October 01 30/14

Bible Quotation for today/Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth
Matthew 06/19-23: "19 “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Division within a Christian community is a very grave sin; it is the work of the devil.
Pape François
La division dans une communauté chrétienne est un péché très grave, elle est l’œuvre du diable.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 30and October 01/14

Netanyahu's shifting gimmicks/By: Sima Kadmon/Ynetnews/October 01/14
The Wrong Path to Heaven/By: Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/October 01/14

Netanyahu's UN speech: All talk, no action/By: Nahum Barnea/Ynetnews/October 01/14

Solving the ISIS puzzle/By: Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Alawsat/October 01/14
Sanaa, the Houthis’ cemetery/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/AlArabiya/October 01/14

Race to fight ISIS or just a show of force/By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/October 01/14
The Houthis and a history of conflict in Yemen/By: Manuel Almeida/Al Arabiya/ October 01/14


Lebanese Related News published on September 30and October 01/14

Qatari mediators meet with militants over Lebanese hostages
Ibrahim Reportedly Begins Foreign Trip on Troops Case, Says Progress Made
Families of Hostages Call for Swap as Police Open Masnaa Road
Arsal Roadside Bombing Death Toll Rises to Three
Geagea Blames Presidential Vacuum on Hizbullah and Aoun, Ridicules Government

LebanonReport: Geagea Shunned Helou but Jumblat to Contact LF Chief

Bassil: Netherlands to Support Army with Weapons Worth $2.3M

Frustrated Berri Defends Army against Critics
Tehran Promises Military Assistance to Lebanon

HRW: Syria Refugees in Lebanon Face Rising Violence

Bassil: Netherlands to Support Army with Weapons Worth $2.3M

Report: Geagea Shunned Helou but Jumblat to Contact LF Chief

Lebanese MP Khaled Daher defends Al-Jazeera, slams Army

Lebanese health minister launches reform plan

Parliament to approve VAT increase for wage hike


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 30and October 01/14

Pope summons Mideast envoys over ISIS advance

Official: In Air War in Iraq and Syria, 4,100 U.S. Flights

Police: Man Arrested in Australia over Funding U.S. fighter in Syria

USA.-led Strikes Hit Jihadists Closing on Syria Border Town
Kurd Troops Attack Iraq Jihadists on Three Fronts

Turkish Kurd Leader Visits Besieged Syrian Town, Urges Action

Turkish parliament to consider “buffer zone” against ISIS

Yemenis Protest to Press for Rebel Withdrawal

Fleeing War, Syrians Find Refuge in Latin America

Kuwait Revokes Citizenship of Opposition Figure, 17 Others

Britain Proposes Anti-Extremism Curbs on Civil Liberties

UK government plans curbs on nonviolent extremism

Iraqi scholar: Jews persuaded Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 because of Torah prophecy

Iranian nuclear physicist killed by Revolutionary Guard, not Israel, relative claims

Qatar's foreign minister denies paying ransoms to militant groups

Netanyahu: Hamas, IS share fanatic ideology

Syria 'OK' with US airstrikes

FSA chief urges Alawites to abandon Assad’s ‘sinking ship’

Yemen: Houthis strengthen grip on Sana’a

Libya’s parliament holds crisis talks with rival assembly

Rafah crossing opening closer: sources

Egyptian court jails 68 Muslim Brotherhood supporters

Arabs must ramp up anti-ISIS fight, says European Commission chief

Australia charges man over funding ‘terrorist organization’



Pope summons Mideast envoys to Rome over ISIS advance
Reuters/VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, who has expressed alarm over the rise of ISIS militants and the plight of Christians in the Middle East, has summoned his envoys in the region to a rare meeting to discuss a response to the crisis, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
The Oct. 2-4 gathering will include Vatican ambassadors to Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinians as well as representatives to the United Nations and the European Union. They will hold talks with more than a dozen top Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who addressed the United Nations on the Middle East crisis on Monday. Earlier this month during a visit to predominantly Muslim Albania, Francis issued a strong criticism of Islamist militants, saying no religious group which used violence and oppression could claim to be "the armor of God". ISIS has declared a "caliphate" in the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq and has killed or driven out large numbers of Christians, Shi'ite Muslims and others who do not subscribe to its hardline version of Sunni Islam. Asked about ISIS last month when returning from a trip to South Korea, Francis endorsed action by the international community to stop "unjust aggression". Parolin, the Vatican's top diplomat, told the the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday that it was "both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force". ISIS is battling Shiite-backed governments in both Iraq and Syria, as well as other Sunni groups in Syria and Kurdish groups in both countries, part of complex, multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

Qatari mediators meet with militants over Lebanese hostages
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Qatari mediators arrived in the outskirts of Arsal Tuesday and began negotiating with militants holding at least 21 security personnel hostage, a security source told The Daily Star. The Lebanese Army and members of Lebanon’s General Security accompanied the negotiators to the outskirts, the security source said. The delegation was comprised of Qatar mediators who were also joined by residents from the northeastern border town of Arsal, he added. A source also acquainted with the militants confirmed the Qatari delegation had begun negotiating with the militants, saying that “negotiations have just become serious.” The Nusra Front and ISIS militants took more than 30 policemen and soldiers captive in August. Nusra has released six captives and executed one solider, while ISIS executed two soldiers so far. The renewed seriousness in the negotiations was evidenced by the release of several Syrian refugees detained by the Lebanese Army, the source added. The Lebanese Army raided several refugee camps in Arsal earlier this week and arrested refugees on the suspicion of terrorist affiliations.  Earlier this week, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk said that Cabinet supports negotiations through intermediaries, clarifying that negotiations are currently being held through Qatari and Turkish officials as well as Lebanese intermediaries. Prime Minster Tammam Salam also called for Qatari mediation this week, saying that it was up to Qatar to negotiate a deal with the militants.

Tehran Promises Military Assistance to Lebanon
Naharnet/The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, who made a one-day visit to Beirut on Tuesday, said that Tehran will provide military assistance to Lebanon. Ali Shamkhani made the announcement following talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail. He said the assistance includes military equipment to help Lebanon's battle against militants. He did not elaborate but told reporters that the details would be announced during an upcoming visit by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel to Tehran. Shamkhani also visited Speaker Nabih Berri. He traveled to Syria later Tuesday. His trip to Beirut came as an Iranian military commander reportedly claimed that Hizbullah's missile and drone capabilities have widely improved since the 2006 war with Israel. Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who is the commander of the Iranian army's aerospace force, said he was aware of Hizbullah's capabilities in Lebanon. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, Hajizadeh claimed that the Shiite party was at a certain period linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards but it developed to the extent that the country's army began benefiting from Hizbullah's capabilities. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of mounting terrorist attacks all around the world.
Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting that the Islamic State and Hamas, as well as other movements, from al-Qaida and Nigeria's Boko Haram to Somalia's al-Shabab and Hizbullah, share the goal of imposing militant Islam on the world. He likened them to "another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago" — Nazism.

