LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Revenge & Love for Enemies
Matthew 05: 38-48: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him. You have heard that it was said, Love your friends, hate your enemies. But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 03, 04/14
Question: "What does the Bible say about pandemic diseases/sicknesses?/October 04/14
Israel: Is the Islamic Republic a greater danger than ISIS/By: Majid Rafizadeh /Al Arabiya/October 04/14
friends like these, who needs enemies/By:
Eyad Abu Shakra /Asharq Al Awsat/October 04/14
ISIL 3-24: Do They Do Counter-Insurgency/By: Michael Knights/Foreign Policy/October 04/14
Netanyahu's anxiety is all too well-founded, as the US is
signaling that it wants to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear
The struggle to succeed Khamenei has already begun/By: Amir Taheri /Ashar Al Awsat/October 04/14
Gulf countries standing idly by in Yemen/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/ Al Arabiya/October 04/14
In Lebanon, saving one should not mean harming another/By: Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya/October 04/14
Lebanese Related News published on October 03, 04/14
Cabinet didn’t discuss prisoner swap: Abu Faour
Lebanon Golf Club pays $1 annual rent: report
ISF warns Internet users against sexual blackmail
Oil survey plane arrives to Lebanon
Bassil: Focus on growing export market
Saudi Arabia waiting on new president for $3B grant to Lebanon
Lebanese Private sector lauds salary scale delay
Lebanese Army discovers 50-kg bomb near Arsal checkpoint
Gemayel to Meet Hariri in Paris as Jumblat Arrives for 'Private Trip'
First Plane to Carry out Survey of Offshore Oil and Gas Arrives in Lebanon
Military Police Arrests Syrian Suspects in Raids North of Beirut
Berri Says Army Reason Behind Failure to Endorse New Pay Hike
Bou Saab: Cabinet Opposes Establishment of Syrian Refugee Camps in Lebanon
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 03, 04/14
Hit Extremists with 'Iron Hand', Says Top Saudi Cleric
Saudi, UAE, U.S. Aircraft Strike IS in Syria
Iraq: Stalemate continues over finalizing government formation
UN nuclear watchdog team to visit Tehran for talks: Iran
Syria: Turkish military action 'act of aggression'
For first time, Syria’s Alawites protest against the regime
U.S. Embassy in Damascus mocks Syrian FM’s U.N. speech
Nine UN peacekeepers killed in attack on convoy in Mali
Sweden to recognize state of Palestine
Fatuity born of ignorance
UN nuclear watchdog team to visit Tehran for talks: Iran
Terrorist in Jerusalem attack faces US
PA: We'll got to ICC if no Israeli pullout
'Both Israel, Hamas responsible for Gaza
EU condemns new Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem
Obama has given up on Netanyahu
Obama still has time to change approach to Islam
Yemeni army inaction played into rebels’ hands: official
Libyan soldiers killed in Benghazi attacks
Australian PM seeks re-think on parliament burqa ban after backlash
Israel: Is the Islamic Republic a
greater danger than ISIS?
Majid Rafizadeh /Al Arabiya
Friday, 3 October 2014
The political posturing between the Islamic Republic and Israel has been mounting in recent weeks. Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that if Iran is armed with a nuclear bomb, it would pose the “gravest threat to us all.” Israel’s prime minister added that defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and leaving the Islamic Republic on the side is akin to “win[ning] the battle and los[ing] the war.”
In response, according to Fars News Agency, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Khodadad Seifi, rejected Israel’s accusations as baseless and stated: “The remarks made by the Israeli regime’s premier include baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are basically made with the aim of... justifying the crimes the regime recently committed against Palestinian civilians.”
“Recent developments reflect escalating Israeli fear and anxiety regarding the Islamic Republic”
More recently, Netanyahu accused the Islamic Republic of being behind a cyber-attack. While addressing the fourth international cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University, he stated: ”I want to make clear that the party behind the cyber-attacks against Israel is first and foremost Iran.”
The zero-sum game
The recent developments reflect escalating Israeli fear and anxiety regarding the Islamic Republic. Nevertheless, there exist several underlying reasons behind Israel’s mounting fear and an Iran-Israel standoff.
First of all, it is critical to point out that the relationship between Israel and the Islamic Republic takes on a distinct character of exclusiveness. From the perspective of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the geopolitics between Tehran and Tel Aviv is a zero-sum game. In other words, if the Islamic Republic or Israel gain any political, economic, strategic, or geopolitical points in their interests, the other nation would inevitably come out as the loser.
As a result, from the Israeli government’s standpoint, the recent developments in Iran’s foreign policy and its relationships with the international community (particularly with the West), have placed the Israeli government on the losing side of the equation.
Iran’s geopolitical and strategic ties with the West, more specifically with the United States, have begun to grow stronger. The rise of the Islamic State has provided the Islamic Republic with a unique geopolitical and strategic opportunity to depict itself as an integral state player, as well as a credible partner for the Western coalition, to defeat the Islamic State.
Several bilateral and multilateral talks have been held between world powers and the Islamic Republic to plot a joint strategy to remove the Islamic State’s fighters from Iraq and Syria. In addition to the sideline diplomacy and talks between Iranian and American officials, Iran and Britain are discussing Iran’s assistance and cooperation to battle the Islamic State. The bilateral talks, at this level, are the first since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and mark a historic diplomatic initiative between Britain and the Islamic Republic. Thanks to the rise of ISIS, the recent warming of relations between the Islamic Republic and the West has ratcheted up Israel’s fear and anxiety.
Iran wields considerable political and military influence in Iraq and Syria, which is extremely crucial for the West when it comes to charting a plan to defeat ISIS. In addition, while the West is dominant and superior in aerial assaults on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it lacks military forces on the ground. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps can provide the West with this missing element of the equation.
Israel’s mounting fear: Threshold nuclear state
Israeli leaders fear that Iran’s improving ties with the United States and other European powers would lead the West to take a softer stance towards Iran’s nuclear program in the ongoing nuclear negotiations.
Isreali leaders have long claimed that the Islamic Republic has to dismantle its centrifuges and nuclear facilities for the international community to make sure that Iranian leaders will not reach the breakout capacity of developing nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, the latest diplomatic headways and developments between the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and the Islamic Republic, reveal that the six world powers appear to be willing to allow Iran to maintain some of it nuclear infrastructure and keep approximately 5000 of its centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium.
Israel has been looking for the dismantlement of the centrifuges and Iran’s nuclear program, while the six world powers appear to be willing to settle for a disconnect rather than the dismantling of the whole nuclear program of the Islamic Republic. Intriguingly, only a day before Rowhani gave his speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed classified documents stating that the site of Parchin in Iran has been utilized to test nuclear implosions.
Israel fears that a disconnection rather than dismantlement would situate the Iranian government on a nuclear threshold status; a technical short step away from the breakout nuclear capacity of becoming a nuclear state. In other words, the Islamic Republic would be akin to other “threshold nuclear states” such as Japan and Brazil.
As the deadline for the final nuclear deal between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic becomes closer, and as the world powers appear to be softening their demands on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, Netanyahu’s fear in the signing of a final nuclear deal and his objective is to postpone this process between Iran and six world powers.
