LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Taming the Tongue
James 03/01-12: "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 05, 06/14
A minimalist strategy for a collapsing Middle East/By: Hisham Melhem /Al Arabiya/October 06/14
Surprises in store for al-Nusra Front militants in Syria/Dr.
Theodore Karasik /Al Arabiya/October 06/14
Saudi Arabia, UAE act in the interest of regional stability/By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 06/14
Gulf countries standing idly by in Yemen/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/AshArq Al Awsat/October 06/14
Obama’s war on ISIS is an improvisation game/By:
Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya/October 06/14
Declassified Yom Kippur War papers reveal new insights into '73 intel units/By YONAH JEREMY BOB/J.Post/05 October/14
Lebanese Related News published on October 05, 06/14
Five Fighters from Hizbullah Killed, Dozens of Gunmen died During Repel Attack
in Outskirts of Brital
Fierce fighting kills 15 in east Lebanon
clashes with IS-linked rebels, as Nusra makes gains
Adwan: Geagea to abandon presidency if Aoun does
Wahhab: We won’t hesitate to bear arms
Lebanese soldier wounded by Israeli gunfire
IDF opens fire on cell crossing into Israel from Lebanon
Future candidates to withdraw if polls held: MP
Lebanon to get Russian helicopters, air defense: report
Lebanese soldier wounded by Israeli gunfire near Shebaa
Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan Calls for Support of Army
Rockets Land in Akkar from Syrian Territories
Al-Rahi Attends Vatican Synod on Family
Salam Expects Progress in Arsal Hostages Case
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 05, 06/14
US intelligence: Islamic State fighters pose as Syrian
refugees to enter Europe
Activists urge UN to support Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan
Kurds battle Islamist militants closing in on Syrian town
Quebec premier says Canada has to live up to its obligations in Middle East
Campaigning begins for Tunisia’s parliamentary elections
King Abdullah praises “colossal efforts” of Saudi security forces
Syrian Kurdish leader holds secret talks in Turkey: reports
ISIS publicly kills 6 in Iraq
French teen girl stopped ‘on way to jihad in Syria’
Saudi king hails security forces for foiling extremist plots
Report: ISIS plots to seize Iran’s nuclear secrets
UAE ‘astonished’ at Biden’s claim it backed extremists
Prayers said for Briton killed by ISIS fighters
Israel chides Swedish PM over Palestinian state
Israel permits Gazans to pray at Jerusalem mosque
Sweden clarifies stance on Palestinian statehood
Who will succeed Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei?
Pakistani Taliban declare allegiance to IS
Lebanon to get Russian helicopters, air defense: report
Oct. 05, 2014 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanon is considering using a Saudi grant to buy much needed weapons and equipment from Moscow to bolster its Army amid a jihadist threat, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has said. “There are talks on buying Russian arms and special equipment by Lebanon,” the World Tribune quoted Machnouk as saying during his visit to Moscow in late September to discuss weapons supplies to Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces. He said a delegation from the army would visit Moscow later this month to discuss proposals.
Any deal would most likely be financed by the $1 billion Saudi donation that was announced by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in August. Political sources last month told the The Daily Star that Hariri was working to revive 2010 arms negotiations with Moscow. The Russian ambassador confirmed at the time that talks were taking place without going into detail. Lebanese officials told the US-based World Tribune newspaper that Lebanese Army’s Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Walid Suleiman would negotiate the arms deal with the Kremlin, adding that Moscow was ready to send advisers for training and mentoring. “He [Suleiman] will be the one negotiating for which needs [Lebanon] can receive from the gift by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Mashnouk said.
Saudi Arabia has pledged two donations to Lebanese military and security forces since 2013, the first worth $3 billion of French weapons and equipment, while the second was for an immediate deal to reinforce security agencies and the military.
Through the deal with Russia, the Lebanese military could receive advanced models of Russian helicopters and air defense systems, said World Tribune in an article published Friday. “The Lebanese military has a lot of experience working with Russian weapons,” Mashnouk said. “So they will soon determine what is needed.”According to the report, officials said the Lebanese military was in urgent need of helicopters, night-vision systems, sniper rifles and reconnaissance systems to battle ISIS and other extremist groups. They said Beirut was still waiting for Riyadh to send money for military and security purchases. Army Chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi had announced last week that the $3 billion Saudi aid had not come through yet. French media reported that Saudi Arabia was seeking assurances that Hezbollah will not benefit from the weapons, which is the most common concern for western states seeking to support the Army’s capacities. The Saudis “want to wait until Lebanon has a president who conforms to their interests and they can get guarantees that the weapons won’t end up in Hezbollah’s hands,” an anonymous source was saying Friday in Le Figaro. “I don’t know what happened,” Kahwagi told Malbrunot. “The Lebanese have done their part of the deal. I signed a list of requested arms with the French, and we sent it to the Saudis. I went to Saudi Arabia, and we had very good meetings with both Saudi and French delegations. Now we’re just waiting for the Saudi signature.”
Five Fighters from Hizbullah Killed,
Dozens of Gunmen died During Repel Attack in Outskirts of Brital
Gunmen came from al-Kalamoun and attacked a Hizbullah position in the outskirts of Brital, that summoned Hizbullah to bring additional reinforcements for its fighters Naharnet /Five members of Hizbullah were killed and dozens of gunmen died in clashes that erupted on Sunday between them in the outskirts of Brital.and an alert in the army's position in Brital. MTV explains that the attack was on a Hizbullah position named Ain al-Saat position and that al-Nusra gunmen came from Assal al-Ward
“Hizbullah 'thwarted the attack' and two of their fighters died and others injured, while al-Nusra has dozens of dead and injured fighters," it added. Sunday night a Hezbollah security official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed the deaths of five fighters after clashes around the town of Nabi Sbat in eastern Lebanon.Several media reported that Mohammed Khalid Hamza Suhaib, a leader in al-Nura front, died after the clashes in the outskirts of Brital and his corpse was transported to al-Rahmat hospital in Arsal.
"Hizbullah posts in the mountains around al-Nabi Sabat, east of Baalbek, were attacked by armed groups who came from Qalamun" in Syria, a Hizbullah source told AFP."Hizbullah returned fire, inflicting heavy losses among the attackers," it added.
Residents from al-Nabi Sabat who fled the fighting told AFP they saw Hizbullah convoys picking up several wounded fighters from the group during the clashes. Al-Mayadeen stated that the goal of the gunmen who tried to infiltrate the eastern mountain range is to open a gap between the outskirts of al-Qalamun and al-Zabadani. According to al-Manar, Hizbullah killed dozens of militants and wounded others in Ain al-Saat and was able to take them out of the eastern mountain range. “Cautious calmness dominates on the areas which witnessed clashes in the eastern mountain range,” it added. LBCI stated that, “the gunmen attacked a Hizbullah position in the outskirts of Brital, in the eastern mountain range, where violent clashes took place." “A group of the IS attacked a Hizbullah position in al-Mahafer in the outskirts of Brital and injuries from both sided were recorded,” it added. VDL stated that Syrian gunmen dominated for 30 minutes on the Hizbullah position in the outskirts of Brital, but they withdrew afterward. After few minutes LBCI said: “The clashes expanded between Hizbullah and the IS to Younine in the outskirts of Baalbek and Hizbullah brought in reinforcements and a number of civilians participated in the fight.”“Hizbullah used 'an intense firing strategy' to force the militants to withdraw after they had came from several destinations of the eastern mountain range,” VDL added. According to VDL, the army announced an alert in its positions in Brital and Hawr Taala and declared that its units didn't intervene in the clash
Hezbollah clashes with IS-linked
rebels, as Nusra makes gains
Roi Kais, Reuters /10.05.14/Ynetnews
Al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front takes control of area close to Israeli border, making headways in southern Syria, as Hezbollah fighters clash with Islamic State militants near border with Lebanon, at least 16 killed.
