LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation For Today/The Conduct
Ephesians 06/01-09: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 13, 14/14
Afiya Shehrbano Zia/Being Malala/Open Democracy/October 14/14
How not to understand ISIS/By: Alireza Doostdar/Open Democracy/October 14/14
Is Saudi Arabia Responsible for Saving Yemen/By: Salman Aldossary/Asharq AlAwsat/October 14/14
Why does Turkey remain silent over Syria/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 14/14
ISIS heralds the dawn of a dark age in the Arab world/Dr. Halla Diyab/Al Arabiya/October 14/14
Malala’s win is a setback to obscurantists and extremists/By: Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya/October 14/14
Israel's Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean/By: Efraim Inbar/Middle East Quarterly/October 14/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 13, 14/14
Hariri Meets al-Rahi, Calls for 'Consensual' Presidential Candidate
Hezbollah supporters behind Tripoli attacks on Army: Rifi
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel to propose adjustments to soldiers' salaries, committees to reconvene
Hariri: Lebanon choking under refugee crisis
Iranian Ambassador: Iranian aid to Lebanese Army has no strings attached
Abdullah Azzam Brigades urges attacks against Hezbollah, not the Army
Lebanon needs Hezbollah more than ever: Qaouk
Anti-ISIS coalition is a lie: Jumblatt Attack Hezbollah, not the Army: Zureiqat Lebanon to return spoiled medicine Lebanese Army defections must not be taken lightly: Future MP
Hezbollah implicated in attacks on Army: Rifi
Salam Says Authorities Don't Know Hostage-Takers' Full Demands
Shaar Says Tripoli Conference an Umbrella for City's Civil Peace
ISF Denies Injury of 2 Members in Shekka
Plumbly Says World 'Strongly Committed' to Support Lebanese Army
Kataeb Urges Supporting Army in 'Existential Battle', End to 'Boycott Democracy'
Lebanese Army Refers to Concerned Judiciary 2 Syrians Linked to Terrorist Plots
Aoun: Our Determination Will Prevent Terrorist Groups from Entering Lebanon
Aoun Says Some Seeking to 'Impose President' after 'Usurping Power' since 2005
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 13, 14/14
Iran's Ayatollah: Zionism, US and 'wicked' Britain created ISIS
In meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Netanyahu slams UN for returning confiscated rockets to Hamas
Jewish, Christian Leaders: US Airstrikes Against ISIS Insufficient
Turkey denies giving U.S. access to Incirlik airbase
Canada's FM, Baird Condemns ISIL’s Brutality in Iraq
Iraq pulls troops from ISIS-held Heet
U.S., Saudi Warplanes Strike around Syria Border Town
Iran Must Withdraw 'Occupying' Forces from Syria, Says Saudi
Syria Opposition Fails to Elect New Prime Minister
Fight for Syrian border town continues
British Parliament to debate motion to recognize Palestine
Four Egyptians behind ISIS takfirist ideology: sources
Jordan charges 26 with ‘terror acts’
Yemen names new prime minister to end crisis
Yemen appoints new PM
Turkey denies giving U.S. access to Incirlik airbase
Palestinian Authority PM tells UN's Ban: Gaza aid not effective with Israel blockade in place
'Some 20 Israeli Arabs joined Islamic State'
Egyptian workers riot in western Saudi Arabia
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 Meets al-Rahi, Calls for 'Consensual'
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal movement leader MP Saad Hariri on Monday stressed the need to elect a “consensual” president as he reiterated his rejection of holding parliamentary polls before the presidential vote. “The priority in the country is the election of a new president and we as political forces must make initiatives and elect a president who enjoys everyone's approval,” said Hariri after a closed-door meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at the latter's residence place in Rome. “This does not mean that we are with extending the parliament's term and with forgetting about the presidency, as we see extension as a necessity aimed at avoiding the unknown,” Hariri explained. He said talks with the patriarch touched on the issues of the economic difficulties in Lebanon, the Syrian refugees and the security problems, “but the main focus was the presidency.” “The most important thing for the patriarch is the election of a president and we know that extension (of the parliament's term) is a bitter cup that we are obliged to drink,” the ex-PM added.
“After the election of a president, a government would be formed and we would then hold elections after 6 months,” said Hariri. “We, as March 14 forces, must seek to find a consensual candidate for the presidency,” he went on to say.
Prior to the closed-door talks, al-Rahi told reporters in Rome that he and Hariri speak “the same language.” Former “premier Hariri and I always speak the same language,” al-Rahi said as he entered the meeting. Upon his arrival, Hariri had met al-Rahi in the presence of the patriarchate's envoy to the Vatican Bishop Francois Eid, his deputy Monsignor Tony Jebran, head of the ex-PM's office Nader Hariri, ex-MP Ghattas Khoury and Hariri's adviser Daoud al-Sayegh. Talks were to continue over a dinner banquet, according to Hariri's press office.Meanwhile, Mustaqbal's mouthpiece Future TV said the discussions will address “the repercussions of the crisis in the region, their impact on Christians in the Levant and the need to spare Lebanon the fallout.”MTV for its part said the issue of extending parliament's term will consume most of the talks' time at the expense of “the rest of the Lebanese and regional security issues.”Sources told LBCI television meanwhile that al-Rahi “won't support any changes to the political system” while Hariri is supposed to brief him on the outcome of his efforts to “support and equip the Lebanese army.”The meeting between the two men is the first since March, when Lebanon's presidential crisis started to loom on the horizon. The country plunged into a political vacuum as president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 and the rival political forces have so far failed to elect a successor despite having held more than a dozen electoral sessions.
Hezbollah supporters behind Tripoli attacks on Army:
Oct. 13, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Those behind the recent attacks on the Lebanese Army in Tripoli are not from Bab al-Tabbaneh, but are close to Hezbollah, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi claimed Monday. “The investigations have revealed the identities of those who threw the grenades on the Army bases and checkpoints,” Rifi said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria published Monday. “They were not supporters of Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour, but rather from Hezbollah’s circle who aimed to create a conflict between the Army and the city’s residents." Mawlawi and Mansour, whose whereabouts are unknown, are being sought over terror charges. Their supporters, however, have been holed up in the Abdallah bin Massoud Mosque in Tripoli, and were given a 48-hour deadline Sunday to leave the compound. Locals said over the weekend that the fugitives have fled to Cyprus, but The Daily Star could not independently verify the authenticity of those claims.
Rifi said that their supporters are free to leave the mosque without fear of being detained. In televised remarks later Monday, Rifi said that he was not aware of the whereabouts of Mawlawi and Mansour, but he believed they were unharmed. Rifi, the ex-Internal Security Forces chief, promised to free Tripoli of armed groups, and said the evacuation of the Abdullah bin Massoud Mosque of armed militants has already begun with the help of local sheikhs and officials. Tripoli’s MPs, ministers and religious leaders from the area held a meeting and reached consensus to denounce any armed presence in Tripoli that was not affiliated with the official security agencies, Rifi said.“We have agreed that anyone responsible for security problems in Tripoli is not welcome in the city, and we have asked the group inside the mosque to leave the city to wherever they wanted.”Mansour and Mawlawi rejected Rifi’s offer for their supporters to leave the mosque Monday, saying the intentions of the sheikhs and local officials were not genuine or made good will.
“The mediations and efforts that were made to reduce the armed existence and eliminate what was called the security zone... was not related to MPs, ministers or security officials," a statement by the salafist leaders said. “They were due to the efforts of Bab al-Tabbaneh’s sheikhs and some officials inside it.” Mawlawi and Mansour took control of the mosque after a security plan for Tripoli was implemented by Lebanese security forces in April to restore calm in the restive city. Using the mosque as their base for operations, the men and their supporters have installed surveillance cameras near the mosque and have been seen questioning passersby at night.
Two young men championing a radical branch of salafism and believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, Mansour and Mawlawi were given the death penalty earlier this month by Military Investigative Judge Nabil Wehbe for their involvement in a bombing near an Army checkpoint in August that killed one and left several wounded. Last month, Faisal Aswad and Fawwaz Bazzi, both longtime Shiite residents of Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh, were shot dead in separate attacks. Both killings were linked to Mawlawi and Mansour.
Tripoli sheikh Khaled al-Sayyed had confirmed to The Daily Star Sunday that the salafist supporters of the duo had been given 48 hours to evacuate the Mosque. Late last week, knowledgeable local sources informed The Daily Star that Mawlawi and Mansour had moved to Cyprus, while their groups remained in the mosque.
Lebanese Army defections must not be taken lightly:
Oct. 13, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Political and military officials should take a critical look on the phenomenon of defections from the Lebanese Army, Future MP Jean Ogassapian said Monday. “We must not take the phenomenon of Army defections lightly,” Ogassapian told a local radio station. "Security challenges are not just internally focused and we must not underestimate them or pin them down to a particular area," he said. “This issue requires political support as well as a supportive environment for the Army, especially in areas where takfiri elements are possibly active." Ogassapian said the political umbrella for the Lebanese Army “begins with the election of a president and the restoration of the institutional and legislative roles.”“In the shadow of this danger, it is not acceptable that each [political] camp has a foreign agenda away from any dialogue,” he stressed. Ogassapian raised doubts about the international coalition’s strikes against ISIS. "What we see today in terms of the Western coalition’s military operations to strike at ISIS in Syria and Iraq does not inspire confidence," he argued, calling on Lebanese to put their differences aside to better face terrorism. At least three have reportedly defected from the Lebanese Army in the last week. Analysts, however, played down the defections, saying they do not post a grievous strategic risk to the military, but stressed that the root causes must be addressed seriously to preserve unity.
Lebanese Army Refers to Concerned Judiciary 2 Syrians Linked to Terrorist Plots
Naharnet/The Army Intelligence referred on Monday two Syrians to the concerned judiciary for their belonging to terrorist groups. The army announced that Ahmed Atef Jinyat, a member of the Monzer al-Hasan group, was referred to the concerned judiciary for providing the organization with explosives that were going to be used in terrorist attacks.Another Syrian, Saleh Mohammed Halloum, a member of another group, cooperated with Jinyat in various attacks in the northern city of Tripoli. He is charged with tossing hand grenades at an army post in the city. Al-Hasan had provided the bombers in Beirut's Duroy Hotel with explosives. A suicide bomber blew up an explosives vest at the hotel in June after his plan, with his Saudi accomplice, was foiled during a General Security raid. The plotters were seeking to blow themselves up at a restaurant in Dahieh, the southern of Beirut and a Hizbullah stronghold. Investigations revealed that al-Hasan played a major role in several suicide bombings and bomb attacks. He acted as an intermediary between extremist groups and terrorists sent by them.Also Monday, a State Security patrol arrested Syrian Mohammed Adnan al-Zohbi in the Akkar town of Halba on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization.
Kataeb Urges Supporting Army in 'Existential Battle', End to 'Boycott Democracy'
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party on Monday called for supporting the army in what it described as an “existential battle” and urged the rival political parties to end their boycott of parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new president. In a statement issued after its politburo's weekly meeting, the party warned that the situation in the country has become “highly dangerous” in light of “the malicious attacks against the army, the attempt to open a permanent military front in the Arsal-Labweh area, and the quest to expand the presence of armed groups in the North.”It also cited Hizbullah's latest military operation against Israel in the Shebaa Farms and the continued abduction of Lebanese troops and policemen at the hands of jihadist group. Accordingly, Kataeb called for “immediately embarking on electing a president and ending the heresy of 'the democracy of boycott',” stressing that MPs must go to parliament to “perform the duty of voting, in line with the stipulations of the Constitution, National Pact and national partnership.”Turning to the security situation, the party urged “full support” for the army, saying it is “the first target” of the jihadist groups in “this existential battle.”Kataeb called on the Lebanese factions to “refrain from doing anything that could obstruct its (the army's) national role” and to “postpone all questions until the battle of Lebanon's survival ends.”The party also called for strict monitoring of the Lebanese-Syrian border and an “urgent” decision to halt the movement of refugees and gunmen. Citing Lebanon's “inability to take in more refugees,” Kataeb said a plan must be devised for repatriating the displaced to safe areas inside Syria and to redistribute them to countries that have the ability to endure the burden.
