LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation For Today/Ephesians 05/01-33/ Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and trust and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
O Lord, comfort all those who suffer, especially the sick, the poor and the unemployed
Seigneur, donne ta consolation à ceux qui souffrent, spécialement aux malades, à ceux qui sont dans le besoin, à ceux qui sont au chômage
editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 14, 15/14
Moving on: Rowhani wants to leave the nuclear issue behind/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/October 15/14
Did ISIS Use Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds in Kobani/By: Jonathan Spyer/October 15/14
Red-Green Sweden Recognizes Palestine as 'State'/By Michel Gurfinkiel/PJ Media/October 15/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 14, 15/14
Salam Urges Additional EU Development Aid
Hariri Denies Discussing Presidential Candidate Names with al-Rahi: IS Doesn't Represent Islam
Change and Reform: Those Hindering Parliamentary Polls Same Ones Blocking Presidential Elections
Mustaqbal: Hizbullah Intimidating Lebanese after Entangling Them in Syria War
Intense Consultations to Agree on Names of Compromise Presidential Candidates
Mustaqbal, AMAL Discuss Extension of Parliament's Term
Lebanon freezes decision on Iranian military aid: sources
Hariri meets Rai, calls for consensus president
Arsal mayor: Quarter of refugees have left
Army aid to be delivered immediately once Lebanon approves: Iran envoy
Future MP: Hariri's initiative a step toward presidential vote
Lebanon charges former Arsal negotiator with belonging to Nusra
Nasrallah visits Bekaa, pledges to defeat jihadists
Abra suspects’ trial postponed over football match
Notorious extremists still in control of Tripoli mosque
Lawmakers at loggerheads over salary scale
Lebanese Apple farmers to stage sit-in to protest lack of support
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 14, 15/14
Report: Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in southeast
Iraq: Curfew declared in Ramadi following police chief killing
Hollande urges world to arm those fighting ISIS
The international coalition: Too little, too late
Tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia returns after signs of improved ties
ISIS sold Muslim women to Jews, Kuwaiti cleric charges
Iran's Rouhani: Nuclear deal with West 'certain'
British parliament votes in favor of recognizing Palestine
U.N. chief Ban visits war-scarred Gaza Strip
Israel, Palestinians respond to UK Palestine
Korea leader Kim re-appears, with walking stick: state media
British police arrest six in Syria-linked probe
Kerry holds surprise Libya talks in Paris
Hariri Denies Discussing Presidential
Candidate Names with al-Rahi: IS Doesn't Represent Islam
Naharnet /Head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri denied on Tuesday media reports that said that he had discussed with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi alternative presidential candidates, while also stressing his support for the Lebanese army and its confrontation with extremists. He said: “I did not discuss any names with al-Rahi. These claims may have been made to create sensationalist reporting.” He made his remarks before reporters after holding talks in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. “We did not tackle any names, but that does not mean that we should not do so,” he added. “We have reached a point where the debate has been raised over extending parliament's term, which we never wanted and or aimed for,” stressed Hariri. “We want to stage the parliamentary elections. The most important matter however is holding the presidential ones,” he declared. Hariri had held talks with al-Rahi in Rome on Tuesday. “As part of the Mustaqbal Movement and March 14 alliance, we should reach a point similar to the one in 2008 that led to the election Michel Suleiman as president,” he suggested. Suleiman was elected as president after the rival March 8 and 14 camps reached a Qatari-sponsored agreement to set aside their differences and elect a president.
At the time, the presidential palace was vacant from November 2007 to May 2008. Lebanon plunged into a political vacuum as 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. Commenting on the spread of Sunni extremism in the region through the Islamic State group, Hariri remarked: “The majority, if not all, the Sunnis in Lebanon are moderate.” “Some groups however are attempting to portray them as providing a support for terrorism,” lamented the former premier. “The Mustaqbal Movement believes that the IS poses a threat to the whole of Lebanon and the region,” he noted. “We will not make any compromise when it comes to the IS as the group is comprised of terrorists who battled the Lebanese people and army. We will combat them as well because they do not represent Islam and have nothing to do with it,” he added. “Any attack against the army is an attack against the whole of Lebanon,” he said. “If any of those extremists believes that they are more Muslim than us, then we will fight them,” Hariri stated. On his talks with Mogherini, he said that they discussed the possibility of supplying the Lebanese army with Italian equipment. This issue will be tackled between the Lebanese and Italian governments and militaries, he explained in a hope that an agreement will be reached between the two sides.
