LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/The Remnant of Israel
Romans 11/01-10: "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 07-08/14
No, Lebanon is not finished/Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/14
Netanyahu may go down in history as prime minister who lost Jerusalem/Shimon Shiffer/Ynetnews/November 07/14
Exposed: Decade-Old Plan to Create Islamic State—and Obama Helped/by RAYMOND IBRAHIM/November 7, 2014
On Iran’s future dealings with ‘the Great Satan’/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/November 07/14
Iran, nuclear negotiations and the Persian carpet weaving industry/Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya/ November 07/14
Lebanese Related News
published on November 07-08/14
Salam Urges End to Presidential Void, Slams 'Unjustified, Unacceptable Failure'
Jumblat Meets Lavrov, Says Russia Concerned over Presidential Void
French Jihadist Describes Role in Lebanon Attack Plan
Nine ministers refuse to sign but extension law done deal
Lebanon Army bars 11 wounded Syrian rebels from entering
Tax data demand risk to bank secrecy
Lebanon judge requests death penalty to Saudi, French bombing suspects
Lebanon contacting 'concerned countries' on hostages: Machnouk
Hezbollah wants all politicians to stand together
Berri Says Extension Fait Accompli, Sets Standards for New Electoral Law
British Minister Slams 'Inhumane' Deportation of Lebanese Man with Down’s Syndrome Lebanese government contributes $36M to STL Hezbollah pre-empts Israeli action Mediating Tripoli’s feuds a step at a time Lebanon starts exporting produce to Russia
Jumblatt, Arslan decry Mount Hermon fighting Ambassadors to promote road safety at Beirut run
Abu Ghida Issues Indictments against Lebanese, Foreign Terrorists
Al-Rahi Slams Lebanese Politicians: Masks Have Fallen
Army Nabs Several Suspects as Crackdown on Offenders Continues
Humanitarian Groups Seeking Further International Aid for Refugees in Lebanon
Terror Detainee Miqati Says Constantly Communicated with Asir, Reveals Plot against Army
Fadel Donates His Parliamentary Salary to Combat Poverty in Tripoli
Sami Gemayel Gives Up Parliament Salary for Families of Army Martyrs
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 07-08/14
US official: Top bomb-maker hit in Syria strikes
Peshmergas blunt ISIS siege of Kobani Sistani says graft in army helped ISIS
Obama probes Khamenei on anti-ISIS campaign
Israel reassures Jordan on Al-Aqsa Mosque Palestinian Intifada in the making
Jerusalem unrest underscores need for peace talks: EU’s Mogherini
Netanyahu orders Jerusalem suspects' homes razed
Muslim nations to attend Israeli weapons expo
US defends IDF conduct in Gaza op
EU's incoming foreign minister visits Israel
Kurdish PYD leaders says Peshmerga “effective” in Kobani fight
US military aid commander: The moment Israel notifies us, we will be there to help
Hundreds clash with IDF forces in 'Day of Rage'
Violence and refugees top human rights summit Saudi Arabia carries out second wave of counterterror arrests Yemen Qaida Chief Says Shiite Rebels Serve U.S.-Iran Plot
Syria Muslim Brotherhood appoints new leader
Below Jihad Watch
Posts For Thursday
Too much time on the present, not enough time on the past
Moderate Abbas' Fatah encourages Muslims to wage vehicular jihad and run over Jews
13-year-old Muslim: "I like Islamic State because they pursue Sharia and kill infidels"
Pakistan: Policeman uses axe to hack to death a man accused of blasphemy
UK Muslim teen charged with preparing acts of jihad terror
Patriarch of Moscow appeals to Pakistani president to pardon Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy
Libyan soldier blames Brits for sex attacks by Libyan cadets in UK: "They didn't tell us...what's the difference between right and wrong here."
Australia: Niqab a loophole in ban on face coverings inside Parliament House
Prince Charles appeals to Muslim leaders "to ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions"
UK: Pro-Israel, anti-Islamic State doctor investigated for "Islamophobia"
Salam Urges End to Presidential Void,
Slams 'Unjustified, Unacceptable Failure'
Naharnet ظPrime Minister Tammam Salam on Friday raised the voice against the continued failure to elect a new president for the country, especially after the parliament voted to extend its own term, stressing that “this unsound situation is unacceptable.” “The harm against Christians is failure to elect a president and we cannot accept this unsound situation,” said Salam at a conference titled “Family and the Current Challenges in the Middle East”, which was held at the International Center for Dialogue of Civilizations in Rabweh. “Political forces found an exit through extending the parliament's term and it is their duty to elect the Maronite Christian president as soon as possible, and any delay is an insult to Lebanon,” Salam underlined. On Thursday, the legislature voted to extend its mandate until June 20, 2017.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since May, when President Michel Suleiman stepped down after his six-year term ended without a replacement. The presidency is the country's top Christian-held position. Separately, the prime minister said the recent “acts of terror” in the northern city of Tripoli “were confronted through a hefty price that we paid from the blood of our officers, soldiers and civilians.”
“Tripoli proved that it did not contain a so-called incubator of terrorism and confirmed its adherence to its moderate Islam,” Salam said. He noted that Tripoli, the North and entire Lebanon “embraced the Lebanese army, which fought the battle of the Tripolitans and all Lebanese against those who tampered with its (Tripoli's) security.” “Terrorism has sent its evils to Lebanon and we witnessed bomb attacks and an aggression in Arsal that was accompanied by the abduction of a number of our servicemen,” said Salam, referring to the August 2 jihadist assault on the northeastern border town. “We stress that we will exhaust all means in order to return them to their families,” the PM added. The al-Nusra Front and Islamic State extremist groups kidnapped around 35 troops and policemen during the Arsal clashes. Seven were released while three have since been executed, amid an outcry by the families of the hostages, who have been staging protests across the country. Turning to the rise of Islamist extremism in the region, Salem called on “Lebanese and Arab Muslims to purify their ranks and their moderate Islam and to work for keeping Christians in their land.” “I call on Arab Christians to make a key contribution to the creation of the region's present and future, the same as they were partners in shaping its past,” he added. “The problem of Christians can only be solved through the cooperation of Christians and Muslims and the problem of Muslims can only be solved through the cooperation of Muslims and Christians,” said Salam.
Lebanon contacting 'concerned countries' on hostages: Machnouk
Nov. 07, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon is maintaining contact with all the concerned states to secure the release of the Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by Islamist militants from Syria, the interior minister said, while ducking the question when pressed on if this included Syria. “The Cabinet decision is clear in terms of [maintaining] contact with all the concerned countries to secure the release of the kidnapped [servicemen],” Nouhad Machnouk told local daily Al-Akhbar in comments published Friday. Asked whether the government had delegated General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim to discuss the hostage ordeal in Syria, Machnouk said: “Ibrahim had previously gone to Syria for similar issues. We are not shy about this matter.”Machnouk said he had told a ministerial committee overseeing the hostage crisis that Ibrahim “can go to anywhere” in his effort to win the release of the at least 27 servicemen held on the Lebanon-Syria border since early August. Al-Akhbar, citing ministerial sources, said the Lebanese government had agreed to swap 55 prisoners in Lebanon and Syria for each Lebanese captive being held by the jihadists. Meanwhile, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper quoted sources in the Cabinet as saying that Prime Minister Tammam Salam was awaiting news from the Qatari hostage negotiator, who was reportedly returning to Beirut Friday.
French Jihadist Describes Role in
Lebanon Attack Plan
NaharnetظA French jihadist has described in court documents his path from the suburbs of Paris to Lebanon's capital Beirut where he was planning an attack on Shiite Muslims. Fayez Yusef Bushran, originally from the Comoros islands, disclosed his journey in court documents seen by Agence France-Presse on Friday. He is also charged with membership of the Islamic State group (IS) and preparing a suicide bomb attack. The documents said Bushran, 24, had been living in the southwestern Paris suburb of Trappes, and had studied with a cleric "who encouraged me to undertake jihad." Bushran said he had followed the conflict in Syria, where anti-government protests that erupted in March 2011 against President Bashar Assad spiraled into bloody civil war.
"I saw what is happening in Syria in terms of crimes against the Muslims and the signs that the Day of Resurrection is coming soon," the documents quoted him as saying. "And I became convinced to go to Syria to fight for God and the Muslims."
Bushran said he reached out via Facebook to someone publishing "jihadist news" and was told to travel from Germany or Spain to Turkey, rather than from France, to prevent detection. He flew from Frankfurt to Turkey, where he stayed in a safe house in Gazientep with 20 other young men. They received religious lessons and trained for 20 days before being taken to Raqa, the IS stronghold in the Syrian province of the same name. Bushran said he was eager to carry out a "martyrdom operation" and was assigned to carry out a suicide attack against Shiites in Lebanon. Lebanon's Shiite Hizbullah is a close ally of the Syrian regime and has sent its forces to bolster Assad against the Sunni-dominated uprising there. Hizbullah's role in Syria has made it a regular target for attacks by Sunni Muslim extremist groups in Lebanon. Bushran was given $2,000 (1,600 euros) as expenses and went to Beirut where he checked into a hotel and communicated with a Lebanese contact. He was told his mission would be to detonate an explosive belt in a public place, but before he received his final orders, his Syrian handler asked him to return to Turkey, saying "problems had led to the operation being canceled." Lebanese security forces raided the Napoleon Hotel in Beirut's Hamra district on June 20, arresting Bushran before he could flee.
