October 07/14

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 06, 07/14

Compared to Iran, ISIS is a ‘Junior Varsity’ Team /By: Eytan Sosnovich/The Algemeiner/October 07/14

RT Interview with Dr. Walid Pharis/Pending question: ‘What’s after ISIS is weakened?’/October 07/14

Op-Ed: Islam is at War with the Oldest Religions/Giulio Meotti/Arutz Sheva/October 07/14

ISIS designates next beheading victim: ex-Army Ranger Peter Kassig, Muslim convert/By: John Hayward/October 07/14

How Obama’s Arab Spring created the Islamic State/By: Raymond Ibrahim/October 07/14

International aid for Syria has been too little, too late/By: Fayez Sara /Asharq Al Awsat/October 07/14

Biden echoes Iran’s words on ISIS/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/October 07/14

An Iranian nuke deal is more political than technical/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /A Arabiya/October 07/14

Lebanese Related News published on October 06, 07/14

Nusra rejects Lebanon offer to treat fighter for hostages
Hezbollah buries fighters killed in border fight

Calm returns to border after Hezbollah-Nusra fighting killed 22
11 Hizbullah Fighters Killed During Clashes in Outskirts of Brital, Attack Was on 10 of Its Positions

Source: Hezbollah loses 10 fighters in Sunday clashes with Nusra Front

Families of Arsal Captives Block Roads to Press State to Negotiate their Release

Al-Kataeb Calls for a 'Major Operation' to Close The Eastern Border, Protect It

Two Rockets from Eastern Lebanon Land in Hermel
Security Forces Determined to Detain Mawlawi, Mansour after Locating their Whereabouts
Report: Militants Change Conditions to Release of Arsal Captives
Sally Greige Crowned Miss Lebanon 2014

Health Ministry to probe vaccinated girl death

Retired soldier shot and wounded in north Lebanon
Hezbollah MP boasts victory over Nusra Front

Hezbollah pushes back Syrian militant offensive in Lebanon

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 06, 07/14

Turkey swapped 180 IS militants for 49 hostages

Trojan horse: ISIS militants come to Europe disguised as refugees, US intel sources claim

20 Jihadists Dead in Bid to Enter Syria's Kobane Overnight

Ex-French Agent is Syria Jihadist, Report Says as Paris Denies

Turkey Wary of Military Intervention Against IS

U.S. uses helicopters for first time to hit Islamic State rebels
Pakistan Taliban say back all Syria militants, not just Islamic State

Turkey: NATO to defend the country

Kurds repel jihadist attack on Syrian town

White House chastises Netanyahu for attacking American values

J Street: Netanyahu's criticism of US rebuke of housing plan 'gives new meaning to chutzpa'

Kerry to join Cairo talks on rebuilding Gaza
Ex-French agent is Syria jihadist: report

At least eight killed in 'Boko Haram attack' in Cameroon

Ransom paid to free British hostage in Libya: sources
King Abdullah: We will eradicate terrorism, religious extremism

British ISIS deserters stranded in Turkey: report

FBI: Militants may be working on plan to strike U.S.
Iran’s mysterious elite Gen. Qassem Suleimani in rare Iraq picture


Nusra rejects Lebanon offer to treat fighter for hostages
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate the Nusra Front rejected an offer to treat one of its fighters at a hospital inside Lebanon in exchange for the release of three Lebanese captives being held by the jihadists, a commander said Monday. In comments to Anadulo News Agency, a Nusra commander said the group had asked General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim via a mediator to treat a fighter wounded during Sunday's fierce border clashes with Hezbollah in a Lebanese hospital. “We tried to move him to Arsal but the Lebanese Army checkpoint prevented us. We communicated with Abbas Ibrahim who demanded the release of three captive soldiers so he would allow us to transfer [the fighter] to Arsal for treatment,” the unnamed commander told the Turkish agency. “We rejected that and informed him that we did not want to launch a battle against them, but his answer was that he would prevent us from transferring any wounded.” Nusra and ISIS are holding at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen who were taken hostage during a five-day battle in August between the jihadists and the Army. The Nusra commander also spoke about the clashes with Hezbollah near the Lebanese border village of Brital Sunday, saying the group attacked Hezbollah posts as a preemptive strike. The commander said the group had received information that Hezbollah was beefing up several positions and had been preparing an attack in coordination with the Lebanese and Syrian armies. “We prepared ourselves and as soon as knew Hezbollah fighters were infiltrating Nahleh's outskirts, we attacked them and ambushed them,” he said. Hezbollah sources told The Daily Star Sunday that the Nusra Front attacked two posts on the border with Syria near the Lebanese villages of Brital and Nahleh. At least eight Hezbollah fighters and 14 militants were killed in the clashes that ensued. He denied Hezbollah had taken any Nusra fighter captive as claimed by the group and said only one fighter was killed in the clashes.  “What happened yesterday was a warning message to Hezbollah ... If we wanted to continue the battle, we could have attacked Brital.” “We found American-made weapons still in their wrapping including a rocket launcher. Where did the party of Iran get such weapons from?”The commander also gave contradicting comments about where the clashes took place, while Hezbollah maintained that the battle erupted inside Syria, on the edge of Lebanon's border. At one point, the commander said the clashes took place on the outskirts of Nahleh and Brital. Later in the interview, the man said Nusra fighters did not infiltrate Lebanese territory.
“But there was a military position for Hezbollah, which we overran, and then we withdrew.” Meanwhile, Nusra Front released what it claimed was footage from the battle with Hezbollah, showing jihadists firing mortar rounds at Hezbollah positions. The video also shows Nusra fighters in military gear heading towards the post with a man's voice occassionaly yelling out "God is great."The camera man later films a makeshift shelter he claimed belonged to Hezbollah.


Calm returns to border after Hezbollah-Nusra fighting killed 22
Nidal al-Solh| The Daily Star/Oct. 06, 2014
BAALBEK, Lebanon: Calm returned to Lebanon's eastern border Monday following fierce fighting between Hezbollah and Nusra Front extremists that left nearly two dozen combatants killed, according to security sources. Hezbollah acknowledged the deaths of eight fighters and said it would hold funeral processions later Monday for at least two that were killed in the Bekaa Valley town of Labweh. Security sources said at least 20 Hezbollah fighters were wounded in the clashes that broke out Sunday evening outside the village of Brital. They were taken to hospitals in Baalbek, particularly the Hezbollah-run Dar al-Hikmeh, the sources told The Daily Star. They said 14 Nusra Front jihadists were killed in the clashes that ebbed around 3 a.m. Monday.
Hezbollah captured five Nusra militants, the sources said. They said Hezbollah fighters repelled Nusra Front attacks on the party’s two main posts – Ain al-Saaa and Mihfara – on the farthest edge of Brital Sunday afternoon. Later in the evening, Hezbollah also attacked Nusra hideouts on the outermost edge of Brital. A source from Hezbollah told The Daily Star that militants had briefly taken over one of the posts 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." The Nusra Front, however, claimed that it had been attacked by Hezbollah. The group tweeted Monday morning that jihadists had repulsed a Hezbollah attack on the outskirts of Nahleh, a village northeast of Baalbek, killing and wounding dozens of fighters from the "resistance and rejectionist party."The rebels have been caught in the no-man’s land between the two countries since the Syrian regime and Hezbollah regained the majority of Syria’s Qalamoun region earlier this year. The porous border region had served as a major supply line for the Syrian rebels over the more than three and a half year old civil war, but the rebels increasingly came into conflict with the Lebanese Army after being pushed out of Qalamoun. Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces has been cited by the rebels as their justification for their attacks on Lebanon, which have grown over the last year, culminating in the fierce August battles in Arsal that ended with 19 soldiers dead and more than 30 troops and policemen being taken hostage by the Nusra Front and ISIS.


Report: Militants Change Conditions to Release of Arsal Captives
Naharnet /The captors of the soldiers and policemen abducted from the northeastern region of Arsal in August have changed their conditions to release the hostages, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Anba on Monday. Sources monitoring the situation told the daily that the Islamist militants are no longer demanding the release of fellow Islamists from Roumieh prison as a condition for freeing the captives. They have also stopped demanding that the Lebanese armed forces cease their security measures around Syrian refugee encampments in the area. They have instead urged authorities against cutting the passages leading to Arsal and its outskirts, calling for ensuring the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the gunmen to visit their families in Arsal. They also called against transferring Syrian encampments outside of the town and against blocking passages of vital needs for the outskirts. The sources said that the new conditions were a response to Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji's recent statements that the advent of winter favors the Lebanese security forces' attempts to pressure the gunmen to release the captives. The soldiers and policemen were abducted by Islamist gunmen in August in the wake of clashes with the army in Arsal. Three of the captives have since been executed, a few were released, while the rest remain held by al-Nusra Front and Islamic State gunmen from Syria. The families of the hostages have staged demonstrations and blocked roads throughout Lebanon in an attempt to pressure the government to exert more efforts to release them.


