October 05/14

Bible Quotation for today/Concerning Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12/Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Unity and Diversity in the Body Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. Love Is Indispensable And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

His Beatitude Our Maronite Patriarch Bchara Al Raei ended today his visit to Lebanon and headed Rome

Pope Francis,s Tweet For Today

As Jesus told Martha in the Gospel, one thing is necessary: prayer.

Pape François

Comme Jésus l’indique à Marthe dans l’Évangile, une chose est nécessaire : prier.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 04, 05/14

Enlightened thinking’ to effectively crush terrorism/Abdullah Hamidaddin/Al Arabiya/October 05/14

Should Washington Withhold Aid to Egypt/By Yehuda Blanga/October 05/14

All about Gaza: Abbas and Netanyahu at the U.N/Abdallah Schleifer /Al Arabiya/October 05/14

What is Turkey’s military role in Iraq and Syria/By: Ceylan Ozbudak /October 05/14

Givat Hamatos: One Area, Two Prisms/David Makovsky/The Washington Institute/October 05/14

Cultural heritage and violence in the Middle East/Fiona Rose-Greenland/October 05/14

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era/By: Marieme Hélie-Lucas and Maryam Namazie/October 05/14


Lebanese Related News published on October 04, 05/14

Israel: We know to do in Lebanon what we did in Gaza
North Lebanon mufti:, Sheikh Malek Shaar Roumieh detainees face blind injustice
Lebanon grand mufti, Abdul-Latif Derian calls for religious, political reform

Rai rejects 'collective punishment' by relatives of Lebanese hostages

Al-Rahi Travels to Vatican, Throws Weight behind Government over Hostages
Lebanon's Arabic Press Digest - Oct. 4, 2014

Son of east Lebanon mayor accidentally shot dead
Airborne operations to survey for gas and oil
In Lebanon, Syria Refugees Face Growing Discrimination

Report: Militants Seeking Safe Passage to Arsal
Gemayel to Meet Hariri in Paris as Jumblat Arrives for 'Private Trip'

Human Rights Watch Slams Curfews on Syrians in Lebanon

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 04, 05/14

Assyrian Mother and Three Sons Murdered in Baghdad

Jihadists pound Kobani after slaying Briton

Internet video purports to show Islamic State group beheading British hostage Alan Henning
ISIS beheads British hostage Alan Henning

Three Sarkozy allies charged in fraud probe

Tunisia begins landmark election race

Erdogan demands apology from Biden

Turkey Warns Will Hit Back if IS Attacks Syria Exclave

Nine killed in attacks targeting Iraq's military

Canada, Netherlands set to join ISIS strikes

U.S. Praises Australia for Joining IS Coalition
Assad makes rare public appearance at Eid prayers
Saudi Grand Mufti: defeat forces sowing chaos

U.S. Says Any Recognition of Palestinian State is 'Premature'

U.S. Says Battle for Iraq's Mosul Could be a Year Away
Iraq Army Chief Claims Major Victory in Sunni Town

Three Allies of Sarkozy Charged in Fraud Probe

Free Syrian Army set to unite rebels in southern Syria: official

Eid al-Adha: binding celebration
The Daily Star/Oct. 04, 2014
The Eid al-Adha holiday, punctuated by the arrival of more than 2 million pilgrims in Mecca, is traditionally a time when Muslims celebrate a centrally important religious occasion, steeped in social and cultural significance. But this year’s Eid comes at a crucial time for the world’s Muslims and many other concerned people – in the headlines every day are the latest developments in the war being waged by an international coalition of countries against a group claiming to represent Islam. Perhaps no time in recent memory has seen such international attention focused on Islam and Muslims, while sectarian tension, pitting Sunnis against Shiites, is rife in several critically-important areas of the Middle East. This year’s Eid al-Adha should serve as a wake-up call of the utmost seriousness, on several levels. Sunnis and Shiites should pause to undertake a profound examination of the spirit of this holiday and focus resolutely on their many common denominators. They should realize the immense richness of their shared traditions and disregard those ill-intentioned parties, from inside and outside Islam, who focus only on the differences.Moreover, Islam itself has been hijacked by a group of ultra-extremists who have distorted centrally-important aspects of the religion – media around the world are paying daily attention to the actions of this group, subtly brainwashing people into thinking that they are somehow representative of Islam. Many people in conflict-ridden Arab and Muslim countries might not find much joy in this year’s Eid because they have lost family and friends to violence; things will become even bleaker if they do not pledge themselves to act, and begin reversing the damage that has been done, to both the reputation of Islam and the lives of Muslims.

Lebanon grand mufti, Abdul-Latif Derian calls for religious, political reform
Oct. 04, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon's grand mufti, Abdul-Latif Derian Saturday deplored crimes committed by extremist forces in the region, saying such elements knew nothing about Islam, and called for religious and political reform and better care for the youth. “What we are witnessing today of atrocities in the name of religion is proof that those who are committing such crimes know nothing about religion,” Abdul-Latif Derian said in his Eid sermon, the first since his election, at the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut. “We are today stuck between strife and crisis. Strife is forcing us to commit violations and carry out attacks and the crisis lies in our domestic conflict.” “The strays and those who carry arms want people to do the same and depart from the nation.” Derian gave his sermon in the presence of Prime Minister Tammam Salam as well as a delegation of Future lawmakers and Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Asiri. Walking on a red carpet stretching from the entrance of the mosque to the street, Derian made his first official appearance as mufti accompanied by Salam. In his sermon, Derian spoke of coexistence and the need for communication among the country’s various sectarian and political groups. “Absolute equality between religions, individuals and peoples should not mean hostility but peace and unity because the latter is the source of our strength,” he said.“Understanding religions means to coexist with other citizens of the nation and people of the world. ... Let us move be more affectionate and communicate with one another.”
The mufti, whose election ended a long simmering rift between the main Sunni political groups and Dar al-Fatwa, stressed the need for rehabilitation of political and religious institutions for coming generations. “It is our responsibility to rehabilitate political, national and social life as well as [enact] reforms in institutions and at the level of education in terms of culture and religion,” he said. “We are in need of reforms in religious education as well as charity organizations because these organizations are meant for everyone, not a specific group.”
“Our youths need to feel that they are cared for and that their society provides them with needed confidence and resources,” Derian said. “We are responsible for these young people and society before the security and military institutions and we should care for them so they can trust us. “We should not leave them or neglect them while we complain of divisions.”

Saudi Grand Mufti: defeat forces sowing chaos
AFP, Mount Arafat /Saturday, 4 October 2014
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 ISIS 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 ISIS 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-Qaeda and ISIS 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.

Assad makes rare public appearance at Eid prayers
AFP, Damascus /Saturday, 4 October 2014
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance on Saturday, attending prayers on the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday at a mosque in Damascus, state media said. State media and Assad’s official Twitter feed posted photos of the embattled president praying alongside the country's top cleric and members of his government. “President Bashar al-Assad leads Eid al-Adha prayers at the Nuaman bin Bashir mosque in Damascus,” state news agency SANA said. Adnan Afyouni, Damascus’s top cleric, used his sermon to criticize the international community for backing an uprising against Assad that began in 2011. “Eid is associated with happiness in the life of the Muslim nation,” he said.  “But Eid has not entered our homes because the West and its Arab collaborators decided to make our country a battlefield... and implement interests and agendas,” he said. Syria’s government has long accused Western and Arab backers of the uprising against Assad of supporting “terrorism” and trying to destroy the country.
“We pledge to God almighty to protect our country from a great conspiracy that targets its role and presence and resilience,” he said. “We pledge to keep the country from being turned into a war zone, torn apart and divided,” he said, referring to “plans drawn up at the White House and carried out today in north and east Syria.” The comments appeared to be a reference to strikes by a U.S.-led coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group, which has strongholds in the north and east of the country.
More than 180,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011. The country’s conflict began with anti-government demonstrations, but spiraled into a vicious civil war after the regime opened fire on protesters.


Lebanon's Arabic Press Digest - Oct. 4, 2014
Oct. 04, 2014
The Daily Star
The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Bombs lie behind negotiations, extension is being cooked with a guaranteed majority
Sources told An-Nahar that the discovery of the bombs in Arsal came after the Army obtained information that there was an attempt to target an Army patrol unit during the Eid holiday, promoting the military to boost security measures in the region.
Military sources said the Army increased monitoring and security measures near entrances to the town's outskirts and allowed Arsal residents to do their job. While residents there had suffered disruptions in their work due to the presence of gunmen and the security measures, the sources said the Army was more understanding that people's livelihood rested on access to the outskirts.
As for the situation in Tripoli, the source said the group, which sympathizes with ISIS and Nusra Front, also known as the Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour group, would be arrested sooner or later, keeping in mind the delicate situation in Bab al-Tabbaneh where they were hiding.
The kidnappers of soldiers call for safe passage between Arsal and its outskirts
Sources following up on the hostage crisis spoke of impossible conditions by the terrorists, saying not only were they demanding the release of detainees involved in Arsal clashes and a number of Roumieh prisoners, but they were also demanding safe passage between Arsal and its outskirts. This passage means the withdrawal of the Lebanese Army from areas, especially those overlooking Arsal and border crossings.
A security source said the bombs that were discovered Friday were only an attempt by gunmen to facilitate their movement into Arsal, proving that the measures taken by the Army were successful.
Politics on vacation but security remains a priority
Security and military source spoke about the raids the Army had conducted in all Lebanese areas, saying that the danger was present in any area at any time and that the pre-emptive plan had proven successful in the country.
"The circumstances force military forces not to neglect any bit of information whatever it is," the source said.
"The importance of the ongoing raids ... is that these operations are intertwined."
The source also said that the terror networks were dispersed across the country, which is what coordination among security agencies had recently uncovered.


Turkish president demands apology from Biden
Oct. 04, 2014/Associated Press/ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding an apology from U.S. Vice President Joe Biden over comments in which he said the Turkish leader had admitted to him that Turkey had allowed foreign fighters to cross into Syria. Erdogan denied ever saying that and told reporters Saturday that Biden "will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions."Biden told an audience during a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School Thursday: "He [Erdogan] said: 'You were right. We let too many people through.' Now they're trying to seal their border."Erdogan said: "I have never said to him that we had made a mistake, never. If he did say this at Harvard then he has to apologize to us."


Rai rejects 'collective punishment' by relatives of Lebanese hostages
The Daily Star/Oct. 04, 2014/BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai criticized the weeks-old closure of a vital highway in east Lebanon by relatives of soldiers held by Islamist gunmen, saying he rejected collective punishment. "Blocking the road that way indicates that this is a punishment for the whole people and that could disrupt people's work,” Rai told reporters at the Beirut airport before departing for the Vatican. "We support the blocking of the road for an hour or two a day but not more than that. It is unacceptable to collectively punish everyone, although we do sympathize with their families.”Relatives of the at least 21 soldiers and policemen held by ISIS and the Nusra Front since August have erected tents and used burning tires to block the Dahr al-Baidar road, which connects the Bekaa to Beirut.Families seek to pile pressure on the government to negotiate with the gunmen and agree to a swap deal.“We support the government's approach based on the wisdom of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who is leading the government in times of paralysis," Rai said.


Al-Rahi Travels to Vatican, Throws Weight behind Government over Hostages
Naharnet /Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi said ahead of traveling to the Vatican on Saturday that he trusted the government in its policies to resolve the case of Lebanese soldiers and policemen taken hostage by jihadists in August. “We trust this government, which is working with wisdom and patience under Prime Minister Tammam Salam,” to secure the release of the captives, said al-Rahi at Rafik Hariri International Airport before catching his flight to the Vatican. “We back the cabinet in all it does because it is the most aware of things and knows best the decisions that it should take,” he said. The soldiers and police were taken captive in August when al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran the northeastern border town of Arsal. Three of them have been executed.
The families of the hostages have been staging protests and blocking major roads.Despite his “sympathy” with them, al-Rahi asked the relatives to reopen the Dahr al-Baidar road, which is a vital artery linking Beirut and Mount Lebanon with the eastern Bekaa Valley.
The patriarch hoped that Eid al-Adha would offer a glimmer of hope for unity among politicians and in confronting terrorism.