Plumbly Says World 'Strongly Committed' to Support Lebanese Army
Naharnet/The international community remains strongly committed to supporting the Lebanese army, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said Monday. Plumbly told reporters following a visit to Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail that he “paid tribute to Lebanon’s security forces, particularly the army, for all the efforts and sacrifices they have made to safeguard the country in the face of grave challenges.” He “condemned the recent hostile acts against the Lebanese army in different areas” and “underlined again the United Nations’ solidarity with the government and the families of the Lebanese servicemen being held hostage.”The diplomat stressed the importance of unity among the Lebanese in the face of these challenges. “The United Nations and the international community remain strongly committed to supporting the Lebanese army as was highlighted at the last meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon” that was held in New York in the presence of U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Salam, said Plumbly. He also said he discussed with Salam the situation in the South and the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah. “I expressed my concern over the incidents that took place recently in the area of the Shebaa Farms in violation of resolution 1701, which put at risk efforts by UNIFIL and others to safeguard the security and stability that has prevailed in south Lebanon for eight years,” he told reporters. Plumbly urged all parties to “exercise restraint and avoid actions that might result in escalation there.”Turning to the presidential deadlock, the diplomat said the “negative impact” of the failure of rival MPs to elect a new head of state is “self-evident.”“The international community has repeatedly called on Lebanon’s leaders to engage to resolve the impasse. For Lebanon’s sake, let us hope that it will be overcome soon and a president elected without further delay,” he added.
Report: Gulf Nationals among Terrorist Suspects Rounded up by Army
Naharnet /Police and the army have arrested Lebanese, Gulf and Syrian nationals having hundreds of thousands of dollars in their possession for the purpose of buying arms, As Safir daily reported on Monday. The ISF arrested a couple of weeks ago a Lebanese man in the northern city of Tripoli. He had 200,000 dollars in his possession, it said. Police also apprehended earlier this month a man, likely a Syrian, carrying with him 300,000 dollars. As Safir quoted well-informed security sources as saying that the suspect intended to buy explosives and arms for extremist groups based in Lebanon. Two Lebanese and a Syrian have also been arrested by the Army Intelligence in Beirut on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group and having ties to the weapons purchases, the report said.
As part of the arrests carried out by the military, two Gulf nationals who head terrorist networks were stopped after landing in Lebanon from Turkey, As Safir said. Foreign intelligence agencies have informed Lebanese security apparatuses that sleeper cells linked to the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front are present in several Lebanese regions. The recent raids carried out by the army and police across Lebanon are a sign that the military would not tolerate their presence. A security official told As Safir that dozens of suspects have been recently arrested to stop terrorists from operating in Lebanon.
Salam Says Authorities Don't Know Hostage-Takers' Full Demands
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has stressed that the jihadists, who have taken Lebanese soldiers and police hostage, have not made clear demands and revealed that a Qatari negotiator's mission has been so far fruitless. “There is nothing new except for the Qatari envoy who has held several rounds of negotiations that have not yet yielded results,” local newspapers quoted Salam as telling his visitors. “We don't have details on what he's doing,” Salam said in the remarks that were published on Monday. “The kidnappers haven't yet set specific conditions” for the release of the hostages, he added. The soldiers and policemen were taken captive during the bloody gunbattles that took place in the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. The jihadists from al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran the town and later withdrew to Syrian territories on the porous border. “Until now, we don't know what the kidnappers want exactly,” said Salam. “They haven't provided us with guarantees or made goodwill gestures.”However, As Safir daily quoted informed sources as saying that “there are a lot of complications because the demands of the kidnappers are increasing by the day.”The sources confirmed that the Qatari envoy has not come up with anything new. In his remarks to his visitors, Salam talked about the burden of Syrian refugees, who have escaped the fighting in their country. He reiterated that the international community was not doing enough to help Lebanon meet the needs of the displaced, whose numbers in the country have reached around 1.5 million. Lebanon is expected to attend the Berlin international conference on October 27 that will tackle the problem of refugees. Around 40 states are slated to attend the meeting.
Aoun Says Some Seeking to 'Impose President' after
'Usurping Power' since 2005
Naharnet /Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Monday accused some political forces of seeking to “impose a president” on the country, stressing that he “will not join those who have been usurping power” since 2005.
"Our resistance confirmed our right to Lebanon's existence, and this is what happened on March 14, 2005, but unfortunately, parties that never ruled according to these values rose to power, and they moved from one hegemony to another," Aoun said in a speech marking the 24th anniversary of his ouster from the Baabda Palace following a Syrian-led offensive. "I told you that preserving independence is harder than gaining it, but these remarks went down the drain, and Lebanon's rulers continued to receive orders and diktats from many sources, violating the charter of national coexistence, usurping the powers of an entire sect and electing a Christian president who is not truly representative," Aoun added. He lamented that proper Christian representation is missing in parliament and in the presidency.
"There is a majority which extended its own term and is preparing us for a new extension" of the parliament's term, Aoun added. "There is a group that wants to impose the president while rejecting that he be elected by the people," the FPM leader went on to say, referring to his controversial proposal on electing the president through a popular vote. Turning to the issue of parliamentary polls, Aoun said the electoral law endorsed in the advanced countries "is the law based on the individual constituency."
"Since its implementation in Lebanon is impossible due to the confessional system, our only choice is proportional representation," he pointed out. He noted that the issue of the presidency is "the issue of a sect which is being denied its right to be like the other sects."
"Amid these circumstances, are we supposed to join those who usurped power (in 2005) and rejected the participation of others?" Aoun added. Commenting on the security situations, the FPM leader warned that Lebanon is facing "impending dangers," noting that the country "has been drowned with the (Syrian) refugees." "A part of its land has become under the control of takfiri groups whom have been condemned by the entire world, and yet we're still hearing remarks from certain parties that any military measure against them would be tantamount to sparking sedition," Aoun decried. He called on all Lebanese to "stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of these forces, which have kidnapped hostages and entangled the government with conditions that are not clear until the moment."
"Let us remember the beginning of the Syrian war and the stances of the then Lebanese government, which claimed self-dissociation and left the border loose, the thing that allowed the gunmen and the refugees to violate it," Aoun added.
Aoun: Our Determination Will Prevent Terrorist Groups from Entering Lebanon
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun expressed belief on Monday that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front's intervention in Lebanon will never be easy as the people is all determined to combat extremism.
“The Lebanese youth is concerned with the fate of the country and should abide by the appropriate choices to preserve the country,” Aoun said via the FPM Youth Facebook page to commemorate the 24th anniversary of his ouster from the Baabda Palace. “We are determined to combat the terrorist organizations.”He called on the Lebanese army to play its effective role to maintain the sovereignty of the Lebanese state. “We live in fear but the developments are not similar to those on October 13 (1990) and the circumstances are hard but we will find salvation,” Aoun continued. Aoun served as the PM of the legal faction of the two rival governments contending for power in Lebanon from 1988 to October 1990. He declared the “Liberation War” against the Syrian occupation on March 14, 1989. On the October 13, 1990, the Syrian forces invaded Beirut killing hundreds of unarmed soldiers and civilians. Aoun, then-prime minister, left the Presidential Palace and sought refuge in the French Embassy and he was later allowed to travel to France.
He returned to Lebanon on May 7, 2005, eleven days after the withdrawal of Syrian troops. In 2006, as head of the FPM, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hizbullah. He visited Syria in 2009. Aoun is expected to deliver a speech at the Congress Palace in Dbayeh at 6:00 pm.Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that the Christian chief's speech will be strong and will not include any initiatives. He will also focus on the developments in the region and their impact on Lebanon.
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel to propose adjustments to soldiers' salaries, committees to reconvene
Oct. 13, 2014/Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The parliamentary joint committees decided Monday to assign Defense Minister Samir Moqbel with the task of proposing adjustments to the salaries of military personnel under the public sector wage hike bill, keeping the military institution’s promotions part of the proposed bill. The joint committees, which convened earlier in the day to reexamine the proposal, also agreed to convene on Oct. 23 to look into Moqbel's amendments, political sources following up on the meeting said. However, there is no consensus on Moqbel’s request to draft a separate law exclusively suited to military personnel, the sources told The Daily Star. The minister has argued that soldiers and other security forces members could not be equated with office-based civil servants. The sources said that an increase in the overall cost of the draft law, currently estimated at $1.2 billion annually, would force lawmakers to increase revenues in the face of higher expenditures. Moqbel along with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab and Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi attended the committees meeting, which was headed by Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari. On Oct. 1, Speaker Nabih Berri sent the controversial draft wage hike law back to joint committees during a legislative session, citing the opposition of many sectors to the bill. While private school teachers protested their exclusion from the proposed bill, other lawmakers, including the defense minister, opposed the draft law because they said it was unfair to military personnel. The sources said that there was an agreement among lawmakers to include the private school teachers in the draft law. The salary scale draft law has been a demand of public sector employees and teachers for the past three years. The Union Coordination Committee, representing a coalition of civil servants and teachers, has held numerous protests and observed several nationwide strikes in a bid to pressure the government to pass the bill. Lawmakers have overcome massive obstacles to come to an agreement on the draft law, including a balance between revenues and expenditures, a demand made by several politicians and the country’s Central Bank. Speaking after the end of the meeting, Moqbel said he would retract his demand for the separation between civil servants and military personnel only if the rights of the Army members were secured. “We have 10 days to prepare all the demands needed and the salary scale for the military personnel,” Moqbel, accompanied by representatives from the Lebanese Army who also attended the meeting, told reporters. “I don’t mind keeping the military personnel under the current draft law if the conditions are fully met.” MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who read the final statement of the committees meeting, said the committees would reconvene Wednesday to resume discussions on the draft law. In particularl, they will discuss a proposal to grant private school teachers the same raises as their public school counterparts. Kanaan hoped that “political will” would be available to pass the draft law in Parliament. Bou Saab, the education minister, was critical of the meeting, saying the gathering failed to produce any tangible results. “We did not advance or move from where we were a month ago. What happened today is that [lawmakers] wasted time, time which could have been used to finalize the item related to teachers and civil servants,” Bou Saab told reporters. He added that MPs from all sides gradually withdrew from the session, which eventually lost quorum.
Hariri: Lebanon choking under refugee crisis
The Daily Star/Oct. 13, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanon is choking under the burden of some 1.3 million Syrian refugees, constituting one third of its population, while striving to combat terrorism spilling over from the Syrian conflict, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri warned. Speaking in an interview published Monday in French daily Le Figaro, Hariri sounded the alarm over deteriorating security in Lebanon that he largely blamed on Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
“This interference by a Lebanese party militia in foreign territory took place without asking the Lebanese state and people, under the pretext of preventing terrorist groups from coming to Lebanon,” Hariri said, noting that the same groups use Hezbollah’s role in Syria as a pretext to attack Lebanon. “Moreover, Lebanon is dealing with the influx of 1.3 million refugees, which occurred in a span of three years, a matter that no country can sustain,” Hariri said, calling for quick international assistance for the refugee crisis and to help the Army counter terrorist groups. Hariri, a Saudi-backed former prime minister, rejected suggestions that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi doctrine, a rigid sect of Sunni Islam, is behind the rise of Sunni extremist groups such as ISIS, arguing that Saudi King Abdullah’s support was essential for the creation of the international coalition to combat ISIS. “The nucleus of ISIS is made of former Al-Qaeda prisoners who were released by the regimes of Bashar Assad and (former Iraqi Prime Minister) Nouri al-Maliki, who thought that by creating this terrorist scarecrow they would become indispensable for the big powers, while in fact they have created a monster that became uncontrollable,” Hariri said. He deplored the West’s delay in taking military action against ISIS and reluctance to support the moderate Syrian opposition in the early stages of the uprising, saying this encouraged many frustrated rebels to join the ranks of extremist group. “The airstrikes against ISIS are necessary but not sufficient. In the long term, it is imperative to support the moderates, notably those who are opposed to religious intolerance and who advocate separating politics from religion,” Hariri said. He deplored that in Syria “the people are now condemned to an impossible choice between ISIS and Assad’s regime.”