Families of Hostages Call for Swap as Police Open Masnaa Road
Naharnet /The security forces reopened on Tuesday the Masnaa road that leads to the border crossing with Syria in eastern Lebanon after it was blocked by the families of the troops and police taken hostage by jihadists. The relatives are blocking other roads that are major arteries in northern Lebanon and the eastern Bekaa Valley. But police reopened the Masnaa road after a dispute with the protesters who urged the Lebanese authorities to accept a swap between the hostages from the army and police, and Islamist prisoners. LBCI TV said the security forces arrested two protesters during the dispute. The soldiers and policemen were taken captive by jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. The militants executed three of them and threatened to kill more hostages if the Lebanese government did not meet their demands. The killings outraged the families, who on Tuesday said that “the state collapsed the moment the soldiers were executed.” “A swap without any condition is the only solution,” they said in a statement. The protesters also apologized to citizens for blocking the Masnaa road, but said it was the only effective way to stop the killing of more hostages.  Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq hoped in remarks published in An Nahar daily that the families would reopen the roads they are blocking when they discover that the government is “serious” in bringing the hostages back home.

Geagea Blames Presidential Vacuum on Hizbullah and Aoun, Ridicules Government
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea has denied that he was hindering the election of a new president, laying the blame instead on his rival MP Michel Aoun, who heads the Free Patriotic Movement. “Aoun is theoretically after the presidency but he is practically paralyzing the elections and suggesting” that the polls should not be held if he does not reach Baabda Palace, Geagea said. “This equation is not democratic. It is unacceptable and is an attempt to impose things by force,” he added.
The LF chief, who is the presidential candidate of the March 14 alliance, stressed that he was “not the obstacle to the election of a president.”“The real obstructors are Hizbullah and Aoun,” he said. Geagea made his remarks to the Saudi al-Yaum newspaper excerpts of which were released by his press office on Tuesday. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May 25, when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid the failure of the rival MPs to elect a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate.
Hizbullah MPs and members of Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting the parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president, claiming there should be consensus on a candidate first. Geagea said in the excerpts of the interview that will be published in al-Yaum on Wednesday that terrorism was brought twice to Lebanon – first through Hizbullah's involvement in the fighting in Syria and second through the failure to control the Lebanese-Syrian border. For the past two months, the Lebanese army has been fighting militants near the border with Syria. In early August, extremists crossed into the northeastern border town of Arsal and captured soldiers and policemen. Two of the soldiers have since been beheaded and one has been shot dead by the fighters from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Geagea blamed the differences among cabinet members on the failure to release the hostages. “The government is not able to agree on anything,” he said.

Kurd Troops Attack Iraq Jihadists on Three Fronts
Naharnet /Kurdish troops backed by warplanes battled the Islamic State group on three fronts in northern Iraq on Tuesday, clawing back land they lost to the jihadists in recent months. The Kurdish peshmerga struck before dawn against the town of Rabia on the Syrian border, north of the jihadist-controled second city Mosul, and south of key oil hub Kirkuk, officers said. A senior source in the peshmerga said troops had entered Rabia, after seizing the villages of As-Saudiyah and Mahmudiyah. "Ground troops are now fighting in the center of Rabia," which lies about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Mosul.He said peshmerga forces, backed by artillery and warplanes, were also attacking Zumar, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of the city, near the reservoir of Iraq's largest dam, which has been a key battleground between the Kurds and the jihadists. "We have ousted IS from 30 positions, including in the Zumar and Rabia areas," peshmerga spokesman Halgord Hekmat said. Both Rabia and Zumar were areas which the peshmerga seized in the chaos that followed the jihadists' capture of Mosul in a lightning offensive in early June. IS forces made a fresh push two months later and inflicted stinging setbacks on the peshmerga, one of the reasons for the U.S. air campaign that began on August 8.
The officer, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the press, would not elaborate on the nature of the air support received in Zumar. France has carried out air strikes in Iraq, British fighter jets are also active in Iraq's skies and Iraqi jets conduct daily operations across the country. "The advance on Rabia will facilitate efforts to recapture Sinjar. We cannot reach Sinjar without taking Rabia," Hekmat said. Sinjar is a town further southwest which the jihadists captured in early August, prompting tens of thousands of civilians -- mostly from the Yazidi minority -- to flee their homes. In one of the most dramatic episodes of the nearly four-month-old conflict, some Yazidis were besieged for days in nearby mountains where they took refuge, while others were killed or abducted during their flight from the town. South of Kirkuk, peshmerga forces retook several villages around the town of Daquq, that had been under jihadist control since June 10, also with air support. "They have liberated the villages of Saad and Khaled. The peshmerga have taken full control of the area, following fierce fighting," General Westa Rasul said. He said peshmerga forces were now advancing on the nearby village of Al-Wahda, around 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Kirkuk, but were encountering stiff resistance.
An official from the Kirkuk health directorate said two peshmerga were killed and 18 wounded in the fighting.  Agence France Presse

Frustrated Berri Defends Army against Critics
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed severe frustration at criticism directed against the army, rejecting verbal assaults on the military, which is caught in a battle with jihadists on the border with Syria. “The army's soldiers and officers are among the best and we are proud of them,” Berri was quoted by An Nahar daily as saying on Tuesday. “We appreciate them given the role they are playing and the sacrifices they are making,” he said. “Any harm done to the military institution is rejected,” Berri added.
The speaker lauded the army for confronting terrorists and stopping them from occupying the northeastern border town of Arsal despite its limited capabilities. The jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group engaged in bloody gunbattles with the army in Arsal last month and took with them hostages from the military and police. They later executed three of the captives.

