November 10/14

Bible Quotation For Today/All Israel Will Be Saved
Romans 11/25-32: "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion;  he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 09-10/14
Israel recognizes ‘Aramaics’ as separate ethnicity/By Maayan Lubell/Reuters/November 09/14
Don’t forget Hezbollah/J.Post Editorial/ November 09-10/14

Oman Ruler's Failing Health Could Affect U.S. Iran Policy/By: Simon Henderson/November 09-10/14
Christians ‘Losing Everything’ to Islam/By Raymond/November 09/14
Tolerating Extremism Always Backfires/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/November 09/14
Lebanon's Druze community fearful as Syria's war moves closer/Laila Bassam/Sylvia Westall/Reuters/November 09/14
Don't Tell Erdogan Jihadists Kill People/By: Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/November 09/14
Iran-Backed Shia Rebels Push Forward in Yemen/By: Jonathan Spyer/PJ Media/November 09/14

Lebanese Related News published on November 09-10/14
Only 4 Lebanese expats vote in Australia, 1 in Kuwait
Change and Reform bloc prepares Parliament extension appeal: Kanaan
Lebanese Army Detains Ahmed Miqati's Assistant, Suspect Linked to 2013 Iranian Embassy Bombing
Bishop Samir Mazloum : Muslims May Elect President if Christians Cannot Settle their Disputes
Al-Rahi Urges Civil Society to Reunite People Away from Political Bickering
Report: Qahwaji's Chances of Becoming President Increase after Saudi Visit

Hariri discusses bilateral ties with Jordan king Refugee crisis bad for the environment: Machnouk
Daher denounces state's 'deprivation' of Akkar Priest convicted of pedophilia slams Vatican Assad wants Lebanon military cooperation: Sayyed Ethiopian wins 2014 Beirut marathon Qaouq: Hizbullah Intervention in Syria Enhanced Lebanese Strength
Lebanese Army Arrests Head of FSA Command Council in Arsal

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 09-10/14
No link of Iran atom talks to militant efforts''
High-level Iran nuclear talks begin in Oman
Obama says still a 'big gap' in Iran nuclear negotiations
Iran's uranium stockpile grows before deadline for nuclear deal
US think-tank: Iran may have violated nuke deal

Abbas: PA will ask UNSC for Israeli withdrawal from West Bank
EU foreign chief calls for Palestinian statehood
Olmert: Barak accepted bribe in arms deal
Israeli police up alert level after Palestinian protests
US airstrikes target ISIS convoy in Iraq
Islamic State leader reportedly wounded in US-led air strikes in Iraq
No unilateral recognition of Palestinian state, says top German politician
Israeli PM: Revoke citizenship of those calling to destroy Israel
Iraqi forces advance to try to break insurgent siege of Baiji refinery
5 nuclear engineers murdered near Damascus Syria rebels, Nusra capture southern town
Syrian strikes kill 21 in ISIS-held town: monitor
Egypt has not supplied arms to Libyan factions: source
Yemen swears in new government amid crisis
Al-Ahsa attackers received funding from abroad: security source
Third Australian killed fighting with ISIS: report

Below Jihad Watch Posts For Friday
Raymond Ibrahim: Christians ‘Losing Everything’ to Islam
UK: Islamic jihad plot to murder Queen Elizabeth foiled
Romney hits Obama for “legitimizing” Iran with letter to Khamenei
Too many Muslims have a group loyalty and inflamed sense of victimhood”
Somalia: Muslim questions death penalty for apostasy, gets death threats
Islamic State murders five journalists in Mosul
Turkey’s Deputy PM denounces “Islamophobia,” says Islam is religion of peace
NY Daily News: Islamic State’s rise has fueled “Islamophobia”
Chairman of Joint Chiefs praises Israel, Obama State Dept contradicts him
Berkeley Muslim students defend their attempt to get Bill Maher canceled
Northern Ireland: Muslim who fought with “Army of Islam” denied bail
NBA player says he is Muslim and so will skip National Anthem
UK: Muslim who plotted to kill Queen “just discovered his faith”
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on Libyan rape gangs in UK and more
Austria’s Islamic Community says anti-terror law plays into hands of “radicals”
Alabama voters approve law banning Sharia
Florida: Muslim gets 40 years prison for planning jihad mass murder attacks in Tampa
“20th hijacker” says “Saudi prince” aided his jihad activities
Canada: Retired Marine gets death threats from Arabic speakers after guarding war memorial
Egyptian Islamic jihad group swears allegiance to the Islamic State

Lebanese Army Arrests Head of FSA Command Council in Arsal
Naharnet /The army arrested at a checkpoint in Wadi Hmayed in Arsal, head of the Qalamun front and head of Free Syrian Army command council colonel Abdullah Rifai, while wandering in the outskirts of Arsal, with a fake Lebanese ID. The National News Agency said that he was arrested, “while he was passing through a checkpoint in a GMC car, and he was undercover with a fake ID.” The Army: said: “Khaled al-Hujairi and Syrian Abdullah Hussein al-Rifai were arrested in Arsal as the former was smuggling the latter to the outskirts of the town.”VDL (100.5) said that Rifai, “was arrested at an army checkpoint in Arsal while he was trying to enter Lebanon , with a fake ID.”"Rifai is one the list of wanted people by the army,” a security source told VDL. The source also added: “Rifai was accompanied by another person, who was taken to a barracks outside Arsal.” MTV also said: “Head of the FSA command council Abdullah Rifai was arrested at an army checkpoint in Arsal and he was carrying a fake Lebanese ID.”In August, violent clashes erupted between the army and extremist groups, that stormed the town of Arsal and withdrew to the outskirts of Arsal, kidnapping a number of army soldiers and policemen, some of whom are still abducted.Negotiations are being made between the kidnappers, al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State, and the Qatari envoy, who is visiting the outskirts of Arsal every now and then to work on the release of the soldiers. Knowing that al-Nusra Front has killed soldier Mohammad Hamieh and the Islamic State has executed both soldiers Ali al-Sayed and Abbas Medlej. The Qatari envoy held recently a list of demands from al-Nusra, one of the demands was the release of some of the Islamists in Roumieh jail and the Syrian jails. As for the security situation, army troops have been carrying out raids on encampments and Syrian gathering areas in different places around Lebanon, since the outbreak of the clashes in Arsal last August and has intensified it after the clashes in Tripoli and the North erupted against armed groups.

Qaouq: Hizbullah Intervention in Syria Enhanced Lebanese Strength
Naharnet/Deputy head of Hizbullah's Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said on Sunday that Hizbullah's intervention in Syria is “a 100% Lebanese decision” and this decision “has enhanced the strength of Lebanon in countering extremist groups.”
"Hizbullah's intervention in Syria serves the Lebanese citizens in addition to the citizens of the region and the entire nation, because the risk of takfiris is a risk against the entire nation,” said Qaouq during a ceremony held by Hizbullah in al-Kheyam, south of Lebanon. "Takfiris terrorism is an absolute evil, it has no good for any sect or doctrine, or any category. It is a threat to the Sunnis, Shiites, Druze and Christians, " he added. Qaouq also pointed out that, “the goal of the takfiri groups, was to ignite sedition through their attacks in different areas in Lebanon.” "Lebanon is stronger than sedition, the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front or any takfiri group,” he added. Qaouq said: “Hizbullah's intervention in Syria has a 100% Lebanese benefit and it came from a 100% Lebanese decision and it has enhanced the strength of Lebanon in countering extremist groups.”Hizbullah was involved in the fighting side by side with the Syrian regime and a number of its fighters were killed. Lebanon has been facing violent clashes since August in Arsal as extremist groups stormed the town and clashed with army troops and withdrew to the outskirts of Arsal, kidnapping a number of army soldiers and policemen, some of whom are still abducted. After Arsal, Tripoli and several areas in the north faced violent clashes between the army and armed groups that consider that Hizbullah's fights in Syria are against “the Sunni people.”

Lebanese Army Detains Ahmed Miqati's Assistant, Suspect Linked to 2013 Iranian Embassy Bombing
Naharnet/The Lebanese army detained earlier this week prominent suspects linked to security incidents that have taken place in Lebanon in recent months, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Sunday. A military source told the daily that the army had arrested on Tuesday the assistant of terror detainee Ahmed Salim Miqati in the northern city of Tripoli. It described the arrest as an “important catch in the army's battle with terrorism.” The detainee, who was not identified, was arrested on the same day that Lebanon signed a military grant from Saudi Arabia and France to the Lebanese army. Miqati, a terror detainee, confessed during investigations that his group aimed at carrying out a wide-scale assault against the army, revealing that fugitive Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir is taking the Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh, near the southern city of Sidon, as his refuge. The army has come under growing attacks across Lebanon by militants who accuse it of colluding with Hizbullah in its intervention in the Syrian conflict on the side of the regime.
On Saturday, the army had arrested in the southern region of Sidon a suspect linked to the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, added al-Mustaqbal He confessed to being linked to the group and Moein Abu Dahr, one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attack against the Iranian embassy in Beirut in 2013. At least 23 people were killed and more than 145 others were wounded in a twin suicide blast that took place in November 2013 near the embassy in the neighborhood of Bir Hassan in Beirut's southern suburbs.
A security official said the first suicide attacker was on a motorcycle that carried two kilograms of explosives. He blew himself up at the large black main gate of the Iranian mission, damaging the three-story facility. Less than two minutes later, the second suicide attacker driving a car rigged with 50 kilograms of explosives struck about 10 meters away, the official said. An al-Qaida-linked group, the Lebanese Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack. It said it was payback for the military support that Iran and Hizbullah provide against the mainly Sunni rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Report: Qahwaji's Chances of Becoming President Increase after Saudi Visit
Naharnet /The chances of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji of becoming president have increased with his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah on Sunday. Arab diplomatic sources told the daily that his visit to the kingdom, where a number of French officials were present, to sign the Saudi grant to the Lebanese army “opened the last blocked doors to his election as president.”“His chances have also been raised with the unprecedented campaign of praise laid upon him by Hizbullah and its secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah,” they added. They expected that the rival March 8 and 14 camps would reach an agreement over Qahwaji's election as soon as the army receives the first batch of the French grant in February or March 2015. Saudi Arabia and France inked on Tuesday in Riyadh a deal to provide the Lebanese army with $3 billion worth of French weapons, with Riyadh footing the bill.The deal, first announced in December, comes as the Lebanese army is battling gunmen and jihadists, including from the Islamic State group, in the north and along its northeastern border with war-torn Syria. Qahwaji attended the signing ceremony at the Royal Palace in Riyadh after an almost 11-month delay. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Ongoing disputes between the March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have been thwarting the polls.