Airborne operations to survey for gas and oil
Osama Habib| The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The first airborne oil and gas surveillance operation over parts of Lebanon began Friday in another bid by the authorities to assess the quantities of oil and gas present in the country. The U.S. Company NEOS Geo Solutions, which signed a contract with the ministry of energy in January, flew one of its planes equipped with sensors over the Bekaa Valley in clear weather. “We are happy to start the launch of our project here in Lebanon in collaboration with our local partner Petroserv and with the help of Lebanese army, air force and the Petroleum Administration,” Amanda Jane, NEOS Geo Solutions’ project manager for Lebanon, told The Daily Star. “Today we commenced the survey with the first of two aircrafts. These conduct hyperspectral survey data acquisition and will survey much of the north of Lebanon,” she said. The aircraft will also survey the entire coast. Lebanon has already completed a 3-D seismic survey off the Lebanese coast to determine, at least tentatively, the quantities of gas and oil off its coast.
The initial results for the 3-D survey were very encouraging, according to the British-based company Spectrum, which conducted the operation over 3,000 square meters off the southern Lebanese coast. Former Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil claimed earlier that there was 50 percent chance that Lebanon had 96 trillion cubic feet of gas in a specific area off its coast. But experts and international oil companies say that it will only be possible to establish the actual quantity of offshore gas when the exploration takes place off Lebanon’s coast, and that all the projections before then are, to an extent, guesswork. Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian announced in August that the deadline to submit bids for the first licensing round had been extended from Aug. 14 to a maximum of six months after the date of the adoption of decrees related to block delineation, the tender protocol and the model exploration and production agreement. The decision to delay the licensing for the fifth time has clearly frustrated many international oil companies that prequalified in 2013.
The government has yet to approve two crucial decrees, which set the number of blocks for licensing and set the mechanism for revenue sharing. Jane explained that the airborne survey would continue for 60 days, depending on the weather conditions and other factors.
“We anticipate that the projects will last around 60 days, assuming that the weather conditions are good. Furthermore, we are also taking into consideration the geopolitical conditions in the country and we have to consider certain security constraints,” she said.
Jane said the aircraft would not come near the Lebanese-Syrian border, at the request of the Lebanese Army and Defense Ministry. “Ultimately, we would like to cover the entire country. At this time we will cover an area of over 6,000 [square] kilometers out of the 10,452 [square] kilometers, which is the size of Lebanon,” she said. Once the survey is completed, the company will send all the acquired data to the United States, where it will be analyzed and then sent to the Lebanese Energy Ministry and the Petroleum Administration.
NEOS will be using two separate aircraft – each outfitted with highly sophisticated sensors – to collect information on the earth’s surface and subsurface. Provided that weather conditions are good, the planes will fly over Lebanese territory from 9:30 a.m. until 2:20 p.m. each day.Jane said that the data might be released in six months once the survey was completed and analyzed in the United States, adding that airborne surveys were much easier than 3-D seismic surveys and 2-D onshore surveys.
She added that the multinational oil companies would also be able to access data acquired from Lebanon.

Internet video purports to show Islamic State group beheading British hostage Alan Henning
The Canadian PressBy Jon Gambrell And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press The Canadian Press –October 04/14
CAIRO – An Internet video released Friday purports to show an Islamic State group fighter beheading British hostage Alan Henning, the fourth such killing carried out by the extremist group now targeted in U.S.-led airstrikes.
The video mirrored other beheading videos shot by the Islamic State group, which now holds territory along the border of Syria and Iraq, and ended with a militant threatening a man they identified as an American named Peter Kassig.
“Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment of Shams (Syria), which keeps on striking our people, so it is only right that we continue to strike the neck of your people,” the masked militant in the video said.
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concerns of not having permission to release the information, confirmed that Kassig was being held by Islamic State militants. The officials declined to elaborate.
The Associated Press could not immediately verify the video’s authenticity, though it was released in the same manner as other Islamic State group videos and the masked militant sounded similar to the one who carried out the other slayings.
In a statement, the British Foreign Office said it was working to verify the video.
“If true, this is a further disgusting murder,” the statement read. “We are offering the family every support possible; they ask to be left alone at this time.”
Britain has been supporting U.S. military efforts against the Islamic State group by using British forces to help with logistics and intelligence gathering, as well as recently taking part in airstrikes in Iraq. The Internet video released Friday begins with a news clip announcing British strikes against the Islamic State group.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Henning’s apparent slaying showed “how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are.”
“Alan had gone to Syria to help get aid to people of all faiths in their hour of need,” Cameron said in a statement. “The fact that he was taken hostage when trying to help others and now murdered demonstrates that there are no limits to the depravity of these … terrorists.
“We will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice.”
U.S. President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, said the U.S. had seen the video and was evaluating it.
“This is again yet another just very clear example of the brutality of this group, and why the president has articulated and is moving out in a comprehensive way to degrade and destroy ISIL,” Monaco said, using an acronym for the group. “Our hearts go out to the British aid worker who we believe is in that video, and to the remaining hostages and to their families.”
This is the fourth such video released by the Islamic State group. The full beheadings are not shown in the videos, but the British-accented, English-speaking militant holds a long knife and appears to begin cutting his victims, who include American reporter James Foley, American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and now Henning.
FBI Director James Comey has said American officials believe they know the identity of the masked militant, though he’s declined to name the man or reveal his nationality.
Kassig, a 26 year-old American now threatened by the Islamic State group, enlisted in the Army in 2004, and became a Ranger, ultimately serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, an Army special operations unit.
According to his military record, Kassig trained at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2006, and deployed to Iraq from April to July 2007. He was medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September 2007. His home of record at the time of his enlistment was Indianapolis, Indiana.
Henning, 47, nicknamed “Gadget,” had joined an aid convoy and was taken captive on Dec. 26, shortly after crossing the border between Turkey and Syria. Earlier this week, Henning’s wife Barbara Henning asked the militants in a televised plea: “Please release him. We need him back home.”
Dozens of Muslim leaders in Britain have urged the Islamic State group to release Henning. His wife had said she had been given hope by “the outcry across the world” over her husband’s imprisonment.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim charity, called Henning “a British hero.”
His “barbaric killing is an attack against all decent people around the world,” Shafiq said.
The Islamic State group has its roots in al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate but was expelled from the global terror network over its brutal tactics and refusal to obey orders to confine its activities to Iraq. It became even more extreme amid the bloody 3-year civil war in neighbouring Syria, growing stronger to the point of being able to launch a lightning offensive across much of northern Iraq, routing security forces there and shooting down an Iraqi helicopter on Friday. The group has become known for filming and releasing footage of mass shootings it conducts, as well as beheading opponents and targeting religious and ethnic minorities in the areas it attacks.
The extremist group has been widely denounced by mainstream Muslim authorities.
Other foreigners are believed held by the Islamic State group. On Friday, the father of John Cantlie, a British photojournalist held by the group, appealed for his release in a video, saying he was a friend of Syria.
**Lawless reported from London. Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Bradley Klapper, Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Assyrian Mother and Three Sons Murdered in Baghdad
2014-10-04 The bodies of the Assyrian mother and her three sons, who were murdered in Baghdad.(AINA) -- According to a report by Al-Masalah, an Iraqi news outlet, a security source in Baghdad confirmed on Saturday that armed men assaulted a home in southwest Baghdad and killed an Assyrian family of four. The source told al-Masalah "Unidentified armed men assaulted a home belonging to a Christian family in the area of the al-Aamel neighborhood in southwest Baghdad and killed a mother and her three sons. The source, who requested anonymity, said "A security source surrounded the home while medical service cars transported the bodies to the bureau of Judicial Medicine.© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency.

Canada, Netherlands set to join ISIS strikes
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 4 October 2014
The Netherlands and Canada are poised to join air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group in Iraq, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought parliament's support on Friday and the Netherlands set to strike militant-held positions this weekend.
If Canadian lawmakers greenlight the action on Monday -- as expected -- it will be Canada's first military expedition since Libya in 2011. Harper said members of the House of Commons, where his Conservative Party enjoys a solid majority, would be asked to vote on the six-month “counter-terrorism” mission.The White House on Friday welcomed Dutch participation. “The United States welcomes the decision this week by the government of the Netherlands to send up to eight F-16 fighters and 250 support personnel to conduct air strikes against ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq,” a White House statement said. Earlier Friday, Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a letter to the Dutch parliament that the F-16s “could commence operations this weekend.”The Netherlands previously said it would send six F-16s to take part in the campaign to smash the extremists, plus two in reserve. However the country said it would not join air strikes in Syria without a UN mandate. Dutch personnel will also train Iraqi security forces, among other measures, as the Netherlands join a growing international coalition against the ISIS group, which has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. “These actions demonstrate the continued commitment and leadership by the Dutch to take action as necessary to counter threats to international peace and stability,” the White House said.“The United States is proud of its longstanding friendship and partnership with the Netherlands and its people, and we look forward to working closely with them and other international partners in our comprehensive approach to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”(With AFP)


ISIS beheads British hostage Alan Henning
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Saturday, 4 October 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claimed responsibility for the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning on Friday in a video showing his apparent execution.
The video was almost identical to those released showing three previous murders carried out by the militant group. It also showed a masked ISIS militant with a hostage it identified as an American citizen Peter Kassig.
The video, found online by the SITE private terrorism monitor, opens with a news report about the British parliament's vote last week to authorize air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
It then cuts to Henning, sitting on his knees against a desert backdrop while wearing an orange prison outfit, with a masked militant standing over him wielding a combat knife.
Henning addresses the camera, explaining that as a member of the British public, he is being made to pay the price for the parliamentary vote.
British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the "brutal murder" of Henning and vowed to bring his killers to justice.
"The brutal murder of Alan Henning by ISIL [another term used for ISIS militants] shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are," Cameron said in a statement released by his Downing Street office.
"We will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice."
President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco said Washington was taking steps to confirm the authenticity of the tape and that the hearts of U.S. officials went out to Henning.
This is the fourth such video released by ISIS. Similarly to previous videos, the actual beheadings are not shown on camera. The British-accented, English-speaking militant holds a long knife and appears to begin cutting the three men, American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.Henning, 47, nicknamed "Gadget," had joined an aid convoy and was taken captive on Dec. 26, shortly after crossing the border between Turkey and Syria. Earlier this week, Henning's wife Barbara Henning asked the militants in a televized plea: "Please release him. We need him back home."(With the Associated Press and AFP)


