October 03/14

ible Quotation for today/Humility
Sirach 3/17- My child, be humble in everything you do, and people will appreciate it more than gifts. The greater you become, the more humble you should be; then the Lord will be pleased with you. The Lord's power is great, and he is honored by those who are humble. Don't try to understand things that are too hard for you, or investigate matters that are beyond your power to know. Concentrate on the Law, which has been given to you. You do not need to know about things which the Lord has not revealed, so don't concern yourself with them. After all, what has been shown to you is beyond human power to understand. Many people have been misled by their own opinions; their wrong ideas have warped their judgment. Stubbornness will get you into trouble at the end. If you live dangerously, it will kill you. A stubborn person will be burdened down with troubles. Sinners go on adding one sin to another. There is no cure for the troubles that arrogant people have; wickedness has taken deep root in them. Intelligent people will learn from proverbs and parables. They listen well because they want to learn.

Pope Francis,s Tweet For Today

A Synod means walking together but also praying together. I ask all the faithful to participate. pray with us

Pape François

Le Synode, c’est marcher ensemble, mais aussi prier ensemble. Je demande à tous les fidèles de particip


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 02, 03/14
Turkey? Antisemitic? Who, Me?/By: by Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/October 03/14

Toronto Mural a Jihadi Battle Cry/By: Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/October 03/14

 Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil/An embarrassment with a portfolio/By: Michael Young/The Daily Star/September 02/14

The Palestinians need to learn from history/By: Guy Bechor/Ynetnews/September 03/14
How to win the ideological war against ISIS/Faisal J. Abbas /Al Arabiya/September 03/14
Saudi-UAE pact a ray of hope for region/By: Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi/September 03/14

What if ISIS didn’t exist/By: Ramzy Baroud /Al Arabiya/September 03/14

Lebanese Related News published on October 02, 03/14

Nusra Plays Down Govt. Optimism on Negotiations, Says Didn't Vow Not to Kill Troops

Qahwaji Says Army Detected Terror Cell in Tripoli, Expects New Battle in Arsal

Sawwan Indicts 8 Lebanese and a Syrian for Armed Group Ties

Saqr Charges 11 with Terror Offenses, Including Mawlawi, Mansour
Islamists vow not to harm kidnapped servicemen
General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim: Lebanon must remain sovereign amid hostage crisis

Lebanese Cabinet avoids discussing Arsal captives and refugees
Berri supports cooperation with Syria to free Lebanese hostages: Syrian envoy

Wage hike bill postponed
The buzz is, Lebanon is in for a harsh winter

Airport security busts iPhone 6 cache

World Bank to finance $474M dam project

Lebanon/Salaries in shambles
Rent law to trigger tenant-landlord legal feuds

Man Abducted in Arsal's Wadi Hmeid Freed

Appeals Panel Says STL Has Jurisdiction over al-Jadeed Case

Customs Seize Million Captagon Pills Hidden in Furniture

Relatives of Arsal Captives Protest Near Grand Serail, Warn of Further Delay

Some Arsal Abductees Could be Released on al-Adha Holiday as Negotiations Continue

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 02, 03/14

Pope Francis convenes Mideast envoys amid Islamist threat

Turkey starts debating military action in Syria, Iraq
Syria Kurds say American joins fight against ISIS

Bahrain activist remanded into custody over tweets

40 jihadists, 17 police and army killed in Iraq clashes
Kurds: IS massacre threate to Turkish peace

Moderate, radical Islam face off over IS
Netanyahu hits back at Obama over settlements criticism
IDF Chief of Staff Gantz: Hezbollah pose bigger threat than Gaza

US sharply criticizes new Israeli construction

Turkey clings to fading vision for Middle East

Turkey top general gives support to exclave troops at ‘critical’ time
Jailed Kurdish leader warns ISIS victory would end Turkey peace process

Syria blasts at school kill 32, including 10 kids

Taliban bomber in Afghan capital targets army bus, kills three

Turkey MPs OK Military Action in Syria, Iraq as Iran Warns against Aggravating


Nusra Plays Down Govt. Optimism on Negotiations, Says Didn't Vow Not to Kill Troops
Naharnet/The Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Thursday poured cold water on recent optimism in Lebanon over the case of the captive troops, noting that it has not pledged not to execute more soldiers, only hours after the Lebanese government said it expects positive news “in the coming days.”
“Recent reports on Lebanese media outlets alleging that we have pledged not to kill any captive soldier are baseless, and no one is authorized to represent us or negotiate on our behalf,” the group said in a statement published on its official Twitter account.
“The Lebanese government is still arresting and torturing the Sunnis in Lebanon under the excuse of terrorism and Iran's party (Hizbullah) is still killing, shelling and displacing the Sunnis in Syria under the excuse of defending the resistance, so what has changed?” Nusra wondered.
Addressing the Lebanese and the families of the captive troops, the extremist group said it has “several times repeated that there will be no negotiations until the situation of the town of Arsal is fully settled, the problems of the Syrian refugees are solved and those arrested there recently are released.”
“We have asked the Qatari delegate to carry these demands but we have not received any response from him until the moment,” Nusra added.
It revealed that it told the Gulf state's envoy that it is “willing to free a number of captive troops in return for the Lebanese government's release of Roumieh prison inmates” but only “after the aforementioned preliminary demands are executed.”
The group also warned that “anyone belonging to this military institution will pay the price in case of any future attack on the Sunni community.”
“Negotiations will not be important then,” it added.
Earlier on Thursday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said “the cabinet renewed the mandate given to the crisis cell and (General Security chief) Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim in the case of the troops.”
“We have entered a new phase that requires silence,” he added.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet session, Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said Prime Minister Tammam Salam “noted that Eid al-Adha will be a sad occasion this year amid the difficult circumstances that the country is going through due to the killing, wounding and kidnapping of a number of the nation's sons.”
“The cabinet discussed some items on its agenda as (Health) Minister (Wael) Abou Faour was meeting with the families of the captives (outside the Grand Serail), and he reassured them that the case is the government's top priority,” Jreij added.
“Salam put the cabinet in the picture of the efforts that he is exerting to secure the release of the troops, hoping that the coming days will carry positive news in this regard,” the minister said.
“Salam noted that the Qatari state is playing an important and positive role in the ongoing negotiations,” he added.
Jreij also said that the ministers “stressed their solidarity with the families and that the negotiations should continue, while underlining the need to utilize all available means to secure the release of the captives.”
“The cabinet renewed its confidence in its premier, who is authorized to carry on with negotiations through all the available means and channels in order to liberate the troops,” the minister added.
He said the conferees also “underscored the need to keep the issue of the troops and the negotiations away from intensive and sensational media coverage, in order to preserve their safety and refrain from achieving the objectives of the takfiri terrorists.”
Jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group engaged in bloody gunbattles with the army in Arsal in early August and took with them around 35 hostages from the military and police as they withdrew from the town following a ceasefire.
The militants have executed three of them and are threatening to kill more hostages if the Lebanese government does not meet their demands.
The Islamist gunmen reportedly have a list of demands, including the withdrawal of Hizbullah from the battles in Syria and the release of ten Syrian inmates held at Roumieh prison in return for each captive soldier and policeman.