Al-Rahi Urges Civil Society to Reunite People Away from Political Bickering
Naharnet /Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi accused on Sunday politicians of creating divisions among the people, blaming it for the “fragmentation of society.”He therefore urged during his Sunday sermon officials from the civil society to “work on reuniting the people, in cooperation with schools and universities, away from political divisions and affiliations.”“Lebanon can no longer persist in this state of fragmentation caused by the schemes of powerful politicians,” he remarked. “It is now the duty of civil society to seize control … and protect the components of the nation through culture and ethics and committing to reforming a people who are united behind the truth, freedom, and loyalty to the nation,” al-Rahi said. Al-Rahi has been critical of officials following the ongoing presidential vacuum and their failure to stage the parliamentary elections, which prompted lawmakers earlier this week to extend parliament's term until 2017.The disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate has been thwarting the presidential elections.

Bishop Samir Mazloum : Muslims May Elect President if Christians Cannot Settle their Disputes
Naharnet/Bishop Samir Mazloum reiterated the anger of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi against lawmakers for extending their own term and failing to elect a new president, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah on Sunday. He told the daily: “Should the disputes between the Christian parties persist, our partners in Lebanon, meaning the Muslims, may resort to resolving the presidential deadlock themselves.”“This may lead to the marginalization of Christians,” he warned. “Al-Rahi may not be too eager to meet with MPs following the extension, but that does not mean that the doors of Bkirki will be closed to officials,” Mazloum stressed. The Maronite Patriarchate will continue its efforts to bridge divides between disputed parties and it will continue to remind officials of their duties. “The presidential elections are a victim of the developments in Lebanon and the officials' failure to assume their duties,” he stressed. Al-Rahi has repeatedly urged officials to stage the presidential elections. On Wednesday, the political deadlock in Lebanon deepened after lawmakers voted once again to delay parliamentary elections and announcing parliament would extend its mandate until 2017. The extension decision was met by a huge popular dismay. The extension session was boycotted by MP Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement lawmakers and the Kataeb party, which is affiliated with the March 14 alliance. The lawmakers, who voted in favor of the draft-law, claim they need to extend their own term in office because the security situation is too dire to allow holding elections amid Syria's civil war. They also say extending parliament's mandate will prevent another power vacuum from forming in a country already divided along sectarian and regional lines. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended without a successor.

Change and Reform bloc prepares Parliament extension appeal: Kanaan
Nov. 09, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Change and Reform bloc will remain determined to challenge the parliamentary extension law in the Constitutional Council, MP Ibrahim Kanaan said Sunday. “We are preparing for a serious appeal against the extension law that we are set to issue before the deadline,” Kanaan said during a conference in the Free Patriotic Movement’s center in Beirut. Kanaan acknowledged that the work of the council, which would oversee appeals, may be disrupted by members who oppose any challenge to the extension law.
Last year, the Constitutional Council failed to convene on several occasions due to lack of a quorum, as the deadline for addressing challenges to Parliament’s extension neared its end. The boycott of Shiite and Druze constituents made it impossible for the council to issue a decision. The MP expressed fears that a similar scenario would be replicated this year but said his bloc “would persist in implementing measures that would pressure institutions internally, in order to undo the political deficiency and in order to set a new election law.”
Speaking on the decision of Change and Reform bloc members not to resign following last week's 95-2 vote in Parliament in favor of the extension, Kanaan said that withdrawing from Parliament would not ensure general elections, and would be unwise considering Lebanon's political and security problems. According to the MP, the extension period of two years and seven months is not necessarily a fixed time frame. “Elections can take place before that, and this is contingent on a continuous push in that direction,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of the withdrawal of FPM leader Michel Aoun’s candidacy for president, Kanaan said that “Aoun’s nomination is not a regular one. It can’t be placed in a basket of concessions and trade-offs.”
In later comments to Voice of Lebanon radio station, Kanaan said that “today Lebanon is facing the most dangerous void because lawmakers can’t agree over any issue.” The FPM would have supported extensions had there been a clear road map towards electing a president and setting new election laws, he said. According to the MP, the plan for a 4-year-extension period was made last year when Parliament extended its term for 17 months. But the extension came in two separate “doses,” he said.

Only 4 Lebanese expats vote in Australia, 1 in Kuwait
Nov. 09, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Parliamentary elections for Lebanese expats proved to be a flop Sunday, after only three people cast ballots across three centers in Australia, and only one voter showed up at the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait on Friday. The Lebanese consulate in Sydney opened Sunday three polling centers for parliamentary elections pursuant to a Foreign Minstry decision issued last month. George Bitar Ghanem, the Lebanese consul, said that the centers were set up for the electoral districts of Batroun, Minyeh-Dinnieh, Tripoli and Zghorta. Voting for the electoral districts of Minyeh-Dinnieh and Tripoli will both take place in the same center. Lebanese expats registered for the parliamentary elections which were scheduled for 2013 are eligible to vote, Bitar said. But parliamentary elections were not held last year because lawmakers voted to extend their terms by 17 months, which was extended yet again last week by two years and seven months. According to the consul, elections were “carried out on the basis of instructions given by the foreign ministry, regardless of the extension of the Parliament." After voting ended Sunday, Bitar said that not a single voter registered in the Batroun electoral district had cast a ballot, and only two people from Zgharta, and one from Tripoli voted. According to a foreign ministry statement published Sunday, elections in the Lebanese embassy in Kuwait covered only the electoral districts of Marjayoun and Hasbaya. Ballot boxes were opened from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. After voting ended, the Lebanese ambassador collected the votes and is preparing to ship the ballot box to the relevant Lebanese authorities, the foreign ministry said. But Al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday said only one person participated in the elections, voting for Amal movement candidates. The elections were the first to be held abroad since Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk approved expat voting last September. The foreign ministry said embassies in Kuwait and Australia would prepare for elections pursuant to a previous ministerial decision that called for expat polls. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, whose party was vehemently opposed to the extension, pressed ahead with expat voting despite last week's extension. Expat polls are expected to continue in the Lebanese consulates in Melbourne and Sydney on Monday.

Former General Security Chief Jamil al-Sayyed:  Assad wants Lebanon military cooperation
Nov. 09, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad believes the time is right for military cooperation between Lebanon and Syria, Lebanon's former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed said Sunday after meeting with the Syrian head of state.
“Current conditions have made it more appropriate to confront terrorism that is crossing borders between Lebanon and Syria,” Sayyed quoted Assad as saying according to a statement posted to the National News Agency. "Coordination in this area between the Lebanese and Syrian armies would alleviate the security burden for the two countries and would contribute to strengthening Lebanon's security," he added. The meeting also focused on recent military gains by the Syrian Army against rebel forces, Sayyed said.

Hariri discusses bilateral ties with Jordan king
The Daily Star/Nov. 09, 2014/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman Sunday, according to a statement released by the Future Movement leader's media office. The statement said the two leaders tackled recent developments in the region and bilateral ties between Jordan and Lebanon, and means to bolster them. They also discussed "issues of common interest," the statement added, without providing details.

Syrian refugee crisis bad for the environment: Machnouk
Nov. 09, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon is facing an environmental emergency which is being compounded by the presence of over one million Syrian refugees, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk said Sunday. “We are living in a state of environmental emergency... because of the Syrian refugees who have exceeded 1.5 million over the past years,” Machnouk said at the Conference for Arab Environment Ministers. “We are really living in an environmental catastrophe... on the levels of solid waste, air and water pollution and sanitation, among others.”
Over 1.1 million Syrians are registered with the U.N. refugee agency in Lebanon, but the actual figure is thought to be much higher. Machnouk said all of Lebanon's 18 rivers send polluted water into the Mediterranean Sea, while 762 random garbage dumps scatter across Lebanese territory. Moreover, Machnouk explained, the country has been witnessing a deforestation campaign that had never occurred in Lebanon’s history. The flow of Syrian refugees, which doubles and tripled the number of residents in certain areas, has created an unprecedented pressure on Lebanon’s infrastructure, he explained. “I truly want to see us leaving this [conference] with a firm stand concerning the environment and the infrastructure in Lebanon, which is an essential factor of any development and has reached point of high risk,” he added. Machnouk’s comments also touched on the global warming crisis in the region, and called for a common strategy to be adopted by Arab countries. “I also think it is necessary to have a greater momentum to push towards an international decision,” he added. “And by that, we can become one group with one stand on the major causes.”

MP Khaled Daher denounces state's 'deprivation' of Akkar
The Daily Star/Nov. 09, 2014
BEIRUT: Controversial north Lebanon MP Khaled Daher decried the state for what he alleged to be a policy of deprivation targeting the district of Akkar. “The policy of deprivation being practiced is a part of the suffering of the people of the area,” Daher told reporters at a book signing Sunday in Halba, north Lebanon, adding that this has been a long-standing policy practiced “by a number of governments."According to Daher, area residents remain loyal to the state despite facing injustices. The policy of deprivation, Daher added, ensued during the Syrian occupation of Lebanon during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. The policy then continued in the 1990s and 2000s under late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He claimed that Hariri was “banned from visiting Akkar and was banned from cooperating with many of its leaders,” without elaborating. But despite that, the region remained loyal to the late premier, and in turn, remains committed to supporting his son, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri. “We are with Hariri’s political rhetoric and we support nation building,” Daher said.  With regards to the extension of parliament’s mandate which was secured by a 95-2 vote last week, Daher said that he had initially opposed extension. However, the MP voted in favor of extension, saying that he would not run the risk of driving the country towards a constitutional conference that would alter Lebanon’s power sharing formulas as a result of an institutional void. Daher also called on religious and political figures to be wary of the fact that hundreds of individuals detained during raids in north Lebanon actually have nothing to do with clashes that rocked the area late last month. This is a very dangerous issue and if left unresolved it would lead to a replication of the clashes, he added.