Iranian Ambassador: Iranian aid to Lebanese Army has no strings attached
Oct. 13, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Iran's offer of aid to Lebanon is unconditional and come without any strings attached, Tehran's ambassador said Monday, describing opposition to the donation as against Lebanon's national interests. “The donation ... is dedicated to support the Army in its fight against terrorism,” Mohammad Fathali said in remarks published Monday in Al-Akhbar. “It’s unconditional and free of charge.”"Any country that rejects the assistance provided by Iran does not serve the national interests of Lebanon in fighting terrorism,” he said. “The Army needs military support from everyone in order to confront the terrorists and attacks targeting it."Fathali said the military aid was part of “phase one” of the cooperation between Iran and Lebanon and was ready for shipment. “We’re ready to send [the assistance] immediately if a legal framework has been established.” In response to a question, Fathali said Tehran “is concerned about Lebanon’s security, especially today because the country is enduring a severe terrorism crisis."“Therefore, we consider it is our duty to stand by Lebanon, just like [Iran] stands by the countries that belong to the axis of resistance and opposition; and to [tell] them ‘You are not alone in the fight against terrorism,’” Fathali said, referring to the axis of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza. “We express this friendship not only through passion, but also in practice through military aid," Fathali added. “And over the past years, we, in Iran, have achieved gains and made tangible achievements that we believe can help the brave Lebanese Army.”
he possibility of U.S. opposition to the Iranian aid, Fathali said: “This attitude is part of the double standard policy concerning the fight against terrorism," pointing to Washington’s strategy to strike at terrorist organizations. "We believe the international coalition does not have the intention to combat terrorism, which is a cancerous disease affecting regional countries,” he said. “We must stand united against terrorism.”
Abdullah Azzam Brigades urges attacks against Hezbollah, not the Army
Oct. 13, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades called on Tripoli residents to attack Hezbollah rather than the Lebanese Army, saying the latter was merely a tool in the hands of the group. “I am addressing our youth in Tripoli to say to them that the Lebanese Army and security agencies are merely tools in the hands of the party,” Sirajeddine Zureiqat, the newly appointed "emir" of the jihadist group, said on his Twitter feed. Hezbollah is the "the puppet master of the Army and other agencies, as well as the [party behind the] rise of some Sunni spies, including the Resistance Brigades and some media.”“Therefore, strike the puppet master and do not get preoccupied with the tools. If the head is broken, the hands become paralyzed.” Zureiqat was referring to recent attacks against Lebanese Army soldiers in the northern city of Tripoli. Last week, a soldier was killed and another wounded in Rihaniyeh, in the northern Akkar province, when gunmen opened fire on them as they headed for duty. The Brigades have claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks in Beirut, including the Iranian embassy twin bombing last year that killed about 30 people, and a twin blast at the Iranian cultural center in February. Like other jihadist groups, Abdullah Azzam justifies its attacks in Lebanon by pointing to Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian war on the side of government forces. Zureiqat, who has a warrant out against him, warned Tripoli residents against a battle with the Lebanese Army, saying such a conflict would only benefit Hezbollah. “Be aware our people in Tripoli, you are being dragged into a battle with the Army for Hezbollah.” “You have the party's centers, checkpoints, supply lines, leaders and members across Lebanon. Kill them and avenge the children of Lebanon and Syria.”Zureiqat also said Hezbollah had long protected Israel’s interests, adding that the group had committed crimes against Sunnis and other sects whose communities opposed the party. "Hezbollah was a loyal guard to Israel since 1996 and the July 2006 war play was nothing more than [Hezbollah] breaking the rules of engagement with Israel that have already been agreed to; and it legitimized its presence.”“This party has also dominated the security agencies, primarily the Army intelligence and General Security, and made those two a tool to persecute Sunnis.”
Anti-ISIS coalition is a lie: Jumblatt
Oct. 13, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The U.S.-led international coalition formed to attack ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a lie, Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Jumblatt said Monday, arguing that the coalition is a part of a conspiracy aimed at undermining the Arab world. “The policy of fueling hatred between sects raises questions over the lie that is the so-called international coalition to fight terrorism,” Jumblatt wrote in a column in his weekly Al-Anbaa newspaper. According to the PSP chief, the Arab world began to regress with the launch of a calculated conspiracy to undermine the Arab world. This conspiracy scheme kicked off with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and continued with the fragmentation of Syria which, Jumblatt argued, was carried out in order to protect Israel. These events are not merely an accident nor an accumulation of fleeting events, he said. He argued that they were all a part of the one conspiracy that seeks to “fragment, divide and destroy” the foundations of nationalist entities in the Arab world. The PSP leader said that in light of sectarian and ethnic wars facing the region, “it has become more useful than ever to preserve memory and protect it from deterioration.” The 1973 October War between Syria and Egypt on one side, and Israel on the other, is one of those memories that needs to be cherished, since it recalls an Egyptian-Syrian victory that busted the myth of Israel’s military invincibility, he added.
Lebanon needs Hezbollah more than ever: Qaouk
Oct. 13, 2014 /The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah is needed more than ever to respond to the threat posed by ISIS and other terrorist groups, deputy head of the party’s executive council said Monday. Speaking at a memorial service in the eastern town of Brital for a killed fighter, Nabil Qaouk said that “the resistance is a strategic necessity that is needed by the Lebanese people more than ever.” According to the Hezbollah official, the U.S.-led international coalition formed to attack ISIS is “incapable” of stopping the group’s expansion in Syria and Iraq. Hezbollah, however, “has the ability to resolve the battle” in the same way it uprooted militants stationed in the Syrian province of Qusair last year, he said. The current phase requires consensus over a decision to allow the Army to “reclaim” the outskirts of Arsal and “eradicate” terrorist cells inside Lebanon, Qaouk said, stressing that it was “imperative for political parties to secure political cover” that would allow the Army to take such measures. “Takfiris have made it a priority to target the Lebanese Army inside Lebanon,” he said, confident in the military's ability to beat the militants in Arsal. But the military is still waiting for the green light to launch its offensive, and “any delay in the battle would increase the threat over all of Lebanon,” he said. Qaouk also expressed his belief that Israel is betting on an ISIS victory against Hezbollah. Israel is “frustrated and helpless” when it comes to the resistance, he added.
Iran Must Withdraw 'Occupying' Forces from Syria, Says Saudi
Naharnet /Iran must withdraw its "occupying" forces from Syria to help resolve that country's conflict, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Monday after talks with his German counterpart.
"Our reservations are about Iran's policy in the region, not about Iran as a country or people," Prince Saud said at a joint press conference in the Red Sea city of Jeddah with Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "In many conflicts, Iran is part of the problem, not the solution," Prince Saud said, charging that Shiite-dominated Iran had forces in Syria "fighting Syrians."
"In this case, we can say that Iranian forces in Syria are occupying forces," aiding President Bashar al-Assad, whom he described as an "illegitimate" leader.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf states support rebel groups which have been battling Assad since March 2011 in a war which has killed more than 180,000 people. Assad receives financial and military aid from Iran, which denies having fighters on the ground. He is also backed by combatants from Lebanon's pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah. "If Iran wants to be part of the solution in Syria, it has to pull its forces from Syria. The same applies elsewhere, whether in Yemen or Iraq," the Saudi minister said. "If it wants to be part of the solution, welcome. But if it continues to be part of the problem, it cannot play any role in the region." Iran is accused of backing Yemeni Shiite rebels who overran Yemen's capital Sanaa on September 21.
Bonded by Shiite Islam, Iran and Iraq have grown closer in the realms of government and security since the toppling of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Among the many groups fighting Assad is the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states are now battling under a U.S.-led coalition. The Arab nations have taken part in or given support to coalition air strikes against IS militants in Syria.
The Sunni extremist IS has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring a "caliphate" where they have been accused of carrying out widespread atrocities, including mass executions, crucifixions and beheadings, and forcing women into slavery. Such extremism "has nothing to do with Islam", Saudi King Abdullah said last week. Steinmeier said the IS was "a threat to the entire world", noting that thousands of foreign fighters, including young Germans, had joined up. "We agree on the fact that we must work together against IS," the German minister said, adding that a military approach must be part of a political strategy. Analyst Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of the non-profit Gulf Research Center, wrote in Monday's Arab News daily that it was time for Germany to adopt a more prominent political role in the region in keeping with its economic clout. "What the Middle East needs now is a more proactive Germany working both on the front and behind the scenes," he said. Agence France Presse
Iran's Ayatollah: Zionism, US and 'wicked' Britain created ISIS
By REUTERS /10/13/2014
DUBAI - Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday blamed the United States and the "wicked" British government for creating the Islamic State, in his first speech since undergoing prostate surgery last month. The sharp remarks were a reminder of Iranian suspicions about the West despite the emergence of the ultra-hardline Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria as the common foe of Tehran and Washington. "America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions - the wicked government of Britain - have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shi'ites," he said, according to his website, in a speech marking a Shi'ite Muslim religious holiday. Islamic State, known to its detractors by its Arabic acronym Da'esh, has overrun areas of war-torn Syria and Iraq in recent months. Despite being adversaries for decades, Shi'ite power Iran and the United States both oppose the militants and have armed local groups fighting them. Senior officials from both countries have denied any plans to work together, however.
"They created al-Qaida and Da'esh in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them (Islamic State)," Khamenei said. The United States along with several Sunni Arab monarchies began a campaign of air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on September 23.Other Western countries, including Britain, have also taken part in bombing raids against Islamic State positions in Iraq. Khamenei's accusation appeared to be reference to Western support for the rebel forces fighting Tehran's close ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hardline Islamists have emerged as the rebels' strongest military element. Iran also believes the United States and Britain are using the Islamist threat to justify their renewed presence in the region.
"A careful and analytic look at the developments reveals that the US and its allies, in efforts that are falsely termed countering Daesh, seek to create division and enmity among the Muslims rather to destroy the root causes of that (terrorist) current," Khamenei said.
"Shi'ites and Sunnis must know that any action or remark, including insulting one another, leads to increased sensitivities and ignite flames. This will certainly benefit the common enemy of all Muslims." Khamenei's criticism was a counterpoint to an apparent thaw in British-Iranian relations when President Hassan Rouhani met British Prime Minister David Cameron in New York in September - a move that was criticized by hardliners at home. That meeting followed decades of strained relations which worsened when Britain closed its embassy in Tehran after hardliners stormed it in November 2011.Britain decided in June this year to reopen the facility, but the embassy has yet to open its doors.
In meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Netanyahu slams UN for
returning confiscated rockets to Hamas
By JPOST.COM STAFF/10/13/2014
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday that the UN's actions during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza over the summer helped Hamas terrorists in their targeting of Israeli citizens with rockets. Speaking ahead of a meeting with the visting UN chief, Netanyahu said that Gaza terrorists had violated the neutrality of the UN by using their schools and other facilities to launch and store rockets. The prime minister said that UN personnel who found the rockets hidden in UN facilities returned them to Hamas who then continued to fire them at Israeli population centers. "When they found rockets in UN schools, UN officials returned them to Hamas, the same Hamas that fired the same rockets on Israeli cities and Israeli citizens..the real reason for the rocket fire from Hamas is their refusal to recognize Israel's existence. Hamas doesn't care about 1967 lines. For them, Israel doesn't have a right to exist, under any borders...just read their manifest because it is written clearly there," Netanyahu told Ban. The prime minister told the UN chief that the Israeli "occupation" of Gaza is not responsible for the violence in Gaza because Israel does not occupy Gaza. "Israel left every centimeter of Gaza, every inch. We pulled out the settlements and cleared out the residents, so there is no occupation in Gaza. The main reason for the violence over the summer was Hamas rockets on Israeli cities. The rocket attacks broke the neutrality of the UN when they used their spaces and their schools," Netanyahu said. Netanyahu continued and said that for these reasons, Hamas is "everyone's" enemy and that real peace is only possible through negotiations with those who want it. He then spoke of the recent steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to gain recognition at the UN. "The unilateral moves of the Palestinians in the UN aren't helping peace, the opposite is true, they are making the situation worse, something no one wants," he said. Netanyahu also spoke about rioting and violence at the Temple Mount in recent days, saying that Israel is obligated to uphold the status quo, as it has done for decades. He said that Israel respects religious freedom and that Muslim holy sites are also protected, but that police must keep peace and order.