Five days later, security forces raided another Beirut hotel and arrested a Saudi man. During that raid, the Saudi's accomplice blew himself up, killing himself and wounding 10 people. Bushran, the Saudi and 15 other people, only seven of whom are in custody, now face charges of belonging to IS and planning suicide attacks. Agence France Presse
Lebanon judge requests death penalty to Saudi, French bombing suspects
Nov. 07, 2014/Youssef Diab/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A judge requested the death penalty Friday for two alleged would-be suicide bombers, a French and a Saudi man, along with three Lebanese suspects accused of being part a 10-member, ISIS-affiliated group behind suicide-bomb plots in Beirut. In his indictment, Judge Riad Abu Ghayda requested the death penalty for Fayez Boushran, a French national originally from the Commodore Island, Saudi Abdel-Rahman Naser al-Shenefi, and three other Lebanese identified as Alaa Kanaan, Ayman Kanaan and Mahmoud Khaled. The judge also sought a sentence of 15 years in prison with hard labor for two other Lebanese suspects and three months in prison with hard labor for Ahmad Hussein, Jamal Hussein, and Mohammad Harmoush. The men comprised a 10-member group, known as “the hotels cell,” and belonged to ISIS with the aim of carrying out suicide attacks in Beirut and its southern suburbs in revenge for “Hezbollah’s alleged killing of Sunnis in Syria,” a judicial source told The Daily Star.The plot was broken up in a series of raids last June. In the indictment, Abu Ghayda said the cell had three separate tasks: the first was assigned to the French man who joined ISIS’s ranks to carry out jihad against Shiites “to teach them a lesson for fighting in Syria.” The French man was chosen to carry out a suicide attack in Beirut. Upon his arrival to Lebanon, Boushran met with Munzer al-Hasan, who recruited suicide bombers and was killed during an Army raid to arrest him earlier this year. Hasan transported Boushran to Napoleon Hotel in the Beirut neighborhood of Hamra and gave him pocket money. Boushran was instructed to remain at the hotel until someone contacted him about the target of the attack in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Shiite-dominated area. Boushran was arrested at the hotel on June 20 during a raid by the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch. The second task was assigned to two Saudi men including Shenefi, who was wounded when his partner, Ali al-Thuwayne, blew himself up on June 25 during a General Security raid on Duroy Hotel, where they were staying at in the Beirut neighborhood of Rouache. Shenefi and Thuwayne planned to blow themselves up at the Al-Saha restaurant in the capital’s suburbs. One of the men was supposed to carry out the first suicide attack during a World Cup match while hundreds were gather to watch. Seconds later, the other was to blow himself up as people rushed to help the wounded, to kill as many victims as possible. The Saudi men also met Hasan upon their arrival to Lebanon, and the recruiter showed them the location of the restaurant on their way from the airport to their hotel. The third mission was assigned to Hasan’s group, which prepared explosive belts and bombs for the would-be suicide bombers. The men were transferred to the Military Tribunal for trial. Abu Ghayda cleared seven people for lack of evidence and issued search warrants for 10 suspected ISIS commanders.
Al-Rahi Slams Lebanese Politicians:
Masks Have Fallen
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday criticized Lebanese politicians for “destroying” the country and slammed lawmakers for “protecting their seats” at the parliament. At the end of his two-week pastoral visit to Australia, al-Rahi said: “Politicians destroy and we build no matter what.”“The masks have fallen from the faces of our officials in Lebanon.”Al-Rahi has been lately venting his anger at Lebanese lawmakers who on Wednesday extended the term of the parliament for the second time. “The MPs hurried like brave students to protect their seats by extending their tenure and going against the will of the people and the constitution,” he said during a press conference ahead of his return to Beirut. The patriarch also blasted parliamentarians who rejected the extension, saying they should reveal their objection by resigning from the 128-member parliament. The legislature voted by 95 votes out of 97 members present to extend its mandate until June 20, 2017. Only two lawmakers voted against the draft-law. But 31 boycotted the session altogether in protest over the controversial decision. Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled for the middle of 2013, but MPs approved a 17-month extension of their mandate on May 31, 2013. The pro-extension MPs claimed on Wednesday they needed to stay in office because the political stalemate and security concerns have deepened. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May, when President Michel Suleiman stepped down after his six-year term ended without a replacement. The presidency is the country's top Christian-held position. Asked about the vacuum at Baabda Palace and who would vote for a president if the parliament is illegitimate, al-Rahi said: “I will not talk to them (MPs), but to the states that sent them orders because they are not the decision-makers.”Al-Rahi accused the lawmakers on several occasions of taking orders from outside powers.
Lebanon Army bars 11 wounded Syrian
rebels from entering
Nov. 07, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army Friday prevented 11 wounded Syrian rebels from entering the country through the southern Mount Hermon border region where heavy clashes had taken place between pro- and anti-Syrian government fighters. Security sources told The Daily Star that Syrian opposition fighters tried to carry 11 of their wounded from Mount Hermon in Syria to the Lebanese village of Shebaa, but Lebanese soldiers positioned there prevented them from entering. The wounded attempted to enter after at least 40 people were killed in clashes between pro-government and opposition fighters, including the Nusra Front, according to a monitor. The forces were killed Thursday, during fighting in Beit Tima, a majority-Druze region in southeastern Damascus province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. There has been fighting between regime and rebel forces in the region for more than a year, but Thursday's toll is the highest in a single day since violence began there. "At least 26 members of the (pro-regime) National Defense Forces and 14 fighters from the Nusra Front and Islamist rebel groups were killed," according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground. Syria's Druze, a heterodox Muslim community, have largely stayed on the sidelines of the country's bloody conflict and Beit Tima remains under regime control. A Lebanese security source said that 11 rebel fighters injured in the clashes had been prevented by Lebanese soldiers from crossing the mountainous border area to seek medical treatment. The source said it was the first time that Lebanese troops had prevented injured syrians from entering the country in that part of the border area. Syrian refugees and both civilians and rebels wounded in fighting have regularly slipped across the porous border between the two countries. Lebanese authorities have been cracking down on Syrians attempting to enter the country illegally. The Lebanese Cabinet last month voted to stop accepting any new Syrian refugees. MP Walid Jumblatt referred to the clashes in the predominantly Druze Syrian village of Arna in Mount Hermon, and warned against dragging the Druze into the conflict in Syria. “Beware of using the Druze to face the revolution,” he wrote in a tweet. "It is time to stand neutral."Jumblatt added: "Sooner or later the Syrian people will win.” —With agencies.
Hezbollah wants all politicians to stand together
Nov. 07, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: In a new sign of Hezbollah’s attempts at rapprochement, the party’s deputy chief Naim Qassem Thursday called on Lebanese political leaders to stand together to shield Lebanon from regional instability. “There is a great opportunity for Lebanon amid the political and security fire raging in the region, which, if seized by political leaders, will protect the country and serve the interests of all,” Qassem said, according to remarks provided by Hezbollah’s media office. Qassem underscored the need to improve socio-economic and political conditions in impoverished north Lebanon, saying that the Army’s military operation in Tripoli last month had spared the area from the harassment of jihadists. “It is the right of north Lebanon and its capital city, Tripoli ... to be relieved from the nuisance of jihadists,” Qassem said. “Now that the Lebanese Army has succeeded in reinstating security, there must be a comprehensive resolution to all the political and social problems [in the north] in order to deprive opportunists of any possible pretext [to undermine security],” Qassem said. Hezbollah’s moves toward rapprochement with political rivals, notably the Future Movement, came in the wake of the Army’s clampdown on Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militants in Tripoli and other parts of north Lebanon in late October. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah earlier this week offered rare praise for the Future Movement for standing with the Lebanese Army against the militants in the north. Nasrallah also called for a new era of dialogue between political rivals and offered to cooperate with the Future Movement to protect Lebanon from regional turmoil. Future Movement leader Saad Hariri has also expressed his readiness to cooperate with all political factions, including Hezbollah.
Hezbollah pre-empts Israeli action in
south, West Bekaa
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star/Nov. 07, 2014/A week ago, Hezbollah issued a military alert in south Lebanon and Western Bekaa regions warning of a possible limited Israeli attack there that could pave the way for an offensive by jihadist groups based in the town of Shebaa and others coming in from southern Syria, a source familiar with the issue revealed. For that reason, Hezbollah combat units were deployed in areas close to Khiam and Kfar Shuba, while members of a leftist party and Palestinian units from the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine’s General Command led by Palestinian Lt. Col. Riyad G. also spread out in Kfar Shuba. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party also deployed in Mimas, while Hezbollah’s “Redwan” units were deployed in Mashghara, Sohmor, Yohmor, Qlaya and Zlaya. Simultaneously, Hezbollah’s engineering units were working on setting up explosive-laden traps in case of an Israeli infiltration. According to German intelligence security reports, Israel has recruited agents in Shebaa and Arqoub. A source familiar with the matter told The Daily Star that these agents are thought to be cooperating with terrorist cells related to takfiri organizations in the two Palestinian camps of Shatila and Burj al-Barajneh in Beirut. The cells are composed of hundreds of militants who sneaked into Lebanon among Palestinian refugees from the Damascus camp of Yarmouk and are waiting to be given the green light to attack Hezbollah posts and institutions in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Attacks had been planned in Tripoli and Arsal, and there was even the possibility that Beirut might be attacked, according to the source. But the Lebanese Army succeeded in thwarting these plots, and remains completely ready to confront any extremists in whichever region. The source said that Israel had allowed the militants to control the border crossing and other areas in Syria’s Qunaitra by helping them logistically and providing intelligence. Israel also permitted them to sneak toward southern Lebanese towns, with the support of extremist cells formed by Mossad in Arqoub towns and in Shebaa and Rashaya, according to the source. The members of these groups are reported to have entered Lebanon through the border crossings of Al-Ghajar and Syria’s Beit Jinn. The United States apparently warned Israel not to start anything with Hezbollah after it emerged that the party had taken receipt of drones from Iran, according to the same source. The party recently started to use the drones in Arsal and on its outskirts with great success in its fight against the Nusra Front and ISIS. In the event of a confrontation breaking out between Hezbollah and Israel, it is likely the party’s fighters would manage to get further into Israel than the border settlements and perhaps even reach Tel Aviv, a Western intelligence source warned. However, a Western diplomatic source in Beirut, commenting on the information, said he had ruled out an outbreak of chaos on Lebanese-Israeli borders.