Hit Extremists with 'Iron Hand', Says
Top Saudi Cleric
Naharnet/Muslim leaders must strike the enemies of Islam with "an iron hand," Saudi Arabia's top cleric said during Friday prayers, in apparent condemnation of the Islamic State jihadist group. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh's comments came after Saudi Arabia and four other Arab nations joined the United States in aerial bombardment of the IS militants in Syria. Speaking to Muslims from around the world in an address during the annual hajj pilgrimage, the mufti called on fellow Islamic leaders to "hit with an iron hand the enemies of Islam."The IS group has declared a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq where they have committed a spate of atrocities including crucifixions and beheadings.
"Your religion is threatened. Your security is threatened," he thundered, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. "These criminals carry out rapes, bloodshed and looting," he said, adding that "these vile crimes can be considered terrorism" and their perpetrators have nothing to do with Islam. "They are tyrants," he said, warning of "their deviant ideology."The mufti spoke from Nimrah Mosque at Mount Arafat in western Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites.
Close to two million Muslims from around the world were gathered at Mount Arafat for a day of prayer at the peak of the annual hajj. The comments were the mufti's latest criticism of the extremists. In August, he urged Muslim youth not to be influenced by "calls for jihad ... on perverted principles," and he described al-Qaida and IS jihadists as "enemy number one" of Islam.
The kingdom is seeking to deter youths from becoming jihadists after Syria's conflict attracted hundreds of Saudis.King Abdullah decreed in February jail terms of up to 20 years for citizens who travel to fight abroad.
Agence France Presse
Lebanese Cabinet didn’t discuss prisoner swap: Lebanon minister
Oct. 03, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Ministers did not discuss the option of trading Islamist prisoners for captive servicemen during Thursday's Cabinet meeting in Beirut, but it mandated Prime Minister Tammam Salam to follow up on negotiations through a Qatari intermediary, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Friday. “The dialogue was positive, and the ministers are unanimous on the need to liberate the soldiers through all available means, and that it is a priority issue,” Abu Faour said, stressing however that “no decision has been taken regarding the swap.”
“We granted PM Tammam Salam and General Security chief Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, full confidence and mandate to continue [indirect] negotiations [with militants] with the hope of achieving a happy ending." He made the comments after meeting with the families of the abducted soldiers in Dahr al-Baidar, a mountainous area where they had set up a sit-in camp to block a major highway linking Beirut with Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa region.
Abu Faour stressed that efforts deployed by Qatari mediators who are undertaking indirect negotiations with the captors were positive. He also pleaded with the families to end their more than weeklong blockade of the road, citing the negative repercussions it has on people’s lives and businesses.Militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS, which are holding at least 21 soldiers and police officers, are demaning the release of Islamist inmates in Roumieh prison in return for the captives. In a related development, the family of captive soldier Ibrahim Maghit said they received a call from him, assuring them that he was in good health and being treated well by his captors. Maghit’s brother said the captive pleaded with the families of detained soldiers to escalate pressure on the government to prompt it to speed up negotiations for their release. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the families declared that the protesters decided to spend Eid al-Adha in their sit-in camp and continue blocking the highway until their loved ones are brought back to them.
Lebanese Army discovers 50-kg bomb near Arsal checkpoint
Oct. 03, 2014 The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A barrel packed with 50 kilos of explosives was discovered Friday near a military checkpoint outside the northeast border town of Arsal, the Lebanese Army said in a statement. An Army unit beefed up security measures in and around the area of Ras al-Sarej on the periphery of Arsal after discovering that the barrel was filled with “explosive chemicals.” Security sources told The Daily Star that the barrel contained paint thinner, which may detonate under certain conditions.
A military expert who disabled the explosives concluded that the barrel was set to be detonated remotely, the Army statement added. The state-run National News Agency said the explosive container consisted of four compartments: two large ones and two smaller ones that were connected by a thin metal sheet. The Army was tipped off by a local resident who thought the container looked suspicious, the report said.
Militants last month detonated a similar bomb near Arsal as an Army vehicle passed, killing three soldiers.
Saudi Arabia waiting on new president for $3B grant to Lebanon
Oct. 03, 2014 /The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia is seeking assurances that Hezbollah will not benefit from the $3 billion arms deal the kingdom inked with France last winter to bolster the Lebanese Army, according the French media. The Saudis “want to wait until Lebanon has a president who conforms to their interests and they can get guarantees that the weapons won’t end up in Hezbollah’s hands,” according to an anonymous French source cited by French journalist Georges Malbrunot in an article published in today’s edition of Le Figaro. Through the tripartite agreement, the Saudis would give $3 billion in French weapons and training to the Lebanese Army. The deal, however, appears stalled. The arms deal is “not advancing,” the source told Malbrunot. “I don’t know what happened,” Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi told Malbrunot. “The Lebanese have done their part of the deal. I signed a list of requested arms with the French, and we sent it to the Saudis. I went to Saudi Arabia, and we had very good meetings with both Saudi and French delegations. Now we’re just waiting for the Saudi signature.”It remains unclear, however, why the Saudis are willing to clear an urgent $1 billion military aid package in the wake of the battles of Arsal where the Lebanese Army battled terrorist groups in early August.
Unlike the French deal, the latest package, which is being administered by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, had “no conditions” according to a member of the French military. Last week, French minister Marylise Lebranchu admitted that the Saudis had concerns about the initial deal.“The Saudis have raised questions about the accord as it was passed,” Lebranchu told journalists after meeting with politicians and civil servants in Beirut last week. “Otherwise, it would be finished.”
Bassil: Lebanese must work together on growing exports
Oct. 03, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: With a $17 billion trade deficit, Lebanon must focus on growing its exports, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Friday, pledging that the country’s diplomats would work to market Lebanese products abroad. "We want to break the psychological barrier that existed in the past, and we all have to market Lebanese products and sell them abroad,” he told participants at a coordination meeting at his Beirut office. “This includes everyone from the highest to the lowest officials [in Lebanon], let alone ambassadors and our diplomatic missions abroad.”The attendees included Economy Minister Alain Hakim and Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan as well as the directors general of the Industry, Agriculture, Finance, Economy and Public Works ministries. The head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Daniel al-Hibi; the UNDP representative at the Economy Ministry, Rafik Berro; and a consultant from the Tourism Ministry were also present. “When, today, the value of our imports [stands] at $20 billion, and our export at $3 billion, and deficit at $17 billion, it means that we have a very big structural economic problem,” Bassil said. He stressed, however, that this problem could be fixed by activating overseas sales and markets. “If Lebanese expatriates bought our products, this matter alone would raise this figure significantly.”
Lebanese Private sector lauds salary scale delay
Oct. 03, 2014/Dana Halawi| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The private sector hailed Thursday Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s decision to send the controversial draft wage hike law back to joint committees, saying that this move had spared the country dire consequences. “It was the right decision and it saved the country from negative repercussions,” said Nicolas Chammas, the President of Beirut Traders Association. “The draft law has been taken off the floor of the Parliament and that’s what counts for me. It was the right thing to do.”Parliament decided Wednesday to delay yet again a controversial wage hike for public-sector workers that has prompted numerous strikes and protests in recent months. Berri sent the draft wage hike law back to joint committees after some parliamentary blocs made several remarks about the bill. Some ministers insisted it was necessary to include military personnel in the new salary increase, while others called for the inclusion of the private school teachers. “Many lawmakers and ministers were not pleased with the bill,” Berri told lawmakers at the start of the parliamentary session. “That’s why I ask for the return of the draft law to the joint parliamentary committees for further study,” he added. Chammas’ remarks were echoed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Mohammad Choucair, who said this decision had saved the country’s economy while sparing it from a possible social disaster. “We want to thank Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for this very wise decision,” he said.
