LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation For Today/Warning to
James 05/01-06: "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. our gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
Bible Quotation For Today/Rejoice
10Thessalonians 05/16-22/"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil."
editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 12, 13/14
'Hezbollah's primary concern is Syrian al-Qaeda, not Israel'/Ynetnews/October 13/14
Analysis: If Iran can’t hold human rights pledges, how can it abide by nuke deal/By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post/October 13/14
The misery of Syrian refugee workers in Turkey/By MOHAMMED RUZGAR/J.Post/October 13/14
US losing to ISIS in race against time/By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 13/14
Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize message to the Middle East/By: Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/October 13/14
Barack Obama’s sole war benchmark must be success/By: David Ignatius/The Daily Star/October 13/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 12, 13/14
Fnaideq Municipality Voices Support to Army: Defected Soldier Suffers from Mental Problems
Grenade Hurled at Tripoli Checkpoint, Army Closes Roads as Precaution
Syrian Suspect Dies in Shootout as Army Raids Refugee Encampments in Akkar
Mansour, al-Mawlawi Evacuate Mosque in al-Tabbani After Efforts of Tripoli Clerics
Qahwaji Travels to Washington to Attend Counter-Terrorism Meetings
Kurdish Demonstration in front of ESCWA in Solidarity with Kobane: Supporting Kobane Eliminates Terrorists
Hariri, Rai to discuss presidency
Future Ground Role for U.S. Military Advisors in Iraq Likely
Rifi downplays Army defection threat
Hezbollah reportedly fears Bassil sway over Aoun
Fatfat blames Hezbollah for Hariri exile
Ain al-Hilweh NGOs steer kids from extremism
Reporters lament news black holes in ISIS zones
'Mentally unstable' soldier defects to ISIS
Lebanon mourns Arab nationalist Solh
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 12, 13/14
ISIS rallies ‘10,000 militants’ at gates of Baghdad
Anti-ISIS coalition to meet in Washington
Kurds urge more air strikes in Kobani; monitor warns of defeat
U.S. strike kills senior figure in Al-Qaeda India branch: report
Saudi students ‘who travel for jihad are traitors
Donor conference pledges $5.4 billion for Gaza
Turkey approves use of air bases to fight ISIS
Kurd Woman Leading Kobane Battle Against IS
Turkish President Vows Crackdown on Pro-Kurd Protests
Turkey Urges Military Support for Syria's 'Moderate Opposition'
Donor States Urge Peace Talks as Aid Pledged to Gaza
Qatar pledged $1 billion to Gaza reconstruction
UN chief Ban: Israeli occupation led to Gaza war
Kerry: Long-term solution needed for Gaza
Russia to support Palestinian bid for Security Council mandate for statehood
Israeli FM: US will not make demands of Israel on Gaza
Kerry pushes for Mideast peace, Qatar pledges $1 bln for Gaza
Wildfire destroys vast swathes of Golan forest
Muslim MEP calls on European Jews to halt flight
UK's Labour facing rebellion over Palestine vote
Three feared to have joined Islamic State in Syria
Four Egyptians behind ISIS takfirist ideology: sources
Five new names for Yemen premiership: sources
America’s hard choices
Putin Orders Troop Pullback from Ukraine Border ahead of Key Talks
The October 13 Massacre In Its 24th Commemoration
By: Elias Bejjani
What an irony, On October 13, 1990 The Barbarian Syrian Army jointly with its local armed mercenaries savagely attacked and occupied our Lebanese presidential palace. Today on October 13, 2014, the same palace is void from a new Maronite Christian president because the Syrian Iranian Axis of Evil local and regional forces are hindering by force and terrorism the democratic election of a new president.
On October 13, 1990 the Syrian Army savagely invaded the last remaining free regions of Lebanon, killed and mutilated hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and innocent citizens in cold blooded murder, kidnapped tens of soldiers, officers, clergymen, politicians and citizens, and erected a subservient and puppet regime fully controlled by its security intelligence headquarters in Damascus. Since then, we commemorate the painful event each year on October 13.
In year 2005 the Syrian Army was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in accordance with the UNSC Resolution 1559, but its proxy Lebanese and Palestinian armed militias still run and fully control numerous mini states inside the state of Lebanon. They are hindering the Lebanese people from completely reclaiming their independence, freedom and sovereignty. The Terrorist Hezbollah Militia is the Syrian-Iranian spearhead in this axis of evil notorious scheme against Lebanon and the Lebanese.
Twenty Four years since the desecration of the People’s Palace (presidential Palace) by the horde of Syrian Baathist gangs, Mafiosi, militias, and other corrupt mercenaries of Tamerlane invaders vintage. The soldiers of our valiant army were tortured and butchered in the cities of Bsous, Aley, Kahhale, and other bastions of resistance. Our most precious of possessions, our freedom, was raped in broad daylight, while the free world and all the Arab countries at that time watched in silence.
With this remembrance, a journey back to the true identity of Lebanon has begun through UNSC Resolution 1559, which has crowned a long and difficult struggle by an elite of free patriots from the Land of the Cedars. In a violent Middle East, they raised the struggle for a free Lebanon to the standards of a civilized, peaceful, and non-violent resistance in spite of the obstacles and difficulties along the way. And here they are today, their hopes and aspirations saluted and raised by the free world through the Security Council and its pro-free Lebanon Resolutions (1559 & 1701), in a genuine bid to lift the yoke of enslavement, and with it the shroud of misinformation, off of a free nation and a sovereign people.
This remembrance won’t pass without wiping the tears of sorrow and pain for those loved ones who left this world and others who emigrated to its far-flung corners. For a lifetime of hard work wiped out overnight, for the destroyed villages and towns that dot our hills, for the closed factories, for the fields that lay fallow and dry, for our children who lost their innocence, and for all that we had but which was lost. Yet we are a tough and hopeful people, and no matter the sacrifices and the pain, we are today even more determined with our strong faith to redeem our freedom, and bring to justice all those who accepted to be the dirty tools of the conspiracy that has been destroying, humiliating, and tormenting our country since 1976.
Meanwhile the lessons of October 13 are many and they are all glorious. The free of our people, civilians and military, ordinary citizens and leaders, all stood tall and strong in turning back the aggression of the barbarians at the gate. They resisted valiantly and courageously, writing with their own blood long epics that will not be soon forgotten by their children and grandchildren and other students of history. They refused to sign on an agreement of surrender and oppression, and spoke up against the shame of capitulation.
On October 13, on the tewety fourth commemoration of the Syrian invasion to Lebanon's free regions, we shall pray for the souls of all those Lebanese comrades who fell in the battles of confrontation, for all our citizens who are arbitrarily detained in Syria's notorious jails, for the safe and dignified return of our refugees from Israel, for the return of peace to the homeland, and for the repentance of Lebanon's leaders and politicians who for personal gains have turned against their own people, negated their declared convictions, downtrodden their freedom and liberation slogans, sided with the Axis of evil (Syria, Iran) and forged an alliance with Hezbollah whose ultimate aim is to replicate the Iranian Mullahs' regime in Lebanon.
But in spite of the Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon in year 2005, old and new Syrian-made Lebanese puppets continue to trade demagogy and spread incitement, profiting from people’s economic needs and the absence of the state's law and order. Thanks to the Iranian petro dollars, their consciences are numbed, and their bank accounts and pockets inflated. Sadly, among those is General Michele Aoun who after his return from exile to Lebanon in 2005 has bizarrely transformed from an staunched patriotic Lebanese leader and advocate for freedom and peace, into a Syrian-Iranian allay and a loud mouthpiece for their axis of evil schemes and conspiracies.
General Aoun like the rest of the pro-Syrian-Iranian Lebanese politicians and leaders care only for his position, personal interests, and greed. In the eyes of the patriotic Lebanese, Aoun and the rest of those conscienceless creatures are nothing but robots and dirty instruments bent on Lebanon's destabilization, blocking the return of peace and order to its people, aborting the mission of the international forces and the UN security council (UNSC) resolutions, in particular resolutions 1559 and 1701. They are hired by the axis of evil nations and organizations to keep our homeland, the land of the Holy Cedars, an arena and a backyard for “The Wars of the Others”, a base for chaos and a breeding culture for hatred, terrorism, hostility and fundamentalism.