Hezbollah clashed with hundreds of Sunni Islamist insurgents trying to capture land in a mountainous area near the border with Syria on Sunday and both sides suffered casualties, security sources said, as the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front made gains near the border with Israel. The insurgents clashing with Hezbollah, linked to the militant group Islamic State and al-Qaeda's Syria wing - the Nusra Front - launched a major offensive on Hezbollah-controlled areas near the Lebanese border town of Arsal, the sources said. Hezbollah had called on fighters to mobilize to defend the area, they added. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebel group said Sunday it has managed to take over a strategic area on the outskirts of Quneitra, not far from the border with Israel, in southern Syria. The Nusra Front, said it captured the Al-Harra area along with other rebel groups. The news came as US-led airstrikes targeted forces affiliated with the Islamic State group in eastern Syria, highlighting the wide scope of the Syrian conflict.
In recent months the Quneitra area has been scene to massive clashes between the Syrian regime and rebel groups. According to Syrian opposition officials, the al-Qaeda-linked group's takeover of the area essentially opens up the most important routes connecting the western and northern outskirts of Daraa and the southern outskirts of Quneitra. The New York Times quoted a senior IDF official who said Israel's main concern was upholding the 1974 ceasefire agreement with Syria, "if there’s no sovereign military on the other side."
"Now we're planning for a different type of threat. The terror and Islamic extremist threat," he said. The IDF would not provide details on spillover of fire from the Syrian Golan to the Israeli side, but noted there were less than 100 such cases.
Hezbollah, Islamic State clashes
Meanwhile, at least 16 Sunni Muslim insurgents from the Nusra Front were killed in clashes with fighters from Hezbollah in eastern Lebanon on Sunday, a source close to Hezbollah said. "There are at least 16 dead from Nusra Front," the source said, adding that Hezbollah fighters from other parts of Lebanon had gone to defend the area. Hezbollah clashed with rebels from the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front trying to capture land in a near the border between Syria and Lebanon, and both sides suffered casualties, sources said.
Lebanese media outlets reported the heavy fighting between Hezbollah soldiers and Islamic State and Nusra militants in the Lebanon Valley area (Beqaa Valley). Lebanese media said that the clashes erupted following Nusra Front militants' attempt to infiltrate Lebanon from Syria. The Sunni insurgents see Iran-backed Hezbollah among their chief foes. Fighters from the Lebanese group have been aiding President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war, fighting groups such as al Qaeda's Nusra Front and Islamic State which has seized tracts of land in Syria and Iraq. Two Hezbollah fighters were killed and at least eight of the insurgents, the sources added. Violence from Syria has often spread into Arsal and surrounding areas, where the Lebanese army has also battled insurgents. Fighters from Iran-backed Hezbollah have been aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war, fighting groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda's Nusra Front. Islamic State has seized tracts of land in Syria and Iraq. In August Islamic State and Nusra Front fighters stormed Arsal in the worst spillover of Syria's war into its neighbour to date, killing and capturing members of the Lebanese military. They have since killed at least three of the captive soldiers.
Fierce fighting kills 15 in east Lebanon
The Daily Star/October 05/14
BAALBEK, Lebanon: At least 13 Syrian-based militants and two Hezbollah fighters were killed in fierce fighting in a border area in east Lebanon Sunday after jihadists attacked positions of the Lebanese group in the area, security sources said. Militant groups attacked Sunday two Hezbollah posts on the Syrian side of the border near the eastern Lebanon villages of Brital and Nahleh, killing two of its members and wounding a number of others, the sources told The Daily Star. The sources said members of ISIS and the Nusra Front carried out the attacks, leading to clashes between the jihadists and Hezbollah. Thirteen militants were killed in the clashes, the sources said, and several others wounded. Hezbollah captured five militants, the sources said. A source from Hezbollah explained to The Daily Star that militants had attacked two Hezbollah posts inside Syria's Qalamoun region, one near the area of Nahleh and the other near the outskirts of the town of Brital. The militants briefly took over the post near Brital but the party swiftly regained control of the site. "All the fighting is taking place inside Syrian territories as militants are seeking to gain a foothold in Qalamoun, where their presence is weak," the source said. "They have been launching intermittent attacks every now and then." The source added that the fighting has significantly died down. Hezbollah had pounded militants' positions in the hillsides of Brital. The sources said Hezbollah was working on attacking the militants positioned in the hillsides overlooking Brital in a bid to oust them from the area. "The party appears to be preparing to target their hideouts in the hillsides overlooking Brital so as to free the area of the militants," one source said. Some reports spoke about an attempt by militants to take over the majority Shiite Baalbek district town, prompting hundreds of men from Brital and neighboring villages to take up arms to defend the area. The Army and Hezbollah stopped local citizens, who deployed across the town shortly after the attack to prevent militants from advancing on the town, from entering the battle, the source said. But a source close to the party said that Hezbollah fighters and Syrian Army troops were battling rebels in the border area of Rankous in Qalamoun for several days now. The source insisted that Hezbollah maintains full control of the area. Thousands of Hezbollah troops are fighting in Syria alongside government troops in the country's three and a half year long war. Hezbollah's intervention in the neighboring conflict triggered a series of attacks on Lebanon by Syrian rebels and jihadist groups beginning in early 2013. Brital was among several border region towns targeted by a barrage of rockets fired from Syria as a consequence to Hezbollah's Syria intervention.
Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan Calls for
Support of Army
Naharnet/The deputy head of the Higher Shiite Islamic Council, Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, on Sunday called on the Lebanese to distance themselves from strife and to back the army. During his sermon on the occasion of Eid al-Adha Qabalan hoped for peace and security. “We should steer clear of conspiracies … and strife,” he said. He also urged the Lebanese to back the military which for the past two months has been fighting militants near the border with Syria. The army should win in the battlefield, Qabalan said. In early August, the Sunni extremists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group crossed into the northeastern border town of Arsal from Syria, capturing soldiers and policemen. Two of the soldiers have since been beheaded and one has been killed in captivity. On Saturday, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan warned that the nation was under threat because of political divisions and stressed that those committing inhumane acts in the name of religion were not faithful. “The atrocities committed in the name of religion confirm that they (the perpetrators) don't have faith,” said Daryan in his Eid al-Adha sermon in reference to the jihadist groups.