Choucair argued that the salary scale approval would have increased the minimum wage in the public sector to LL872,000 which would, in turn, have prompted private-sector employees to ask for a similar rise.
“Such a hike in the minimum wage for the private sector would definitely result in the layoff of thousands of Lebanese, who would be replaced with employees from other nationalities,” he said. “The negative repercussions of such a measure are not being well evaluated.”
Choucair said that the approval of the salary scale would improve the living conditions of around 230,000 employees working in the public sector but it would, on the other hand, “open the door to hell” for the private sector.
“We are not much worried about protests by public workers because they are getting paid regularly and they are benefitting from social security and health insurance,” he said, adding that what would be really disturbing was the private sector taking to the street to protest layoffs and the steep hike in prices as a result of the new pay scale. Choucair called upon officials to end the discussions on the salary scale and to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections soon, while resolving the security situation in the country. He said this would help in finding a solution to the financial woes of all the segments of the population. Meanwhile, Chammas argued that two out of four conditions must be met before the salary scale could be implemented. “We need to restore our 8-percent growth rate witnessed in previous years in order to increase the treasury’s revenues and to be capable of financing the salary scale,” he said. “[This] should be done in parallel with other measures, including eliminating the deficit of Electricite du Liban through the Private-Public Partnership.”
Chammas said that the two other measures that would make the private sector more likely to support the salary scale were a reduction in the number of public sector employees, especially in the public education sector, and the development of the oil and gas sector.
“The first measure is not impossible. If security is restored then we can reach a good rate of growth,” he said, adding that the other measures might require more time.”“Until two out of these four conditions are met, it is impossible to introduce the salary scale.”
Lebanon Golf Club pays $1 annual rent: report
Oct. 03, 2014/The Daily Star
Lebanon’s Golf Club pays the state an annual rent of just LL 1,100 ($.73) for a massive course under a pre-inflation contract dating back to 1963, MTV reported Friday. The club is located on a 300,000 square meters plot of land in Ouzai, at the southern entrance of Beirut, owned by the Ministry of Public Works, the report said. It added that the club’s management began renting the land in 1963 for 15-year periods which were periodically renewed by successive cabinets without any modification until 2006 despite the Lebanese currency's massive crash in the mid-1980s at the height of the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War. In 2010, the cabinet refused to renew the contract pending adjustment of the rent, but subsequent governments ignored the issue and the contract has since been sitting in the drawer.Then asked about the issue, Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter said he was not aware of the existence of the contract, and promised to give answers once he has reviewed the file, MTV said. The report said the club’s director did not respond to inquiries.
Fatuity born of ignorance
Oct. 03, 2014/The Daily Star
Meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu said that, given shared concerns, it was time Arab countries allied with Israel. Highlighting alleged common fears over both Iran and extremist Sunnis, Netanyahu’s recommendation of building closer ties belies his ignorance, and his arrogance. At a time when the “peace process” is at one of its shakiest stages in years does he genuinely believe Arab states would abandon Palestine for Israel?
Banking on the chaos across the Middle East, Netanyahu hopes any regional powers not primarily occupied with maintaining stability within their own borders will see a benefit to standing beside Israel.
But he underestimates Arab commitment to the Palestinian cause. If anything still has the power to unite the 22 countries across the region, it is the now-decades-old tragedy of Palestine, and its millions of displaced and disenfranchised people.
Perhaps Netanyahu is growing more worried about losing support from Israel’s best friend, with Obama warning Wednesday the Jewish state’s habit of announcing new settlements every time the region’s attention was distracted in Syria or Libya or elsewhere risked distancing itself from “even its closest allies.”Does he also believe regional powers have forgotten Israel’s summer war on Gaza? Unlikely, given that many of them are donating millions to pay for the reconstruction necessary after Israel’s brutal war. And none of that can make up for the thousands of lives lost. To pretend to be a peacemaker when accused of war crimes is naïve, and if Netanyahu thinks his Arab neighbors are keen to jump into a strategic partnership with him, he needs to wake up.
ISIL 3-24: Do They Do Counter-Insurgency?
Michael Knights/Foreign Policy
Given the group's brutal, nihilistic approach to territories it has seized, any anti-ISIL uprisings that are well planned and externally supported will eventually succeed.
What happens when poacher must become gamekeeper? That's what the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) must be asking itself at the present time. Once it was the insurgent force skulking in the shadows, ambushing and bombing, then fading away. Now ISIL believes itself to be a state and it knows that a range of powerful enemies are planning to spark local insurgencies against it in Iraq and Syria. ISIL needs a game plan to face the looming threat. So if ISIL had an equivalent of FM 3-24, the U.S. government's guide on counterinsurgency, what would it look like?
The first point to make is that revolutionary movements like ISIL often struggle at counterinsurgency. As Scott McMichael noted in Stumbling Bear, a book about the Soviets in Afghanistan, one of the biggest challenges for the Red Army was coming to terms with the fact that the people were against them, not with them. Marxist-Leninist doctrine dictated that the international proletariat would welcome the Red Army as liberators wherever it was sent to fight.
ISIL has no such illusions. The movement's previous incarnations -- al Qaeda in Iraq, then the Islamic State in Iraq -- were almost wiped out by popular uprisings in their heartlands in 2005-2008. When the movement rebooted under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's leadership in 2010 it sought to learn lessons from its brush with extinction and rebuilt as an Iraqi-led movement focused on the grievances of Sunni Arabs in Iraq. It was even mindful to tone down its policing of Iraqi lifestyles -- at least until it became the master of Sunni villages once again this summer.
ISIL's current vision of counterinsurgency seems to be built on the extraordinarily dark premise that the citizens of its self-declared caliphate will undoubtedly revolt unless they are actively prevented from doing so. From the very outset, ISIL has viewed its own purported citizens as the greatest threat to its regime security. In fact, they're no doubt correct in this analysis: only indigenous forces can unseat ISIL in the Sunni Arab hinterlands of north-central Iraq and Syria. Relying primarily on Shiite, Allawi, Kurdish or foreign forces will only stir greater popular resistance.
ISIL has an approach to counterinsurgency that combines the brilliant with the blundering. It has in-depth social and cultural intelligence on the communities it controls, having stalked these areas, recruited from them and undertaken structured tribal engagement inside them for years. ISIL has also extensively shaped local environments during the last three years, killing off as many potential adversaries as possible within local hierarchies before it took over.
ISIL has a formula when it seizes new territory. It achieves early psychological dominance with its rapid vehicle-based raids -- a traditional camel charge updated with Toyota Hiluxes. Then ISIL reassures its new subjects, appearing content to leave traditional power structures unmolested and distributing booty in rough-and-ready social-welfare drives, albeit efforts that only scratch the surface of local needs.
During this period what they are actually doing is identifying and disarming networks of potential resisters. Non-Sunni and non-Arab minorities are driven out. Sunni Arabs who act independently and refuse to pledge allegiance are subject to incarceration as hostages or are killed. ISIL appeals to the basest instincts of local people: to take their neighbor's car, cattle, crops and houses. Through guilt-by-association, traditional clan structures are disintegrated.
Where small communities have rebelled, ISIL has spared no effort to quickly and publicly make an example of them. In the small Iraqi town of Zawiya, for instance, ISIL punished tribal resistance by leveling the village, dynamiting all 200 homes in the manner of ancient Rome's leveling of Carthage.