Jihadists pound key Syrian town after slaying Briton

Fulya Ozerkan| Agence France Presse/Oct. 04, 2014
MURSITPINAR, Turkey: Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes held back jihadists attacking a Syrian border town Saturday, following an international outcry at the murder of a British hostage by the Islamic State group. Dozens of militants with ISIS were reported dead in the latest American-led coalition air raids. The dusty town of Kobani on the frontier with Turkey has become a key battleground between ISIS jihadists and their opponents, who include local Kurdish fighters as well as the United States and its allies.
Fighting raged Saturday as ISIS militants kept up their offensive to seize Kobane, activists said. Mortar shells pounded the town, also known as Ain al-Arab, as smoke rose above it, according to an AFP team on the Turkish side of the border.
U.S.-led strikes late Friday targeted at least four sites on the outskirts of Kobani, destroying some military material, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said.
Five jihadists were killed in the air raids near the border town, as well as 30 more around Shadadi in northeastern Syria, according to the Britain-based group, which monitors the conflict. ISIS militants fired at least 80 mortar rounds into Kobani Friday. But activist Mustafa Ebdi said Kurdish fighters had been buoyed by their success at holding off the assault so far, noting that the ISIS jihadists had hoped to capture the town by Saturday for the Eid al-Adha festival. "So far they have failed to enter the town." ISIS began its advance toward Kobane on Sept. 16 to cement its grip over a long stretch of the border. It has prompted a mass exodus of residents from the town and the surrounding countryside, with some 186,000 fleeing into Turkey. On Friday night, ISIS released a video showing the execution of Alan Henning, a 47-year-old British volunteer driver who went to Syria with a Muslim charity. The footage opened with a news report about the British parliament's vote last week to authorize airstrikes against jihadist targets in Iraq.
Then it cut to Henning, on his knees against a desert backdrop and wearing an orange prison-style outfit, with a masked militant standing over him wielding a combat knife. The jihadist, who has the same British accent as the killer in previous ISIS execution videos, directly addressed British Prime Minister David Cameron. "The blood of David Haines was on your hands, Cameron," he said, referring to another British aid worker killed by the group. "Alan Henning will also be slaughtered, but his blood is on the hands of the British parliament," he declared. A fellow aid worker from America, Peter Kassig, is then shown alive and threatened by the knife-wielding militant.
The jihadists have previously released videos showing the murders of Haines and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The latest execution was condemned worldwide, with Cameron saying it "shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are."
"We will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice," he said. U.S. President Barack Obama denounced the "brutal murder" and warned the US-led coalition "will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS.
French President Francois Hollande described it as a "heinous crime." Washington is leading a coalition of nations against ISIS, which has declared an Islamic caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. On Thursday, Turkey's parliament voted to allow the deployment of forces in Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS, and the country's prime minister has pledged to "do whatever we can" to prevent Kobani falling to the militants. On Saturday, Ankara also warned it would not hesitate to strike ISIS jihadists if they attacked Turkish troops stationed at an enclave holding the tomb of Suleyman Shah. The small patch of land is considered Turkish territory and dozens of Turkish troops are stationed there. "If one so much as touches a hair on their heads, Turkey with its army will do all that is necessary and everything will change from that moment on," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned. He also angrily rejected comments by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Turkey and others in the region had financed and armed jihadist organisations in Syria. "No one can accuse Turkey of having supported any terrorist organization in Syria, including IS," Erdogan said.


‘Enlightened thinking’ to effectively crush terrorism
Abdullah Hamidaddin/Al Arabiya
Saturday, 4 October 2014
In a recent op-ed, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum called for a battle of ideas against terrorism. The current military onslaught against what I term as the ‘Terrorist State’ – known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - will defeat it on the ground but it will not eradicate terrorism from its roots, or at least minimize its threat to say the least.
The key element in his view was to “counter malignant ideas with enlightened thinking.” He also pointed to the need of improving governance and achieving higher levels of development as a means to uplift the lives of people whose current lifestyle makes the choice of terrorism appealing. I want to focus here on the type of “enlightened thinking” which I believe is needed to counter terrorism.
Forget ‘religion’
It is important to state at first that there is very little we know about terrorism despite the decades of research on the matter.
The definitions of terrorism are many, and there are many psychological and sociological theories competing for answers. This is extremely frustrating for anyone thinking of a research-based policy to combat terror. Secondly, many forms of terrorism are inevitable because many types are related to individual temperaments, something that is beyond the control of any government. Some people grow to become criminals, others grow to become terrorists.
“We are disregarding the effective ideas that the public debate should include and are venturing into futile theological and jurisprudential debates”
The third and most important thing that we must know is that terrorism has little to do with religion. I am not writing a polemic for religion; I am saying this because as long we focus on religion as a driver for terrorism we will miss the chance of focusing on the real drivers. Even suicide attacks which are considered absolutely religious have been shown by evidence-based research to be motivated by other psycho-social factors. Religion does not offer the motivation to commit a terrorist act.
Accusing Islam – or another religion - of being a terrorist laden ideology can serve the political purposes of some but it does not provide us with the right understanding about terrorism. And as we should not look in Islam for the reasons of terrorism, we should also not look for a solution in it. The set of enlightened ideas that combat terrorism would not include moderate versions of any religion precisely because one can become a terrorist despite having adopted such a version. This is not to minimize the important role of moderate religions, but not in the domain of combating terrorism. In one word forget the word ‘religion’ when analyzing terrorism.
Rich public space
One of the counterintuitive insights about terrorism is that it emerges in stable societies where there is little hope for revolution. The masses are seen by an elite of revolutionaries as passive. While they see themselves as “emancipated and progressive operating among, and for the eventual benefit of, a vast and inert mass of the ignorant and misled common people, which would no doubt welcome liberation when it came, but could not be expected to take much part in preparing it," wrote British Marxist historian E.J. Hobsbawn.
This may explain why many terrorists are from the educated middle class. In such a situation they decide to revert to terrorism as a means to achieve their ‘righteous’ goals. This may also give us an idea of who is going to condone terrorism or support it financially.
They would also be middle and upper middle class individuals, who have revolutionary ideas and are frustrated by the passivity of their society; but do not have the psychological temperament to commit violence directly. This makes me think of the importance of the public space as a means to minimize terrorism. One of the factors that sustain revolutionary ideas is that revolutionaries keep talking to themselves reaffirming the ideal world that exists in their minds. Engaging them more with society may serve as a reality check that tempers their idealism. Revolutionaries adopt a very strict ‘us’ versus ‘them’ way of thinking and the high walls between those binaries can only fall if people talked more to each other.
Enlightened ideas
But for that to work, the public space has to be fused with other forms of ideas about the real world, about what can be achieved, about what has already been achieved, about the meaning of evil, justice, the good world, the possible world, the inevitableness of engaging and befriending people whose morals and principles are at odds, about moral dilemmas and how to maneuver through them, about action and consequence, magical thinking, the goods and evils of authority… All of this deals with matters that constitute the mind and psyche of a terrorist or of his/her supporter.
One will find that terrorists from different cultures have a similar attitudes towards the ideal world, a total disregard for gradual solutions, an inability to deal with moral dilemmas, an abhorrence of societies and individuals that do not live up to the standards they hold.
But probably the most important idea to tackle through the public space and also through schools is the sense of frustration on which Arab and Islamic terrorism has thrived for the past 40 years. Political psychologist John Chowing Davies stated four decades ago that: “Violence is always a response to frustration.” I want to add here that it is a response to a certain type of frustration; a civilizational frustration one caused by an entity that is considered the extreme ‘them’. Most people live through many different types of frustrations due to their life circumstances and they do not become terrorists. But almost all those who are frustrated from another civilization will condone terrorism against it and some will be willing participants to partake in terrorist acts.
We are frustrated from the West. We blame it for all our ills. And this goes very, very deep; even with many of our liberals and intellectuals. We need to engage with each other to deconstruct this feeling. We need to talk to the West about it – though the ‘West’ is a complex term.
Abdullah Hamidaddin is a writer and commentator on religion, Middle Eastern societies and politics with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He is currently a PhD candidate in King’s College London. He can be followed on Twitter: @amiq1