Jumblatt, Arslan decry fighting in
Syrian Druze region
The Daily Star/Nov. 07, 2014/BEIRUT: MPs Walid Jumblatt and Talal Arslan both condemned Thursday's deadly fighting in the predominantly Druze area of Syria's Mount Hermon Friday, but Lebanon's top two Druze leaders' condemnations exposed the wide gulf between their stances on the Syrian civil war. Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, warned against dragging Druze into the Syrian conflict, while Arslan, Lebanese Democratic Party chied, said the Druze were paying the price for supporting a unified Syria.
“Beware of using the Druze to face the revolution,” Jumblatt, who generally support the opposition, wrote in a tweet. In what appeared to be a message addressed to anti-rebel Syrian Druze, Jumblatt said: “I have already warned of the dangers of involvement with the Syrian regime.”“It’s time for reconciliation with the surrounding and to stand neutral,” he added. "Sooner or later the Syrian people will win.”But Arslan, who has different views on the conflict next-door, said Syria’s Druze were “paying the price for standing alongside a united Syria ... and for the sake of maintaining their dignity and honor and their existence.” He said Druze villages in the eastern part of Mount Hermon were the target Thursday of a war waged by “terrorist supporters and those carrying the scheme to fragment the region.”
“What is happening today in Mount Hermon increases our commitment to our principles and [increases] our insistence to adopt the resistance project altogether,” Arsal said in a statement. “We will not retract our faith that victory shall be ours at the end.”The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 people have been killed in clashes between pro-Syria regime forces and opposition fighters, including the Nusra Front.
Lebanese Government pays $36M in dues
to Special Tribunal
Nov. 07, 2014/Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Lebanese government Thursday transferred $36 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, its annual budget contribution, as the Hague-based court moved forward with the controversial trials of local journalists. “I welcome Lebanon’s contribution and I thank the Lebanese government for fulfilling its international obligation to fund the tribunal,” STL Registrar Daryl Mundis said in a statement confirming the transfer of the funds. The payment, which constitutes 49 percent of the U.N.-backed tribunal’s budget, is the first one by the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam and comes despite the fact that Hezbollah and its allies are part of the Cabinet. Hezbollah strongly opposes the court, which has indicted five members of the party in connection with the 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others. Their trial in absentia is ongoing. The funding was also approved despite Lebanon’s financial troubles, as the country’s economy reels from the impact of a massive refugee influx from Syria and ongoing security problems.
The court’s announcement came hours after a judge at the STL ruled that it has the authority to prosecute the top editor of newspaper Al-Akhbar, paving the way for the second trial of a Lebanese journalist. Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri said in his decision that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to prosecute Ibrahim al-Amin, Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief, but does not have the power to prosecute the newspaper’s parent company, Al-Akhbar S.A.L. Amin and the company were both accused of contempt of court and obstruction of justice because they allegedly published the personal information of confidential witnesses who were set to testify before the court. Earlier this week, Judge Lettieri said the trial of Al-Jadeed TV’s parent company and the channel’s deputy head of news Karma al-Khayyat, over similar allegations, would begin in the spring. Lebanese civil society and politicians have expressed their opposition to the cases, saying they would have a chilling effect on freedom of the press in Lebanon and urged the court to focus on its core mandate of finding Hariri’s killers.They also criticize the court for failing to prosecute Western news outlets that disclosed sensitive Hariri investigation details. The STL says the prosecution is necessary to protect witnesses from intimidation and maintain public confidence in the court’s work.
Tax data demand risk to bank secrecy
The Daily Star/07.11.14/BEIRUT: A leading banker warned Thursday that some of the proposed laws on the exchange of tax information could pose a challenge to Lebanon’s banking secrecy law. “There are three draft laws that are demanded internationally. The Lebanese government referred these laws to Parliament in 2012. The proposed laws involve broadening the list of crimes stemming from illegal money transactions and other related crimes. But the most important draft law is the one calling for the exchange of tax data and this is the most dangerous to the continuity of the banking secrecy,” Joseph Torbey, the chairman World Union of Arab Bankers, told participants at a forum on the bank legislation which was held at the headquarters of Beirut Bar Association. Lebanon is one of the few countries in the world that has a banking secrecy law. Despite enormous pressure on the Lebanese banking sector to comply with anti-money laundering actions and other FATCA requirements, Lebanon, thanks to the efforts of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, has managed so far to uphold this law after adopting strict measures to crack down on illicit funding and terrorist funding. Lebanese bankers boast that the country was among the first nations in the world to set up compliance departments and abide by all international decisions and regulations to monitor suspicious transactions. Torbey added that these draft laws were still in Parliament, and stressed that international pressure on Lebanon and other countries would not stop until the legislation was implemented.
Torbey said over 50 countries signed an international agreement in Berlin on Oct. 29 that could end banking secrecy. Among the signatories were EU countries, but also previously staunch proponents of banking secrecy such as Liechtenstein and tax havens like the Cayman Islands or the Virgin Islands. The deal – known as the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement – crowned two days of talks by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. Fifty-one countries signed one agreement to put in place an automatic exchange of information between the participating countries beginning in September 2017. Torbey said Lebanon has gradually complied with the compelling international financial system. “Lebanon has so far succeeded in preserving the banking secrecy and at the same time created a legal mechanism that lifts the banking secrecy if there are money laundering cases. We did that to uphold Lebanon’s financial reputation,” he added. Torbey said he expected Lebanese legislators to adopt reciprocal laws with other countries although he admitted that the Lebanese tax system did not search for the incomes of Lebanese abroad in order to subject them to taxes. Contrary to most Western nations, Lebanese expatriates who are working in the Gulf states, Europe and the United States do not pay any taxes to the Lebanese government. Torbey did not support moves to apply taxes on Lebanese expatriates. He also argued that Lebanon was not on any black or gray lists of countries that were not cooperating in the fight against money laundering.
Nine ministers refuse to sign but extension law done deal
07, 2014 /Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Eight Christian ministers refused Thursday to sign a draft law extending the Lebanese Parliament’s term, in a symbolic gesture that will not impede the controversial move. The decision to not endorse the bill means it will pass by default in five days, making the extension of the legislature’s term a fait accompli, ministerial sources told The Daily Star. “The draft law will go into effect Tuesday, when it is published in the Official Gazette, at the end of the five-day constitutional period which is usually granted to the president to endorse emergency legislation,” one of the sources said. The Cabinet assumed the powers of the presidency in ratifying legislation after the end of former President Michel Sleiman’s term, with the condition that decrees have to be endorsed unanimously by ministers.
The president normally has five days to reject an emergency bill, otherwise it passes by default. A total of nine ministers refused to endorse the decree, including those in Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc and the Kataeb Party, along with Minister of the Displaced Alice Shabtini, Sports Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Hinawi and Deputy Prime-Minister and Defense Samir Moqbel, who were appointed to the Cabinet as part of Sleiman’s share. But once the draft bill is passed, it can be challenged, the sources added.
Aoun’s parliamentary bloc, which had boycotted the extension vote, said it would challenge the bill. The European Union expressed its “regret” at the postponement of the parliamentary elections, calling for the swift passage of a new electoral law and the election of a president. “The European Union regrets that Lebanese citizens will not be able to exercise their right to vote, and that elections will be postponed once again,” the EU mission in Lebanon said in a joint statement with the bloc’s top diplomats in the country. “The European Union calls on the government of Lebanon and all political parties to make best use of the extension, to speedily advance on a new electoral law as well as on other pressing legislation.”In meetings Thursday, Speaker Nabih Berri revealed fresh details of the new electoral law that would be debated by a committee chaired by him later this month. Berri’s visitors quoted him as saying the draft law would stipulate that half of all MPs would be elected under a winner-takes-all system, while the other half would be elected using proportional representation. Berri said the plan had been tabled by him in 2013 and was backed by MP Walid Jumblatt and therefore has broader potential backing. He added that any new election law must adhere to the Taif Accord by adopting the governorate as an electoral district and should have a fixed female quota. He also said legislative activity would continue in Parliament following the extension. Discussions in Thursday’s Cabinet meeting also covered the contracts of mobile phone operators, oil prospecting tenders and progress in government efforts to free the captive Army and police personnel. The sources said Prime Minister Tammam Salam briefed the Cabinet on progress in the bid to win the release of 27 servicemen who have been held by jihadist groups from Syria for more than three months. Speaking after the end of the Cabinet session, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige quoted the prime minister as saying that the hostage case “was difficult and complicated and that there was some progress, which we hope can reach positive results.” The government also agreed to postpone discussions on the tender to manage and operate the two state-owned cellular networks.
Abu Ghida Issues Indictments against
Lebanese, Foreign Terrorists
Naharnet/First Military Examining Magistrate Judge Riyad Abu Ghida issued on Friday indictments against several foreigners and Lebanese who plotted to carry out terrorist attacks in Lebanon. Abu Ghida indicted a Frenchman, originally from the Comoros islands, who was arrested in June during a raid on the Napoleon Hotel in Beirut's Hamra district. He was accused of plotting to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials. Two months later, French authorities arrested his accomplice of Moroccan origin. A Saudi terrorist, also indicted on Friday, was arrested in June after his accomplice blew himself up at the Duroy Hotel in Beirut's Raouche district to evade arrest during a raid carried out by General Security members. They were plotting to target al-Saha Restaurant in Beirut's southern suburbs. The detainee has admitted to belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Abu Ghida's indictments include calls for the death penalty or the execution of 28 terrorists, among them the French and Saudi detainees. The rest of the terrorists have Lebanese and Syrian nationalities.