Security Forces Determined to Detain Mawlawi, Mansour after Locating their Whereabouts
Naharnet /Security forces located the whereabouts of notorious Tripoli militants Shadi al-Mawlawi and Osama Mansour, media reports said on Monday. According to the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, security forces are determined to detain the two fugitives, who took the Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood of the northern city of Tripoli as their hideout. The report said that security apparatuses will reactivate a security plan previously implemented in the northern city. Sources told al-Hayat that Mansour and al-Mawlawi head an armed group in Bab al-Tabbaneh. The armed group, according to the sources, is comprised of sympathizers that have previously engaged in battles in neighboring Syria along with the armed groups. The sources pointed out that the two fugitives are constantly inciting against the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces on claims of oppressing Sunnis who cannot defend themselves against Hizbullah. They are also inciting against the city's lawmakers and ministers for “abandoning them.”The newspaper said that around 30 to 40 gunmen deploy nightly at the entrances of Bab al-Tabbaneh, fearing that security forces could surprise them with raids. On Thursday, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged a detainee and 10 fugitives, including al-Mawlawi and Mansour, with “belonging to an armed terrorist group in order to stage terrorist acts, and holing up at a Tripoli mosque with the aim of preparing bombs and explosive devices to target Lebanese army troops in the area.” The eleven were referred to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abu Ghida.
Military Examining Magistrate Nabil Wehbe also issued an indictment in the case of the August 3 bomb explosion that killed Tripoli resident Issam al-Shaar in the al-Jinan area. Mawlawi and Mansour were also among those charged in the case.
On September 12, Mansour, who leads an Islamist militia in Bab al-Tabbaneh, denied reports that his group had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State or al-Nusra Front. The 27-year-old militant had been wanted on dozens of arrest warrants and was recently apprehended in the Bekaa before being eventually released. Mansour's 20-member group had recently “occupied” the Omar bin Massoud Mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh and that he started “playing a bigger role” in the city with the beginning of the Arsal battle in the Bekaa in early August. Mansour and his group have however denied “occupying” the mosque, noting that they are present there because they are residents of the neighborhood.


Geagea: Govt. Must Issue Decision Binding Hizbullah to Withdraw Fighters from Syria
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea noted on Monday that the attack launched by gunmen from Syria against Hizbullah positions in the eastern region of Brital demonstrates the need for the government to take the necessary action to guarantee the safety of Lebanese territories. He told the Central News Agency: “The government should take a binding decision to force Hizbullah to withdraw from Syria.”“It should then provide the Lebanese army with the necessary support to completely control the Lebanese-Syrian border in accordance to United Nations Security Council resolution 1701,” he suggested. Hizbullah's withdrawal from Syria will also ensure the release of soldiers and policemen abducted by extremists in August from the northeastern border town of Arsal.
“The government's avoidance of addressing the issue of Hizbullah's involvement in Syria demonstrates that it is shying away from its responsibility as the party's meddling in the neighboring country will lead all the Lebanese, especially the Shiites, towards more crises, which we can do without,” Geagea remarked. Later on Monday, the March 14 General Secretariat emphasized its commitment that the Lebanese government alone have the sole authority in defending Lebanon. It rejected Hizbullah's defending of the Lebanese border due to its involvement in the fighting in Syria and “because such a development will pave the way for illegitimate groups to take up arms,” it explained. “Placing the border under the authority of legitimate Lebanese and international powers will avoid us further political embarrassments and ensure the stability of the Bekaa region similar to that witnessed in the South since 2006,” it noted. Hizbullah said on Sunday that at least five of its fighters were killed along with "dozens" of gunmen in clashes that erupted in the town of Nabi Sbat in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria. Lebanon's border with Syria is not officially defined and much of it is porous and unpatrolled, with local residents, smugglers and others moving freely across it. Hizbullah maintains several military posts along inaccessible parts of the border, and it rarely gives official details on clashes with jihadists or other fighters.


11 Hizbullah Fighters Killed During Clashes in Outskirts of Brital, Attack Was on 10 of Its Positions
Agencies /06.10.14/Hizbullah repulsed on Sunday an attack by al-Nusra Front on ten of its positions and they didnt lose any of their positions but Ain Saat for more than an hour. Hizbullah managed to thwart the attack on its other positions. Eight of its fighters were killed, while al-Nusra Front stated that they attacked a position and killed eleven fighters for Hizbullah. Al-Nusra front posted a video Monday afternoon showing pictures of its fighters storming positions for Hizbullah while naming it "The battle of revenge for our refugee brothers whose tents were burned in Arsal.”Al-Nusra was referring to the burning of the refugee camps in Arsal two weeks ago during raids by the army to arrest suspects. The army assured it opened fire on the suspects for setting the tents in the camp on fire, while al-Nusra insists it was the army who put the fire on. The Video begins with pictures of gunmen in cars in the outskirts then gunmen walking to “Iran's party,” as they said. The video continued to show militants fighting and screaming “Allahu Akbar.” Then the it ends with pictures of Brital and saying that “The fighters are in the outskirts.” LBCI stated on Monday afternoon that: “What had happened is a comprehensive attack on 10 Hizbullah positions in the outskirts from Ain Saat to Younine, that lasted for almost five hours.”
“The clashes were on two axes the first in Brital – Hamme and the second in Younine – Nahle," it added.  LBCI quoted a Hizbullah source as saying: “The attack did not succeed and its positions along the roads are under its control.”“Various types of weapons were used in the process, during which Hizbullah fired artillery on all of the gunmen's positions,” it added. LBCI revealed that the hills where they clashed had rugged areas.  The battle was very violent and the reinforcements from Brital to Hamme took more than an hour to recover Ain Saat position. “The snipers froma l-Nusra Front are strongly active from hill to hill and any moving target is in danger,” LBCI quotied Hizbullah fighters at Ain Saat position as saying. Al-Nusra Front did not report anything until Monday morning.
It wrote on its Twitter: "Your brothers and fighters Aassal al-Ward attacked a position for Hiz Alat al-Irani (Hizbullah) in the outskirts of Brital and killed more than 11 of them and seized weapons.”It also published pictures of dead men covered with blood and claimed they were Hizbullah fighters. Sources close to Hizbullah stated: "Martyrs have ascended while doing their sacred line of duty in the outskirts of Brital.”“The martyrs are: Hamza Aaqsa, Mohammed Abdo Rabah, Mohammed Qasim al-Qalamuni, Fouad Murtada, Maher Zaayter, Ahmed Hussein Saleh, Nizar Tarraf, Ammar Assaf,” it added. According to al-Manar television, Hizbullah killed dozens of militants and wounded others in Ain al-Saat and was able to take them out of the eastern mountain range. A suicide car bomber killed on 20 September three people at a checkpoint manned by Hizbullah in the district of Baalbek that lies in eastern Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. During the last few months several confrontations took place in the outskirts of Brital-Baalbek between Hizbullah and groups of gunmen from Syria. Hizbullah exists in several military points in the outskirts on the border, that are hard to reach.


Families of Arsal Captives Block Roads to Press State to Negotiate their Release
Naharnet /The families of the soldiers and policemen abducted from the Arsal region briefly blocked on Monday the Tarshish-Zahleh road in an attempt to pressure the government to exert more efforts to release their loved ones. They also blocked the Dahr al-Baydar road. The roads were also closed off against humanitarian cases, reported various media outlets. The families placed sand barriers on the Dahr al-Baydar road to ensure that no vehicles crossed the area. They later blocked the both lanes of the al-Qalamoun highway, said the Traffic Management Center. All roads have since been reopened. Earlier, one of the relatives declared to LBCI television: “The government has been adopting a lax approach in the case.”
“The Qatari mediator abandoned the case because the government has not been receptive of his efforts,” he said. Asked if any state official has been contacting the families, he responded: “We hail the efforts of Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, who has been the most proactive in the file.” He also lamented the Free Patriotic Movement's stance that opposes carrying out negotiations with the captors. “Had the government had any dignity, it would stage negotiations,” said another one of the relatives. She pleaded to the al-Nusra Front to release one of the captives “as a goodwill gesture in order to determine the gunmen's true intentions.” The soldiers and policemen were abducted by Islamist gunmen in August in the wake of clashes with the army in northeastern town of Arsal.
Three of the captives have since been executed, a few were released, while the rest remain held by al-Nusra Front and Islamic State gunmen from Syria. The families of the hostages have staged demonstrations and blocked roads throughout Lebanon to pressure government to exert more efforts to release them. A Qatari mediator was carrying out negotiations to release the hostages, but media reports said Sunday that he withdrew from the case after the talks stalled. The gunmen have reportedly been demanding the release of Islamists held in Roumieh Prison and withdrawal of Hizbullah fighters from Syria in exchange for freeing the Lebanese hostages.