Qahwaji Says Army Detected Terror Cell in Tripoli, Expects New Battle in Arsal
Naharnet /Army chief General Jean Qahwaji on Thursday said he expects the eruption of a “new battle” with jihadist militants in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal, revealing that the army has “detected” the presence of a terror cell in the northern city of Tripoli. “The Lebanese army has reinforced its deployment on Arsal's hills and isolated the town from its outskirts, in order to besiege the gunmen and prevent them from receiving any supplies,” Qahwaji said in an interview with Sky News Arabia.
He said he expects “the eruption of a new battle with the armed groups” in Arsal's peripheries.“Hizbullah did not take part in Arsal's battle,” Qahwaji stated, noting that the party's military posts “are around 12 kilometers away from the army's checkpoints” in the area. He was referring to the deadly clashes that broke out in and around Arsal between the army and gunmen from the extremist al-Nusra Front and Islamic State groups, in which dozens of troops were killed, wounded or taken hostage.
The army chief said troops have intensified their monitoring of Syrian refugee encampments in Arsal, noting that troops were attacked during the battle by gunmen who emerged from refugee gatherings in the area.
Separately, Qahwaji revealed that the army has “detected the presence of a terrorist cell in Tripoli.”“We are trying to pursue its members without engaging in a battle that could lead to the death of innocents, but we will resort to military action should peaceful solutions prove futile,” the army chief warned. Qahwaji also announced that he is “not seeking to be elected president.” “Ambition and progress are innate human feelings, but I have not taken any decision to improve my post,” he added.

Sawwan Indicts 8 Lebanese and a Syrian for Armed Group Ties
Naharnet/Military Investigative Judge Fadi Sawwan indicted eight Lebanese and a Syrian national for belonging to armed groups that took part in several terrorist attacks in Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday.
The Lebanese were indicted for triggering sectarian strife in the northern city of Tripoli during the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen clashes.
Meanwhile, Syrian national Khaled Rahhal was indicted for belonging to the Syrian armed group of Abu Khaled al-Sareeaa in Wadi Hmeid in the outskirts of Arsal. He is charged with supplying weapons and ammunition.
They were all referred to the permanent military court for trial.

Saqr Charges 11 with Terror Offenses, Including Mawlawi, Mansour

Naharnet/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a detainee and 10 fugitives, including notorious Tripoli militants Shadi al-Mawlawi and Osama Mansour.
According to state-run National News Agency, they were charged with “belonging to an armed terrorist group in order to stage terrorist acts, and holing up at a Tripoli mosque with the aim of preparing bombs and explosive devices to target Lebanese army troops in the area.”The eleven were referred to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abu Ghida.Earlier in the day, Military Examining Magistrate Nabil Wehbe issued in an indictment in the case of the August 3 bomb explosion that killed Tripoli resident Issam al-Shaar in the al-Jinan area. Mawlawi and Mansour were also among those charged in the case.
NNA said Wehbe accused “eight detainees and the three fugitives Osama Mansour, Shadi al-Mawlawi and Amir Mansour of forming an armed gang with the aim of carrying out terror acts and undermining the state's authority.”On September 12, Mansour, who leads an Islamist militia in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh, denied reports that his group had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State or al-Nusra Front.
The 27-year-old militant had been wanted on dozens of arrest warrants and was recently apprehended in the Bekaa before being eventually released, according to LBCI television. “We're closer to al-Nusra Front's policy, ideology … and behavior on the ground. We admire al-Nusra Front and we're closer to it, but we have not pledged allegiance to the IS or the Front,” Mansour, who some locals refer to as “the emir”, said in an interview on LBCI. Citing security reports, the TV network said Mansour's 20-member group has recently “occupied” the Omar bin Massoud Mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh and that the militant started “playing a bigger role” in the city with the beginning of the Arsal battle in the Bekaa in early August.
Mansour and his group have however denied “occupying” the mosque, noting that they are present there because they are residents of the neighborhood, LBCI added.
Shadi al-Mawlawi, a fugitive Islamist militant and a member of Mansour's group, also appeared in LBCI's report.
“We contributed to the recent release of the five Sunni troops” who had been kidnapped by Nusra during Arsal's battle, Mawlawi told LBCI.
“As for the Rafida (Shiite) troops, they have showed hostility and fought our people in (Syria's) Qusayr and Yabrud and (Sidon's) Abra. We wish they would be killed,” Mawlawi added.

Turkey MPs OK Military Action in Syria, Iraq as Iran Warns against Aggravating Regional Tensions
Naharnet/Iran warned neighboring Turkey Thursday against doing anything that might aggravate tensions in the region, after the parliament in Ankara voted to authorize military intervention in Syria and Iraq.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke by telephone with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and "criticized the method chosen to fight terrorism, expressing concern about any action that might aggravate the situation," state news agency IRNA reported.
"In the current situation, the countries of the region must act with responsibility and avoid aggravating" matters, he added.
Earlier Thursday, Turkish MPs voted to allow the use of armed forces against jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, both of which border Turkey.
However, the one-year mandate is very broad in scope and in no way commits Turkey to sending troops into Syria and Iraq.
The government has said it will decide on concrete steps after winning authorization, with many analysts expecting a cautious approach.
Iran supports President Bashar Assad in Syria's more than three-year-old civil war, while Turkey backs rebels seeking to overthrow him.
The Turkish parliament's mandate allows the use of the armed forces in the neighboring countries as well as for foreign forces to transit Turkish territory in operations against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
In the 550-seat chamber, 298 deputies voted in favor and 98 against, with the big majority of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meaning the outcome was never in doubt.
The vote came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week indicated Turkey was shifting its policy to take a more active role in the fight against IS militants, who have advanced to within a few kilometers (miles) of the Turkish border in northern Syria.
"You shouldn't expect any move immediately after the mandate" is approved, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz told reporters before the parliament session.
The opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also voted in favor but the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) voted against.
The United States is pressing Ankara for the use of its Incirlik air base in the Adana region of southern Turkey to allow U.S. jets to launch assaults against IS in Syria.
But it is unclear if Turkey will allow the transit of lethal weaponry and it may limit the authorization to humanitarian aid and non-lethal supplies.
Whether the Turkish armed forces will ever be used against IS militants is also highly questionable.
Erdogan has called for a buffer zone inside Syrian territory backed by a no-fly zone but it is unclear how this could be implemented.
He has said "dropping tons of bombs" alone -- a reference to U.S. air strikes -- will not solve Syria's problems and a long-term solution for the country is needed.
Turkey has until now been bitterly criticized in some quarters for not doing enough to stem the flow of jihadists across its territory and has even been accused of colluding with IS.
In a policy spearheaded by then foreign minister, now Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey supported Islamist-tinted rebel groups in Syria in the hope they would overthrow President Assad.
"The expansionist and pan-Islamist policy of Prime Minister Davutoglu can only lead Turkey into war," senior CHP lawmaker Mehmet Akif Hamzacebi told the session.
But Yilmaz, addressing parliament to win support for the motion, said that Turkey could "not close its eyes" to the atrocities committed by IS, including beheadings and massacres.
"The only target of this text is a terrorist organization that wants to disturb the peace" of Iraq and Syria, Yilmaz told parliament.
While Kurds are urging Turkish military action against IS militants, the HDP voted against over concerns the vague wording of the motion could mean the armed forces will be used against Kurdish militants.
Ankara has previously justified its low-key role in the fight against IS by saying its hands were tied by concerns over the fate of dozens of Turkish hostages abducted by IS in Iraq.
But those hostages were freed on September 20 in a reported swap for IS captives held by pro-Ankara Syrian rebels whose details have yet to be fully publicized. Agence France Presse.

Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi expects a renewal of clashes with Islamist militants
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon's Army commander said he expected a renewal of clashes in northeast Lebanon, adding that the military is reinforcing its position on the hills surrounding the town of Arsal. Gen. Jean Kahwagi told Sky News Arabia that the Lebanese Army was working on impose a blockade on militants based in Arsal's hillsides and cutting all supply routes.