Lebanon's Druze community fearful as Syria's war moves closer
Nov. 09, 2014
Laila Bassam/Sylvia Westall/Reuters
RASHAYA, Lebanon: On mountains close to the Syrian border, members of Lebanon's minority Druze sect say they are ready to defend their towns and villages with arms if the civil war next raging door gets much nearer.
"Here in the east, the danger has become very close to us, it is right in our faces and in our lives," said Ali Fayik, a regional official speaking in the predominantly Druze town of Rashaya, set in steep mountains with a panorama over the region.
The town is in a sensitive area close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and home to various religious communities which fought one another in Lebanon's own 1975-90 civil war.
On the other side of the mountain range, Sunni Islamist fighters linked to al Qaeda and hostile to groups including the Druze, are battling Syria's army as well as other insurgents.
Fresh battles over the border late last week killed at least 31 members of pro-government forces and around 14 insurgents, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Saturday.
The Lebanese army, its resources stretched, has struggled to secure the border with Syria, in some places giving rise to security patrols by local volunteers.
Militants from Syria crossed into the Lebanese Sunni border town of Arsal in August further north, killing and capturing dozens of soldiers and demanding the release of their fellow fighters held in Lebanon. Since then the army has said it has captured people it suspects of wanting to carry out more attacks
Also in August, Druze villagers opened fire on a bus carrying Syrians after it failed to stop at an army checkpoint at Ein Atta outside Rashaya, according to local officials, who said one Syrian was killed and two were wounded.
The villagers thought the bus was transporting Sunni Islamist militants but they turned out to be Syrian refugees.
War weariness in Lebanon makes a return to all-out civil conflict a remote prospect, but the onset of winter is heightening fears of more clashes if insurgents seek to create supply routes across the frontier ahead of winter snowfall.
With most Druze and Christian parts of Lebanon spared violence from Syria's three-and-a-half-year conflict that has hit other areas, Druze leaders on a national level have urged communities to avoid acting independently from the army.
"The Ein Atta incident was unfortunate, and it means there needs to be more involvement by the army," in safeguarding security, said cleric Jamal Eddine in Rashaya, dressed in the distinctive black shirt, trousers and white cap of the Druze community.
A member of the local Druze religious council, he said events in Syria and the wider Middle East had made local people worry about their future and said it would be natural for the community to protect itself.
People in Rashaya said they still saw the army as the first line of defence but they were ready to back it up if there was an incursion. The army draws its members from all of Lebanon's communities.
The Druze, whose faith draws its roots from Islam but is influenced by ancient Greek and Indian philosophy, are spread across the region. They have survived waves of persecution throughout history.
Although one of Lebanon's smaller sects, they formed a powerful fighting force in the country's own civil war where they also suffered heavy losses. The group remains influential in national politics.
Like other minority groups, their kinsmen in Syria largely support President Bashar al-Assad, seeing him as a bulwark against extremists. Syrian Druze have occasionally clashed with insurgents in areas close to the border with Lebanon.
Their involvment has been nowhere near the scale of Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to back up government forces in Syria. Hezbollah has also fought with al Qaeda's Nusra Front on Lebanese soil when the group attacked its bases in a large assault early last month.
Some suspected Syrian fighters have also appeared in the Rashaya area, according to the Lebanese army.
In a statement late last month, it said intelligence and security services had arrested 12 Syrians on suspicion of belonging to groups fighting the army further north in Arsal. It said they had entered Lebanon illegally, without giving details.
Some in Rashaya worry that the nearby town of Shebaa, which sits on a well-trodden smuggling route near Israel, could become a refuge for Nusra Front, like other Sunni towns in northern Lebanon that are hosting refugees that have fled the violence.
Keen to prevent strife, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, the head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), has urged the community to leave security to the state. In a visit to Ein Atta after the bus shooting, he condemned any attack on Syrian refugees, local media said.
Despite support among the Druze for Assad, Jumblatt has said the Syrian president should step down. However, he has drawn closer to Assad's ally Hezbollah in recent months.
To bulk up security, the PSP has proposed strengthening municipal police to monitor villages to report any suspicious activity to the army, said party spokesman Rami al-Rayess.
"We are against any security measures that would be taken independently from the state apparatus," he said.
But preventing an armed response may prove difficult in areas where residents say there is a gun in nearly every home, like in many other parts of Lebanon.
"We do not commit aggression against one who would assault us, but we will stand up to him - the response is in the mouth of the gun," said registrar Riaf Ferhat, speaking in Rashaya's old market where vendors displayed goods in wood-fronted shops.
"We have dug a big trap here and we shall bury anyone who attacks us," he said, speaking about defences metaphorically.
Fayik, the other local official, agreed. He said it was a natural response now the fight had been brought to their door.
"We will not leave from here and when somebody threatens me...and I mean my life is threatened, it would make no sense for me to avoid using all means to hold ground and preserve the nation," he said.
Officials in Rashaya are quick to point out that the Druze have no organised militia like other Lebanese communities and say they have discouraged such movements.
Though the PSP says it has no militia, as recently as 2008 its supporters displayed significant firepower during fierce battles with Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
"Of course, it is a natural phenomenon in Lebanon that people have private arms, but we do not have a dedicated, organised force," said Asaad Serhal, a Druze council cleric.
"There are arms found in each house to defend ourselves and our dignity, but they are not visible in the streets."
He was less worried about the risk of a spillover than other local people, saying militants would struggle to make their way over the border in large numbers because of the rugged landscape, which has so far acted as a natural barrier.
Rashaya lies just below a mountain known by locals as Jebel al-Sheikh and also referred to as Mount Hermon. Some residents said militants could make their way over the mountain passes if they have 4X4 cars and seize higher ground.
"There is concern and fear," PSP's Rayess said. "But it is not restricted to the citizens in this area, but in all the villages in Lebanon."

Israel recognizes ‘Aramaics’ as separate ethnicity
By Maayan Lubell | Reuters
Sunday, 9 November 2014
In the green hills of the Galilee, where Jesus is said to have preached two thousand years ago, a group of Aramaic speakers looking to revive the language of Christ are celebrating a victory in their quest to safeguard their heritage.
In a place where tensions run high on issues of ethnicity, faith and citizenship, members of the Christian sect have won the right to change their designation in the population registry from "Arab" to a newly-created ethnic classification: "Aramaic."
The group that sought the change is small, a few hundred people at most, but their campaign is part of a larger debate on issues of identity in the Holy Land and Israel's treatment of its Arab minority.
Supporters say Israel's agreement to allow the group to define itself as "Aramaic" is a sign of ethnic tolerance.
But critics call it an attempt by the government to encourage splits within its Arab population, which largely defines itself as Palestinian and makes up about a fifth of the country's 8.2 million citizens.
Others say it is also another reflection of the reality for Arabs in Israel, where many Arab citizens say they are discriminated against.
Shadi Khalloul, a former captain in the Israeli army, heads the Aramaic Society in Israel, which lobbied the government for the change. His two-year-old son, Yacov, is the first in Israel to be listed as Aramaic.
"It's a spiritual matter, to feel I am equal among equals, that I am no less than them -- Jews, Arabs, Circassians, Druze, Italians, Greeks. My forefathers would be proud," said Khalloul, who volunteered for the military, which drafts Jewish men and women at the age of 18 but exempts Arabs from conscription.
The campaigners are all residents of the village of Jish and belong to the Maronite Church, which took root in fifth-century Lebanon. Its liturgical language is Aramaic, dialects of which are spoken by no more than a few hundred thousand people across the world.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the change in October, Interior Minister Gidon Saar said Aramaics had suffered persecution, oppression and discrimination in the Middle East, and that Israel, built as a home for Jews, who themselves suffered persecution, "must protect this minority and allow it to keep its culture and heritage".
But not everyone in the Arab village of 3,000 is pleased.
"They are ashamed of their ethnicity," said Marvat Marun, 39. "I'm Arab, a Christian Maronite Arab, and proud of it. My roots are Palestinian."
Knesset Member Basel Ghattas, of the Arab party Balad, said Israel's recognition of the minority was meant to sow divisions and animosity within the Arab population.
"This is a divide-and-rule policy, not to see us, the Arabs, as part of the Arab Palestinian nation or a national minority, but as a collection of small ethnic groups and to sow disputes and splits among us," said Ghattas, who is Christian.
The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Church of the Holy Land, called on those planning to change their listing to "come to their senses":
"We are Christian, Palestinians, Arabs," it said in a statement. "Israel does not need Christians who have deformed their identity, who position themselves as enemy of their own people and who become soldiers for war."
"Serve yourselves, serve your people and serve Israel in remaining faithful to the truth, i.e. faithful to your identity as Christians, as Palestinians and as peacemakers."
Father Yousef Yakoub, a Maronite Church leader in Haifa, took a more conciliatory approach.
"It is not the vocation of the church to intervene in how people identify themselves, but to build a culture of communion and openness to others," he said.
It was not clear how many of those eligible to apply for the new designation would actually do so beyond the original group. The Interior Ministry has not yet outlined the formalities, so Khalloul’s toddler son is so far the only Aramaic Israeli.
Chen Bram, an anthropologist at the Hebrew University, said the Galilee Aramaic speakers' campaign can be seen in a wider political context.
"It shows us that it is hard to be Arab in Israel and that there is growing polarization in Israeli society."
Israeli society has a de facto hierarchy in which Jews are at the top, Bram said. The more one is seen as closer to the Palestinians, the lower one ranks, and "if you distinguish yourself from that group, you make it easier for yourself in contact with the authorities and getting support for your culture," he said.
About 83 percent of Israeli Arabs are Muslim and about eight percent Christian, according to the Israeli government statistics bureau. The remainder are Druze.
Fady Mansour, 36, intends to change his listing to Aramaic, and said he was motivated partly by social advancement.
"Arab is inferior in Israeli society," he said, speaking from the stone steps of Jish's church. "When there is a (Palestinian) attack people yell 'death to Arabs'. Why do I have to be included in that?"
Military, land
Bram says formal recognition of an Aramaic ethnicity is also linked to a recent push by Israel to recruit Christian Arabs into the military.
Christian Arabs traditionally stand alongside Muslims when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian issues, which means that they do not volunteer for army service.
"This raises great controversy among the Christian communities," Bram said of the move.
The new designation may help the Aramaic community in Jish with another campaign, this one over land.
Many in Jish have roots in Birim, a neighbouring village whose Maronite residents were expelled by Jewish forces in the 1948 war of Israel's founding. Israel razed the village in 1953, sparing only its church and bell tower.
In a legal battle going back decades, Birim villagers have campaigned to be allowed to return and rebuild.
No longer being classified by Israel as "Arab" could help the community separate its claim from the issue of right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were razed, left empty or taken over in the war and their residents fled or were expelled. The Palestinians demand that up to five million refugees and their descendants be allowed to return.
"I don't care about the right of return, the Palestinian struggle. I want to rebuild an Aramaic village," Khalloul said.
Nadim Issa, 59, who convenes meetings of the Aramaic Society at his winery, said: "The day will come when we rebuild Birim. Just as they granted us ethnicity, they will give us back our land."
Dying language
Aramaic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic, was once the common language of the region, but Arabic largely replaced it after the 7th century Muslim conquests.
The language was perhaps most widely brought to the world's attention in Mel Gibson's 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ", which was shot Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew.
During a visit to the Holy Land last May, Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a brief on-camera disagreement about the language Jesus spoke.
"Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew," Netanyahu said. "Aramaic," the pope interjected. "He spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew," Netanyahu shot back.
Aramaic is in danger of dying out, however.
Eleanor Coghill, a linguist from the University of Konstanz and researcher for the Cambridge Neo-Aramaic database project, said the Syrian civil war and advances by Islamic State in Iraq have badly affected some of the few native Aramaic-speaking communities still living in their historic homelands.
"While it is good to hear that communities elsewhere are interested in their Aramaic heritage, it is difficult to fully revive a language as a living tongue," said Coghill.
Khalloul's group holds Aramaic lessons for the children of Jish, a small village which slopes down a hill near the Lebanon border, where more than a third of the population is Muslim and Arabic is the everyday language.
"I felt the young generation was getting lost and our history and heritage were fading away. We go to church and recite Aramaic like parrots, not knowing what we're saying," Khalloul said.
"This treasure bequeathed by our fathers should be protected and not abandoned over globalization and Arabisation."
Last Update: Sunday, 9 November 2014