Obama probes Khamenei on anti-ISIS campaign
Nov. 07, 2014/Daily Star/Agencies
WASHINGTON / BEIRUT: U.S. President Barack Obama sent a secret letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month stressing the two countries’ shared interest in fighting ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, a media report Thursday said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the mid-October letter said cooperation between the Washington and Tehran on combating the group was tied to a deal being reached between Iran and other nations on its nuclear program.
Refusing to deny or confirm the report, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “I’m not in a position to discuss private correspondence between the president and any world leader.”
Earnest repeated that on the sidelines of the nuclear talks, led by the P5 1 group of countries, Iran and the U.S. had discussed the threat of ISIS.
But he reiterated Washington’s stance that “the United States will not cooperate militarily with Iran in that effort; we won’t share intelligence with them.”The Journal said it was believed to be the fourth letter from Obama to Khamenei, while U.S. officials told the paper that the Iranian leader has never responded personally to the overtures.
The news came after the U.S. military said it targeted the so-called Khorasan faction of Al-Qaeda in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib with five airstrikes.
One U.S. official said a target of the strikes was David Drugeon, a French-born militant and convert to Islam who some U.S. officials say is a bomb maker for the group. U.S. officials have not confirmed whether Drugeon was killed.
U.S. media reported that an airstrike hit a vehicle believed to be carrying Drugeon. Fox News, citing “well-placed military sources,” said the car’s driver lost a leg and was not expected to live, while a passenger believed to be Drugeon was killed. In Paris, France’s interior minister refused to confirm reports Drugeon that was killed or injured.
In a statement, U.S. Central Command said the American military hit five Khorasan targets near Sarmada in Idlib province, close to the Turkish border and west of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
“We took decisive action to protect our interests and remove their capability to act,” Central Command said, adding that Al-Qaeda militants “are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.”U.S. officials describe Khorasan as a grouping of Al-Qaeda veterans who moved to Syria from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and set up operations under the protection of Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front. They said Washington did not intend to target the Nusra Front, which recently swept away two U.S.-backed rebel groups from their stronghold in Idlib province. “These strikes were not in response to the Nusra Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusra Front as a whole,” Central Command said. “They were directed at the Khorasan Group whose focus is not on overthrowing the Assad regime or helping the Syrian people.”The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime monitoring group based in Britain, said Nusra was targeted for only the second time since the U.S.-led coalition began bombings on Sept. 23. The Observatory said at least six Nusra fighters were killed in coalition airstrikes in Aleppo province, along with two children in Idlib province. Airstrikes near the Turkish border also targeted the conservative Ahrar al-Sham Islamist militia for the first time.In a statement, Ahrar al-Sham confirmed its base near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing had been hit, saying the raids “benefit only the criminal [Syrian] regime.”Elsewhere, at least 12 people were killed in two regime barrel bomb raids in Aleppo, the Observatory said. In Homs province, Syrian troops backed by pro-regime militiamen recaptured the Shaer gas field, state television and the Observatory reported, a week after ISIS jihadists overran parts of it.
Mediating Tripoli’s feuds a step at a
Nov. 07, 2014
Mazin Sidahmed/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: “We’ve said everything we want to say. So at the end here I want to ask you what you’ve learned about mediation today?” Marwa Moulik al-Aweek says, standing in a small classroom at the Women’s Academy in the Qobbeh neighborhood. “A line of communication between two disputing sides,” one of the roughly two-dozen women packed into the room said. “It pushes people away from violence, to find a solution that’s peaceful,” said Fatima al-Omar, another attendee. This is all part of an awareness session for a new project that hopes to gear people in Tripoli toward resolving their disputes through mediation. “This project is building the culture of mediation,” Samar Boulos, of the Safadi Foundation, said, “building it as a tool for conflict resolution. That’s why we are raising awareness for people to solve their problems through mediation, because mediation is a win-win approach in a peaceful way.”
The program – funded by the European Union, Mercy Corp and the Safadi Foundation – is titled “Building Community Capacity for Dispute Resolution and Reconciliation in Lebanon.” The program provides different neighborhoods in Tripoli with young mediators that are from the area, which locals can refer to when they have a problem that they would like resolved. The main point – that is emphasized throughout the awareness session – is that these mediators are here to solve local problems within the community.
Mercy Corp representative Nada Naja said that they may consider taking on larger issues in the future. “Now this project is like first step to see if the community will accept us,” Naja told The Daily Star, “how they think, and maybe in the future we can have a different project.”The program started out with 100 volunteers who each received a three-month course on mediation. Of the 100, the top 30 were selected to complete full training in mediation at the Professional Mediation Center (CPM) at Universite Saint Joseph.
Following their training, the 30 selectees were divided up into six Tripoli neighborhoods: Mina, Baddawi, Abu Samra, Qobbeh, al-Aswak and Bab al-Tabbanneh. Each group now works out of a center in one of these neighborhoods. Boulos said Tripoli was selected due to its history with discord. “We all know that Tripoli, for a long time, has had a lot of neighborhood disputes,” Boulos said. “Without considering if you want, the roots of the problems, it is local discrepancies between people.”
“We’re not saying that with this project we’re going to solve all the problems. Of course ... but we want to advance a new understanding to solve disputes.” Bassel al-Esber, one of the 30 mediators and now based in Qobbeh, is hopeful about the effects that mediation can have on Tripoli. He admits that originally he was highly skeptical about the idea. “I thought people would say, “We’ve got a lot of problems, our money struggles, there’s no work, we’re trying to get by and you want to talk about mediation?’” he recalls. With time, he came around to the idea and now believes that it can have a real impact on the neighborhood. “I didn’t think that mediation would work in this neighborhood but I realized that it can and it has made a big difference,” Esber added. “You saw today how much they got into it.” He said they have already mediated some disputes since they started and the main goal now is spreading awareness
The awareness session held in Qobbeh in which Aweek, and later Esber, taught local women about how mediation works is critical in ensuring that this project has the desired impact. The attendees had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the idea. “This project benefits us, it doesn’t hurt us,” Fatima al-Omar, one of the attendees, told The Daily Star. “It helps us know how to communicate with people in our house before we start trying to solve larger problems.”Omar is confident that by resolving local problems first and building up they can address the larger issues facing Tripoli.
Tripoli has been uniquely affected by the ongoing Syria crisis. A lot of extremists groups operating in Syria have taken root in the northern city and re-ignited a lot of tensions between local armed factions, resulting in a series of on-and-off clashes over the past three years.
Recently, two soldiers were attacked at an outpost, sparking a fierce response from the Lebanese Army in which 23 militants were killed during the four-day operation. Eight civilians and 11 soldiers were also killed while parts of the city were left in ruins.
Convincing people to approach local mediators instead of the mayor or a sheikh when they have a dispute they need resolving is fundamental to the success of the project. Aweek, who completed her undergraduate studies in Medical and Social Assistance, said this has been the hardest part so far. While she enjoyed the training at USJ, she has been disheartened by the situation on the ground.
“At the end of the day you are changing convictions, you’re changing the way people think,” she lamented. “If somebody is used to [resolving problems] with his hands ... how do you convince them to not go to use violence?” The struggle to get people around to the idea of mediation has visibly worn on her and while she has resolved some disputes she said the center has not been a roaring success. “I’m not going to say to you that I opened the center and everyone came and everyone who had a problem we solved it. No. I’m not going to lie to you,” she confessed. She also has doubts about how far the project can be scaled up. According to Aweek, the recent clashes in Tripoli, for instance, could not be resolved simply using mediation. These problems can only be solved on a state level.
Esber agreed that when it comes to armed conflict, local mediators may be out of their depth. “Mediation can’t solve disputes like what happened in Tripoli last week,” he said. “The security problems and political problems are bigger than mediation.”Esber said that the main objective of the project now was to make Tripoli a more livable place for all of its residents. “The main concern of everyone is how to bring Tripoli back to being peaceful city, bring Tripoli back to being a secure city, they want it to go back.“In any way possible.”
Palestinian Intifada in the making
The Daily Star/Nov. 07, 2014
In dealing with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has systematically pursued a “two-track” strategy, which can be summed up as settlements and war. Netanyahu and his allies have been spectacularly nonproductive on the peace front and have only themselves to thank for the rising level of tension, particularly in Jerusalem, as observers wonder when a third intifada will erupt. Both previous Palestinian uprisings were sparked by provocative Israeli behavior in the city, and the Israelis are on track to unleash a third conflagration on a region that is already suffering from political turbulence. Israeli authorities are certainly aware that a group of religious extremists is doing everything it can to expand Israeli access to the Muslim holy site of Al-Aqsa, which is a recipe for disaster. But these extremist acts come in the wake of the Israeli government’s drive to expand settlements around Jerusalem and after its destructive response to the Gaza Strip. The current, enflamed situation is purely an Israeli affair, because the government’s tacit or open support for extremists is the sole cause of the rising tension and violence. In public, Israeli politicians claim that they will not bow to the extremists, but everyone knows that these extremists are either linked to government factions or are inspired by the intransigence that Netanyahu and his allies are so proud of. The Israeli government’s policies are succeeding in one area, namely repelling more people around the world, boosting the momentum of boycott and divestment campaigns, and encouraging governments to scale back their ties with Tel Aviv. The decline in support for Israel can even be noticed in the U.S., and particularly in the White House.The Israelis might think that their “good cop, bad cop” act will fool their allies, but no one appears to be buying it this time.