Jewish, Christian Leaders: US Airstrikes Against ISIS
Israel Today/Monday, October 13, 2014/Ryan Jones
People in Iraq and Syria continue to die by the thousands, and US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) are simply insufficient to curb the carnage, said Jewish and Christian leaders in Jerusalem on Monday. While Israelis and thousands of Christian visitors are celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, some 12,000 Kurds are under siege in the Syrian border town of Kobani. Kurdish forces have managed to halt the ISIS advance, for now, but it is widely feared that if substantial military assistance is not provide soon, the town will fall, and the Kurds living there will be slaughtered en masse. Philanthropist, diplomat and current president of the World Jewish Congress, Ron Lauder, said those fears are very much justified. “The US airstrikes can only do so much. They can hold back the threat, but, frankly, air strikes are not enough,” Lauder told a press conference at Jerusalem’s new Pais Arena. “Unfortunately, if something isn’t done in the next 24–48 hours, this massacre will take place.”Lauder concluded by lamenting that the current situation is “a testimony to the unwillingness of others to stand up” for those under threat. Dr. Jürgen Bühler, director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), agreed that much more needed to be done to protect not only the Kurds, but millions of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities from the spreading Islamic scourge. “As a German, I want to say that when Germany was under the oppression of the Nazi regime, it was the very sacrificial military intervention of mainly the United States that saved Europe from becoming a very different place than it is today,” Bühler noted. “The world needs to similarly respond to the situation in the Middle East.” Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad,” who has been an eye-witness to many of the ISIS atrocities, was even more blunt in his assessment.
The US-trained Iraqi army that was left to defend the country is “useless,” according to White, who was adamant that the situation has reached a point that only overwhelming international military force will suffice to return peace and stability to the region.
“It has to be the international community. And it has to be the US. And just dropping bombs from the sky is not enough. We need troops on the ground,” said White. Lauder and White are in Jerusalem as speakers at ICEJ-hosted Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Israel Today will in our upcoming magazine be reporting further on the efforts by these Jewish and Christian leaders to draw greater attention to and stem the tide of Islamic persecution in the Middle East.
Turkey denies giving U.S. access to Incirlik airbase
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 13 October 2014
Turkey denied on Monday having granted the United States access to its Incirlik air base to be used for attacking Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria. A government official said there was no new agreement over the use by the United States of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, which U.S. air forces already use for logistical and humanitarian purposes. “There is no new agreement with the United States about Incirlik,” the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP in Ankara. “Negotiations are continuing” based on conditions Turkey had previously laid out such as a safe zone inside Syria backed up by a no-fly zone, the official added. “There is no change in our position,” the official said. Turkey had reached an agreement with Washington on the training of Syrian rebels, the sources told reporters, without saying who would train the insurgents or where. The comments come after U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Turkey had agreed to let forces from a U.S.-led military coalition use its bases for activities inside Iraq and Syria and to train moderate Syrian rebels. ISIS launched an offensive to take over Kobane in mid-September where fighting has killed a reported 500 people and forced 200,000 others to flee across the border into Turkey. U.N. officials have warned of a possible massacre in Kobane, if the militants capture the city which they have been attacking for the past three weeks.
Canada's FM, Baird Condemns ISIL’s Brutality in Iraq
October 13, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
"Canada condemns in the strongest terms the attacks conducted yesterday in several Iraqi provinces that killed dozens of people, including several members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Diyala. Canada is also extremely concerned by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)’s continuing attacks on the Kurdish-majority town of Kobane in northern Syria.
"ISIL is a group of terrorists who rape, pillage and slaughter anyone who stands in their way. It is trying to expand the territory it controls to spread its hateful ideology and fear among the Iraqi and Syrian people.
"On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of ISIL’s brutality.
"The latest barbaric acts only reinforce our moral duty to act against ISIL. Canada is committed to acting with the Government of Iraq and allies to halt ISIL’s murderous rampage."
Canada has announced a number of measures designed to combat ISIL’s brutality and help victims of this barbaric terrorist group. These measures include contributing CF-18 fighter jets, along with surveillance, refuelling and heavy-lift aircraft, to the U.S.-led coalition to degrade and destroy ISIL; up to 69 military advisers to advise and assist security forces in Iraq; and more than $38 million in humanitarian and security assistance.
Afiya Shehrbano Zia 13 October 2014
Recipients of humanitarian awards often invite controversy. In Pakistan, religious and political identities are valued more than the contributions of such recipients. Malala Yousafzai may have the Nobel Peace Prize, but she remains the target of criticism from Pakistani conservatives and also many 'progressives'.
After surviving an attempt at her life by the Taliban, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai became a global spokesperson for girls education. Nominated last year, Malala went on to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but she still invites criticism and resentment in Pakistan, and not just amongst the religio-conservatives.
Pakistanis are so unaccustomed to good news that they get twisted in moral knots when something miraculous, heroic or inspirational happens in the country. If this news is about or made by a woman, you can bet there’s going to be backlash. So when the teenage school girl, Malala Yousafzai, survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her way to school in 2012, one would think there would have been celebratory relief and a wave of support for her defying the militants’ directives against the pursuit of lay education in Swat. Instead, the news of her survival and recovery became the trigger for a perverse form of nationalist outrage. News of her being flown to England for surgery and treatment was followed by vicious accusations that she was ‘faking it’ and for deliberately bringing ignominy and infamy to the country by surviving.
Some rationalized that Malala and her supporters were stealing the mantle of innocence from the real victims, the Taliban. Others bickered that the real and equal victims were those citizens killed in the conflict in the tribal areas, not by the Taliban but by periodic drone warfare. These commentators objected to the exceptionalisation of Malala by arguing a case for other Malalas that we “don’t see”. Malala may have became a symbol of survival, resistance and defiance for her supporters but, for the Right and some Left commentators, the intuitive reaction was to delegitimise her victimization by moral equivocation, diluting her worth and denying her role in disrupting the narrative of religious militancy in Swat at the time.
Some observers even sympathized with the militants and offered the empathic defense that the Taliban were simply products of imperialism and reactioning to the “global climate” and “broader context”. The presumptive base for all such reasoning is that the militants are passive righteous victims and represent all “tribal people” who are the exclusive victims of state violence via drones, and therefore the militants are representative avengers of this injustice.
That the right wing clerics, sections of the media and conservative nationalists should opt for this discourse was predictable, even if she was just a teenage girl. The usual tropes of her being a traitor and a CIA agent encouraged many conspiracy theories.
What was unexpected though, was a similarly mean-spirited prevarication that sprang from a spectrum of so-called progressives too. ‘I Hate Malala’ campaigns surged through social media over the next year. They became particularly strong when Malala recuperated and got involved in promoting the cause of girls’ education with the United Nations and from her new home in England. This hate-mongering continued when her autobiography ‘I am Malala’ hit the bestseller list and when she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year. The hate campaigns were supported by a wide range of groups and individuals and included the youth following of the populist Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf political party as well as, The All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association and The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation. This included ‘English-medium’ schools, considered to be bastions of “liberal thinking”, which banned the book in all their affiliate schools and their libraries.
But the absurdity of unaccountable politics that can circulate in cyber space was best exemplified by an article carried by a self-acclaimed progressive magazine on Pakistan’s politics and cultures. This piece did not even pretend regret at the attempted murder of Malala by the Taliban, or locate it in the history of target killings, torture, lynching and complete bans on women’s mobility by the militants across northern Pakistan. Instead, it mourned this “dastardly act” (could there be a more colonial term?) because it “re-energized the liberal hawks in Pakistan as well as the United States.”
The evidence for such an observation and inaccurate reading of the political environment in Pakistan was a placard held by some Islamabad-based activists saying ‘Drones Kill so Malala can live.’ By this time prominent politicians, tribesmen and activists perceived to be even remotely ‘liberal’ were being systematically threatened, persecuted or murdered for their views. Further, the criticism that elite liberals support drone warfare is deeply flawed, because in fact support (and opposition) for a military solution to militancy (including by drones and however false or unethical a proposal) cuts across all classes in Pakistan.
The on-line collective which generates such regular critiques mainly comprises US based scholar-activists who label themselves as ‘Orthodox Maoists and Marxists’ as badges of proof of their radical credentials. They excel in attacking, amost exclusively, something called Pakistani liberals and liberalism, based not on substance or context but ironically, by way of performative, associational or symbolic politics of those activists, protestors or even victims, who raise their voice against violent Islamist politics in Pakistan.
The apologia on the Malala attack in this virtual critique depends on a reification of the ‘real’ victim (of imperialism) who are exclusively those killed by state-sponsored drones. Meanwhile, the hundreds of thousands killed by the Taliban are worthy of sympathy but do not qualify as victims of an identifiable, systemic institutionalized religious violence. This rationale is based on a dated analysis that depends on a "theory of origins". It situates the millennial Tehreeq e Taliban Pakistan as direct heirs of the mujahideen force created to defeat communist advances in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Such analysis absolves contemporary militants of any agency, and painstakingly avoids discussing religion as the material and ideological base of post 9/11 militancy or politics. Instead, the Taliban are depicted as vacuous puppets - creations of the Afghan jihad - void of religious agency.
By now, even the Taliban themselves were exhausted of repeating that it was not drones but that the reason for punishing Malala was her insistence on attending school and her “secularization agenda”. The detractors seemed determined to ignore these testimonies. Malala’s threat was not just her physical defiance by way of her insistence to attend school, but the fact that the Taliban’s entire body politic was at risk of subversion if she was allowed to continue her “secularization project”.
However, even non-Pakistani commentators in the US weighed in and complained that drone victims are also ‘Malalas we don’t see’. This was amazing. These “Other Malalas” - often victims, not even survivors - were not subversive or defiant as Malala was. Not only was this literally a false and ridiculous claim but as Pakistani feminist, Rubina Saigol, opined, such moral equivalence recalled what the religious party, the Jamaat e Islami, was invoking on the issue at the time too. The Jamaat habitually uses such reasoning as when Pakistani feminists protested the rapes of countless Bangladeshi women by the Pakistani army in 1971 at which point the religious party would equivocate that there had been countless reprisal rapes by the Bangladesh army too. Such moral equivalence flattens all violations as equal, and therefore erases both guilt and the courage of resistance, judging these as, resolved and lapsed.
The defense of the Taliban as misguided guerrillas is based on a confused theory that alternates between seeing the Taliban as victims of imperialism, but also as agents of anti-imperialism. The argument that they must not be judged ‘out of context’ deprives them agency and presents them as flattened non-actors who are exacting passive revenge for drones and US imperialism. No explanation has been offered as to why these so-called anti-imperialists exact revenge on women with such enthusiastic gusto. Malala’s own explanation that “They are afraid of women,” is more insightful than the imaginings of those looking for grand theories.
The “broader context” that foreign commentators urge Pakistani human rights activists to consider when protesting religious militancy is in fact very much in favour of ‘not catching’ or holding responsible those ‘caught on the scene and in the act of the crime’. This socio-legal institutionalized resistance and mind set is exactly what has long provided a shield of impunity for murderers in Pakistan, whether in the name of religion or custom/tradition. How this generous advice serves justice, remains an un-discussed concern.
The Talib’s clear demand for an authentic Shariah-based Pakistani state is dismissed as simply a ‘misguided’ view of Islam. This, despite the fact that their demands and worldview on women, minorities and their role in Pakistani society overlaps with and is shared by many other Islamists and conservative men. Apparently, this ideological base will dissipate once drone warfare ends.
Meanwhile, there are a few “liberal hawks” in Pakistan who are genuinely buoyed by the global recognition of the courage of the second Pakistani to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. They would not quibble over the hand-wringing controversy and erudite noises which pretend to sympathise with Malala, but argue that she was not technically or morally qualified to receive such recognition. The supporters would recognize that such rewards are symbolic and will always provoke controversy and debate. Instead, they realise that the worth of this award, even if symbolic, is in serving as a moral pushback to Pakistani religio-nationalist sentiment and politics.
Supporters of Malala recognize the value of resistance to religio-political hegemony in Pakistan. They connect how both Malala and the only other Pakistani winner of the Nobel Prize, physicist, Dr Abdus Salam (who belonged to the ex-communicated Ahmedi sect and who had to leave the country due to persecution), resist the preferred role assigned to women and minorities as permanent and passive victims. Those perceived as lesser Muslims, or who are critical of Islamist politics, or who dare to aspire to be autonomous, secular, liberal or westernized, threaten the whole religio-national narrative.
In the conservative worldview, as well as in the eyes of those so-called ‘radical new leftists’ who live in the heart of the Empire themselves, a Muslim woman should be passive, otherwise she can only be one kind of agent– a foreign agent, the "other". And the only ones worthy of sympathy, support and awards are victims not survivors. As one insightful journalist observed, “The Nobel’s always tough on Pakistan’s mullahs, first an Ahmedi now a girl”. Unfortunately, the worth of both kinds of citizens continues to be questioned, even by those who are not conservative clerics.
