fighters linked to al-Qaeda
By Liz Sly November 2 /The Washington Post
BEIRUT — The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State.
Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts.
Other moderate fighters were on the run, headed for the Turkish border as the extremists closed in, heralding a significant defeat for the rebel forces Washington had been counting on as a bulwark against the Islamic State.
Moderates still retain a strong presence in southern Syria, but the Islamic State has not been a major factor there.
A senior Defense Department official said the Pentagon “is monitoring developments as closely as possible” but could “not independently verify” reports from the ground. The official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Moderate rebels run with their weapons during clashes with loyalist forces in Aleppo. Defeats to moderate rebels elsewhere in northern Syria will isolate rebels in Aleppo, who are fighting to hold at bay both the Islamic State and loyalists. (Hosam Katan/Reuters)
Jabhat al-Nusra has long been regarded by Syrians as less radical than the breakaway Islamic State faction, and it had participated alongside moderate rebels in battles against the Islamic State earlier this year. But it is also on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations and is the only group in Syria that has formally declared its allegiance to the mainstream al-Qaeda leadership.
A Jabhat al-Nusra base was one of the first targets hit when the United States launched its air war in Syria in September, and activists said the tensions fueled by that attack had contributed to the success of the group’s push against the moderate rebels.
“When American airstrikes targeted al-Nusra, people felt solidarity with them because Nusra are fighting the regime, and the strikes are helping the regime,” said Raed al-Fares, an activist leader in Kafr Nabel, in Idlib.
“Now people think that whoever in the Free Syrian Army gets support from the U.S.A. is an agent of the regime,” he said.
Fleeing rebel fighters said they feared the defeat would spell the end of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella name used by the moderate rebel groups that the United States has somewhat erratically sought to promote as an alternative both to the Assad regime and the extremist Islamic State.
Among the groups whose bases were overrun in the assault was Harakat Hazm, the biggest recipient of U.S. assistance offered under a small-scale, covert CIA program launched this year, including the first deliveries of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles. The group’s headquarters outside the village of Khan Subbul was seized by Jabhat al-Nusra overnight Saturday, after rebel fighters there surrendered their weapons and fled without a fight, according to residents in the area.
Hussam Omar, a spokesman for Harakat Hazm, refused to confirm whether American weaponry had been captured by the al-Qaeda affiliate because, he said, negotiations with Jabhat al-Nusra are underway.
Harakat Hazm, whose name means “Steadfastness Movement,” had also received small arms and ammunition alongside non-lethal aid in the form of vehicles, food and uniforms from the United States and its European and Persian Gulf Arab allies grouped as the Friends of Syria alliance. Scores of its fighters had received U.S. training in Qatar under the covert program, but it was also not possible to confirm whether any of those fighters had defected to the al-Qaeda affiliate.
Another Western-backed group, the Syrian Revolutionary Front, on Saturday gave up its bases in Jabal al-Zawiya, a collection of mountain villages that had been under the control of the pro-American warlord Jamal Maarouf since 2012. A video posted on YouTube showed Jabhat al-Nusra fighters unearthing stockpiles of weaponry at Maarouf’s headquarters in his home town of Deir Sunbul.
In a separate video, Maarouf, addressing the Jabhat al-Nusra leadership, said he fled along with those of his men who had not defected, “to preserve the blood of civilians, because you behead people and slaughter them if they do not obey you.”
The loss of northern Idlib province could prove a crippling blow to the moderate rebels, whose fight against Assad’s regime began in 2012 and has since been complicated by the rise of rival Islamist groups with goals very different from those of the original revolutionaries.
Idlib was the last of the northern Syrian provinces where the Free Syrian Army maintained a significant presence, and groups there had banded together in January to eject the Islamic State in the first instance in which Syrians had turned against the extremist radicals.
Most of the rest of northern Syria is controlled by the Islamic State, apart from a small strip of territory around the city of Aleppo. There the rebels are fighting to hold at bay both the Islamic State and the forces of the Assad government, and the defeat in Idlib will further isolate those fighters.
Perhaps most significant, it will complicate the task of finding Syrian allies willing to join the fight against the Islamic State, said Charles Lister of the Qatar-based Brookings Doha Center.
“The United States and its allies are depending very strongly on having armed organizations on the ground to call upon to fight the Islamic State, and now those groups have taken a very significant defeat,” he said.