Lebanon/Salaries in shambles
Oct. 02, 2014/The Daily Star
Lebanese politicians Wednesday failed to pass long-awaited wage hike law for teachers and public servants, picking up where they left off a few short months ago. After the last school year was disrupted when teachers boycotted exam corrections, this year has already been partially upset by a one-day strike and while it wasn’t uniformly observed, more protests and strike action are likely on the way. The wage hike issue has been one of the most widely discussed items in recent years, and everyone – MPs, political parties, economists, businesspeople and others – have put in their two cents. But the parliamentary session was derailed by the latest “surprise,” namely objections over the bill’s failure to cover military personnel. Despite all of their talk, politicians continue to discover layer after layer of complexity in what should be a straightforward exercise of balancing a rise in expenditures with a rise in revenues. There are serious questions over whether the law will create more problems than it solves. Businesses are warning they’ll go under if the VAT is increased at a time of stagnation; private schools are warning that they’ll raise tuitions, a deeply unpopular move with families. In the end, MPs have no excuse for failing to anticipate these hurdles or produce a compromise that can be passed, even though it might not please all parties. After a tense summer filled with uncertainty for tens of thousands of students, MPs have in effect signaled that the fall will begin on the same note. But lawmakers have been consistent: they are adopting the same approach – a lack of concern for the interests of average people – that they use on nearly every other matter of public business.

General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim: Lebanon must remain sovereign amid hostage crisis
The Daily Star/Oct. 02, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanon must maintain its sovereignty as officials negotiate the release of hostages being held on the Syrian border, General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said. “We are concerned with safe-guarding the state’s prestige and its sovereignty,” Ibrahim said in an interview with General Security Magazine published Thursday. He described the case of the more than 20 Lebanese soldiers and police officers being held by jihadists as "more sensitive" than other kidnappings because of the multiple parties involved. More than 30 security forces members were abducted by ISIS and the Nusra Front during a five-day battle with the Army in August. The jihadists have since executed three of them and released several others. Ibrahim however, rejected the notion that the case involved any sectarian factors. Ibrahim had traveled to Doha last month as a part of a delegation headed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam to negotiate their release. Qatar’s emir promised at the time to help mediate negotiations with the militants and sent an envoy to Lebanon to follow up on the case. ISIS and Nusra on Wednesday promised the Qatari delegation that it would stop executing the captives during negotiations

Berri supports cooperation with Syria to free Lebanese hostages: Syrian envoy
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese officials should cooperate with their Syrian counterparts to help secure the release of more than 20 soldiers and police officers being held on the border, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon cited Speaker Nabih Berri as saying. Ambassador Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said Berri spoke of "the need for collaboration between the two governments and armies" to free the hostages abducted from Lebanon's northeast border town of Arsal in August during a five-day battle between the Army and jihadists. "Avoiding this fact weakens the campaign against terrorism and does not help the hostages or the Army’s legitimate struggle," Ali cited the speaker as saying, after a meeting between the two. The envoy also suggested full cooperation between Lebanese and Syrian authorities on the Syrian refugee crisis. He said Lebanon needs “to cooperate with the Syrian government, leadership, army and embassy to resolve the refugee crisis,” insisting that Syria was responsible for helping its citizens.  "But before that, those who claim they are eager to protect Lebanon should stop funding and arming terrorists,” he added. “This more important than giving donations and holding support conferences." Lebanon hosts 1.2 million refugees registered with the U.N. Refugee Agency, but the actual number is thought to be much higher.
The diplomat acknowledged that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon exceeds the country’s capacities. “Some sides, who begged for money instead of looking for ways to support refugees are to blame for worsening the situation,” he said.

Islamists vow not to harm kidnapped servicemen
Oct. 02, 2014/Wassim Mroueh| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Islamist militants promised not to harm the nearly two dozen Lebanese servicemen they captured in August in the border town of Arsal, the mufti of Baalbek-Hermel said Wednesday. Speaking to The Daily Star, Sheikh Bakr Rifai said that ISIS and the Nusra Front made a commitment two days ago to a delegation of scholars from the Syrian region of Qalamoun who live in the northeastern town of Arsal. “The delegation, which also included scholars from Arsal, met both groups who vowed not to harm the captives throughout the negotiation process,” Rifai explained. A Qatari envoy is negotiating for the release of at least 21 Army soldiers and policemen abducted by ISIS and the Nusra Front during battles with the Army in Arsal in August. After holding talks with the envoy Tuesday, the captors released 1st. Adj. Kamal Mohammad Hujairi, who was snatched by the Nusra Front in Arsal in a separate incident last month. The Lebanese Army said in a statement Wednesday that a patrol from Military Intelligence defused 66 kilograms of chemical materials used for bombings it discovered in three bags along with a detonator in the area of Ain al-Shaab in Arsal. Quoting General Security sources, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said that the security body’s head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim had received a written commitment delivered by the Islamist militants to keep the servicemen safe. ISIS has slaughtered two of its soldiers so far, while the Nusra Front shot dead one late last month. The Lebanese government has said it would only resume indirect negotiations with the captors when the killing of security personnel stops. Earlier Wednesday, Rifai attended a gathering of scholars in Arsal, where he called on families of the kidnapped servicemen to end road closures in light of the promise made by the captors and due to the progress achieved in the negotiation.
He also urged the Army to refrain from raiding Syrian refugee camps. Families of the soldiers and policemen continued to block roads Wednesday in a bid to pressure the government to negotiate the release of the hostages. Prime Minister Tammam Salam said the case of the hostages should not be politicized, emphasizing that the negotiations required secrecy. “The nature of negotiations requires secrecy in order to reach solutions that would lead to the soldiers being released,” Salam said after attending a Parliament session. “This issue should not be politicized and it requires a high level of alertness and national awareness,” he added. Separately, gunmen abducted Maher al-Ammatouri near Arsal while he was picking up an order of stones from a quarry in the area, security sources told The Daily Star.
The victim, in his 30s, hails from the Mount Lebanon village of Barouk. An official from Barouk’s municipality said the kidnapping could be motivated by ransom. News of the abduction triggered an uproar in the village where residents gathered in the main square, many threatening to kidnap Arsal residents to trade them for Ammatouri.

The buzz is, Lebanon is in for a harsh winter
Oct. 02, 2014/BEIRUT: Usually swarms of wasps and bees are not seen as a good omen, but the large numbers spotted in coastal areas up north are being hailed by some as a sign of a rainy and snowy winter to come, something Lebanon desperately needs after a year of drought and low rainfall. According to some elderly residents in Lebanese villages, wasps and bees have good instincts when it comes to changes in the weather and their escape from mountainous areas to warmer regions is a sign of an imminent drop in temperatures, coupled with rains and snow. Many of those who spoke to The Daily Star recalled the phenomenon of migrating wasps that occurred in the mid-eighties that was followed by a particularly harsh winter; exceptionally low temperatures, heavy rains and snows that isolated mountain areas for weeks. The recurrence of the phenomenon could indicate early rain and snow this year, they said, pointing out that the insects seek warmer areas to lay down their eggs and build their nests.