US military aid commander: The moment Israel notifies us, we will be there to help
J.Post/By YAAKOV LAPPIN/11/07/2014/The commander of a US military force tasked with the mission of assisting Israel in a time of war, if asked to, affirmed his commitment and readiness for the mission during a visit to Israel this week. Lt.-Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of the JDF-I (Joint Defense Force-Israel), took command several months ago and arrived in Israel in recent days to meet counterparts in the Israel Air Force’s Active Defense Division (air defenses). The JDF-I is primarily tasked with assisting in air defense missions, and would operate platforms such as Patriot surface-to-air missiles to help intercept incoming threats. “We have a deep, uncompromising commitment to the security of the State of Israel, a commitment that is based on the special relationship between our countries. The moment the State of Israel notifies us that it is in need of our assistance, we will come to help in defending it,” Roberson said on Wednesday, according to the IAF. Roberson has spent recent days getting acquainted with the various units of the IAF’s Active Defense Division, which can deploy a range of air defense systems ranging from Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries to Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile interceptors. Roberson and his counterparts discussed some of the lessons learned from the Juniper Cobra 14 joint drill, held in May, which was a computer-simulated bilateral air defense exercise. “We work jointly during our routine so that, in times of war, we will be able to do our job as best as we can. We have to train together because the mission is a complex and a critical one,” the commander said. “Naturally, I cannot discuss the numbers of troops [who can deploy to Israel] or describe all the weapon systems, but what is important is the fact that we will bring with us everything necessary to defend the State of Israel,” he said
Too much time on the present, not enough time on the past
Nov 6, 2014 /by Michael Devolin/Jihad Watch
“Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty four hours and too little on the last six thousand years.” — Will Durant
We are forever hearing the Muslim world using the term “Crusader” in reference to the West when accusing us of every evil that has ever befallen them, as though we had invented colonialism and exploitation or the acquisition of booty in the pursuit of empire.
One of the most prevalent characteristics of the jihadist—when he’s not using the religion of Islam to justify his savagery—is his habitual revision and/or obfuscation of actual Middle Eastern history. Always careful to avoid turning back the pages far enough to reveal how Islam’s religious parvenus actually pioneered the very idea of imperialism and colonial rule, the jihadist must overlook the fact that long before there was a Palestine “occupied” by a State of Israel, there was also a Palestine when Jews lived absent the presence of religiously intolerant Arab Muslims. Today’s “pro-Palestinian” protester vehemently refuses any discussion regarding the awkward historical truth defining who is actually occupying who in the land of Israel.
Efraim Karsh has noted, “Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is the Middle East where the institution of empire not only originated (for example, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Iran, and so on) but where its spirit has also outlived its European counterpart.” We are now accustom to seeing anti-Zionism placards at any event arranged for the purpose of protesting against the State of Israel, as though any Jew should be ashamed of admitting to being a Zionist. Unlike the Islamic imperialist (read: jihadist), the Zionist doesn’t want to rule the world and hold indigenous captives under his thumb. Rather he simply wants to return to the land of Israel, his ancient homeland, and live there in peace, safely out of reach of the Islamic imperialist.
But the jihadist will travel back in history only so far as Jabotinsky and Herzl, as though Zionism began with them. Never mind the fact that Jabotinsky and Herzl and their Zionism saved many Jews from the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Sobibor, or repatriated into Israel those Jewish survivors who walked out of the darkness of Eastern Europe at the end of WW2, the jihadist, in his madness, erroneously sees only a mirror image of himself and Islam’s imperialistic tendencies in the Zionism of the Jew. This is why the nefarious Protocols of the Elders of Zion has become the Arab Muslim’s most popular proof for his vitriol against the Jews of Israel. Never mind the ancient history of Zionism, that this same Zionism predates even the Muslim Arab invasion of ancient Israel, the Islamist sees only Jabotinsky and Herzl and the Jewish refugee fighting (and winning) his way back into what had been for so long a preponderant Arab Muslim Palestine.
The Arab Muslim, the original jihadist, has never been willing to tolerate a sovereign Jewish state, regardless the evidence of a perpetual Jewish presence in the land of Israel. As Jamil Mardam, Syria’s Foreign Minister, told Herzl’s friend Moshe Shertok back in 1943, “You won’t find a single Arab leader who would voluntarily acquiesce in your becoming the majority in Palestine…there can be no mutually agreed settlement as no Arab statesman will accept a Jewish majority.”* Islam’s jihadist is willing to look only so far back into the history of the Middle East as serves his religion’s imperialistic dictates. About the fate of the Jews, even Jews running from the Holocaust, he couldn’t care less.
For every European and American kingmaker who travelled to the Middle East “to do the impossible for the ungrateful,” to borrow a phrase from Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, there was always an Arab Muslim waiting there who dreamed of empire and was more than willing to accept their money, even at the expense of the common Arab who was simply trying to raise a family and live in relative security. The reasons given today to justify Islamic jihad are simply born of a religiously taught hatred of everything Western but have no valid connection to the real history of the Middle East and therefore no credence when used to inculpate the West for the volatile instability of the region.
Arab Muslim empires rose and then came crashing down long before Western powers took their turn at exploiting the Middle East’s natural resources. One has only to take a short read into the history of Islam’s many kings and caliphs to realize that the jihad waged back then, with Arab Muslim killing Arab Muslim, was not at all dissimilar to the jihad waged today, with Arab Muslim killing Arab Muslim, Jew and Christian: jihad, not because there is any sense to it, or because there is an end that could possibly justify the means, but only because Islam and its tenets advocate jihad and for no other reason. The jihadist is not interested in ancient history and how that history can never justify his crimes against humanity. The jihadist is only interested in the last twenty four hours and the measure of harm he has loosed into the world.
*from Efraim Karsh’s ‘Palestine Betrayed’
**Michael Devolin has been a member of JDL Canada since the 1980s, and has served as the personal bodyguard to Meir Weinstein, National Director of JDL Canada, at several high-profile trials, including the Jim Keegstra hate crimes trial and the Imra Finta war crimes trial.
Pakistan: Policeman uses axe to hack
to death a man accused of blasphemy
Robert Spencer /Nov 6, 2014
hatchet In Pakistan, if you’re accused of insulting Islam, you could be hacked to death by a policeman. In the United States, if you’re accused of insulting Islam, you’ll be excoriated as a “hate group leader,” accused of “bigotry” and “racism,” and shunned by all decent folk. There is no place on earth today where the accusation of insulting Islam is dismissed out of hand and the freedom of speech and inquiry upheld unconditionally.
“Policeman uses axe to kill blasphemy accused: officials,” AFP, November 6, 2014:
LAHORE: A policeman used an axe to kill a man arrested for allegedly committing blasphemy, officials said Thursday, days after an enraged mob murdered a Christian couple accused of the same crime.
Tufail Haider, a 50-year-old member of the Shia sect, was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks toward the companions of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and brought to the Civil Lines police station in the eastern city of Gujrat on Wednesday.
“Tufail was kept in the lock-up but he continued uttering derogatory remarks and hurled abuse at policemen. He looked like a malang (wandering preacher) and seemed mentally imbalanced,” duty officer Ali Raza told AFP.
“Assistant Sub-Inspector Faraz Naveed, 36, became very angry on hearing the derogatory remarks against the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and he killed the detainee with an axe in the lock up,” he added.
Naveed has been arrested and legal proceedings have been started against him, he added.
Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 per cent of the country’s 180 million-strong population, most of whom are Muslim.
There has been a recent surge in extra-judicial killings linked to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
A Christian bonded labourer and his pregnant wife were killed Tuesday for alleged desecrating pages of the Holy Quran in the eastern village of Chak 59, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman lost an appeal last month.
The latest incident also has shades of the shooting in September of an elderly British man with severe mental illness, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in January.
An internal investigation has found that the guard had been radicalised and goaded into the shooting by Mumtaz Qadri, a police bodyguard who murdered the Punjab governor in 2011 for suggesting reform of the blasphemy laws….
U.S. airstrikes target al-Qaeda faction in Syria
By Karen DeYoung, Liz Sly and Missy Ryan November 6/14/Washington Post
U.S. warplanes launched airstrikes in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border early Thursday, targeting a group other than the Islamic State for only the second time since the air campaign in the country began and threatening to draw Washington deeper into Syria’s multilayered conflicts.
The U.S. Central Command said five strikes were conducted specifically against the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group using manned aircraft and drones. There were unconfirmed reports that a French bombmaker with the group was among those killed.
Khorasan is the term used by U.S. intelligence to refer to an al-Qaeda cell said to be embedded within Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian militant group that is fighting both President Bashar al-Assad and U.S.-backed moderate opposition forces of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA.
But rebel fighters and opposition activists near the strikes, close to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Idlib province, said it appeared that known Jabhat al-Nusra bases were the intended targets and that some of the bombs went far afield. It was not possible to verify either version of the strikes.
In the complicated web of relationships among the many groups fighting in Syria, the FSA sometimes collaborates with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Syria. Last weekend, however, extensive clashes between the two resulted in Jabhat al-Nusra’s seizing significant territory from the FSA in Idlib. The Pentagon did not respond to repeated FSA calls for airstrikes, opposition leaders said.
Early this week, however, U.S. officials weighed using airstrikes to prevent a Jabhat al-Nusra takeover of Bab al-Hawa, one of two strategic crossings on the Turkish border that are used by the United States and other supporters to funnel military and humanitarian supplies to the FSA.
In an unusual statement announcing the Thursday air attacks, CENTCOM said that “these strikes were not in response to the Nusra Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusra Front as a whole.”
CENTCOM’s commander, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said, “There were no strikes conducted against the al-Nusra Front.”
Austin said he did “not want to speculate on the effectiveness” of the strikes. “We’re still in the assessment phase,” he said.
The CENTCOM statement said that “initial indications” were that several Khorasan vehicles and buildings — believed to be “meeting and staging areas,” along with training and bombmaking facilities — were destroyed or severely damaged.
Intelligence officials declined Thursday to specify whether there had been a new threat from the Khorasan group, which the Obama administration in September said was “actively plotting” an attack against the United States.
Austin declined to confirm media reports that French national David Drugeon, an alleged Khorasan official and bombmaking expert, had been killed. “He is clearly one of the leadership elements and one of the most dangerous elements in that organization, and so any time that we can take their leadership out, it’s a good thing,” Austin said.