Al-Kataeb Calls for a 'Major Operation' to Close The Eastern Border, Protect It
Naharnet/Al-Kataeb party called for the implementation of a "major operation" on Monday to close the border between Lebanon and Syria after the violent clashes between Hizbullah and al-Nusra Front.
It also called for the "Cessation of the parallel issues that make the presidential election a marginal issue." Al-Kataeb stated after the political bureau meeting after on Monday that: “The path of events indicates unexpected risks , the expansion bombardment and confrontation on the eastern mountain range with Syria might be one of its facets, and this would put the entire country in danger.”
Clashes took place on Sunday between gunmen from al-Nusra Front, which came from Assal al-Ward in Syria to the outskirts of Hamme and Brital, and Hizbullah fighters.Al-Kataeb called for: "National circumvent around the army and immunize it with national unity.”
It also called for: "The implementation of a major operation to close the border and protect it, and the government should make the necessary contacts with international authorities to ensure the help of Resolution 1701 and the involvement of the international force in the process of adjusting the Lebanese border.”Al-Kataeb believes that: "The interest of all is to stop everything that offends the Constitution, the Charter and the national partnership, and to elect a president without further marginalization of the first institution."
And the issue of the kidnapped soldiers is an important issue for the government said al-Kataeb, rejecting the resort to anything that might disrupt public life in the country in this stage where Lebanon is suffering from security and economic risks.

20 Jihadists Dead in Bid to Enter Syria's Kobane Overnight
Naharnet/At least 20 jihadists from the Islamic State group were killed on Sunday night in a failed bid to enter the embattled Syrian border town of Kobane, a monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists were killed after entering an eastern neighborhood of the town and coming under attack by Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units. Kurdish militia fought off a fresh assault by the Islamic State group on a key Syrian town early Monday, after one desperate woman defender carried out a suicide attack against the jihadists. IS militants attempted to storm the town of Kobane on the Turkish border from both east and west of a strategic hill to the south, but Kurdish fighters repulsed the attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A Syrian Kurdish official inside Kobane said the town had come under heavy bombardment by the jihadists and there had been fierce clashes as the Kurdish fighters fought off the assault. IS fighters seized part of Mishtenur Hill, which overlooks Kobane, late on Saturday, but U.S.-led air strikes slowed their advance. The Syrian Kurdish official said IS fighters were just one kilometer (less than a mile) from the town and that air strikes alone were not enough to stop them. Idris Nahsen complained there was no coordination between coalition commanders and Kurdish fighters on the ground. In a sign of the Kurdish defenders' mounting desperation, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at an IS position east of Kobane on Sunday, the Observatory said. It was the first reported instance of a female Kurdish fighter employing a tactic often used by the jihadists, said the Britain-based watchdog, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria. The Kurdish official confirmed the suicide bombing but was non-committal about whether there would be more.
"I don't know. It is related to the situation. We don't have this strategy," Nahsen said. Sunday's fighting around Kobane -- also known as Ain al-Arab -- killed at least 19 Kurdish fighters and 27 IS jihadists, the Observatory said.
Under assault by IS for nearly three weeks, the town has become a crucial battleground in the international fight against the jihadists, who sparked further outrage at the weekend with the release of a video showing the beheading of Briton Alan Henning.
The video -- the latest in a series of on-camera beheadings of Western hostages -- included a threat to another hostage, U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig.
Kassig's parents have issued a video plea for their son's release, urging his captors to show mercy towards the 26-year-old former U.S. soldier who is a Muslim convert. His parents have also revealed that Kassig wrote them a letter in June expressing his fears of death and concern for his family. "I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping and wondering if I should even hope at all. I am very sad all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through," Kassig wrote in the letter.
IS began its advance on Kobane on September 16, seeking to cement its grip over a long stretch of the Syria-Turkey border. The offensive prompted a mass exodus from the town and surrounding countryside, with some 186,000 people fleeing into Turkey. One mortar round hit a house on Turkish territory just a few kilometers (miles) from Kobane on Sunday, wounding five people, medical sources said. The source of the fire was unclear, but residents of two small border villages were ordered evacuated as a precaution.
The Turkish parliament last week authorized the government to join the campaign, but so far no plans for military action have been announced, to the dismay of Turkey's own large Kurdish minority. Extremist Sunni Muslim group IS has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring a "caliphate" in June and imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. The group has been accused of carrying out widespread atrocities including mass executions, abductions, torture and forcing women into slavery. It has also released videos of the on-camera beheadings of two U.S. journalists, a British aid worker and on Friday of Henning, a 47-year-old British volunteer driver who went to Syria with a Muslim charity.
After first launching strikes against IS in Iraq in August, Washington has built a coalition of allies to wage an air campaign against the group.
In Iraq, the pace of the coalition air campaign against IS picked up on Sunday with the first strike by Belgium and maiden combat sorties by Australia and The Netherlands. Britain, France and Denmark have also committed aircraft to the campaign against IS in Iraq, where a fightback by Kurdish forces in the north has made slow progress while federal troops have come under renewed assault by the jihadists west of Baghdad. In Syria, Washington relies on the support of five Arab allies -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.Agence France Presse

Hezbollah MP boasts victory over Nusra Front
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah saved Lebanon from a plot by Islamist gunmen to expand their territory, a party official said Monday, boasting that the group was capable of repelling imminent attacks similar to Sunday's border violence.
Meanwhile, March 14 officials blamed Hezbollah for the clashes that erupted near the Lebanese border village of Brital Sunday, calling for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force along the porous border with Syria to protect the country. “The resistance is alert day and night and foiled a plan by takfiri groups to attack our villages and towns in the Bekaa,” Loyalty to the Resistance MP Hasan Fadlallah said during a ceremony in Tibnin, south Lebanon.
“The resistance has proven once again that it is the nation's armor and it is always ready to defeat any attackers who attempt to attack our northern and southern borders.” Hezbollah sources told The Daily Star Sunday that the Nusra Front attacked two posts on the border with Syria near Lebanese villages. At least eight Hezbollah fighters and 14 militants were killed in the fierce clashes that ensued.
Fadlallah saw the assult on Hezbollah's posts as a part of a series of attacks launched by takfiri groups against military and civilian targets in country, including car bombings and the recent abduction of soldiers and policemen.
“The purpose is to serve a blow to the pillars of the state and divide the country geographically so that they could establish their emirate in Lebanon,” the lawmaker said. “The resistance jihadists are stationed in the valleys, on the hills and between the rocks. They do not blink when danger lurks. Wherever this resistance is, the takfiri groups will not achieve their goals.”
Describing the weekend attacks as a “desperate move” by Islamist gunmen to secure a passage to Lebanon, the Hezbollah official reaffirmed that the party’s tripartite defense formula was critical to protect Lebanon.
“If it wasn't for this resistance, complementing the Army and citizens embracing the resistance’s choices, the takfiri groups would have been able to move the battle to Lebanon,” he said, referring to Hezbollah’s contested formula of the “Army, the people, and the resistance.”
“Despite such failed attacks, stability and calm will prevail contrary to our neighbors," he added, referring to jihadist gains in Syria and Iraq.
This is "all thanks to the resistance's historic decision to confront the takfiri groups at the doorstep of Lebanon.”But Hezbollah’s rivals in the March 14 coalition had a different take on the recent attack. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Nusra's penetration of Lebanese border towns should prompt the government to force Hezbollah to pull out of Syria.
“The attack by the militants on the outskirts of Brital and Nabi Sebat demonstrated once again the need for the Lebanese government to take a decision to force Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria if the government is serious in securing the safety of Lebanese territory,” Geagea told the Central News Agency.
Geagea reiterated a long-standing demand by the March 14 coalition to expand the mandate of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon to cover the porous border between Lebanon and Syria. “The government should also provide support for the Army in line with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 to control the Lebanese-Syrian border and to connect the operation room of the Army with that of the international coalition to have the needed equipment to defend the border,” he said. The party chief was referring to the U.S.-led alliance targeting ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria to destroy the group, which joined forces with the Nusra Front to briefly take over Lebanon's northeast border town of Arsal in August before retreating to the outskirts.
The jihadist groups took more than 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen as hostages when they withdrew from the town. “Hezbollah's withdrawal from Syria not only secures the border but also secures the release of the captives,” he said, referring to the remaining 21 hostages. Nusra has released seven of its captives and killed one, while ISIS has beheaded two. Geagea criticized the government for “running away” from the issue of Hezbollah’s presence in Syria, saying: “Hezbollah's continued fight there will bring the Lebanese, particularly the Shiites, more crises and tragedies.” The March 14 secretariat also repeated calls for the Lebanese government to deploy peacekeeping forces along the border with Syria.
“In light of recent incidents along the Lebanese border ... March 14 supports the exclusivity of the state in defending Lebanon by deploying the Army along the Syrian border with the support of international troops as stipulated by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” the secretariat said in a statement.
“Placing the border under international and Lebanese legitimacy prevents political embarrassments and secures stability for the Bekaa similar to the south in 2006."
The secretariat rejected Hezbollah’s “defense of the border,” saying such an approach paved the way for other groups to take up arms “under the excuse of equality.”