By now you're probably sensing that this is not the warm and fuzzy counterinsurgency approach recommended in the U.S. government manual, with General David Petraeus's focus on clearing, holding and building in liberated areas to win the active support of the population. ISIL doesn't build anything -- in fact all across north-central Iraq they are demolishing as many administrative buildings and bridges as they can, whilst liberally seeding the towns they hold with explosive booby-traps. They seem to know that they will be forced out eventually and are preparing for that day, once again demonstrating breathtaking nihilism.
ISIL's approach to counterinsurgency is practically all sticks, no carrots. Being occupied by ISIL is an economic disaster: as soon as they arrive, government salaries stop being paid, trade dwindles, gasoline and generator fuel becomes scarce. In the civil war environment of Syria this is less noticeable, but in the context of Iraq the economic distress of ISIL-dominated areas sticks out like a sore thumb.
All this suggests that ISIL is remarkably vulnerable to a well-planned set of uprisings against it in both Iraq and Syria. ISIL's approach to counterinsurgency is brutal and archaic -- more Belgians in the Congo than Petraeus in the Surge. The uprisings that are threatened against ISIL would represent a formidable threat for even the strongest regime with the best counterinsurgency strategy. Anti-ISIL rebels in Iraq and Syria boast sanctuaries in safe areas of Iraq and Syria plus a range of neighboring states.
Anti-ISIL rebels can now draw upon the support of the most powerful nations in the international community, including those who operate the world's most sophisticated airpower and intelligence collection capabilities. If anti-ISIL uprisings are planned and supported with even a modicum of skill and determination, they'll eventually succeed. The ultimate nihilism of ISIL is not only that they are doomed but that they seem to know it, and that the only variable is how many lives they can ruin on their way out.
**Michael Knights is a Lafer Fellow with The Washington Institute. He has worked in all of Iraq's provinces and most of its hundred districts.
UN nuclear watchdog team to visit Tehran for talks: Iran
Oct. 03, 2014/Reuters
VIENNA: A high-level U.N. nuclear watchdog team will visit Tehran for talks in coming days, Iran said on Friday, more than a month after it missed a deadline for addressing questions about its suspected atomic bomb research.
Diplomats told Reuters on Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was expected to make a new attempt soon to advance its long-running investigation into Iran's nuclear program and that a meeting might be held in the Iranian capital early next week. Reza Najafi, Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based U.N. agency, said the IAEA delegation would be led by the head of its division dealing with nuclear safeguards issues, Deputy Director General Tero Varjoranta.
In an apparent reference to Thursday's Reuters article, Najafi was quoted as saying on the web site of Iran's Press TV television: "It is regrettable that classified information in the agency has not been protected again."
He added: "While Iran and the agency were busy planning (the meeting), the news was published by a Western media outlet ... This issue once again confirms Iran’s misgivings that spying exists in the agency."
There was no immediate comment from the IAEA, which for years has been trying to investigate Western allegations that Iran has worked on designing a nuclear warhead. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Western officials say Iran must step up cooperation with the IAEA if it wants to reach a broader diplomatic deal with world powers that would end a decade-old nuclear dispute and gradually end crippling financial and other sanctions on the oil producer.
Early last month, the IAEA said Iran had failed to answer questions by an agreed Aug. 25 deadline about two areas of the investigation into alleged research activities that could be applicable to any attempt to make nuclear bombs - explosives testing and neutron calculations.
While rejecting the accusations as baseless, Iran has promised since Hassan Rouhani, seen as a pragmatist, became president last year on a platform to end its international isolation, to work with the IAEA to clear up the suspicions.
Rouhani's election raised hopes of a solution to the stand-off with the West after years of rising tension that raised fears of a new Middle East war. An interim accord was reached between Iran and six major powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - in Geneva last November. But they did not meet a self-imposed July target date for a long-term accord and now face a new deadline of Nov. 24.
While the powers seek to limit the size of Iran's future nuclear program - and thereby extend the time it would need for any attempt to accumulate fissile material for a weapon - the IAEA is investigating alleged research and experiments in the past that could be used to make the bomb itself.
ISIS fighters enter Kobani: reports
Oct. 03, 2014
SURUC Turkey/BEIRUT: ISIS fighters entered the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border, a CNN editor said Friday.
CNN editor Ram Ramgopal tweeted that Alan Minbic, a Kurdish fighter, told the network that jihadists had entered the southwestern edges of the besieged town, known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic.
Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters defending Kobani warned of a likely massacre by ISIS insurgents as the Islamists encircled the town with tanks and bombarded its outskirts with artillery fire.
Turkey said it would do what it could to prevent Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town just over its southern border, from falling into ISIS hands but stopped short of committing to any direct military intervention.
U.S.-led forces have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq but the action has done little to stop their advance in northern Syria towards the Turkish border, piling pressure on Ankara to intervene.
Esmat al-Sheikh, head of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said the distance between his fighters and the insurgents was now less than one km (half a mile).
"We are in a small, besieged area. No reinforcements reached us and the borders are closed," he told Reuters by phone. "My expectation is for general killing, massacres and destruction ... There is bombardment with tanks, artillery, rockets and mortars."
ISIS has earned a reputation for extreme violence, carrying out widespread killings including beheadings in the Syrian and Iraqi territory it has seized.
Two large clouds of smoke rose up to the east of Kobani and there were several loud explosions from further inside the town as shelling continued and gunfire rang out, a Reuters correspondent on the Turkish side of the border said.
Fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) tried to push the insurgents back, firing missiles lit up by bright red tracers from the town and striking ISIS targets in a village a few kilometers to the east.
The frontlines between the Kurds and ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group still commonly known by its former acronyms of ISIS and ISIL, are fluid.
Idris Nassan, deputy foreign minister in a local Kurdish administration, said the YPG had been able to blunt ISIS gains over the past two days on the southeastern front.
"There are clashes every minute of the day. The YPG pushed ISIS back yesterday in the southeast of Kobani. ISIS were two km from Kobani (to the southeast) but they are now four km," he said. "From time to time there are shells by ISIS that reach the center of the city. Three hours ago there was a bomb that landed in Kobani. I haven’t heard about casualties."
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the eastern, western and southern fronts had not seen significant changes since Thursday, when ISIS fighters tightened their grip around Kobani.
But that at least 25 shells had hit the town, coupled with heavy clashes on the eastern and southeastern fronts on Friday.
TURKEY "NOT AT FAULT"
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would do what it could to prevent Kobani from falling to ISIS but stopped short of committing to the sort of military intervention that the Kurds have been crying out for.
"We wouldn't want Kobani to fall. We'll do whatever we can to prevent this from happening," Davutoglu said in a discussion with journalists broadcast on the A Haber television station.
Parliament gave the government powers on Thursday to order cross-border military incursions against ISIS, and to allow forces of the U.S.-led foreign coalition to launch similar operations from Turkish territory.
But Davutoglu appeared to pull back from any suggestion that this meant Turkey was planning a military incursion, saying such a move could drag Ankara into a wider conflict along its 900 km (560-mile) border.
"Some are saying 'Why aren't you protecting Kurds in Kobani?' If the Turkish armed forces enter Kobani and the Turkmens from Yayladag ask 'why aren't you saving us?', we would have to go there as well," he said, referring to another ethnic minority in Syria across from a Turkish border town.
"When the Arab citizens across from Reyhanli say 'why don't you save us as well", we'd have to go there too."
Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz was also quoted as telling reporters that it would be wrong to expect imminent military action after the parliamentary motion passed.
Ankara fears military intervention could deepen the insecurity on its border by strengthening Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and bolster Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said on Wednesday peace talks between his group and Turkey would collapse if ISIS militants are allowed to carry out a massacre in Kobani.
Davutoglu said it was wrong to link the two issues. "If Kobani falls, Turkey is not at fault. If Kobani falls, this shouldn't be tied to the solution process (with the PKK)."
SIGNS OF PROGRESS IN IRAQ
ISIS has carved out swathes of eastern Syria and western Iraq in a drive to create a cross-border caliphate between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, terrifying communities into submission by slaughtering those who resist.
The United States has been carrying out air strikes in Iraq against the militant group since July and in Syria since last week with the help of Arab allies. Britain and France have also struck ISIS targets in Iraq.
There have been some successes on the ground. In Iraq, Sunni tribes have joined pro-government forces in recent days for several major battles against the militants. The Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad and the United States hope this is a sign of increasing cooperation across sectarian lines to save the country.
When ISIS fighters tried to storm the Tigris River town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad this week, they were repelled by a rare coalition of Sunni tribal fighters inside the town and Shi'ites in its sister city Balad on the opposite bank.
Further north, another powerful Sunni tribe fought alongside Kurdish forces to drive ISIS fighters from Rabia, a town controlling one of the main border checkpoints used by fighters pouring in from Syria.
Village by village, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have regained around half the territory they gave up in August when ISIS militants tore through their defenses in the northwest, prompting the United States to launch airstrikes in September, its first since 2011.
Turkey insists the air strikes alone will not contain the ISIS threat, and wants simultaneous action to be taken against Assad's government, including the creation of a no-fly zone on the Syrian side of the border.
"You know what will happen if there isn’t a no-fly zone? ISIL bases will be bombed and then the Syrian regime, Assad, who has committed all those massacres, believing that he is now legitimate, will bide his time and bomb Aleppo," Davutoglu said.
Syrian rebels will reject a plan that helps Assad
David Ignatius| The Daily Star
As Syrian rebel commander Hamza al-Shamali describes the battle inside Syria, a few miles across the border, the immediate problem isn’t defeating ISIS.
It’s coordinating the ragtag brigades of the Free Syrian Army into a coherent force that can fill the vacuum once the extremists are driven out.
“At some point, the Syrian street lost trust in the Free Syrian Army,” he tells me. Shamali explains that many rebel commanders aren’t disciplined, their fighters aren’t well-trained and the loose umbrella organization of the FSA lacks command and control. The extremists of ISIS and the Nusra Front have filled the vacuum. Now, he says, “the question every Syrian has for the opposition is: Are you going to bring chaos or order?”
Shamali is the leader of a group called Harakat Hazm, or “Steadfastness Movement,” which is the biggest U.S.-backed rebel force in Syria. He commands about 4,200 trained and vetted fighters. He’s a lean man, tight as a coiled spring, with a thin beard and eyes hardened by three years of war that killed two of his brothers among nearly 200,000 Syrians who have perished.
The war is just over the Syrian border that bounds the southern edge of Reyhanli, about 845 kilometers southeast of Istanbul. The town has become a staging point for the rebels; people in the streets often speak Arabic with a Syrian accent, and many cars still have their Syrian license plates. This is where Syrian rebel groups maintain what passes for a military operations center.
In a safe house here, Shamali and his key deputies last weekend gave me the clearest account I’ve heard of the challenge ahead for the Obama administration as it tries to build a force that can “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS inside Syria. The problem is that the “moderate opposition” that the U.S. is backing is still largely a fantasy.
Shamali argues that rather than try to combine the motley brigades of the FSA, as some are urging, the opposition should create a new “Syrian national army” that can defeat the extremists and eventually topple President Bashar Assad. “We refuse to repeat failed experiments,” he says, explaining why he rejected a merger proposed last week by former opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba. The proposal to combine existing rebel brigades “is a cut and paste of previous FSA failures,” he warns.
The interview with Shamali offered a rare glimpse inside the group the U.S. has supported under its nominally “covert” program to train and vet Syrian rebels. Formed last January, Harakat Hazm was the first group to receive U.S. anti-tank missiles; it also has the beginnings of an intelligence network and counterterrorism capability. The U.S. provides $150 a month for each fighter, and has recorded their biometric data.
Shamali says he’s building a mobile guerrilla force in northern Syria, rather than attempting to hold local territory, as most of the opposition groups do. “You need a strike force – the tip of the spear – that can move very fast.” Then he wants to train local people to “fill the void” as the extremists retreat. Shamali says he would fold his operation into a real national rebel army as soon as it’s formed.
The FSA’s biggest problem has been internecine feuding. Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed various people who tried to become leaders, such as: Abdul-Jabbar Akaidi, Salim Idriss and Jamal Maarouf. They all talked about unifying the opposition but none succeeded. An Arab intelligence source explains: “Until now, the FSA is a kind of mafia. Everyone wants to be head. People inside Syria are tired of this mafia. There is no structure. It’s nothing.” And this from one of the people who have struggled the past three years to organize the resistance.
The puzzle of creating the right structure for training and assisting the moderate opposition will fall largely to Gen. John Allen, a retired Marine who serves as President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Iraq and Syria. He’ll be meeting in Jordan next week with members of the Syrian opposition.
In framing its Syria strategy, the Obama administration has to face up to a basic political problem, as well as the organizational issues. Most Syrian rebels are fighting because they hate Assad’s regime. They have come to oppose ISIS, too, and many rebels appear ready to fight the extremists. But if U.S. airstrikes and other support are seen to be hitting Muslim fighters only, and strengthening the despised Assad, this strategy for creating a “moderate opposition” will likely fail.
**David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.
Netanyahu: As i see it: Fighting the battle while losing the war
Netanyahu's anxiety is all too well-founded, as the US is signaling that it wants to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
By MELANIE PHILLIPS \ J.Post
Unilaterally changing a global conversation isn’t easy. Trying to do so when everyone is shouting in panic and with their fingers stuffed in their ears is enough to daunt the most determined. Yet that’s what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attempted to do this week in the US, where he addressed the UN and spoke with President Barack Obama.
America and Britain are panicking about the threat from Islamic State, so much so they have gone to war (albeit in a half-baked fashion, but that’s another story) in Iraq and Syria. Without denying the need to confront the Islamic State threat, Netanyahu wants America and its allies to be most concerned about the thousand-fold more dangerous menace of Iran.
Netanyahu is worried that, since Iran is also fighting Islamic State, this will turn the Iranian regime from pariah into partner and thus provide it with vital leverage in its quest to achieve nuclear weapons capability.
Accordingly, Netanyahu strove to equate Islamic State with Iran and other Islamic terror groups.
Just as the world powers would not let Islamic State enrich uranium, build a heavy water reactor or develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, he said, so Iran must not be allowed to do those things either. “To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”
His anxiety is all too well-founded, as the US is signaling that it wants to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
In a speech last week to the National Iranian American Council, the White House Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon said: “A nuclear agreement could begin a multi-generational process that could lead to a new relationship between our countries. Iran could begin to reduce tensions with its neighbors and return to its rightful place in the community of nations.”
This is astonishingly myopic, or worse. The State Department has listed Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It supports Hamas and Hezbollah and has been behind countless murderous attacks against US, Jewish and other Western interests.