In this year's commemoration we proudly hail and remember the passing and disappearance of hundreds of our people, civilian, military, and religious personnel who gladly sacrificed themselves on Lebanon’s altar in defense of freedom, dignity and identity, we raise our prayers for the rest of their souls and for the safe return of all our prisoners held arbitrarily in the dungeons of the Syrian Baath.
We ask for consolation to all their families, hoping that their grand sacrifices were not in vain, now that prominent leaders and politicians of that era changed sides and joined the killers after the liberation of the country. Those Pharisees were in positions of responsibility to safeguard the nation and its dignity, and were entrusted to defend the identity, the homeland and the beliefs.
Our martyrs, the living and dead alike, must be rolling in anger in their graves and in the Syrian Baath dungeons as they witness these leaders today, especially General Michele Aoun, upon whom they laid their hope, fall into the gutter of cheap politics.
General Aoun reversed all his theses and slogans and joined the same powers that invaded the free Lebanon region on October 13, 1990. He selectively had forgotten who he is and who his people are, and negated everything he advocated and lobbied for.
What truly saddens us is the continuing suffering of our refugees in Israel since 2000 despite all the recent developments. This is due to the stark servitude of those Lebanese Leaders and politicians on whom we held our hopes for a courageous resolution to this humane problem. Instead, they shed their responsibilities and voided the cause from its humane content, and furthermore, in order to satisfy their alliances with fundamentalists and radicals, they betrayed their own people and the cause of Lebanon by agreeing to label our heroic southern refugees as criminals.
Our refugees in Israel are the ultimate Lebanese patriots who did no wrong, but who simply suffered for 30 years trying to defend their land, their homes, their children and their dignity against Syria and the hordes of Islamic fundamentalists, outlaw Palestinian militias, and even renegade battalions of the Lebanese Army itself that seceded from the government to fight alongside the outlaw organizations and militias against Lebanon, the Lebanese State and the Lebanese people.
For our fallen heroes who gave themselves in sacrifice at the altar of Lebanon on October 13, we pray and make the pledge of living with our heads high, so that Lebanon remains the homeland of dignity and pride, the message of truth, the cradle of civility and giving, and the crucible of culture and civilizations. He who has God by his side, whose weapon is the truth, and whose faith is like the rock, shall never be vanquished.
Hariri to meet Rai in Rome for talks on presidential
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri will meet Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Rome Monday for talks centering on the nearly 5-month-old presidential deadlock, Future MP Ammar Houri said Sunday. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, meanwhile, pleaded with the Lebanese to rally behind the Army in its battle against terrorist groups, saying the military’s role should be bolstered to protect Lebanon’s security and stability. “The presidential election will be the main topic in the talks between [former] Prime Minister Hariri and Patriarch Rai,” Houri told The Daily Star. The lawmaker reiterated the Future Movement’s demand for priority to be given to the election of a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year term ended on May 25.
“The Future Movement’s first option is the election of a president, while rejecting holding parliamentary elections amid the vacancy in the top presidency post,” Houri said. The planned meeting with Rai comes a week after Hariri held talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris focusing on the $1 billion Saudi grant to bolster the Lebanese Army’s capabilities in the battle against terrorism. Berri’s appeal to rally behind the Army came a day after the United States pledged to stand alongside Lebanon in its war on ISIS.
It also followed a warning by Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi that ISIS was seeking to secure a safe access to the sea through the Lebanese coast and to incite sectarian strife by counting on support from sleeper cells in the northern city of Tripoli and Akkar.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Geneva, Berri underscored the need for “combined efforts by everyone to confront the terrorist threat hanging over Lebanon by rallying around the Army to help it face attacks on it at the hands of terrorist groups.”
“The Army’s role must be strengthened to protect the country’s security and stability,” the speaker said. Military posts have come under fire by unidentified gunmen in northern Lebanon in the past few days in attacks which, according to a senior military official, were aimed at denting the Army’s battle against terrorism and ensuring a safe access for ISIS and Nusra Front militants entrenched on the outskirts of the Bekaa town of Arsal. Berri, heading a parliamentary delegation, arrived in Geneva Saturday to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 131th conference. The conference’s deliberations are likely to be dominated by the threat of terrorism and extremism sweeping across the Middle East. The Inter-Parliamentary Union’s opening session will begin Monday at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whose country is spearheading an international coalition to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, expressed continued U.S. support for the Lebanese Army, saying Washington stood alongside Lebanon in its battle against terrorism.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday, “Kerry expressed his appreciation for what Lebanon is doing in its war against terrorism and thanked Minister Bassil for participating in the international effort in that regard.”
Kerry said the “U.S. stood alongside Lebanon in its war on ISIS on the Lebanese border and inside and expressed the U.S. continued cooperation and military support,” according to a statement released by Bassil’s office.The renewed U.S. support for Lebanon comes as Kahwagi is due to visit America this week for talks on military aid to the Lebanese Army. Kerry and Bassil attended a regional conference in the Saudi city of Jeddah last month that led to the formation of the U.S.-led international coalition to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Lebanon has not officially joined the coalition due to differences among its political parties. The Lebanese Army battled ISIS and Nusra Front militants in August in Arsal, after the militants briefly seized the town. The Army has since then engaged in intermittent clashes with militants near the border. The U.S. has delivered light and heavy weapons to Lebanon in the past few weeks estimated at over $9 million.
For his part, Rai lashed out at Lebanese lawmakers for failing to elect a president, saying the MPs have abused their mandate by leaving the country without a head of state for more than four months. “We appeal to Parliament in Lebanon which, with deep regret, has failed in its 13th session to secure a quorum and elect a president,” Rai said during his Sunday Mass sermon in Rome. He added that the presidential vacuum is “a disgrace to the deputies who apparently have yet to come up with a new serious initiative to secure a quorum and elect a president.” “The people have lost confidence in the MPs. They have granted the MPs a mandate when they elected them [to Parliament] so that they can elect a president and do their legislative duty,” Rai said. Separately, Future officials slammed Hezbollah over its military intervention in Syria. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi called on Hezbollah to apologize to the Lebanese and Syrian peoples for its involvement in the Syrian war. “The [Syrian] regime and its allies bear a large part of the responsibility for the chaos and ruin that hit the region,” Rifi said during a memorial ceremony for slain former National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun Saturday. He called on Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Syria and make way for the Lebanese Army to protect the border from terrorists. Future MP Ahmad Fatfat said Hariri would not return to Lebanon until all “illegitimate” arms are handed over to the state. “The threat against Saad Hariri will remain as long as there are illegitimate weapons in Lebanon,” Fatfat told the Voice of Lebanon radio station, in reference to Hezbollah’s arsenal. Hariri has lived abroad since 2011 over security concerns. He returned to Lebanon in August for a brief visit.Fatfat lashed out at Hezbollah for exploiting its resistance status to achieve internal political gains and bolster the Syrian army in its war against rebels.
Rifi downplays Army defection threat
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi downplayed the string of weekend defections from the Lebanese Army to jihadist groups, saying the phenomenon was both limited, and unlikely to threaten the military. The defection of Lebanese soldiers from the Army to join militant groups are “isolated incidents that are very limited and that won't affect the unity of the Army," Rifi told reporters after a visit with Lebanese boy-genius Mohammad al-Mir. Three Lebanese soldiers have allegedly defected since Friday. Abed-Elkader Akoumi announced his defection to ISIS Saturday. Mohammad Antar and Abdallah Shehadeh left the military to join the Nusra Front Friday. In further controversy, Rifi denied reports of an imminent clash between Tripoli’s citizen and the Lebanese Army. Assaults against the Lebanese Army in Tripoli’s embattled Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood were not carried out by the residents of the area, Rifi claimed.He said an outside group was looking to drag the locals into a confrontation with the Army. “We know who carried out the [attacks] and who opened fire,” he added, referring to a spate of separate attacks carried out by anonymous groups that targeted Army posts in Bab al-Tabbaneh throughout the week. The minister refuted claims that certain groups were seeking to transform northern Lebanon in to an Islamic caliphate. “Tripoli will not be a caliphate, it is Lebanon’s second capitol and it will remain this way,” he added. In separate remakrd Saturday, Rifi called on Hezbollah to apologize to the Lebanese and Syrian people for its intervention in Syria's conflict.“The [Syrian] regime and its allies bear a large part of the responsibility for the chaos and ruin that target the region,” Rifi said during a remembrance ceremony for slain former National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun late Saturday. The justice minister also called for Hezbollah’s immediate withdrawal from the country, urging the party to make way for the Lebanese Army to protect the border from terrorists.He went on to say that Hezbollah cannot claim to defend Lebanon given that the group only represents one segment of the country. Hezbollah leaders have repeatedly said that ISIS would have taken over Lebanon were it not for the group's intervention in Syria.