UK: Muslim who plotted to kill Queen “just discovered his faith”
Robert Spencer/Jihad News
Nov 8, 2014
Queen_Elizabeth_II He recently grew a full beard and began wearing Muslim dress. It is odd how no one among the British political or media elites ever seems to notice that those who commit these acts that have nothing to do with Islam are invariably devout and dedicated in their observance of Islam. The misunderstanding of Islam seems to set in with the devoutness — isn’t that strange!
“‘Her Majesty will not shirk her duty': Queen to attend Remembrance ceremony at Cenotaph tomorrow despite police arresting four Islamic extremists over ‘plot to kill her,'” by Chris Greenwood, James Slack and Martin Robinson, Daily Mail, November 7, 2014 (thanks to Peter):
The Queen has vowed to attend the Remembrance Day centenary ceremony at The Cenotaph despite police arresting four Islamist terror suspects plotting to kill her on the day….
Yesterday armed officers seized the four men, aged 19 to 27, following months of surveillance.
Last night police were said to be interrogating the suspects – who are thought to have hatched a plot assassinate the Queen with a knife….
Although police would not discuss whether the suspects had a specific target, the timing of the raids raised fears of a Remembrance Day outrage.
Islamic State militants have called on ‘self-starter’ followers to target high-profile commemorative events.
Police marksmen from its SO15 terrorism command arrested the youngest suspect on Thursday night at 8.31pm at the £160,000 home he shares with his mother in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He is said to have recently returned from Pakistan.
Fourteen minutes later a 22-year-old was seized by armed officers at a house in Hounslow.
In an unusual move, the eldest suspect was stopped at gunpoint in his car in Southall, West London, but no shots were fired.
The fourth man was arrested in Uxbridge and searches were taking place in Greenford and Hayes, also in West London.
The suspects were all arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
It was reported the allegations are linked to a UK plot – not travelling to Syria to join ISIS.
The use of armed officers for the arrests suggests police chiefs fear the suspects may have acquired weapons. None were found, however….
The home of Yousaf Syed, the 19-year-old suspect, had been raided before – in April during an investigation into potential jihadists.
Another man arrested in that operation complained his passport was seized by the Home Office to stop him travelling to the Middle East.
Neighbours of Syed said he lives with his 41-year-old mother Somia, who works as ground crew for an airline.
One said he had had ‘several run-ins’ with the ‘angry’ teenager.
When he challenged the teenager’s mother, she told him: ‘I’m sorry, it’s my son. He’s young and he’s just discovered his faith.’
The neighbour said the teenager recently grew a full beard and began wearing traditional Muslim dress.…

Iran's uranium stockpile grows before deadline for nuclear deal
Ynetnews/Reuters/ Published: 11.09.14
Low-enriched uranium gas stockpile grew by 8% to nearly 8.4 tons in about two months, IAEA says; chief Iranian nuclear negotiator believes both sides determined to reach deal by Nov. 24 deadline.
VIENNA - Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas has grown by 8 percent to nearly 8.4 tons in about two months, UN atomic inspectors say, an amount world powers probably will want to see cut under any nuclear deal with Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a confidential report on Iran to IAEA member states on Friday, less than three weeks before a Nov. 24 deadline for Iran and six world powers to resolve their stand-off over Tehran's atomic activities.
Iran's holding of refined uranium gas is one of the factors that could determine how much time it would need for any attempt to assemble nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no such goal but the West wants verifiable action by the Islamic Republic to make sure it cannot produce an atomic bomb any time soon. Iran and the six states will meet in Vienna from Nov. 18 to try to seal a long-term agreement to end a dispute that over the last decade has often raised fears of a new Middle East war. The IAEA report said Iran's stock of uranium gas refined to a fissile concentration of up to 5 percent stood at 8,390 kg, a rise of 625 kg since its previous report in September.
Iran says it produces enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants. But if processed to a high degree, 90 percent, the material could also provide the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, which the West fears may be its ultimate aim. Iran halted its most sensitive enrichment work - of 20 percent refined uranium - under an interim deal with the powers last November. But it is still making the lower-grade uranium. Western experts say Iran would now be able to amass enough high-enriched fissile material for one bomb in a few months, if it opted for such a weapon of mass destruction. The United States wants this "breakout time" extended to at least a year.  One way to help achieve that, Western officials and experts say, is for Iran to ship out a large part of its stockpile to Russia where it would be turned into nuclear fuel rods, making it much more difficult to process into bomb material.  Diplomats said there was as yet no agreement on this issue and that the main sticking point in the talks - Iran's overall enrichment capacity - remained unresolved. "It's a piece of the puzzle," one Western diplomat said. "The Iranians agree on the principle, but it's a point that doesn't resolve everything."
Current gaps notwithstanding, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, said Tehran believes both sides are resolved to reach a deal by the self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline.
"No middle solutions exist and all our thoughts are focused on how to reach a settlement," Araghchi, Iran's chief negotiatior, told the state news agency IRNA.
"No one wants to return to the way things were before the Geneva Agreement. That would be too risky a scenario," he said, referring to the preliminary accord reached a year ago under which Iran has curbed some sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for limited relief from international sanctions. "Both sides are aware of this, which is why I think a deal is within reach. We are serious and I can see the same resolve on the other side," Araghchi was quoted by IRNA as saying. Kerry said on Wednesday the negotiations would get more difficult if the Nov. 24 deadline were missed, and the powers were not - for now - weighing any extension to the talks. His remarks seemed aimed in part at raising the pressure on Tehran to agree to the deal, which would include tougher UN inspections to verify Iran is complying with its provisions. Iran agreed under last year's temporary accord with the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and China to limit its reserve of low-enriched uranium gas by converting new production into a less proliferation-sensitive oxide form, which it started doing a few months ago. The stockpile is now above the defined level but Iran still has time to reduce it before the temporary deal expires this month, when it is supposed to be replaced by a long-term one.
Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank, said he believed the powers would want to see the holding sharply reduced in any permanent settlement.
"If the stockpile is eliminated, then it may be possible to allow Iran a larger number of centrifuges," he said, referring to the machines that produce enriched uranium.