Ibrahim Reportedly Begins Foreign Trip on Troops Case, Says Progress Made
Naharnet /General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has said that the negotiations to secure the release of the so-called Arsal hostages were on the right track. Ibrahim told As Safir daily in remarks published on Tuesday that there was progress in the talks aimed at setting free the soldiers and policemen taken captive by jihadists from the northeastern border town of Arsal last month. But the General Security leader did not give further details out of fears that divulging more information would put the lives of the hostages at risk. Later on Tuesday, OTV said Ibrahim left Lebanon “on a mission related to the case of the abducted troops.” The militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group have already executed three of the captives. Asked if he would contact Qatari and Turkish officials to resolve the case, Ibrahim said he would get in touch with “all parties that could help us close this file.”Ibrahim met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Monday to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, LBCI reported that a Qatari envoy arrived in Arsal and headed to its outskirts along with Lebanese individuals “to start a new round of negotiations with the troops' captors.”“Negotiations by Lebanese parties had been focused on releasing troops before the Eid al-Adha holiday,” LBCI said. But “the kidnappers suspended the negotiations after they knew that a Qatari envoy was scheduled to arrive,” the TV network added. Al-Akhbar daily quoted informed officials as saying on Monday that “Qatar's envoy reached an important breakthrough in the negotiations after receiving an oral pledge from the kidnappers that they would not execute more soldiers.” The officials said the mediation with al-Nusra Front is easier because Qatar has an influence on the group. But the IS leadership in the Syrian al-Qalamun region and the outskirts of Arsal needs a decision from the group's general command on every step it takes. Meanwhile, the families of the hostages continued to block roads that are considered main arteries in northern Lebanon and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
They have vented their anger at the Lebanese government for failing to secure the release of their loved ones. Al-Mashnouq hoped, however, that the families would reopen the roads when they discover that the government is “serious” in bringing the hostages back home.

Arsal Roadside Bombing Death Toll Rises to Three
Naharnet /The death toll in an attack on an army patrol in the northeastern border town of Arsal earlier this month rose to three on Tuesday, the military announced. The army said in a communique that soldier Mahmoud Ali Fadel, who had been injured in the roadside bombing, succumbed to his injuries on Monday night. The 19-year-old will be laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon. On Sept. 19, the attackers detonated a roadside bomb as the army truck passed by on a road near Arsal, killing two soldiers and wounding three others. Prime Minister Tammam Salam blamed jihadi extremists for the bombing in a statement by his office. The attack came after the army detained a Lebanese and two Syrians alleged to be part of a terrorist cell near Arsal. Tensions on the border with Syria have ratcheted in the past two months, after militants overran Arsal, in early August, capturing and killing soldiers and police. The militants, including the al-Qaida linked al-Nusra Front and the extremist Islamic State group, have executed three of the hostages.

HRW: Syria Refugees in Lebanon Face Rising Violence
Naharnet/Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing increasing violence as tensions in the country rise after jihadists kidnapped and killed Lebanese security forces, a human rights group warned Tuesday. Human Rights Watch said it had documented a string of attacks by Lebanese residents against Syrian refugees in August and September. The uptick came after jihadists invaded the border town of Arsal, withdrawing with several hostages from the Lebanese police and army. HRW said that attacks it documented were carried out by private citizens, but in several cases appeared to have the tacit support of authorities. It urged security forces and local authorities to step up protection of Syrian refugees. "Lebanon's security forces should protect everyone on Lebanese soil, not turn a blind eye to vigilante groups who are terrorizing refugees," the group's deputy Middle East director Nadim Houry said. "Attacking Syrian refugees won't bring back the abducted soldiers or solve the country's refugee crisis."Those refugees interviewed described being stabbed, shot and beaten, and said they were either too afraid to report the crimes or had their stories dismissed by security forces when they did. One victim, Basil, described being beaten so badly that he required stitches. While filing a complaint with police, "the officer just told me that next time I need to be more careful and that I shouldn't be so sensitive about things", he said. Houry told AFP that attacks by private citizens were just one part of the pressure Syrian refugees in Lebanon face. "There are also discriminatory curfews imposed by local municipalities and reported abuses by security forces, which HRW is in the process of investigating," he said. Lebanon is hosting more than 1.1 million refugees, despite an overstretched infrastructure that has failed to meet the needs of its four million citizens.
Despite the massive influx of people, the country has kept its borders open since the war in neighboring Syria began in March 2011. But competition for limited resources and the attack on Arsal have contributed to rising tensions, which were further exacerbated by the killing of three Lebanese hostages held by jihadists. Earlier this month, the army distanced itself from a video showing troops abusing Syrian detainees in Arsal, saying it was an isolated incident and that any rights violations would be investigated. Residents there also claimed last week that troops had torched refugee tents during a raid, but an army spokesman dismissed the allegations as "lies". Agence France Presse.

Report: Geagea Shunned Helou but Jumblat to Contact LF Chief
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat has so far excluded Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea from his visit to top Lebanese officials after the latter refused to hold talks with presidential candidate Aley MP Henri Helou, a report said Tuesday. Helou, who is the centrist PSP's candidate for the presidency, had contacted the LF leadership to set a date for a meeting with Geagea, al-Akhbar daily quoted PSP officials as saying. But Helou was not given an appointment under the excuse that Geagea, also a presidential candidate, was still in mourning over the death of his father, the officials said. The Aley lawmaker allegedly contacted again the LF leadership, which responded “Geagea is currently unable to welcome you.” The shunning of Helou prompted Jumblat to avoid a visit to Geagea, al-Akhbar said. The PSP leader had been visiting party leaders to discuss with them the rising terrorist threat and the presidential deadlock. The daily quoted an LF MP as saying however that ties between the two parties were “good.” Jumblat also justified the failure to meet with Geagea on his recent travel abroad and said he would ask for an appointment next week.

Bassil: Netherlands to Support Army with Weapons Worth $2.3M
Naharnet/The Netherlands has promised to assist the Lebanese Army with weapons worth 2.3 million dollars, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil announced on Monday. “We discussed with the Dutch foreign minister means to counter terrorism in the region. We also discussed the bilateral relations between the two countries and how to develop them,” Bassil stated on his Twitter account after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans in The Netherlands. “The Netherlands promised to help the Lebanese Army with weapons worth 2.3 million dollars,” he added. Bassil also stated on Twitter: “We agreed with the Dutch to form a work group to follow up on the issue of (setting up a) criminal court over the massacres perpetrated by al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.”“We laid out the basis for follow-up through official experts and local and international organizations in order to gain access to all the necessary information to pursue, prosecute and punish the perpetrators,” he added. Bassil also met in The Hague with International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The army on Friday received a new shipment of ammunition as part of the U.S. military assistance program to the Lebanese Armed Forces, state-run National News Agency reported. The first U.S. shipment of arms and ammunition was delivered to the army on August 29 as part of American military aid aimed at supporting the army in its combat of terrorism. Deadly clashes broke out between the army and Islamist gunmen in the Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2 over the arrest of a member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, in one of the most dangerous spillovers of the Syrian conflict to date. The fighting ended with a ceasefire on August 7 but the militants kidnapped around 35 troops and policemen. The development prompted the U.S. to pledge to bolster the army, while Saudi Arabia unveiled a grant of one billion dollars dedicated to the military.