It sows insurgent chaos in Iraq (indeed, to that end it was reportedly an early supporter of Islamic State) because such destabilization helps it control the region. It is waging a self-declared war against the West, and repeatedly declares its genocidal intention to wipe out Israel. The only conscionable agreement with Iran is for it to do what it has repeatedly and categorically ruled out, to abandon uranium enrichment and its nuclear program.
According to Gordon, there was “progress” in the latest round of talks with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline. What progress? Only towards an Iranian bomb.
In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that “little progress is being made” in these negotiations, with Iran implementing only three out of five nuclear transparency steps which it had undertaken to complete before August 25. Yet in the face of such defiance, the US and its international negotiating partners are flirting with proposals which would leave Iran’s nuclear program intact and the regime able to manufacture the bomb in short order.
What is so perplexing is that Iran is simply not being treated by the West as the threat that it so patently is, despite its serial atrocities against Western interests.
In Britain, the main anxiety is not about a nuclear Iran but the possibility that Israel might attack it.
Last year the Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is tipped by many as a future prime minister, told an adoring TV audience that Iran posed no threat to anyone in the world at all.
This week the British home secretary, Theresa May, observed that “the lesson of history tells us that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it.” She was talking, however, not about Iran but about Islamic State, which she described as planning to establish “the world’s first truly terrorist state.”
But that’s precisely what Iran already is. And if Islamic State with its 25,000 followers is such a threat, why isn’t Iran, with its standing army of more than half a million and its terror proxies, rocket arsenals and imminent genocide bomb, seen as immeasurably more dangerous? In the US, Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, suggested that a nuclear deal with Iran trumped any such concerns about its behavior.
“The nuclear issue is too important to subordinate to a complete transformation of Iran internally,” he said. But while Iran is the world’s principal terrorist regime, it is surely beyond irresponsible to allow it to become a nuclear-capable power.
Netanyahu’s attempt to educate the world about the hydra-headed global jihad appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Last Monday, the State Department said it did not agree with him that Hamas, Islamic State and Iran were all part of the same Islamist movement. For America, it said, Islamic State posed a different threat. But how can this possibly be worse than Iran? At Wednesday’s joint press conference with Obama, Netanyahu opened an ingenious new front. A “commonality of interest between Israel and leading Arab states,” he said, was now starting to emerge from the current turmoil in the Arab world.
He seemed to be suggesting a possible alliance by Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not just against Islamic State but also against Iran. Just as Obama was persuaded to proceed against Islamic State only when he gained cover from Arab states, so perhaps Netanyahu hoped to persuade him he could act with similar Arab cover against Iran.
Even more sinuous was the hint that a similar alliance might pull off the prize Obama always hoped would crown his presidency: a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Clever stuff, this, turning Obama’s obsession from a malign threat against Israel to a win-win inducement. Whether it has the slightest chance, though, of shifting the US away from its headlong spiral of Iranian-appeasement is another matter.
The alternatives for the US and its allies are stark.
Either they support Israel in fighting Iran as the principal enemy of the West – or they crumble before Iran and thus inescapably empower its attack on the West. The free world can only hold its breath.
**Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).
The struggle to succeed Khamenei has already begun
Amir Taheri /Ashar Al Awsat
Friday, 3 Oct, 2014
During his recent stay in New York, President Hassan Rouhani hosted a “private dinner” for a number of former US officials, oil executives, and lobbyists. According to several participants, Rouhani tried to pass on a simple message: If the US does not help him clinch a deal on the nuclear issue, the next elections in Iran could return people like “that man” to power.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had relayed the same message at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “If you don’t help us, you could get that man again,” he warned. But who is “that man,” the person whom Rouhani and Zarif are trying to present as a bête-noire for the Americans?
The answer is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To be sure, Ahmadinejad does not have a constituency of his own and is unlikely to win any elections without the say-so of the “deep state,” that is to say the military-security apparatus, the network of political mullahs, and interest groups within the business community.
Rouhani and his political mentor, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, however, hope that a deal with the US would give them momentum to seize control of the Islamic Majlis, the ersatz parliament, next year, and then capture the Assembly of Experts, which, in turn, chooses the “Supreme Guide.”
There is no doubt that within the Khomeinist establishment, the Rafsanjani faction is the least hostile to the United States. Rafsanjani has always fancied himself as an Iranian version of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who closed the chapter of Maoist revolution and opened the way for China’s inclusion into the global system.
Rafsanjani’s argument is that the US does not have any problem with the “Islamic” character of the Khomeinist regime. In fact, there are four “Islamic Republics,” and three have normal and, at times, even close ties with Washington. Provided the Khomeinist regime does not threaten US interests, Washington couldn’t care less what the regime does inside Iran. The fact that China is world number-one for number of executions has not prevented it from becoming Washington’s closest trading partner (the Islamic Republic in Iran is second!)
For more than two decades Rafsanjani has shed metaphorical tears over the mistake he made after Khomeini’s death in 1989 by propelling Ali Khamenei, a junior mullah, into the position of the “Supreme Guide.” At the time, Rafsanjani believed that by becoming president he would seize control of the powerful machinery of state while Khamenei, a low profile figure interested in poetry and sitar, would fade away.
He was proved wrong. A system built around the concept of velayat e-faqih (custodianship of the Islamic jurist) could not jettison its central organizing principle. Rafsanjani also underestimated Khamenei, who turned out to be a tough leader dedicated to the bizarre ideology of Khomeinism.
A quarter of a century later, Rafsanjani is now toying with the idea of correcting his mistake by becoming “Supreme Guide.” His faction has won the presidency and hopes to win the Majlis next year. If it succeeds, the way could be open for also winning the Assembly of Experts in May 2016. And then, who knows?
This is why Rafsanjani has been in campaign mode for the past year or so. Moving at top speed, he has published several volumes of his memoirs, designed to remind people of his close ties with the late Ayatollah Khomeini, and his supposed successes as a two-term president. He has granted over 40 interviews, including several with Western news outlets. After years of not being allowed to step out of Tehran, Rafsanjani has also been travelling all over the country, projecting himself as a potential savior of the nation. The foreign ministry in Tehran has been ordered to include a meeting with Rafsanjani in the programme of all foreign dignitaries coming to the Islamic Republic. Thus, Rafsanjani’s face is plastered on front pages in Tehran almost daily. The former president has also orchestrated a campaign of “dirty tricks” against mullahs whom he regards as potential rivals for the top position.
Right now his main target is Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, a member of the Assembly of Experts, who has publicly accused Rafsanjani’s faction of trying to ditch the revolution and sell Iran to the American “Great Satan.” Rafsanjani has accused Mesbah-Yazdi of having opposed revolutionary action against the Shah. Mesbah-Yazdi has retaliated by accusing Rafsanjani of underhand dealings with the Mojahedin e-Khalq, an Islamist guerrilla group active inside Iran in the 1970s and later opposed to Khomeini.
Khamenei’s recent brief hospitalization gave the succession fight added intensity. Figures close to Rasfanjani, notably the mullah Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, have publicly raised the issue of succession. That Khamenei is younger than Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi has not dampened speculation regarding his eventual demise. If he lives as long as Khomeini, Khamenei would have another 13 years to go. Also, he may do constitutional jujitsu with amendments that replace the presidency with a prime minister. He has publicly raised the issue, suggesting it might be on the agenda within four years. In any case, the next Assembly of Experts could remain in place until 2024, by which time Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Mesbah would all have 90 candles on their birthday cakes.