Rent law to trigger tenant-landlord legal feuds

Oct. 01, 2014 /Elias Sakr| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A new rental law that enacted gradual increases in the value of residential lease contracts signed before 1992 would open the door for hundreds of legal battles between tenants and landlords if Parliament fails to introduce amendments to the law that goes into effect on Dec. 28.
According to the new law endorsed last April, tenants under pre-1992 rental contracts will face rent increases in yearly increments over a six-year period, until annual rent costs reach 5 percent of the current market value of their residence.
The law approved by lawmakers had stipulated the designation of a special committee to estimate the current market value of rented residences, determine compensations for low-income families and resolve disputes that arise between tenants and landlords.
However, last August, the Constitutional Council deemed two articles of the law pertaining to the designation of the committee unconstitutional, ruling that it was the jurisdiction of Lebanese courts to resolve any legal disputes that arise between tenants and landlords.
MP Robert Ghanem, the head of the Justice and Administration parliamentary committee that was tasked with discussing the law before it was adopted by the General Assembly told The Daily Star that the law goes into effect on Dec. 28 despite claims to the contrary by tenants.
However, to avoid hundreds if not thousands of legal disputes that might arise between tenants and landlords before Lebanese courts, Ghanem said a number of lawmakers were in the process of formulating an amended draft law to be discussed by Parliament.
In the event that Parliament fails to endorse amendments, the recently enacted law would stand independently of the revoked articles pertaining to the designation of the special committee, which is sort of a special court, according to MP Ghassan Mokheiber.
Under this scenario, Lebanese courts would have to settle disputes over the assessment of the current market value of leased residences and the compensations due to tenants, Mokheiber, who is also a member of the Justice and Administration committee, told The Daily Star. According to the law, tenants whose income does not exceed three times the minimum wage will benefit from state financial aid to cover the increase in rent fees. The difference in rent prices will be paid to landlords by a special fund to be established by the government for this purpose. Tenants whose income is between two and three times the minimum wage will have the fund cover the difference between the new rent price and 30 percent of their income while tenants whose income is less than two times the minimum wage will see the fund pay on their behalf the total cost difference. During year one, the tenant will pay, on top of the current rent, 15 percent of the difference between the old rent cost and 5 percent of the current market value of the residence.
During each of the subsequent three years, an additional 15 percent would be paid while on the fifth and sixth year, an extra 20 percent will have to be paid by tenants before the rent cost reaches its fair value in year seven and is paid accordingly until the end of the ninth year.
After the ninth year, lower income households would be able to extend their stay until the 12th year while other tenants would have to negotiate a new agreement with landlords or evacuate the residence. Tenants argue that the law would displace thousands of families, claiming that close to 200,000 individuals benefit from rental contracts signed before 1992. However, the numbers remain largely disputed with no official statistics to confirm or prove otherwise. According to landlords, the majority of tenants pay minimal rental fees that often amount to less than LL1,000,000 annually. Head of the Landlords Association Joseph Zogheib argued that only 13,000 families should benefit from the special fund to be established by the state, claiming that the figure was based on statistics available to the Justice and Administration parliamentary committee. However, lawmakers contacted by The Daily Star maintained that the Justice and Administration Parliamentary Committee had no accurate statistics on the issue.
According to the current rent law, landlords can ask tenants to evacuate their residence for two reasons: demolition or the accommodation of a landlord’s family member. If tenants are asked to leave the premises during the first year of rent adjustments for demolition purposes, the landlord would have to pay a compensation equivalent to six times the new annual rent. Landlords who request tenants to evacuate for family lodgment purposes would have to pay compensations amounting to four times the new annual rent. Compensations gradually decline to reach nil after nine years. The recently enacted law stipulates that tenants wishing to buy a new apartment have priority in obtaining subsidized loans by the Banque de l’Habitat or the Public Corporation for Housing.

Lebanese Cabinet avoids discussing Arsal captives and refugees
Oct. 02, 2014/Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Cabinet avoided discussing the controversial issues of establishing camps for Syrian refugees and negotiations with the jihadi kidnappers of Army soldiers and policemen, whose relatives staged a sit-in outside the Grand Serail in parallel to the meeting Thursday, ministerial sources told The Daily Star. The meeting, which is still underway, focused instead on the 60 items featured on its regular agenda. The decision to delay discussion of the two hot topics was prompted by big discrepancies and divisions among Cabinet members, the sources added, saying that no public statements were expected in that regard. Prior to the meeting, ministers had aired opposite views regarding a proposal by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to relocate the Syrian refugees in Arsal to a camp outside the border town. “Arsal is an occupied city that is exposed to military operations, and we need to find a solution to that situation,” Machnouk said prior to the meeting, “it is not about establishing camps as much as about saving Arsal.”“We have to find a suitable formula to move the gatherings of Syrian refugees outside the town,” he added. However, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil from Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement said that “the establishment of camps for Syrian refugees inside Lebanon territory requires a Cabinet decision, and that is not going to happen, neither today nor in a hundred years.” Health Minister Wael Abu Faour had more encouraging news for the relatives of the captive soldiers and policemen, assuring them that negotiations for securing the release of their sons had entered a positive phase. He said record progress was achieved in the past three days, with a unanimous commitment from all political factions to reach a quick settlement on the issue. While the negotiations are being carried out in secret, the demands of the militants reportedly include swapping the captives with Islamist detainees in Roumieh Prison. The militants have so far slain three soldiers and released seven from among the more than 30 personnel they initially captured in battles with the Lebanese Army in Arsal last August.

Salaries in shamble
Oct. 02, 2014/The Daily Star
Lebanese politicians Wednesday failed to pass long-awaited wage hike law for teachers and public servants, picking up where they left off a few short months ago. After the last school year was disrupted when teachers boycotted exam corrections, this year has already been partially upset by a one-day strike and while it wasn’t uniformly observed, more protests and strike action are likely on the way. The wage hike issue has been one of the most widely discussed items in recent years, and everyone – MPs, political parties, economists, businesspeople and others – have put in their two cents. But the parliamentary session was derailed by the latest “surprise,” namely objections over the bill’s failure to cover military personnel. Despite all of their talk, politicians continue to discover layer after layer of complexity in what should be a straightforward exercise of balancing a rise in expenditures with a rise in revenues. There are serious questions over whether the law will create more problems than it solves. Businesses are warning they’ll go under if the VAT is increased at a time of stagnation; private schools are warning that they’ll raise tuitions, a deeply unpopular move with families. In the end, MPs have no excuse for failing to anticipate these hurdles or produce a compromise that can be passed, even though it might not please all parties. After a tense summer filled with uncertainty for tens of thousands of students, MPs have in effect signaled that the fall will begin on the same note. But lawmakers have been consistent: they are adopting the same approach – a lack of concern for the interests of average people – that they use on nearly every other matter of public business.

IDF Chief of Staff Gantz: Hezbollah pose bigger threat than Gaza
Yedioth Ahronoth, Ynet reporters
Published: 10.02.14
In first interview since Operation Protective Edge, IDF Chief of Staff Gantz says Gaza operation was a success: 'We have military officials around the world telling us we have raised the bar in terms of ethical and professional standards.'
"Israel strategic position is better this Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) than it was last year," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said in his first interview after Operation Protective Edge ended last month. The full interview with Gantz will be published Friday for Yom Kippur. Gantz, who is facing mounting criticism regarding the operation is set to finish his term as head of the Middle East's most powerful military in four months, and is confident the army did its job properly. Regardless he is much more concerned by the threat posed in the northern by Hezbollah than Hamas in Gaza in the south. The threat facing Israel from the Lebanon is much larger than that posed by Gaza," Gantz said, "but does that mean I need to drive to Jerusalem to post haste and demand we attack Lebanon?' he asked rhetorically. The comment is a veiled response to critics who said the army failed to address the issues of Gaza's tunnels, one of the central missions during Operation Protective Edge, which many said was ignored by the State until the operation. "The IDF, the politicians, Cabinet members… we all knew and understood the tunnel threat," he said.
For Gantz, the operation was a professional success: "A number of top ranking army officials from different countries arrived here and told us: 'Your professional conduct was unprecedented.' We have raised the bar to level they do not know what to do with." Thus Gantz also stresses the need for additional funds for the IDF. The military budget was at the heart of this year's battle over the State budget, and Gantz says he is not completely at ease with the arrangement reached by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Netanyahu which will see close to NIS 6 billion transferred to the IDF, in addition to its regular budget. "I am concerned by this agreement. The army cannot be a beggar being called out for every penny - we need to look at the macro." Regarding his looming departure from the only professional home he has ever known, Gantz looks back at 37 years of military service with pride: "I'm leaving whoever will be my replacement a very good army. Much more integrated, with a higher ethical and professional standard." In the full interview, set to be published Friday ahead of Yom Kippur, Gantz will talk about the controversial Hannibal Directive employed during the kidnapping of Hadar Goldin, the attempted – and possibly successful – attempt to kill the head of Hamas' military wing Mohammed Dief.
Ron Ben-Yishai, Yossi Yoshua, Alex Fishman and Yoav Zitun contributed to this report