Lebanese MP Khaled Daher defends Al-Jazeera, slams Army
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Akkar's hardline MP Khaled Daher threw his support behind Al-Jazeera TV Tuesday, which has come under criticism after one of its journalists tweeted comments mocking the Lebanese Army. “We cannot but announce our solidarity with Al-Jazeera TV,” Daher said at a news conference, “after it was subject to a criminal, terrorist attack that objects to free thought and opposite opinions.” A group of Lebanese activists had held a protest at the offices of Al-Jazeera in Beirut Sunday expressing their anger over Faisal al-Qassem's tweets that said the only achievements the Lebanese Army had made since its establishment were shooting video clips with Lebanese singers and setting the camps of Syrian refugees in Lebanon on fire. Qassem’s comments came in response to Army raids on Syrian refugee camps in Arsal, where soldiers detained hundreds in their search for militants hiding among the refugees. The protesters demanded Qassem apologized for his comments, while the latter ignored the protest and posted more tweets ridiculing the Army.
Despite no media reports or confirmation, Daher has claimed that the protesters set fire to the TV station’s offices. “The burning of Al-Jazeera’s offices is a barbaric action that does not serve Lebanon or represent it,” he said during the conference. “Whoever did this despicable act should be punished.”Daher also slammed the Lebanese Army intelligence’s behavior in Tripoli, accusing it of nurturing extremism and conspiring against Sunnis in the northern city. “I repeat my warning against the targeting of Tripoli and the Sunnis in Lebanon, by Army Intelligence messing with Tripoli’s security and stability," Daher said. He blamed the security violations in Tripoli on Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, accusing him of “conspiring against Tripoli and encouraging the emergence of extremists.”
Daher accused the Army of discriminating against Sunni religious men with beards, alleging that an Army checkpoint shot at two civilians after allowing them to pass, wounding one of them. “Some people told me that the shooter must be sued, so I laughed. So they asked me, why are you laughing? So I told them that those who shot ... were rewarded and promoted,” he said. “There is no hope except in a revolution against the oppression and murder targeting us.”Daher also accused Hezbollah and the Army of bombing the locations of the Syrian militants holding the captives in Arsal’s outskirts, with the aim of killing Army soldiers and engaging the Army in a battle. He said the plan was to justify Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war alongside the regime. The hawkish lawmaker, whose extreme comments were declared to be unrepresentative of the Future Movement by many party officials, also condemned the burning of ISIS’ flag by Lebanese citizens. Daher said that burning the banner reading “There is no god but Allah” with the excuse that ISIS was using it as a flag, was like burning the Christian cross and justifying it with the European Crusades on the east. “I say, this banner is the first pillar of Islam, and it should not be insulted because that would be offensive to every Muslim,” Daher said.“We do not tolerate this to please anyone, whatever his importance is.”

Lebanese health minister launches reform plan
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: New standards will be applied to hospitals to determine the extent they will be subsidized, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour announced Tuesday, saying the step will ensure a better standard of treatment for poor and rich patients alike.
“As of today, we will not accept any patient being maltreated in any hospital in Lebanon, and let the hospitals know that,” Abu Faour said, during a press conference in which he launched the new plan to go into effect Wednesday, Oct. 1. The plan will add a new set of criteria for categorizing hospitals, which includes vital elements missed by the previous one.“The currently adopted classification system is totally technical, and is solely centered on the quality of the hospital’s service,” Abu Faour said. “But this new decision is dynamic, and will reconsider the principles of classification.” One of the most significant changes to the system is a new focus on patient satisfaction. “The ministry has hired a specialized firm to call the patient and request feedback on the hospital’s service,” Abu Faour announced, warning that poor patient satisfaction would result in a low classification. “This item’s weight will be 10% of the total criteria.” A second criterion to be added is the variation revealed by the ministry’s examination of hospital bills.
“We had announced a previous reform step that introduced a new audit system to review the bills,” Abu Faour explained. “The e-system is auditing 100% of the bills, after the manual method used to examine no more than 10%.” Hospitals that show a significant difference between the bills they submit to the ministry and the services they are actually offering will be punished with a lower rating. The minister explained that the differences, or what the policy calls “reductions,” occur either when the hospital sets higher prices for the services, or when it illegally reduces the bills submitted to the ministry. The new arrangement will also add an element it called “case mix” to the criteria, which refers to the variety of cases that the hospital offers to treat. In other words, hospitals that show themselves capable of handling more complicated cases will receive a higher rating. Similarly, hospitals who have intensive care rooms and who can perform a higher number of surgeries will receive higher rating. “We believe that hospitals that offer intensive care deserve more generosity from the ministry,” Abu Faour said. “This criterion will be worth 5% of the overall rating.” The number of surgeries carried out will also weigh 5%," he added. Although acknowledging that many hospitals will not be content with the new classification system, Abu Faour said that the institutions that do not treat patients to a high standard or submit the right bills to the ministry must be held accountable. He assured that all hospitals had been previously notified about the new arrangements, and had received all the necessary details. Abu Faour announced that the news on the ratings would be out soon, and that the ministry had been collecting data for a year.“Hospitals who will not enjoy a high classification have six months to make all efforts for the sake of improving their status,” Abu Faour said, referring to another rating round that will be processed in half a year’s time.