One U.S. official, who was not authorized to divulge information about the strikes, said that a vehicle in which Drugeon was believed to be traveling was hit but that it was unclear whether he had been killed.
CENTCOM said that all of the strikes were against Khorasan targets in the vicinity of Sarmada, Syria, close to the border crossing.
In their version of events, rebels and activists said that, in addition to Jabhat al-Nusra bases, a headquarters of the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, which is loosely allied to both Jabhat al-Nusra and the FSA, was hit and that two of its fighters were killed. The group, unlike Jabhat al-Nusra, is not on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, and allegations that one of its bases was on the target list stirred further suspicions that the U.S. air campaign is intended indirectly to support the Assad regime.
Another strike in the border town of Harem killed four children, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a network of civic groups that has been at least partially supported by U.S. funds. The committees posted a video of the bloodied bodies of two of the children said to have been killed, wrapped in a red blanket.
Abdullah Jadaan, a resident of Idlib and journalist for the Syria Live News Network, said a strike that apparently targeted the Islamic sharia court in Sarmada missed and hit a nearby Internet cafe instead.
As U.S. and Arab warplanes have launched a steady stream of attacks against Islamic State militants, FSA leaders have lamented that President Obama has lost interest in helping them overthrow Assad.
Despite FSA clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra, Thursday’s attacks angered many Syrians in Idlib and other parts of the country where the Islamic State — which has taken over much of northern and eastern Syria — has no presence and where Assad is seen as the chief enemy.
As moderate groups seen to be U.S. allies are held responsible, their already weak position has worsened.
“The airstrikes are killing civilians and children,” Jadaan said. “The people support Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. . . . These groups are fighting the regime, so people don’t want them to get hit by airstrikes.”
Charles Lister, who monitors Syria for the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, indicated that the Thursday strikes may have far-reaching effects for the longer-term U.S. strategy of strengthening the moderate fighters. “The U.S. may now have lost Syria,” Lister said in a comment posted on Twitter.
“This will support the belief that the U.S. does not want an overall solution and that they want to consolidate Assad’s position on the ground,” said Abdurrahman Saleh, a spokesman for the Islamic Front, an umbrella group to which Ahrar al-Sham belongs.
Monzer Azbik, an adviser to the head of the U.S.-backed Syrian political opposition, said the United States needs urgently to address opposition concerns about its strategy.
“It is very complicated now,” Akbik said. “If the Syrian people’s grievances with the Assad regime are not taken into consideration, this will jeopardize the whole campaign.”
In its statement, CENTCOM emphasized that Khorasan was not focused “on overthrowing the Assad regime or helping the Syrian people.” Instead, the statement said, “these al-Qaeda operatives are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.”
*Sly reported from Beirut. Hugh Naylor in Beirut contributed to this report.
*Karen DeYoung is associate editor and senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post.
*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.
*Missy Ryan writes about the Pentagon, military issues, and national security for The Washington Post.
Hundreds clash with IDF forces in 'Day
J.Post 07.11.14/Palestinians seemed to be adhering to leadership calls to hold a so-called 'Day of Rage' against Israel on Friday, as hundreds of West Bank residents staged protests and clashed with Israeli security forces. Violence erupted at the flashpoint Kalandia checkpoint, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as some 400 Palestinians threw stones and firebombs at IDF troops. The army opened fire at the crowd in response, a spokeswoman said, but did not confirm a hit. In the Shuafat refugee camp, a funeral was held for 38-year-old Ibrahim al-Aqari, the east Jerusalem resident who killed two people and injured a dozen more in a terrorist attack that rattled Jerusalem this week. Bright-green Hamas flags were carried through the terrorist's impoverished hometown, as residents threw stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces following the ceremony. Torching tires and trash cans, they chanted anti-Israel slogans, prompting Border Police officers to spray tear gas and quell the rising tensions. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to take to the streets of Jerusalem and the West Bank to demonstrate against Israel's policies at the Aksa Mosque. Near Ramallah, in the Benjamin region of the central West Bank, Palestinians threw stones at security personnel, while demonstrations were held in other areas to the south, near Hebron.
EU's incoming foreign minister visits
Published: 11.07.14/ Israel News
Federica Mogherini met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman amid heightened tensions; meanwhile, planned visit to Gaza hits unexpected obstacle amid Palestinian infighting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Friday with European Union Foreign Representative Federica Mogherini in his Jerusalem office and the two discussed recent events as well as regional politics. She also met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "We see that there might be a political will to resume the talks and to especially make sure that these talks bring results,” Mogherini said Friday at a joint press conference with Lieberman. She slammed recent terror attacks as well as Israel's ongoing settlement construction, but said the EU remains committed to peace and Israel's security, which she directly linked: "Israel’s security and safety will never be guaranteed unless there is a regional framework that fully allows that. The EU is and will remain ready to work in this direction with all partners of the region." On Jerusalem, Netanyahu told Mogherini that “It is our capital, and as such it is not a settlement. The neighborhoods in which Jews live and in which we are building have existed for almost fifty years, under all Israeli governments. Everyone knows that in any peace settlement, they will remain part of Israel.”On the issue of settlements, Netanyahu said he reject the "outlandish claim that the root of the ongoing conflict is this or that settlement. The issue is not land, but rather our very existence and the refusal to recognize Israel with any borders.”
Gaza visit hit by infighting
A Palestinian source in Ramallah told Ynet that Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was scheduled to arrive in Gaza on Saturday to escort Mogherini, but canceled his visit following the bombings Thursday night of Fatah officials’ homes. Early on Friday, at least 10 explosions hit houses and cars belonging to members of the Fatah movement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the explosions occurred at a time of rising tensions with the rival Hamas movement. Fayez Abu Itta, a Fatah leader in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, said no one was hurt in the near-simultaneous attacks. He said his car was destroyed and the homes and cars of two other Fatah officials in Gaza City were also damaged.
Netanyahu may go down in history as
prime minister who lost Jerusalem
Op-ed: An internationally-sponsored dialogue is the only way to prevent a religious war whose outcome will be more difficult than any other type of conflict between states. On Wednesday morning, we were still caught up in the Republicans' sweeping victory in the US Congressional midterm election. Benjamin Netanyahu is on the winning side, commentators said. US President Barack Obama, who was defeated, will be required to handle the Israeli prime minister with kid gloves, they explained, otherwise the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate will veto his decisions.The tables have turned: The chicken has overpowered the lame duck. The malicious joy at the Prime Minister's Office was likely interrupted several hours later following the events in Jerusalem. The following must be said, unfortunately: What happened in Washington has nothing to do with what is happening in Israel's capital. The Republicans' victory will have no effect whatsoever on the Palestinian uprising and on how its outcomes will be dealt with.
At this rate of events, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to state that, ironically, Netanyahu of all people may go down in history as the prime minister who lost Jerusalem, no less. Not as the prime minister who divided Jerusalem, as the Likud spokespeople used to accuse Shimon Peres, but as the one who lost Jerusalem as our united capital. This conflagration forces the decision makers to buckle down and try to locate the sources of frustration on the Palestinian side, deal with the root of the problem.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu lashed out at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas again, accusing him of incitement. But conversations with senior European diplomats, who are monitoring the situation in Jerusalem with a lot of concern, reveal that Europe and the United States mainly hold the Israeli side fully responsible for the deterioration due to, among other things, the announcement of construction plans within Palestinian population centers in East Jerusalem and what appears as a change in the status quo in the city's holy sites.
The main claim against the Israeli government has to do with the end of its negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu's political status quo perception is seen as unacceptable by the international community.
In other words, the prevailing opinion in the bureaus of prime ministers in Europe and in the American administration is that there is no chance to quell the situation in Jerusalem without a new, comprehensive initiative for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
It's possible that after almost 50 years of Israeli control of Jerusalem, it's time to come up with new rules of behavior and division of responsibilities. A dialogue accompanied by an international umbrella, which will include the negotiations on the arrangements in the holy places, is the only way to prevent the religious war, whose outcomes are more difficult than any other type of conflict between states.
No, Lebanon is not finished
Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 7 Nov, 2014
“Lebanon is finished!” This was what a Lebanese friend asserted the other day when he dropped in for commiseration. He came out with a litany of woes about Lebanon: inability to choose a president, a parliament prolonging its paralytic life, a Hezbollah serving Iran rather than Lebanon, takfiris trying to carve out mini-emirates, and political elites more focused on making money than solving the nation’s problems.
While all those assertions are valid, at least in part, they cannot sustain the conclusion that Lebanon has become a moribund state.
True, the presidency has been vacant since May. However, let us note that with the 1989 Taif Agreement the presidential system was effectively replaced with a parliamentary one. Today, having no president doesn’t look good, but nor does it do much harm.
At the risk of sounding cynical, one may suggest that having no president may be preferable to having a bad one. Just think of how many presidents Arab nations would rather have done without.
That Lebanon is unable to hold parliamentary elections is certainly lamentable. But no election is better than fraudulent ones, as is the norm in many countries. The prolonged parliament still represents Lebanon’s confessional and political groupings.
The good news is that a paralyzed parliament, while it cannot function as a proper legislature, can’t do much harm either. With the paralysis of the Lebanese state’s political organs the nation has to function on autopilot. In the absence of political meddling, non-political organs, such as courts, the central bank, the bureaucracy, and the army may actually function better.
The weakening of the political apparatus may also create more space for civil society, including the private sector of the economy, mosques and churches, the media, cultural associations, professional syndicates, and trade unions.
In fact, one of the problems that most modern Arab nations have faced is the overwhelming power of the state at the expense of civil society.
One could argue that in contrast with an earlier generation of its leaders, under Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah has, at times, risked Lebanon’s national interests to help Iran’s ambitions. Nevertheless, there are signs that Nasrallah, a clever politician, is perhaps becoming aware of the fragility of his position. He is beginning to take note of some facts, including the deteriorating situation in Syria, the challenge posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the possibility of the mullahs making a deal with Washington.