Mustaqbal: Hizbullah Intimidating
Lebanese after Entangling Them in Syria War
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday rejected what it called "Hizbullah's intimidation against the Lebanese," while stressing that "Tripoli and the North will always be supportive of the state against Lebanon's enemies.”“The events that Lebanon are witnessing require addressing the core of issues in order to pull the country out of the current crisis,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting, reiterating the need to “reach an agreement over a new president instead of pushing the country towards new dilemmas.”Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the elections. Turning to the security situation in northern Lebanon, especially in Tripoli, the bloc emphasized that “Tripoli and the North have always been and will always be supportive of the state and the army” in the face of “the enemies of Lebanon whose plots are well-known.” Accordingly, Mustaqbal condemned “the suspicious attacks against the posts of the army and security forces in the city at the hands of outlaws,” demanding “the strictest punishments” against the assailants. The bloc's remarks come in the wake of recurrent armed attacks against the army in Tripoli and the neighboring northern region of Akkar, where the soldier Milad Mohammed Issa was recently shot dead. Commenting on recent defections by some soldiers from the Lebanese army, the bloc describe them as “individual cases that do not enjoy political, popular or familial cover from the residents of the North and Lebanon in general.” Mustaqbal also criticized remarks by Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem, who boasted that Hizbullah prevented the Islamic State group from reaching Beirut, describing his statement as “blatant intimidation and blackmail against the Lebanese.” Hizbullah “contributed to stoking the problem and importing it into Lebanon through its fighting alongside the regime in Syria,” the bloc added, accusing the party of “entangling Lebanon and the Lebanese in the inferno of the ongoing war in Syria.”
“Hizbullah's major sin is its participation in combat outside Lebanon alongside a tyrant regime that is fighting its people, which implicates Lebanon in problems that are beyond its capacity and threatens to undermine its internal unity, domestic peace, national economy and security stability,” Mustaqbal went on to say.
Change and Reform: Those Hindering
Parliamentary Polls Same Ones Blocking Presidential Elections
Naharnet/The Change and Reform bloc stated on Tuesday that “consensual democracy” should not be exploited to obstruct democratic practices, such as the parliamentary and presidential elections. MP Ibrahim Kanaan stated after the bloc's weekly meeting: “Those obstructing the parliamentary elections are the same sides that are blocking the presidential polls.” “Those muffling the voice of the people are hindering the presidential elections,” he added in reference to Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun's past proposal to hold direct presidential polls. “Some powers believe that these polls are simply aimed at electing a new head of state. In fact, the elections are aimed at respecting the National Pact and national principles,” said the lawmaker. On the parliamentary elections, he remarked: “The polls should result in the Christians' election of their proper representatives … which can be achieved through a fair electoral law that guarantees the actual representation of all sects.” “A main segment of the Christian population cannot be isolated and marginalized,” he declared. 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. "There is a group that wants to impose the president while rejecting that he be elected by the people," he said, referring to his controversial proposal on electing the president through a popular vote.
Intense Consultations to Agree on
Names of Compromise Presidential Candidates
Naharnet/The names of several presidential candidates have been discussed as potential figures to fill the ongoing vacuum at the Baabda Palace, local newspapers reported on Tuesday. An Nahar newspaper reported that head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri discussed last week with French President Francois Hollande in Paris the names of four candidates from the March 14 alliance and three centrists. The names were later discussed during a meeting between Hariri and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Monday night in Rome. The daily said that al-Rahi agreed on the names of one candidate from the March 14 coalition and two centrists to run for the presidential elections, noting that the nomination of one of the centrists requires a constitutional amendment.
However, al-Liwaa newspaper reported that Hariri and al-Rahi discussed the candidacy of four nominees, who are consensual and weren't mentioned in media speculations. Al-Akbar daily said that Hariri discussed with al-Rahi the names of three candidates that were agreed upon by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who in turn had announced his candidacy after the term of ex-President Michel Suleiman ended in May. The three newspapers didn't reveal the name of any of the candidates.
March 14 officials, according to the daily, will focus in the upcoming period on pressing international powers to agree on staging the presidential elections ahead of the Day of Independence on November 21. Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum due to the failure of the rival March 8 and 14 camps to agree on a compromise candidate.