Hezbollah reportedly fears Bassil influence over Aoun
Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star/While many have given up hope of a breakthrough on the presidential election, Hezbollah’s support for Aoun may be weakened by its fear of the influence his son-in-law, Foreign Ministry Gebran Bassil, wields over the octogenarian former general. “We are with General Aoun, but we don’t want Gebran Bassil to be the president of the republic,” a politician close to the party quoted a Hezbollah official as saying. According to the source, Hezbollah fears Bassil will be the real power in Baabda if Aoun is elected, citing certain “practices” and current trends in the Free Patriotic Movement. Hezbollah trusts Aoun and Aoun alone, the source said. Hezbollah’s greatest concern regarding a new president will be his stance on the resistance. The party continues to insist on a government statement enshrining the “people, the Army, and the resistance,” to legitimize its war against Israel but also against takfiri groups in Syria, a source of controversy. It would be unlikely, therefore, that the party could back a candidate supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia, for instance.
The fortunes of MP Sleiman Franjieh, on the other hand, have improved beyond those of any other candidate, especially since he is much more likely to win the support of Arab allies than Aoun. Frangieh’s support for Aoun also would oblige Aoun to support him in return, removing a hitherto immovable obstacle: Aoun’s obstinacy. But not everyone was convinced that change was in the air. March 8 Christian parliamentarians saw nothing to indicate the election was imminent. Other sources close to Hezbollah said that the party still considers Aoun the only eligible presidential candidate who enjoys the popular support needed to assume the presidency. They said that Hezbollah no longer trusts any commitment from any party whatsoever, whether individuals or nations, following what is considers the failure of rival factions and regional backers to honor the Doha Accord, which led to the election of former President Michel Sleiman. The same sources said that recent security incidents in the region and Lebanon targeting Hezbollah means the party cannot afford to compromise on its security, and will not support any candidate for the presidency unless it is sure that the next president will not “stab the party in the back, as Michel Sleiman did.”The sources believe that Hezbollah would prefer that Lebanon remains without a president, if his election would case internal strife. The sources ruled out any interference by Tehran, because U.N. Special Envoy Derek Plumbly recently went to Iran and was assured that it would not interfere in the elections, and that Hezbollah’s position was entirely up to its leader, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Other observers doubt any of thenames put forward in the presidential negotiations were intended as serious candidates, claiming that they were in fact intended to sabotage the election. A source with knowledge of the issue said the atmosphere was not promising, “but this does not stop political circles from assuming that November will see a shift and that the presidential election will take place before parliamentary elections.” The source did not give details as to the reasons for this optimism.
Syrian Suspect Dies in Shootout as Army Raids Refugee Encampments in Akkar
Naharnet/A shootout broke out on Sunday as the army carried out a raid against Syrian refugee encampments in the northern region of Akkar, reported the National News Agency. It said that Syrian suspect Fouad al-Aarour was seriously wounded in the shootout that took place at the encampments on the outskirts of the town of Aidamoun. Al-Aarour was killed during an army raid in Aidamoun when a shootout broke out after he threw a hand grenade at the troops, the army reported. Several arrest warrants had been issued against Aarour and he has been charged with belonging to a terrorist group. The army arrested in Akkar's Minyara 19 Syrian for wandering on the Lebanese territory illegally. And the detainees were handed over, according to a statement issued by the army, “to the competent authority to take necessary actions.”On Wednesday, the army carried out raids in the northern district of Zgharta during which it arrested 11 Syrians from encampments in Ehden. The security forces have carried out in recent months raids against various Syrian refugee encampments in Lebanon in search of wanted suspects. A number of suspects have been arrested, several of whom were charged of belonging to terrorist groups. One of the most serious raids was conducted by the army in late September against a Syrian encampment in the northeastern region of Arsal. One assailant was killed and several others were injured during the operation when the army opened fire on them in Arsal for setting fire to tents in refugee encampments.
Mansour, al-Mawlawi Evacuate Mosque in al-Tabbani After Efforts of Tripoli Clerics
Naharnet/Ousama Mansour and Shadi al-Mawlawi will be evacuating in the next few hours a mosque they used to frequently go to, and that is after efforts by the clerics of Tripoli. “During the next few hours Abdullah bin Masood mosque in Bab al-Tabbani will be evacuated,” the National News Agency said. According to LBCI: “A gathering of clerics and dignitaries agreed in the presence of al-Mawlawi and Mansour Mosque to evacuate Abdullah bin Masood Mosque within 48 hours.” “The meeting that was held in Abdullah bin Masood mosque between Mansour and al-Mawlawi with the dignitaries and clerics of Tripoli stressed the need to remove surveillance cameras from the vicinity of the mosque and also the removal of the guard,” it added. Clerics from the northern city of Tripoli are attempting to persuade notorious militants al-Mawlawi and Mansour to evacuate a mosque they have been reportedly been holing up at recently, said the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday. The clerics are seeking to make them evacuate the Abdullah bin Massoud Mosque in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, said sources from the city. They added that the two militants are prepared to do so and return it to the authority of the concerned clerics. Meanwhile, sources from those clergy told the daily that Mawlawi and Mansour have not been recently seen at the premises, leading them to believe that they have indeed evacuated the mosque. Mawlawi and Mansour are also not keen to be embroiled in any attempts to create security unrest in the city, stressing that they will not be lured into any assault against the army, added the sources. Barricades and sandbags were reportedly erected anew on Tuesday around a security square established by the fugitives. The barricades are spread on the main streets separating the rival Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods in the northern city and between Bab al-Tabbaneh and army posts in Tripoli. The radio station said that surveillance cameras were set to monitor the security square that includes al-Asmar square, Starco, Tartous street and the vegetables market. Media reports said on Monday that security forces are determined to arrest Mawlawi and Mansour after locating their hideout in the Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood. Last week, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged a detainee and 10 fugitives, including 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.”
Lebanese soldier who defected to ISIS 'mentally unstable'
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Abed-Elkader Akoumi, a Lebanese soldier who defected to ISIS, is mentally unstable, the mayor of his hometown said Sunday. “Akoumi’s father is a member of the military institution, and so is his brother, however, [Akoumi] suffers from mental disorders,” Fnaydeq Mayor Khaldoun Taleb said in a statement. Taleb told The Daily Star that Akoumi’s family had informed him of their son’s poor mental health. “They told me that his psychological condition had been deteriorating for the past six months,” Taleb said in a phone interview. The family also spoke about their son’s financial standing, which they cited as one of his reasons to join ISIS, the mayor said. Taleb also mentioned that the Army had previously appointed a health committee to evaluate the soldier’s psychological wellbeing. “The evaluation was set to happen when Akoumi stood trial in the military court,” he clarified. ISIS released a video Saturday night showing Akoumi saying that the Army’s treatment of the residents of Tripoli and its mass detention of Sunnis prompeted him to leave its ranks and join ISIS. Akoumi is the third soldier claimed to have defected over the weekend, and the second one from Fnaydeq after Mohammad Antar left the military to join the Nusra Front according to a video posted online Saturday. On Friday, Abdallah Shehadeh, a local of the northern city of Tripoli, also reportedly defected from the Army to join Nusra. In a statement released Saturday night, the Army said that Akoumi had fled from the Army on July 21. The soldier’s case was referred to the military court in the beginning of October due to the lengthy period of his absence. Speaking on behalf of the town, the mayor expressed his full support for the Army and other security forces, saying that more than 3,000 residents of Fnaydeq are enlisted in the military. Taleb also called on the media to desist from sensationalizing the incident, saying that Akoumi’s actions are not indicative of a general trend taking over the town. “Every now and then, Fneideq is exposed to suspicious campaigns [aimed at] tarnishing its image,” Taleb said.