Two Rockets from Eastern Lebanon Land in Hermel
Naharnet /Several rockets targeted on Monday the Bekaa town of Hermel, the state-run National News Agency reported. According to NNA, two rockets fired from Lebanon’s Eastern Mountain range, on the Lebanese-Syrian border, landed on the residential area in Hermel. However, security sources denied in comments to LBCI the report. Syria-based rebel groups usually claim responsibility for such attacks, arguing that they come in retaliation to Hizbullah's military intervention in Syria. Hizbullah said on Sunday that at least five of its fighters were killed along with "dozens" of gunmen in clashes that erupted in the town of Nabi Sbat in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria. Lebanon's border with Syria is not officia

Retired soldier shot and wounded in north Lebanon
The Daily Star/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: An unknown assailant shot and wounded a retired Lebanese Army soldier Monday in the northern city of Tripoli, security sources said. The sources said Khaled al-Khaled had just returned home at around 4 a.m. when the attacker fired a single shot at him from a garage inside a building on Ibn Sina Street in the Tripoli neighborhood of Qibbeh. The bullet pierced Khaled’s chest, the sources told The Daily Star, adding that the retired officer was taken to the local Nini hospital for treatment.
lly defined and much of it is porous and unpatrolled, with local residents, smugglers and others moving freely across it. Hizbullah maintains several military posts along inaccessible parts of the border, and it rarely gives official details on clashes with jihadists or other fighters.


How Obama’s Arab Spring created the Islamic State
By: Raymond Ibrahim
10/6/2014/Human Events
Over a decade ago, the U.S. conquered Iraq; its military and intelligence were on the ground for years with autonomy. In other words, U.S. influence and authority was more pronounced in Iraq than probably any other Muslim country in the world. And yet it is in this one Muslim nation, where the U.S. had most authority, where U.S. blood and treasure were spent, that the absolute worst Islamic terrorist group—the Islamic State—was born.
Or is this too related to the great “Arab Spring” failures of the Obama administration? Consider: Obama was repeatedly warned that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would lead to something exactly like the Islamic State—with all the atrocities that have become synonymous with that name.
Indeed, arguing against early troop withdrawal, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, once made the following now prophetic remarks:
To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States.
It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda.
It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.
It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.
It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
The point here is not to “side” with Bush—the idea of transporting “democracy” to an Islamic country was ill-conceived from the start—but rather to demonstrate that Obama was thoroughly warned what troop withdrawal would lead to: the Islamic State. The same U.S. military and intelligence sources that allowed Bush to make that prescient statement also shared their assessments with Obama.
Yet Obama withdrew anyway. In December 2011, Obama declared the Iraq war a success and pulled out American troops. nd, to the eyes of most Americans, things were relatively quiet—until, of course, the world heard that a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering “caliphate” had “suddenly” arisen.
Was Iraq also part of the euphoria of the Obama-endorsed “Arab Spring”?
Recall that final troop withdrawal from Iraq occurred at the height of the Arab Spring when the Obama administration was simultaneously betraying key U.S. allies in the Islamic world such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.
If the U.S. was not going to stand by its former “secular strongmen,” but instead was willing to hold hands with their traditional enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, why should it have supported Iraq’s Nouri Maliki?
After all, the narrative adopted by the Obama administration was that the Arab people were breaking the bonds of authoritarianism, and the U.S. administration was supporting their efforts, most notably by turning its back on longtime allies in the name of “democracy.”
And surely Maliki was seen as the greatest of all “U.S. puppets,” a divisive figure that stood in the way of the Sunni Spring?
Despite the narrative that Maliki was for complete troop withdrawal, “it’s well-established that behind closed doors, he [Maliki] was interested in a substantial U.S. presence.” Indeed, theNew York Times reported that Joe Biden had said that “Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise.”
More specifically, in a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, Obama decried the presence of any American forces in Iraq (video here), adding that
You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. Now, you [Romney] just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.
What do Obama’s assertions mean?
Was Obama being “clear, both to our allies”—the Sunni Islamists whom he allied with during the Arab Spring—“and our enemies”—the Arab autocrats who stood in their way?
Was Obama showing both groups “where you [U.S. president] stand and what you mean”?
Was troop withdrawal Obama’s way of “taking advantage of the opportunities”—riding the Arab Spring wave—“and meeting the challenges of the Middle East”—winning Muslim hearts and minds by abandoning autocrats?
Here, then, is another perspective on the rise of the Sunni Islamic State in Iraq—one closely connected to the many other Arab Spring failures of the Obama administration

ISIS designates next beheading victim: ex-Army Ranger Peter Kassig, Muslim convert
By: John Hayward/Human Events

Friday night’s ISIS beheading video documented the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning, father of two teenage children, whose “crime” was volunteering to drive a truck full of food and medical supplies to refugees from the Syrian civil war. The UK Daily Mail has the transcript of the video, which starred the English-speaking masked terrorist known as “Jihad John”:
Alan Henning: ‘I am Alan Henning. Because of our parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic state I as a member of the British public will now pay the price for that decision.’
Jihadi John: ‘The blood of David Haines was on your hands Cameron, Alan Henning will also be slaughtered but his blood is on the hands of the British parliament.’
Jihadi John then steps forward to cut Mr Henning’s throat and his body is shown lying on the floor.
Peter Kassig is then shown kneeling next to Jihadi John.
Jihadi John: ‘Obama you have started your aerial bombardment in Sham (Syria) which keeps on striking our people, so it’s only right we continue to strike the necks of your people.’
The Daily Mail reports that Henning’s family is furious with the British government, which they say was aware of their citizen’s capture for “months and months,” but did not mount a rescue effort. Perhaps motivated by growing public sentiment along these lines, Prime Minister David Cameron called all of the British intelligence services together for a meeting in which he instructed them to prioritize locating and capturing or killing Jihad John and his crew.
They’ll get a brief respite before any more Britons are threatened, because the next designated beheading victim, mentioned in the transcript of the video above, is Peter Kassig, an American aid worker who was also taken prisoner while delivering relief supplies to victims of the Syrian civil war. Fox News reports that Kassig’s family has decided to publicly release a letter he sent them from captivity:
Ed and Paula Kassig said in a statement Sunday that they had been told by a former hostage that their son Peter had voluntarily converted to Islam sometime between October and December of last year when he shared a cell with a Syrian Muslim. They said that their son “took Islam’s practices seriously, including praying the five daily prayers and taking on the name Abdul-Rahman.”
The Kassigs also released a letter written by their 26-year-old son in which he thanked them for their strength and commitment and appeared to try to prepare them for his death.
“I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all,” Kassig said in the letter, according to his parents. “I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through. If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need.”
These developments must be very confusing to Afsun Qureshi, who in August published an article at Canada’s National Post advising kidnap victims to recite the Muslim prayer of submission to Allah, known as the shahadah, to avoid beheading. It’s not being widely reported in American media, but the Daily Mail says Kassig took the name “Abdul Rahman” when he converted. That didn’t do him much good, either. ISIS didn’t even use that name when they indicated he would be their net victim.
The letter continues: “In terms of my faith, I pray every day and I am not angry about my situation in that sense. I am in a dogmatically complicated situation here, but I am at peace with my belief.”
The Kassigs say the complication appears to arise from his conversion but that they see this “as part our son’s long spiritual journey.”
There shouldn’t be anything “dogmatically complicated” about this situation at all, as President Barack Obama has clearly stated the Islamic State is not Islamic in any way, shape, or form. Was no one paying attention when he said that?
Like so many of ISIS’ captives, Kassig is a dedicated humanitarian who made a tremendous effort to help civilians swept up in the Syrian bloodshed. ISIS evidently had a field day grabbing these aid workers, or purchasing them from more “moderate” elements of the Syrian resistance.
According to the family, Kassig formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees. He began delivering food and medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps in 2012 and is also a trained medical assistant who provided trauma care to injured Syrian civilians and helped train 150 civilians in providing medical aid.
In Saturday’s video statement, Ed Kassig said his son had grown “to love and admire” the Syrian people, after growing up in an Indianapolis family with a long history of humanitarian work and teaching.
“Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive,” Ed, a teacher himself, said.
Kassig served in the Army from June 2006 and September 2007. He was a member of the 75th Ranger regiment and served four months in Iraq in 2007 before being medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September of that year.
He’s only 26 years old, and he’s already served as an Army ranger and formed his own humanitarian aid group. One such person is worth the life of every miserable bag of slime marching under the black banner. The SERA group reportedly suspended its humanitarian efforts while working to secure its founder’s release, so there’s another load of human misery that can be laid at the feet of ISIS.
The New York Daily News says that Kassig’s kidnappers instructed his family to remain quiet about his capture as a condition of negotiating for his release. They’re still pleading for his life to be spared, but his appearance in the latest jihadi snuff film shows that respecting the conditions set forth by the terror state didn’t get them anywhere.
TheNYDN has more details of Kassig’s background, and his decision to form a Syrian aid group. He studied at Butler University for a while after his medical discharge from the Army, was briefly married, and began looking for a higher purpose in life while battling depression after his divorce:
“I needed to make a drastic decision,” he said. “It was a huge identity thing; it was time to reevaluate. I needed a game-changer.”
He decided to volunteer in a Palestinian refugee camp in South Beirut and a hospital in Lebanon.
“We each get one life and that’s it,” the dedicated war vet said. “We got one shot at this and we don’t get any do-overs, and for me, it was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn’t have a choice. This is what I was put here to do. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic, and I am an idealist, and I believe in hopeless causes.”
In February 2013, Kassig told Syria Deeply that his aid group SERA needed more funds to keep their relief efforts going.
And he spoke of why he gave aid instead of continuing to pick up a gun.
“Sometimes rebels want to know if I will help train people or if I will join the fight. I always tell them no,” he said. “It is of course not that I do not feel terrible for the civilians that are suffering in Syria, but … for an American young man in my position that would be foolish, and regarded as such by pretty much everyone, including the opposition.
“I can either be in a position to deliver tens of thousands of dollars of antibiotics for women and children, or I can be another young man with a gun.”
And then the young men with guns decided to take him prisoner and queue him up as the next victim for their videotaped ritual executions. The former soldier said he began working on humanitarian missions to the Middle East to better understand his “role in the conflict in Iraq and its impact on the Middle East in general from a personal perspective and from the perspective of the Arab world.” He has that understanding now, but it’s probably nothing like the lesson he expected to learn.
The official response to his plight has been more of the passive-aggressive drivel we’ve come to expect. “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,” said Obama counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco. Yes, she made sure to work Obama’s trademarked political catch-phrase “degrade and destroy” in there, but she forgot to say “ultimately destroy.” I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for that.
“This is an unimaginably devastating situation for any parent to endure. My prayers are with Peter’s parents at this terrible time … I ask for respect of the Kassig family’s privacy as they seek to navigate this heartbreaking situation,” said Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who represents the Kassigs’ home state. He makes it sound like the poor fellow contracted Ebola, rather than being threatened with brutal execution by the military enemies of the United States.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that ISIS is making progress in its plans to degrade and ultimately destroy Iraq, as they’ve made fresh territorial gains despite weeks of aimless bombing – they’re “moving freely in Abu Ghraib,” keeping Iraqi troops penned up in the notorious military base, which means they can begin shelling Baghdad soon if they’re not dislodged. They’re still beheading hostages left and right. They’ve made strides toward reconciliation with their rivals in al-Qaeda, which the director of the FBI says should be able to strike the United States “very very soon.” That’s why the Obama Administration renamed them “the Khorasan Group,” in the hopes American voters are too dumb to realize it’s the same people Obama boasted about routing during his re-election campaign.
The only real objective of this non-war was to goose Barack Obama’s flagging poll numbers. If ISIS murders another American hostage, or makes a strong play to take Baghdad, not even that objective will be fulfilled.