Netanyahu's shifting gimmicks
Sima Kadmon/Ynetnews
Published: 09.30.14/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: When one looks at him standing at the UN General Assembly podium, year after year, it seems that if he only could, Israel's prime minister would be willing to stand there forever, saying the same words, with new props.
He knows how to speak, our prime minister. There's no argument about it. Even his biggest rivals can't deny it, and - with a bitter taste in their mouths - they admit as much in television studios.
And what can I say? This stage, the United Nations General Assembly podium, fits him like a glove. When one looks at him standing there, year after year, for the ninth time already, it seems that if he only could, Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to stand there forever, with plenty of pages of a speech which is written in bigger letters every year, for your convenience, in front of the same unthreatening audience and with changing gimmicks – diagrams, pictures, numbers. The words are the same words, only the props change.
But it is precisely because of all this talent, why he is such a wasted actor, and precisely because it has been going on for so many years, that it leaves us with a somber feeling.
Wait a minute, haven't we already seen this film – excuse me, this dramatized monologue? Haven't we already heard the same sentences, the same threats, the same promises?
Wasn't it with the exact same timing that Netanyahu pulled out the photo of kindergarten children playing next to missile launchers in Gaza, the drawing of the Iranian bomb and the red line two years ago, and the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp five years ago? What has changed between those speeches and Monday's speech? Iran is still the subject and the object of the address, only this time the case is presented through formulas of which it is sometimes difficult to make heads or tails: Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Iran. Therefore, using simple logic, Hamas is Iran.
Unlike previous years, in which Netanyahu had to convince the world about the danger of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon, this time it appeared to be much simpler: Instead of explaining to the Americans why Iran is an existential threat, he could use an example they identify with: Have we already mentioned ISIS? The entire radical Islam which seeks to control the world, they are all branches coming out of the same poisonous tree. They are all ISIS and they are all Hamas and they are all Iran.
There is a new Middle East, Netanyahu declares, and isn’t this sentence ironic compared to the original one – former president Shimon Peres' new Middle East. In Netanyahu's new Middle East there are new dangers and new opportunities, but as always when it comes to Netanyahu, we heard a lot about the dangers and very little, if at all, about the opportunities.
Yes, he did talk about a historic opportunity (an historic opportunity again), but this time we are no longer talking about a diplomatic move involving the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas' speech at the UN General Assembly three days ago, which referred to the Gaza war as genocide, played right into Netanyahu's hands. And if we failed to hear the sigh of relief coming from Netanyahu's office during the Palestinian Authority chairman's address, we were able to hear it in his speech Monday: Abbas – out, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh – in. The prime minister had an excellent opportunity to present a real, brave peace initiative. And if that goes too far in terms of Netanyahu's abilities, he could have expressed his support for a certain initiative. The Saudi one, for example. He could have called on the world from the UN podium to support that initiative.  But Netanyahu stuck to the words. Have we already mentioned that he knows how to speak? And what will this entire speech leave behind? What all of Netanyahu's previous speeches left behind: Sometimes we were left with the gimmick; sometimes we were not even left with that. If the speech was intended for the Israeli public, he managed to convince us. He has been convincing us for years. Why he managed to convince us that an Iranian nuclear weapon is an existential problem. He convinced us so much, that we were certain the planes would take off at any minute. So what happened?  So far, he has failed to convince the Americans. Let's see if the equation he presented Monday will do the job

The Wrong Path to Heaven
By: Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
September 26, 2014
Our leaders may be slow in fulfilling this columnist's prophesies, but they certainly try hard.
Back in 2008, I suggested that the (Islamic) headscarf must be allowed not only in universities, but also in kindergarten. My 2008 prophecy for little girls in veils in kindergarten was almost fulfilled when a 2012 primary education bill allowed families to send their fourth grade daughters (daughters!) to imam schools, although there are no female preachers in Islam. Also, fourth grade girls would be allowed to wear the headscarf during Quran/Islam classes in primary schools. Turkish experimentalism regarding various different annals of Islamism is always fascinating – and fun! Two years ago, Turkey's Islamists moved to make legislation to create the world's first female imams. A few weeks ago, the same men moved to make the world's first Christian imams, as a central examination system automatically enrolled children belonging to Turkey's tiny Christian minority to imam schools – by mistake, explained the authorities. Back in 2012, under a bill drafted by the Environment and City Planning Ministry, shopping malls, corporate management buildings, wedding halls, cinemas, theaters, opera houses, museums, schools, hospitals, public buildings, ports and airports, hotels, university dormitories and metro stations had to have a small mosque (masjid) and a kindergarten on their premises if they wished to be granted building licenses. Finally, the mosque and the kindergarten had come together! And more recently, the government decided to allow 10-year-old (and older) female students to wear the headscarf. Thank you, gentlemen, for not disappointing this columnist about his prophecies. Headscarves at kindergartens, soon. Whether it might arouse a man's sexual desire if a piece of a 10-year-old girl's hair is visible should normally fall into the sphere of criminology/psychiatry. Sadly, in Turkey, it falls into the scope of political science.
Whether it might arouse a man's sexual desire if a piece of a 10-year-old girl's hair is visible should normally fall into the sphere of criminology/psychiatry. Sadly, in Turkey, it falls into the scope of political science. But simple logic tells us that a man who thinks the visibility of a 10-year-old girl's hair may trigger such passion should be aroused by the sight of a 10-year-old girl's hair. Right? Right.
Yes, a piece of garment is semantically critical in Turkish politics. Just like (abstinence from) alcohol and pork. Yes, semantics. Which explains why, despite eight election victories in the last 12 years and heading for the ninth, Turkey's Islamists still say they must keep on fighting for "the cause." The cause is manifest Islamism; a dream to build Chastitystan. Hence the headscarf, female imams, Christian imams and all (semantically) else. Too bad, the Islamic Chastitystan is a more distant utopia than any other utopia. Even a 10-year-old girl, with or without the headscarf, would know that the Turkish Sunni Islamists are – sorry, gentlemen – more than three decades behind Iran's Shiite Islamists. The Persian Chastitystan! Where the headscarf is "law," not choice. Or the first thing most Iranian ladies throw away when they travel abroad. More than three decades ago, Iran's mullahs thought that they could create a Persian Chastitystan by imposing the headscarf – along with stoning to death and other medieval practices. Iranian ladies have obeyed – unless they went abroad or had marginal parties at their homes. More than three decades later, the mullah's Chastitystan boasts the highest rate of drug addiction in the world – in 2013, 2.2 percent of Iranian adults were hooked on drugs. Earlier this year, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that some 6 million Iranians are affected by problems related to drug addiction. We may ignore another finding that one-third of Chastitystan's youth aged between 16 and 25 say they would abandon the Islamic republic if given the option. But, more recently, an 82-page document released by Iran's parliamentary research department found that 80 percent of unmarried females, including secondary-school pupils, had boyfriends. In both Sunni and Shia faiths, pre-marriage relationship with the opposite sex is sinning and, apparently, the headscarf does not stop it.
Iran is a good example of where sociology may bring a country if states tend to religiously purify society by indoctrination and/or police force.
**Burak Bekdil is a columnist for the Ankara-based daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Qatar's foreign minister denies paying ransoms to militant groups
Reuters /Published: 09.30.14/ Israel News
Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya defends government's connections with armed militant groups, 'If we can mediate to save another life we will do so.'
Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya defended on Monday his government's connections with armed militant groups in the Middle East and its involvement in negotiating the release of hostages but denied ever paying ransoms to secure their freedom.
"No, Qatar does not pay ransoms. Again, Qatar will not apologize for any soul or life we saved in Syria. If we can mediate to save another life we will do so," al-Attiya said in response to a question from Reuters after giving a speech at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
The energy-rich Gulf Arab state, which does back some rebel factions fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, has mediated the release of foreign and Syrian captives on several occasions in the course of Syria's three-year-old civil war.
Islamic State, a splinter of al-Qaeda, has exploited the chaos in Syria to carve out territory in the country's eastern provinces and northern Iraq. It is accused of massacres and beheadings of civilians and soldiers.
Qatar supported the US strikes against Islamic State in Syria, contributing one plane on the first night of attacks on Tuesday but did not take an active role in the operation.
Other US allies Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia joined in the strikes. All are ruled by Sunni Muslims and are opponents of Assad, a member of a Shi'ite-derived sect, and his main regional ally, Shi'ite Iran.
Although the Gulf states all oppose Assad, Qatar has long faced criticism, including from its Gulf Arab neighbors, for using its vast oil and gas wealth to back Islamists across the region including groups inside Syria.
Qatar assured the West on Sept. 24 it was not aiding Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In September it helped negotiate the release of 45 Fijian UN Peacekeepers taken hostage along the Syrian/Israeli border after being attacked by Islamist militant groups, including the al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate, in the volatile area between Syria and Israel. "The Fijians were working close with us, so they saw they saw our steps and movement to release their soldiers. We don't believe in paying ransoms. This is another way of fueling, if you may call it supporting through the backdoor, and this we don't do," al-Attiya said. Qatar helped secure the release, among others, of Peter Theo Curtis, an American held for nearly two years by al-Nusra; 13 Greek Orthodox nuns in March after more than three months of being held by Islamist fighters. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights identified the nuns captors as al-Nusra.
"Sometimes criticized, this important and complicated role should neither be questioned nor taken for granted," he said, adding: "To the naked eye, Qatar might be a challenging case to fully understand, especially in the context of non-stop media bashing predicated by hired guns and a few lobbyists."