Adwan: Geagea would drop presidential bid if Aoun does
The Daily Star/Oct. 05, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea would withdraw his candidacy for presidency if MP Michel Aoun does the same, the party’s deputy chief MP George Adwan said Sunday. “Dr. Samir Geagea is completely ready to withdraw in the case we reach a deal for a compromise candidate other than him or Gen. Michel Aoun,” Adwan said in an interview with Al-Jaeed TV. He called on Aoun to say he would be willing to endorse a compromise candidate. Although renewing his party’s position against the extension of the Parliament’s mandate, Adwan admitted that “realistically speaking, we are heading toward an extension.” The MP also touched on the issue of the captive soldiers and policemen, saying that the Lebanese Forces understands the anger of all the their families who have been staging protests and blocking roads across the country. “We stand behind the government even though we are not part of it,” Adwan said, “and we leave the issue of negotiations to the government and back any decision it will make.”The Lebanese Forces has no ministers in the government. At least 21 soldiers and policemen are being held hostage by ISIS and the Nusra Front in Arsal’s outskirts, after seven had been released and three executed. Adwan called on the people to believe in the military’s ability to protect all citizens, saying the Army is the only option to fight the extremist threat. "Fighting ISIS can only be done through the Lebanese state and not through armed groups," he said in response to talk about Christians and other minorities taking up arms. Displaing fear of ISIS weakens Lebanon’s position to fight it, Adwan added, calling on the Lebanese to refuse all private armaments because “they might create internal conflicts between the members of one society.
Salam Expects Progress in Arsal
Naharnet/There was no progress over the weekend in the case of Lebanese soldiers and policemen taken captive by jihadists in August as Lebanon celebrated Eid al-Adha. An Nahar daily on Sunday quoted a ministerial source as saying that Prime Minister Tammam Salam was following up the negotiation process with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. Salam expects progress but does not want to make false promises, the source said. The newspaper also said that mixed demands were made by the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, which took the soldiers and police as hostages during gunbattles with the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. The militants executed three of the captives after they pulled out of the town. According to sources following up the case, some of the jihadists are calling for the release of all the Syrians who were arrested by the army following the Arsal battles. Other militants are calling for the release of Islamist inmates form Roumieh prison and the reopening of dirt roads on the outskirts of Arsal, the sources told An Nahar. Their demands came in response to Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji's recent statement that the harsh conditions during winter were in favor of Lebanon. The jihadists, who are located on the outskirts of Arsal on the porous Lebanese-Syrian border, will find greater difficulty in getting their provisions when it starts snowing there. On Saturday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stressed that the case of the captive troops is a “top priority,” and described their abduction as a “black point in the course of the Syrian revolution.”“The case of the captives is the top priority in Lebanon, at the level of the government, military and security institutions, and all political sectors,” Rifi said as he visited the Qalamun highway to express solidarity with families of captive troops, who have been staging a sit-in there for days now.There is growing frustration among the relatives of the captives who have been blocking major roads to pressure the Lebanese authorities into exerting stronger efforts to secure the release of their loved ones.
Al-Rahi Attends Vatican Synod on
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi attended at the Vatican on Sunday a landmark two-week synod of bishops on the family. Pope Francis opened the synod of bishops from around the world, which will review Church teaching on the family and marriage.
The bishops and a small number of lay figures will spend the next two weeks addressing the gulf between what the Church says about issues such as divorce and cohabitation and what many followers actually do. Francis made a cameo appearance Saturday at a twilight prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square on the eve of the meeting. Francis said he wanted the bishops to listen — really listen to what the people of God are saying — and then engage in a "sincere, open and fraternal" debate that will respond to the "epochal changes" that families are living through today. Agence France Presse/Associated Press
Wahhab: Druze will protect themselves if the state cannot
The Daily Star/Oct. 05, 2014/BEIRUT: The people of Mount Lebanon will not be afraid to take up arms if the Army fails to protect them against takfiri threats, former minister Wiam Wahhab said Sunday. “As long as the state and the Army are capable of protecting this country, our choice will remain the Army and the state,” Wahhab said addressing crowds who visited his Jaheliyye residence to greet him for Eid al-Adha. “But if the state fails to protect Lebanon, we will not leave this nation as others did, because we are rooted in this land and we will stay and defend it,” he added. Speaking to his mostly Druze supporters, the head of the Arab Tawhid Party said the religious group will not accept to be eliminated “like other sects that are being eliminated in some Arab countries.”
“This Mountain with its Muslims and Christians is able to protect itself,” Wahhab added, calling on the supporters to brace for possible attacks. “There will certainly be weapons defending the unity of Lebanon and protecting the state alongside the Army.”
Wahhab, who has been speaking of threats against Druze for months, intensified his rhetoric in August when members of the sect in the southeastern Syrian area of Jabal al-Arab clashed with Bedouins, leading to dozens of deaths. The prominent Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has sinced toured many Druze areas in Mount Lebanon and the West Bekaa to urge for calm.
Syrian Kurdish leader holds secret
talks in Turkey: reports
Agence France Presse/ISTANBUL: The leader of the main Syrian Kurdish political party is in Turkey for secret talks with intelligence officials as the battle rages with jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobani, Turkish media said Sunday. The leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim held talks with officials from Turkey's intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), in Ankara on Saturday, the Hurriyet daily reported, quoting security sources. The meeting came after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last week held talks with Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) who asked Ankara to help Kurds in the fight for Kobani. According to Hurriyet, the Turkish officials encouraged Muslim's PYD to join forces with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which has been battling the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for years pressed for the ousting of Assad and wants this to remain a clear goal amid the battle against the ISIS jihadists.
The PYD is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey for the last three decades but has largely observed a ceasefire since 2013. Turkey has previously shown little interest in developing links with the PYD because of its links with the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist group by Ankara. Muslim was told in Ankara the PYD should distance itself from the PKK and also clearly state its opposition to Assad's regime. But he was also offered the prospect of logistical support for the group's fight against jihadists, the reports said.
Lebanese soldier wounded by Israeli
gunfire near Shebaa
The Daily Star/Oct. 05, 2014/SIDON, Lebanon: Israeli soldiers fired at a Lebanese Army post in the Shebaa Farms area near the border Sunday, wounding one soldier, the Army announced in a statement. The wounded soldier, identified as Zakaria Hamza al-Masri by a security source, was shot in the hand, the sources said, prompting troops to return fire. In a statement posted to Twitter, the Israeli military claimed it shot at two people it discovered "infiltrating Israeli territory from Lebanon."pects escape north, returning to Lebanon," it added. The Army is coordinating with the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon to investigate the incident, the statement said, after taking defensive measures. Israeli troops routinely violate the internationally recognized Blue Line around the As-Sendaneh area to kidnap shepherds and conduct other opertations.
Report: ISIS plots to seize Iran’s
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Sunday, 5 October 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group is planning on seizing Tehran’s nuclear secrets and urging its fighters to plan for war with Iran, UK weekly newspaper The Sunday Times reported. The group urged its members to help them reach their ambitions in a manifesto which was allegedly written by Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, a member of the group’s highly secretive six-man war cabinet. In the document, which has been examined by western security officials - who believe it to be authentic - Meshedani wrote that ISIS is aims to get hold of nuclear weapons with the help of Russia, to whom it will offer access to gas fields it controls in Iraq’s Anbar province in return for the Kremlin to give up “Iran and its nuclear program and hands over its secrets.”
The manifesto said that Moscow would also have to abandon support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back the Gulf States against Iran. The document also includes 70 different plans to launch a new campaign of ethnic cleansing aimed at consolidating the new “Islamic Caliphate,” stripping Shiite Iran of “all its power” and destroying the Shiite authorities in Iraq. ISIS considers Shiite Muslims as traitors and accuses them of “perverting” Islam in the same manifesto, which called for the assassination of Iranian diplomats, businessmen and teachers as well as Iraqi military chiefs, Shiite officials and Iranian-backed militias fighting for the Iraqi government. The document, which is believed to be a policy manifesto prepared for senior members of ISIS, was supposedly obtained in March by an Iraqi special forces unit during a raid on the home of an ISIS commander.