The Palestinians need to learn from history
Guy Bechor/ Ynetnews
10.02.14/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Time and again, the extremist rulers of the Palestinians try to eliminate Israel, only for their terrible plan to backfire; this Yom Kippur we will do their soul-searching for them.
In 1948, the Arabs of the Land of Israel aimed to eliminate the Jewish presence in the country, just as the Islamic State has now mercilessly eliminated the Christians and Yazidis it has encountered, in a move of unadulterated ethnic cleansing. But it did not occur to the Arabs of Israel that their mission would fail. They acquiesced - for the purposes of said extermination – to a request by the Arab armies to evacuate the country temporarily so that the slaughter of the Jews could be accomplished easy and without interruption, and then they could come back and share the spoils.
And so the Jews in Israel were astonished to wake up one day to see their Arab neighbors leaving as one. They asked them to remain: "We will protect you," they said, but the Arabs only laughed, and explained that the invading Arab armies intended to eliminate all the Jews, after which they would definitely return. "We will divide the Jewish houses and women between us," they said.
But alas, the plan failed, and all that the Palestinians can do now is howl "nakba" around the world. In any event, they intended to claim victory for themselves either militarily or, in case of defeat, by crying foul and declaring a "moral" victory.
Exactly the same scenario played out in 2014. Again, the Palestinians intended to carry out the slaughter and destruction of the Jews – using thousands of rockets stockpiled in the Gaza Strip.
In their arrogance, they could already envision hundreds of Israeli homes being destroyed, the Jews being killed and fleeing, or genuflecting in supplication, just as their grandparents had predicted in 1948. Since World War II, there has never been such a situation in which thousands of rockets and missiles were launched into densely populated cities as happened here this summer.
But again, the destruction of the Jews did not happen, rather the opposite – those in the Gaza Strip whose homes and property were destroyed, saw their very scheme backfire. Once again, the possibility of failure never occurred to the arrogant Palestinians. So convinced were they of imminent victory that they were captivated by their own rhetoric. And, since they lost militarily, all that remains is, as usual, to cry "genocide." Those who sought to carry out their own genocide are blaming the victims, just as in 1948.
Thus, generation after generation, there is an unbroken chain of desire to eliminate the Jews. But generation after generation of Israel and the Jewish people only becomes stronger and stronger, while the Palestinians are being destroyed or are in exile. Yet there is not one Palestinian who complains to his leaders about the disaster that they have wrought upon him, and so it again this time. The extremist leadership is hailed and celebrated, as though victorious and had not sowed the seeds of self-destruction and suicide. So, we, the victims of these schemes, will on Yom Kippur do their soul-searching for them; proxy self-criticism for those who never engage in such introspection. It does not pay to keep on this path of trying to destroy Israel, given that each attempt simply backfires, be it a new terrorist attack, an initiative at the United Nations or some diplomatic trick or other.
Why do they not learn something from the distant or recent past? Perhaps then they could have a future too.

How to win the ideological war against ISIS

Faisal J. Abbas /Al Arabiya
Thursday, 2 October 2014
There has been a surge in voices critical of the coalition air strikes against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Indeed, some critics have voiced concerns over the likelihood of accidently targeting civilians whilst others have refuted the whole idea, arguing that the war against ISIS shouldn’t be physical but ideological.
Such arguments are too simplistic and contribute nothing except turning a blind eye to the realities on the ground.
Of course, any innocent life lost is certainly a life too many and coalition forces should undergo every effort possible to avoid civilian casualties. However, we should not forget that if anyone is guilty of murdering civilians, raping women and terrorizing children it certainly would be ISIS, not the coalition forces.
We should never forget that we are facing a terrorist group that takes pride in slaughtering journalists and humanitarian workers in front of TV cameras so that the whole world can watch.
“Not taking action against the likes of ISIS would certainly equate to a crime against humanity, global stability as well as a crime against any hope of bringing peace, moderation and prosperity to the Middle East”
Speaking of ideology, we should also remember that we are NOT facing a group of peace-loving monks who are advocating love and harmony but rather a bunch of hateful thugs who are using tanks, missile launchers and bombs to invade cities and establish an extremist state where they can - in the name of religion - crown themselves as caliphs and emirs, increase their own wealth, consolidate power and take as many women as they desire as sex slaves.
Frankly, not taking action against the likes of ISIS would certainly equate to a crime against humanity, global stability as well as a crime against any hope of bringing peace, moderation and prosperity to the Middle East.
A war in parallel
As such, I really don’t see how anyone could argue against bombing ISIS’s military capabilities, as this would certainly lessen this group’s ability to continue doing harm and gaining more ground and resources. After all, we should not fool ourselves into believing that these power-hungry criminals would voluntarily denounce violence (and all they gain/achieve through it), just because someone asks them to do so nicely!
On th other hand, nobody is arguing that this war can only be won by military means, obviously an ideological battle should be waged in parallel to discredit and hinder ISIS’s upper hand in spreading their propaganda. I say this regretfully, but there is no question that this terrorist group has proven quite effective in using new platforms such as social media to spread their evil ideas, recruit followers and post awful videos depicting their cruelty.
The key question here is: how do we achieve this? The answer probably lies in a multi-layered, combined and coordinated effort of local, regional and international thought leaders, media outlets and religious figures.
“To fully defeat ISIS, we must also deal with the climate which enabled them to exist”
Equally as important is having a serious discussion with the major social media outlets about their content guidelines. I, for one, can’t understand why there is a universal consensus when it comes to what is defined as pornographic material, which most social media outlets ban and penalize users for sharing, but there is no consensus on what is considered terrorist propaganda. One only has to skim through Twitter feeds or Facebook pages of ISIS-like groups or members to see pictures of decapitation and outright calls for committing crimes. This simply can no longer be tolerated and a solution must be found as soon as possible before further harm is done.
Now, what we should also remember is that to fully defeat ISIS, we must also deal with the climate which enabled them to exist, as Toby Dodges agues in a recent article in the latest issue of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) Survival: Global Politics and Strategy argues.
According to the IISS expert, the defeat of ISIS in Iraq should be followed by the resolution of the political issues that created the space in which this group has thrived. He added that ISIS’s seizure of Mosul in June and its swift advance across a wide swathe of Iraqi territory was a direct result of contemporary flaws within the political system set up after the 2003 regime change.
The same for Syria
Similarly, one could argue the same for Syria. For if it wasn’t for the international community’s failure to deal with the Assad regime’s massacres - which has resulted in over 150,000 deaths and nearly two million refugees since 2011 - ISIS wouldn’t have become the monster it is today. Of course, the Assad regime helped and benefited from the creation of this monster in its bid to position itself as the only viable, secular and safe solution in Syria.
However, as pointed out in a recent article by Al Arabiya’s General Manager Abdulrahman al-Rashed, there seems to be positive signs that the world has finally come to realize that both the problem and solution lie in Damascus. In a column published on this website, he stresses on the importance of a strong central government that takes on the mission of fighting these terrorist groups for the coming years. “It’s impossible to build a strong central government without toppling Assad first. However, this will not work without the consent of his allies, Iran and Russia,” he adds.
To conclude, critics of the coalition may see military action as a threat and think that it will only intensify the problem. However, such critics seem to be ignoring that it was the inaction towards the atrocities in Syria and the failed state in Iraq that resulted in the swelling of ISIS’s ranks from a few hundred to nearly 30,000 according to the latest estimates.
If we were to be hopeful, on the contrary, we could see the coalition’s efforts as a golden opportunity to rid the region of extremism, terrorism and injustice once and for all. However, for this to be achieved, it should include both Sunni and Shiite terrorists and put an end to the tyranny of Bashar al-Assad so that faith is restored in the world order and no young Muslim will ever again be fooled into believing that justice can be achieved via the likes of ISIS.