Netanyahu's UN speech: All talk, no action
Nahum Barnea
Published: 09.30.14/Israel Opinion /Ynetnews
Op-ed: If Abbas is Hamas and Hamas is ISIS, Israel should bomb Ramallah and resume its attacks on Gaza. Instead, it's hoping US, European and Saudi money will fund Gaza's reconstruction and pay Hamas workers' salaries.
It was an excellent, well-written speech, composed of a series of short, catchy and message-focused sentences, with the right emphases at the right timing, with all the required pauses and gestures, in a remarkably polished American accent.
After each of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's annual addresses to the United Nations General Assembly, I am filled with pride that this is the man speaking for Israel from the podium in New York. That's where he belongs.
Criticism and Praise
Netanyahu's UN speech draws mixed political response / Moran Azulay, Yitzhak Benhorin, Elior Levy
While US takes issue with Netanyahu's ISIS-Hamas comparisons, right-wing MKs praise 'exposure of Abbas's true face', while left-wing politicians slams address as 'official seal of Netanyahu's failure'.'
Had his father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, still been alive, he would have enjoyed this speech. The father devoted many years of his life to researching Islam's flaws. The son summarized his father's doctrine through rhetoric punch lines. ISIS is Hamas and Hamas is ISIS. Moreover, ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, is similar to the other Islamic republic, of Iran.
And we're not done yet: The Palestinian Authority, which established a government with Hamas, belongs to that same family. A huge, worldwide Islamic conspiracy has been devised to destroy the West and Israel, the West's stronghold and representative in the Middle East. So simple. So right.
Netanyahu's accusations are not baseless. It's true that militant Islam has raised its head in recent years; it's true that the progress made by Iran to the status of a nuclear threshold state is alarming; it's true that two radical terror organizations, armed with rockets, are operating next to Israel; it's true that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' claim that Israel used methods of genocide in Gaza was not in line with the truth.
But the comparison between Hamas and ISIS is unfounded, if only because the American administration is prepared to destroy ISIS while Israel wanted and wants Hamas to continue ruling Gaza. A weakened Hamas is what Netanyahu wanted before, during and after Operation Protective Edge.
And the comparison between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is absurd, because in the only area the Israeli government finds important in the Palestinian context, security, the PA is cooperating with Israel on a daily basis – not with Hamas. And the joint government, which Israel often condemns in speeches, is now the Israeli government's big hope, as it is perceived as the only chance to avoid the next violent flare-up in the south.
If Abbas is Hamas and Hamas is ISIS, Israel should bomb Ramallah and resume the attacks on Gaza. Terror is terror. Instead, it is awaiting the moment American, European and Saudi money will fund Gaza's reconstruction and pay Hamas workers' salaries.
This is what the Americans refer to as "talking out of both sides of one's mouth" – saying one thing in speeches and doing another thing in the actual policy. But Netanyahu speaks so well, with so much strength and confidence, that it's all over and forgiven.
Perceptive Israelis noticed another interesting point in the address. Netanyahu gradually shifts in his speeches from "we" to "I." I believe, I am ready to make a historic compromise, some people don't take Israel's security concerns seriously. I do, I always will. It's as if he was saying to the world: There may be Israelis you can handle, but you can't mess with me! I! Myself! In all my greatness! Beware!
At the end of the speech he likens himself to the Prophet Isaiah, who swore: "For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent. For the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still."
This is a familiar process. It's only natural that after many years in power, the leader feels there is no one else but him, that he is growing – in his own eyes and in the eyes of his followers – and that the state, weak and flaccid, is barely trudging behind him.
But why reveal this secret to Israel's enemies at the UN General Assembly, to the junior Syrian official, to the junior Palestinian official, to the empty seats of the other junior officials? They may actually make use of this secret.