How not to understand ISIS
By: Alireza Doostdar 13 October 2014
The view that one particular religious doctrine is uniquely extremist won’t help us to appreciate the cycles of brutality that feed on narratives of torture, murder and desecration.
The ISIS flag. Credit: https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/how-not-understand-isis-alireza-doostdar. Some rights reserved.
The group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or simply the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS, or IS) has attracted much attention in the past few months with its dramatic military gains in Syria and Iraq and with the recent U.S. decision to wage war against it.
As analysts are called to explain ISIS’ ambitions, its appeal, and its brutality, they often turn to an examination of what they consider to be its religious worldview—a combination of cosmological doctrines, eschatological beliefs, and civilizational notions—usually thought to be rooted in Salafi Islam.
The Salafi tradition is a modern reformist movement critical of what it considers to be misguided accretions to Islam—such as grave visitations, saint veneration, and dreaming practices. It calls for abolishing these and returning to the ways of the original followers of Prophet Muhammad, the “salaf” or predecessors. Critics of Salafism accuse its followers of “literalism,” “puritanism,” or of practicing a “harsh” or “rigid” form of Islam, but none of these terms is particularly accurate, especially given the diverse range of Salafi views and the different ways in which people adhere to them.
Salafism entered American consciousness after September 11, 2001, as Al-Qaeda leaders claim to follow this school. Ever since, it has become commonplace to demonize Salafism as the primary cause of Muslim violence, even though most Salafi Muslims show no enthusiasm for jihad and often eschew political involvement, and even though many Muslims who do engage in armed struggles are not Salafi.
ISIS is only the most recent group whose behavior is explained in terms of Salafism. What makes it unique is its aspiration to form immediately a caliphate or pan-Islamic state. Even so, analysts’ emphasis on Salafi thought and on the formation of a caliphate makes it easy to ignore some important aspects of the ISIS phenomenon. I would like to draw attention to some of these neglected issues and to offer a few cautions about attempts to understand ISIS purely in terms of doctrines. My argument is not that studying doctrines is useless; only that such study is limited in what it can explain.
I should begin by emphasizing that our knowledge of ISIS is extremely scant. We know close to nothing about ISIS’ social base. We know little about how it made its military gains, and even less about the nature of the coalitions into which it has entered with various groups—from other Islamist rebels in Syria to secular Ba‘athists in Iraq.
Sensationalist accounts of “shari‘a justice” notwithstanding, we do not have much information about how ISIS administers the lives of millions of people who reside in the territories it now controls.
Information about the militants who fight for ISIS is likewise scarce. Most of what we know is gleaned from recruitment videos and propaganda, not the most reliable sources. There is little on the backgrounds and motives of those who choose to join the group, least of all the non-Western recruits who form the bulk of ISIS’ fighting force. In the absence of this information, it is difficult to even say what ISIS is if we are to rely on anything beyond the group’s self-representations.
Let me emphasize this last point. What we call ISIS is more than just a militant cult. At present, ISIS controls a network of large population centers with millions of residents, in addition to oil resources, military bases, and roads. It has to administer the affairs of the populations over whom it rules, and this has required compromise and coalition-building, not just brute force.
In Iraq, the group has had to work with secular Ba‘athists, former army officers, tribal councils, and various Sunni opposition groups, many of whose members are in administrative positions. In Syria, it has likewise had to negotiate with other rebel factions as well as tribes, and relies on local (non-ISIS) technical expertise to manage services such as water, electricity, public health, and bakeries.
The vast majority of ISIS’ estimated 20,000-31,500 fighters are recent recruits and it is not clear whether and how its leadership maintains ideological consistency among them. All told, our sense of ISIS’ coherence as a caliphate with a clear chain of command, a solid organizational structure, and an all-encompassing ideology is a direct product of ISIS’ propaganda apparatus.
We see ISIS as a unitary entity because ISIS propagandists want us to see it that way. This is why it is problematic to rely on doctrines espoused in propaganda to explain ISIS’ behavior. Absent more evidence, we simply cannot know if the behaviors of the different parts of ISIS are expressions of these doctrines.
And yet, much of the analysis that we have available relies precisely on ISIS’ propaganda and doctrinal statements. What does this emphasis obscure? Here I will point out several of the issues I consider most important.
First, we lack a good grasp of the motivations of those who fight for or alongside ISIS, so we assume that they are motivated by Salafism and the desire to live in a caliphate. What information we do have comes almost entirely from ISIS propaganda and recruitment videos, a few interviews, and the occasional news report about a foreign fighter killed in battle or arrested before making it to his or her destination.
Focusing on doctrinal statements would have us homogenizing the entirety of ISIS’ military force as fighters motivated by an austere and virulent form of Salafi Islam. This is how ISIS wants us to see things, and it is often the view propagated by mainstream media.
For example, CNN recently quoted former Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Ruba‘i as claiming that in Mosul, ISIS was recruiting “Young Iraqis as young as 8 and 9 years old with AK-47s… and brainwashing with this evil ideology.” A Pentagon spokesman is quoted in the same story as saying that the U.S. was not intent on “simply… degrading and destroying… the 20,000 to 30,000 (ISIS fighters)... It’s about destroying their ideology.”
The problem with these statements is that they seem to assume that ISIS is a causa sui phenomenon that has suddenly materialized out of the thin ether of an evil doctrine. But ISIS emerged from the fires of war, occupation, killing, torture, and disenfranchisement. It did not need to sell its doctrine to win recruits. It needed above all to prove itself effective against its foes.
In Iraq, the cities that are now controlled by ISIS were some of those most resistant to American control during the occupation and most recalcitrant in the face of the newly established state. The destruction that these cities endured seems only to have hardened their residents’ defiance. Fallujah, the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS, is famous for its devastation during U.S. counterinsurgency operations in 2004. It still struggles with a legacy of rising cancer rates, genetic mutations, birth defects, and disabilities blamed on depleted uranium in American munitions.
In Mosul, many of those who joined ISIS last summer had been previously imprisoned by the Iraqi government. They numbered in the thousands and included peaceful protesters who opposed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
The situation in Syria is not entirely different. ISIS emerged on the scene after a long period of strife that began with peaceful protests in 2011 and deteriorated into civil war after President Bashar al-Asad’s military and security forces repeatedly deployed brutal force against the opposition.
A large number of ISIS fighters in Syria (as in Iraq) are indeed foreign, but the majority are local recruits. The emphasis on ISIS’ Salafi worldview has tended to obscure the many grievances that may motivate fighters to join an increasingly efficient militant group that promises to vanquish their oppressors. Do they need to “convert” to ISIS’ worldview to fight with or for them? Do they need to aspire to a caliphate, as does ISIS leadership, in order to join forces with them? These questions are never asked, and “beliefs” are made simply to fill the explanatory void.
Second, the puzzle of foreign fighters is no less obscured by an overemphasis on the allure of Salafism. Again, the tendency here is to ignore any motivation except the overriding call of the Salafi jihadist who persuades converts of the truth of Islam and of their responsibility to wage war in defense of the Islamic community. In ISIS’ case, the aspiration to create a caliphate is added to the equation. Foreign fighters must be joining ISIS, we are told, because they desire to live in a pristine Muslim utopia.
Some analysts allow the possibility that the jihadi convert is mentally unstable, a privilege usually reserved for white non-Muslim mass murderers. But rarely do they consider that sensibilities and motivations other than or in addition to mere commitment to Salafi Islam or a desire to live in a utopic state may guide their decisions.
For example, could it be that a sense of compassion for suffering fellow humans or of altruistic duty—sensibilities that are very much valued and cultivated in American society—has prefigured their receptiveness to a call to arms to aid a people they consider to be oppressed?
The novelist and journalist Michael Muhammad Knight has recently argued that his own flirting with jihad in the Chechen war of the 1990s did not grow out of his then commitment to Salafi Islam, but from American values: “I had grown up in the Reagan ‘80s. I learned from G.I. Joe cartoons to (in the words of the theme song) ‘fight for freedom, wherever there’s trouble.’ I assumed that individuals had the right—and the duty—to intervene anywhere on the planet where they perceived threats to freedom, justice, and equality.”
Unfortunately, such first-person accounts that give us a view beyond recruiter-side doctrine are rare. The situation is even more difficult with non-Western foreign fighters, about whose conditions and motivations we know still less.
Finally, the belief that Salafi Islam is exceptional in its extremism has made it convenient to view ISIS brutality as likewise exceptional. We are variously told that ISIS’ killings—especially the beheadings of victims, most recently of foreign journalists—are medieval, barbaric, pornographic, and ends in themselves (rather than means to any end). This violence is apparently counterpoised against civilized, non-gratuitous, means-end rational forms of killing, such as those practiced by the American military.
The anthropologist Talal Asad has questioned the presumptions that guide these distinctions between what we might call “humanitarian” and “gratuitous” violence and cruelty. It is not my intention to pursue that line of thought here. Instead, I want only to point out that once again, ISIS’ brutality did not emerge in a vacuum; rather, it is part of a whole ecology of cruelty spread out over more than a decade.
Perhaps a decapitation is more cruel than blowing a body to bits with a high-caliber machine gun, incinerating it with a remote-controlled drone, or burning and lacerating it with a barrel bomb. But even if we limit ourselves to close-up, low-technology brutality, ISIS beheadings are hardly out of place.
The earliest video-taped decapitation of an American citizen in Iraq was conducted by ISIS’ predecessors in 2004 in response, they claimed, to the photographed and video-recorded torture, rape, and murder of detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison. In 2011, it emerged that some American soldiers in Afghanistan had been hunting civilians for sport and collecting their fingers and teeth as souvenirs. In the sectarian bloodshed that engulfed Iraq after the U.S. invasion, beheadings by Sunni insurgents turned into a morbid form of reciprocity with Shi‘a militiamen who bore holes into their victims using power drills.
The point is not to identify when cruelty emerged in the long American-led Global War on Terrorism—only that the view that one particular religious doctrine is uniquely extremist will not help us understand the cycles of brutality that have fed on years of circulating narratives and images of torture, violent murder, and desecration.
This article originally appeared in Sightings, a publication of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is reprinted here with permission.
About the author
**Alireza Doostdar is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His upcoming book, The Experimenters: Science, Skepticism, and the Supernatural in Iran, explores religious experimentation among Iranians.
Is Saudi Arabia Responsible for Saving Yemen?
By: Salman Aldossary/Asharq AlAwsat
Monday, 13 Oct, 2014
Ever since September 21, when the “Peace and Partnership” agreement was signed between the Houthis and Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, producing an entirely new political order in the country—one later labeled by Hadi as a “coup”—and all eyes have been on Yemen’s large neighbor to the north, Saudi Arabia.
How can Saudi Arabia accept the prospect of the Houthis in power? Why is the Gulf Initiative being buried six feet underground while Riyadh simply watches? Iran is encircling Saudi Arabia . . . How can Saudi Arabia do nothing with the Iranian specter at its gates? Each day such questions, and others like them, grow louder and louder—as if Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world responsible for saving Yemen.
Let’s agree that Riyadh’s policies are markedly different from Tehran’s. There is a huge difference between both countries’ respective political visions and strategies. Iranian foreign policy operates first and foremost on the principle of spreading the Islamic revolution and involves a great deal of interference in the affairs of other countries. Riyadh’s policies, on the other hand, stand entirely at odds with Tehran’s. Let’s assume Riyadh, in light of the current crisis, takes intrusive action in Yemen; is this justified given what some might say is a state of affairs the Yemenis themselves have chosen? Does the danger posed by the crisis give Riyadh an “entrance visa” into Yemen, to do as it pleases, pursuing totally unjustifiable policies the way Tehran does? Of course not.
But all this doesn’t mean that Saudi Arabia wants to totally wash its hands of Yemen, or that there are no dangers to the Kingdom’s security and that of the whole Gulf region as a result of this crisis. In fact, the international community’s non-involvement in the crisis—and especially the US’s—prefigure the grave danger it poses not only to Yemen’s large neighbor to the north, but also to the region as a whole. Very soon we will see the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) turning away from Iraq and Syria and focusing their attentions on Yemen—it is a terrain and environment that suits them perfectly. And no doubt in two or three years’ time, just as was the case with ISIS’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, the US administration will come to realize the damage caused by the time bomb it and the rest of the West has left in the region. At that time, Western intelligence services will tell us, just as we are being told now regarding Iraq and Syria, that the fight against ISIS in Yemen will likely take many years. (I wonder, if the US had intervened years ago against terrorist groups like ISIS, would we be in a position now where we must wait years in order to be rid of them?)