UAE ‘astonished’ at Biden’s claim it
By Staff writer, | Al Arabiya News /Sunday, 5 October 2014
The United Emirates has expressed “astonishment” after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made comments suggested that the Gulf state and other regional powers had financed extremist groups in Syria, its state-run news agency reported Sunday. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash said he was surprised by Biden’s remarks “which are far from the truth, especially with relation to the UAE’s role in confronting extremism and terrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognizing the dangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terrorist groups.” He called for a “formal clarification” of Biden’s statement, according to the report. The UAE is one of a handful of Arab allies taking part in U.S.-led air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
The others are Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Biden has already apologized to Turkey over the comments suggesting that it was one of the countries in the region that had armed and financed ISIS in Syria. “The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria,” Biden’s office said on Saturday, using a common acronym for the ISIS group. It came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted furiously at comments Biden made at Harvard University on Thursday in which he criticized allies in Turkey and the Arab world for supporting Sunni militant groups in Syria, including ISIS and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. (With AFP)
Quebec premier says Canada has to live up to its obligations in Middle East
The Canadian PressBy Martin Ouellet, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – Fri, 5Oct, 2014
QUEBEC - Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he approves of a military combat mission by Canada in the Middle East. Couillard, who is the father of a soldier, expressed his support shortly before Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out his case in Parliament on Friday for Canadian participation in air strikes in Iraq. Harper also said there would be no ground combat role although Canada has already contributed special forces advisers to the war against the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Couillard said Canada must live up to its obligations and called ISIL a movement that has drawn international condemnation. "The international community expects that Canada will play a role, clearly," Couillard told reporters. He said ISIL represents a major menace to the western world, including Canada. "This is a significant threat to our society and Canada and Quebec are part of that landscape," he noted. "Let us not be so naive that we think because Quebecers have been fortunate enough to live in peace for centuries that we're immune to this risk. The risks also exist for us. "These murderous movements are mobile, they are imaginative in the worst sense and they won't hesitate to attack those they consider enemies, which are democratic societies." He said doing nothing to counter the threat is not a viable option. The premier, who worked in Saudi Arabia as a doctor in the 1990s, expressed concern about the actions of the Islamic state and its allies. However, Couillard said Ottawa must be transparent about its plans. "When we send our young people to risk their lives, we must be able to tell people what the objective is, who the enemy is, what the definition of victory is and what are the rules of engagement," he said. "The federal government needs to communicate this."
Gulf countries standing idly by in
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/AshArq Al Awsat
Sunday, 5 Oct, 2014
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) foreign ministers made very precise statements to send out a warning that “the GCC states will not stand idly by in the face of factional foreign intervention in Yemen.” They had previously stressed that the security of Yemen is one of the council’s main concerns. As such, the scope of the crisis has widened from the previous situation when local leaders and the UN envoy were left to resolve the conflict.
The truth is that the Gulf states that want to help Yemen have their hands tied because they do not have tanks, troops or militias on the ground in the country. They cannot wage a war on the Houthis similar to the one waged on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The GCC is facing a difficult situation in Yemen; for decades their support was only political and economic. The Houthi rebels have reneged on all their agreements signed in recent weeks, even those amended to meet their demands. They disrespected all the deals they signed.
The question is not about the illegitimacy of Ansar Al-Allah, the Houthis, who seized control of the Yemeni capital. This is obvious after they overthrew the legitimate government that was recognized by the UN Security Council and the Arab League and was the product of the consensus of various Yemeni parties. The question now is: How can we deter this rebel militia and restore legitimacy? Will the Security Council that recognized the Yemeni government be able to protect it in the same way it is now defending the Iraqi government against ISIS? What can the GCC do to protect its initiative and protect the new Yemeni regime? Does the GCC’s statement that they will not stand idly by mean a possible military action?
The Gulf’s actions since the unrest in Yemen erupted in 2011 were positive. Gulf countries respected popular demands and convinced Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down from the presidency. They succeeded in preventing chaos and massacres between various parties and supported the project of the temporary transitional government until the Yemeni people choose a new leader. This was the best that could have been done in that serious crisis, despite the bad choice of the Interim President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This is why Yemen and Tunisia have emerged as models of the Arab Spring. In the end, Yemenis were victorious with the UN’s political support and the major international economic rescue project.
Now, all these achievements are being destroyed by the Houthi rebels who dared to assault the new regime and due to the success of the ousted president’s supporters in undermining the army and security force, leaving the capital defenseless. Accordingly, we ask the Gulf countries, which believe that an attack on Yemen is tantamount to an attack on themselves, what can they do about this? Will they send military forces to confront the Houthis? Are they ready for a wider confrontation in case Iran supports its Houthi allies with troops as it did in Iraq and Syria?
I don’t think that a direct military intervention is the solution now, as it was after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. This is because it won’t be viable in a collapsed and dangerous country regarded as the second safe haven for Al-Qaeda, after Syria. There are limited available options, most notably the political solution. Despite its failure so far, it is still the best option to unite various Yemeni forces, including the South’s forces, against the Houthis and Al-Qaeda. It is also the best option to urge them to adopt a political project that excludes the rebels and their supporters and punishes them economically. The second solution is to support, re-structure and arm the army, empowering it to retake cities from the clutches of the Houthis who are taking arms depots, financial and energy assets in their bid to control the major cities through puppets who claim to represent the Yemeni people. The Gulf countries are facing unusual challenges in Yemen. The war will not be easy as some rivals are still unknown. If the GCC succeeds in Yemen, it will win the respect it deserves in the troubled region, but if it fails, the consequences will be immense.
Saudi Arabia, UAE act in the interest of regional stability
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 5 Oct, 2014
Reuters news agency recently published two significant reports: one about what it described as the bold foreign policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE; the other dealt with Turkey’s frustration with the West and its regional isolation.
The foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and the UAE should not be described as bold in relation to the two countries’ recent participation in the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Instead, it would be more precise to say that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have become more realistic and aware of the dangers surrounding them. The reality is that the majority of Arab countries have become hamstrung by either mismanagement; subordination to Iran; violent crackdown on civilians, such as in Syria; or by political Islam that has shown disrespect to the state and has sought to strengthen its own ideology, as is the case in Egypt. This is not to mention what Nuri Al-Maliki did in Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, Muammar Gaddafi in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya.
This of course represents the antithesis of the rational approach of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both countries seek to maintain the prestige and stability of the state, gradually promoting openness and reform while ensuring a politically stable atmosphere in neighboring countries. This has collided with Turkey’s ideological and unrealistic vision embodied by its “zero problems with neighbors” policy and by its decision to support Islamist parties at the expense of the concept of the state. As the Reuters report suggests, Turkey, after the so-called Arab Spring, was keen on a Middle East governed by political Islam with the Brotherhood and Ankara at its center. The report added that Turkey did not realize that its support for the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups had put it at loggerheads with well-established powers that proved more pragmatic than Turkish decision-makers had expected.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among these well-established countries, and they are backed by a real public desire for stability and peace as was evident in the Arab Gulf and Egypt in the aftermath of the uprisings. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not fragile or hopeful countries. Instead, they are the product of a strict and ancient diplomatic experience. Contrary to Erdoğan’s Turkey, Riyadh—since the era of the founder of the Kingdom King Abdulaziz (may God have mercy on him)—has always been firm in its position, governed by values and motivated by interests and clear goals, never giving in to the winds sweeping across the region. Saudi Arabia is not governed by a firebrand political discourse but by the shrewdness and the dreams of those who lived in the desert.