Netanyahu’s and Abbas’s UN speeches
October 03, 2014

By Uri Avnery/ Redress Information & Analysis
If I could choose between the two rhetorical gladiators, I would rather have Mahmoud Abbas representing Israel and Binyamin Netanyahu representing the other side.
Abbas stood almost motionless and read his speech (in Arabic) with quiet dignity. No gimmicks.
Netanyahu’s salesman’s speech
Netanyahu used all the tricks taught in a beginners course in public speaking. He rotated his head regularly from left to right and back, stretched out his arms, raised and lowered his voice convincingly. At one point he produced the required visual surprise. Last time it was a childish drawing of an imagined Iranian atom bomb, this time it was a photo of Palestinian children in Gaza playing next to a rocket launcher. (Netanyahu was carrying with him a stock of photos to exhibit – ISIS beheadings and such – rather like a salesman carrying samples.)
Everything a bit too slick, too smooth, too “sincere”. Like the furniture marketeer he once was.
The applause was provided by the bloated Israeli delegation in the hall and the Zionist dignitaries and indignitaries packed into the galleries, led by casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Both speeches were delivered to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Abbas spoke two weeks ago, Netanyahu this week. Because of the Jewish holidays, he came late – rather like the person who arrives at the party after all the main guests have already left.
The hall was half empty, the sparse audience consisted of junior diplomats sent to demonstrate the presence of their government. They were obviously bored stiff.
The applause was provided by the bloated Israeli delegation in the hall and the Zionist dignitaries and indignitaries packed into the galleries, led by casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson. (After the speech, Adelson took Netanyahu to an expensive non-kosher restaurant. The police cleared the streets on the way. But Adelson publicly criticised the speech as too moderate.)
Not that it matters. One does not speechify in the General Assembly in order to convince its members. One speaks there for the home audience. Netanyahu did, and so did Abbas.
Abbas’s “very moderate speech clad in very extreme language”
The speech of Abbas was a contradiction between form and content: a very moderate speech clad in very extreme language.
It was clearly addressed to the Palestinian people, who are still boiling with anger over the killing and destruction of the Gaza war. This led Abbas to use very strong language – so strong as to defeat its main purpose of promoting peace. He used the word “genocide” – not once, but three times. That was a bonanza for the Israeli propaganda machine, and it immediately became known as the “Genocide Speech”.
During the Gaza war, more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, many of them children, almost all by bombardment from land, air and sea. That was brutal, even atrocious, but it was not genocide. Genocide is a matter of hundreds of thousands, millions – Auschwitz, the Armenians, Rwanda, Cambodia.
Also, Abbas’s speech was totally one-sided. No mention of Hamas, rockets, offensive tunnels. The war was solely an Israeli affair: they started, they killed, they genocided. All good for a leader who needs to defend himself against the accusation of being too soft. But spoiling a good case.
The speech itself, shorn of the strong language, was quite moderate, as moderate as it could be. Its crux was a peace programme identical with the terms Palestinians have proposed from the start of Yasser Arafat’s peace policy, as well as with the Arab Peace Initiative.
It stuck to the two-state solution: a state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital “alongside the state of Israel”, the 1967 borders, an “agreed-upon solution to the plight of the Palestinian refugees” (meaning: agreed upon with Israel, meaning: essentially no return). It also mentioned the Arab Peace Initiative. No Palestinian leader could possibly demand less.
It also demanded a “specific time frame” to prevent the charade of endless “negotiations”.
[Abbass’s] speech… was quite moderate, as moderate as it could be. Its crux was a peace programme identical with the terms Palestinians have proposed from the start of Yasser Arafat’s peace policy, as well as with the Arab Peace Initiative.
For this he was attacked by Netanyahu as the incarnation of all evil, the partner of Hamas, which is the equivalent of ISIS [“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”, now calling itself “Islamic State], which is the heir of Adolf Hitler, whose latter-day reincarnation is Iran.
I have known Mahmoud Abbas for 32 years. He was not present at my first meeting with Yasser Arafat in besieged Beirut, but when I met Arafat in Tunis, in January 1983, he was there. As chief of the Israel desk at the Palestine Liberation Organisation headquarters, he was present at all my meetings with Arafat in Tunis. Since the return of the PLO to Palestine, I have seen Abbas several times.
He was born in 1935 in Safed, where my late wife Rachel also grew up. They used to ruminate about their childhood there, trying to work out if Abbas was ever treated by Rachel’s father, a paediatrician.
There was a striking difference between the personalities of Arafat and Abbas. Arafat was flamboyant, extrovert and outgoing, Abbas is withdrawn and introvert. Arafat made decisions with lightning speed, Abbas is deliberate and cautious. Arafat was warm in human relations, fond of gestures, always preferring the human touch (literally). Abbas is cool and impersonal. Arafat inspired love, Abbas inspires respect.
But politically there is almost no difference. Arafat was not as extreme as he seemed, Abbas is not as moderate as he looks. Their terms for peace are identical. They are the minimum terms any Palestinian leader – indeed any Arab leader – could possibly agree to.
There can be months of negotiations about the details – the exact location of the borders, the exchanges of territories, the symbolic number of refugees allowed to return, security arrangements, the release of the prisoners, water and such.
But the basic Palestinian demands are unshakable. Take them or leave them.
Netanyahu says: leave them.
If you leave them, what remains?
The status quo, of course. The classic Zionist attitude: there is no Palestinian people. There will be no Palestinian state. God, whether He exists or not, promised us the whole country (including Jordan).
But in today’s world, one cannot say such things openly. One must find a verbal gimmick to evade the issue.
At the end of the recent Gaza war, Netanyahu promised a “new political horizon”. Critics were quick to point out that the horizon is something that recedes as you approach it. Never mind.
Netanyahu’s mirages and lies
So what is the new horizon? Netanyahu and his advisors racked their brains and came up with the “regional solution”.
The “regional solution” is a new fashion, which started to spread a few months ago. One of its proponents is Dedi Zuker, one of the founders of Peace Now and a former Meretz member of the Knesset. As he explained it in Haaretz newspaper: The Israeli-Palestinian peace effort is dead. We must turn to a different strategy: the “regional solution”. Instead of dealing with the Palestinians, we must negotiate with the entire Arab world and make peace with its leaders.
Good morning, Dedi. When my friends and I put forward the two-state solution in early 1949, we advocated the immediate setting up of a Palestinian state coupled with the creation of a Semitic Union, to include Israel, Palestine and all Arab states, and perhaps Turkey and Iran, too. We have repeated this endlessly. When the (then) Saudi crown prince produced the Arab Peace Initiative, we called for its immediate acceptance.
In the real world, there is no similarity at all between Hamas and ISIS, except their professed adherence to Islam. ISIS disclaims all national borders, it wants an Islamic world-state. Hamas is fiercely nationalist. It wants a state of Palestine.
There is no contradiction at all between an Israeli-Palestinian solution and an Israeli-pan-Arab solution. They are one and the same. The Arab League will not make peace without the consent of the Palestinian leadership, and no Palestinian leadership will make peace without the backing of the Arab League. (I pointed this out in an article in Haaretz on the day of Netanyahu’s speech.)
Yet some time ago, this “new” idea sprang up in Israel, an association was formed, money was spent to propagate it. Well meaning leftists joined. Not being born yesterday, I wondered.
Now comes Netanyahu in the General Assembly and proposes exactly the same. Hallelujah! There is a solution! The “regional” one. No need to talk with the wicked Palestinians anymore. We can talk with the “moderate” Arab leaders.
Netanyahu could not be expected to touch on the details. What terms has he in mind? What solution for Palestine? Great men cannot be bothered with such details.
The whole thing is, of course, ridiculous. Even now, when several Arab states are joining the American coalition against ISIS, not one of them wants to be seen in the company of Israel. The US has asked Israel discreetly and politely to please keep out of it.
Netanyahu is always quick to exploit changing circumstances to promote his unchanging attitude.
The latest hot issue is ISIS (or the Islamic State, as it prefers to be called now). The world is appalled by its atrocities. Everyone condemns it.
So Netanyahu connects all his enemies with ISIS. Abbas, Hamas, Iran – they are all ISIS.
In logic classes one learns about the Inuit (Eskimo) who comes to town and for the first time sees glass. He takes it in his mouth and starts to chew. His logic: ice is transparent. Glass is transparent. Ice can be chewed. So glass can also be chewed.
He [Netanyahu] was not speaking to the diplomats. He was speaking to the most primitive voters in Israel, who are proud to have such a fluent English-speaking representative to address the world.
By the same logic: ISIS is Islamist. ISIS strives for a world-wide caliphate. Hamas is Islamist. So Hamas wants a world-wide caliphate.
They all want to dominate the world. Like the “Elders of Zion”.
Netanyahu counts on the fact that most people do not know what he is talking about. By the same logic, France belongs to ISIS. Fact: the French revolution chopped off heads. ISIS chops off heads. Some time ago, the British chopped off the head of their king. All ISIS.
In the real world, there is no similarity at all between Hamas and ISIS, except their professed adherence to Islam. ISIS disclaims all national borders, it wants an Islamic world-state. Hamas is fiercely nationalist. It wants a state of Palestine. Nowadays it even talks about the borders of 1967.
There cannot be any similarity between ISIS and Iran. They stand on opposite sides of the historic divide: ISIS is Sunni, Iran is Shi’i. ISIS wants to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, and possibly chop off his head, too, while Iran is Assad’s main supporter.
All these facts are well-known to anyone interested in world politics. They are certainly known to the diplomats in the corridors of the UN. So why does Netanyahu repeat these misrepresentations (to use a mild word) from the UN rostrum?
Because he was not speaking to the diplomats. He was speaking to the most primitive voters in Israel, who are proud to have such a fluent English-speaking representative to address the world.
And anyway, who cares what the goyim [gentiles] think?


All about Gaza: Abbas and Netanyahu at the U.N.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Abdallah Schleifer /Al Arabiya
One of the more disconcerting TV transmitted images that followed immediately upon the Gaza ceasefire was the sound and picture of some of Hamas’ political leadership, surrounded by vast destruction and aware of the totally disproportionate death toll, yet claiming victory. But politically, Hamas had a point. Despite the hopelessness – obvious to anyone with even a detached sense for the facts, however pro-Palestinian – Israel has the capacity to level all of Gaza just using conventional artillery, tank and air power in 24 hours. Yet esteem for Hamas – which was doing poorly in public opinion polls in Gaza before the war – rose dramatically in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire. (As hard facts press up against emotions, that esteem is now beginning to decline.)
The high esteem was not only an expression of steadfast defiance despite terrible losses, but because the popular Palestinian assumption is that Hamas had somehow forced Israel to accept a ceasefire even though Israel had not managed to knock out all or possibly not even most of Hamas’ very portable rocket launchers.
Dahiya Doctrine
But if one grasped contemporary Israeli military strategy, known as the Dahiya Doctrine, one would realize that for all its wartime rhetoric about taking out all of Hamas’ military capacity, the tactical goal of Israeli air and artillery strikes was to do to parts of Gaza what Israel did to the Dahiya quarter, a Shiite neighborhood of large apartment buildings leveled by the IDF air force during the 2006 Lebanon War.
“Despite the hopelessness – obvious to anyone with even a detached sense for the facts, however pro-Palestinian – Israel has the capacity to level all of Gaza just using conventional artillery, tank and air power in 24 hours”
Abdallah Schleifer
The Dahiya Doctrine – reportedly according to General Gadi Eizenkot, then commander of the IDF’s northern front means to “wield disproportionate power and cause immense damage and destruction.” The context was Hezbollah but the doctrine was also applicable to Gaza as he would later reportedly remark. At the time however, General Eizenhot is believed to have went on to say: “Harming the population is the only means of restraining Nasrallah.”
Certainly Abbas had to be aware of this doctrine, since the 2009 U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict in the wake of the earlier 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza made several references to the Dahiya Doctrine, calling it a concept which requires the application of “widespread destruction as a means of deterrence” and which involves “the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure and suffering to civilian populations.”
Alluding to conflict with Hamas, the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) pre-war analysis of the Dahiya Doctrine, which is simply described by the IISS as Israel’s “updated security concept” as it applied to Gaza means: “There, the IDF will be required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse games of searching for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be expected to stop the rocket and missile fire against the Israeli home front through attacks on the launchers themselves, but by mean of imposing a ceasefire on the enemy,” reflected Col. (Ret.) Gabriel Sibon in 2006.
Sibon went on to conclude “…the IDF’s primary goal must be to attain a ceasefire under conditions that will increase Israel’s long term deterrence, prevent a war of attrition, and leave the enemy floundering in expensive, long term processes of reconstruction.”
But instead of talking at the U.N. about the Dahiya Doctrine and talking about specific neighborhoods that were leveled, specific infrastructure the damaged or destroyed, along with the number of Palestinian civilians dead and wounded – all of which he could constitute as war crimes Abbas – accused instead Israel of genocide and kept to generalities rather than documented specifics.
How much more effective Abbas would have been if instead of using the word genocide he had simply reminded those who already knew, and shocked those who did not know, what the Dahiya Doctrine was, where it could be sourced for those who could not believe his words and how it had been applied to the letter in Gaza this past summer. And how, as far as achieving its actual goals, Israel had done so at the calculated intentional high loss of Palestinian civilian lives, property and infrastructure.
Netanyahu’s rebuttal
Netanyahu then rushed to New York to rebut Abbas, but along with the usual rhetoric Netanyahu came up with a new twist curiously hailed by some as a more moderate stance than usual for the Prime Minister. All that Netanyahu actually did was to turn the Arab Peace Plan on its head, upside down, so –to-speak.
In summary Netanyahu said that instead of trying to achieve a settlement now with the Palestinians based on the assumption that this was a prerequisite to establishing durable peace with all the Arab states, Israel should reverse the order of diplomatic accomplishment and seek closer relations now with all the other Arab states – cooperation in any number of regional projects and issues, and that good relations and cooperation with the other Arab states would eventually propel an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
But of course formal recognition, full economic as well as diplomatic relations, and the acceptance of Israel as a legitimate part of the region is precisely the concession that the Arab states would make when and if Israel actually accepted the creation of a viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state in what is now the occupied as well as semi-occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza. That concession, according to the Arab Peace Plan would also require a just solution for the Palestinian refugees (whatever that exactly means; what it does not mean is an absolute implementation of the Palestinian Right of Return).
During the fighting in Gaza, Netanyahu declared that the ability of Hamas to shower rockets upon Israel meant that in any final settlement with the Palestinians, Israel would continue to maintain a military presence in all of the West Bank, which effectively means no sovereign Palestinian state, without coming right out and saying so.
Netanyahu’s new position also means he no longer feels compelled to even nominally and evasively go along with U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry’s abstract expectation of an un-coerced Israel seriously negotiating a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

What is Turkey’s military role in Iraq and Syria?