Don’t forget Hezbollah
What we perceive as a danger to our lives and way of life can be a function of trends. The latest headline-grabbing focus of fear is Islamic State. This is not a bugbear of negligible proportions. Islamic State bloodlust and fanatic belligerence are nothing to scoff at. That said, however, Islamic State is not the greatest threat to the world’s democracies – Israel among them. Regardless of the repugnance Islamic State’s beheadings arouse, worse villains abound in our region. Iran with its nuclear ambitions is foremost, even though the White House is poised to appease Tehran’s ayatollahs, allowing them to keep the capability to build nuclear weapons. The Assad regime, until recently the side in the Syrian civil war the world most loved to hate, has not become any less evil just because Islamic State has emerged as uniquely barbaric. And propping up Assad is Hezbollah of Lebanon, whose menace to Israel has grown by leaps and bounds despite its absence from the front pages. This, in a nutshell, was the recent message of a “senior IDF commander” in the North who stressed that “no anti-Israel action on the Golan has thus far been perpetrated by the rebel forces in Syria, but only by the organizations that support the regime in Damascus.” The subtext is clear. Transfixing as their macabre excesses may be, the jihadists have not attacked Israel. Here it needs be noted that the area on the border straddling the Golan’s Syrian side is mostly controlled by the Jabhat al-Nusra subsidiary of al-Qaida, as distinct from the better- known Islamic State. Nevertheless, those volleys fired into Israel in past months – not all of them by any means stray shells – almost always came from pro-Assad camp, i.e. from Hezbollah. These forces continue to batter without mercy the Syrian population, which is also pounded by the jihadists.
Israel thanklessly sends humanitarian provisions to the Syrian refugees (including food, fuel and clothing) and offers medical aid to all casualties regardless of their affiliation. Although in the immediate offing there is little risk of a Hezbollah offensive against Israel – as it is deeply embroiled in the Syrian conflict – the Shi’ite terrorist group remains a formidable foe of Israel. More than anything, Hezbollah operates as a proxy of Tehran, and its Lebanese and Syrian enclaves are for all intents and purposes Iranian outposts, beachheads close to Israel. Hezbollah, moreover, is just as prone as the Sunni Hamas in the Gaza City to use civilians as human shields, to deter Israel from using its full capabilities. In the past, Hezbollah has used force to prevent noncombatants in southern Lebanon from fleeing north, so that their presence would paralyze Israel’s military response. It gets worse: Hezbollah’s arsenals are incomparably larger than Gaza’s and comprise far more powerful weapons – all supplied by Iran under the noses of UN supervisors.
That, along with the battlefield experience garnered in Syria, makes Hezbollah “many times more dangerous” than Hamas ever was or could be, according to Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, who just stepped down as head of the IDF’s Northern Command.
He warned that Hezbollah’s stockpiles include heavy missiles and that because of the quality and quantity of what that the group has been allowed to acquire, it would be wrong to expect the same degree of defensive cover as Israelis could count on during last summer’s war with Hamas. Hezbollah’s Iranian missiles are substantially more deadly than Gaza’s rockets, and Hezbollah’s caches and launching pads are closer to our population centers, meaning shorter warning time.
The bottom line is that while world opinion is mesmerized by the ghoulish high jinks of Islamic fanatics, it loses sight of Iran’s far reach, which in every respect surpasses the Islamic State’s potential for evil.
The sporadic bombings in Syria and Iraq, as well as America’s willingness to bend over backwards to engage Iran’s deception at the negotiating table, all point to the fact that the international community – perhaps a bit too expediently – has allowed itself to overlook fundamental perspectives. With Iran’s proxy Hezbollah at its doorstep, this is a luxury Israel cannot afford.

Oman Ruler's Failing Health Could Affect U.S. Iran Policy
By: Simon Henderson
November 8, 2014
The death of Sultan Qaboos with no clear successor would jeopardize U.S.-Iran diplomatic contacts, the latest of which will be the meeting tomorrow in Muscat between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
On November 5, the Omani state television channel broadcast a video of seventy-three-year-old Sultan Qaboos bin Said, currently undergoing medical treatment in Germany. He greeted Omanis in anticipation of their national day, November 18, and expressed regret that he would not be back in Oman for the celebrations. No information has been given on what is wrong with the ruler but, though his voice was strong, he looked emaciated and frail. An unnamed diplomat in Muscat, the Omani capital, had been quoted in August as saying Qaboos has colon cancer.
Although the video message was reported as "reassuring" Omanis of their ruler's health, and the 2.2 million Omanis along with the country's estimated 600,000 expatriate workers were said to have "rejoiced" at seeing Qaboos, the more likely immediate impact will be an open leadership succession struggle and domestic political uncertainty in this strategic state with probably the best relations with Iran of any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member.
Unlike the rulers of the other GCC states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates), Qaboos has no sons (and no daughters), nor brothers or half brothers. A modernist who is credited with the extraordinary development of his country since he overthrew his reclusive father, with British assistance, in 1970, his personality dominates the country -- the national day is his birthday -- and he controls all the reins of power. Apart from being the ruler, in name he is also the prime minister, defense minister, finance minister, foreign minister, as well as governor of the central bank. Although he would have personally approved allowing Oman to become the back channel for Washington's diplomatic outreach to Iran in 2012, in practice he delegates many day-to-day decisions. Indeed, Yusuf bin Alawi, a familiar face of Oman in international affairs, is the de facto foreign minister.
Both geographically and politically, Oman is a GCC outlier. Most of its territory lies to the east of the Strait of Hormuz, the opening to the Persian Gulf. It shares a couple of offshore natural gas fields with Iran, for which joint exploitation was agreed when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited Muscat in March, and its principal foreign-exchange earner is the gas it exports in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to customers in Asia. Oman has small oil reserves compared with neighboring Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but China is a major customer. About three-quarters of Omanis, including Sultan Qaboos, are from the small Ibadi sect of Islam, as opposed to Sunnis who dominate the other GCC states, perhaps helping explain why Qaboos tends to shun GCC meetings. (The next summit is scheduled to be held in the Qatari capital in late December.) Relations with other GCC members are correct, with the exception of neighboring UAE. In 2011, Oman arrested several UAE citizens, accusing them of spying. The spy ring was trying to operate in one of the royal palaces.
Historically, Oman has had close relations with Britain. In the early 1970s, British forces, along with units from Jordan and the shah's Iran, helped quell a tribal rebellion in the south of the country, supported from then communist South Yemen. The United States has since developed a close relationship with Qaboos, gaining the right to use Omani air bases, including one on Masirah Island, which was used in the failed attempt to rescue the U.S. embassy hostages in Tehran in 1979. The Omani army operates both British and U.S. tanks, while the air force has British Eurofighters and U.S.-made F-16s. The Omani navy is dominated by British-supplied patrol ships.
Oman is comparatively progressive, having an elected consultative assembly as well as an appointed council of state. The current Omani ambassador in Washington DC is a woman. Nevertheless, when the Arab Spring demonstrations broke out across the region in 2011, Oman faced problems with riots in Sohar, an industrial city. The only other GCC state to be similarly affected was Bahrain, though the troubles there were more attributable to divisions between Sunni and Shiite communities. Qaboos has used a carrot-and-stick approach to political challenges at home, clamping down on protests in the streets and via social media but promising increased jobs and benefits. More recently, he pardoned some protestors and an Omani court sentenced a former minister to prison for corruption.
The failure to select a favored successor has led to several candidates emerging within the extended royal family, said to have fifty to sixty significant male members. In 1995, Qaboos announced an intriguing method of selection: if the family could not agree, he had written down the names of his two preferred candidates and put them in a sealed envelope for the "defense council" to open after his death. In 2011, he clarified this scheme. Article 6 of the Omani constitution now reads: "If the Royal Family Council does not agree on a choice of a Sultan for the Country, the Defense Council together with the Chairman of the Council of State, the Chairman of the Consultative Council, and the Chairman of the Supreme Court along with two of his most senior deputies, shall instate the person designated by His Majesty the Sultan in his letter to the Royal Family Council."
A 2012 Reuters story identified several possible candidates being mentioned in Muscat. Three are brothers -- all cousins of Qaboos -- Assad, Shihab, and Haitham bin Tariq al-Said. The first two have military backgrounds, and the third is the culture minister and a former diplomat, also said to be indecisive. The selection process will further have to be acceptable to the wider Omani population, particularly the tribes that dominate life outside the main cities, if it is to be successful.
The U.S. interest is both immediate as well as long term. To facilitate nuclear diplomacy with Iran, Oman still appears to have a crucial role. After all, Kerry and Zarif could have met in a European capital. In the long term, what follows Qaboos will indicate the competence of the Gulf region's hereditary monarchies in managing their futures. The sultan's reign has been longer than that of any other GCC leader, and Oman has generally prospered under what has been effectively his cult of personality. But despite the Times of Oman report today that "special prayers were held to pay gratitude to the Almighty for keeping him in good health," Oman is now facing the ultimate test of whether the system will survive Qaboos.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and Director of the Washington Institute's Gulf and Energy Policy Program.