Therefore, the Saudi-UAE move to support the Egyptian state, stop Bashar Al-Assad’s crimes, defuse the Yemeni crisis, stem violence in Libya and eradicate terror and radicalism in the region does not emanate from a desire for a political role but rather to preserve Arab security and strengthen the prestige of Arab states exhausted and systematically destroyed by Iran, the Brotherhood and their followers.
A minimalist strategy for a collapsing
Hisham Melhem /Al Arabiya
Sunday, 5 October 2014
The American strategy against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, and particularly in Syria, regardless of the loud rhetoric of first “degrading then destroying” ISIS, is still remarkably minimalist in scope and ambition, reflecting the long-held views of President Obama to end the country’s long and tragic encounter with Iraq, and his attitudes that the conflict in Syria is someone else’s civil war.
American policy-makers and senior military officers continue to stress that air power will not be enough to defeat ISIS, hence the need for local ground component; a retrained military and the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq, as well as moderate and nationalist opposition groups in Syria.
After six weeks of mostly U.S. air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and two weeks of air strikes in Syria by the U.S. and its Arab partners, the forces of ISIS may have been blunted around the Mosul dam in Iraq, but ISIS forces are still at the outskirts of Baghdad, and continue to advance on a number of fronts in both Iraq and in Syria.
Looking at the totality of the U.S. strategy, and how American officials frame it, it is clear that the Obama administration does not intend to decisively defeat ISIS during the remainder of its term, an objective that would require a more intensive air campaign and the deployment of U.S. ground forces, even on a limited bases, such as conducting special operations with or without allied forces, particularly in Syria, but rather to continue a limited war of attrition that Obama will surely bequeath to his successor.
The reluctant warrior is still reluctant
For more than three years Obama resisted involvement in the Syrian conflict, including arming the early nationalist armed opposition groups composed mostly of former conscripts and officers who deserted the Syrian army, not the farmers, pharmacists and dentists that he keeps talking about. The killing of more than 200,000 Syrians, and the uprooting of almost one third of Syria’s population, did not move the president to stop Assad, the man mainly responsible for the rise of extremism in Syria.
“In the end, only the Arabs (and Muslims) can defeat ISIS and what it stands for. And the urgent beginning would be in trying to contain the fires of Sunni-Shiite sectarianism”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who ignored Obama’s calls for him to step down, began to test the seriousness of the White House by gradually escalating the horror he was visiting on his own people. The early limited air strikes by fixed wing bombers and the occasional Scud missiles, began to increase in numbers and in ferocity. When Assad realized that Western powers - and the Arabs and the Turks - were not going to respond forcefully or decisively, he unleashed the hell of barrel bombs, designed to kill and maim, on the inhabitants of cities, towns and neighborhoods controlled by the opposition.
Aleppo, once a jewel of a city, bore the brunt of this primitive deadly weapon of terror. After testing the mettle of his adversaries regarding the use of conventional weapons, Assad moved to test the resolve of President Obama’s warning that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would constitute crossing a red line that would lead him to change his calculus significantly. Assad used these weapons numerous times and the Obama administration knew that for months before confirming it publicly.
Obama was forced to threaten Assad with military force when in the summer of 2013 more than 1,400 civilians were killed in a chemical attack. As former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tells it in his new book “Worthy Fights,” Obama “vacillated, first indicating that he was prepared to order some strikes, then retreating and agreeing to submit the matter to Congress… The latter was, as he well knew, an almost certain way to scotch any action.” Panetta, a veteran politician who understood the world, unlike many of the advisors that the president surrounded himself with at the White House, concluded that “the result, I felt, was a blow to American credibility. When the president as commander-in-chief draws a red line, it is critical that he act if the line is crossed...”
Finally Obama was forced to use air power in Iraq then in Syria after ISIS occupied Mosul - Iraq’s second largest city - and seemed to threaten Baghdad, and after the beheading of two U.S. journalists, an event that horrified and angered the American public.
A dearth of strategic thinking
Despite all the talk about the “internationalization of the war” on ISIS, the fact remains that the U.S. and its western allies are pursuing a narrow counter-terrorism campaign, that leaves many unanswered questions about the desired outcome in Syria, or how to degrade ISIS without benefitting the Assad regime that gave it sustenance when the extremist group was fighting nationalist and other Islamist groups opposed to Assad, and with which it enjoyed a long period of cohabitation?
How will the U.S. and its Western allies balance Iran’s support for the Iraqi government with Iran’s logistical and military help for the Syrian regime, the same regime that the U.S. is supposed to help the moderate Syrian rebels to overthrow? Is there a qualitative shift in the administration’s political approach to a post-Maliki Iraq? Or as is likely Obama will continue to sub-contract Iraq to his Vice President Joe Biden? Which means the continuation of a policy that” ignores” Iraq, as former U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill explained recently? Can the Iraqi government free itself from the sectarian clutches and rein in the Shiite militias and contain Iran’s influence on them so that it could gain the cooperation of the Sunnis in the struggle against ISIS?
Even the military tactics are confusing and murky, what is the rationale behind alerting, informing or even warning the Assad regime that the U.S. will attack ISIS and will spare Syria’s air defenses if they don’t lock on U.S. bombers? And if the U.S. is serious about arming and helping the Syrian opposition, why not help those rebels who are trapped in Aleppo by regime forces on one side, and ISIS forces on the other side?
There is very little evidence that the Obama administration is changing its long held skeptical views of the moderate Syrian opposition and the efficacy of helping them either to force Assad to change his political calculus so that he would negotiate seriously, or to support them to topple him.
Even after Congress approved $500 million to train and equip the moderate opposition, there is no sense of urgency to accelerate this process. The administration is planning to begin training a force of 5,000 fighters in 2015 for a year. The administration is still acting as if there are no nationalist or moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS that can be supported. In Jan. 2014 a coalition of such groups drove ISIS terrorists from large areas in Northern Syria.
The initial reaction to the air strikes on ISIS targets, particularly in Syria, in majority Sunni Arab states and Turkey was lukewarm or was attributed to dubious motives. To most Sunnis, a war on ISIS and other radical Sunni groups that end up leaving Assad in power is unacceptable. The Arab states that participated in the U.S. led air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, did so in part to influence the U.S. to broaden its objectives in Syria to include regime change, as part of an overall strategy to save the country from ISIS and the Assad regime and take the country out of Iran’s orbit.
In other words, as long as the civil war continues in Syria, and as long as Assad remains in power, America’s minimalist strategy of degrading and destroying ISIS through a campaign of counter-terrorism will be significantly hampered. At a minimum, U.S. and Arab bombers on their way to destroy ISIS targets in Syria should also pay a visit to Assad’s air force bases, and at least neutralize its fleet of helicopters that rain barrel bombs on civilians. The U.S. air campaign against ISIS in Syria will not be fully supported by Sunni public opinion in the region, unless it includes degrading the Syrian regime too.