Saturday, 4 October 2014
Ceylan Ozbudak
As the ISIS threat keeps spreading in the Middle East, countries and alliances are seeking action to protect the area and civilians. Turkey’s parliament approved a motion Thursday authorizing the Turkish military to launch action in Syria and Iraq that would also allow U.S.-led coalition forces to use Turkish territory. I want to explain what Turkey plans with this motion.
In the 55-seat parliament, 298 deputies voted to approve the use of the Turkish armed forces in the region; as we all remember, the Turkish parliament voted “no” in 2003 to the motion to get involved in the Iraq war and to let the U.S.-led use the Incirlik air base in Turkey. What is the difference of the two motions and why did the Turkish parliament vote “yes” this time?
In the 2003 Iraq war, Turkey’s involvement would have meant actively attacking and bombing a Muslim country and the Muslim Turkish public would not allow this to happen. Turkey has never been keen to start a war. In time, Turkey’s decision to not get involved in the Iraq invasion turned out to be fitting. Both the U.S. and the UK are still haunted by the ghosts of the Iraq war.
Buffer zone
While this motion is often interpreted as a war against ISIS, I believe Turkey has no intention to get into an active war. Turkey is seeking a way to dismantle ISIS without killing more people. This motion is designed and planned to be used to create a buffer zone.
“In the 2003 Iraq war, Turkey’s involvement would have meant actively attacking and bombing a Muslim country and the Muslim Turkish public would not allow this to happen. Turkey has never been keen to start a war”
The proposed buffer zone's airspace would be declared a no-fly zone and the land would accommodate room for settling the pending tidal wave of Syrian refugees. Syrian planes will not fly over the buffer zone. The buffer zone will come to life with approximately 9,000 Turkish soldiers and this number will rise to 20,000 soldiers along with other NATO forces. The Turkish soldiers are planning to take part in a 25 kilometer-squared periphery only as a security unit. The last thing Turkey seeks is producing a new Great War on its borders.
The plan has supporters as well as dissenters. The two sides of the dissent can be listed as the two opposition parties. The main opposition party - CHP - stated they have nothing against the Syrian regime and that this action might be seen as invading Syrian territory.
The far left BDP (often associated with the PKK) sees the action as invading Kurdish cantons and complains that the existence of international forces in the region will cut the ties of PKK fighters inside Iraq and Syria with Turkey. The BDP also stated that peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish government might come to an end if the government decides to go ahead with the buffer zone plan.
No longer be solved
This might be something to think about if there were PKK fighters left to confront the Turkish armed forces; however, as the PKK has almost been brought to an end at the hands of ISIS, the process can also come to a natural ending.
In my previous articles, I explained in detail why the ISIS threat cannot be solved by arming the PKK. I explained that since the two groups are applying guerilla warfare methods, the one with the stronger ideology would always win; in this case, this happens to be the ISIS. We witnessed weeks of trying to whitewash the terrorist-listed PKK organization in the Western press to prepare the public opinion for the arming of the PKK.
While Germany sent arms to the PKK and the other EU countries were just getting ready to do the same, claiming the PKK would be the new John Wayne of the region against ISIS, PKK fighters started running away from ISIS forces. To be frank, I was expecting the PKK to give up their weapons and run away.
Now that the PKK fighters fled leaving their brand new weapons and financial aid packages behind, we started to see social media accounts allegedly controlled by ISIS fighters posting pictures posing next to the weapons PKK left behind. ISIS is now better armed thanks to the arming of the PKK.
Retreating from the war
This result compels us to look for more effective solutions to fight radical terrorists rather than arming other terrorists. On the other hand, the claim that Turkey seeks to invade Kurdish territory or parts of Syria through this motion is totally baseless. First of all, the buffer zone in question will not be marked as Turkish territory but an international safe zone: Second of all, Turkey has no intention of staying in this territory after the conflict cools off and the war ends.
Turkey will definitely retreat, and keep supplying humanitarian aid to the refugees in the region from within its borders. This will keep the Kurdish civilians safer than seeking refuge in tiny cantons protected and exploited by either the PKK or the YPG.
If the allies of Turkey are expecting the Turkish military to engage in direct military action against ISIS fighters or other fundamentalist groups in the region, they might be wrong. Turkey is not seeking to try an already failed (many times, miserably) policy all over again. Turkey is a country which suffered most of the consequences of bombing cities and towns full of civilians and has no desire to contribute to such suffering.
As I've emphasized before, military action against ISIS at the hands of the PKK did not yield results, and it will not yield results at the hands of any other occupying force either. But the no-fly area and the buffer zone – which was supposed to be established years ago – are going to contribute greatly to humanitarian relief.

Givat Hamatos: One Area, Two Prisms
David Makovsky/The Washington Institute
October 3, 2014
Proximity to the Green Line was not interpreted equally by U.S. and Israeli leaders.
The latest flap between the U.S. and Israeli administrations concerning housing units in Jerusalem reflects the two sides' contrasting perspectives. Immediately following the October 1 Oval Office meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the White House and State Department denounced Israel's decision to move forward with the planning of 2,610 housing units in an area called Givat Hamatos. Netanyahu was quick to reject the criticism, but his very response suggested the highly different prisms through which the respective governments see the area in question.
A State Department spokesperson used harsh language to describe the decision: "This development will only draw condemnation from the international community; distance Israel from even its closest allies; poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations; and call into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians." En route back from Washington Friday, Netanyahu told Israel Radio he was "disappointed" with the U.S. reaction, especially since the recent announcement was about planning and not construction.
U.S.-Israel tensions rose again this week over Israelis purchasing six buildings in Silwan, an Arab neighborhood adjacent to Jerusalem's Old City. After Washington criticized the move, Netanyahu fired back that this was a private transaction that did not involve governments. He argued that Arabs live in Jewish neighborhoods and that the reverse should be permitted as well, claiming any alternative would be discriminatory.
The U.S. Prism
A few factors appear to explain Washington's response to the latest housing developments. First, the Obama administration's policy is to oppose all settlement activity, regardless of whether the area under consideration will likely be part of a future Israel or Palestine in any peace agreement. This policy has been evident since President Obama's Cairo speech in 2009, when he said the United States does not recognize the legitimacy of settlements.
Second, Givat Hamatos -- in English "Airplane Hill," after an Israeli military plane that crashed from Jordanian fire during the 1967 war -- is the last significant patch of open land in Jerusalem that literally abuts the Green Line, as the pre-1967 boundary is known. It is rocky and barren high ground with only a smattering of rundown, largely abandoned trailers. As such, the Israeli announcement is not just seemingly about adding apartment units in yet another neighborhood but will be viewed as the first new Israeli-established Jerusalem neighborhood over the Green Line in fifteen years. The previous Netanyahu government also presided over that earlier development, announcing the establishment of Har Homa in 1997, two days after reaching the first Hebron accord with the Palestinians. Har Homa now has more than 25,000 residents.
Third, the new development's location is unique. While anything over the Green Line in the city is euphemistically called East Jerusalem, the proposed site is actually in southeastern Jerusalem, between Talpiot (within the Green Line and not to be confused with East Talpiot) and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa (which was divided by the 1948 war of Israeli independence and reunited after the 1967 war). If Israel builds at the southern end of Givat Hamatos, this could hinder Arab residents' passage from Beit Safafa on the road to Bethlehem. The broader question would thus be raised of whether at least one Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem was being cut off from the southern West Bank. This said, whether construction will take place in the southern or northern part of Givat Hamatos is not clear. (An expert on Jerusalem municipal planning said that Israel cannot build on the eastern edge of Givat Hamatos since it is owned by a nearby monastery.)
Fourth, the broader context of Israel's decision must be considered. According to media reports, the United States is trying to stave off a threat by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to press for a UN Security Council resolution calling for any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be based on the 1967 borders. If this request is not met, Abbas has threatened to go to the International Criminal Court against Israel. In a speech at the United Nations last week, Abbas defended the need to internationalize the move to a two-state solution, terming further negotiations with the Netanyahu government "impossible."
The Israeli Prism
For different reasons, Netanyahu does not view the move as provocative in the same way the Americans do. Givat Hamatos is only a few hundred yards away from the Green Line. As such, the Israeli government sees this step as more akin to the recent announcement of a land survey in Gush Etzion, a settlement south of Jerusalem a mile or so from the Green Line. In both cases, Netanyahu's logic appears to be that since the two areas are very close to the Green Line, and considerably within the security barrier, they are unlikely to significantly prejudge any final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Moreover, in both instances, no tenders -- government permission for construction bids -- were issued, but rather more preliminary moves were taken. Given these criteria, Netanyahu believed both moves would not be criticized by Israeli centrists, including the Yesh Atid Party, led by Finance Minister Yair Lapid. In other words, Netanyahu seems to have been primarily concerned with achieving a certain threshold of domestic approval rather than eliciting a desired U.S. response.
While Netanyahu is well aware of the Obama administration's sensitivity regarding settlements, he did note in an MSNBC interview this week that the Givat Hamatos issue was not aired by Obama in their meeting. Yet both Netanyahu and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat have generally bristled at the U.S. reaction, given that the Jerusalem municipality issued its initial approval for the project in December 2012. Nevertheless, just last month, on September 24, the Jerusalem municipality's planning and construction committee moved the planning process forward, requiring the signature of Israel's Ministry of Interior. In keeping with regulations, the municipality was obligated to place ads in the Hebrew and Arabic press, with such actions marking a prerequisite to construction. Once these were published, anti-settlement groups gave the issue wider publicity.
The municipality, meanwhile, has also indicated that up to a third of the units envisioned for Givat Hamatos would be for Arabs, presumably referring to the adjacent area of Beit Safafa since Israel does not build mixed neighborhoods. This second part of the planning, involving 549 units, reportedly has not passed statutory approval, while the 2,610 units have. (Reports say there are two other plans for extending Givat Hamatos as well, although it is unclear whether these are intended just for Jewish residents.)
Questions for Israel and the United States
For both Israel and the United States, this latest episode leaves unanswered questions. Israel, for its part, should have seen this U.S. reaction coming. Givat Hamatos has been highlighted by the United States and the European Union for the last two years as a potential bottleneck that could hinder the contiguity of a Palestinian state. Therefore, one wonders why Netanyahu and Barkat did not seek to head off much criticism by offering public reassurances that Israel would guarantee Arabs' access between Beit Safafa and the southern West Bank.
For the United States, using such tough language over units yet to be built -- and virtually astride the Green Line -- begs the question of how the administration will respond if and when Israel engages in settlement activity further from the Green Line. The U.S. administration's rhetoric has thus far failed to generate Israeli public pressure against Netanyahu on settlements in a future Israel, raising possible questions about the approach should construction be pursued in territory that will genuinely be part of a future Palestinian state.
**David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. He recently returned from a ten-month stint at the State Department focusing on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Cultural heritage and violence in the Middle East
Fiona Rose-Greenland 4 October 2014
Open Democray
When people are dying in their thousands, why should we care about the destruciton of artefacts? Cultural violence has long been a component in the obliteration of communities; it legitimates the denial of diversity and makes them much harder to rebuild.
Theatres of erasure: Syria and Iraq
The violence in Iraq has killed nearly 6,000 civilians since the start of 2014, according to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. In Syria, over 100,000 lives have been claimed and some two million persons displaced since the start of the civil war in March 2011.
Media coverage has rightly focused on the human dimension of suffering. With this essay, however, we want to reflect upon another important aspect of the violence: the systematic destruction of cultural sites and objects.
Historic minaret of the Great Umayyad Mosque destroyed in Aleppo. Demotix/Halabi Lens. All rights reserved.
According to reports of the activist Facebook group Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger, all six UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syria have been damaged, major museum collections at Homs and Hama have been looted, and dozens of ancient tells have been obliterated by shelling.
In Iraq, recent media stories recount ISIS fighters’ use of antiquities to raise revenues. So-called blood antiquities function as cash-cows, fetching high prices from unscrupulous collectors and netting a handsome cut for ISIS.
As devastating as this news is, Syria and Iraq are simply additional chapters in the long-running story wherein conflict is characterised by a two-fold assault on humanity: human bodies themselves as well as the objects and sites that people create and infuse with cultural meaning.
Cultural violence is not a practice exclusive to Islamic groups or areas; rather, it is the nature of all radical ideologies, religious and national alike. They proceed with a predictable agenda: first to paint the world in black and white, and then to erase all shades of cultural practice from non-white to black.
Before asking ourselves what steps should be taken to save artefacts, monuments, and antiquities in the Middle East, we need to understand why doing so matters. This requires an understanding of the broader historical pattern of organised cultural violence.
Cultural violence and genocide: a 20th-century hate story
The destruction of human communities is incomplete without cultural violence. This was the conclusion of lawyer and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-born jurist who coined the term “genocide” and fought successfully for its recognition by international legal bodies as a crime. In Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944), he argued:
By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group…[It signifies] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. (Lemkin 1944: 80)
Among the “essential foundations” of the life of human societies, Lemkin argued, were cultural sites, objects, and practices. The Holocaust galvanised his human rights work, but it was the tragic case of Turkish Armenians during the beginning decades of the twentieth century that served as the basis for Lemkin’s theory of genocide.
Turkish Armenians were subject to organised murder and deportation under the Ottoman government, an event now widely acknowledged despite continued denials by Turkish officials. Current scholarly discussion on the Armenian genocide, however, focuses almost exclusively on the human destruction, not taking into consideration the systematic annihilation of Armenian sites and monuments that has taken place since then.
Yet, the cultural destruction has been so extensive that few people in Turkey today even know that eastern Asia Minor was once the ancestral lands of Armenians; they do not because the Turkish state and its governments have systematically removed all markers of the Armenians’ civilisation.
Such cultural destruction occurred in stages. First, the potential of inherent threat was raised publicly to legitimate the forced removal of Armenian women, men, and children of the Ottoman Empire, plundering what they left behind and settling Muslim refugees in their houses. Then, all Armenian churches, schools and monasteries were confiscated and settled by either state officers or officials, or local Muslim notables.
Since Asia Minor had been the ancestral lands of the Armenians for thousands of years, the churches and monasteries as well as their cemeteries were especially significant in documenting the course of human history. Those Armenian buildings not converted to mosques were torn down, used to store grain or shelter animals, or employed by the military for target practice.
Also significant in this context was the systematic replacement of Armenian place names (on streets, buildings, neighbourhoods, towns, and villages) with Turkish names. The erasure of Armenians from collective memory was completed during the Turkish Republic; in their history textbooks, Turkish children hear nothing about Armenian culture or learn simply that they were enemies of the Turks.
In sum, all cultural meaning that had emerged in the past and present was eliminated systematically blow by blow, leaving behind patterns of discrimination cut through with deep silences. This is cultural death, and it is especially dangerous because it legitimates the denial of diversity by authoritarian states and their societies.
Cultural violence was not an Ottoman innovation. Historical records document previous erasures of peoples and their culture: the Native Americans and First Nations of north America; the Mayas and Aztecs of Mesoamerica; and the Roman destruction of Carthage (north Africa), which some scholars point to as the earliest recorded organised genocide.
So what’s new about the current spate of cultural violence in the Middle East? The Internet and new media are bringing new complexity to the pursuit of and resistance to cultural violence. We will wrap up our essay by turning our thoughts to new media’s Janus-like ability to silence and amplify the experience of cultural violence.
The perils and possibilities of new media
The Facebook site we referred to in the opening of this essay is one of many new media efforts to draw attention to the destruction of historic sites, structures, and monuments in Syria.
Complementary projects are underway in Egypt, where archaeologist Dr. Monica Hanna posts regular Tweets and Facebook posts about damage to Egyptian historic culture; and in Cambodia, where the Facebook page Heritage Watch—Cambodia is documenting in words and pictures looters’ ransacking of ancient temples and illicit sales of Cambodian cultural artefacts.
Are these efforts effective? If their primary objective is to make publicly available evidence of cultural violence, then yes – they have succeeded. Whether such efforts have actually curbed rates of cultural violence we cannot yet say. What we do know is that amplification threatens ruling powers.
A case in point is the harrowing plight of Syrian journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman, co-founder of Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger. Othman was arrested by government forces in March 2012 and has not been heard of since his televised “confession” in May 2012. As of this writing, his supporters and loved ones continue to fear for his life.
If you are an educated but non-specialist reader, the chances are that you know nothing of the Othman case but have heard a lot about James Foley, the American journalist murdered by ISIS last month. The flip side of new media, then, is that it has the power to direct our attention to particular cases or issues while ignoring others.
Recurring Internet images of ISIS fighters beheading western men obscure the equally outrageous and horrific acts of sexual violence against women, torture of children, and destruction of homes, markets, churches, Shi’a mosques, and ancient monuments. All of this constitutes the challenging environment in which cultural activists must do their work.
Moving ahead by preserving the past
What should we make of it all? Human beings are suffering death, trauma, and displacement everyday in Syria and Iraq, but there remains a thorny question: Surely human suffering should be prioritised before cultural objects?
The simple answer is yes; people come first, and the basic operational strategies of aid organisations and foreign governments - providing tents, food, medicine, and psychological support - should fill the convoys.
However, ranking aid priorities from most to least urgent is complicated and short-sighted. Lemkin’s teachings still have something to say to us today: without monuments and cultural objects, social groups are atomised into disaffected, soulless individuals.
For this reason, the cultural environment deserves simultaneous close attention by policymakers and foreign governments and NGOs. When cultural violence is allowed to flourish the process of re-building human communities is difficult if not impossible.