The Rushdie Rules, 25 Years Later
By: Daniel Pipes
Danish Free Press Society Conference
November 2, 2014
[N.B. (1) Two transcripts follow, corresponding to the two videos. The first contains Mr. Pipes' introductory remarks, slightly edited for style. The second contains the give-and-take between him and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands. (2) The event took place in the Danish parliament building. (3) By way of explanation of the fourth paragraph of the introductory talk: Mr. Pipes referred specifically to Wilders, Robert Redeker, Lars Vilks, Kurt Westergaard, and Lars Hedegaard because they were all present and addressing the event. Indeed, Mr. Pipes was the only one of the six panelists who does not live under police protection.]
Introductory Talk
Thank you so much; it's a great pleasure to be here.
Let me start by remembering the 2nd of November 2004. It happened to be an election day in the United States, when George Bush beat John Kerry, it was a very exciting day. I was in California and I was awoken about six o'clock in the morning by a friend who announced to me this murder. I then went on to Al-Jazeera where I debated an Islamist who was justifying this action because of the provocation that Theo Van Gogh had engaged in. It was a very memorable and awful day.
What I would like to do is survey, not justs the ten years since that horrible day, but the twenty five years years since Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. There has been a pattern that began that year, that has repeated itself over and over again.
First in 1989, it was Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses. In 2004 there was the murder of Theo Van Gogh and Geert Wilders came under protection. In 2006 Robert Redeker had to go into hiding. In 2007, Lars Vilks, had to do the same. Kurt Westergaard was attacked in 2010, Lars Hedegaard was attacked in 2013. The same happened to many others not in this room.
Over and over again when these attacks take place we see a pattern. First Westerners say or do something critical of Islam, then Muslims respond with name calling and outrage, demands for retraction, threats of lawsuits and violence, and actual violence. Finally the Westerners, hem and haw, prevaricate, debate and finally give in.
I shall argue two points, first, that this is really ultimately not about free speech: yes the battleground is free speech, but the issue is Western civilization, free speech is but the battleground, the issue is whether Western civilization will survive or not. Secondly, due to what I call the Rushdie Rules, the right of Westerners to say critical, provocative things about Islam has declined in the last 25 years.
By "Rushdie Rules," I refer to the edict of Ayatollah Khomeini of February 14 1989, when the supreme leader of Iran watched on television as Pakistanis responded with violence to the publication of Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses. Outraged by what he saw, Khomeini put out an edict against Rushdie's life.
This act was unprecedented, as no one had ever done anything remotely like this – the head of one government calling for the execution of a novelist living in an other country. This surprised everyone, from the Iranian governing officials to Rushdie himself. No one imagined that a magical realist novel, with people falling out of planes and surviving, animals that talk, and so forth, might incur the wrath of the ruler of Iran. No one expected this.
This edict led to physical attacks on bookstores in Italy, Norway and the United States; and on translators of The Satanic Verses in several countries. The greatest violence was in Turkey where 36 people were killed, including an attack on the translator. Other violence in Muslim countries led to 20 deaths.
The Khomeini edict contains four different elements.
First and most important, by taking offense to Rushdie's description of Muhammad, in what he called "Rushdie's opposition to Islam, the Prophet and the Koran," Khomeini delineated a wide range of sacred topics that may not be discussed without invoking a death sentence.
Secondly he targeted "all those involved in the publication who are aware of its contents," and by doing this he said he's not just attacking Rushdie, but everyone in the cultural establishment, editors, advertisors, distributors and others who had some engagement with this. So it's not just one person, but a whole body of cultural activity.
Third, by ordering Rushdie's execution, "so that no one else will dare insult the Muslims' sanctities", Khomeini made clear that his purpose was not just to punish one writer, but to prevent future such insults or ridicule.
And finally, by demanding that those unable to execute Rushdie themselves, "report him" Khomeini called on every Muslim world wide to become part of informal network of intelligence and potentially of attack dedicated to upholding Islamic values.
So there are four features: don't touch certain subjects, everyone involved in the production will be harmed, this should never happen again, and there's an informal network of Muslims. These are the Rushdie Rules. They have since then been applied over and over again.
Now I said that I have two main points to make; the first is that Westerners generally percieve Rushdie Rules violence as a challenge to their right of self expression – and indeed it is that. But the current pattern of Islamist uproar exists to achieve deeper goals, not always articulated, that go well beyond prohibiting the criticism of Islam.
The first goal is to establish the superior status of Islam. You may criticize any other religion but you may not criticize Islam. The free market of ideas exist for every other religion, say what you will, you can have plays, operas, books, novels critical of them, but not about Islam. There are no free market of ideas about Islam.
Secondly, Muslims are superior and Westerners, or kafirs, are inferior. Islamists routinely do and say things that are offensive to Westerners, and that's okay, but not the other way around. If you look at the kind of cartoons in Muslim publications you'll find egregious insults to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Bhuddism; that's fine, but not the other way.
Should this imbalance, of Muslim on top and non-Muslim below continue, one reaches what's called the dhimmi status, and this allows People of the Book, particularily Jews and Christians, to continue the practice of their religion under Muslim rule, subject to many restrictions. In turn, establishing the dhimmi status leads to a third and final ambition of the Rushdie Rules, which is to establish Sharia, the Islamic law, that Lars Hedegaard was just talking about.
The Sharia regulates both private and public life. The private dimension includes intensly personal matters, bodily cleanliness, sexuality, child bearing, family relations, clothing, and diet. In the public realm, Sharia regulates social relations, commercial transactions, criminal penalties, the staus of minorities, slavery, the nature of rule, the judiciary, taxation, and warfare. In brief, it includes everything from toilet etiquette to the conduct of warfare.
As Lars pointed out, Sharia deeply contradicts the deepest premises of Western civilization. The unequal relations between male and female, between Muslim and non-Muslim, between owner and slave cannot be reconciled with equality with rights that are precious and intrinsic to our civilization. The harem cannot be reconciled with mogonomy, Islamic supremacism contradicts freedom of religion and a sovereign god cannot allow democracy.
Were Islamists to achieve a Sharia order, they would effectively replace civilization with Islamic civilization. Closing down discussion of Islam paves the way towards this end conversely, retaining free speech about Islam represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order.
In short, keeping our civilization requires an open discussion of Islam; Islamists want to close this down because they want to close down our civilization. So it's not just about freedom of expression, but about something much much larger.
My final point is about what's happened since 1989. In retrospect, responses to the Ruhdie edict among intellectuals and politicians in 1989 were noteworthy for the support they gave the imperiled novelist, especially on the Left. Leftist intellectuals were more likely to stand by Rushdie than intellectuals on the right, in part, becuase Rushdie was a self defined man of the Left.
Nor was it just intellectuals. François Mitterrand, the socialist president of France at the time, called the threat to Rushdie an "absolute evil." The Green Party in Germany sought to break all economic agreements with Iran. A European Union resolution supported Rushdie as "a signal to assure the preservation of civilization and human values." The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that declared its commitment "to protect the right of any person to write, publish, sell, buy, and read books without fear of intimidation and violence."
Times have changed. A recent book by an American intellectual named, Paul Berman, called, The Flight of The Intellectuals, excoriates his fellow liberals for "fumbling badly in their effort to grapple with Islamist ideas and violence". In short, the Left has it wrong about Islamism.
For every exercise in free speech since 1989, such as the Danish Muhammad cartoons, uncountable legions of writers, publishers, and illustrators have shied away from expressing themselves. I could give you example after example of artists, playwrights, authors, novelists who say, "I don't want to get near the subject of Islam."
Changes since 1989 result mainly from the growth of three isms, three new political forces: multiculturalism, left-fascism, and Islamism.
The multicultural impulse regards no particular way of life, belief system, or political philosophy as better or worse than any other. It reminds me of a discussion of what shall we do for dinner tonight, shall we go to Japanese or Italian? They're both very nice, both very tasty, it doesn't really make a difference does it? Well that's how the multiculturalists see much more profound things than dinner, it doesn't really make a difference.
There's no real difference between environmentalism or Wiccism; they're prefectly valid alternatives to the Judeo-Christian civilization. Why fight for one's way of life when it has no claim to superiority over any other?
Second is Left-Fascism, which says, if you look closely Western civilization, actually, you see it is worse than any other. A combination of Western racism, imperialism, and fascism has made life terrible for non-Westerners. Led by such figures such as the late Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, this Left-Fascist movement sees Western power, which they call Empire, as the world's main threat, with the United States and Israel seen as the chief offenders.
And finally, of course, there is Islamism, the radical Islamic impulse to apply Sharia which has grown enormously since 1989. Look around and note how ISIS, Mohamed Morsi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other such phenomenon dominate today's headlines. Wherever you look in Muslim-majority countries, the Islamist surge is underway. Worldwide, it has become the most powerful form of radical utopianism. Fascism and Communism are hardly to be seen, Islamism is nearly everywhere.
It forms an alliance with the left, dominating civil societies, challenging many governments and taking over others; it has established a beachhead in the West, and is advancing its agenda in international institutions.The United Nations, for example, has passed resolutions against the defamations of religions, i.e. the defamation of Islam.
The yin of Western weakness, in short, and in clonclusion, has met with the yang of Islamist assertion. Defenders of Western civilization must fight not only the Islamists but also the multiculturalists who enable them and the leftists who ally with them.
Discussion of Islam by Daniel Pipes and Geert Wilders
Daniel Pipes: As you know, [Geert,] I admire your courage and your clear analysis. But I also disagree, as you know, with one thing you're saying. You said there will never be a moderate Islam. I don't know how you know that. Islam has changed — I'm a historian, and a historian studies change over time. Everything human changes over time. I took up the study of Islam in 1969, 45 years ago. Islam is very different and much worse than it was in 1969. If it can get worse, it can get better. Islam changes. I could spend an — we could have a summit on it. I'll tell you about how Islam has changed. How do you know it can't get better? How do you know there can't be a moderate Islam? Why are you rejecting this possibility beforehand? Lars is skeptical. I accept that. But you're saying, "Absolutely, no, it can't happen."
Geert Wilders: Well, Daniel and I have known each other for a long time. We do respect each other and we have had the discussion many times before, and sometimes we can agree to disagree. But, indeed, I don't believe that Islam will ever change. Islam is the word — look at the Koran. The Koran is, together with the Hadith and the Life of Mohammed (the Sira), the Koran is the way, the basis of Islam. And the Koran, Muslims believe, is the word of God. It cannot be changed. And of course people change, Daniel. I believe that. I don't believe that Islam has ever changed in the past. When it got worse — and indeed it did, it's worse every day — then it's because people changed. And people changed unfortunately for the worse, not for the better. So yes, I believe that even though today, it gets worse every second — look at the Islamic State, look at what is happening in your country, my country — and that will not change. But the people can change. And I'm not a theologian. I believe that once again, why people, and why people believe in Islam is none of my business. But I am a politician. I'm a lawmaker. And I'll tell you I just told you before, that I'm not interested in changing [them] or not. I'm interested in the people. And if you adhere to our values, you are welcome and if you do not adhere to our values, you have to go. You have to leave. I don't care if it will change, or it will not. I care about the people in my society: Will women in Copenhagen, in Amsterdam be free to walk the streets or will they be harassed? Will children be free to walk our streets? Will homosexuals be beaten up in Amsterdam by Moroccan youths or not? This is the question we should answer, and if the [answer] is "no", we should send them away and stop the immigration [from] countries where we have this aggression. That is the only question that I want to answer.
Moderator: Daniel, do you want to comment on that?
Daniel Pipes: Yes, we have argued this for decades and more. And I agree with your point about the actions being unacceptable and people changing, so we agree on that. Still, you made very clear in your opening remarks that Islam, moderate Islam can — there'll never be a moderate Islam. So let's put aside the actions of people. Why can there not be a moderate Islam? It's — the Koran remains the same, but interpretations of it change. Let me give you one example. There's a short phrase in the Koran, la ikraha fi'd-din, meaning "there should be no compulsion in religion." This is a phrase which over the millennia has changed in its understanding, its interpretation. I wrote an article in which I showed some dozen different historical understandings of what this term means, from the most rigid and limited to the most liberal. Now, every aspect of the Koran can be dealt with in this same way. For example, the contradictions in the Koran. As it is now, it tends to be the more severe that are accepted and the less severe which are rejected. That could change. This is human. This is not divine; this is interpretation of the Koran. Interpretation of the Koran has changed and is changing, and it has changed for the worse and the more severe. Why don't you admit the possibility of a change for the better?
Geert Wilders: Well, you know, the Koran, in Islam there is a rule called "abrogation." And abrogation means that the latest verse in the Koran is valid and invalidates everything that was written before. That's a rule that even moderates in Islam agree with. So indeed, yes, there are passages in the Koran that were saying maybe not the harshest things but they were, at the end of the day, replaced through abrogation by many parts of the Koran, which I don't believe but many Muslims believe in, that this the fact today. Second point: it's the word of God. It's the word of God [that] there are not interpretations today about; there are no Arab or Islamic yeshivas being active today, but where people study and interpret the parts of the Koran, they are non-existent. So please, let us once again agree to disagree; just let us not focus on something that I believe will never happen, and you believe that it might happen in five thousand years. But I am interested in what will happen today, and tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and our countries should be safe, and safe from the brutality of Islam.