Solving the ISIS puzzle
Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Alawsat
Tuesday, 30 Sep, 2014
In a statement on Sunday, Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Muhammad Bin Naif shed some light on the puzzle of the phenomenon of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He said the Islamist organization was not randomly formed, but rather sponsored by states and organizations that employ all their resources and ill intentions in backing ISIS.
Prince Muhammad’s explanation is consistent with logic and ISIS’s sudden emergence. After seizing a major Iraqi city—Mosul—ISIS took many by surprise with its sheer brutality and the swiftness of its sweep through a large stretch of territory extending from Iraq to Syria’s border with Turkey.
Questions about the organization have been hanging in the air with no real answers ever since the fall of Mosul. How did the organization get all that weaponry and funding without anybody’s knowledge? How could it form what resembles a small army that originally numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 according to CIA estimates? How did thousands of foreign extremists slip unnoticed across borders into Syria and Iraq?
The biggest puzzle is how this organization was able to defeat the Iraqi army again and again, despite the fact that tens of billions of US dollars have been spent on the Iraqi army since its formation following the 2003 invasion.
How can ISIS sell oil from the oil fields and wells it has captured to fund itself? Who are its clients and the intermediaries who facilitate its export to the world market? Will we soon discover a complex network of traders, agents and banks organizing ISIS’s financial transactions in some secret network? Could ISIS be similar to the Somali pirates, who for a while, disrupted navigation to and from the Red Sea, with ransom money being paid to legal financial networks in neighboring countries?
There is a degree of similarity between what is now happening in the heart of the Middle East and the situation in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. The Taliban remained in alliance with Al-Qaeda until an international coalition was formed following the 9/11 attacks to fight the radical group and drive it out of Kabul.
Another point of similarity is that the world did not initially pay attention to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-infested Afghanistan, and an international coalition to fight the two was not formed until after the 9/11 attacks. In the present case, the international response was delayed until what was happening in Iraq and Syria began to pose risks to global security, with thousands of Western fighters streaming into Syria and Iraq, and likely to return to their home societies in the future.
But there is one big difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, despite the similarities in their extremist ideology and the brutal violence that has exceeded all previous levels. Neither Iraq nor Syria is like Afghanistan in terms of the historical experience, social make-up and natural resources. Therefore, there is nothing similar to the Taliban in either—yet.
All extremist organizations have been on the decline since the international blockade on them intensified. Having lost the battle in Afghanistan they no longer have firm bases on the ground. They were also pursued in Somalia until the instability and vacuum in several Arab countries offered them an opportunity to emerge and exploit the crises, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya or some parts of Yemen. It appears that some in these countries had an interest in facilitating the arrival of these groups.
Although those embracing such ideology do not have any political future—given that they have nothing to offer other than bloodshed, violence and cutting people’s heads off—one should not deny their ability to create instability, and weaken the countries where they operate, preventing them from reaching real solutions to the problems of the region, or addressing development issues.
Now that the world has woken up and launched an international coalition, it would be a mistake for anyone to hesitate in fighting the disease that is ISIS, which is causing extreme harm to the interests of the region and the world. The war should not be limited only to military aspects. Rather, it should incorporate some economic elements by severing the group’s sources of funding, cutting off its lifelines and punishing those who buy its oil, whether states or individuals. In terms of security, foreign radicals should not be allowed to travel to take part in the conflict, and their recruiters should be pursued. Politically speaking, the sense of marginalization shared by a wide segment of Iraqi society should be addressed, and steps should be taken to achieve equality in terms of participation in politics and economic benefits. More importantly, a solution must be found in Syria, a step not so hard to achieve if the international community unified its stance in order to reach a political solution that guaranteed a future formula to meet the aspirations of ordinary Syrians of all hues.

Sanaa, the Houthis’ cemetery
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/AlArabiya
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
In 1948, tribes besieged the Yemeni capital and threatened to seize it following battles between the rebels and Imam Yahya’s forces. Abdullah al-Wazeer, leader of Yemen’s constitution revolution, traveled to Jeddah seeking the help of King Abdulaziz. The Saudi king reprimanded al-Wazeer, telling him that bloodshed only leads to bloodshed and that al-Wazeer was with the Muslim Brotherhood and that they betrayed Imam Yahya and killed him. He also reprimanded al-Wazeer, questioning how he could assign himself as imam. The king refused to support the rebels although he did not agree with the imam. Sanaa was thus taken by Yahya’s son Imam Ahmad and a new round of intra-communal wars began in Yemen.
Sanaa has witnessed, and suffered from, many conspiracies and betrayals during the past seven decades. Imam Ahmad was assassinated in 1961 and his son, al-Badr, besieged the capital after rebels seized it. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sent 70,000 troops to support the rebels in a war that lasted around eight years and in which Nasser lost around half of his army.
“If Iran wants to send its troops, as it has currently done in Iraq and Syria, it must recall that Yemen has been the cemetery of invaders over the course of a thousand years”
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Meanwhile, Israel struck him in 1967 while he was fighting against Yemeni tribes. Before these Egyptian attempts to gain influence in Yemen, there were other attempts by the British and Ottomans and they all failed to install their rule in Yemen. This is a brief history of bloody wars over governance in Sanaa, explained as recent events baffle many people. The Houthis are a tribal party who became affiliated with the Iranians during the 1990s upon the encouragement of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh who thought he was capable of playing three cards at once by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the Houthis and other tribes. In the end, however, he lost power.
Iran, which has currently lost everywhere, is bragging about the victory of its Houthi allies. Analysts and commentators in support of the Iranian regime have considered these Yemeni developments as the most important victory for Iran in the current regional war. But when taking a thorough look at the fall of Sanaa to the Houthi Ansar Allah, we realize that this won’t change much in the ongoing regional game. Unfortunately, it increases the suffering of the Yemeni citizens who have endured this bad governance for decades. Iran’s extremists, i.e. the Houthis, will not be able to manage the Yemeni state even if the president himself flees his castle and they take over. Three years ago, Yemen was categorized as a failed state, meaning it’s not fit for governance. The government’s annual expenditure is $8 billion. So how will the Houthis pay employees of the state, energy, water and hospitalization sectors? Even oil facilities, which the Houthis occupied days ago, will not produce enough money to pay the wages of the police and the army. If Iran wants to send its troops, as it has currently done in Iraq and Syria, it must recall that Yemen has been the cemetery of invaders over the course of a thousand years. Yemen is a rugged country which only its own people know well. Mount Prophet Shuaib which is 3,670 meters above sea level is the highest summit in the region. Towering mountains and deep valleys separate Yemen and Saudi Arabia and it’s impossible for armies to traverse them unless they use the C130 military transport aircraft.
The Houthis won’t govern Yemen unless they are given the approval of the Yemeni people who are angry with them and with their seizure of the capital and also take issue with their attack against tribal sheikhs. They won’t rule Yemen with their aberrant political doctrine or with their pretense of a caliphate or with their imported Iranian rhetoric because none of this has anything to do with Yemen or with the Yemeni people’s aspirations.