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era
Marieme Hélie-Lucas and Maryam Namazie/Open Democracy

4 October 2014
While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas - secular feminists from Iran and Algeria - told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London next weekend.
Karima Bennoune: Can you explain your own journey to secularism?
Marieme Hélie-Lucas: I have been a secularist throughout my life, someone who believes a democratic state should not take orders from religions. My mother was a mystic, but also a secularist, and was strongly aware of the anti-women stance in all religions. Her feminist teaching on religions always remained within me, especially when I was confronted with the rise of Muslim fundamentalism in Algeria.
Maryam Namazie: I became a secularist after Islamists expropriated and suppressed the 1979 Iranian revolution and established an Islamic state. I knew instinctively that there was something very wrong with religion in power, as do many people living under the boot of Islamism or the religious right – even if they do not call themselves secularists. My father was raised a strict Muslim (by my grandfather who was an Islamic scholar) but he never made me feel different because I was a girl. I never had to be veiled or felt unequal, until an Islamic state came into being.
Bennoune: Why did you decide to organize the International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights now?
Namazie: Our era is marked by the rise of the religious right, and in particular Islamism, with its unspeakable brutality. There has been many a slaughtered generation from Iran to Algeria. For every shocking and tragic beheading of a journalist and aid worker by ISIS that makes headlines, there are countless unreported others beheaded, crucified, flogged, segregated and “disappeared” via the veil…
In the fight against these movements, secularism is key, including for many believers. No one better understands the need for the separation of religion and state than those who have lived under the religious right. Secularism may not be the only challenge, but it is certainly a minimum precondition for freedom in any given society.
Hélie-Lucas: In a way the public acknowledgement of the war crimes of ISIS creates a favorable climate for more openly demanding secular states as a protection from these extreme right political forces. We have a better chance now to be heard by progressive forces than in the past.
Bennoune: What are the goals of the conference?
Hélie-Lucas: We want to bring secularists from the regions and the diasporas together to develop networking, and common strategies and analysis; to find ways to support each other. In particular, we want to promote secular initiatives. Most of all, we want to let the world know that we exist.
Namazie: This conference is our show of strength. Islamism is an international movement - so are we. The conference will also reiterate the human alternative to the far right that does not involve US-led militarism, behind the scenes wheeling and dealing with “good” Islamists or racism. The demand for secularism, citizenship rights and universality is our response to the religious right.
Bennoune: Why do you use the term “religious right” rather than “fundamentalism” in the conference title?
Hélie-Lucas: By using “religious right,” we make it clear that this phenomenon is not religious, but political. Fundamentalist organizations work under the cover of religions. They claim that one is intolerant vis-à-vis religion itself when one criticizes their political actions. In many instances, governments now tend to deal with social and political problems by calling on so-called ‘religious leaders’ - in a very undemocratic way, as though one elected these supposedly community representatives. We need to force governments to look at fundamentalist movements in political terms as extreme right forces. In Algeria, we have been calling them “the green fascists”.
Bennoune: Speaking of fascists, how will current events like the terrible crimes of ISIS be addressed in your meeting?
Namazie: You cannot have a conference today on the religious right and not begin and end with ISIS. The fight against ISIS is not about western versus eastern values, but a fight between secularists and theocrats. ISIS is the result of the retreat of universality, secularism and the Iraq-isation or division of the world and societies into everything from religion to ethnicity, rather than seeing them as human beings and citizens first and foremost. We have the historical task of raising those ideals and demands.
Bennoune: What is the role of feminism in this meeting?
Namazie: You cannot speak about the religious right without speaking about women’s rights. Women are the first targets of the Islamists and religious right. The submission and “disappearance” of women are the first things one notices when they come to power. The burka is one such symbol of Islamism’s war on women. “Sharia” law courts are another. Ironically, despite all their efforts, it is women who are often most vocal in the fight against the religious right and for secularism.
Hélie-Lucas: We stand up first of all as women whose rights are being undermined by the fundamentalists. We protest the hierarchy of rights put forward in which women’s rights come last after minority rights, religious rights and cultural rights.
Bennoune: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the global struggle against fundamentalism now?
Hélie-Lucas: On the one hand, we have all these religious militias who impose their beliefs on everyone. We have the Hindu right imposing a Hindu identity on all citizens of India and considering Muslims as non-citizens. The Buddhist right implements ethno-religious cleansing in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. We have the Christian right gaining ground in Europe as far as reproductive rights are concerned and teaching creationism in the USA.
But on the other hand - and maybe because of the crimes committed by the religious right all over the planet - there are more and more initiatives by young people against them. The demands for secularism have been increasing in all countries marked by the threatening presence of fundamentalists: there is a lively Forum For Secularism in Pakistan which holds public events; there are “dé-jeuneurs” (non-fasters) groups who organize public picnics during Ramadan in North Africa; there are ex-Muslims organisations.
Namazie: The idea that Islamism and the religious right are people’s demand is one of the myths of cultural relativism. How can anyone freely “choose” to live in a society where they can be stoned to death for love or executed for freethinking? If Islamism was truly “the people’s” demand, then Islamists would not need to kill, threaten and unleash their “morality police” to ensure submission.
In fact, there are innumerable individuals across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia… who have refused and resisted, often at great risk. In another sense, then, our era is also marked by this incredible human resistance and a demand to live lives worthy of the 21 century. A number of these wonderful people will be speaking at the conference.
Bennoune: Why should people make sure to attend this conference in this particular political moment?
Namazie: We must create a strong international front of secularists and the mechanisms to work together more closely. And we also want to raise the profile of secularists from the “South” who have been fighting this fight for a very long time. We have come to a turning point where people are more open to hearing our message. People are seeing through the racist concept of cultural relativism and understanding the distinctions between believers and the religious right. Now we must link them with secularists internationally and organize our movement further to push back the religious right.
Bennoune: Why should progressives prioritize fighting against the religious right and for secularism in 2014?
Namazie: Secularism and the rehabilitation of the concept of the human being who is a citizen irrespective of religion or culture are some of the big issues of our century. This is a fight we need more people to join. One message we hope to send to secularists in the west is: It is not racist to defend equality or secularism. In fact, it is racist to deny people the same rights and freedoms because they are deemed “different”. Also, secularism is not a western concept but a universal one. It is a demand of people everywhere. Nor is it “progressive” to support Islamism vis-à-vis imperialism. Islamism is our far right. Any progressive person or group must oppose all forms of fascism, including the religious right. And they must support and show solidarity with those who have survived and are resisting. This is a fight we need more people to join.
On 11-12 October, the Secular Conference 2014, will take place in London - an unprecedented international gathering of progressive opponents of fundamentalism. Speakers include Houzan Mahmoud, spokesperson from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Pakistani commentator Pervez Hoodbhoy, Tunisian scholar Amel Grami, Oxford Imam Taj Hargey and Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin.
Register for the Secular Conference 2014 here.