Christians ‘Losing Everything’ to Islam
By Raymond Ibrahim on November 8, 2014 in Muslim Persecution of Christians
Gatestone Institute
“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things”—Philippians 3:8
When St. Paul wrote the above in his letter to the Christians of Philippi, he and the early church were being persecuted (Paul was eventually executed in Rome). While today’s Western Christians still quote his words in the context of their daily struggles, an increasing number of Christians around the world, especially the Muslim world, are still literally losing absolutely everything for their faith.
In Christian-majority Uganda, matters have gone from bad to worse to murderous. The plight of Hassan Muwanguzi, for instance, a Muslim convert to Christianity—whose initial sacrifices are recorded in Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (page 131)—far from abating, has only gotten worse.
After earning a university degree in Islamic law and then, in 2003, when he was in his early 20s, converting to Christianity, his family immediately threw him out of their home. “Enraged Muslims” beat him. Later that same year, his wife left him and he lost his job as a teacher at Nankodo Islamic School, near Pallisa.
This was just the beginning. Picking up the pieces of his life and moving on, he eventually opened a Christian school, Grace International Nursery and Primary School, near Muslim-majority Mbale. Accordingly, “The Muslims have tried to use all kinds of threats to make me close the school—first they used witchcraft,” said Hassan. “This did not work, so then they tried to discourage Muslims from bringing their children to the school, saying that the school was converting Muslim children to Christianity by teaching Christian Religious Education.”
When all else failed, in 2011 an Islamic teacher, Sheikh Hassan Abdalla, filed a false charge claiming that Hassan had “defiled” the sheikh’s young daughter. Together with his fellow Muslim countrymen, the Islamic cleric filed a case at the chief magistrate’s court. Hassan was subsequently arrested and incarcerated for three weeks.
But because Sheikh Abdalla, his accuser, repeatedly failed to appear in court to testify, Hassan was released. In his words: “The judge found out it was a false accusation, hence the case was dropped. I had been subjected to humiliation, but I forgave them for the sake of my Christian outreach in the area.”
The next Islamic attack came a few months after Hassan was acquitted. First, the owner of the land where Hassan had built his Christian school denied ever having sold it, leading to a court order to close down the school in May, 2012, incurring great losses for Hassan. The month after, in June, the Christian convert’s home was burnt down by three Muslims:
I and my family escaped from the house by grace, but if it had not been so, then by now we would be no more…. This attack was mobilized by Muslim sheikhs, imams and family members after hearing that I had converted to Christianity after studying and completing university with a degree in Islamic law.
Less than a year later, on March 31, 2013, Hassan was hospitalized in Mbale after an aunt who had called a “family gathering” slipped some insecticide in his tea. According to Hassan:
After eating and taking tea, I started feeling stomachache, then I realized that she was the one responsible for it—and I believe she did not do it alone, since they have been hunting for me directly and indirectly, because when I left them and converted to Christianity it pained them so much…. The reason they want to kill me is very clear—it is because of being a convert to Christianity; above all, to them it is like I brought shame by converting, as a [former] sheikh. But to God the Almighty Father, this was His plan for me to expand His Kingdom.
According to the doctor who treated him, when Hassan arrived at the hospital, he had already vomited, “looked confused with slurred speech” and his “vision was getting very poor,” so that “he could not even recognize the friend who brought him in.”
During the family meeting, when he first began to feel ill, he telephoned a local Christian leader who advised him to leave secretly: “I knew if he were to mention to them that he was getting sick, they would harm him more,” said Bishop Kinyewa.
Now, most recently, on June 16, 2014, four Muslim men barged into his home with one shouting, “Today we shall kill you—you have been a trouble-maker and are not respecting our prophet’s religion.” The “apostate” fled into a room, thinking they would not hurt his young daughter, Grace Baruka. But then he heard the 12-year-old girl’s cries, as the Muslim invaders were strangling her.
When he came out of the room they seized him: “They hit me with a blunt object, and I fell down. I just woke up and saw neighbors surrounding me while wailing, saying that my daughter is in critical condition.” Neighbors took Grace to a clinic but she was declared dead upon arrival. “I am regretting why I survived the poisoning,” said Hassan. God could have allowed me to die. My daughter has died, and I am now mourning for her death as well [as] have pain all over my body.”
Hassan Muwanguzi: Losing everything for his Christian faith
While Hassan’s ongoing experience with the relentless “Hound of Jihad” speaks for itself, the reality is that countless Christians around the world—both Muslim converts and born Christians—are quietly “losing everything” at the hands of Muslims, whether family members, “local Muslims,” Islamic regimes and courts, or Islamic terrorist organizations.
According to a human rights activist who recently visited the Christians fleeing the Islamic State’s advance into Mosul, “People are severely traumatized: they have lost everything. Often they are fleeing for the second, third or even fourth time.” One Iraqi Christian man, lamenting his ongoing struggles and sounding like Hassan, told her: “Sometimes I wish my parents had never brought me into the world.”
From one end of the Muslim world to the other, Christians are suffering persecution. Not one month goes by without several attacks on churches, many—for example in Nigeria and Kenya—resulting in large casualties; not one month goes by without several attacks on Christians accused of apostatizing from Islam or “blaspheming.”
Last week a pregnant Christian mother of four and her husband, falsely accused of burning pages of the Koran, were beaten by a Muslim mob and throw into a kiln, a fiery oven at a brick factory, where they were roasted alive; and the world recalls the plight of Meriam Ibrahim, another Christian wife and mother who, while also pregnant, was imprisoned in Sudan and sentenced to receive 100 lashes followed by execution on the charge of apostatizing from Muhammad’s religion. Although she has been freed, Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American, is still being held in prison in Iran for apostasy and practicing his Christian faith. His case was apparently not even raised by the Americans negotiating with Iran on its nuclear weapons program.
As tragic as the story of Uganda’s Hassan Muwanguzi is, he is only one of countless Christians and other minorities living under, and losing everything to, Islam.

Tolerating Extremism Always Backfires
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 9 Nov, 2014
The only argument that I have heard in response to what I wrote recently about the dangers of extremism—which is still spreading—is to ask why we should seek to contain extremists in our community while there are extremists of all nationalities and religious doctrines out there.
Some were even more insistent when discussing this issue with me. They told me that suppressing Sunni extremism would help countries like Iran—which is supporting its own brand of Shi’ite extremism everywhere.
First, this whole notion is wrong because extremism is most dangerous to the community that creates and hosts it. Second, those who believe it is inevitable that there will always be extremists around and that is safer to accept this state of affairs lest the extremists turn on them—or those who say that maybe it is better to employ extremists the way Iran and the Syrian regime have—will find out the true cost only later, when it is too late. We paid a heavy price in the past when we tried to co-opt the monster of rampant extremism: We got burned in Afghanistan.
What about the theory of using extremists against each other?
Over the past 30 years we have witnessed different experiences in dealing with terrorist groups that committed violent acts in the name of religion. In the early 1980s these groups were Shi’ite—namely Hezbollah—and instigated political violence in the name of defending Islam and resisting the Zionist enemy. They were all in fact part of a project seeking to export Khomeini’s Iranian revolution to the rest of the Muslim world. Then events in Afghanistan came along and Sunni extremists emerged as the mujahideen.
It is worth mentioning that many of those involved arrived after the evacuation of Soviet troops. The only people they killed there were other Muslims.
Much of this wave of Sunni extremism did not fade away after Afghanistan, and is still directed against Sunni communities in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, which have been targeted by Sunni terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al-Nusra Front, and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
Sunni extremism often targets Sunni communities, and not Shi’ite ones—unlike Shi’ite extremist organizations which rarely attack their own institutions, communities and peoples. The reason is that extremist organizations like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq are linked to governments and abide by their restrictions. It is impossible to do the same in Sunni communities because terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda are against governments and seek their overthrow.
Therefore, the call to accept these groups under the pretext that the region is bursting with extremism and terrorism led by other communities is a misguided argument invented by extremists, who will ultimately turn on the society and country they live in.
Shi’ite extremists are operating under what amounts to a temporary truce, and will go in the same direction as the Sunnis because their terrorist factions—such as the ones growing in Iraq—will eventually start fighting each other and seek to control the Shi’ite community. Many Shi’ite extremist groups are already raising their voices and threatening Shi’ites who disagree with them.
As for the argument that it is unwise to restrain Sunni extremism so long as Iran and its affiliates are not restraining its Shi’ite counterparts, the results provide an appropriate response here: Most Sunni extremists have attacked their own countries and communities, despite their hatred for other communities and religions. More than 90 percent of terrorist operations by Sunni groups are directed against Sunni communities in seven countries that have witnessed acts of violence to varying degrees.
In the end, meddling with and twisting religious doctrines—while others stand idly by not doing anything about it—has proven to be the most dangerous of all weapons, as it often has a “boomerang effect” that rebounds on the society that has tolerated it.