Although some groups have already been receiving U.S. support, it was never sufficient to tilt the balance of power on the ground, Lister said. “This sends a message that Western support doesn’t equal success,” he added.
The limited assistance program already underway is expected to be supplemented by a bigger, overt, $500 million program to train and equip moderate rebels that was first announced by President Obama in June and that has become a central component of the U.S. strategy to confront the Islamic State.
But U.S. officials have said it could be months before the program starts, and longer before it takes effect, thereby giving an incentive to the moderates’ foes to challenge them before any significant help arrives.
Although the administration has long voiced its support for the rebel fighters, direct U.S. aid to them has been slow and scant, with weapons shipments and a CIA training program limited by the need to vet the fighters for any ties to militants.
More extensive aid to the rebels has also been withheld in the interest of promoting a negotiated political solution that would remove Assad from power while leaving Syrian institutions, including the military, intact.
In public remarks last week, national security adviser Susan E. Rice acknowledged that the U.S.-backed rebels “are fighting a multifront conflict, which is obviously taking a real toll on them.” The expanded military train-and-equip mission, Rice said, “is, in the first instance, going to enable them to fend off ISIL, but it is also designed and originated with the concept of trying to help create conditions on the ground that are conducive to negotiations. And that means helping them in their conflict against Assad as well.”
Meanwhile, the extension of the air war to Syria in September has drawn widespread complaints from moderate rebels that their goal of ousting the Assad regime is being shunted aside in the effort to fight the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIL. Anecdotal evidence that the airstrikes have indirectly aided the Assad government in its efforts to crush the rebellion has further fueled resentment.
Besides southern Syria, where the Islamic State has not established a significant foothold, moderate groups are also still fighting in scattered pockets around Damascus. But the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State is focused on the northern part of the country, where the group has entrenched itself across vast areas of territory for more than a year.
Suzan Haidamous in Beirut and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.
**Liz Sly is the Post’s Beirut bureau chief. She has spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East, including the Iraq war. Other postings include Africa, China and Afghanistan.
Can Obama Reboot? Does he even want to?
By GLENN THRUSH and CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN
Politico Magazine/November 02/14
Brack Obama is antsy. His aides can see it when he alights from Air Force One from the all-too-occasional campaign trips he has taken this fall. There’s a sigh, an unhappy-camper body language when he finds himself back in the depressing slipstream of Ebola confabs and national-security-crisis-of-the-day meetings. The vibe, according to people in his orbit, is not so much of being checked out as of being fed up.
“[I] do like campaigning. ... It’s fun,” Obama said on Thursday, speaking wistfully at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud in Maine. But the Michaud event was the exception, not the rule. “There have been $2 billion in ads shitting on the president and no one to defend him,” a senior administration official told us. “He is very fired up to get this campaign behind him, to run through the tape.”
Obama, for so long the man with the bright future, has hated being relegated to a sidelined pariah in the midterms—even if it is the inevitable lot of a second-termer with approval ratings hovering in the low 40s—according to a dozen current and former Obama advisers we spoke with in recent days. He both resents the narrative that he’s basically irrelevant and doesn’t much relish the fact that many of his longest-serving staffers, the remnant core of his once-buzzing and brash White House, are strapping themselves to ejector seats. More than anything, Obama’s loathing for Washington, an attitude that reads as ennui to outsiders, has hardened into a sullen resignation at being trapped in a broken system he failed to change, advisers told us.
“I sense a certain fatalism there, and it’s disturbing,” says a former adviser on Obama’s campaign who, like many others we talked with for this story, requested anonymity. “There’s a sense that ‘I’ve tried everything, and look where it got me.’ People misread it as disengagement. It’s frustration. But who cares? It’s a bad mind-set.” Another Obama veteran adds, “the bully pulpit is gone, maybe forever.”
Administration officials tell us that Obama’s political and policy teams are planning a big counterattack if the Republicans win the Senate—introducing a slate of legislative proposals and executive actions on immigration, infrastructure and early childhood education that are popular with the Democratic base and that he will dare the GOP to oppose. Time and history, however, aren’t on his side. The six-month period between Election Day and next summer is likely the last chance for Obama to make his mark before the 2016 presidential campaign to succeed him really kicks into high gear. But the implacable opposition of a GOP that has turned him into his party’s albatross and his own hard-to-pin-down state of mind cast doubt on a major comeback.