The US would be foolish to become involved in factional feuds in Tehran. The mullahs’ republic in Iran is not the People’s Republic in China and “Obama in Tehran” could only come as a caricature of “Nixon in Beijing.”
In their quest for supreme power, Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi face another problem. Unlike Khamenei, they wear white turbans, which mean they are not descendants of Fatimah and Ali and thus not part of the Ahl el-Beit (People of the House). A black turban may well merge from the shadows to inject a dark horse note in the drama.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Eyad Abu Shakra /Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 3 Oct, 2014
In multi-factional states in particular, stable institutions are the best
guarantee of a secure nation. Anyone who looks into the history of Lebanon since
1943 cannot fail to notice that whenever the army was safe and cohesive, so was
At this juncture, I feel I must mention Fouad Chehab, a patriotic Lebanese figure who perfectly personified this fact throughout his military and later political career. Chehab, frequently regarded as “the Father of the Army,” and near-unanimously considered Lebanon’s greatest president, was no ordinary politician. So it is a pity that the ignorant gangs and thugs, who took to the streets last week “in defence of the army” as a reaction against a critical post on Twitter by an Arab TV anchor, know nothing about Chehab’s legacy, his role, his beliefs about the importance of institutions, or his absolute belief in the unity of Lebanon and how to keep it safe and secure.
Those ignorant gangs and thugs did not realize that the army, as well as other national institutions, do not need loud slogans, empty boasts, demagogic tweets, but rather wise citizens who are aware of what threatens the existence of these institutions and undermine its neutrality. The army, the police, or the judiciary must not be closer to one Lebanese faction than another, and no faction should ever claim it “loves” the army more than others.
Indeed, the Lebanese have experienced such excessive “love” for the army and Lebanon at the onset of the Lebanese War during the 1970s. The result was the collapse and fragmentation of the army, and Lebanon’s very existence as a state imperiled during a civil and regional war that lasted for more than 15 years.
I remember well what happened to the Lebanese army then, and who was working to break it up as a path to dividing and subjugating the country. I also remember how the army lost its cohesion and national support when one Lebanese faction claimed that it alone “loved” and supported it to the exclusion of other factions. Eventually, all Lebanese paid a heavy price for pushing the army into confrontations in the absence of national consensus.
Fouad Chehab, who had no children of his own, regarded the army as his child. He cared for it, and knew how dangerous it would be for it to become a vehicle for politicians’ whims. He also profoundly understood, upon taking over as president in 1958 during the height of the Cold War, how dangerous the repercussions of the Cold War, regional tensions, and international rivalry, were; thus he was keen to keep both the country and the army away from the conflicts that were boiling around Lebanon.
Chehab hailed from a princely Sunni Muslim clan that claims descent from the Quraish, Prophet Mohammed’s (peace be upon him) own tribe. However, the branch he was born into had converted to Maronite Christianity during the 18th and 19th centuries. This background helped make him a moderate who rejected religious bigotry, and a strong believer in a Lebanon devoid of sectarian privileges and discrimination. Furthermore, his military upbringing and career ensured his strong commitment to state institutions, which he believed were more important and more permanent than any traditional leadership.
True to form, it was Chehab who was the real founder of the modern state of Lebanon through his far reaching reforms of the civil service, the treasury, and the judiciary. His contemporaries fondly recall his trade-mark quote “let’s see what the book says”—alluding to the constitution—whenever ministers and parliamentarians disagreed on political and legislative issues. Thus, he was a real statesman, not a street bully or a populist charlatan who makes a habit of covering up his mistakes by deluding his followers and selling them out. He believed to the end that the army’s role was to defend the country as a whole, empowered by a national mandate, and not hired or mortgaged or used in internal conflicts. His unshakable conviction was that the national army must be above all parties.
Following the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, however, the prestige of the Arab political system suffered a near fatal blow, while what was then called the “peoples’ liberation war” gained credibility, led by the armed Palestinian movement, the Fedayeen. In Lebanon, the ascendancy of the Fedayeen led to resentment and a counter-reaction among the Christian community. As a result of the Muslims’ whole-hearted support of the Palestinian fighters, the failure of Lebanon’s leaders to prevent polarization, and Israel’s exploitation of the situation, the Lebanese Army fought the Fedayeen in 1973. This was a bleak precursor that destroyed the army’s reputation for impartiality, and within only two years—in 1975—disaster struck and the Lebanese War erupted.
During this war Fouad Chehab’s army disintegrated, splitting into different forces: the Sunni and Shi’ite-dominated Lebanese Arab Army, the Christian 8th Brigade, the Druze 11th Brigade, and the Israeli-supported South Lebanon Army with Saad Haddad, and later Antoine Lahad, as its nominal commanders.
This state of affairs continued until the war officially ended with the signing of the Taif Agreement, an accord which was, in fact, opposed by the most influential players in the Lebanese arena today.
These players are now preventing the election of a new president, and calling for military and intelligence cooperation with the Assad regime along the border with Syria. We should remember that it is these same players who helped erase the borders between Syria and Lebanon a couple of years ago, when they sent armed militiamen into Syria to fight against the anti-Assad rebels. Today, they are trying to use the Lebanese Army as a cover in their fight against the Syrian rebels—as well as extremist groups—who have crossed the now-defunct border and into Lebanon.
Such a situation should not have come as a surprise, given the exposure of the former Lebanese government’s policy of “distancing” the country from the Syrian conflict as a fallacy.
The Lebanese troops now held hostage by the extremist groups the international community is fighting are indeed the sons of all of Lebanon. They are innocent of any kind of political allegiance, and were not consulted before they were sent to the front-lines at Arsal.
On the other side, those who thought they could control the rules of military engagement in both Syria and Lebanon must be held responsible, more so since there were already some worrying signs. The killing of the Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmad Abdul-Wahed weakened the great respect the Lebanese army had enjoyed in Akkar (in north Lebanon), and area nicknamed “the army’s human reservoir,” from which came the largest number of the army’s martyrs during the Nahr Al-Bared battle in 2007. This was followed last year in southern Lebanon where the movement of another Sunni cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir, was destroyed, amid reports that fighters from Hezbollah fought alongside army regulars.
Now the army finds itself in a bloody, sectarian quagmire. This is a catastrophic scenario for the army built by Fouad Chehab, and upon examining the record of those who are now expressing their “love,” and are thus gambling with the army’s future, one should really worry.
Among those people is a man with a longstanding and burning ambition to be president, and who, years ago, left his troops defenseless and ran away to seek refuge in the French embassy in Beirut after a quixotic battle with Syrian troops, a battle that ended with Damascus re-imposing its influence over Lebanon.
Another is a faction that views the Lebanese army, as well as all state security bodies, as mere auxiliaries to a de facto “resistance” movement that receives its orders from overseas.
May God protect the Lebanese Army from its false friends, as it is more than capable of dealing with its enemies.
Gulf countries standing idly by in Yemen
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/ Al Arabiya
Friday, 3 October 2014
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) foreign ministers made very precise statements to send out a warning that “the GCC states will not stand idly by in the face of factional foreign intervention in Yemen.” They had previously stressed that the security of Yemen is one of the council’s main concerns. As such, the scope of the crisis has widened from the previous state when local leaders and the U.N. envoy were left to resolve the conflict.