ISIS represents a direct mortal threat to Syria and Iraq, and a potential mortal threat to Lebanon and Jordan. Already ISIS-inspired violence and instability has spilled over to both states. In fact the challenge of tackling ISIS is shaking the whole Middle East region.
All the countries of the Levant and the Gulf, including Iran and Turkey are in varying degrees susceptible to this deadly virus. But defeating ISIS militarily, politically and ideologically will not be achieved soon, and it will require mobilizing the admittedly weak Arab societies and states, in a long struggle, that should include reconstituting Syria and Iraq, on new foundations an incredibly daunting, and maybe elusive task. To seriously degrade ISIS, the U.S. should seriously re-think some of its assumptions and taboos.
For the president of the United States to keep repeating publicly what he is willing or not willing to do in the confrontation with ISIS, such as the incredibly damaging taboo against the deployment of ground troops, is to tie his hands behind his back and to provide comfort to an enemy that believes in the total, merciless application of violence.
The selective use of Special Forces, with or without allied regional powers should be seriously contemplated. The establishment of no-fly zones and protected areas along the Turkish and Jordanian borders in collaboration with the forces of the two states is imperative if the U.S. is serious about giving the moderate Syrian opposition groups the chance to administer Syrian territories, to stem the flight of refugees, to launch operations against the regime, and to prove their ability to provide needed services and serious governance. Turkey has expressed its willingness to participate in such efforts. This is the time to test the veracity of that willingness.
In the end, only the Arabs (and Muslims) can defeat ISIS and what it stands for. And the urgent beginning would be in trying to contain the fires of Sunni-Shiite sectarianism. These fires have been lit recently, and unless they are deprived of the oxygen of hatred and demonization they will consume many victims. ISIS achieved initial successes in northern Iraq because it benefited from the political resentments of many Sunnis who were alienated by the sectarian policies of the previous Iraqi government.
Recognizing the rights of the Shiites in Iraq should not be done at the expense of the Sunnis and other groups, just as recognizing the rights of the Sunnis in Syria should not be done at the expense of the Alawites or the other Syrian communities.
It is tragic that identity politics and sectarian affiliations have become so entrenched, that very few people are willing to entertain notions of equality of citizenship in a civil state, but Arabs should not deceive themselves that they can exorcise the demons of sectarianism, extremism, intolerance, autocracy and patriarchy from their societies without enacting serious and structural reforms that will reconstitute their polities, economies and some of the fundamentals of their culture.
Surprises in store for al-Nusra Front
militants in Syria?
Dr. Theodore Karasik /Al Arabiya
Sunday, 5 October 2014
With the ongoing airstrikes targeting Syrian terrorist targets, there is concern that only airstrikes will not be enough. U.S. military officials are repeating that any U.S. military ground operation is off the table. But there is a need for more military power to “degrade and destroy” Sunni extremists on the ground in Syria. This fact is plainly obvious. What are the ground requirements to go up against ISIS and al-Nusra? What is this ground force going to look like? How long will a ground operation go on for?
The ground operation in Syria, done in conjunction with coalition airstrikes, may consist of Special Operation Forces (SOF) and made up of Arabs, specifically Jordanians. This religio-cultural aspect to SOF operations would be an important strategic and tactical decision. Jordanian SOF is tied closely with the topographical surroundings found in Syria, and is acclimatized to the conditions found in the Levant.
When it comes to the upcoming ground operations, the Rules of Engagement (ROE) will be based on cultural attributes. This approach will also feature sharp and effective swarming attacks. Swarming attacks are essentially a convergent attack on an adversary from multiple axes combined with astute information and deception operations. ISIS and al-Nusra practice this type of warfare already.
Arab strategists are estimating that there only needs to be between 10,000-12,000 SOF to hunt down Sunni extremists. Jordan may well be “the tip of the spear” for the upcoming ground campaign, according to one official. Amman’s SOF is world renowned with almost 30,000 SOF warriors augmented with enhanced training at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC). KASOTC is ideal for pre-deployment training, joint and combined military exercises, or enhancing proficiency of unit requirements. In operations against Sunni extremists in Syria, Jordanian SOF, the backbone of the Jordanian military, will be deployed in hunter-killer teams to attack the extremist enemy.
Boots on the ground – a gory glory
This two to three year SOF ground campaign may be led in two phases. The first phase could consist of the Jordanian SOF deployments with back up from the Jordanian army. The U.S.-led air coalition will provide Close Air Support (CAS) while still targeting Sunni extremist valuable and vulnerable targets in a key application of military theory and doctrine against terrorist groups and insurgents.
“The FSA fighters can defend themselves but cannot conquer and occupy territory whether large or small”
Dr. Theodore Karasik
The second phase could be to insert the more than 5000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who have been trained and modestly equipped over the past few years. These FSA are to be deployed by helicopter to keep the peace in areas mollified by Jordanian SOF. An additional 5000 FSA are to be trained either in Jordan or Saudi Arabia over the coming eight to twelve months to augment the FSA force. Importantly, the FSA fighters can defend themselves but cannot conquer and occupy territory whether large or small. In other words, the FSA force is intended for constabulary functions that takes them out of the main fight against Sunni extremists since they fared so poorly in the past. Clearly, progress on the ground will determine the shift from the first phase to the second phase.
The above plans also bring to attention the role of the Syrian government, Russia, and Iran during the SOF ground operations against Sunni extremists. Syria’s Russian and Iranian-backed military forces will also want to take part in ground operations. At the Syrian port of Tartus, Russia is already reportedly resupplying the Syrian army and the Syrian Republican Guard for action, with Tehran’s approval, to take on Sunni extremists.
Last week, Jordanian King Abdullah visited Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting’s timing and content tells us much about the planning that is ongoing to rid Syria of Sunni extremists. According to analysts in Amman and Moscow, the meeting between the two leaders not only dealt with possible coordination on attacking Sunni extremists but also taking lessons learned from Russia’s previous encounters with Chechen rebels since the 1990s given that both ISIS and al-Nusra use tactics, techniques, and procedures from the Chechens in their ranks.
Overall, the insertion of Jordanian SOF, which could be started in small targeted strikes to protect the Kingdom’s northern border, is a necessary requirement. It brings an Arab solution to a Levantine problem. Jordanian SOF should not be underestimated: Amman’s “tip of the spear” reportedly helped to free the kidnapped Jordanian Ambassador to Libya Fawaz al-Itan in May 2014. Most importantly, this Jordanian SOF effort keeps American and Western boots off the ground in Syria. Such an approach helps to calm fears in Western capitals that they will be sucked into Syria and should be highlighted as soon as possible in the public sphere and social media to calm fears of mission creep and quagmire for the United States. Simultaneously, the above plans would help to set the stage for a political solution to Syria in the coming years and set the phase for negotiations which is what all powers want to see in the future. Unfortunately, first, the actual ground campaign needs to begin in all its gory glory.
Obama’s war on ISIS is an improvisation game
Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 5 October 2014
Everything we know and everything that is repeatedly being said indicates that this war could last for years. We do not know exactly what strategy President Barack Obama has in his war on ISIS. This terrorist group has succeeded in luring the U.S. president into a war, effectively putting itself on the map, if not seizing the map and becoming a household name.