Hariri won't return to a Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon: Fatfat
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Future Movement leader Saad Hariri, who lives in France, will not return to Lebanon until all "illegitimate" arms are submitted to the state, said Future MP Ahmad Fatfat Sunday in reference to the arsenal of Hezbollah, which he accused of using its military might to control Lebanon. “The threat against Saad Hariri will remain as long as there are illegitimate weapons in Lebanon,” Fatfat told radio station Voice of Lebanon 100.5 in a morning interview. Hariri has lived in self-imposed exile in France since 2011 over security fears. He returned to Lebanon for a brief visit in August. The MP slammed Hezbollah for exploiting its resistance status to achieve internal political goals and bolster the Syrian army in its fights against rebels.“We do not trust Hezbollah because it used the resistance slogan to take over the [Lebanese] authority,” Fatfat said. He also blamed the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon on Hezbollah's intervention. Fatfat acknowledged that “some small groups in the Sunni sect believe ISIS is the only force capable of confronting Hezbollah,” but stressed that “this mentality is wrong.” He dismissed accusations that the Future Movement backs Tripoli’s extremist fugitive Shadi Mawlawi, saying that the Cabinet who released him from prison last year was affiliated with March 8. “Hezbollah’s government is the one who released him, and former Prime Minister Najib Mikati brought him home in his personal car,” he said. Further distancing his party from salafi movements, Fatfat said Akkar’s radical MP Khaled Daher does not belong to his party, but rather “has his own party and is an ally to Future.”“We do not have preachers in the Future Movement and [Akkar MP] Khaled Daher is committed to the Future bloc, not the Future Movement,” he said on Daher, who recently accused the Army’s leader Gen. Jean Kahwagi of consipiring against the Sunnis of Lebanon. However, Fatfat acknowledged that the anger against the Army in Tripoli is based on the military’s discriminatory treatment of residents. “There is a sense of aversion towards the Army in Tripoli, and the problem is related to how the Army implements its security measures across Lebanon,” he said. Speaking on the security situation in the northern city, Fatfat wondered what caused the rise of extremist movements there. “There are security issues in Tripoli but the question should be addressed to security officials: How were these [terrorist] groups allowed to appear in the first place?,” the MP added. Expressing disappointment with the security plan implemented in the city earlier this year, Fatfat said areas that host extremist movements are always the ones suffering from poverty. “Things should not be dealt with through security only, but also by development and education,” he said.
Kurdish Demonstration in front of ESCWA in Solidarity with Kobane: Supporting Kobane Eliminates Terrorists
Naharnet /Kurds demonstrated on Sunday afternoon in Beirut in solidarity with the Syrian town of Kobane, which has repelled for months a siege by the Islamic State jihadist group. The Islamic State controls about 40 percent of Kobane so far. The demonstration began from in front of al-Cola bridge and headed toward the ESCWA headquarters, with protesters waving their country's flag while shouting slogans condemning what the Kurdish people are being exposed to. The demonstrators warned on behalf of the Kurdish community in Lebanon: "There is a chance that a massacre against humanity might occur."“Turkey has played a negative role since the beginning of the Syrian revolution and until now, where it supports terrorist groups in order to protect its own interests."“And it facilitate the presence of the IS in Turkey and secures training camps. In addition, it is giving treatment to the IS militants in hospitals and buying oil from them,” they said. Turkey has been facing since Monday waves of violence and clashes between the police and demonstrators in solidarity with Kobane, which was called for by the main Kurdish party protesting against the Ankara government's refusal to intervene militarily to save Kobane. The demonstrators called for giving Abdullah Ocalan the chance to give a peaceful democratic solution for the region. Ocalan is the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party, detained by Turkish authorities since 1999. The Beirut protestors called for “the continuation of U.S.-led air strikes on those terrorists organizations and to coordinate with popular protection units and support Kobane with weapons.”Their statement concluded: “Kobane will be a graveyard for global terrorism, and the support of Kobane's resistance means the elimination of global terrorism.”Despite the fall of the security zone in north Kobane on Friday, Kurdish fighters are still desperately fighting for their city, carrying out attacks against the IS. The U.S. is leading an international coalition that is carrying out air strikes against IS positions in Syria and Iraq.
Grenade Hurled at Tripoli Checkpoint, Army Closes Roads as Precaution
Naharnet/An unknown assailant tossed a hand grenade on Sunday night toward an army checkpoint in al-Mitein in Tripoli, hitting the outer wall of the position and causing no injuries, reported the National News Agency. Afterwards, NNA stated that: “The army closed the roads of al-Rifa, al-Omari and al-Hariri project in Tripoli as a precaution after a hand grenade was thrown at its position in al-Mitein.” An army position was attacked on Friday in Talaat al-Omari and unknown assailants also tossed two grenades towards Syria Street neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. The Friday attacks on the army came less than 24 hours after a soldier was killed and another injured in a drive-by shooting in the northern Akkar district. Milad Mohammed Issa died and Mohammed Fakhreddine Haidar was severely injured in the motorcycle attack that took place at dawn Thursday in the town of al-Rihaniyeh.The army has been facing rising assaults following the gunbattles between troops and Sunni jihadists who overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.
Fnaideq Municipality Voices Support to Army: Defected Soldier Suffers from Mental Problems
Naharnet /The municipality of the northern Akkar region of Fnaideq criticized on Sunday the media campaign “aimed at tarnishing its image” in light the army defection of Abdul Qader Akkoumi, who hails from the area, reported the National News Agency. The municipality explained in a statement that Akkoumi “suffers from mental problems and has not been part of the army for about three months.” It added that his brother is also a soldier in the army. Akkoumi announced on Saturday his defection, saying that he was joining the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group. “I announce my defection from this 'apostate, crusader army',” Akkoumi said in the video as he displayed his military ID in front of the camera. Later on Saturday, the army issued a statement clarifying that Akkoumi had “deserted the military institution three months ago.” “He escaped on July 21 and was referred to the Military Court on October 1 over multiple desertion charges,” it added. The Fnaideq municipality statement added: “The town is suffering from time to time from suspicious media campaigns in an attempt to portray it as being outside the authority of the state.” “Such measures are aimed at dragging the town towards the plot aimed at creating strife in Lebanon,” it added. “We completely stand by the army and all other security forces,” it stressed, while noting that over 3,000 Fnaideq natives are recruited in the army. “We demand that the media exercise accuracy in reporting the news and refrain from exaggerating them,” demanded the municipality. It also called on the government to take “serious steps” to release the captive soldiers abducted from the northeastern town of Arsal in August, stating that two of them hail from Fnaideq. Moreover, it demanded that the government “take a bold decision and request all Lebanese powers, especially Hizbullah, to withdraw their fighters from Syria to avoid dragging further tragedies to Lebanon.” A number of soldiers and policemen were kidnapped from Arsal in August in the wake of clashes between the army and Islamist militants from Syria. Three of the captives have since been executed, a number of them were released, while the rest remain held by the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front and Islamic State groups.
Putin Orders Troop Pullback from Ukraine Border ahead of Key Talks
Naharnet/Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his defense minister to pull thousands of troops from the border with Ukraine, ahead of key talks on a fragile truce in the ex-Soviet country. The announcement by the Kremlin late Saturday comes as the Russian strongman is gearing up to hold the talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and European leaders in Milan on Friday, signaling the possibility of shoring up the rickety truce. Russia is facing its most serious international isolation since the end of the Cold War, with the economy in tatters, intensified capital flight and an increasingly weakening ruble following several rounds of Western sanctions. "The head of state has tasked the defense minister with beginning to bring troops back to their permanent bases," the Kremlin said. The order, the Kremlin said, meant that 17,600 servicemen, who had participated in summer drills in the southern Rostov region on the border with Ukraine, would be pulled back. Defense minister Sergei Shoigu received the order after reporting that "summertime training on military ranges of the Southern military district is over," the Kremlin said. The late Saturday meeting between Putin and Shoigu took place after the president chaired a meeting of his national security council at his Black Sea resident in Sochi, said the Kremlin, without providing further details. Kiev has reported that attacks by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine have subsided. The rebels and the Ukrainian military in the eastern Donetsk region said for their part they had agreed to a no-shooting period, and the army announced "progress" in negotiations and readiness to pull back forces. Putin will meet Ukraine's Poroshenko for talks on the sidelines of a Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan on Friday. The talks -- which will also address the two countries' long-running gas dispute -- will also include the prime ministers of Italy and Britain as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I don't expect that these will be easy negotiations," Poroshenko said on Saturday. "We are very close to regulating the issue of the gas dispute with Russia right now," he added. Putin and Poroshenko last met one-on-one in late August in the Belarussian capital Minsk, after which Kiev announced a truce accord with the pro-Moscow separatists which has proven largely ineffective. Ahead of Putin's meeting with Poroshenko, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Tuesday. Ukraine is expected to be high on the agenda.