Should Washington Withhold Aid to Egypt?

to Cairo's New Leadership
by Yehuda Blanga
Middle East Quarterly
Despite having signed a peace treaty with Israel, Egypt's armed forces continue to receive thousands of tanks and hundreds of planes from Washington. "There's no conceivable scenario in which they'd need all those tanks short of an alien invasion," declares Shana Marshall of George Washington University.
Two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attendant weakening of the radical Arab camp, and three-and-a-half decades after the conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the removal of the foremost threat to Egyptian security, Cairo's continued acquisition of thousands of tanks and hundreds of fighting aircraft seems to make no sense. Yet Washington's withholding of $1.3 billion in annual military aid following the Egyptian army's July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi sparked an angry retort, with the military regime threatening to turn to its former Russian patron.
Why does Cairo continue to adhere to this anachronistic military and strategic raison d'être? Has the U.S. administration overplayed its hand by assuming that the threat of military aid suspension could be leveraged to obtain political influence? And what are the implications of this episode for Egypt and the Middle East as a whole?
View from the Nile
Despite its 1979 peace agreement with Israel, Egypt has yet to internalize the idea that it is at peace with its neighbor to the east. What prevails between the two countries is a "cold
peace" as the Mubarak regime made no attempt during its 30-year reign to further the normalization of bilateral relations or to modify public opinion and perceptions of Israeli citizens in particular and of Jews in general.[1] Thus, "establishment Egypt" and, all the more so, the public at large still view Israel as a potential adversary with whom strategic parity is imperative. Former defense minister Muhammad Tantawi alluded to this in his remarks to the People's Assembly in February 1996:
Peace does not mean relaxation. The endless development of military systems and the arms race prove that the survival is for the strongest. … Military strength has grown to be a prerequisite of peace.[2]
Egyptian officers, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, attend courses at U.S. institutions such as the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Accordingly, the Egyptian armed forces have conducted large-scale exercises that simulate a frontal attack on the country—usually from the east. In the three largest such exercises—held in September 1996, April 1998, and February 2009—Egyptian troops simulated parrying an Israeli invasion by transitioning from defensive to offensive operations, crossing the Suez Canal, and regaining full control of the Sinai Peninsula.
As a result, the Egyptian defense establishment has pursued a policy of strategic parity with Israel, manifested in a prolonged and comprehensive modernization program that began in the early 1980s and continued for more than twenty years. By the end of the process, the Egyptian armed forces had been transformed into a modern Western military organization and had cast off the Soviet influence that dated back to the mid-1950s.[3] As of 2014, Egypt has the tenth-largest military in the world with approximately 460,000 soldiers in the standing army.[4]
A prominent symbol of Egypt's abandonment of the Soviets is the fact that Egyptian officers (including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi) attend courses at U.S. institutions such as the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. In contrast to the past, when the course of study for Egyptian officers included Marxism and the nature of the work of the communist party, they now study democracy and the primacy of civilian authorities over the military. According to Robert Scales, a retired Army major general who served as commandant of the Army War College, "This new generation of Egyptian officers has been exposed to the American military and is impressed not just in the way we fight our wars but also about the relationship between the military and society."[5] However, the July 2013 coup raises serious doubts about how deeply these democratic ideals have been assimilated.
In addition, Egyptian armed forces collaborate in joint exercises with various Western and Middle Eastern militaries: In 2009, the Egyptian military carried out maneuvers with the French, Italian, British, Dutch, and German armed forces while joint Egyptian-Turkish and U.S.-Egyptian exercises were held in 2012.[6] The pinnacle of this military collaboration is Operation Bright Star, a joint U.S.-Egyptian exercise that has been held roughly every two years since 1980. However, the exercise planned for 2011 was cancelled due to the events surrounding the ouster of President Husni Mubarak that year, and then in 2013, President Obama canceled the exercise because of the Egyptian military's toppling of Morsi. Both cancellations have had important repercussions on U.S.-Egyptian relations.
View from the Potomac
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (left) standing next to the man he overthrew, Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. The popularly supported coup poses a contorted foreign policy conundrum for Washington, which has been trying to figure out whether or not to continue military support to Cairo, and if so, what kind.
Since 1979, Egypt—along with Saudi Arabia—has been one of two cornerstones of U.S. policy in the Arab world. It has served as a mediator in Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; it has worked to moderate and counter trends toward radicalization in the Arab world; and it provides military support for U.S. forces stationed in the region. Egypt's geostrategic importance lies in the fact that it is a bridge between East and West, located as it is at the intersection of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, and most importantly through its control of the Suez Canal. In order to move quickly between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, the U.S. fleet transits the Suez Canal with permission from the Egyptian authorities. Any delay or restrictions would require the United States government to station naval forces near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and round it in order to reach the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. As a result, Washington would appear to have a vital interest in maintaining good ties with Cairo, despite the regime changes there since 2011.
The other main component of the continued military assistance to Egypt has to do with benefits to the U.S. military industry. Every year since 1986, Congress has approved US$1.3 billion in military assistance to Egypt, the second-largest aid package after that given to Israel.[7] But the Egyptian military does not receive this sum in cash: As in the Israeli case, a sizable portion of that largesse is paid out to American military contractors who assemble tanks and warplanes and send them on to Egypt.[8]
Since 1986, Washington has transferred 221 F-16 fighter jets with a total value of $8 billion to Egypt as part of its military aid package despite the fact that U.S. military advisors have been saying for years that Cairo had more than enough planes and tanks and does not need any more.[9] Likewise, over a thousand Abrams tanks have been transferred to Egypt since 1992 at a total cost of $3.9 billion though close to 200 of them are in mothballs and have never been used.[10] Such an arrangement can have economic benefits within Egypt as well: The Abu Zaabal tank repair factory (aka Factory 200) in Helwan is the site of a joint production of Abrams tanks that employs thousands of local workers.[11]
As a result, American defense contractors make millions of dollars annually and employ tens of thousands of workers as a direct result of U.S. military aid to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East.[12] In the words of Bruce Barron, president of Barron Industries of Oxford, Michigan, a manufacturer of Abrams M1A1 parts that the United States sends to Egypt: "The aid that we give to Egypt is coming back to the U.S. and keeping 30 of my people working."[13] In turn, the owners of small businesses like Barron Industries work in concert with large corporations such as General Dynamics to operate a lobby of local politicians, business-people, and unions who alert members of Congress to the domestic ramifications that cuts in military production or freezing projects might entail.[14]
U.S. Aid: Protest and Reconciliation
American defense contractors make millions annually and employ tens of thousands of workers as a direct result of military aid to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. These Abrams tanks are assembled at a General Dynamics plant in Lima, Ohio.
This then is the backdrop to the controversy surrounding the suspension of U.S. military aid to Egypt that first arose during the events of January and February 2011 when security forces acting on behalf of the Mubarak regime used brutal force against demonstrators. The idea of suspension was dropped after the fall of Mubarak and in light of the subsequent coordination and collaboration between the Egyptian high command and its U.S. counterpart. Washington also felt that since Egypt was headed toward free and democratic elections, continued aid would promote this goal and enhance the country's stability.[15]
The question of the continuation of military assistance came up a second time after the ouster of President Morsi in July 2013 in what was, for all intents and purposes, a military coup, albeit one with massive popular backing. American aversion to such nondemocratic changes of government was reflected in a law that, with a few exceptions, prohibited economic aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."[16] Though the Obama administration initially refrained from describing Morsi's removal in these terms,[17] the military's meddling in Egyptian politics was not the only thing that irked Washington; there was also the fact that the armed forces embarked on a violent campaign to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood. In late July, the scheduled delivery of four F-16s to Egypt was frozen. Then on August 15, Obama cancelled the joint U.S.-Egyptian exercises scheduled for September and, along with senior administration officials, condemned the violent dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood supporters from outdoor rallies the previous day.[18]
Sisi: "You [the United States] turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that."
Reaction by senior members of the Egyptian military and the interim regime to the administration's responses was not long in coming. Against the backdrop of criticism, Egypt's new headman Sisi granted an interview to The Washington Post in which he attacked the Obama administration: "You [the United States] left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that." He added that freezing delivery of the fighter planes was "not the way to deal with a patriotic military" and complained about the lack of U.S. support for "a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule."[19] His criticism was echoed shortly afterward by Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi, who added that Egypt had received military aid from Russia for many years in the past, and he, therefore, saw no reason to worry.[20]
In contrast with these strong, albeit restrained, statements by official Cairo, anger was expressed in a much more forceful and unambiguous fashion on the popular level. In July, shortly after the coup, Husam Hindi, a leader within the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement that led the campaign to oust Morsi, called for the masses to take to the streets "and defend the revolution" against the Muslim Brotherhood, which, he charged, was collaborating with the United States to undermine the legitimacy of the revolution. The Brotherhood, he claimed, had a long history of close ties with the Obama administration as seen by the major role it played "in exerting pressure on Hamas to reach a ceasefire during the latest Israeli aggression [Operation Pillar of Defense]." [21]
When Washington threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt, Tamarod launched a "Ban the Aid" protest campaign,[22] followed shortly afterward by the "Reviving Sovereignty" campaign. Protesting what its leaders called the U.S. attempt to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs, it posted a petition on its official website calling for the suspension of U.S. aid and disavowal of the peace treaty with Israel:
Mahmud Badr (above), a Tamarod co-founder, minced no words when he attacked Obama for condemning the June 30 revolution, declaring in no uncertain terms that Egypt no longer needed U.S. aid: "I tell you, President Obama, why don't you and your small, meaningless aid go to hell?"
After the unacceptable American intervention in Egyptian affairs, and how the U.S. supports terrorist groups in Egypt, I demand, as an Egyptian citizen who signed this petition, to hold a referendum on two matters. The first to refuse U.S. aid ... in all its forms. The second, to cancel the peace agreement between Egypt and the Israeli entity and rewording security agreements in order to ensure the rights of the Egyptian state in securing its borders.[23]
Mahmud Badr, a Tamarod co-founder, minced no words in attacking Obama for condemning the June 30 revolution. He urged Washington not to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs, especially not in the struggle by the military and by demonstrators against "the Brotherhood's terrorism," declaring in no uncertain terms that Egypt no longer needed U.S. aid: "I tell you, President Obama, why don't you and your small, meaningless aid go to hell?"[24] For Badr and the members of his protest movement, violent struggle and bloodshed were the necessary price for saving the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood.[25]
Roughly two months later, on October 9, Washington ratcheted up pressure on Egypt's interim government announcing a decision "to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian government while recalibrating our assistance to Egypt to best advance our interests." The communiqué stressed that Cairo would continue to receive aid for health care, education, and the private sector and that the United States would continue to help Egypt safeguard its borders, fight terrorism, and maintain security in the Sinai Peninsula along with providing training to the Egyptian military and spare parts for U.S. military equipment in Egypt. But, the State Department added, the administration had decided to freeze the transfer of major weapons systems and funds to the military regime until the formation of a democratic, civilian government elected in free and fair elections.[26]
The Obama administration seriously miscalculated how its statements and actions would be perceived by both the Egyptian public and its leadership.
In reaction, the spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, Badr Abd Atti, released an official communiqué stating that the move raised many serious questions about the administration's willingness to provide permanent strategic support for Egypt's security. While Cairo was interested in maintaining its warm relations with Washington, it would preserve its full independence when making decisions about its internal affairs and would not be influenced by external players.[27]
The following week, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy made similar re-marks, decrying the fact that tension between Washington and Cairo had reached a critical level. Nevertheless, the freezing of aid was something that the Egyptian people would be capable of handling: "The Egyptian people will not hesitate to bear the consequences of such a situation in order to preserve their freedom of choice after two revolutions."[28] Cairo should open its doors to other powers that had influence in the international arena. Such a move would give it multiple and diverse channels of action and pave the way for close ties with Russia and China. Fahmy added that there was a positive side to the U.S. decision: "It will equally serve Egypt and the U.S. because both will reconsider and better estimate their relationship in the future."[29]