Don't Tell Erdogan Jihadists Kill People
By: Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
November 09, 2014
Slightly more than a year ago, the world was shocked at the dramatic death tolls in Kenya and Pakistan when jihadists, in separate attacks over one weekend, killed more than 150 innocent people -- with the Kenya attack claiming victims aged between two and 78. In a public speech after the "black weekend," Turkey's then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now President) looked very sad. Indeed, he was sad.
But not for the victims of terror attacks the previous weekend. He was mourning Asmaa al-Beltagi, a poor, 17-year-old Egyptian girl who had been shot dead by security forces in Cairo as she was protesting the ouster of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in a July coup d'état. Asmaa's father was a senior Brotherhood figure and after her death, Erdogan once even shed tears during a televised speech. He then commemorated the girl at almost every election rally.
Earlier in 2013, Erdogan's Egyptian comrades, the Muslim Brotherhood, had perpetrated the worst attacks against the Coptic Church of Egypt since the 14th century. In one particular week, 40 churches were looted and torched while 23 others were attacked and heavily damaged. In one town, after burning a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three of its nuns on the streets, as if the nuns were prisoners of war. Two security guards working on a tour boat owned by Christians were burned alive; and an orphanage was burned down. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood's Facebook page claimed that, "the Church has declared war against Islam and Muslims."
Today if one typed the words "Islam" and "terrorism" into a quick search, Google would produce over 42 million results. But one of Erdogan's favorite statements is his famous line, "There is no Islamic terror." In various times and capitals, Erdogan has powerfully stated that, "Muslims never resort to terror or violence." Once he said of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's Muslim president, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity: "I went to Sudan and did not see any genocide there. Muslims never resort to genocide."
The world's Islamic terrorist organizations must have felt disappointed by Erdogan's perpetual denial of their existence, acts of terror and stated goals. They sent one such group to Erdogan's doorstep so that he could rethink his "denialism."
The death toll in Syria and Iraq at the hands of extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] is estimated at "several thousand" since the summer, when the group took large swathes of land in the two countries neighboring Turkey. Only last Sunday, ISIS's jihadists lined up and shot dead at least 50 Iraqi men, women and children from the same tribe. The killings, all committed in public, raised the death toll suffered by the Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent days to 150. Earlier last week, Human Rights Watch reported that ISIS executed 600 Iraqi prison inmates when they seized Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in June.
Ironically, in June the same men kidnapped 49 Turks, including Erdogan's consul general and consulate officials along with their families, in Mosul and kept them as hostages for 101 days before they agreed to release them in exchange for ISIS terrorists kept in Turkish prisons. None of these acts seems to have persuaded Erdogan that the terrorists were killing simply for the universal advancement of Salafism, and that they call themselves Muslims.
After a meeting in Paris with French President François Hollande, Erdogan gave a lecture and accused "those who try to portray ISIS as an Islamic organization...." Fortunately, he did not claim that ISIS was a Jewish organization.
But he said other things that must have appalled the Paris audience:
"Mind you, I am deliberately avoiding the use of the acronym ISIS [because it contains the word 'Islamic']. I use the name 'Deash' because these are terrorists." Call it a slip of the tongue, but there is no such word or acronym as "Deash." There is, though, "Daesh" ("ad-dawlah al-Islamiyah fil- Iraq wa ash-Sham"). Nice try by Erdogan, but not quite smart enough. The Arabic acronym "Daesh" also contains the word Islamic ("al-Islamiyah"). Erdogan may next time try a Sanskrit, Zulu, Swahili, Malagasy or Kx'a acronym for the jihadists, but they, too, by simple logic of acronyms, should contain the word "Islamic."
Erdogan's Paris lecture exhibited more interesting mental logic. The international media, he said, is engaged in systematic efforts to portray Turkey as a country that supports "Daesh." By all means, the Turkish president has every right to object to such portrayal no matter how unconvincingly. But Erdogan did not stop there. He said those media members were "virtually traitors"! And he left it to his audience to find out how foreign nationals could also be Turkish traitors.
It was vintage Erdogan. There is no Islamic terror. ISIS is not an Islamic organization and its name is not even ISIS; it is "Daesh." And foreign journalists are plotting treason against Turkey.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Iran-Backed Shia Rebels Push Forward in Yemen

By: Jonathan Spyer
PJ Media/November 09, 2014
Originally published under the title "Iran Rising: Mullah-Backed Rebels Reach Yemen's Capital"
The Middle East is currently the arena for a cross-border sectarian war. The weakening or collapse of repressive regimes has unleashed a fierce war for succession between rival populations, with Shia and Sunni Arabs the main protagonists. This process is playing itself out in Iraq and Syria, with Lebanon increasingly drawn into the vortex of conflict.
The regional rivalry between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia further fuels this conflict. The Iranians are the central pillar of the united and cohesive Shia-dominated bloc which includes the Assad regime in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon and its allies, the government of Iraq and the Shia militias in that country.
The Saudis are now the main force seeking to stem the Iranian advance. The anti-western Turkey-Qatar-Muslim Brotherhood alliance is also an important element on the Sunni side.
The clash between Shia and Sunni and between Riyadh and Teheran is not limited to the geographical area comprising Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. A largely ignored but vital additional arena in this conflict is Yemen.
In this regard, the Iranian-backed Houthi militia has made very significant gains in recent weeks, largely ignored by the western media.
The Houthi militia, which has been engaged in an insurgency against the government of Yemen since 2004, launched an offensive in September. The movement's fighters advanced rapidly, and on September 21st the Houthis entered the Yemeni capital, Sana'a.
The Shia militia then announced an ultimatum to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, giving him 10 days to form a new government (that would include representation for the Houthis) or face unspecified 'other options.'
The latest events in Yemen are once again testimony to the unsurpassed skill that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps displays in the practice of political and paramilitary warfare in the Middle East.
As of now, the situation is unresolved, and Houthi militiamen remain deployed across the capital. They are deployed, according to reports, outside the central bank and a number of key ministries. The Houthis have also taken a large port town on the Red Sea and have seized a border post on the frontier between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The government of Yemen, which was installed three years ago as part of a peace plan backed by Riyadh, has been exposed as helpless by the actions of the Houthis in recent weeks.
In addition to the Shia rebellion coming out of the north, Yemen is beset by a powerful al-Qaeda Sunni insurgency in the south. There is also a separatist movement in the south, that seeks to break away from Sana'a.
Fighting has now broken out between Houthi rebels and Sunni tribesmen backed by al-Qaeda in the area south of the capital. The town of Radda has emerged as a point of contention. Over 250 people have been killed in the fighting, according to a report by Associated Press.
Yemen has a 1,100 kilometer border with Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh's concern at the advance of the Houthis is not hard to understand.
The links between the movement and Teheran are clear. For public consumption, the Houthis deny links with Iran. A senior leader of the Houthis, Hasan al-Saadi, told Bloomberg news earlier this week that the Houthis 'respect Iranian resistance and the movement of Ayatollah Khomeini,' but do not agree with Teheran in all respects.
In reality, there is ample evidence of direct Iranian aid to the Houthis. Most tellingly, on January 23rd, 2013, the Yemeni coastguard apprehended an Iranian ship, the Jihan 1, which was carrying weapons, explosives and other military equipment from the Revolutionary Guards Corps, intended for delivery to the Houthis.
Iran has a number of reasons for supporting the Houthis. Alliance with a restive armed Shia group that controls border areas facing Saudi Arabia is a useful tool of pressure on Riyadh.
Also, Yemen has a significant section of the Red Sea coast which Iran seeks to control as part of its broader goal of acquiring control of the sea lanes from the Persian Gulf.
The latest events in Yemen are once again testimony to the unsurpassed skill that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps displays in the practice of political and paramilitary warfare in the Middle East.
This ability to develop and maintain proxy political-military forces has been an asset in Iranian hands since the birth of the Islamic Republic – with the Lebanese Hizballah the first fruit of it.
In the current context of the break up of formerly strong regimes in a number of Arab countries and the outbreak of war between would be successor groups, this ability is at a premium. The Iranian skill in this regard is what preserved the Assad regime through the creation and mobilization of sectarian military groups in Syria against the Sunni insurgency there.
Teheran appears currently to be repeating this process in Iraq, where brutal Shia militias are playing an ever more important role in the fight against the Islamic State.
In Yemen, a similar dynamic is emerging.
The Saudis simply have no parallel ability to use clients. They consequently prefer to invest in regular state military forces. Where the state is a real and a strong one, as in Egypt, this orientation can pay dividends. Where the state is largely a fiction, as in Yemen, Riyadh and its money power is of limited use.
This applies also to the Lebanon example (in Iraq and in Syria, the 'state' is on the pro-Iran side.)
Events in Yemen ought to concern the west because they demonstrate once again the skill and determination of the Iranians in the game that matters most right now in the Middle East.
At the same time, Teheran appears to be well on the way toward nuclear weapons capability, because of the fecklessness of Western policy. This will pave the way for a yet more aggressive Iranian push to hegemony in Yemen and beyond it – throughout the Gulf, Iraq and the Levant.
**Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

US think-tank: Iran may have violated nuclear deal
Published: 11.09.14, 21:45 / Israel News
A US think-tank said Iran may have violated last year's interim nuclear deal with world powers by stepping up efforts to develop a machine that could enrich uranium faster, but another expert group said it saw no breach. Iran's development of advanced enrichment centrifuges is sensitive because, if successful, it could enable the country to produce potential nuclear bomb material at a rate several times that of the decades-old model now in use.  Western officials were not immediately available to comment on the allegation by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran's nuclear program. There was no immediate comment from Tehran. The think-tank, whose founder David Albright often briefs US lawmakers and others on nuclear proliferation issues, cited a finding in a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran. The confidential document, issued to IAEA member states on Friday, said Iran since the UN agency's previous report in September had "intermittently" been feeding natural uranium gas into a single so-called IR-5 centrifuge at a research facility. The IR-5 is one of several new models that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the erratic, 1970s vintage IR-1 centrifuge that it now uses to produce refined uranium.
But unlike other advanced models under development - IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6 - at a research site at its Natanz enrichment plant, Iran had until now not fed the IR-5 with uranium gas. "Iran may have violated (the interim deal) by starting to feed (natural uranium gas) into one of its advanced centrifuges, namely the IR-5 centrifuge," the think-tank said in an analysis of the IAEA report. "Under the interim deal, this centrifuge should not have been fed with (gas) as reported in this safeguards report."
But the Washington-based Arms Control Association said it did not believe it violated the deal. "The latest IAEA report says clearly that no enriched uranium is being withdrawn from the machine," the research and advocacy group said in an email.
Iran says it produces low-enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants. But if processed much further, refined uranium could be turned into the explosive core of a bomb, which the West fears may be the country's latent goal.
Tehran denies looking to build nuclear weapons. Under last year's deal with the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, Iran can continue its "current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices", language that implies it should not expand them. The text of the publicly released agreement did not elaborate on this point, potentially leaving it open for interpretation. It was one of the thorniest issues to resolve in the negotiations on the temporary accord, which was designed to buy time for talks on a permanent settlement by a November 24 deadline. It is expected to be a key issue also in any long-term deal.