Throughout the six-month conflict, which has killed more than 3,300 people, Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly denied that it sent regular troops into Ukraine to prop up pro-Moscow separatists.
But rights activists representing the military and relatives of Russian soldiers say military commanders have used ranges in the Rostov region to deploy troops to Ukraine. Some critics said the troop drawback meant that the Kremlin was keen to drop its support for separatists. "The project Novorossiya (New Russia) is over," former deputy prime minister turned opposition leader Boris Nemtsov said, referring to the loaded Tsarist-era name for what is now southern and eastern Ukraine.
Putin has used the term to refer to separatists, battling to mold Ukraine's eastern regions into an independent statelet. Nemtsov said the results of the Kremlin's six-month campaign were "disastrous".Putin "wanted respect from the Ukrainian people," Nemtsov wrote on Facebook. Instead "he has got an enemy for many years to come". Instead of winning international recognition, the Russian president "has become an outcast," he added.
Ukrainian analyst Taras Berezovets said the troop pullback meant that Putin "had lost". "Novorossiya has been left to its own devices," he said on Facebook. Washington warned again on Wednesday that if Moscow does not withdraw its forces from eastern Ukraine more U.S. and EU sanctions could follow. The United States and European Union have slapped sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and its backing of the pro-Russian separatists. In a sign that world leaders are keen to engage Putin in a further dialogue, Australia confirmed on Sunday that Putin would attend the G20 leaders' summit in November. "That has certainly been the consensus of other members of the G20 that President Putin should attend," said Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey. Agence France Presse
Donor States Urge Peace Talks as Aid Pledged to Gaza
Naharnet/International donors pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to rebuild the battered Gaza Strip on Sunday and urged Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace efforts.
Gas-rich Qatar led the way at a donors conference in Cairo with a promise of $1 billion in aid to the coastal enclave, devastated by its 50-day summer conflict with Israel. Washington pledged $212 million and European Union member states 450 million euros, but there was clear concern at financing the reconstruction of Gaza yet again without a peace deal in sight. The crowded coastal enclave, ruled by the Islamist militant Hamas movement since 2007, remained a "tinderbox," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warned, announcing plans to visit Gaza on Tuesday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Gaza was facing an "enormous" challenge. "The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now," Kerry told the gathering of some 30 global envoys. Kerry, who failed to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this year, urged renewed talks and said the two sides needed to make "tough choices". The call was echoed by Arab and European envoys. The Palestinians asked for up to $4 billion in international aid after Gaza suffered heavy damage in its conflict with Israel in July and August.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also pledged $200 million each on Sunday. There is widespread concern that -- after three destructive conflicts in the past six years -- any help to Gaza will eventually be lost in more violence.
Ban expressed the fears of many when he told the conference the situation in Gaza remained potentially explosive. "Gaza remains a tinderbox, the people desperately need to see results in their daily lives," Ban said. "This must be the last time. There is clearly some fatigue," he later told reporters. The Palestinian government unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan ahead of the conference, with the lion's share of assistance to build housing. "Gaza has suffered three wars in six years. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed," Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told the conference. Kerry said the new aid brought Washington's contribution to helping Gaza to more than $400 million over the last year alone. Kerry was due later to meet Abbas to press for further peace efforts.
"Make no mistake. What was compelling about a two-state solution a year ago is even more compelling today," Kerry said.
Kerry's dogged pursuit of an agreement to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel collapsed in acrimony in April after a difficult nine-month process, and there is little prospect of fresh talks any time soon. Israel and Hamas militants have yet to even translate their open-ended August ceasefire into a long-term truce. In his meeting with Abbas, Kerry is expected to try to dissuade him from seeking further recognition of the Palestinians at the United Nations, a move vehemently opposed by Israel. This summer's conflict killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while attacks by Gaza militants killed 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
It also left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza's population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people homeless. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has described Gaza's financial needs as "unprecedented". The United Nations already has plans for $2.1 billion of the funds, with $1.6 billion going to UNRWA and the rest to other agencies including children's organisation UNICEF and development arm UNDP. One crucial question will be how the aid is delivered, especially given Israel's strict blockade of the territory since 2006. Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said any effort would need his government's consent.
"Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel," Lieberman said in an interview with news website Ynet, though he added that Israel would be "receptive" to plans for "the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza". Internal divisions among the Palestinians are also a matter of widespread concern and they strived to present a united front in advance of the conference. On Thursday, a new unity government held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza, months after a reconciliation deal between rivals Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which is in de facto control of Gaza. Agence France Presse
Remittances to Lebanon to hit $7.7B
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The World Bank projected expatriates’ remittance inflows to Lebanon to reach $7.67 billion in 2014, constituting an increase of 1.6 percent from $7.55 billion in 2013 and compared to inflows of $6.91 billion in 2011 and $6.92 billion 2012.
The World Bank also revised upward its 2013 estimate for remittance inflows to Lebanon from an April estimate of $7.2 billion. Lebanon would be the 18th largest recipient of remittances globally and the 13th largest recipient among 135 developing economies in 2014. Also, it would be the second largest recipient of remittances among 16 Arab countries and the third biggest recipient among 48 UMICs, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.
Further, Lebanon would post the 12th highest growth rate in remittance flows among the 15 largest recipients of remittances in developing economies this year, better than India (+1.5 percent), Egypt (+0.9 percent) and Ukraine (-6.9 percent).
In comparison, the World Bank forecast remittance inflows to developing countries to rise by 5.1 percent, while flows to Arab countries would increase by 2.4 percent and inflows to Upper Middle Income Countries would grow by 6.2 percent in 2014.
Globally, Lebanon would receive more remittances than Russia ($7.33 billion), Sri Lanka ($7.2 billion) and Morocco ($6.82 billion), and less than Poland ($7.96 billion), Italy ($8.22 billion) and Indonesia ($8.35 billion).
Remittance inflows to Lebanon would be second only to Egypt ($18 billion) among Arab countries, and lower than those to China ($64.1 billion) and Mexico ($24.2 billion) among UMICs.
Remittance inflows to Lebanon would account for 1.3 percent of the global inflow of remittances in 2014 relative to 1.4 percent in 2013 and 1.3 percent in 2012. They would represent 1.7 percent of aggregate remittances to developing economies this year relative to 1.8 percent in 2013 and 1.7 percent in 2012, while they would account for 15.2 percent of remittance inflows to Arab countries in 2014 relative to 15.3 percent in 2013 and 14.1 percent in 2012. They would also represent 4.7 percent of remittance inflows to UMICs in 2014 relative to 4.9 percent in 2013 and 4.7 percent in 2012. Further, expatriates’ remittances to Lebanon would be equivalent to 16.2 percent of GDP in 2014, similar to Jamaica, and constituting the 13th highest such ratio in the world. It would come behind Tajikistan (39.1 percent of GDP), Nepal (31.7 percent), the Kyrgyz Republic (31 percent), Moldova (25.3 percent), Armenia (24.4 percent), Lesotho (22.2 percent), Haiti (21.9 percent), Gambia (21.1 percent), Liberia (18.6 percent), Honduras (17.2 percent), El Salvador (17 percent) and Samoa (16.8 percent). Expatriates’ remittances to Lebanon were equivalent to 16.8 percent of GDP in 2013 and 16.1 percent of GDP in 2012. The World Bank forecast remittance inflows to Arab countries at $50.5 billion in 2014, equivalent to about 2.1 percent of the region’s GDP this year.
Analysis: If Iran can’t hold human rights pledges, how can it abide by nuke deal?
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post
If the past is prologue in regard to Iran’s miserable human rights record, there are significant question marks over whether Tehran can guarantee a nuclear agreement free from arms development.
BERLIN – The award of this week’s Nobel Peace Prize to Taliban victim Malala Yousafzai refocused attention on Iran’s gutting of human rights and its link to a nuclear agreement.
On Thursday, Amnesty International, invoking the award to Yousafzai, posted an appeal from 28 winners of the Nobel Physics Prize to Iran’s supreme leader demanding the release of “prisoner of conscience Omid Kokabee.”
Kokabee is serving a ten-year sentence for refusing to work on Iran’s illicit nuclear program. Amnesty wrote he “has been imprisoned solely due to his refusal to engage in military research for the Islamic Republic of Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholarly ties with academic institutions outside of Iran.”
If the past is prologue in connection with Iran’s miserable human rights record, there are significant question marks over whether Rouhani’s regime can guarantee a nuclear agreement free from weapons development.