Many are convinced he has already given up, more or less. “He appears tired,” says Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican and one of the few in his party who sees himself as a potential dealmaker in a GOP-controlled Senate. “It is almost as if he is wishing for a six-year term instead of an eight-year term,” added Corker, who would ascend to the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee if Republicans win the chamber. “But if he can get motivated and reenergized, I think this is a tremendous opportunity for the country.”
Obama and his team, gearing up for one final fight, say they are intent on not throwing away the next two-plus years. West Wing officials concede that Obama is weary of the endless partisan combat and the unrelenting six-year GOP strategy of attack, but they insist he has absolutely no intention of embracing his inner lame duck. “I’m not sitting here blithely telling you we are as awesome as we can be,” said one of Obama’s top aides, laughing at his own understatement. “We’ve done a lot of good things this year but not as many as I would have liked. … We know we’re in for a shit storm if we lose the Senate. You have to gird yourself mentally ’cause you are going to come out on the other end.
“But,” the official added, with a glint of actual optimism, “you hit bottom, and then you have the Obama comeback story.”
It’s hard to see that comeback just now, what with Obama’s slow-footed responses to an array of crises and forehead-slapping lapses like his decision to play 18 holes of golf after issuing a statement condemning the American journalist James Foley’s decapitation by Islamic State militants in August. Circumstance and the innate power of the presidency could provide Obama with unanticipated opportunities, but even his closest friends are fretting about Obama’s willingness to make the changes necessary.
You know it’s bad when Obama message man emeritus David Axelrod, who almost never utters a negative word about his former boss, was publicly lamenting to Bloomberg Businessweek last month, “There’s no doubt that there’s a theatrical nature to the presidency that he resists. ... Sometimes he can be negligent in the symbolism.”
Glenn Thrush is senior staff writer at Politico Magazine.
Carrie Budoff Brown is senior White House reporter at Politico.
France | Intelligence agency: terrorist attacks foiled in the country
Published on Monday November 3, 2014 at 11:21 in Terrorism / Insurgency
The French radio RTL released on November 3 the content of an internal memo from the French intelligence agency (DGSI – Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure) entitled “Planned terrorist actions by Syria-related terrorists”.
The memo mentioned that at least 3 significant terrorist attacks were foiled this year, especially one in Nice that was at an advanced stage of preparation targeting the local carnival. Some suspects implicated in these foiled attacks were back from Syria where the fought in jihadist groups. Ministry of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed the content of the memo adding that “Every day, security services dismantle terrorist networks and thwart acts that could be dramatic”.
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Prince Turki’s Blunt Message to Washington: Only Assad’s Ouster Can Defeat the Islamic State
Middle East Briefing/November 03/14
Prince Turki bin-Faisal, the former long-time head of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Intelligence Directorate and the brother of the current foreign minister, delivered a blunt warning to the Obama Administration in a speech in Washington on October 28. Addressing the annual meeting of the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR), Prince Turki warned that the only way to defeat the Islamic State was for the United States to launch air strikes to bring down the Assad government.
Prince Turki spelled out a precise plan for the removal of the Assad government, starting with the US bombing campaign, which had been originally planned for September 2013, but was cancelled at the last moment by President Obama under pressure from both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the American people. When President Obama announced that he was delaying the attack orders to first consult with Congress, an outpouring of public opposition to another American war in the Arab-Muslim world led to the cancellation of the plans. At the time, there were as many as 75 high-value regime targets on the list of sites to be bombed. Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry had told the Saudis and other regional allies that the bombing campaign was imminent, and the cancellation has been a source of continued friction between Washington and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states ever since.
Prince Turki demanded the immediate creation of no-fly zones along the Syrian borders with Turkey and Jordan and the establishment of a credible government led by the Syrian Coalition Council on that Syrian territory. While he paid lip service to the idea of including elements of the Assad government “with no blood on their hands” in the new national reconciliation government, he made clear that Assad and the entire top leadership of the government and the armed forces would have to be removed.
The Prince harshly criticized the Obama Administration for ignoring Saudi demands to arm the moderate opposition for more than three years, which has resulted in the rise of the Islamic State and other extremist elements including the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.
Prince Turki described IS and the Nusra Front as “symptoms” of a deeper disease that had to be rooted out to solve the jihadist threat. He identified the “disease” as the role of Iran in supporting Shi’ite insurgencies throughout the region and in defending the Assad government. He detailed Iran’s backing for Hezbollah and its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Al Quds Brigade in preventing the overthrow of Assad, and charged that Iran is secretly supporting the formation of Hezbollah-type Shi’ite militias in Bahrain and Yemen.