Looking at things from a different angle, we can see that despite the negative consequences the current crisis and the coming period will bring, and no matter how much political and military power the Houthis gain, Yemen—no matter who is in charge in Sana’a—will always need Saudi Arabia. If Riyadh ends its economic aid to the country, the whole of Yemen will be out on the streets calling for the Houthis’ departure. Riyadh, remember, has supported the Yemeni economy in recent years by offering grants for oil and basic commodities, the last of which came in August following a visit to Jeddah by President Hadi. Since the start of the political crisis in Yemen in 2011, Saudi Arabia has offered a total of three oil grants to the country worth 1 billion US dollars each. This is not to mention a 1 billion dollar deposit made by Riyadh into Yemen’s central bank. So, are the Houthis prepared for the consequences that will follow as a result of this aid being cut off suddenly, and would Iran—for example—be able to replace this aid?
Saudi Arabia is serious about protecting its own national security, and is very aware of the threat it faces from a group like the Houthis, fully in control of a whole country, its institutions, even its military. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is also serious about a danger that targets not just the Kingdom, but the entire region, one whose fires will extend even beyond the region and into the West, which will happen so long as the West remains an observer, awaiting the arrival of those who will put out the flames entirely on their own. Just take a look at Turkey: Ankara, a NATO member, is refusing to join any international action on ISIS in Syria—knowing full well the group’s black flags are fluttering ominously close to its borders.
It is truly unfortunate that the situation in Yemen has been left to deteriorate to the state it is in today: facing the Houthis on the one side and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on the other. And then there is ISIS, another ominous predator lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to pounce on its prey. And, of course, the world just watches as it does with Syria and Iraq. The voice of the Yemeni people, in this instance, is best heard in a line of poetry from the legendary Abbasid poet Abu Nawas: “You wonder at my illness . . . When it is my health that is cause for wonder!”
Why does Turkey remain silent over Syria?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Monday, 13 October 2014
Turkey is the only influential power which is really capable of toppling the Syrian government, of besieging extremist groups in Syria and of supporting the Iraqi government and protecting the Kurdistan region. Despite this, the Turks refused to take any important initiatives. As a result, the Assad regime continued to wreak havoc and murder people for three consecutive years. Meanwhile, extremist groups spread and the Kurdistan region remained unprotected.
So why does Ankara refuse to play a decisive role and leave the area open to others? Is it afraid of military involvement?
Syria shares a border with Turkey and what happens there affects Turkey’s security more than it affects the security of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Iran. However, Turkey is more hesitant to act than these countries. Iran sent Revolutionary Guards’ forces to fight alongside the Assad regime and is providing the latter with money, weaponry and food supplies. However, the Turkish government’s support has been limited and cautious and it has only opened its border to fighters and provided them with limited political and military assistance.
“Turkey has taken a political stance in support of the Syrian revolution but it refrained from intervening with its massive military capability”
Turkey has taken a political stance in support of the Syrian revolution but it refrained from intervening with its massive military capability thus leaving its neighbor open to meddling by regional and international powers, allowing them to interfere at the expense of Turkey’s interests and the Syrian people.
If the Turks had acted upon their frequent threats and helped topple the Assad regime, Ankara would have been the capital where future solutions are managed, instead of this chaos we see today. No country can argue with Turkey about its right to intervene as it’s the biggest country neighboring Syria and it’s the closest to Syria’s Sunni majority and Alawite minority. This is in addition to the historical and economic links between the two countries.
Turkey could intervene
Turkey does not need a reason to intervene and it would find massive international support and wide popularity in the Islamic world should it decide to act. The Syrian regime has acted against Turkey several times. It shelled Turkey’s territories, downed a Turkish jet, kidnapped Syrian activists from inside its borders and killed Turkish citizens inside Syria. Is there a legal prohibition preventing Turkey from acting? The U.S. responded to Damascus, which described the international coalition’s activity in its airspace as a violation of its sovereignty, saying there’s no longer a legitimate regime in Syria and that any country has the right to defend its citizens if the local authorities fail to impose their influence. The coalition intervened after American and British hostages were killed. It considered those deaths enough of a justification to pursue armed groups without needing the approval of Syrian authorities or the U.N. Security Council.
Turkey disappointed the millions of Syrians who raised the Turkish flag since the beginning of the revolution hoping that Ankara will save them. It frustrated millions of angry Arabs who now seek French and British support after Turkish promises became meaningless.
Iran exploited Turkey's inaction and tarnished its image among Arabs. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian defamed the Turks and said that the Iranian government warned its Turkish counterpart against any military ground operations in Syria and against any acts that may lead to radical changes in Syria.
What’s Turkey’s military value if it cannot save the Syrians who have lost a quarter of a million lives? Why is it a member of the Western NATO alliance which maintains a strategic balance against the Russians when it’s incapable of resolving a regional dispute on its own borders? Why does it keep silent over the Iranians’ flagrant intervention in Syria when it’s geographically stronger and closer? Turkey had in the 1990s disciplined late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and intimidated him by moving tanks toward the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. As a result, Assad rushed to hand over wanted Turkish opposition figure Abdullah Ocalan. Now Ankara just settles at making verbal threats as thousands of Syrians and dozens of Turks continue to be killed.
ISIS heralds the dawn of a dark age in the Arab world
Dr. Halla Diyab/Al Arabiya
Monday, 13 October 2014
This article is the last in a three-part series exploring the erosion of the 2011 Syrian uprising.
In almost all the videos posted from Syria, most rebel fighters are bearded, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) every time they kill a regime soldier or target a military base. Female international reporters would appear veiled when reporting from rebel-held areas. The international community still views them as moderates.
When Aleppo was controlled by rebels in 2013, the Washington Post reported that they cooperated with al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to operate a sharia council and impose Islamic law on one of the most diverse cities in Syria. Similar cooperation took place in rebel-held areas along the Euphrates river, and in Raqqah and Deir al-Zour. This makes it very difficult to distinguish moderate rebels from extremists.
“It is vital for the West to pursue a feasible solution to the Syrian conflict besides airstrikes against ISIS, to prevent it spreading through the region”
The brutality of some rebels - the most atrocious example being the removal of a Syrian soldier’s heart - is no different to that of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. With demographic chaos and political unrest in Syria, arms have been easily passed between groups who claim to oppose Assad.
There is also the question of rebel loyalty. One day a fighter may claim to stand with a “reasonable” faction, and tomorrow could declare allegiance to ISIS. There is also the problem that for some “moderate” Sunni rebels, the Syrian regime is a more pressing enemy than ISIS.
It is vital for the West to pursue a feasible solution to the Syrian conflict besides airstrikes against ISIS, to prevent it spreading through the region. The ongoing Syrian civil war, the regime’s aggression, the opposition’s failure to unite Syrians and draw a unified plan for the country post-Assad, the flow of arms, Islamism, and the lack of reforms in Syria are all fostering the growth of ISIS. The West should prioritize addressing the root causes that nurture such groups.
Moderate Muslim voices should be empowered to reach young Muslims in the West and the Middle East who are vulnerable to extremism. Efforts of leading moderate Muslim scholars should be reinforced, and de-radicalization programs should help jihadists understand that ISIS is not Islamic, and that its actions are against the principles of the religion and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, a pan-Arab counter-extremism strategy is necessary.
The international community should offer concrete support for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. This can restore security, and create a sense of normality and political stability in Syria, which would make it very difficult for jihadist ideologies to take root and expand territorially. The United States must persuade Arab countries to focus on cutting off arms and funding to jihadists. It should also initiate strategies with Turkey to control its borders to stop jihadists entering Syria
ISIS is dragging Syria and the Middle East into a new dark age. Today, Syrians’ responsibility is to stand together against extremism. The Syria that the uprising yearns to see is a civic, democratic country, where different religions and sects coexisted for thousands of years. Syrians have hope in U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to help “Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.”
Part 1: How the Syrian uprising led to ISIS’ rise, not democracy
Part 2: How Syria’s uprising blurred moderate, extremist lines
Malala’s win is a setback to obscurantists and extremists
Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya
Monday, 13 October 2014
Friday’s announcement that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India was not a surprise to many. At 17, Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of the prize since they were first awarded in 1901.
Malala was acknowledged for helping to promote universal education for children. This is the same Malala who at the age of 14 was shot in the head by Taliban extremists while on her way to school. She had defied their rigid edict of banning education for girls and was walking with her face uncovered when she was shot by criminal elements of the terrorist group.
The government and people of Pakistan congratulated Malala on her prize and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called her “the pride of the country.”
Young people especially girls in Pakistan expressed their strong support for Malala and openly condemned the terrorizing tactics of blowing up schools to bring a halt to the education for girls.
As one Pakistani said: “Except for the terrorists, all of us want our children to be in school.”
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala is a great setback to obscurantists and extremists not only in Pakistan but across the world. Here is a young girl who defied the purveyors of ignorance, bigotry and hatred, survived bullet wounds and continued her struggle, a “true jihad,” a jihad of enlightenment and progress. She has stood up against the wrath of these extremists who have distorted the meaning of jihad and committed crimes against humanity in the name of Islam.
Malala and her family have been accused of being agents of the CIA or enemies of the state. However, they have shown great courage and no amount of threats by their detractors has been able to break their resolve.
The Nobel Prize for Malala is a watershed in her life. She still has a long way to go. She has chosen to continue her struggle and hard work so that one day, all young girls even those in isolated areas or in remote villages will be able to walk to school without any fear of being shot in the head.
After her recovery, she was invited to several countries to boldly highlight the plight of those children with no access to education either due to lack of resources or manmade obstacles. She has set a powerful example and has inspired millions to continue their education and brave all odds to acquire knowledge that can help them develop themselves and raise their standard of living.
Malala as an advocate of peace has united people of all faiths and groups who share the common goal of getting a decent education and a life of dignity for their children. The continued struggle of the young activist for the cause of “education as a national priority," echos the dreams of millions who seek knowledge for a better life.
Malala has gained the respect and the support of millions around the world. On behalf of all peace lovers and educationists around the globe, we wish her success in her endeavors to promote children’s education everywhere.
Israel's Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean
By: Efraim Inbar/Middle East Quarterly
About 90 percent of Israel's foreign trade is carried out via the Mediterranean Sea. The East Mediterranean is also important in terms of energy transit. Close to 5 percent of global oil supply and 15 percent of global liquefied natural gas travels via the Suez Canal while Turkey hosts close to 6 percent of the global oil trade via the Bosporus Straits and two international pipelines.
About 90 percent of Israel's foreign trade is carried out via the Mediterranean Sea, making freedom of navigation in this area critical for the Jewish state's economic well-being. Moreover, the newly found gas fields offshore could transform Israel into an energy independent country and a significant exporter of gas, yet these developments are tied to its ability to secure free maritime passage and to defend the discovered hydrocarbon fields. While the recent regional turmoil has improved Israel's strategic environment by weakening its Arab foes, the East Mediterranean has become more problematic due to an increased Russian presence, Turkish activism, the potential for more terrorism and conflict over energy, and the advent of a Cypriot-Greek-Israeli axis. The erosion of the state order around the Mediterranean also brings to the fore Islamist forces with a clear anti-Western agenda, thus adding a civilizational dimension to the discord.
The East Mediterranean Region
The East Mediterranean is located east of the 20o meridian and includes the littoral states of Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza (a de facto independent political unit), Egypt, Libya, and divided Cyprus. The region, which saw significant superpower competition during the Cold War, still has strategic significance. Indeed, the East Mediterranean is an arena from which it is possible to project force into the Middle East. Important East-West routes such as the Silk Road and the Suez Canal (the avenue to the Persian Gulf and India) are situated there. In addition, the sources for important international issues such as radical Islam, international terrorism and nuclear proliferation are embedded in its regional politics.
Turkish policy, fueled by Ottoman and Islamist impulses, has led to strains in the relationship with Israel.
The East Mediterranean is also important in terms of energy transit. Close to 5 percent of global oil supply and 15 percent of global liquefied natural gas travels via the Suez Canal while Turkey hosts close to 6 percent of the global oil trade via the Bosporus Straits and two international pipelines. The discovery of new oil and gas deposits off the coasts of Israel, Gaza, and Cyprus and potential for additional discoveries off Syria and Lebanon, is a promising energy development.