The Obama administration seriously miscalculated how its statements and actions would be perceived by both the Egyptian public and its leadership. Not only did it fail to appreciate the depth of public revulsion with the Brotherhood's highhanded attempts to turn Egypt into an Islamist theocracy, but perhaps more importantly, it did not grasp how its response was seen as an insult and an attack on national pride. Egyptians perceived the United States government as acting as if it had bought their country with its aid then tried to use it to meddle in local politics.
Official Cairo handled the matter with restraint and responsibility. The statements released by the leadership reflected a desire to maintain strategic ties with the United States but also managed to defend national honor. At the same time, Sisi and his colleagues paved the way for the entry of additional players—Russia and China —who would be able to provide weapons and equipment to the Egyptian military.
Ramifications of U.S. Aid Suspension
Washington has sent a message both to its Middle Eastern enemies and allies that its word and "friendship" were highly iffy.
There appear to be three main consequences to the reduction in U.S. military assistance to Egypt though not all are restricted to Egypt proper. Thanks to its role in Mubarak's ouster, Washington has sent a message to both its Middle Eastern enemies and allies that its word and "friendship" were highly iffy. If a faithful ally like Mubarak—who had maintained close ties to the United States and served its interests well for thirty years—could find himself thrown under the bus when in trouble, no one was safe.
Doubts about U.S. reliability were reinforced by the administration's criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood's subsequent overthrow. The ouster of the Brotherhood—a religious and political force clearly identified as opposing Western values—should have actually served U.S. interests, but instead Washington condemned it as well as the Egyptian military, considered by most to be more secular and moderate, and thus more aligned with Washington and its values. Not only did statements about the need to freeze military aid contribute to the destabilization of the Egyptian street, they were also viewed as providing encouragement to Islamist groups and displaying a distinct lack of support for the will of the millions of demonstrators from the anti-Morsi camp. Washington's reluctance to aid post-Morsi Cairo was seen as proof of U.S. disloyalty to its allies and, among some, as evidence of the need to make war against it and the treachery it represents.[30]
The second consequence is tied to Israeli- Egyptian relations, in as-much as every discussion in which the issue of U.S. aid comes up includes the status of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. While the United States is not a legal party to the Israel-Egypt peace accord, and the accord itself does not include any clauses that obligate Washington to provide either Egypt or Israel with economic or military aid, the U.S. did append two attached memoranda setting forth its obligations to both sides. As a mediator between the sides and as the party that sought to ensure a regional balance of power, stability, and Israeli-Egyptian cooperation, Washington has, with congressional approval, traditionally given aid to both Egypt and Israel. [31] As a result, an Egyptian claim that peace with Israel is linked to U.S. military and economic aid is not entirely unjustified. Indeed, there is a fear in Israel that a cutback or freeze of U.S. military aid to Egypt will have a negative impact on security cooperation between Jerusalem and Cairo or, even worse, on the peace agreement itself. Israel believes that the U.S. aid money is Egypt's sole reason for adhering to the peace treaty and that, without it, the Egyptian regime will feel no obligation to maintain it.[32]
Following Mohamed Morsi's overthrow, relations between Moscow and Cairo have grown closer. On November 13, 2013, for the first time since Egypt changed its orientation from East to West in the mid-1970s, a Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (second from left), and a defense minister, Sergei Shoygu (right), visited Egypt. Then-Egyptian minister of defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (second from right) and foreign minister Nabil Fahmy (left) met with their Russian counterparts.
The third and final outcome of either the threat or an actual reduction in U.S. aid is the growing role of other states, above all Russia, in the affairs of the Middle East. The United States under Obama is perceived as a weakened power on a slow retrenchment from the region.[33] As nature—and seemingly geopolitics—abhors a vacuum, U.S. diffidence is encouraging rival powers to play a greater role in Egypt and one that bodes no good for the long term. American history can be instructive here.
During the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration tried to exploit U.S. military, technical, and economic assistance to persuade Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt to join an alliance to defend the region from communism. When courting Cairo failed, Washington refused to provide the Egyptians with requested weapons and later withdrew its offer to fund the construction of the Aswan high dam.[34] The strategy was a failure as Moscow quickly provided arms to Cairo through Czechoslovakia. Nasser was initially unwilling to chain himself to any major power, instead maneuvering adroitly between Washington and Moscow. In a long and patient process that developed over subsequent years, Soviet ties turned into dependence—one that increased markedly in the aftermath of the 1967 war. Two factors were largely responsible for this. For one thing, the Soviets never set conditions for assistance to an Arab country. For another, "the absence of any statement that the Middle East was vital to American interests"[35] was seen as a green light by Russia to become fully involved.
Although the Cold War ended in the late 1980s, a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin still views the Middle East as critical to its political and military interests and would love nothing better than to curtail U.S. hegemony in the region. Since the outbreak of the recent Middle Eastern upheavals, Moscow has sought to increase its influence in the region by protecting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and inserting itself repeatedly in the confrontation between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear capabilities.[36]
Under a contract to be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russia will supply the Egyptian military with a variety of weapons.
Following Morsi's overthrow, relations between Moscow and Cairo have grown closer. In September 2013, the Egyptian foreign minister visited Moscow; in October, the head of Russian military intelligence visited Cairo. A month later, an Egyptian delegation visited Moscow to express gratitude for Russian support for the "June 30 Revolution" overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood. On November 13, 2013, for the first time since Egypt changed its orientation from East to West in the mid-1970s, a Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and a defense minister, Sergei Shoygu, visited Egypt together. Two months later, in mid-February 2014, Defense Minister Sisi and Foreign Minister Fahmy visited Moscow where a meeting between Russian president Putin and Sisi was the centerpiece of the visit.[37]
The conversations between the Egyptian military and political leadership and their Russian counterparts focused on strengthening relations between the two countries and collaboration in a variety of fields including nuclear power. But the capstone of these contacts was Russian-Egyptian cooperation on military matters and the drafting of a comprehensive weapons deal that, according to various reports, is worth between two and three billion dollars. Under this contract, to be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russia will supply the Egyptian military with MiG-29 planes, MI-35 attack helicopters, air defense missile complexes, anti-ship complexes, light arms, and ammunition. [38]
In return for these arms, Egypt has agreed to provide the Russian navy with port services in Alexandria and to strengthen the two navies' cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea. Syria already allows Russian navy ships to use its port of Tartus, but in the event of the fall of the Assad regime and a loss of use of those facilities, Moscow is looking for a "Plan B."[39] Enhancing its ties with Cairo is a significant step for Russia in its quest to maintain an important strategic goal—a continued presence in the Mediterranean, a goal that becomes even more pertinent with the recent annexation of Crimea on the Black Sea. [40]
Economic stagnation, growing terrorism, and spreading violent, domestic opposition to the interim government tops the list of internal and external challenges facing Egypt. In contrast to the pre-1979 peace agreement, when Israel was considered the foremost threat, Cairo needs to address the menace posed by organizations associated with global jihad—especially those that operate in the Sinai Peninsula—by means of a new strategic view that encompasses the appropriate means to combat it. The age of classic war in the region, involving large scale air-supported tank maneuvers, is apparently over and there is no longer any need to keep accumulating massive quantities of heavy weapons. The threats posed by Islamist terrorist organizations operating in the Sinai require a new strategy focused on low-intensity counterinsurgency measures.
At the same time, Washington would be advised to look beyond the specifics of military aid to its long term interests. Military aid has significance beyond maintaining the power of the Egyptian military: It demonstrates the depth of U.S. support for an ally and, practically speaking, constitutes a declaration of loyalty to the close bond between the two countries. Any cutback or curtailment of aid to Egypt will be understood by any moderate and secular wings of the Egyptian regime—and by the Islamist opposition—as a U.S. vote of non-confidence in its allies, specifically in Egypt but also throughout the Middle East. Such measures by Washington are creating an opening for outside players—who are neither necessarily moderate nor pro-Western—to penetrate Egypt and the rest of the region, thereby damaging U.S. interests.
In the short term and in the wake of a reduction in assistance, Egypt will not break decisively with the U.S. government as doing so would achieve precisely the opposite of the goals sought by Sisi and the members of the National Salvation Front. Egypt would be further destabilized, losing its main supplier of military equipment, ammunition, and spare parts, and slide even further down the economic slope it has been on since February 2011. On the other hand, opening the Egyptian gates to the Russians, Saudis, and others would win these countries power and influence that over the long run could distance Egypt from its U.S. patron. For this reason, if Washington wants to continue to influence Cairo's political considerations, it should open its military depots to it, rather than slam the doors shut in its face.
**Yehuda Blanga is a lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University and a visiting scholar at The Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.
[1] See, for example, Fares bila Jawwad, YouTube, accessed June 6, 2014.
[2] "Egyptian Defense Minister Addresses People's Assembly Committee," Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Near East and South Asia (FIBS-NES), Cairo MENA, Feb. 6, 1996.
[3] Sinn Fine, "Haiyum Hamitsri Vesikuei Hamilhama Bamizrah Hatichon," Nativ 77, Nov. 2000, pp. 26, 31.
[4] Mark Thompson, "Strong and Silent," Time Magazine, Feb. 14, 2011; "Military Balance Files: Egypt," The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv, accessed June 6, 2014.
[5] Thompson, "Strong and Silent"; Foreign Policy, July 2, 2013.
[6] "Military Balance Files: Egypt."
[7] Jeremy M. Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., June 27, 2013; Fine, "Haiyum Hamitsri," p. 32.
[8] Jeremy M. Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2014, p. 23; National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[9] Bloomberg News Service (New York), Aug. 20, 2013; Planet Money, National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[10] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," June 27, 2013, p. 32; "Military Balance Files: Egypt."
[11] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," June 27, 2013, p. 32.
[12] Reuters, May 24, 2012; David Schenker, "Inside the Complex World of U.S. Military Assistance to Egypt," The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., Sept. 4, 2013.
[13] National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2013.
[14] Ibid; Reuters, May 24, 2012.
[15] Robert Gibbs, press secretary, White House, Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2011; The Guardian (London), Jan. 29, 2011.
[16] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, pub. law 111-117, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 111th Congress, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009.
[17] NBC News, Aug. 2, 2013.
[18] Reuters, Aug. 15, 2013.
[19] Lally Weymouth, "Rare Interview with Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi," The Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2013.
[20] ABC News, Aug. 20, 2013; al-Watan (Cairo), Oct. 12, 2013.
[21] Elaph (London), July 6, 2013.
[22] Ma'an News Agency (Bethlehem), Aug. 17, 2013.
[23] Al-Ahram (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013; al-Balad (Beirut), Aug. 17, 2013.
[24] Reuters, Aug. 17, 2013.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Press statement, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2013.
[27] Al-Wafd (Cairo), Oct. 10, 2013.
[28] Al-Ahram, Oct. 16, 2013.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Al-Youm al-Sabe'a (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013; al-Masri al-Youm (Cairo), Aug. 18, 2013.
[31] Sharp, "Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations," Jan. 10, 2014, p. 18-9; Special International Security Assistance Act of 1979, pub. law 96-35, The Library of Congress, S. 1007, July 29, 1979.
[32] Schenker, "Inside the Complex World of U.S. Military Assistance to Egypt"; Globes (Rishon Le-Zion), July 4, 2013; Haaretz, July 9, 2013; Galei Zahal radio (Haifa), Oct. 10, 2013.
[33] Daniel W. Drezner, "Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy?" Foreign Affairs, July-Aug. 2011.
[34] "Soviet Penetration of the Middle East," May 12, 1970, Israel State Archives (hereafter ISA), Foreign Ministry (hereafter FM), 4605/2; William J. Burns, Economic Aid and American Policy toward Egypt, 1955-1981 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), p. 16; Ofer Mazar, Betsilo Shel HaSphinx (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 2002), pp. 15–28.
[35] "Soviet Penetration of the Middle East," May 6, 1970, ISA, FM 4605/2.
[36] Alexander Orlov, ed., "Blizhniy Vostok: Vozmozhnye Varianty Transformatsionnykh Protsessov," Institute of International Studies, University MFA Russia, Apr. 2012; Zvi Magen, "Ruhot Shel Shinuy MeRussia," Mabat-Al, 470, Oct. 2013; Nael Shama, "Cairo and Moscow: Limits of Alliance," Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2013.
[37] Egypt State Information Service, Cairo, Nov. 13, 2013.
[38] Ibid.; al-Ahram, Nov. 19, 2013; Daily News Egypt (Cairo), Nov. 20, 2013; RIA Novosti (Moscow), Feb. 14, 2014.
[39] Al-Ahram, Nov. 19, 2013.
[40] Ibid.
Related Topics: Egypt, US policy | Fall 2014 MEQThis text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.