The world powers group , known as the P5+1, seeks to reach a deal with Iran over its illegal nuclear program by a November 24 deadline.
In terms of Rouhani’s ability to deliver on his promises, it is worth recalling that he declared prior to his 2013 election victory: “All Iranian people should feel there is justice. Justice means equal opportunity.
All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice. Long live citizenship rights!” Writing in his New York Post column on Thursday, Amir Taheri, a leading Iranian expert, took stock of Rouhani’s track record, asking rhetorically, ”How could Rouhani or anybody else normalize with any nation when Iran itself is not normal?” According to Taheri, during Rouhani’s tenure “more than 1,700 people have been executed in murky circumstances; dozens of journalists and scores of human rights activists have been thrown into prison and many newspapers shut down.”
Iran’s leaders seem to be living in a kind parallel universe where criticism of its human rights record is non-existent. Iran’s legal deputy to Rouhani announced “no journalist has been detained in Iran for journalism,” prompting The Guardian’s Iran reporter on Saturday to write on his Twitter feed, “That’s not true.” Both Iran’s president and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have not intervened to secure the release of detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was arrested on June 22.
The Baha’i International Community issued a report last month on Rouhani’s regime titled “Unfulfilled Promises” for their plight.
Iran has continued its massive crackdown on the small Baha’i community – which it does not recognize as a religion – and sent many of its leaders to jail for merely practicing their faith.
Iranian Christians are facing ramped up persecution. Sharona Schwartz reported Tuesday on The Blaze website that, “Three Iranian men reported to be Christian converts, one of whom was making a film about the life of Jesus, were arrested in Iran late last month.”
All of this helps to explain why Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, noted in his October report that human rights “in some cases appear to have worsened.” In terms of executions, the report highlighted that, “Between July 2013 and June 2014, at least 852 individuals were reportedly executed representing an alarming increase in the number of executions in relation to the already high rates of the previous year.”
Rouhani’s regime has failed to fill his preelection human rights promises with meaning, content and hope. It is unclear if the world powers will view the severe lack of any semblance of progress in the human rights realm as a guide for the viability of a nuclear agreement.
**Benjamin Weinthal reports on European affairs for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
UN chief Ban: Israeli occupation led to Gaza war
By TOVAH LAZAROFF/10/12/2014/J.Post
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed last summer’s Gaza war on Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories, as he called on both parties to finalized an agreement for a two-state solution.
“We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said.
He spoke on Sunday at a donor conference in Cairo to raise funds to repair the damage from the Gaza war. On Monday he is expected to visit Israel, where he will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. On Tuesday he will visit Gaza.
In Cairo, he said, “I call on all parties to come together to chart a clear course towards a just and final peace -- including achieving a full lifting of the blockade, ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns; and establishing two States living side by side in peace and security.”
Ban added, “Going back to the status quo is not an option; this is the moment for transformational change.”
Gaza, he warned, remains a “tinder box.”
Without a peace agreement, Ban said, he feared that Gaza wars and donor conferences to repair the damage would become an annual ritual.
Holding Israel and Hamas accountable for human rights violations would help create a climate that is conducive for peace.
“This must include an investigation into potential violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict,” Ban said.
The UN is conducting a number of investigations into the Gaza war, including a high-profile one by the UN Human Rights Council that is due to be submitted in March, 2015
The misery of Syrian refugee workers in Turkey
By MOHAMMED RUZGAR/J.Post
The owners put the biggest burdens on my children because they are Syrians” says a Syrian activist, refusing to continue the interview.
The Syrian regime’s continuous bombing of civilian areas, arbitrary arrests, and the deterioration of the economy resulting from the conflict, have compelled hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee to other countries in the region, such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya and Algeria. (Notwithstanding their claims to “support the Syrian people,” countries such as Saudi Arabia and all the other Gulf states have not welcomed Syrian refugees.) Relatively speaking, Turkey has been the best destination for the Syrian refugees, as the Turkish government has allowed them to work – the capacity of the Turkish labor market is greater than that of the other above-mentioned countries. Nonetheless, Syrian workers’ conditions in Turkey are poor, and in too many cases downright miserable.
Many of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are students, some of them teenagers and children, who have been unable to continue their education in Turkey despite the fact that the Turkish government has made it possible for them to gain admission to universities and schools. The financial plight of many students’ families, whether also in Turkey or still in Syria, has forced these students into the workforce, where they are often subjected to very hard conditions. International organizations have to date been apathetic with regard to this issue, and have done nothing to enable these refugees to return to school. Even the schools established in Turkey specifically for Syrian refugees charge tuition fees that are simply too high for many to afford.
Syrian refugee workers in Turkey have limited rights and protection by law and not being able to speak Turkish, most – including the educated and professional workers – are employed as manual laborers in industries such as construction and textiles. Compounding the issue is that the psychological pressure resulting from the poor working conditions, combined with the dream of asylum in one of the developed countries results in many of these refugees not even attempting to learn Turkish.
For Turkish companies the Syrian worker phenomenon is a boon; Syrians earn half the wage of their Turkish counterparts, and unlike Turkish laborers, Syrians can be fired at any time for no reason at all, with the result that many are forced to work extremely long hours.
To get an idea of the predicament many Syrian refugees in Turkey find themselves in, one need merely take a look at their Facebook pages. They share posts explaining their suffering and resentment, sometimes with a dash of humor or irony.
Here are a few of the stories of Syrian refugees working in Istanbul: Muhammad and his cousin Ali are 15-year-olds from Aleppo. Both were in secondary school before the war, and came to Istanbul about a year ago after their fathers both lost their jobs and decided to move their families to a village close to the Turkish border, away from the front lines. Muhammad found a job across the border in a Turkish textile plant, and Ali in a shoemaker’s workshop. They work 14 hours a day, and live in a two-room dwelling along with 20 other Syrian workers. Muhammad’s boss withheld his wages for two months, promising he would pay all at once before the Id al-Adha festival.
When Id came, Muhammad was happy at the thought of being able to send money to his family, who were in dire need of it – but his boss simply told him he could not afford to pay him.
Saleh, an engineer, came to Istanbul about six months ago. In Syria he had worked in a government training center, but after it closed down he and his family moved to Istanbul, where he tried to find a job. He couldn’t find one in his field because he did not speak Turkish, and after two months ended up in a textile factory. He works 12-hour night shifts, and his salary is 800 Turkish lira ($375) – far too little to meet the needs of his family of seven. Saleh asks the developed countries to either take responsibility and stop the war in Syria, or open their doors to Syrian refugees.
Abu Ahmed, a Syrian activist, came to Turkey together with his five children.
Before the civil war all his children were attending school, and he always used to say that his only wish in life was to guarantee them an education, but after coming to Turkey he and his children had to work hard to survive. When I met him he was grieved that his children were being deprived of their education, and very angry at mistreatment his children encounter at their workplaces. He said, “Every day when my children come back home from work they tell me how bad they were treated by their bosses.”
“The owners put the biggest burdens on my children because they are Syrians” he cried, refusing to continue the interview.
Hussam was a soldier in the Syrian army, who deserted and fled to Turkey. A short time afterward, his brigade fell to Islamic State fighters, and many of his comrades were beheaded. Like other Syrian refugees, his conditions are hard. He has often been refused pay, and fired for no reason. Nevertheless, he’s grateful to still have his head on his shoulders. “At least I’m alive,” he said.
** The author is a Syrian refugee who lives in Turkey.
'Hezbollah's primary concern is Syrian al-Qaeda, not Israel'
Published: 10.12.14Israel News /Ynetnews/The Media Line
Iran proxy is more concerned about Syrian extremist group, Nusra Front, than Israel, Mideast expert says, claiming majority of Shiite group's efforts focused on Sunni foe in Syria.
Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy, no longer has the military capabilities to fight both Israel and Syrian rebel groups threatening Assad's regime and Lebanon's borders, a top researcher for the Carnegie Middle East Center claimed.
According to Mario Abou Zeid, Hezbollah is using its military prowess firstly against the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-spawned group now in control of the Quneitra area, and only secondly against Israel.
Although many argue the Shiite terror group has become battle-hardened through its participation in the Syrian civil war, Abou Zeid thinks otherwise: “Hezbollah is in its weakest position in years as all of its resources are being exhausted by the conflict in Syria, where it has been fighting alongside the regime forces for three years."