Nasrallah’s speech at the start of Muharram merits study. There is no space here for detailed analysis of his subtle changes of tone. However, three points need to be made.
First, he sounded shaken by events that have upset his optimistic vision of a triumphant Iran as regional hegemon. Iran’s increasing cash-flow problems, partly due to falling oil prices, have provoked a debate in Tehran about cutting down on financial aid to regional clients, including Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Nasrallah also implicitly admitted that defeating ISIS and kindred movements cannot be done with slogans of a sectarian nature. He appealed to “our brethren, the Sunni theologians, the majority of Muslims” to take the lead and assume “their great responsibility.”
Hezbollah’s shrinking support base and some loss of sympathy from non-Shi’ite communities that admired the party’s rhetoric against Israel is also bound to force Nasrallah to start thinking more about Lebanon’s national interests.
As for political elites spending more time on business, that, too, need not be bad news. The interregnum may persuade some of them to quit politics and focus on what they know best: making money.
That brings us to the tangibles of the situation.
If they indicate anything it is that Lebanon, far from being “finished,” may be doing better than its neighbors. According to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports, the Lebanese economy will register a growth rate of more than 3 percent this year. That may not sound sensational, but is OK at a time when most other economies, from Mesopotamia to North Africa, are in meltdown mode.
Inflation is down to 1.2 percent, compared to the regional average of 11 percent. Although Lebanon has cut interest rates, capital inflow has increased by 3 percent, and the central bank’s foreign assets have topped 40 billion US dollars, an all-time record. While Lebanon’s public debt of 42 billion dollars is proportionally the second-largest in the world, the country has registered a record trade surplus.
Private bank deposits have increased by almost 12 percent and the national currency has maintained its value while other regional currencies have plummeted. That has enabled Lebanese banks to increase lending by almost 6 percent.
The projected massive drop in the number of tourists has not materialized, with visitors expected to top 1 million this year.
Beirut’s real estate market is booming and real sector indicators, that is to say infrastructural businesses, have risen by almost 10 per cent this year.
An agreement by the G-20 to end banking privacy in 2017 is likely to draw more foreign investors to Lebanon as one of a shrinking number of global tax havens.
Further down the road, Syria, reduced to an archipelago of rubble, would one day be rebuilt. Then, Lebanon would be the base of companies taking part in the rebuilding effort.
Every region needs a Lebanon, especially in times of crisis, a space closed to none and available for dialogue, investment and leisure. In a Europe shaken by endless wars, Switzerland played that role for almost 200 years. In war-torn South America, the role was assumed by Uruguay and in southern Asia by Singapore and Hong Kong. In the Gulf, Dubai has assumed part of that role.
Lebanon still faces many dangers and challenges, not least how to absorb more than a million Syrian refugees.
“But are you ready to put your own money in Lebanon?” my friend asked.
My answer was yes, with one caveat: I have no money to speak of. But that’s another story.
Exposed: Decade-Old Plan to Create Islamic State—and Obama Helped
by RAYMOND IBRAHIM/November 7, 2014
Family Security Matters
Although the birth of the Islamic state and the herald of the caliphate are often regarded as some of 2014′s “big shockers,” they were foretold in striking detail and with an accurate timeline by an al-Qaeda insider nearly one decade ago.
On August 12, 2005, Spiegel Online International published an article titled “The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaeda Really Wants.” Written by Yassin Musharbash, the article was essentially a review of a book written by Fouad Hussein, a Jordanian journalist with close access to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who pioneered the videotaping of beheadings “to strike terror into the hearts” of infidels (Koran 3:151).
As Hussein explained in the introduction of his book Al Zarqawi: Al Qaeda’s Second Generation: “I interviewed a whole range of al-Qaeda members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.”
And in fact the book details the master plan of al-Qaeda-in its “second generation” manifestation known as the “Islamic State” which follows much of Zarqawi’s modus operandi-to resurrect a caliphate. This plan is sufficiently outlandish that Yassin Musharbash, the author of the Spiegel article reviewing Hussein’s book, repeatedly casts doubt on its feasibility. Thus al-Qaeda’s plan is “proof both of the terrorists’ blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness”; there is “no way” al-Qaeda can follow the plan “step by step”; “the idea that al-Qaeda could set up a caliphate in the entire Islamic world is absurd”; and the following “scenario should be judged skeptically.”
Yet it is all the more remarkable that much of this plan-especially those phases dismissed as infeasible by Musharbash (four and five)-have come to pass.
In what follows, I reproduce the seven phases of al-Qaeda’s master plan as presented in Musharbash’s nearly ten-year-old article (in bullet points and italics, bold for emphasis), with my commentary interspersed for context. Phases four and five are of particular importance as they describe the goals for recent times, much of which have come to fruition according to plan.
An Islamic Caliphate in Seven Easy Steps
•The First Phase Known as “the awakening”-this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby “awakening” Muslims. “The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaeda as very successful,” writes Hussein. “The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target.” The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard “everywhere.”
Much of this is accurate and makes sense. Sadly, if any eyes were opened after the 9/11 attacks on American soil, they weren’t Western eyes-certainly not the eyes of Western leadership, mainstream media, and academia. But to many Muslims, the strikes of 9/11 were inspiring and motivating, giving credence to Osama bin Laden’s characterization of America as a “paper tiger.” A few years after the Islamic strikes of 9/11, Americans responded by electing a man with a Muslim name and heritage for president, even as he continuously empowers in a myriad of ways-including banning knowledge of Islam-the same ideology behind the strikes of 9/11. Meanwhile, the average Muslim relearned the truths of their religion, namely that the “infidel” is an existential enemy and jihad against him is a duty, as al-Qaeda and others had successfully shown.
•The Second Phase “Opening Eyes” is, according to Hussein’s definition, the period we are now in [writing in 2005] and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the “Islamic community.” Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaeda wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an “army” set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
This too is accurate. Among other things, the “Islamic community,” the umma, began to be more visible and vocal during this time frame, including through a rash of attacks and riots following any perceived “insult” to Islam, growing demands for appeasement, and accusations of “Islamophobia” against all and sundry. If there weren’t any spectacular terror attacks on the level of 9/11, young Muslim men were quietly enlisting and training in the jihad-or in western parlance, “radicalizing.” Al-Qaeda went from being an “organization” to a “movement”-international “radicalization.” Most importantly, Iraq, as the world now knows, certainly did become the “center for all global operations” with an “army” of jihadis set up there.
•The Third Phase This is described as “Arising and Standing Up” and should last from 2007 to 2010. “There will be a focus on Syria,” prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and-even more explosive- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaeda’s masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
Much of this third phase as described and transpired seems to have been an extension of phase two. In retrospect, there certainly appears to have been a focus on Syria, even if the jihad started there one year behind schedule (2011). And many of the jihadis were “already prepared” and “some are in Iraq.” None of this was a surprise, of course, as U.S. intelligence always indicated that if American forces withdrew from Iraq, the jihadis would take over.
•The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaeda will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that “the creeping loss of the regimes’ power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaeda.” At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
This is immensely prophetic. Recall that the timeline given (2010-2013) coincides remarkably well with the so-called “Arab Spring,” which culminated with Islamic terrorists and their allies taking over the leadership of several Arab countries formerly ruled by secularized autocrats: Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (which plays Dr. Jekyll to al-Qaeda’s Mr. Hyde); Libya, al-Qaeda/Islamic jihadis; ongoing Syria, al-Qaeda/Islamic jihadis (or their latest manifestation, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda’s “second generation”), etc. It should be remembered that in each of these nations-Egypt, Libya, Syria-the Obama administration played a major role in empowering the jihadis, though in the name of “democracy.”
•The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaeda hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.
Again, right on time: the “Islamic State” declared itself the “caliphate” in 2014, with many Muslim organizations and persons around the world pledging their allegiance, if not imitating their slaughter, with inspired “lone wolves” already beheading “infidels” in Western nations. And if the administration helped empower jihadis during the “Arab Spring” and in the name of “democracy” in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, it helped the creation of the Islamic State by withdrawing U.S. military forces that were keeping al-Qaeda at bay in Iraq. Recall that in 2007 George W. Bush said that “To begin withdrawing [military forces] before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.” All of these predictions have proven remarkably prescient-not because Bush was a prophet but because U.S intelligence clearly understood the situation in Iraq, and briefed Obama on it just as it did Bush. Yet, in 2011, Obama declared the Iraq war a success and pulled out American troops, leaving the way wide open for the jihadi master plan of resurrecting the caliphate to unfold.
•The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of “total confrontation.” As soon as the caliphate has been declared the “Islamic army” it will instigate the “fight between the believers and the non-believers” which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.
This needs clarification. While many assume that the “fight between the believers and the non-believers” is between Muslims and non-Muslims, this is not always the case. Soon after the announcement of the caliphate, the Islamic State made clear that it was in the phase of waging jihad on “apostates” and “hypocrites,” meaning all the “apostate” or “infidel” Arab leaders like Bashar al-Assad, as well as Muslim populations that are insufficiently “Islamic.” It is for this reason that the new caliph took on the name of “Abu Bakr”-the name of the first historic caliph (632-634) whose caliphate was characterized by fighting and bringing back into the fold of Islam all those Arabs who broke away after Muhammad died. Afterwards, when all the Arab tribes were unified under the banner of Islam, the great historic conquests, or jihads against neighboring “infidels,” took place.
•The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as “definitive victory.” Hussein writes that in the terrorists’ eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the “one-and-a-half billion Muslims,” the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn’t last longer than two years.