The truth is that the Gulf states that want to help Yemen have their hands tied because they do not have tanks, troops or militias on the ground Yemen. They cannot wage a war on the Houthis similar to the one waged on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The GCC is facing a difficult situation in Yemen; for decades their support was only political and economic. The Houthi rebels have reneged on all their agreements signed in recent weeks, even those amended to meet their demands. They disrespected all the deals they signed.
“The Gulf’s actions since the unrest in Yemen erupted in 2011 were positive”
The question is not about the illegitimacy of Ansar al-Allah, the Houthis, who seized control of the Yemeni capital. This is obvious after they overthrew the legitimate government that was recognized by the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League and was the product of the consensus of various Yemeni parties. The question now is: How can we deter this rebel militia and restore legitimacy? Will the Security Council that recognized the Yemeni government be able to protect it in the same way it is now defending the Iraqi government against ISIS? What can the GCC do to protect its initiative and protect the new Yemeni regime? Does the GCC’s statement that they will not stand idly by mean a possible military action?
Unrest in Yemen
The Gulf’s actions since the unrest in Yemen erupted in 2011 were positive. Gulf countries respected popular demands and convinced Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down from the presidency. They succeeded in preventing chaos and massacres between various parties and supported the project of the temporary transitional government until the Yemeni people choose a new leader. This was the best that could have been done in that serious crisis, despite the bad choice of the Interim President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This is why Yemen and Tunisia have emerged Arab Spring models. In the end, Yemenis were victorious with the U.N.’s political support and the major international economic rescue project.
Now, all these achievements are being destroyed by the Houthi rebels who dared to assault the new regime and due to the success of the ousted president’s supporters in undermining the army and security force, leaving the capital defenseless. Accordingly, we ask the Gulf countries, which believe that an attack on Yemen is tantamount to an attack on themselves, what can they do about this? Will they send military forces to confront the Houthis? Are they ready for a wider confrontation in case Iran supports its Houthi allies with troops as it did in Iraq and Syria?
I don’t think that a direct military intervention is the solution now, as it was after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. This is because it won’t be viable in a collapsed and dangerous country regarded as the second safe haven for al-Qaeda, after Syria. There are limited available options, most notably the political solution. Despite its failure so far, it is still the best option to unite various Yemeni forces, including the South’s forces, against the Houthis and al-Qaeda. It is also the best option to urge them to adopt a political project that excludes the rebels and their supporters and punishes them economically. The second solution is to support, re-structure and arm the army, empowering it to retake cities from the clutches of the Houthis who are taking arms depots, financial and energy assets in their bid to control the major cities through puppets who claim to represent the Yemeni people.
The Gulf countries are facing unusual challenges in Yemen. The war will not be easy as some rivals are still unknown. If the GCC succeeds in Yemen, it will win the respect it deserves in the troubled region, but if it fails, the consequences will be immense.
In Lebanon, saving one should not mean
Friday, 3 October 2014 /Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya
Perhaps, the most significant words that were said about Lebanon’s closing of the roads for security reasons came from Roman Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Zahle, Issam Darwish.
He said: “We stand by the kidnapped soldiers without any doubt; they represent Lebanon and each one of us. They are paying the ransom for us. We stand by their families and feel their pain. They are right to ask the government to do what it has to do to release their kidnapped children. However, at the same time, we wonder if closing the roads is the most effective way to reach their demands? Does destroying the economy of Bekaa and isolating it from the rest of the areas bring the soldiers back? I have never heard that one civilized country in the whole world resorted to this type of protest. I ask the families to look for a better way that does not harm their fellow citizens and that is more effective in freeing our kidnapped soldiers.”
“There is no room for intransigence regarding people’s right to life and freedom, especially if they are soldiers who were abducted on the battlefield by terrorist groups”
He spoke the bitter truth that no one dared to say. He was perhaps criticized, as often happens on social media. Telling the truth is always costly. Criticism, albeit sometimes hurtful, does not exempt us from saying truth.
The truth is that our government falls short in this matter because the negotiations, and not trade, are an urgent and necessary duty. There is no room for intransigence regarding people’s right to life and freedom, especially if they are soldiers who were abducted on the battlefield by terrorist groups that do not abide by any law or treaty protecting the abducted victims. The pain of the parents cannot be assuaged by expressions of sympathy or fleeting emotions expressed in front of cameras, even though the Lebanese’s feelings of solidarity are honest. However, not all Lebanese should pay the price, especially soldiers who cannot reach the location where they must serve. Moreover, people are not allowed to go the capital’s hospitals for urgent health issues and the crops of the farmers who live in the Bekaa valley cannot reach the markets. Blocking the roads in Qalamun, Dahr el-Baydar, Tarshish and Rashaya, among others, does not serve justice. Exerting pressures on the government is not achieved by punishing the poor, the sick and the students who send all their children to the army and who are compassionate toward the kidnapped and their families. Exerting pressure is not achieved by behaving like members of militias, but by creating different ways to put pressure on the government and ministers in order to force the Cabinet to hold a special session aiming to result in a clear decision on this matter, instead of having contradictory and confusing stances.
Question: "What does the Bible say about pandemic diseases/sicknesses?"
Answer: The recent Ebola outbreak has prompted many to ask why God allows—or even causes—pandemics and whether such a disease is a sign of the end times. The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, describes numerous occasions when God brought plagues and diseases on both His people and His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). He used plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His people from being affected by them (Exodus 12:13; 15:26), thus indicating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions.
God also warned His people of the consequences of disobedience, including plagues (Leviticus 26:21, 25). Numbers 16:49 and 25:9 describe God destroying 14,700 people and 24,000 people, respectively, for various acts of disobedience. After giving the Mosaic Law, God commanded the people to obey it or suffer many evils, including something that sounds like Ebola: “The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation…which will plague you until you perish” (Deuteronomy 28:22). These are just a few examples of many plagues and diseases God caused.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine our loving and merciful God displaying such wrath and anger toward His people. But God’s punishments always have the goal of repentance and restoration. In 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, God said to Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Here we see God using disaster to draw us to Himself, to cause us to repent of sin and come to Him as children to their heavenly Father.
In the New Testament, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in the areas He visited (Matthew 9:35; 10:1; Mark 3:10). Just as God chose to use plagues and disease to show His power to the Israelites, Jesus healed as an exhibition of the same power to verify that He was truly the Son of God. He gave the same healing power to the disciples to verify their ministry (Luke 9:1). God still allows sickness for His own purposes, but sometimes disease, even worldwide pandemics, are simply the result of living in a fallen world. There is no way to determine which, although we do know that God has sovereign control over all things (Romans 11:36), and He will work all things together for the good of those who know and love Him (Romans 8:28).
The current Ebola epidemic is not the last we will see of plagues. Jesus referred to future plagues that will be part of the end-times scenario (Luke 21:11). The two witnesses of Revelation 11 will have power “to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Revelation 15 speaks of seven plagues wielded by seven angels as the final, most severe judgments, described in Revelation 16.
Whether the current outbreak of Ebola is part of God’s judgment or the result of living in a fallen, sinful world, and whether or not it is a signal that the end time is beginning, our response should be the same. For those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, disease is a reminder that life on this earth is tenuous and can be lost at any moment. Without the saving blood of Christ shed for us, we will pay for our sins for all eternity in a hell that will make the worst pandemic seem mild. For the Christian, however, we have the assurance of salvation and the hope of eternity because of what Christ suffered on the cross for us (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28).
Recommended Resources: A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God's Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada and Logos Bible Software.