Op-Ed: Islam is at War with the Oldest Religions
Giulio Meotti/The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly…
Ancient communities will soon be gone as ISIS murders “infidels”./Published: Monday, October 06, 2014/Arutz Sheva
It was 1929 when British archaeologist Leonard Woolley made ​​a sensational discovery in Nineveh, Iraq’s province. He commanded an Arab worker to dig a pit to test the archaeological layers of the biblical Ur of the Chaldeans, the birthplace of Abraham. They found broken bricks and other items that indicated an ancient human settlement.
At a depth of one meter, the worker reached what archaeologists call “virgin clay”, the layer from which it follows that there is nothing more that is interesting and signs of life end right there.
“Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt”.
Woolley told him to continue. After two and a half meters of further excavation, the worker found fragments of pottery and other archaeological material.
Sir Woolley gasped: How you could interpret that split between two civilizations, the clean land between two layers which clearly indicated two different human presences, two different civilizations separated by a layer of sandy soil and virgin clay?
Nineveh had been erased from the earth. The most magnificent capital of Mesopotamian civilization, the “great whore” of the Bible, the land of Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, full of sculptures of terrifying winged genuses, man-hawks, demons, Pazuzu and bulls with wings, was the first to disappear, reduced to rubble by the Babylonians and Persians, with lynx and jackals howling in the ruins of palaces and temples, ruins still largely submerged by the hills of dirt accumulated over the millennia. Even a dam on the Euphrates, still in business, was built with bricks stamped with the seal of Nebuchadnezzar.
In Nineveh today the grass grows once more. There where the most ancient cults of the earth sill mingle, Islam is waging war against the world’s oldest religions.
As Louis Sako, head of Iraq’s largest Catholic congregation, said: “This has never happened in the Christian and Islamic history”.
Priests and astrologers have been present in Mesopotamia since the dawn of civilization. It has been proven that our civilization was born in the land of the two rivers, in Mesopotamia. Up to today, throughout the Fertile Crescent, despite the many wars in the region, one could find communities that bore witness to the extraordinary antiquity of the areas religious traditions.
Until the arrival of the Islamic State.
Like the Jews, who fled decades ago, Christians are now also all gone. On Sunday, “for the first time in two thousand years the Christian communion was not celebrated in Nineveh”, said the Anglican vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. There remain only the homes of Christians marked with the “n” of Nasrani. Nazarenes.
A year ago there were 60,000 Christians in Mosul. Today there is only a handful.
Yazidis of the Islamic State are killed in mass. The bodies of thirty Yazidis, including five children, killed by the jihadists of the Islamic State, have just been found in a mass grave, one of many fresh graves discovered in northern Iraq near Zummar, in an area recaptured by the Kurdish Peshmerga militia .
The Yazidi Fraternal Organization has recorded the names of twelve thousand Yazidi – five thousand women and seven thousand men – killed or kidnapped (in the case of women) since August third, when the mountain of Sinjar fell into the hands of Islamic State. Yazidis are one of the oldest communities linked to the Zoroastrians, the ancestors of the great orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta, who fled from Persia twelve centuries ago to preserve the sacred fire of Zoroaster from the desecration of the Arab invaders.
Relatives of the Yazidi are Kakais, the Kurdish syncretic sect known for their mustache rituals. The Islamic State considers them to be “blasphemous”, because the Qur’an prescribes a short mustache. Kakais are a heterodox sect linked to Shiite Islam. The Islamic State kills them every time they are caught.
Among the Sunni jihadists fighting in Syria, supporters of Bashar el Assad, Alawites, are called “Majous”. Like in the Gospels.
The Mandaeans, the last Gnostics on earth, are also disappearing in Iraq. Every Sunday they gather on the banks of the Tigris to celebrate immersion in the waters as did John the Baptist. Ninety percent of the Mandaeans have fled Iraq, threatened with death by Islamists. The first Mandaean tribes migrated from the Holy Land to the banks of the lower Euphrates during the first and second century AD, over two thousand years ago.
The Mandaeans speak a dialect similar to Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud. They are the cousins ​​of the people who produced the Nag Hammadi codices (such as the Gospel of Thomas)
The Mandaeans are pacifists, their religion prevents them from carrying weapons. They have fallen victim to lawlessness, kidnappings, rapes, murders and forced conversions at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
The Shabak syncretic cult is another of the main objectives for terrorist movements, especially the Islamic State. According to a report published by the Ministry of Human Rights in Iraq, 1,200 Shabaks have been killed and six thousand displaced. The position of the Shabak in support of the Anglo-American war in Iraq in 2003 and their vote for the Iraqi constitution has made them enemies of terrorists.
Also threatened by the Islamic State are Zoroastrian Turkmen. Finally there are the Sabians, the children of the South Arabian civilization and the Queen of Sheba, the one who appears in the Bible and in the Qur’an. As reported by Uday Asa’ad Khamas, spokesman for the Iraqi Sabeans, in ten years ten thousand of the forty thousand Sabians have left. In Baghdad there is only one religious Sabean. They are mentioned in both the Qur’an and the Book of Job.
Targeted by the Islamic State are also the last people who speak Aramaic. As in the Syrian town of Maalula, long besieged by the Syrian Islamists and then freed by the army of Bashar el Assad. The Islamists say they want to transform Aramaic into a “dead language.”
This is a war not only against humanity, but against civilization. It seems almost a confirmation of the biblical prophecy: “Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt”.
What remains of the most gorgeous and sinful capital of the ancient world today bears the appearance of death. There is a silence, in which one can still hear echoing the curse of Jeremiah.