Last week a blast along Israel's border with Lebanon wounded two soldiers and was later claimed by Hezbollah as a message for the alleged assassination of its operatives by Israel.
"(Last week's attack) is a statement that Hezbollah is aware of their strategy and is ready to strike back,” he told The Media Line from Beirut.
It is considered to be the boldest assault against Israel since the 42-day hostilities between Israel and the Lebanese terrorist group (as designated by the US State Department) in 2006 - referred to in Israel as the Second Lebanon War.
Known for not claiming immediate responsibility, this time Hezbollah was swift in admitting it was behind the blast in the contested Sheba Farms area.
During Israel’s battle with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer, some Palestinians took to the streets in marches chanting for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to strike at Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes and ground operation that left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead, many of whom were civilians. But Nasrallah declined to enter the fray.
Palestinian military analyst Wasef Uraiqat, former artillery commander who served in Beirut as part of a joint guerilla force that fought Israel comprised of PLO-Fatah and the National Lebanese Parties, alleges that Israel tried to get Hezbollah to fight alongside Hamas as a ploy to gain world sympathy for having to fight on two fronts, but failed.
Uraiqat argues that in hitting the Israeli side of the border, Hezbollah wanted to prove to Israel and to the others - including Lebanon - that its main fight was not Syria, but against Israel.
“Hezbollah is challenging Israel and saying, 'We are still alive, we are strong, we are not scared of you and we can fight now,'” Uraiqat said.
Hezbollah did not directly give a motive for the attack, but did say that it had been carried out by a unit named after "Hassan Ali Haidar, the martyr,” a Hezbollah operative who was killed last month, presumably by Israeli forces.
But Saady Rjoub, a Palestinian expert on Israel, says neither Israel nor Hezbollah are interested in seeing an escalation. He says Israel’s response was practical and exact.
“This period, Israel does not want confrontation because it came out of the Gaza war tired,” he told The Media Line.
He thinks that is the reason that prompted Israel to sign-on to an Egyptian-mediated cease fire with Hamas. Rjoub says the economy of the Israeli government cannot withstand another war.
As for Hezbollah, he says it is too busy with the Syrian conflict. “I don’t think there will be an expansion on the Israeli-Lebanese front because the two sides (Hezbollah, Israel) are not interested,” Rjoub said.
Fight of their life
Abou Zeid believes the latest battle near the Hezbollah checkpoint on the outskirts of Britel, in which Nusra Front fighters killed ten of its gunmen, confiscated the Shiite group’s weapons, and then withdrew, created severe pressure. It was one of the deadliest battles fought between the Shiite group and Syrian rebels, its intensity marked by the use of mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
“It is the first time that the myth of invincibility of Hezbollah on Lebanese soil was put to the test and the Nusra front succeeded,” Abou Zeid said adding that Hezbollah has entered a phase of desperation and a shortage of men. “The age of its current recruits is from 14 to 18 years of age,” he said.
On the other hand, Abou Zeid says Hezbollah is “doing great politically and has the upper hand in Lebanese politics and turns any military weakness into a political strength and victory.”
Abou Zeid says the Iranian regime is facing its own pressures due to its nuclear program. By having economic sanctions imposed on them, it has affected Iran’s ability to financially support Hezbollah.
“That is why it became an integral part of Hezbollah’s strategy to be part of the political institutions to keep providing the same services for its community and interest groups, that were once funded by Iranian money, through the Lebanese institutions and ministries,” he said.
Despite the shortage of funding, Iran’s support for Hezbollah remains steady.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah said in a recent speech that his group is against any vengeful acts taken against innocent civilians, whether Lebanese or Syrians. He has also said he is against the US- led coalition strike against ISIS in Syria.
“What is happening here (Beirut) is dangerous, we have to keep an eye on it,” Abou Zeid said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian parliament political committee chairman Abdullah Abdullah is adamant that the PA does not interfere with internal Lebanese politics. “We have too much on our plate,” he says.
Abdullah says the Abbas administration is monitoring the situation of its 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon and is keeping a close eye on the developments in the region, namely when Israel is attacked by an old adversary. “We cannot judge the tactics of Hezbollah or their strategies but it’s in our interests to have a neutral position with all forces in Lebanon,” he told The Media Line.
"Hezbollah was a part of the Palestinian resistance when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was in Lebanon in the 1970’s. They were trained by our national movement,” Abdullah said.
The PLO left Lebanon in 1982 and that, according to Abdullah, "is when Hezbollah developed its own policy, strategy, allies and alliances."
Article written by Abdullah H. Erakat
Opinion: US losing to ISIS in race against time
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 12 Oct, 2014
During a televised interview on the Charlie Rose Show, former director of the US National Counterterrorism Center Matthew G. Olsen said that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has more than 30,000 fighters, in addition to 15,000 foreign fighters, meaning that the group today is almost 45,000-strong.
Olsen said that one of the most prominent reasons behind ISIS’s dangerous growth is the ongoing Syrian crisis, which has lasted for more than three years, in addition to the mistakes made by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. This gave ISIS an opportunity to expand its presence on the ground in the border region between Iraq and Syria, in addition to helping the group attract Iraqi and Syrian recruits, as well as foreign fighters. ISIS gaining control of oil-rich territory also helped to fill the group’s coffers, propelling it to become one of the richest terrorist organizations in the world.
So the question that must be asked here is: How could ISIS benefit from these “mistakes” to the point that it has been able to gain as many as 45,000 fighters within just a few short years while the US and the West has been unable to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels—namely the Free Syrian Army (FSA)—in the same amount of time? This is even more perplexing when you take into account the fact that the majority of FSA soldiers are defectors from the Assad regime and so therefore already have military training.
Therefore, how can we explained the comments made by retired US General John Allen—who has been tasked with coordinating the anti-ISIS international alliance—that training moderate Syrian rebel fighters will be a long process that could take years? Allen made these comments after US Congress signed off on a plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, saying that we must manage our expectations. At the same time, ISIS has been able to recruit and train extremists from across the world in a shorter amount of time and is still advancing today despite international airstrikes targeting the group in both Iraq and Syria. Worst of all, ISIS is continuing to sell oil despite all this! We must ask: who is purchasing this oil? How is it being transferred and smuggled out of the country? And what action is the international community taking to stop this?
The issue of ISIS’s oil is a major one that deserves a complete and comprehensive reading, but the burning questions remains: How was ISIS able to train and equip its fighters so quickly while the US administration is telling us that it will take years to prepare the moderate Syrian rebels?
This confirms that ISIS is an organization which is being backed by “evil” states and apparatus, which is something that Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Naif himself confirmed. However this also demonstrates that the US administration is not committed, even after everything that has happened, to take effective and serious action to address the Syrian crisis. Otherwise, how can we explain how ISIS is faster and more effective at training and arming its fighters than the US and the international community?
Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize message to the Middle East
Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 12 October 2014
At 17, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Prize. This year, she shares the prize with fellow children’s rights advocate Kailash Satyarthi from India. Her advocacy for women and children’s education was shot into the spotlight after the Taliban made an assassination attempt on her life two years ago today. The white saviour complex, the sensitivity of the issue, and the significance of children’s education under oppressive rule and during wars made Malala Yousefzai a household name in activism.
What many don’t realize is that Malala did not only touch the lives of people in her home country of Pakistan, but that we can take the lessons she has learnt throughout her ordeal - and taught through the Malala Fund – to heart right here in the Middle East.
Terrorists are threatened by education
In the Islamic faith, the first word revealed in the Quran was “read.” Reading, knowledge, and education are the strongest weapons, especially when it comes to overcoming terrorism, and that is precisely what terrorists and oppressive regimes are afraid of. Outdated education systems from the countries that witnessed revolutions bear testament to how fallen governments managed to keep their people under control for decades.“Inspirational figures can only do two things: inspire a generation, or be a topic of discussion”
Conversely, one of the first things ISIS did when they took over Syria’s Raqqa was impose their own school curriculum. The powers that be realize that knowledge is power, but what will it take for us to realize the same?
Cynicism aside, Malala is a saviour
When Malala’s story first shot into the spotlight, many were critical (and understandably so) of Western media rhetoric. The white saviour complex resurfaced and the very country that only accepted 24 Syrian refugees throughout the conflict, managed to accept Malala and her family. Likewise, the Nobel Peace Prize itself has many critics. Unlike other prizes such as physics or chemistry, peace seems to be significantly more controversial. Regardless of one’s feelings towards the prize itself, and putting the cynicism towards Malala’s fame aside, the story is consistent: knowledge and education are the most powerful tools to fighting oppression.