He also scored Iran for its role in backing former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in his suppression of the Sunni minority, and charged that Iran had blocked American engagement against the Islamic State inside Iraq on the grounds it infringed on Iraq’s sovereignty, while the Al Quds Brigade operated freely inside Iraq.
The Prince referenced previous speeches he delivered before the NCUSAR over the past three years, in which he warned that the carnage would spread from Syria into neighboring countries including Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Israel unless the anti-Assad forces were sufficiently armed to “level the playing field.” “If the United States and Europe had listened to the Kingdom’s demands to arm the Syrian rebels three years ago,” he told the audience, we would not be facing the IS threat today.
Prince Turki’s message was not universally embraced in Washington. Earlier in the day, in a lengthy address to the NCUSAR conference, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman had called for unified Arab and Muslim leadership role to defeat the Islamic State. He called upon all Muslim states of the region—both Sunni and Shi’ite—to join forces to defeat the Islamic State and allied jihadists, warning that the alternative to this united effort was a new Thirty Years War that would engulf the entire Islamic world, leading to generations of chaos. Freeman harshly criticized successive American administrations for destroying the fragile stability in the region, starting with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, warning that outside powers could not defeat IS unless and until there was a reconciliation and alliance among all the Muslim states of the region to defeat the common enemy at the military and ideological level.".
Abbas Letter of Condolences Outrages Israeli Leaders
Naharnet /Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has outraged Israeli leaders by calling the attempted assassin of a Jewish ultra-right-wing rabbi a "martyr" and the soldiers who killed him "terrorist gangs". Abbas on Sunday sent a letter of condolence to the family of 32-year-old Muataz Hijazi, killed by Israeli police who said he had tried to murder Yehuda Glick. The U.S.-born Glick, who was seriously wounded in the shooting attack, is an ultra-nationalist whose demand that Jews be allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa compound in east Jerusalem outrages Muslims. The compound -- which Jews call the Temple Mount -- is the third holiest site in Islam and regarded as the holiest in Judaism as the location of the first and second temples. In his letter, which AFP has seen, Abbas expressed his "anger and condemnation after news of the criminal, despicable assassination by the Israeli occupation army's terrorist gangs of Muataz Ibrahim Khalil Hijazi, who died a martyr defending the rights of our people and the holy places". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement released late on Sunday, condemned the Palestinian leader's remarks. "While we are trying to calm the situation, Abu Mazen (Abbas) sends his condolences on the death of a man who tried to commit a despicable act," he said. The Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of fanning the flames over east Jerusalem, the occupied Arab sector of the Holy City conquered by the Jewish state in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed. Glick was leaving a debate on the status of the flashpoint compound late last Wednesday when he was shot by a man Israeli police said was Hijazi. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the letter of condolences to Hijazi's family showed that Abbas was "a partner of terrorism, terrorists and murderers". Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a cabinet moderate who was Israel's chief negotiator in abortive U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians, told public radio that Abbas was "playing with fire"."You can't on the one hand go round saying you condemn violence and on the other hand send letters encouraging it," she said.
Source/Agence France Presse
ISIS Snuffs Out Ancient Christianity: Muslim Persecution of Christians, June 2014
By Raymond Ibrahim on November 2, 2014 in Muslim Persecution of Christians
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq–where Christians have been present since the first century—numerous atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
Among other things, the Islamic State reinstituted the collection of jizya, the tribute conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with Koran 9:29. In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.
Soon after taking over Mosul, the Islamic State also announced that it would destroy all Christian places of worship. Several churches were burned, including the Armenian church near the Al Salam hospital and the Church of the Holy Spirit, which was first looted and desecrated. A large Virgin Mary statue disappeared.
Among the many Christians missing are two nuns from the Daughters of Mary Order, who managed an orphanage for girls in Mosul. It is believed they have been kidnapped.
The rest of June’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.