Breakdown of the U.S. Security Architecture
The naval presence of the U.S. Sixth Fleet was unrivalled in the post-Cold War period, and Washington maintained military and political dominance in the East Mediterranean. Washington also managed the region through a web of alliances with regional powers. Most prominent were two trilateral relationships, which had their origins in the Cold War: U.S.-Turkey-Israel and U.S.-Egypt-Israel. This security architecture has broken down.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (left) meets with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. With the Islamist Erdoğan at its helm, Turkey supports Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot; helps Iran evade sanctions; assists Sunni Islamists moving into Syria; propagates anti-U.S. and anti-Semitic conspiracies while, at home, the regime displays increasing authoritarianism.
In the post-Cold War era, Ankara entered into a strategic partnership with Jerusalem, encouraged by Washington. The fact that the two strongest allies of the United States in the East Mediterranean cooperated closely on strategic and military issues was highly significant for U.S. interests in the region. Yet, the rise of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) since its electoral victory of November 2002 has led to a reorientation in Turkish foreign policy which, under the AKP, has distanced itself from the West and developed ambitions to lead the Muslim world. With Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at its helm, Turkey supports Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot; helps Iran evade sanctions; assists Sunni Islamists moving into Syria and mulls an invasion of Syria; propagates anti-U.S. and anti-Semitic conspiracies while the regime displays increasing authoritarianism at home. Moreover, Turkey's NATO partnership has become problematic, particularly after a Chinese firm was contracted to build a long-range air and anti-missile defense architecture.
Turkish policy, fueled by Ottoman and Islamist impulses, has led to an activist approach toward the Middle East and also to strains in the relationship with Israel. This became evident following the May 2010 attempt by a Turkish vessel, the Mavi Marmara, to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. In October 2010, Turkey's national security council even identified Israel as one of the country's main threats in its official policy document, the "Red Book." These developments fractured one of the foundations upon which U.S. policy has rested in the East Mediterranean.
Stability in the East Mediterranean also benefited from the U.S.-Egyptian-Israeli triangle, which began when President Anwar Sadat decided in the 1970s to switch to a pro-U.S. orientation and subsequently to make peace with Israel in 1979. Egypt, the largest Arab state, carries much weight in the East Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Africa. Sadat's successor, Husni Mubarak, continued the pro-U.S. stance during the post-Cold War era. The convergence of interests among the United States, Egypt, and Israel served among other things to maintain the Pax Americana in the East Mediterranean.
Washington has offered confused, contradictory, and inconsistent responses to the Arab uprisings.
Yet, the U.S.-Egyptian-Israeli relationship has been under strain since Mubarak's resignation in February 2011. Egypt's military continued its cooperation with Israel to maintain the military clauses of the 1979 peace treaty. But the Muslim Brother-hood, which came to power via the ballot box, was very reserved toward relations with Israel, which the Brotherhood saw as a theological aberration. Moreover, the Brotherhood basically held anti-U.S. sentiments, which were muted somewhat by realpolitik requirements, primarily the unexpected support lent it by the Obama administration.
The Egyptian army's removal of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in July 2013 further undermined the trilateral relationship since the U.S. administration regarded the move as an "undemocratic" development. Washington even partially suspended its assistance to Egypt in October 2013, causing additional strain in relations with Cairo. This came on the heels of President Obama's cancellation of the Bright Star joint military exercise and the Pentagon's withholding of delivery of weapon systems. The U.S. aid flow has now been tied to "credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically-elected, civilian government through free and fair elections." Israeli diplomatic efforts to convince Washington not to act on its democratic, missionary zeal were only partially successful. These developments have hampered potential for useful cooperation between Cairo, Jerusalem, and Washington.
The turbulence in the Arab world since 2011 has also underscored the erosion in the U.S. position. This is partly due to the foreign policy of the Obama administration that can be characterized as a deliberate, "multilateral retrenchment … designed to curtail the United States' overseas commitments, restore its standing in the world, and shift burdens onto global partners." It is also partly due to Washington's confused, contradictory, and inconsistent responses to the unfolding events of the Arab uprisings. Furthermore, the ill-conceived pledge of military action in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons by Assad and the subsequent political acrobatics to avoid following through elicited much ridicule.
This was followed by the November 2013 nuclear deal, hammered out between U.S.-led P5+1 group and Iran, that allows the Islamic Republic to continue enriching uranium as well as weaponization and missiles—the delivery systems—that has been viewed in the East Mediterranean (and elsewhere) as a great diplomatic victory for Tehran. Regional leaders have seen Washington retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, engage (or appease) its enemies Iran and Syria, and desert friendly rulers. All have strengthened the general perception of a weak and confused U.S. foreign policy.
North of Israel, along the Mediterranean coast, sits Lebanon, a state dominated by the radical Shiite Hezbollah. Beirut has already laid claim to some of the Israeli-found offshore gas fields, shown above. Moreover, Syria, an enemy of Israel and long-time ally of Iran, exerts considerable influence in Lebanon.
Drained by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and blessed with new energy finds, Washington does not want to get dragged into additional conflicts in a Middle East that no longer seems central to its interests. As it edges toward energy independence, Washington is apparently losing interest in the East Mediterranean and the adjacent Middle East. This parallels Obama's November 2011 announcement of the "rebalance to Asia" policy. The rise of China is an understandable strategic reason for the reinforcement of U.S. military presence in Asia. While little has been done to implement the Asia pivot, cuts in the U.S. defense budget clearly indicate that such a priority will be at the expense of Washington's presence elsewhere, including the East Mediterranean. The U.S. naval presence in the Mediterranean dwindled after the end of the Cold War and the mounting needs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the Cold War, the Sixth Fleet regularly comprised one or two aircraft carrier task forces; today it consists of a command ship and smaller vessels such as destroyers. While the U.S. military is still capable of acting in the East Mediterranean, the general perception in the region is that the Obama administration lacks the political will and skills to do so.
The possibility that European allies in NATO or the European Union will fill the U.S. position in the East Mediterranean is not taken seriously. Europe is not a real strategic actor since it lacks the necessary military assets, a clear strategic vision, as well as the political will to take up the U.S. role. Others, such as Russia, which has long maintained a base in Syria, might.
Growing Islamist Presence
Elements of radical Islam are increasingly powerful around the East Mediterranean basin. The Muslim-majority countries have difficulties in sustaining statist structures, allowing for Islamist political forces to exercise ever-greater influence. Indeed, Islamist tendencies in Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey all threaten the current unrestricted access to the area by Israel and the West.
The Egyptian military's grip over the Sinai Peninsula is tenuous. Full Egyptian sovereignty has not been restored.
Libya remains chaotic three years after the uprising against Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi. Such lack of order may lead to the disintegration of the state and allow greater freedom of action for Muslim extremists. Libya's eastern neighbor, Egypt, is now ruled again by the military, but it is premature to conclude that the Islamist elements will play only a secondary role in the emerging political system. They still send multitudes into the streets of Egyptian cities to destabilize the new military regime. Apart from the important Mediterranean ports, Egypt also controls the Suez Canal, a critical passageway linking Europe to the Persian Gulf and the Far East that could fall into the hands of Islamists.
Even if the Egyptian military is able to curtail the Islamist forces at home, its grip over the Sinai Peninsula is tenuous. Under Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, attempts to dislodge the Sunni jihadists roaming Sinai have increased, but full Egyptian sovereignty has not been restored. This could lead to the "Somalization" of the peninsula, negatively affecting the safety of naval trade along the Mediterranean, the approaches to the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea. Nearby Gaza is currently controlled by Hamas, a radical Islamist organization allied with Iran. Containment of the Islamist threat from Gaza remains a serious challenge.
North of Israel, along the Mediterranean coast, sits Lebanon, a state dominated by the radical Shiite Hezbollah. It has already laid claim to some of the Israeli-found offshore gas fields. Moreover, Syria, an enemy of Israel and long-time ally of Iran, exerts considerable influence in Lebanon. The Assad regime remains in power, but any Syrian successor regime could be Islamist and anti-Western.
Further on the East Mediterranean coastline is AKP-ruled Turkey. A combination of Turkish nationalism, neo-Ottoman nostalgia, and Islamist-jihadist impulses has pushed Ankara away from a pro-Western foreign orientation toward an aggressive posture on several regional issues. Turkey is interested in gaining control over the maritime gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, which would limit its energy dependence on Russia and Iran and help fulfill its ambitions to serve as an energy bridge to the West. This puts Ankara at loggerheads with Nicosia and Jerusalem, which share an interest in developing the hydrocarbon fields in their exclusive economic zones and exporting gas to energy-thirsty Europe. Indeed, Ankara also flexed its naval muscles by threatening to escort flotillas trying to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
West of Turkey is Greece, a democratic, Western state with a stake in the protection of the Greek Cypriots from Muslim domination. However, it has limited military ability to parry the Turkish challenge alone and is wracked by economic problems. Many East Mediterranean states also would likely favor the return of Cyprus to Turkish (and Muslim) rule. This preference introduces a civilizational aspect to the emerging balance of power.
A New Strategic Equation
Russian warships arrive at the Syrian port city of Tartus, January 8, 2014. The Russians have retained a naval base at Tartus and have gradually increased fleet size and stepped up patrols in the East Mediterranean, roughly coinciding with the escalation of the Syrian civil war. Moscow also gained full access to a Cypriot port and recently announced the establishment of a Mediterranean naval task force "on a permanent basis."
There is now a power vacuum in the East Mediterranean and an uncertain future. Several developments are noteworthy: a resurgence of Russian influence, the potential for Turkish aggression, the emergence of an Israeli-Greek-Cypriot axis, an enhanced terrorist threat, greater Iranian ability to project power in the region, and the potential for wars over gas fields.
Russia: The power vacuum makes it easier for Moscow to recapture some of its lost influence after the end of the Cold War. While U.S. and European navies in the region have steadily declined for years as this theater has been considered of diminishing importance, Russia has retained its Tartus naval base on the Syrian coast and has gradually improved its fleet size and stepped up patrols in the East Mediterranean, roughly coinciding with the escalation of the Syrian civil war. Moscow's new military footprint in the East Mediterranean has been underscored by multiple Russian naval exercises. During his visit to the Black Sea Fleet in February 2013, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stressed that the "Mediterranean region was the core of all essential dangers to Russia's national interests" and that continued fallout from the Arab upheavals increased the importance of the region. Shortly after, he announced the establishment of a naval task force in the Mediterranean "on a permanent basis."
Moscow also gained full access to a Cypriot port. A member of the European Union but not NATO, and painfully aware that the West is not likely to offer a credible guarantee against potential Turkish aggression, Nicosia has come to consider Moscow a power able to provide a modicum of deterrence against Ankara.
Russian diplomacy and material support have also been crucial to keeping Syria's Bashar al-Assad in power, making Moscow a tacit ally of Iran. No less important, Russia has increased its leverage in Egypt—the most important Arab state—following the military coup. According to many reports, a large arms deal, to the tune of U.S. $2-3 billion, and naval services at the port of Alexandria, were discussed between the two countries at the beginning of 2014. If these deals do indeed materialize, this would represent an important change in Egyptian policy. It is not clear whether the Western powers fully understand the strategic significance of Egypt moving closer to Russia.
Despite its problems with Muslim radicals at home, Moscow has also maintained good relations with Hamas. In contrast to most of the international community, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization, in 2006, the Russian government invited a Hamas delegation to Moscow for talks. In 2010, together with Turkey, Russia even called for bringing Hamas into the diplomatic process attempting to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Finally, Russia—an energy producer—has shown interest in the newly
Russian support has been crucial to keeping Syria's Assad in power, making Moscow a tacit ally of Iran.
discovered offshore energy fields. In July 2012, Russian president Vladimir Putin visited Israel to discuss the gas fields, among other things. In December 2013, Moscow signed a 25-year energy deal with Syria that opens the way for its eventual move into the gas-rich East Mediterranean.
Turkey: The Russian encroachment has been paralleled by greater Turkish assertiveness. Under certain conditions, Ankara may be tempted to capitalize on its conventional military superiority to force issues by military action in several arenas, including the Aegean, Cyprus, Syria, and, perhaps, Iraq. The potential disintegration of Syria and the possible establishment of an independent Greater Kurdistan could be incentives for Turkish intervention. The collapse of the AKP's earlier foreign policy, dubbed "zero problems" with Turkey's neighbors, could push Ankara into open confrontation. Aggressive Russian behavior in Crimea could reinforce such tendencies.