RT Interview with Dr. Walid Pharis/Pending question: ‘What’s after ISIS is weakened?’
Published time: October 06, 2014 12:49

The US and its allies have little choice but try to weaken ISIS, though their strategy is unclear as they have no idea who will take IS positions both in Iraq and Syria after the goal is achieved, counter-terrorism expert and advisor Walid Phares told RT.
RT: This weekend ISIS issued a video of another beheading, this time British hostage Henning. What’s the purpose of these videos showing the violent killing of innocent people?
Walid Phares: ISIS is a terrorist organization and at the same time they want to send more messages to the international community to intimidate the leaders of the international community because they know that a wide coalition is forming against them, many members of this coalition are from the West, but you also have forces on the ground against them. So one of the weapons that ISIS is using is propaganda, is sending these awful images and videos of beheading of individual innocent people so that they hope the public will rise against intervention in Syria and Iraq.
RT: The US Vice President Joe Biden made a statement blaming US allies in the Middle East for funding and supporting ISIS. Why has Biden come out with this allegation only now?
WP: Actually, this is only an allegation as you said, but it has to have an explanation. It is not that US allies or other than allies have actually created ISIS. What they have done is to fund individuals or networks of jihadists when these jihadists were rising in Syria against the Assad regime, and those allies have sent those weapons to rebels thinking that the rebels are going to be establishing a new democratic Syria. But many of these rebels were actually jihadists. Later on, these rebels-jihadists joined Al-Nusra, which was Al-Qaeda, and after that they joined from Al-Nusra ISIS. So there is some sort of responsibility that all countries involved in funding or sending support to jihadists will have to bear. But that’s a lesson for the future because now the US and its allies are gathering a very large coalition that includes countries that in the past may have either sent some sort of aid or allowed those jihadists to cross their territories, and namely Qatar and Turkey, but now Qatar and Turkey are joining the coalition.
RT: How effective could a US campaign be against ISIS? Could the coalition be discouraged by the threats and video issued by IS?
WP: Certainly, ISIS and jihadists are trying to push Western powers away by perpetrating these beheadings in public or at least airing these videos of this act of barbarism. At the same time the US and its allies have little choice but try to weaken ISIS. However, in the cycle of escalation it is going to be dependent on who is going to take the initiative on the ground, meaning from the air you can pound them, you can bomb them for a long period of time, you could take out the heavy equipment and material, but you cannot occupy, you cannot take over the positions of ISIS. So the challenge now is going to be both in Iraq and in Syria. If ISIS is weakened despite its propaganda – at one point it will be weakened - who is going on the ground to move forward and occupy their position? It might be moderate Syrian opposition who is so strong, or the Assad regime forces in Syria. And in Iraq, is it going to be the Iraqi army, which has a problem in the Sunni areas? Or it is going to be the Kurds who can defend their areas but cannot go into the Sunni areas? Most of the campaign against ISIS is not clear yet at this point of time.
RT: The Vice President also said Syria has no moderate opposition, yet the White House intends to arm rebel groups. Which ones, in that case?
WP: What the Vice President may be saying, and I’m not defending what he is saying, that so far Syrian opposition, most of its armed forces cannot be coined as the moderates we want to see. That’s what he is trying to say, while the policy in the White House is “We will be looking to find those moderates to organize them, to arm and train them and place them back in the battlefield.” Again, from both the Vice President and the President you would feel that this partner that we want to see in Syria taking action against ISIS is not ready yet. Should it be present or present in the future, it’s to be seen.
RT: Barack Obama has admitted that the intelligence community failed to identify the threat posed by Islamic State early enough. How did that happen?
WP: There are many members in Congress who disagree with the President’s statements, and we have seen many voices in Washington saying that Congress received copies of the intelligence assessment e last year and at least early 2014. And in those assessments obviously the so-called ISIS, in Arabic Daesh, or IS now, has been described as a “mounting threat”. The problem, in my view, has not been the intelligence community assessment. Any intelligence agency in the world, including in the Arab world, probably in Russia as well and elsewhere, they knew that ISIS was around. The problem has been at the political level. It’s not knowing what it is; it’s what to do about it. The lack of action against ISIS in the early part of the 2014 or late part of 2013 is responsible for the fact that ISIS overnight in June and in July took over large parts of Iraq and significant parts of Syria.
RT: Turkey and the Gulf States are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition. Can we be sure they won't try to hijack the campaign to get rid of Assad?
WP: That’s a very good question. Let’s break it down into multiple parts. The Saudi main concern now is to contain ISIS. Qatar, which has been seen as a dynamic actor in support of the Islamists and jihadists in Syria, Iraq and North Africa, is trying to change its posture. The main role is really for Turkey. The AKP government in the past has also allowed some of these jihadists to move to Syria, so now they have to change their policy significantly. But yes, probably these countries would like to see an element in Syria that could be allied to them; probably they would like to see the FSA take over. So most likely they are trying to negotiate and position themselves in this campaign against ISIS as a way to weaken Assad.
But the US knows that, and Washington would like now to focus only on ISIS because the administration still believes that a political solution is the right way to go for Syria, meaning once ISIS is taken out, then the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime in Geneva will have to find the solution. But again, this is wishful thinking, these are political decisions. What will happen in reality on the ground? If ISIS is weakened, you are going to have a very ferocious race between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime. We don’t know who will be the winner.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


Turkey swapped 180 IS militants for 49 hostages
Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East
Details of the exchange made with the Islamic State (IS) to release 49 Turkish hostages are becoming clearer after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled at an exchange by saying, “So what if there was an exchange?”
In return for the consulate personnel, 180 militants were handed over to IS, including some senior officials of the organization: 180 IS personnel were first assembled at Van and then delivered to IS in batches.
This is the background of the release of the 49 hostages:
The process began with the US air attacks against IS. The United States asked Turkey not to release IS militants undergoing medical treatment in Turkey and warned Turkey not to free IS people apprehended in Turkey. IS, for its part, pressed the government to release the detained IS personnel and those undergoing treatment.
The AKP government, squeezed by the United States and IS, then developed an exchange formula to hand over IS militants in Turkey in return for hostages. It was claimed that with this diplomatic formula Turkey ensured the release of the hostages while getting rid of the IS people on its territory. Turkish security units were not directly engaged in an operation during the release of the hostages.
Notables of pro-US Iraqi tribes played an important role in the exchange process. After the agreement was reached, IS brought the hostages to the border and informed the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT). There, Turkish security units took over the hostages. The release of IS militants followed the release of Turkish hostages and took about one week. IS militants undergoing medical treatment and those detained in prisons were brought forth and held in Van before being delivered to IS in batches. It is not yet known whether the IS militants who attacked police at Nigde were among those handed over. Reports say they were included in the initial list of IS militants to be released, but were taken off the list after reactions.
No weapons were given or money paid for the hostages. But in the very first days of the crisis, a certain amount of money was paid to IS officials. Release of hostages also revealed three power centers involved in the issue. After the release of hostages, the presidency, the prime ministry and MIT mobilized their supporters in the media to play up and glorify their roles. This was seen as the first secret power struggle in Ankara since Erdogan became president. Ankara political circles say this was the way MIT chief Hakan Fidan conveyed a message of “I count also.”

Compared to Iran, ISIS is a ‘Junior Varsity’ Team
October 5, 2014
Eytan Sosnovich/The Algemeiner
Last month, in a primetime national address, President Obama laid out his four-pronged strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.” The U.S. military has already begun to carry out the President’s directive; airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq have increased and we can likely expect a prolonged campaign against ISIS strongholds in Syria in the very near future.
While the efficacy of the President’s approach – which is based on never involving American combat troops – is questionable, his objective – the destruction of ISIS – is no doubt a reasonable goal. Not only does ISIS pose a clear threat to the United States and its allies, it is also by any measure a morally reprehensible organization, seemingly committed to violating any and all international standards of human rights.
But there is an equally grotesque actor in the Middle East, one who is also guilty of deplorable human rights abuses. This entity, like ISIS, treats women and minorities like second class citizens; like ISIS, it performs grotesque public executions of those guilty of committing the “perverse sin” of being gay; like ISIS it attacks and jails Western journalists and human rights defenders; and like ISIS, it poses a clear and direct threat to the United States and its allies. This actor is of course the Islamic Republic of Iran. And while President Obama and his European counterparts are committed to eradicating ISIS, they are seemingly equally committed to allowing the Iranians to attain nuclear capability.
Despite the best efforts of the nations of the P5+1, Iran is – according to a report published earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency – still actively producing reactor grade uranium. The report also asserts that the Iranians have blocked IAEA access to the site at Parchin, the facility that according to Israeli intelligence is being used to conduct nuclear detonation research. And perhaps most concerning, Iran continues to develop advanced ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel and other U.S. allies.
ISIS is more than just a convenient distraction for Iran; it also provides the Iranians with geopolitical leverage. Iran is in the unique position of serving as a viable regional counter to ISIS, which could swell Iran’s influence in the region, especially among Shiites. ISIS also functions as a bargaining chip in future P5+1 negotiations that are scheduled to conclude in November. And if the United States and its European allies remain bogged down in a long engagement with ISIS, it is unlikely the U.S. would opt to also directly engage Iran militarily should a deal fail to be reached. It should then come as no surprise that Iranian negotiator Majid Takht-Ravanchi said just a few weeks ago that Iran would not sign a deal “at any price.” With everything else happening in the region, relaxed sanctions, and the ability as evidenced by the latest IAEA report to continue work on its nuclear program, why should they?
With the UN General Assembly wrapped up, it is important that the United States and its allies keep the eye on the ball. Yes, ISIS is a despicable organization that should be wiped out. But ISIS compared to Iran is, as the President once said, “junior varsity.”