Church Attacks and Slaughters
Indonesia: Another Catholic community was attacked in the world’s largest Muslim-population country. The Parish of the Sacred Heart in Pugeran, in the South of Yogyakarta, was targeted by three different groups of unknown assailants riding motorcycles during the first morning Mass. The incident coincided with the start of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, which often sees a rise in hostility for religious minorities. The attackers, who were dressed in black and covered their faces with masks, broke through the parish gates shouting “Allah is great,” Islam’s historic war-cry. They attacked some Christian objects and posters placed by members of the local Catholic community. Weeks earlier, on May 30, “Islamic extremists attacked a group of Catholics gathered in prayer, beating up the community leader; a week later, Pastor Niko, leader of the Protestant Christian community, was targeted by extremists ‘accused’ of having set up an ‘illegal’ house of prayer without permission,” reports Asia News: “Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Increasingly however, it has become the scene of attacks or episodes of intolerance against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or belong to other faiths.”
Kenya: Approximately 50 militants from Somalia’s Islamic Al Shabaab (“the youth”) network attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in Mpeketoni, a predominantly Christian town on Kenya’s coast during the night of Sunday June 15. They chanted “Allahu Akbar” and killed whoever could not recite verses from the Koran. The militants reportedly also went door-to-door asking residents their religion and killed them if they answered “Christian.” More than 57 people were killed. Among them were six children of church pastors.
Nigeria: Suspected Boko Haram jihadis killed nine Christians during June 1 Sunday church service, hours before a bombing of a Christian area in neighboring Adamawa state resulted in nearly 50 deaths. At least 10 gunmen attacked the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria during worship in Attagara village. The jihadis killed nine Christian members who were volunteering as security for the rest of the congregation during service. Another Christian church in Central State Plateau was set ablaze by armed men who also killed at least eight Christian worshippers. According to the Italian news agency, AGI, “The police made their statement, saying that for now they have not assigned the blame for the action, even though the MO and the aims of the attack lead to presuming it was the work by the Boko Haram Islamic Fundamentalists, who have killed thousands of people since 2009.” Speaking about the June 1 church attack, one area Christian leader said the attackers were a small part of 200 assailants who have invaded Attagara and other predominantly Christian villages around Gwoza the past two weeks, destroying homes and churches: “Our church in Attagara was attacked also on Sunday,” said Dr. Rebecca Dali. “There have been 24-hour-a-day attacks on Christian communities of Attagara, Hawul, and Gwoshe around the Gwoza mountains…. The Boko Haram Islamists have destroyed 36 churches in Gwoza area, including that of Attagara attacked on Sunday. We now have only two churches that have not been affected.”
Sudan: Authorities in North Khartoum demolished another church building, that of the Sudanese Church of Christ. Bulldozers came and demolished the church just one day after authorities gave verbal notice of the decision during the congregation’s Sunday worship service the previous day. Congregation members stood by watching their church razed to the ground. About 70 security personnel armed with guns and tear gas stood by threatening anyone who dared to interfere or protest. “They wanted to beat us or throw tear gas on us,” said one congregation member. Authorities gave no clear reason why the church, which has stood since 1983 and which has all the legal paperwork, was being destroyed. According to Rev. Kwa Shamal, the church’s pastor who questioned the commissioner, “They did not want us to ask many questions on why they were demolishing our church.” Because the government refuses to grant the church any compensation, “We will have to pray in a makeshift tent next Sunday” along the road, said the pastor.
Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy and Blasphemy
Afghanistan: The New York Times told the story of “Josef,” a Muslim convert to Christianity who is on the run from Afghani family members looking to slay him. The apostate from Islam lives in a 10-by-10 dilapidated room, his few worldly possessions a tattered Bible and wooden cross with the Sermon on the Mount written on it: “Josef’s brother-in-law Ibrahim arrived in Kabul recently, leaving behind his family and business in Pakistan, to hunt down the apostate and kill him. Reached by telephone, Ibrahim, who uses only one name, offered a reporter for The New York Times $20,000 to tell him where Josef was hiding. ‘If I find him, once we are done with him, I will kill his son as well, because his son is a bastard,’ Ibrahim said, referring to Josef’s 3-year-old child. ‘He is not from a Muslim father.’” Earlier, when Ibrahim first discovered Josef’s conversion to Christianity, he and his family attacked the convert, tied his hands and feet and were going to slaughter him until the father intervened calling for time to investigate matters, which Josef used to escape. Having had a long spiritual journey and closely studying all religions, the Christian convert says that “Even if I get killed, I won’t convert back.”