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil/An embarrassment with a portfolio

Michael Young| The Daily Star/02/10/14

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has been ridiculed in recent days for his embarrassing performance at a meeting he held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.

A video of the incident has been circulating, so there is not much to add. A smirking Bassil is repeatedly seen calling out to an assistant, asking “Rami, where is Caroline?” He then makes a hand gesture indicating that the woman, Caroline Ziadeh, the deputy permanent representative of Lebanon at the U.N., is attractive. The scene then cuts to Ziadeh, who is seen sitting down and straightening her skirt with an expression suggesting she is not happy.

On Wednesday, Bassil held a press conference to explain the incident. Yet he only dug his hole deeper by saying, “Yes she is an elegant woman, and Iwas in competition with the Emirati foreign minister, each of us praising our country’s women.”The incident was humiliating for Ziadeh, but above all it was humiliating for Lebanon, which Bassil represents before the world. That the post once held by Charles Malek and Fouad Boutros should now be in such hands is a disgrace. But it is not surprising.

After all, Lebanese officialdom became agitated earlier this year when skier Jackie Chamoun had the misfortune of showing her breasts in the film of a photo-shoot for a calendar. She did not pose nude in the calendar itself, nor was her nudity on film meant to be seen by the public. Yet Chamoun issued a cringing apology and Sports and Youth Minister Faisal Karami asked Lebanon’s Olympic Committee to initiate the “necessary inquiries” into the incident.

I doubt anyone will make the necessary inquiries into Bassil’s performance. Yet that idea would not seem so strange in countries where such issues are taken seriously. The minister is hierarchically Ziadeh’s superior, someone in a position to advance her career or interrupt it. That this individual should be seen commenting on the physical attributes of his envoy, and in front of a ministerial counterpart no less, is remarkable. No one is suggesting Bassil has taken advantage of his position, but in many countries even the potential for that to happen is never dismissed as irrelevant.

But Lebanon is a country where there have been obstacles to passing laws curbing domestic violence, so don’t expect there to be any momentum to tighten legislation to end sexual harassment in the workplace. Again, no one is accusing Bassil of this, but given his actions, clearly he is not someone whose priority is to create a work environment in which proper behavior is respected. When it comes to relations between the sexes at work, an argument can be made that the West has gone too far. Not every wink and nod needs to signify sexually harassment, and not every salacious story has to be brought up with one’s lawyer. It is frequently better for problems to be resolved within the work environment when possible, with the law available when it becomes impossible. In Lebanon the margin women have to respond against harassment is much narrower than in the West. Don’t expect the courts to become a vanguard for action in this regard, or Lebanese society to take a strong stand against sexual harassment, especially when it involves an employee accusing a boss. I would wager that in most such cases it is the employee who is dispensable, not the boss, and that it is far easier for a company to resolve a problem by dismissing a subordinate.

In one noted case last April, a woman, Hoda Sankari, secretly filmed the governor of north Lebanon and acting governor of Beirut, Nassif Qaloush, implying that her contract with the governorate had not been renewed because she had not slept with him. The video was shown on primetime news and forced Qaloush to resign in May. Since then Sankari has said she would file a lawsuit against Qaloush, who no longer enjoys immunity from prosecution as a grade-one civil servant. Yet no disciplinary action was taken against the former governor by the Interior Ministry, despite the evidence. Sankari reminded us there is a swath of top-level civil servants who are legally protected if they ever decide to take advantage of their employees. With Bassil, it was different. The minister suggested that Ziadeh was worth bringing into the room not because she is a professional diplomat whose presence was required, but because she has a nice body. It was his sheer vulgarity that was striking, the lack of respect for her competence, from a man whose job it is to show Lebanon’s best face. You dare not wonder what the Emirati minister thought.

But what many Lebanese thought was that Bassil had behaved in a nauseating way. Ziadeh has reached a level of qualification in her job that can serve as a model for young Lebanese. But after watching the video, how many of them would want to follow in her footsteps and work for ministers who get away with behaving so boorishly?

**Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR. He tweets @BeirutCalling.


Saudi-UAE pact a ray of hope for region
Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s strategic plan to cooperate more closely on the economic, political and social fronts is a ray of hope for a region whose prospects have been gloomy to say the least. To state the obvious, there has been little consensus on the way forward among the leading actors in this part of the world. This has had a major impact on the stability and security of the region. The alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has raised the real possibility that the current power vacuum could be filled. The two countries have a history of conflict resolution, and importantly, have shown no imperialist ambitions. “The optimism created by this alliance is an opportunity that should not be missed by other Arab countries”
The two nations have always worked quite effectively within the Gulf Cooperation Council, which despite its internal disputes, remains the most influential institution in Arab politics. An added advantage is that the alliance was not born solely out of political necessity. There has always been a close relationship between Saudis and Emiratis, with huge numbers of Saudis heading to the UAE every year for their holidays.
Strong trade
There is already strong trade between two of the most powerful regional economies. Emirati companies have a significant foothold in the Saudi market, in the telecommunications and real estate sectors, with significant opportunities for further mutual growth.
In June, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) to explore cooperation in the renewable energy sector. Many observers believe that this would see Saudi Arabia and the UAE become the outright leaders in power generation in the Middle East North Africa region in the near future. The most important aspect of these closer relations is that they are being institutionalized, a task carried out by a Joint Higher Committee. The committee will oversee political, social, cultural, economic, developmental, environmental and scientific cooperation. This development in the Middle East is a reminder of how German and French cooperation aided the rapprochement between various war-torn countries after the end of the Cold War. Many analysts believe that this was the catalyst for European cohesion. In addition, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have always shared similar views on how to tackle problems in the Arab world, including their approach on creating a future free from extremism and terrorism. Both nations took the strategic decision to stand by the new Egyptian leadership, which stems from an understanding of how important that troubled country is to a unified Arab world.
The optimism created by this alliance is an opportunity that should not be missed by other Arab countries. It is the chance to create an effective model for political and strategic relations. The lack of a systematic and institutionalized approach had left many countries at the mercy of the whims and dictates of fickle leaders in the region, which often led to bloody wars. It comes as some comfort to know that a team of experienced politicians in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are working to translate this project into reality, with a set of rules and accords. The door is open for other Arab countries to sign up. Now more than ever, when there are such dark and forbidding clouds hovering over the region, Arab leaders across the political spectrum must become more pragmatic and put aside some of their individual ambitions for the greater good. The alternative is too ghastly to complete, as we can see now by events unfolding in many neighboring countries. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are showing the way forward. A better future is possible, despite what the naysayers have been predicting.