We know then that ISIS has a comprehensive strategy, part of which is directed at the U.S. president, another part at the leaders of the Middle East, particularly Arab nations, and a third part at the media, with a view to create an unmatched global footprint to establish the group as an extraordinary player.
Around 40 countries are taking part in the U.S.-led coalition seeking to degrade and destroy ISIS. Some are taking part in operations in Iraq exclusively, others have joined the coalition to shake off accusations of supporting ISIS, while certain countries have been drawn into taking part in operations in Syria begrudgingly, fearing that they might be practically assisting the axis they have an animus with, namely, the axis comprising Iran, Russia, the Assad regime and Hezbollah.
This war could backfire
It’s a mess. This is a quasi-improvised war that relies on air strikes to achieve success without soldiers on the ground who are truly convinced of its goals. This is extremely dangerous because an improvised war lacking in specific political goals could backfire. If that happens, everyone will be in the eye of the storm, including the members of the coalition that had protested Obama’s political non-strategy, and that had tried to convince him to adopt a clear regional policy, to no avail at the time. Obama’s war will not achieve its goals, but could end up fueling the forces that seek to thwart it and take revenge against it.
“Obama must come under no illusions that ISIS effaces the other atrocities that he decided to ignore in Syria”
Last week, international delegations flocked to the United Nations in New York to take part in the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly, in completely different climates from those of the 68th session. Back then, the Americans and Russians came as partners and friends, after Barack Obama backtracked from his “red line” at the 11th hour, where he had convinced the world he was about to carry out a strike against the regime in Damascus for having used chemical weapons. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were ecstatic for having come up with a solution that led Obama to back down. It was when President Bashar al-Assad agreed to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal.
Animosity over Ukraine
The events in Ukraine overturned this equation, and turned the détente and partnership between the U.S. and Russia into animosity. When the U.S. president spoke from behind the rostrum of the UN General Assembly, he mentioned three threats to the world, and placed Vladimir Putin’s policies between the Ebola threat and the threat from ISIS terrorism.
The U.S. president turned against his Russian counterpart because of Ukraine, and not because of Putin’s continued support for Assad, his insistence on Assad remaining in power, and his obstruction of the Geneva process based on establishing a transitional governing body with full powers in Syria that would bring together both the government and the opposition.
His speech before the General Assembly was by far the most appeasing toward Damascus and Tehran. Obama avoided repeating what he said in the past about Assad’s legitimacy, and failed to deliver on what his partners in the coalition wanted him to do, namely, to tell Tehran that Washington does not consent to its regional ambitions, which are characterized by seeking to dominate key Arab nations like Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The U.S. president focused exclusively on the need to fight ISIS, considering it to be the sole threat.
Some Gulf countries celebrated and contented themselves with the U.S. president’s insistence on keeping Damascus, Tehran and Moscow outside of the coalition. Yet others saw the move as actually benefiting the three governments because Obama stopped at excluding them from the coalition and did not demand more. Thus, the United States and the members of the coalition appear to be waging war on behalf of the Russia-Iran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis without any cost to speak of for the latter parties, if not at no cost for them at all, because this war is all about removing one of the most important and most violent enemies of this axis.
The moderate Syrian opposition represented by the Syrian National Coalition, led by Hadi al-Bahra, decided that Obama’s war on ISIS helps because it removes the burden of having to fight on two fronts: against ISIS and against the regime in Damascus. But there are those in its ranks who have a different point of view, not out of admiration for ISIS but for fear that the Syrian opposition could end up being used in a war without a political horizon and without guarantees.
The armed Syrian opposition is the de facto “boots on the ground” just like the Iraqi tribes, which will turn against ISIS, and which are in turn the de facto boots on the ground in Obama’s war. But they have obtained from Washington promises that come “after” rather than “before,” in the sense that they were told to do what they are asked to do, before they are given what they want later.
Obama’s great gamble
The main reason behind Obama’s insistence on rushing to execute the priority of destroying ISIS before addressing the political aspect of the crisis in Syria and Iraq is Iran. The U.S. president still believes he can shape his historical legacy based on an agreement with Iran, especially in the nuclear issue.
The nuclear negotiations have stalled. Britain – through its national government and through Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief – is very eager to turn a new leaf with Tehran and conclude a nuclear deal at any price. Britain believes that the opportunity to achieve this is available through the personality of Barack Obama, who in turn is very eager to push Iran towards compromising and agreeing to a nuclear deal.
President Obama does not have on his mind, nor does he seem prepared to tackle the main issue of concern with Iran, against the backdrop of his war on ISIS. He does not want to raise the issue of the Iranian element in the Iraq scene too strongly.
The U.S. president is making a great gamble in this approach, implicating his Gulf allies in the coalition because the Sunni popular base in the Gulf nations – and within Iraq – wants to understand now and not later after obtaining guarantees. The Sunnis there do not trust the U.S. president and they are not prepared to be the ammunition of his floating war, especially if it turns out to be a war for the sake of Iran and its ambitions in Iraq.
Syria and Iraq
Iraq is a relatively easier issue than Syria, where Iran is waging a devastating war through the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah directly, rather than through political influence as in Iraq’s case.
President Obama is not confronting Tehran over Syria. He is exempting Iran from accountability, which in turn embarrasses his allies in the coalition and paves the way for his war on ISIS to backfire. If he thinks that the de facto boots on the ground are going to wait years before they can learn their fate in the equation, he is gambling and faces the prospect of an unpleasant surprise.
The concern here is not just about Obama’s war. The concern is of the possibility of a rebellion by the popular base against some governments allied to the U.S. president, as he wages a floating war without a political horizon and for years.
This popular base includes some institutions in these countries, such as the military, which could refuse the tactic of delaying political guarantees until after military operations, guarantees that are wanted before, and not after their participation. The fear is for this base to turn against Obama’s war, not out of fondness for ISIS, but in rejection of the U.S. president’s neglect of this base and its demands.
One year ago, President Obama refused to wage war in Syria, earning himself a reputation for dithering, pussyfooting, and lacking confidence and determination. Today, he is in desperate need to rehabilitate himself as a serious leader in the minds of many in the Middle East.
ISIS had a nurturing environment in Iraq, and rose to prominence with support from groups and clans that wanted to protest against a fait accompli imposed by an Iranian decision and American contribution – either deliberately or accidentally. It is not easy to restore confidence despite the honest willingness to give new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi a serious chance. For one thing, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki left his post through the door only to return through the window, so to speak, to the post of deputy president, while the posts of defense minister and interior minister are still the subject of a dispute.
The U.S. president must understand that Iran, with the moderate wing represented by President Hassan Rowhani and the hardliner wing represented by Revolutionary Guards commander General Qassim Suleimani, wields formidable influence in Iraq. What the Iraqis want is for Obama not to pretend otherwise. They want him to lead seriously on the political issue, if he wants the Iraqis to be serious about rising up against ISIS. His airstrikes are not enough, and his predicament will be deeper and broader if he fails to understand the importance of the political aspect, before and not after his war on Iraq.
The U.S. president must act without burying his head in the sand when it comes to the Iranian role in Syria. He has been blamed for many things, including his failure to engage from the outset, and for the distance he kept between his administration and the situation that has led to the death of 200,000 people and the displacement of about 10 million others. He must not expect other countries to automatically join his war into which he has been lured against his will, and he must come under no illusions that ISIS somehow effaces the other atrocities that he decided to ignore in Syria, because it suited him at the time. President Barack Obama does not have the right to summon the Middle East region to join his ambiguous war for years, without putting forward a clear roadmap for the objectives of the war beyond the destruction of ISIS, now and not later.