Egypt: Islamic vindication against Coptic Christians accused of “blasphemy” and “apostasy” was in the air all throughout the month of June in President Sisi’s not so “new” Egypt. First, Kerolos Shouky Attallah, a young Coptic Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam for simply “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by an anonymous group of Christian converts, was sentenced to six years in prison. According to Attallah’s attorney, the Copt did not make any comments on the site, share any of the postings or upload anything to it, and removed his name from the page once he realized that it might offend Muslims. In the hours preceding the sentencing, a rioting mob burned down several Christian-owned shops in the area near Luxor. Safwat Samaan, chairman of Nation Without Borders, a human rights and development group headquartered in Luxor, said “The sentence today was a shock not just to Kerolos but to everyone who uses Facebook in Egypt. Any person who uses Facebook in Egypt and presses ‘Like’ on any page … can be put into prison for six years.” Also, An Egyptian appeals court upheld a blasphemy conviction against Dimyana Abdel-Nour, a Coptic Christian teacher, and sentenced her to six months, overturning an earlier ruling that only imposed a fine. The appellate court in Luxor ruled that the elementary school teacher had insulted Islam in front of her pupils. Last year, three 10-year-old Muslim children complained to their parents that the Coptic teacher showed disgust for Islam when discussing it in class. And Bishoy Armia Boulous—more notoriously known as Mohammed Hegazy, the first Egyptian ever to try legally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID—was sentenced to five years in prison. (Years earlier, when he first tried to change his ID, he was also imprisoned and tortured.) The judge cited “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” as the reason for sentencing the apostate, who in the weeks before was documenting political unrest in Egypt brought on by numerous Muslim extremist attacks on Christians. The exact section of the nation’s criminal code that Boulous allegedly violated was not released. According to Boulous’ lawyer, the real reason he was charged and sentenced is because he abandoned Islam and became a Christian: “The officer who arrested him, when he found that he hadn’t committed a crime, made up things to keep him in prison so he could be sentenced,” said the lawyer.
Uganda: After Muslim family members tried to poison a relative who converted to Christianity, and failed, he was attacked again by Muslims who killed his young daughter. On June 16, four men barged into the home of Hassan Muwanguzi—a former sheikh who converted to Christianity in 2003—with one shouting, “Today we shall kill you—you have been a trouble-maker and are not respecting our prophet’s religion.” He fled into a room, thinking they would not hurt his daughter, Grace Baruka. But then he heard the 12-year-old girl’s cries, as the Muslim invaders were strangling her. When he came out of the room they seized him: “They hit me with a blunt object, and I fell down. I just woke up and saw neighbors surrounding me while wailing, saying that my daughter is in critical condition.” Neighbors took Grace to a clinic but she was declared dead upon arrival. Muwanguzi has suffered greatly for embracing Christianity: first he lost his wife and job as a schoolteacher after his conversion; then an aunt tried to poison him by putting insecticide in his tea; and now his 12-year-old daughter has been killed. Lamented the former Muslim in tears to Morning Star News: “I am regretting why I survived the poisoning. God could have allowed me to die. My daughter has died, and I am now mourning for her death as well [as] have pain all over my body.”
Lebanon: The Abra Municipality, a predominantly Christian suburb in the coastal city of Sidon, released a memo urging all citizens—the majority of whom are Christian—to respect observant Muslims during Ramadan and abstain from eating in public. In his memo, Mayor Walid Nicolas al-Mchantaf stressed the importance of showing consideration during the holy month and refraining from dining at restaurants and cafes during the fasting period, which begins at sunrise and ends at sunset. A large Muslim community exists in the town and has been in the spotlight since last year’s violent clashes between Islamic gunmen and the Lebanese Army.
Germany: Muslims were granted their own section at the cemetery in the Hessian town of Seligenstadt. And they have been allowed to conduct Islamic ceremonies, in which the corpse is wrapped in cloths and buried facing Mecca. Now these same Islamic communities, including Ahmadiyyas, are demanding that Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up during Islamic funerals.
United Kingdom: The National Health Services suspended a Christian health worker on full pay for nine months for praying with a Muslim colleague. Victoria Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist, was also accused of “bullying” the colleague after giving her a book about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity. According to Wasteney, her relationship with the Muslim woman was friendly and sometimes intimidate, as the Muslim female often came to her for support; the Christian health worker did not think that she was behaving coercively or disrespectfully. Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said the case demonstrated that “the NHS is increasingly dominated by a suffocating liberal agenda that chooses to bend over backwards to accommodate certain beliefs but punishes the Christian.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.