Trojan horse: ISIS militants come to Europe disguised as refugees, US intel sources claim
Published time: October 06, 2014 /RT
Islamic State militants are planning to insert operatives into Western Europe disguised as refugees, claim US intelligence sources, who unencrypted locked communications of the caliphate’s leadership.
The militant organization is afraid of using aircraft due to strict security rules, so they use land as an alternative, the US sources told Bild Am Sonntag, a German national Sunday newspaper.
Disguised as refugees from Syria, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) operatives will cross the border to Turkey. Then, using fake passports, they will travel further to European countries to conduct attacks.
“In view of the chaotic conditions on the Syria-Turkey border, it is nearly impossible to catch ISIS-terrorists in the wave of refugees,” wrote Bild Am Sonntag.
Because hundreds of refugees cross the Syrian-Turkish border every day, the jihadists have a good chance of remaining unnoticed in the crowds.
Turkey is also used by jihadists who want to join the IS in Syria, as they don’t need a visa to get there. They go on ‘vacations’ as tourists and upon arrival have almost no trouble finding a way to cross the border.
According to one of Iraq’s foremost security experts with unique access to intelligence, at least 100,000 jihadists were fighting in the ranks of the IS in August.
There are some 15,000 foreign fighters from the IS in Syria alone, including 2,000 Westerners, a US intelligence official told AFP in September.
Germany continues to be one of the main goals of IS
An official from the German Interior Ministry told the paper that the country is in the “focus of jihadist terrorism,” but there is no indication at this time of any concrete attacks.
German security says that about 450 extremist German Muslims traveled in the direction of Syria.
But it is still nearly impossible to track their country’s radicals when they are heading from Germany to Syria, as they don’t need a visa to travel to Turkey, a German official told the Jerusalem Post.
About 150 Islamic fighters have returned from Syria to Germany.
Last week it was revealed that German authorities encouraged some jihadists to leave the country. Ludwig Schierghofer, the chief officer in charge of counterterrorism at Bavaria’s LKA investigative police department, told public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk that such measure is aimed at “protecting our [German] population.”
The issue was “to get people out of the country” if there was evidence that “the danger existed that they might commit attacks.”
“If somebody had become radicalized and wanted to leave the country, then we tried to either let him depart, or even sought to accelerate their departure using legal means,” Schierghofer said.
The measure was introduced in Bavaria, southeastern Germany, in 2009, but then abandoned in 2014 after the authorities understood that they were actually helping IS militants.
IS continues Middle East advance despite US strikes
US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State are failing to stop the advance of the jihadists.
The militants are reportedly approaching the outskirts of the city of Kobani, a town in the Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
The situation in the town prompted some 186,000 Kurds to flee the area across the border into Turkey, and groups of Kurdish volunteers wishing to cross into Syria to defend the town against the IS on Saturday clashed with tear gas-firing Turkish security forces refusing to let them pass.
Around 100,000 people remain in Kobani amid the violence.
Enemy tactics: Kurdish female suicide bomber ‘attacks ISIS jihadists’ in Kobani
“Those who stay in the area are living in very poor conditions, there is drastic shortage of food,” Muhammad, a Kobani resident, told RT.
According to Osman, a Turkey-Syria border resident, Turkish security forces prevent them from helping the Kurds, but the residents of Kobani will continue to assist them where they can.
“We are eyewitnesses of the event. It seems that the whole world has abandoned Kobani,” he told RT. “If the Kurdish forces don’t get the supplies they need there will be a mass slaughter among the Kurdish population.”
He added that so far the local residents “haven’t seen any results of US strikes against the Islamic State.”By mistake? US-led jets bomb grain silos in Syria, ‘civilians killed’

International aid for Syria has been too little, too late
Fayez Sara /Asharq Al Awsat
 Monday, 6 Oct, 2014
The ongoing strikes by the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) make this an opportune moment to critically assess the international assistance given to the Syrian people since the start of their revolution against President Bashar Al-Assad’s murderous regime. It must also be acknowledged that the current strikes do not really count as “direct assistance” to the Syrian people—even if the results of the strikes could work in their favor—because they specifically aim to destroy ISIS and other groups like it, not to support the Syrian people in their fight against the Assad regime.
Leaving aside the current strikes, we can see that all the international assistance offered to the Syrian people over the last few years falls into one of three categories: political, military and humanitarian. Each of these led to different results, reflected different parts of the reality in Syria, and affected the development of the conflict throughout the recent period.
Since the very beginning of the revolution in Syria, it was obvious the Syrian people needed outside help, both from within the region and beyond. The reason for this was that the Syrian people, with their peaceful, civil calls for freedom, were up against one of the world’s worst dictatorial regimes, ever-ready to unleash the forces of terrorism and oppression upon its own people. It was thus clear the Syrian people could not resist this regime, which would likely pulverize them into submission as it did in the 1980s in Hama and elsewhere, and with the Palestinians and the Lebanese during the civil war in Lebanon.
The first of the three forms of support, the international political support for the Syrian people, came very late. This was due to either or both of two reasons: first, no one could quite believe that the Syrian people had revolted against this regime that everyone had deemed unshakeable; second, many in the region were fearful of retaliatory attacks against them by the Assad regime if they supported the Syrian people’s revolution. And so in this way, a vague, wary, uneasy and somewhat embarrassed trickle of international support began to emerge. Its tentative nature was one of the factors that allowed the Syrian regime to unleash an armed onslaught on its own people, which then led to the revolution to arm itself, transitioning from a peaceful to an armed stage, then passing into the next stage which saw the emergence of violent, extremist groups on the scene, along with a quickly rising death toll, and then to its third and current stage with the international action.
Military support for the conflict was a little different, however. After the appearance of the first armed groups towards end of 2011, it was clear that foreign players had now become involved. A number of countries offered support to these groups with help from their own security services, as well as through politically motivated “NGOs” and Syrians living abroad. But their main form of support was through supplying arms, ammunition and cash to these groups. Indeed some of this support sought to establish particular armed groups on the ground, not just aid existing ones. All of this was politically motivated of course, and all of it significantly altered the contours of the Syrian conflict thereafter.
This military support for Syrian armed groups did not differ that much from the international political support offered to the Syrian people. It was, once again, tentative in nature, and offered in return for the establishment of certain political ends compatible with the aims of the benefactors. Moreover, the help offered to these Syrian groups was limited and eventually helped the Islamist strand become entrenched within them. With more and more Islamist fighters joining their ranks, this led to tension, infighting and splits, all of which weakened Syria’s armed revolutionary groups in their fight against Assad.
But there have also been suspicion regarding the international humanitarian assistance, the third form of support offered to the Syrian people since the start of their revolution. There are four main benefactors of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people: countries, international aid organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations, and the Syrian diaspora (which includes a number of wealthy expats). This humanitarian support varied, from food and medical supplies to a number of small-scale development projects. Of course, this aid was much less than was needed; it was also poorly organized and irregular—and, once again, often politically motivated. More important than this, however, is the way some of the countries that have been hosting Syrian refugees, such as Jordan, have actually been preventing some of the aid meant for these refugees from reaching them. In some cases the aid was doled out to local organizations instead, or limited to particular groups, as happens with the aid that is distributed via the Assad regime, which blocks aid to its opponents or areas where they are numerous, such as the Ghouta or southern areas of Damascus, redirecting it to its own pockets of support. Such a tactic has also been used by some of the armed groups holding areas of the country outside government control.
There have been many complicated problems associated with the humanitarian aid being offered to the Syrian people over the last few years. Some of these problems are “close to critical,” such as that of the size of UN aid. Even though this has clearly been inadequate in alleviating the sufferings of the Syrian people, the UN is now saying it will be slashing this aid by around 40 percent due to the lack of international donors. Some observers even predict the aid will stop entirely in the course of 2015.
Summing up the issue of international support to the Syrian people, we can say that the political support has been severely lacking in helping to end the conflict or at the very least sway it in favor of the Syrian people, which has resulted in the war dragging on and on and causing more suffering for Syrians. International military support has not fared much better, leading to the weakening and fragmentation of armed Syrian groups, who are now under intense pressure to take particular political directions. The humanitarian aid, moreover, is not even able to fulfil the minimum requirements of the people, and it is even in danger of being reduced or cut off.
It is now essential the international support being offered to the Syrian people is strengthened, in order to end the conflict or at the very least to stop it from spiraling out of control