Race to fight ISIS or just a show of force?
Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
If we ask Arabs what their favorite animal is, they are likely to choose the ostrich as it solves all its problems by simply burying its head in the sand!
As Arabs face their latest nightmare embarrassingly called the “Islamic” State, we must note the anatomy of the Arab reaction in the face of this enemy that says that it prays to the same god, quotes from the same holy book and seeks the same Caliphate goal only using different tactics and following a barbaric path.
Silence about atrocities
First, there was silence about the atrocities committed by the recently infamous terror group. Perhaps because, as in the early days after 9/11, Arabs could not believe that such sophistication in killing could come out of their own people. This too was foreign to them; or so they claimed, totally ignoring the fact that violence and hatred are promoted openly in in mosques, homes as in the streets. When the hatred is directed at non-Muslims, it is still hatred but somehow it is ignored, when it is not cheered or encouraged.
“With no commitment to fight ISIS face to face, they will only hide temporarily”
Octavia Nasr
Then came the usual timid condemnation coupled with the empowerment of counter groups or ISIS itself. The conspiracy theorists as well as counter terrorism experts can weave a web of stories around who is funding ISIS and how it came to exist and grow. This makes the ways to fight them, dismantle them and wipe them out of existence also a matter of debate that can keep the media spinning with theories for decades or until a new topic dominates the headlines.
All this while they forget the fundamental truth that ISIS and its militants come from their midst. They come from Arab countries as well as from the West. They come from a life of privilege as well as a life of want. They are the highly educated as well as the dropouts. All these attributes make ISIS hard to pin down and extremely dangerous to fight. The airstrikes by bomber jets whether American, French, British or Emirati are simply a show of force with limited impact on a group that can morph back into society and hide until it is ready to strike again.
With no commitment to fight ISIS face to face and hunt them down in homes, mosques and fundamental forums, they will only hide temporarily and then choose the time and place to sneak out and terrorize just the same!

The Houthis and a history of conflict in Yemen
Manuel Almeida/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Friday last week marked the 52nd anniversary of the 1962 revolution that sparked the North Yemen civil war between the supporters of the Mutawakkilite Imamate and the republicans who deposed the Zaydi Imam Muhammad al-Badr. Backing the royalists were Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Britain, while Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt and the Soviet Union sided with the republicans.
But this year’s anniversary will not be recollected for the traditional celebrations. Over the last few weeks in the capital Sanaa, Houthi rebels led by Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seized vital government buildings, the international airport, looted the homes of top government officials and expelled government-sanctioned preachers from local mosques to replace them with their own preachers.
“Taking advantage of the weakness of the Yemeni state and the constant political bickering, the Houthis have expanded their territorial reach considerably”
Manuel Almeida
The U.N.-brokered a deal signed two weeks ago between the Yemeni government and the Houthis (also known as Ansar Allah, or Partisans of God) to end the fighting that killed hundreds and form a new national unity government. However, the deal did not stop the Houthis from taking over the capital. Prime Minister Mohammad Salem Basindwa resigned and, according to recent reports, the Houthis have already backed one candidate for prime minister and also apparently expect to receive a number of ministerial portfolios. Bowing to pressure, President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi has appointed Saleh al-Samad from the Houthis as new presidential adviser. Also to appease the rebels, the government agreed to cut fuel prices by 25 percent, thus retreating from the decision to raise prices on which the Houthis capitalized to organize protests and sit-ins in Sanaa.
What will the deal bring?
Does the deal to form a new unity government hold any promise of bringing much-needed tranquility and security, at least to the north of Yemen? My answer would be probably not. It is telling that the Houthis have not yet abided by the security clauses of the agreement concerning disarmament and the withdrawal of their fighters from Sanaa and Imran province.
The underlying grievance of the revivalist Zaydi group is the Houthis’ belief that their Zaydi identify has been under threat by the expansion of Salafism in Yemen. Recent history has rendered the Houthis more radical. The late Houthi leader Houssein al-Houthi spent some time in Iran (Qom) in the mid-1990s and came back to Yemen to lead a more aggressive bout of activism.
Much of the blame, in my view, goes to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ironically himself originally a Zaydi. Under Saleh’s government the Houthis’ economic and political marginalization increased dramatically. Since 2004, Saleh fought six wars against the Houthis with disastrous humanitarian consequences in the north of Yemen, particularly in the Houthis’ Sadah stronghold. This increased support for the Houthis even among Yemeni Sunnis. Saleh also partnered with Salafists and former jihadists when it suited him, allowing the seeds of extremism to grow, and never really tackled the expansion of al-Qaeda in Yemen while cashing in on international (mostly U.S.) support for counter-terrorism.
The Arab uprisings
Fast forward to the Arab uprisings, Saleh’s overthrow in June 2011 and Yemen’s National Dialogue. The Houthis rejected the outcome of the GCC initiative that established a governing coalition formed by figures of the General People’s Congress (GPC, Saleh’s party) and the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). This rejection of the status quo solution positioned the Houthis as the champions of many of those anti-establishment Yemenis disillusioned with the political process and the lack of progress on the security and economic fronts.
Taking advantage of the weakness of the Yemeni state and the constant political bickering, the Houthis have expanded their territorial reach considerably. In some areas—Hajjah, al-Jawf and Saada—they are described as a state within a state, taking care of security, local administration and tax collection.
Over the years, the Houthis have accumulated enemies in Yemen. First among these are the Ahmar family (the sheikhs of the Hashid, Yemen’s most powerful tribal confederation), the Islamist Islah party and its Salafist wing, the military coalition of Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (a key figure of Saleh’s regime, not part of the Ahmar family), and Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Since October last year, this animosity marked by occasional skirmishes gave way to an open armed conflict between the Houthis and Salafists in Dammaj. This fighting spread throughout various regions in the north and dragged in tribes, the Ahmar family, Islah, Mohsen’s supporters, as well as government troops. The current Houthi control of the capital is the clearest signal of who won this round.
Although the Houthis, Islah and the GPC are part to the agreement to form a new government, the weakness of the Yemeni state and Hadi’s lack of a substantial support base means that there is little coercive power to enforce its implementation. Under these circumstances, Hadi will also struggle to deliver the second phase of Yemen’s political transition, already behind the original schedule to deliver a new constitution and elections by February 2014.
The U.N. Security Council has been threatening to impose sanctions on the so-called spoilers, both individuals and groups. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the political transition in Yemen does not derail completely. The influence of Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen is often highly exaggerated in the media, but the two regional rivals should use all the leverage they have to encourage dialogue to solve the current crisis. The signs in this regard are relatively positive. Saudi Arabia continues to follow developments in its southern neighbor very closely and there are reports that Iran pressured the Houthis to accept the deal with the Yemeni government.
The current conflict has worrying contours of the wider sectarian struggles currently destroying the Middle East’s heterogeneous social fabric, yet it is extremely simplistic or even wrong to characterize this conflict as one of radical Shiism versus radical Sunnism. It is far more complicated than that. Nevertheless, if not tamed, the deep animosity between the Houthis and Yemen’s Sunni Islamists, the Salafists, and al-Qaeda may well spiral out of control. A disintegrated Yemen is in no one’s interest.