Similarly, Turkey's appetite for energy and aspiration to become an energy bridge to Europe could lead to aggressive behavior. Turkish warships have harassed vessels prospecting for oil and gas off Cyprus.  Cyprus is also the main station for a Turkish desired pipeline taking Levant Basin gas to Turkey for export to Europe. Ankara might even be tempted to complete its conquest of Cyprus, begun when it invaded and occupied the northern part of the island in 1974.
Ankara has embarked on military modernization and has ambitious procurement plans. Turkish naval power is the largest in the East Mediterranean. In March 2012, then-navy commander Admiral Murat Bilgel outlined Turkey's strategic objective "to operate not only in the littorals but also on the high seas," with high seas referring to the East Mediterranean. The December 2013 decision to purchase a large 27,500-ton landing dock vessel capable of transporting multiple tanks, helicopters, and more than a thousand troops, reflects its desire to project naval strength in the region.
Israel, Cyprus, and Greece: Turkey's threats and actions have brought Israel, Cyprus, and Greece closer together. Beyond blocking a revisionist Turkey and common interests in the area of energy security, the three states also share apprehensions about the East Mediterranean becoming an Islamic lake. Athens, Jerusalem, and Nicosia hope to coordinate the work of their lobbies in Washington to sensitize the U.S. administration to their concerns. Battling an economic crisis, Greece wants the new ties with Israel to boost tourism and investment, particularly in the gas industry, while deepening its military partnership with a powerful country in the region. Moreover, the emerging informal Israeli-Greek alliance has the potential to bring Israel closer to Europe and moderate some of the pro-Palestinian bias occasionally displayed by the European Union.
Greece's George Papandreou (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu in Athens, August 2010. Turkey's threats and actions have brought Israel and Greece closer together . Battling an economic crisis, Greece wants the new ties with Israel to boost tourism and investment, particularly in the gas industry, while deepening its military partnership with a powerful country in the region.
Following Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Greece in August 2010, cooperation between the two countries has been broad and multifaceted, covering culture, tourism, and economics. One area of cooperation discussed was the possibility of creating a gas triangle—Israel-Cyprus-Greece—with Greece the hub of Israeli and Cypriot gas exports to the rest of Europe. Such a development could lessen the continent's energy dependence on Russia. Another project that can further improve the ties between the countries is a proposed undersea electric power line between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece. Currently Israel and Cyprus are isolated in terms of electricity and do not export or import almost any power.
Israeli-Greek military cooperation has already manifested itself in a series of multinational—Greek, Israel, and United States—joint air and sea exercises under the names Noble Dina and Blue Flag (which included an Italian contingent). Greece also cooperated with Israel in July 2011 by preventing the departure of ships set to sail to Gaza.
International terrorism: Developments in the Arab states of the East Mediterranean have increased the threat of international terrorism. As leaders lose their grip over state territory and borders become more porous, armed groups and terrorists gain greater freedom of action. Moreover, security services that dealt with terrorism have been negatively affected by domestic politics and have lost some of their efficiency. Sinai has turned into a transit route for Iranian weapons to Hamas and a base for terrorist attacks against Israel. Hamas has even set up rocket production lines in Sinai in an effort to protect its assets, believing Jerusalem would not strike targets inside Egypt for fear of undermining the bilateral relations. Syria has also become a haven for many Islamist groups as result of the civil war.
Furthermore, as weakened or failed states lose control over their security apparatus, national arsenals of conventional and nonconventional arms have become vulnerable, which may result in the emergence of increasingly well-armed, politically dissatisfied groups seeking to harm Israel. For example, following the fall of Qaddafi, Libyan SA-7 anti-air missiles and anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades reached Hamas in Gaza. Similarly, in the event of a Syrian regime collapse, Damascus's advanced arsenal, including chemical weapons, shore-to-ship missiles, air defense systems, and ballistic missiles of all types could end up in the hands of Hezbollah or other radical elements.
Salafi jihadist groups have reportedly attacked the Suez Canal several times. In 2013, an Egyptian court sentenced 26 members of an alleged terrorist group to death over plans to target ships in the canal. In 2014, Egyptian authorities again tightened security around the canal following fears that Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Mohamed Morsi might attack ships in the waterway in protest over his trial.
Finally, terrorist activities could adversely affect the navigation through the Suez Canal, an important choke point. Salafi jihadist groups have attacked the canal several times already.
The Iranian presence: The decline in U.S. power, the timidity of the Europeans, and the turmoil in the Arab world have facilitated Iranian encroachment of the East Mediterranean. Indeed, Tehran's attempts to boost its naval presence in the Mediterranean are part of an ambitious program to build a navy capable of projecting power far from Iran's borders. Tehran would like to be able to supply its Mediterranean allies: Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. Entering the Mediterranean also enhances Iran's access to Muslim Balkan states, namely Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo, giving Tehran a clear stake in the outcome of the Syrian civil war. Assad's hold on power is critical for the "Shiite Crescent" from the Persian Gulf to the Levant, which would enhance Iranian influence in the Middle East and the East Mediterranean. Tehran has also been strengthening naval cooperation with Moscow, viewed as a potential partner in efforts to limit and constrain U.S. influence.
Tehran's attempts to boost its naval presence in the Mediterranean are part of a program to build a navy capable of projecting power far from Iran's borders.
Wars over gas fields: The discovery of gas fields in the East Mediterranean could potentially escalate tensions in this increasingly volatile region. Competing claims to the gas fields by Israel's former ally Turkey as well as by its neighbor Lebanon (still in a de jure state of war) have precipitated a buildup of naval forces in the Levant basin by a number of states, including Russia. Israel's wells and the naval presence protecting them also offer new targets at sea to its longstanding, non-state enemies, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Conscious of these threats, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, has approved the navy's plan to add four offshore patrol vessels. Israeli defense circles hope that Israel's expanding navy, combined with continuous improvement of land and air assets and increasing cooperation with Greece and Cyprus, will give pause to any regional actor that would consider turning the Mediterranean Sea into the next great field of battle. Indeed, the Israeli navy is now preparing to defend the gas field offshore of Israel.
The future role of Russia in these developments is not clear. Some analysts believe that Moscow is interested primarily in marketing the region's energy riches. Securing gas reserves in the East Mediterranean will also help Moscow safeguard its dominant position as a natural gas supplier to western Europe, which could be challenged by new competitors in the region. Yet, delays and disruptions in moving gas to Europe might further strengthen Russia's role as a major energy supplier to Europe and keep prices high, which is beneficial for Moscow. Moreover, as the Ukraine crisis indicated, geopolitics still is a dominant factor in Russian decision-making.
Stability in the East Mediterranean can no longer be taken for granted as U.S. forces are retreating. Europe, an impotent international actor, cannot fill the resulting political vacuum. Russia under Putin is beefing up its naval presence. Growing Islamist freedom of action is threatening the region. Turkey, no longer a true ally of the West, has its own Mediterranean agenda and the military capability to project force to attain its goals. So far, the growing Russian assertiveness has not changed the course of Turkish foreign policy. The disruptive potential of failed states, the access of Iran to Mediterranean waters, and interstate competition for energy resources are also destabilizing the region. But it is not clear whether the Western powers, particularly the United States, are aware of the possibility of losing the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea to Russia or radical Islam, or are
preparing in any way to forestall such a scenario. U.S. naiveté and European gullibility could become extremely costly in strategic terms.
The Israeli perspective on the East Mediterranean region is colored by its vital need to maintain the freedom of maritime routes for its foreign trade and to provide security for its newly found gas fields. While its strategic position has generally improved in the Middle East, Jerusalem sees deterioration in the environment in the East Mediterranean. A growing Russian presence and Turkish assertiveness are inimical to Israel's interests. Developments along the shores of the East Mediterranean also decrease stability and enhance the likelihood of more Islamist challenges.
In civilizational terms, the East Mediterranean has served as a point of contention in the past between Persia and the ancient Greeks and between the Ottomans and Venetians. It is the location where the struggle between East and West takes place. After the Cold War, the borders of the West moved eastward. Now, they could easily move in the other direction.
***Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and a Shilman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
 Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49.
 For more, see Seth Cropsey, Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy (New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2013).
 Jon B. Alterman and Haim Malka, "Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Geometry," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2012, pp. 111-25.
 Efraim Inbar, The Israeli-Turkish Entente (London: King's College Mediterranean Program, 2001); Ofra Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship. Changing Ties of Middle Eastern Outsiders (New York: Palgrave, 2004).
 Rajan Menon and S. Enders Wimbush, "The US and Turkey: End of an Alliance?" Survival, Summer 2007, pp. 129-44; Efraim Inbar, "Israeli-Turkish Tensions and Their International Ramifications," Orbis, Winter 2011, pp. 135-9; Ahmet Davutoğlu, Stratejik Derinlik: Türkiye'nin Uluslararası Konumu (Istanbul: Küre Yayınları, 2001).
 Tarik Ozuglu, "Turkey's Eroding Commitment to NATO: From Identity to Interests," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2012, pp. 153-64; Burak Ege Bekdil, "Allies Intensify Pressure on Turkey over China Missile Deal," The Defense News, Feb. 24, 2014, p. 8.
 Liad Porat, "The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt-Israel Peace," Mideast Security and Policy Studies, no. 102, BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Ramat Gan, Aug. 1, 2013.
 Tally Helfont, "Slashed US Aid to Egypt and the Future of the Bilateral Relations," Institute for National Strategic Studies, Washington, D.C., Oct. 13, 2013.
 Interview with senior Israeli official, Jerusalem, Apr. 7, 2013.
 Daniel W. Drezner, "Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy? Why We Need Doctrines in Uncertain Times," Foreign Affairs, July/Aug. 2011, p. 58.
 Eitan Gilboa, "The United States and the Arab Spring," in Efraim Inbar, ed., The Arab Spring, Democracy and Security: Domestic and Regional Ramifications (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 51-74.
 Eyal Zisser, "The Failure of Washington's Syria Policy," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2013, pp. 59-66.
 "Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration's 'Rebalancing' toward Asia," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., Mar. 28, 2012.
 Seth Cropsey, "All Options Are Not on the Table: A Briefing on the US Mediterranean Fleet," World Affairs Journal, Mar. 16, 2011; Steve Cohen, "America's Incredible Shrinking Navy," The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2014.
 Florence Gaub, "A Libyan Recipe for Disaster," Survival, Feb.-Mar. 2014, pp. 101-20.
 Thomas R. Fedyszyn, "The Russian Navy 'Rebalances' to the Mediterranean," U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Dec. 2013.
 InCyprus.com, Jan. 11, 2014.
 Interviews with senior officials, Nicosia, Oct. 10, 2012.
 Zvi Magen, "The Russian Fleet in the Mediterranean: Exercise or Military Operation?" Institute for National Strategic Studies, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2013.
 Igor Khrestin and John Elliott, "Russia and the Middle East," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2007, pp. 21-7.
 The Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2010.
 Thane Gustafson, "Putin's Petroleum Problem," Foreign Affairs, Nov./Dec. 2012, pp. 83-96.
 United Press International, Jan. 16, 2014.
 For example, see, Gary Lakes, "Oil, Gas and Energy Security," European Rim Policy and Investment Council (ERPIC, Larnaca, Cyprus), Oct. 23, 2009.
 "Turkey," Institute for National Strategic Studies, Washington, D.C., Dec. 24, 2012, pp. 19-25.
The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 4, 2014.
 Bloomberg News Service (New York), Aug. 2011.
 The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 2013.
 Ibid., Aug. 2, 2011.
 The Times of Israel (Jerusalem), Mar. 25, 2014.
 Arutz Sheva (Beit El and Petah Tikva), Nov. 25, 2013.
Haaretz (Tel Aviv), July 2, 2011.
 The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 11, 2011.
 Reuters, Aug. 29, 2011.
 Defense News (Springfield, Va.), Dec. 12, 2011.
 USA Today, Nov. 4, 2013.
 Shaul Shay, "Iran's New Strategic Horizons at Sea," Arutz Sheva, July 30, 2012; Agence France-Presse, Jan. 17, 2013.
 Michael Eisenstadt and Alon Paz, "Iran's Evolving Maritime Presence," Policy Watch, no. 2224, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., Mar. 13, 2014.
 Israel Hayom (Tel Aviv), July 10, 2012.
 Defense News (Springfield, Va.), Feb. 27, 2012.