**This article was first published in al-Hayat on Oct. 2, 2014 and was translated by Karim Traboulsi.
US intelligence: Islamic State
fighters pose as Syrian refugees to enter Europe
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post
BERLIN -- Islamic State combatants disguised as Syrian refugees fleeing the war-torn country want to enter Europe to launch terrorist attacks.
The German mass circulation Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday that the "Americans succeeded in decoding locked communications of the ISIS leadership."
The information from monitored ISIS conversations, also known as Islamic State, revealed that the terrorists cannot use airports on their way to Europe because of the strict control. Government officials confirmed the Bild am Sonntag report.
An official for Germany's Interior Ministry told the paper that Germany stands in the "focus of jihadist terrorism," but there is no indication at this time of any concrete attacks.
The Bild am Sonntag wrote,"In view of the chaotic conditions on the Syria-Turkey border, it is nearly impossible to catch ISIS-terrorists in the wave of refugees."
German security authorities estimate that 450 radical German Muslims have traveled in the direction of Syria. An official from Germany's intelligence told The Jerusalem Post that it is difficult to track radical German Islamists leaving Germany for Syria because they do not need a visa to first land in Turkey. The southern Turkey border has been the principal point of entry into Syria for jihadists seeking to fight Assad's regime and create a caliphate state.
Roughly 150 radical German Islamists have returned from Syria and are currently in Germany. The Federal Republic outlawed Islamic State activities last month. The Lebanese political militia Hezbollah has legal status for its so-called political wing in Germany.
According to the Bild am Sonntag report, there is no evidence at this stage that "terrorists are already on the way to Germany or other Western European States."
It is unclear if the German authorities view the 150 radical jihadists as terrorists who returned to the Federal Republic.
The daily Die Welt reported on Saturday that the number one goal for German jihadists is to fight in Syria.
German intelligence agencies, according to Die Welt, say some jihads, who were based in terror camps in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war theaters, are now in Syria or on their way to the country. Al-Qaida and other jihadist groups attracted German Muslims to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where so-called "German colonies" were established.
German security officials told Die Welt that the German-Moroccans Yassin and Mounir Chouka and their wives Nele Ch. and Luisa S., as well as Seynabou S. from Hamburg, along with children, relocated from Pakistan to Syria. It is unclear if the terror group made it to Syria. Some of the group's children were born in terror camps in Pakistan. While in Pakistan, the Choukas joined the terrorist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Now, they have declared their allegiance to Islamic State.
The Choukas, who are originally from the West German city of Bonn, animated the radical Islamist Arid Uka, a 22-year-old Kosovo native who worked at Frankfurt's airport, to murder two American airmen in March 2011.
The German Television station ARD reported last week that German authorities allowed — and even supported — the travel of violent Islamists over the years to foreign countries. According to a government official, the thinking was "persons who are dangerous and could launch attacks are brought outside of the country."
Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that Germany plans to submit the name of a former rapper, Denis Cuspert, known as the singer Deso Dogg, who is now a leading member of Islamic State, to be included in the UN's sanctions list.
Meanwhile, a Belgian jihadist fighting in Syria worked in a sensitive area of a nuclear power plant in Belgium. The 26-year-old Ilyass Boughalab worked at Doel nuclear power station, according to the Belgium outlet VTM. He worked as a technician at the plant.
Declassified Yom Kippur War papers reveal new insights into '73 intel units
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Declassified protocols of the Agranat Commission on the October 1973 Yom Kippur War unveil previously undisclosed information regarding the IDF intelligence community’s debates and failures.
The Sunday releases focus on testimony by six mostly high-up IDF intelligence officials, some of whom have not been publicly scrutinized before, while others have come up in prior releases, but are now the subject of some of these declassified documents.
The six are: Lt.-Col. (res.) Yonah Bendman, head of the IDF’s Egypt intelligence desk; Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yoel Ben-Porat, head of IDF electronic signal intelligence unit 848; Lt.- Col. (res.) Yosef Zeira, head of the IDF’s double agents espionage unit and nephew of much criticized former IDF intelligence head Eliyahu Zeira; Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avraham Luntz, head of IDF Naval Intelligence; Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Inbar, an IDF officer in electronic communications; and Maj.- Gen. (res.) Shmuel Gonen, former head of the Southern Command.
The Agranat Commission was the government inquiry commission that investigated the failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, generally focusing on who to blame for Israel being surprised and initially overrun by Egyptian and Syrian forces.
It held IDF chief of staff Lt.- Gen. David Elazar broadly responsible for the IDF’s lack of preparedness and recommended his removal.
The commission also called for the removal of IDF head of intelligence Eliyahu Zeira, and his deputy, Arye Shalev.
The IDF’s initial failures and the report’s findings were so explosive that it led to former prime minister Golda Meir’s resignation.
Former defense minister Moshe Dayan escaped official scrutiny, but his prestige was permanently tarnished and he was excluded from Yitzhak Rabin’s government, which replaced Meir’s administration.
The released protocols delve into a level of intelligence analysis not previously matched.
Prior releases have disclosed Zeira’s intransigence in ignoring some of the intelligence warnings regarding an Egyptian attack, and stubbornly sticking to his preconceived notion that the Egyptians would not attack without significant technological upgrades, especially to their air force.
The current protocols, while maintaining the theme of an intelligence failure, paint a more complex picture.
For example, Bendman said one reason they failed to take an Egyptian troop buildup on the border seriously was because a similar build-up had occurred in May 1973, only a few months beforehand.
In that instance, the intelligence community, against some higher IDF officials’ assessments, had correctly predicted that it was a mere exercise, giving them confidence in a similar judgment this time.
Bendman said this leaning was so strong that most analysts still held this view as late as October 5, the day before the war broke out.
Ben-Porat said his unit tended to look backward at prior wars, and was not prepared for newer military challenges, such as the 1973 war.
He complained that his intelligence unit lacked a balance of soldiers who were both intelligent and proficient enough in Arabic.
In a different slant on prior accusations against IDF intelligence head Zeira, Ben-Porat said when he became more concerned about the Egyptian border and asked Zeira to call up between 100 and 150 reserves to amplify intelligence capabilities to war-footing, he refused pointblank.
Ben-Porat said Zeira’s response was that intelligence was supposed to “calm the nerves of the country, not destabilize society and the market,” adding that he would not let Ben-Porat draft “even one-quarter part of a reserve soldier.”
Furthermore, Ben-Porat reported that Zeira repeatedly disagreed with Dayan’s assessment earlier in the year that Egypt was preparing to attack.
Yosef Zeira, Eliyahu Zeira’s nephew, also described an atmosphere in intelligence of intimidating dissenting opinions, which led to his dismissal from a meeting for his unwillingness to retract an opposing point of view.
Zeira added that he was suspicious about an Egyptian attack and did not buy others’ interpretation that Egyptian troop movements were a mere exercise because of the nature of the troop movements and the amounts of armaments the troops carried.
Luntz seconded this assessment based on his observation from the naval perspective, warning then-commander of the Israel Navy, Benjamin Telem, on September 30.
Inbar and Gonen both discussed a myriad of problems with regard to their troops’ readiness and communications.