Biden echoes Iran’s words on ISIS
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Monday, 6 October 2014
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is a veteran politician who’s more experienced in foreign relations than many other senior politicians at the White House. As a former member of the foreign relations committee, the NATO observer group, and other Washington governmental institutions, Biden is even more experienced in geopolitics than President Barack Obama.
So, Biden’s recent statements implying that Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are behind the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group angered everyone.
Apart from the fact that this is an irresponsible statement, it may also abort the efforts of the anti-ISIS coalition in the fight against the group. Biden’s statement also evades responsibility. Gulf countries, France and Britain have over a year ago warned of leaving conflict-ridden Syria to the hands of terrorist organizations but the White House insisted on refusing intervention in all its forms and prohibited the supplying of the Free Syrian Army with advanced weaponry.
This led to the prolonging of the war and to the Syrian and Iranian regimes’ rejection of the Geneva I conference’s solution of an interim government without Bashar al-Assad. The decision of the U.S. not to intervene in Syria led to the participation of extremist groups, such as ISIS, in the Syrian civil war – especially after Assad’s crimes escalated violence with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. Washington’s negative stance thus weakened the moderate Syrian opposition, like the Free Syrian Army, and encouraged terrorist groups to enter the battlefield.
No direct support
Perhaps Turkey is to be blame for leaving its borders open for extremists without discrimination, but I don’t believe it is directly supporting ISIS. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, however, are two countries who worked on combatting ISIS the most, at a time when Biden was sound asleep on his ostrich-feather pillow leaving the organization to grow and ignoring all warnings from the region.
“ISIS primarily targets Arab Sunni regimes while Shiite Iran has been a safe haven for some al-Qaeda leaders”
Accusing countries - just because they are Sunni - of backing Sunni extremist ISIS implies ignorance in the history of the war on terrorism in the region.
ISIS is just a new banner for the old-order al-Qaeda and they both have the same aims. When simplifying disputes in the Middle East, some analysts categorize disputes as sectarian or ethnic - considering they are reason enough to fight.
Such a simplification can mislead foreign analysts. Wars happen among followers of religions but most of them happen between people of one sect - as in between Sunnis and Sunnis, Shiites and Shiites, Christians and Christians and Kurds and Kurds.
The situation is not different when dealing with al-Qaeda-style organizations and its branches like ISIS. ISIS is a Sunni extremist organization which has killed more Sunnis than Shiites and Yazidis. For instance, it killed 500 of the Sunni al-Sheitaat tribe to punish them for not cooperating.
ISIS primarily targets Arab Sunni regimes while Shiite Iran has been a safe haven for some al-Qaeda leaders - particularly those who fled from Afghanistan and Pakistan - for around one-and-a-half decades.
Wrong understanding
Therefore, summarizing disputes in a sectarian or ethnic context may lead to a wrong understanding of the situation. Iran and the Assad regime are the major supporters of Sunni political organizations and of Sunni armed extremist organizations like Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Fatah al-Islam and others.
Biden must accept blame instead of blaming others. He’s concerned with Iraqi affairs and has lived through the policies of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who’s behind the emergence of the ISIS in Iraq’s western al-Anbar province.
Thousands of Iraqi youths joined ISIS as a result of the hostility and elimination publicly practiced against them. Biden and the rest of Washington were quite late in realizing Maliki’s lies and the weakness of his army.
Instead of blaming Maliki, Assad and the Iranian government - the tripartite who caused chaos and revived the curse of extremism in the entire region - Biden blamed the countries who’ve actually fought al-Qaeda nonstop.
Instead of getting direct answers to his suspicions from the countries concerned (i.e. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE), Biden chose to echo the statements of Iran and Assad’s regime.

An Iranian nuke deal is more political than technical
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /A Arabiya
Monday, 6 October 2014
For the second time during his 13 months in office, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani addressed the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N.’s 69th annual session in New York two weeks ago. He seized the opportunity to reiterate his determination to make progress in Iran’s nuclear talks and raised the Islamic Republic’s point of view in a very straightforward and serious manner.
The nuclear talks resumed on Sep. 18 on the sidelines of the General Assembly, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acting as Iran’s chief negotiator.
This year’s round of talks reached the most critical stage of negotiation since last year, as both Iran’s president and the U.S. spoke of a diplomatic solution as the preferred method of solving this almost-a-decade-long issue over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program.
The talks ended on Sep. 26 after an intense week of negotiating with almost no details given to the media. At a press conference in New York, Rowhani said: “Today there is a serious intent which is quite evident to perceive even through the words. Serious will does exist (in reference to the nuclear talks).”
I must state at no time since Rowhani took office have I heard such a serious tone in the last few days in New York about the level of engagement and will to progress in the talks, no matter if the media haven’t been updated or briefed.
Serious tone
Iran has less than eight weeks to reach a comprehensive agreement with world powers and settle the negotiations. Iran’s other option is to walk away from the talks completely, which is very unlikely.
“For Iran, limiting their nuclear program is tantamount to limiting the revolution’s value. Taking this major step requires courage on the Islamic Republic’s part”
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Disputes over Iran’s controversial nuclear program have put enormous pressure on Iran’s economy and tarnished its international prestige simply because it could not prove the program is peaceful.
The sanctions have pushed Iran to act more aggressively on the world stage - and have further empowered the hardliners.
Solving the nuclear file is a major national security concern for Rowhani, who took on his government’s challenge to come to New York to show support for Iran’s delegation in the talks, despite opposition from hardliners. Rowhani also took the opportunity to meet with other leaders and elaborate Iran’s view of the crisis engulfing the region.
At his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sep. 24, Obama called on Iran to “not let the opportunity pass” for a breakthrough in the nuclear talks.
It appears the two former foes fully appreciate the importance of this opportunity but have not seized it, because they each want to have the upper hand in this agreement. Clearly, both Iran and the United States wish to reach a comprehensive deal before the interim deadline expires on Nov. 24 - but neither wants to sell themselves easy after decades of animosity and disputes.
Rowhani repeated the same message Obama delivered to the Security Council, calling the nuclear agreement with Iran a “unique opportunity” before them to resolve the dispute and an historical event which “shouldn’t be missed.”
Rowhani also noted he was engaging in indirect talks with Obama. The two presidents spoke on the phone last year about many issues, but agreed to solve the nuclear matter before dealing with other concerns, Rowhani said at a talk with a group of intellectuals and policy makers at the New America Foundation think-tank on Sept 24.
Nothing has been arranged between the two presidents this year because the nuclear file has not yet been settled and the regional crisis over the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t being handled in the manner Iran believes it ought to be.
Iran has not been invited to join the U.S.-formed coalition against ISIS and this disappointment has been reflected in the behavior and attitude of Tehran's politicians.
At the same New America Foundation talk, Rowhani expressed his opposition to the direct involvement of foreign countries in the regional confrontation with ISIS.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only regional country which can help Iraq and has the aim, desire and the equipment to do it.” Rowhani said to Fareed Zakaria, the moderator of the New America Foundation program.
The role Iran wants to play in the region is much greater than what the U.S. suggested in the U.N. Security Council’s emergency meeting on Sep. 19 on ISIS and the crisis in Iraq.
“There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran,” said Secretary of State John Kerry at the meeting.
But Iran is not “every country” in the world. Iraq shares some of its longest borders with Iran and Syria and hasn’t been included to the regional coalition.
“I believe if countries claiming leadership of the coalition are doing so to continue their hegemony in the region, they would be making a strategic mistake,” Rowhani said at the New America Foundation talk.
It’s clear Iran needs to make the nuclear deal first, and then work on other matters with the U.S., including security cooperation and combating terrorism in Iraq.
It also seems Iran and the United States are eager to reach a comprehensive deal before Nov. 24, regardless of the crisis in Iraq and Syria.
Touching base
A Senior State Department official sent this email to journalists in New York covering the nuclear talks: “We thought it was time to touch base at the foreign minister level, trilaterally, as another step in the process. This will be a good opportunity to take stock of the work that has been done this week and discuss the path forward.”
Hearing mixed messages after weeks of intense talks and a looming deadline gives observers this sense where brinkmanship makes the both sides in the talks hold themselves together in a firm resolve to reach an agreement.
The U.S. wants Iran to act as a responsible member of the international community and commit itself not only to limiting its nuclear program, but also changing its regional behavior.
For Iran, limiting their nuclear program is tantamount to limiting the revolution’s value. Taking this major step requires courage on the Islamic Republic’s part, as well as the U.S.’s recognition of Iran as a regional power.
Perhaps now the obstacles to reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement are more political than technical.
A senior U.S. official briefed a small group of journalists on Sep. 26 about the nuclear talks. “The gaps are still serious,” the official said, on the condition of anonymity. “We will continue the very hard work over the next weeks. There is still adequate time to work through these issues and arrive at a comprehensive agreement by the November deadline, some eight weeks away.”
According to Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) will resume the nuclear talks this week in an EU country. If the gaps are narrowed by then, a ministerial-level meeting between the powers is expected to take place sometime in November before the interim agreement expires on Nov. 24, 2014.