A message to refugee camps
Malala’s case is not one of men against women, or literates versus illiterates, it is a case of peace against war. Whether it is the Taliban, ISIS, or even large corporate donations to education institutions, our freedom to be educated and harness more knowledge is under threat every day, and it is up to us, as individuals, to fight it.
Girls must stay in schools, particularly refugees who have been displaced during the Syrian conflict. Boys too must stay in school, and learn to cohabitate with their peers. Kids must also grow to understand and realise that education isn’t about numbers on a page or grades on a report card, rather about an experience. As a Palestinian refugee, my late father always pushed me to treat every experience as a learning experience. When Palestinians in his generation were exiled, they lost their land and wealth, but had their education. That is precisely the message Syrian and Iraqi refugees must keep in mind. What I wish, however, is that Arabs appreciate female leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winners like Malala Yousafzai and Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman as much as the West seems to appreciate them. Inspirational figures can only do two things: inspire a generation, or be a topic of discussion. Either way, people learn, think and develop.
Anti-ISIS coalition to meet in Washington
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 12 October 2014
A meeting that is set to begin in Washington on Monday will bring together the top military commanders from 20 countries that are part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. The summit will be hosted by top-ranking U.S. military officer Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from Oct. 13 to 14, according to a U.S. military official quoted by Foreign Policy magazine. The U.S.-led coalition has so far carried out more than 350 strikes against ISIS since U.S. President Barack Obama first ordered military operations against the group in August. While the White House says it will not allow U.S. troops to be dragged into another ground war in Iraq, Dempsey suggested in an interview broadcast on Sunday that U.S. troops would probably need to play a bigger role alongside Iraqi forces on the ground in future, according to Reuters. “Mosul will likely be the decisive battle in the ground campaign at some point in the future,” Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told ABC’s This Week. Mosul is the main city in northern Iraq, which Islamic State overran in June and the government has pledged to recapture. Dempsey raised the possibility last month that he could in future advise that a U.S. ground presence is needed in Iraq, although the White House says this is ruled out.
The biggest army in the area belongs to Turkey, a NATO member which so far has refused to join the U.S.-led coalition striking Islamic State. Its reluctance has frustrated Washington as well as Turkey's own angry Kurdish minority. ISIS has currently been engaging in offensives in the Syrian border town of Kobane, and the surrounding areas of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. On Sunday, Kurdish defenders held off ISIS militants in Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, but the extremist group struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the east.
ISIS rallies ‘10,000 militants’ at gates of Baghdad
By Staff Writer | Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 12 October 2014
An Iraqi senior government official claimed that up to 10,000 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters are on the outskirts of Baghdad ready to attack the capital, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday. As Iraqi officials continue to urge the United States to deploy ground troops into the war-stricken country, a roadside bomb killed the police chief of Iraq's battleground province of Anbar on Sunday, officials were quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying. “Major General Ahmed Saddag was killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) blast targeting his convoy this morning,” Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy head of the provincial council, told AFP. “The police chief was leading forces involved in an operation to retake Twei” from ISIS, Colonel Abdulrahman al-Janabi said.
He said clashes between government forces and the militants had erupted in the area on Saturday evening.
Anbar in crisis
Sabah al-Karhout, president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, said most of his province, adjacent to Baghdad, is now under ISIS control. Two of Anbar’s largest cities, Ramadi and Falluja are known as the “graveyard of the Americans,” making it unlikely that the Pentagon would authorize the redeployment of ground forces, the British daily reported. However, should the entirety of the province fall under ISIS control, it would facilitate an advancement by the militants into Baghdad where a team of almost 1,500 U.S. troops are mentoring a stressed Iraqi army. As fighting rages between Syrian Kurds and ISIS militants over control of the Syrian border town of Kobane, Iraqi officials claim the Anbar province is on the verge of collapse. Government forces in the provincial capital of Ramadi fought back an ISIS offensive on Saturday, but U.S. officials warned that the city remains in a “tenuous” position. “I think it’s fragile there now,” one senior U.S. defense official told Agence France-Presse.
“They are being resupplied and they’re holding their own, but it’s tough and challenging,” the official explained. ISIS’s heightened activity led to speculation that the group’s offensive to control Kobane was only a decoy architectured by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed ISIS “caliph.” Observers, the Telegraph reported, say that while an ISIS-controlled Kobane would not greatly benefit the group strategically, the capture of Ramadi and other cities in Anbar would, as it would be catastrophic for both the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition hoping to contain the group. (With AFP)
Barack Obama’s sole war benchmark must be success
David Ignatius| The Daily Star/13 October/14
What happens when an American plan for limited war against ISIS meets the savage reality of combat, as happened this week when the extremists pounded Kurdish fighters just inside Syria’s border with Turkey? The cry rose in Washington and abroad for more American military involvement. This is how conflicts that start off contained begin to escalate. Here’s President Barack Obama’s dilemma in a nutshell: He has proposed a strategy for dealing with ISIS that is, in the words of Harvard professor Graham Allison, “limited, patient, local and flexible.” This calibrated approach makes sense to Allison, one of America’s most experienced strategists, because it limits U.S. exposure in fighting an adversary that doesn’t immediately threaten America.
The problem is that military history, since the days of the Romans, tells us that limited war is rarely successful. Policymakers, when faced with a choice between going “all in” or doing nothing, usually choose a middle option of partial intervention. But that leads to stalemates and eventual retreats that drive our generals crazy. The warrior ethos says, “If you’re in it, win it.” The politician rounds the edges. Allison argued recently in The National Interest that other nations should bear the brunt of this war: “If our friends and allies ... to whom ISIS poses an imminent or even existential threat are unwilling to fight themselves, to kill and to die for their own interests and values, Americans should ask: Why should we?” Frederic Hof, a former U.S. diplomat now with the Atlantic Council, sums up the bloody impasse on the Turkish-Syrian border as “a fine kettle of fish,” quoting a phrase used by comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. He means that it’s a “confused, awkward, messy and even intractable situation,” with Americans and Turks, supposedly allies, castigating each other for taking insufficient action. “Don’t fight the problem. Decide it!” argued Gen. George C. Marshall, one of America’s wisest military leaders. In the Iraq-Syria case, this logic would identify the inescapable parameters of the conflict. Turkey is a difficult ally but an essential one; doing nothing against ISIS would be unacceptably risky, but total war isn’t a realistic option; the U.S. campaign may have begun awkwardly, but that’s no reason to panic.
Military history is usually a story of persistence and will, as commanders muddle through the bad opening months of battle. Marshall’s experience in World War II was a classic example: The North African and Italian campaigns were one disaster after another, as Rick Atkinson explains in his brilliant trilogy about the war in Europe. The U.S. kept stumbling forward to the D-Day landings and pushed on to eventual victory. America’s problem since World War II is that it has chosen to fight limited wars that had ambiguous outcomes, at best. This was the case in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Only in the 1991 Operation Desert Storm did America win a decisive victory, but it had limited objectives and faced a weak adversary. As Henry Kissinger recently observed, the fight against ISIS comes when the American public is already demoralized by this chain of non-success. Frustration with no-win conflicts led Gen. Colin Powell to declare what came to be known as the “Powell Doctrine” – that America should go to war only when vital national security is threatened, the public is supportive, allies are on board and there’s a clear exit strategy. Obama, too, hoped to avoid frustrating, unpopular wars in Syria and Iraq. But his caution, however understandable, opened the door to ISIS.
I’d argue that even in the current fog of policy, there’s a discernible path ahead. Turkey is basically right in arguing for a buffer zone in northern Syria, protected by some kind of no-fly zone. The U.S. should start by providing anti-aircraft missiles to the CIA’s vetted and trained Syrian opposition fighters. This will boost the rebels’ popularity, in addition to stopping Assad’s planes. A buffer zone will give the U.S. time to train a real rebel army that can push ISIS out of eastern Syria and hold the territory until negotiations someday bring a new Syrian government. In Iraq, meanwhile, it will take months to train a Sunni force that can recapture Mosul and Fallujah, but the U.S. has at least stopped the extremists’ advance on Irbil and Baghdad, and recaptured the Mosul Dam.
Obama wasn’t wrong to have opted for a limited, calibrated set of weapons in this fight. But this doesn’t diminish the absolute requirement that he succeed with them.
**David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.