Phase seven remains to be seen, as it is has another five years to go. As for the world being “so beaten down by the one-and-a-half billion Muslims,” actor Ben Affleck reflected this sentiment recently when he kept apologizing for Islam by saying Muslims “are a billion and a half.” At any rate, considering that the preceding phases have all largely come to pass-with a passive West doing nothing to prevent them, that is, when not actively aiding them-there is certainly no good reason to think Western leadership will stop the final phase from occurring: a unified, aggressive, expansionist, and eventually possibly even nuclear armed caliphate preparing to terrorize its neighbors on a grand scale-just like its historic predecessor did for centuries.
**Raymond Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam expert. His books include Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). RaymondIbrahim.com
On Iran’s future dealings with ‘the
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
Friday, 7 November 2014
Thousands of Iranian people gathered around the U.S. embassy, marking the 35 anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy (and 52 Americans) in Tehran by militant students. Demonstrators chanted “Death to America,” “Death to the Great Satan,” “Death to Britain,” and “Death to Israel.”
In the midst of international tensions and negotiations with regards to Iran’s contentious nuclear program, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps recently released a statement to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, stating that the United States, or “the Great Satan”, remains to be the Islamic Republic’s number one enemy. The IRGC stated, ”The U.S. is still the great Satan and the number one enemy of the (Islamic) revolution and the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation.”
One of the current crucial debates, with regards to Iran-U.S. rapprochement and relationships, is whether there would be any fundamental strategic, diplomatic, or geopolitical shifts in Iranian-American ties after a final and comprehensive nuclear deal is reached. The deadline for negotiations between the Islamic Republic and six world powers (the P5+1: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) is looming, with less than three weeks left to make a deal on Nov. 24.
After the final nuclear deal
The characteristics and system of governance in the Islamic Republic can be defined as a combination of rational state actors and an ideological state. If a comprehensive and final nuclear deal is reached, there would not be a fundamental shift in the Islamic Republic’s geopolitical, foreign policy, ideological and strategic objectives. The Islamic Republic will continue pursuing its major existing foreign and domestic policies maintaining the status quo.
“The characteristics and system of governance in the Islamic Republic can be defined as a combination of rational state actors and an ideological state”
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Some minor changes might occur though, if a final nuclear is struck. For example, Iran will be more incorporated into international organizations, particularly economically, and would gradually open up its market to foreign and Western investors. This follows that the Islamic Republic will have to embed some international standards into its economic system.
Nevertheless, the office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the IRGC will remain to be the key economic generators, having a monopoly over major industries and showing reluctance to allow equal opportunity and redistribution of wealth to the lower classes.
Nevertheless, being incorporated into the world economic system, does not necessarily indicate that more political freedom, as well as civil liberties will be granted to ordinary Iranian citizens. Historical evidence reveals that economic prosperity for some states can result in the implementation of robust policies aimed to tighten the rule, further centralizing power and control over the population. In other words, economic liberalization will not go hand in hand with political freedom in the Islamic Republic.
On the other hand, even if a comprehensive nuclear deal is reached between Iran and the six world powers by November 24th, the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic relationships with the United States will remain strained for several reasons.
Having the largest Shiite population in the region, the Islamic Republic views itself as the major epicenter of Shiite revivalism across the region. Iran’s support for its proxies, Shiite militant or political groups in the region (such Hezbollah in Lebanon, Liwa al-Imam al-Husayn in Syria, Badr organization Kataib Hezbollah (KH) and Asaib Ahl al-Haqq in Iraq, etc) will remain to define Tehran’s foreign policy.
Placing itself as the front runner and leader of Shiism has been at the fundamental core of Iran’s foreign policy and regional hegemonic ambitions since 1979. This foreign policy objective will continue to be a source of tension between Iran and the US.
Secondly, Iran’s unrelenting military, financial, advisory, and intelligence support to the Alawite-based government of Assad will continue to situate the Islamic Republic on the opposite spectrum of the White House and its foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.
Thirdly, one of the major underlying reasons behind the tension between Tehran and Washington is Israel. Projecting itself as the savior of “the oppressed“ in the Middle East and particularly Palestinian people, the rivalry between Iran and Israel (The United States’ close ally in the region) will continue to highlight and hinder diplomatic headways between the U.S. and Iran.
Domestically speaking, having an “external enemy” is crucial for Iranian leaders when it comes to controlling domestic oppositions or popular unrest. Oppositional groups or high profile figures have been usually silenced on the premise that they are conspirators and agents for the “Great Satan” and they are attempting to damage the interests of Islamic Republic’s national security.
In addition, Iran’s Supreme Leader and senior cadre of Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps draw most of their social support and legitimacy by opposing the U.S. and its foreign polices in the Middle East. In other words, Iranian influential leaders will need the “Great Satan” in order to maintain their rule, power, legitimacy, and suppress oppositional groups.
Finally, and more fundamentally, the “external enemy” for Iranian leaders is similar to the concept of the “war on terror” coined by the White House. It provides a powerful tool to deflect attention from economic challenges that ordinary people encounter on a daily basis, unemployed young people, inflation, social injustice and oppression.
Iran, nuclear negotiations and the Persian carpet weaving industry
Mohamed Chebarro/Al Arabiya
Friday, 7 November 2014
Ten years ago, a question made the rounds among politicians, researchers and journalist in the Middle East and Europe. The question was: what was more important for the Iranian regime in Tehran? Was it the success and export of the Islamic revolution, the crushing and controlling of post-Saddam Iraq, the entry into the nuclear bomb club, or its evolution into the regional policeman and leader of the Middle East?
To many it was one or the other, but for few, it was clear Iran wanted all of the above.
With the posturing Iran is currently showing in the negotiations aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions, which Tehran insists is intended for civilian purposes, it is clear that the Islamic Republic is in no hurry to reach a deal, despite the looming Nov. 24 deadline.
Sanctions have been eased since the onset of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group. Concrete results are yet to emerge in the shape of a clear agreement to halt Iran’s apparent race to manufacture the bomb.
Iran seems in no hurry to reach an agreement that would likely fix its enrichment levels to below 5 percent and limit the number of centrifuges it owns and could activate, do away with the Fordo and Arak secret nuclear plants, and open its facilities to international inspections, especially Parchin, where Tehran is suspected of conducting advanced missile tests to carry nuclear warheads.
Recent comments by President Hassan Rowhani calling the Western powers to push for a deal in Vienna beyond the number of centrifuges and level of enrichment have even raised a negligible suggestion that Iran is negotiating for the sake of negotiations.
“Tehran, it seems, is playing the super powers and is maneuvering the best it can to position itself as a partner with nuclear weapons on the world stage, but also a regional player ”
Tehran, it seems, is playing the super powers and is maneuvering the best it can to position itself as a partner with nuclear weapons on the world stage, but also a regional player ready to act maturely and even play a role in issues related to peace and order in the region – possibly including the global fight against ISIS.
The latest photos from meetings in Vienna showed a comfortable Iranian foreign minister seated facing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and between the two, the outgoing European Foreign Affairs tsar Catherine Ashton. This is an image that the Iranians wish to transmit to the world, and carries with it a message that Tehran is slowly edging in to play in the courtyard of the big powers.
Returning to Iran’s core interests show a state ready to negotiate for the sake of negotiation as slowly but surely it is winning legitimacy and stature in the region and on many fronts.
In Iraq, Iranian media today does not shy away from discussing a covert partnership with the international coalition. The planes are waging the air battles, and Iran’s advisors and generals are running the ground battles against ISIS.
No longer calling the shots
In Lebanon, it is no longer Damascus, Saudi Arabia, France or the United states that call the shots for ensuring stability, elections and filling key posts in a fragmented state. It is Iran through Hezbollah that is holding the keys of the vacant and locked Lebanese presidential palace until a time deemed suitable by Tehran’s leadership.
In Syria, despite an international coalition and many wars bent on removing Assad and his regime, Iran helped directly and openly to prop up the minority Alawite regime despite the rebellion of the mostly Sunni population against the brutal four-decade dictatorship of the Baathists.
In Yemen, the pro-Iranian Houthis have edged closer to complete their takeover of the country, be it directly or indirectly with or without the support of ousted President Saleh.
In Bahrain, and in Gaza, Iran’s policy and posturing is influencing the situation on the ground.
Whether the groups in both countries edge towards negotiation or confrontation, the regime under Tehran’s influence is never hidden to the point that politicians and media boast about having access to the Mediterranean and the frontiers of Israel, Saudi, and even Egypt through their allies across Sinai sands in Gaza.
Visitors to one of Tehran’s parks on weekends will not fail to notice many Iranians sitting and focusing their thoughts and eyes on a chess game. When asked, many locals reply that it is a national sport.
One even went further to tell me that in Iran “we do things slowly” - hence chess and its famous carpet weaving industry.
To many, my friend told me, the wool bundles in the corner of many Iranian village houses are cheap stock and are possibly obsolete and unusable. But to the Iranian villagers storing the bundles, the same wool is already a hand-woven and well-crafted expansive Persian rug to be sold in five or ten years if the market price is right.
This brings us back to the core question, is Iran ready for a nuclear deal that will reassure the world that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes, which would pave the way for the gradual lifting of international sanctions – and ensure the rehabilitation of the Iranian regime?
All the indications point to Tehran’s usual slow approach and its wait and see game. The Western powers, on the other hand, are in a hurry after over a decade of negotiations.
Israel, Iran’s arch enemy, is panicking and also its Arab country neighbors too. The Obama administration feels the pressure after losing the majority in congress to a skeptic Republican majority bent on increasing, not decreasing, sanctions against Iran.
But in Tehran, things are calm. Negotiations are a must for all concerned parties, especially with the threat of ISIS banging on all doors in the Middle East, and some Western countries.
The Iranians are led to believe that the price of their nuclear program deal is rising with time, in the same way that the villager’s bundles of wool will one day become a treasured carpet.
So what’s wrong with negotiating for the sake of negotiations, as long as this is not interfering with the price of the carpet that is gaining value with every lit fire in the volatile wider Middle East?