What if ISIS didn’t exist?
Ramzy Baroud /Al Arabiya
Thursday, 2 October 2014
What if the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria didn’t exist?
In order to answer this question, one has to liberate the argument from its geopolitical and ideological confines.
Flexible language
Many in the media (Western, Arab, etc) use the reference “Islamist” to brand any movement at all whether it be political, militant or even charity-focused. If it is dominated by men with beards or women with headscarves that make references to the Holy Quran and Islam as the motivator behind their ideas, violent tactics or even good deeds, then the word “Islamist” is the language of choice.
According to this overbearing logic, a Malaysia-based charity can be as ‘Islamist’ as the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria. When the term “Islamist” was first introduced to the debate on Islam and politics, it carried mostly intellectual connotations. Even some “Islamists” used it in reference to their political thought. Now, it can be moulded to mean many things.
This is not the only convenient term that is being tossed around so deliberately in the discourse pertaining to Islam and politics. Many are already familiar with how the term “terrorism” manifested itself in the myriad of ways that fit any country’s national or foreign policy agenda - from the U.S.’ George W. Bush to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In fact, some of these leaders accused one another of practicing, encouraging or engendering terrorism while positioning themselves as the crusaders against terror. The American version of the “war on terror” gained much attention and bad repute because it was highly destructive. But many other governments launched their own wars to various degrees of violent outcomes.
The flexibility of the usage of language very much stands at the heart of this story, including that of ISIS. We are told the group is mostly made of foreign jihadists. This could have much truth to it, but this notion cannot be accepted without much contention.
Foreign menace
Why does the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insist on the “foreign jihadists” claim and did so even when the civil war plaguing his country was still at the stage of infancy, teetering between a popular uprising and an armed insurgency? It is for the same reason that Israel insists on infusing the Iranian threat, and its supposedly “genocidal” intents towards Israel in every discussion about the Hamas-led resistance in Palestine, and Hezbollah’s in Lebanon. Of course, there is a Hamas-Iran connection, although it has been weakened in recent years by regional circumstances. But for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran has to be at the heart of the discourse.
There are ample examples of governments of the Middle East ingraining the “foreign menace” factor when dealing with solely international phenomena, violence or otherwise. The logic behind it is simple: if the Syrian civil war is fuelled by foreign fanatics, then Assad can exact his violence against rebelling Syrians in the name of fighting the foreigners/jihadists/terrorists. According to this logic, Bashar becomes a national hero, as opposed to a despotic dictator.
Netanyahu remains the master of political diversion. He vacillates between peace talks and Iran-backed Palestinian “terror” groups in whatever way he finds suitable. The desired outcome is placing Israel as a victim of and a crusader against foreign-inspired terrorism. Just days after Israel carried out what was described by some as a genocide in Gaza - killing over 2,200 and wounded over 11,000 - he once more tried to shift global attention by claiming that the so-called “Islamic State” was at the Israeli border.
The “foreign hordes on the border” notion is being utilized, although so far ineffectively in my mind, by Egypt’s Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi also. Perhaps desperate to gain access to this convenient discourse, he has made numerous claims of foreigners being at the border of Libya, Sudan and Sinai. Few have paid attention aside from the unintelligible Egyptian state-controlled media. However, one must not neglect the events that took place in Egypt when he himself overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood’s democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mursi last year.
When U.S. President Barack Obama decided to launch his war on ISIS, expressed support for the fight against the “Islamists” as he sees them as part and parcel of the war against the supporters of the deposed Muslim Brotherhood. After all, they are both “Islamists.”
U.S.-Western motives
For the U.S. and their western allies, the logic behind the war is hardly removed from the war discourse engendered by previous U.S. administrations, most notably that of W. Bush and his father. It is another chapter of the unfinished wars that the U.S. had unleashed in Iraq over the last 25 years. In some way, ISIS, with its brutal tactics, is the worst possible manifestation of American interventionism.
In the first Iraq war (1990-91), the U.S.-led coalition seemed determined to achieve the clear goal of driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, and to use that as a starting point to achieve complete U.S. dominance over the Middle East. Back then, George Bush had feared that pushing beyond that goal could lead to the kind of consequences that would alter the entire region and empower Iran at the expense of America’s Arab allies. Instead of carrying out regime change in Iraq itself, the U.S. opted to subject Iraq to a decade of economic torment - a suffocating blockade that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. That was the golden age of America’s “containment” policy in the region.
However, U.S. policy in the Middle East, under Bush’s son, W. Bush, was reinvigorated by new elements that somewhat altered the political landscape leading to the second Iraq war in 2003. Firstly, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were dubiously used to mislead the public into another war by linking Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda; and secondly, there was the rise of the neoconservative political ideology that dominated Washington at the time. The neo-cons strongly believed in the regime-change doctrine that has since then proven to be a complete failure.
It was not just a failure, but rather, a calamity. Today’s rise of ISIS is in fact a mere bullet point in a tragic Iraq timeline which started the moment George W. Bush began his “shock and awe campaign.” This was followed by the fall of Baghdad, the dismantling of the country’s institutions (the de-Baathification of Iraq) and the “missions accomplished” speech. Since then, it has been one adversity after another. The U.S. strategy in Iraq was predicated on destroying Iraqi nationalism and replacing it with a dangerous form of sectarianism that used the proverbial “divide and conquer” stratagem. But neither the Shiites remained united, nor did the Sunnis accept their new lower status, nor did the Kurds stay committed to being part of an untied Iraq.
Al-Qaeda connection
The U.S. has indeed succeeded in dividing Iraq, maybe not territorially, but certainly in every other way. Moreover, the war brought al-Qaeda to Iraq. The group used the atrocities inflicted by the U.S. war and invasion to recruit fighters from Iraq and throughout the Middle East. And like a bull in a china shop, the U.S. wrecked more havoc on Iraq, playing around with sectarian and tribal cards to lower the intensity of the resistance and to busy Iraqis with fighting each other.
When the U.S. combat troops allegedly departed Iraq, they left behind a country in ruins, millions of refugees on the run, deep sectarian divides, a brutal government, and an army made mostly of loosely united Shiite-militias with a blood-soaked past.
Al-Qaeda was supposedly weakened in Iraq by then. In actuality, while al-Qaeda didn’t exist in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion, at the eve of the U.S. withdrawal, al-Qaeda had branched off into other militant manifestations. They were able to move with greater agility in the region, and when the Syrian uprising was intentionally-armed by regional and international powers, al-Qaeda resurfaced with incredible power, fighting with prowess and unparalleled influence. Despite the misinformation about the roots of ISIS, ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq are the same according to some reports. They share the same ideology and had only branched off into various groupings in Syria. Their differences are an internal matter, but their objectives are ultimately identical.
The reason the above point is often ignored, is that such an assertion would be a clear indictment that the Iraq war created ISIS, and that the irresponsible handling of the Syria conflict empowered the group to actually form a sectarian state that extends from the north-east of Syria to the heart of Iraq.
ISIS must exist
U.S.-Western and Arab motives in the war against ISIS might differ. But both sides have keen interest in partaking in the war and an even keener interest in refusing to accept that such violence is not created in a vacuum. The U.S. and its Western allies refuse to see the obvious link between ISIS, al-Qaeda and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Arab leaders insist that their countries are also victims of some “Islamist” terror, produced, not of their own anti-democratic and oppressive policies, but by Chechenia and other foreign fighters who are bringing dark-age violence to otherwise perfectly peaceable and stable political landscapes.
The lie is further cemented by most media when they highlight the horror of ISIS but refuse to speak of other horrors that preceded and accompanied the existence of the group. They insist on speaking of ISIS as if a fully independent phenomenon devoid of any contexts, meanings and representations.
For the U.S.-led coalition, ISIS must exist, although every member of the coalition has their own self-serving reasoning to explain their involvement. And since ISIS mostly made of “foreign jihadists” from faraway lands, speaking languages that few Arabs and Westerners understand, then, somehow, no one is guilty, and the current upheaval in the Middle East is someone else’s fault. Thus, there is no need to speak of Syrian massacres, or Egyptian massacres, or of Iraq wars and its massacres, for the problem is obviously foreign.
If the so-called “Islamic State,” or ISIS, didn’t exist, many in the region would be keen on creating one.

Turkey? Antisemitic? Who, Me?
by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
October 1, 2014
Will the real Erdogan please stand up? From "Why are you running away, you sperm of Israel!" to "I am very sad to see that my country, myself, and my colleagues, sometimes, are labeled as being antisemitic."
Last May an explosion at a mine in western Turkey killed 301 miners. Ankara declared national mourning. But President (then-Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan's response to the town's grief was unusual for a head of a government.
After protestors scolded him, he, with his bodyguards, went into a supermarket and, as video footage revealed, Erdogan grabbed one protestor, a Muslim, by the nape of the neck and yelled: "Why are you running away, you sperm of Israel!" After the incident the man also told the press that he was slapped by Erdogan; then, thinking better of it, the man testified that he had been beaten by Erdogan's bodyguards, not by the prime minister; and he finally apologized to Erdogan for "forcing the prime minister to insult him."
The man had been one of the protesters demanding an explanation for the negligence that caused the tragedy. Three months before the accidental explosion occurred, members of the opposition in parliament had claimed that there could be an accident due to bad safety procedures at the mine. Members of the government benches had claimed everything was fine.
When Erdogan was in the US a few days ago, as Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum put it most realistically, the only content specifically designed for a New York audience was a protracted "I'm not an anti-Semite" defense: "I am very sad to see that my country, myself, and my colleagues, sometimes, are labeled as being antisemitic." Pipes wrote: "As he [Erdogan] spoke about being labeled an anti-Semite... I was glad to be in New York and not Istanbul."
What would an American expatriate think, for instance, if a terrorist organization kidnaps three American teenagers, brutally murders them, then a senior member of the same terrorist organization publicly confesses to the crime, but the local authorities do not even raise a finger to indict the man? This is exactly what happened in Turkey, except that the victims were not American, but Israeli.
Saleh al-Arouri, a veteran Hamas official and one of the founders of its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was in 2010 forced to leave Israel after serving more than 15 years in prison. Since then he has lived in Istanbul – courtesy of the Turkish government.
On Aug. 21, at a meeting of the International Union of Islamic Scholars in Istanbul, al-Arouri said that Hamas was behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, an incident that triggered a spiral of violence in Gaza and Israel this summer. It was the first time any senior Hamas figure linked the group to the abduction of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Frenkel, 16: "The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron," al-Arouri said.
A couple of weeks after al-Arouri confessed to Hamas's crimes, and a few days before Erdogan, in New York, expressed his disappointment that he is "very sad to see that my country, myself, and my colleagues, sometimes, are labeled as being anti-Semitic," a Turkish Jew wrote a powerful blog post in the newspaper Radikal, about what it really meant "to be a sperm of Israel in Turkey."
Vedat Haymi Behar is the digital marketing solutions coordinator at Turkey's biggest and most influential media outlet, Hurriyet group, which also owns Radikal.
"Allow me to tell you what being a sperm of Israel in Turkey means," he wrote.
It means, Behar said, to have first and family names in Hebrew or Spanish and to have a middle name in Turkish; and to learn at the age of three to be called by your first name only at home and by your middle name elsewhere.
Being a sperm of Israel in Turkey means, Behar wrote, to gain the ability, at the age of primary school, to sensibly answer questions such as, "Why is your family name different?"
It means, he wrote, to get used to living on hate speech, insults and curses every day.
Behar bravely wrote:
"It means to be held accountable for every act of the Israeli government although you may not even have stepped foot in Israel…
"It means to be treated as a 'foreigner' by the state of the country where you were born, where you did your military service and you pay taxes…
"It means to try to enjoy the sunny days when everyone from politicians to street vendors curse at your holy book and your faith…
"It means having to choose a profession knowing that you will never become a judge, a prosecutor, a military officer or a bureaucrat…"
Behar lives in a country where President Erdogan, when he speaks to a New York audience, complains sorrowfully that sometimes "he, his country and his colleagues are being labeled as being anti-Semitic". But he also lives in a country where the same Erdogan had only a few months ago "insulted" a Turkish Muslim by calling him "a sperm of Israel." One of the two Erdogans must be a terrible liar.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Istanbul daily Hürriyet and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Toronto Mural a Jihadi Battle Cry
by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun
On Sept. 3, the head of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video in which he declared war on India's "kaafirs", meaning Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.
Paid for by the taxpayers of Toronto.
Lost in his ramblings about re-establishing an "Islamic state in the Indian subcontinent" was Zawahiri's recitation of verse 13 from the chapter titled "The Battle Array" in the Qur'an.
The words were "Nasrum Min'Allah Fathun Qareeb" ("Help from Allah and an imminent victory is at hand"), a millennium-old Islamic battle prayer in which Muslims believe Allah has guaranteed success to Muslims in their fight against the "kaafir" or infidel.
What many Canadians don't know is that these same words have been painted as a mural in the heart of Toronto's Little India and stare down at the so-called "kaafirs".
I wrote about it last year. The beautiful calligraphy is in Arabic, a language few non-Arabs and non-Muslims read or understand.
(The artist of the mural is a non-Muslim, who said he chose the words because of the beauty of the Arabic script, which he took as a positive message, and that the community was consulted.)
The mural was paid for by the taxpayers of Toronto.
To understand the jihadi significance of the words on this mural, it's useful to go to places where jihadi terrorists are fighting Islamic wars — as ISIS is.
On Oct. 10, 2013 when the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, defeated the Syrian army and captured the capital city of Daraa province, the local commander, Abu Abd al-Malik, boasted it was Allah himself that had in the Qur'an guaranteed al-Qaida's victory, as he recited the same verse inscribed on Toronto's mural.
Reciting the same battle prayer Zawahiri had invoked, al-Malik said, "Allah himself has guaranteed success to Muslims in their fight against the infidel."
Last year, Toronto realtor Salim Ahmad, a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, launched a petition, asking the mayor and city officials to remove the mural containing the jihadi battle prayer.
The city declined to take action after investigating and concluding the words contained in the mural have a wide variety of interpretations in Islam, many of which are not war like.
An Islamic academic at the University of Toronto, said the mural contained a prayer that is often used by ordinary Muslims when facing difficulties in life.
Others disagree, including the medieval Islamic scholar, Ibn Katheer, the 14th century Islamic authority, whose exegesis of the Qur'an is widely accepted as the most authentic.
Ibn Katheer wrote, "Help from Allah (is near) and a speedy victory (is assured)" in the chapter titled "The Battle Array", tells Muslims if they are willing to sacrifice their lives and possessions in the service of Allah, not only will they find Paradise after death, but the conquest they desire over their enemy will be theirs very soon, after they confront that enemy.
After the al-Qaida leader invoked the same Islamic battle cry against India's Hindus and Sikhs earlier this month, Ahmad re-launched his petition, this time addressing mayoral candidates John Tory, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow, asking them if they will remove the mural if elected.
"Not one of them even acknowledged receiving my message," Ahmad told me.
Which begs the question: If we cannot remove an al-Qaida war cry from the walls of Toronto, do we have any hope in hell in defeating ISIS?​
**Tarek S. Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.