Trial Adjourned as One Abra Suspect
Refuses to Go to Court, Another Plays Football
Naharnet /The military court adjourned on Tuesday the trial of suspects charged with terrorism and the killing of Lebanese soldiers near the southern city of Sidon last year after two of them, including a footballer, failed to attend the hearing. The trial of the detainees and fugitives was adjourned to November 18. One of the suspects, a Roumieh prison inmate, refused to attend the session at the military court, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said the other is a footballer who is in Jeddah to take part in the national team's friendly match with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The suspects are charged with terrorist crimes, the killing of soldiers and sparking sectarian strife. They are the supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, who went into hiding following deadly gunbattles in Abra with the Lebanese army in June 2013. Indictments were issued in February against him and 56 of his followers that called for the death penalty. Around 54 of them are in custody. The 45-year-old cleric, who supports the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, is still nowhere to be found along with pop idol Fadel Shaker. Al-Asir teamed up with Shaker, a onetime prominent singer, when around three years ago he began agitating for Hizbullah to disarm. The June 2013 gunbattles between the cleric's supporters and the army concentrated in the area of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque, where Asir was a preacher, and nearby buildings in Abra.
Salam Urges Additional EU Development
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam urged the European Union on Tuesday to increase its development assistance to Lebanon to consolidate stability in the country. “The European Commission and EU member states should be aware of the danger of threats that Lebanon is facing and their social and economic repercussions,” said Salam. EU funding in the coming two years should focus on infrastructure development, he said. The premier stressed that the support for specific projects in low-income communities would “limit social tension and preserve stability.” Salam spoke during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Single Support Framework setting the priorities and financial allocations for the cooperation between the EU and Lebanon for the current period 2014-2016. The MoU was signed at the Grand Serail by European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule and Economy and Trade Minister Alain Hakim. During his speech at the ceremony, Salam urged the EU to help Lebanon meet the burden of Syrian refugees, whose numbers in the country have crossed 1.5 million. He said one of the solutions would be to transfer a large number of the displaced Syrians to other countries. The United Nations said on Monday that it has started cutting the food aid it provides to 4.2 million Syrians ravaged by war because of a shortfall in funding. Cutbacks in aid to refugees in countries neighboring war-torn Syria will start from next month. Syrians in Lebanon will receive 20-30 percent less assistance. Fule held on Tuesday separate talks with Salam, Bassil and Hakim.
Mustaqbal, AMAL Discuss Extension of
Naharnet /A meeting was held last week between al-Mustaqbal Movement and AMAL representatives to discuss the controversial extension of parliament's term, As Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday. According to the daily, the meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Speaker Nabih Berri's adviser, and Nader Hariri, head of ex-PM Saad Hariri's office. The newspaper described the meeting as “positive” and aims at extending the legislative term with “the minimum damage.”“Hariri... doesn't want to take the country into the unknown,” sources stressed. The sources ruled out that the two officials discussed “any mechanism concerning the extension of the parliament's term or its period.”Berri rejected the staging of parliamentary elections, if it was boycotted by a key party a day after Hariri stated that the presidential elections should be a priority for Lebanon, revealing that his movement will not participate in the parliamentary polls should they be held in the absence of a president. Some political blocs have been demanding that the parliamentary elections, which are set for November, be held even if a head of state is not elected. Others have been demanding that parliament's term be extended for a second time given the vacuum, poor security situation, and dispute over an electoral law. Poor security and the disagreement over the law forced the extension of parliament's term last year. Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the elections.
Notorious extremists still in control of Tripoli mosque
Oct. 14, 2014
Misbah al-Ali| The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: An agreement by two notorious Islamist militants to evacuate their supporters from Tripoli’s Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque within 48 hours had not yet been honored Monday evening, casting doubt on a high-profile attempt by locals and security forces to enforce the law in the increasingly restive northern city. The road to the mosque, which is situated on Abdul Hamid Alley in the predominantly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, was still closed off late Monday, and the surveillance cameras around the building had not yet been removed either, despite their removal being a specific part of Sunday’s agreement with prominent local sheikhs.
The situation came about after it became apparent that Islamists Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour – both of whom are believed to be affiliated to the Nusra Front – had turned the mosque into a base for their operations. They were supposed to hand control of it over to Dar al-Fatwa, the top Sunni Muslim institution, by Tuesday.
Local people are concerned that the presence of the militants posed a security risk to Tripoli that had to be dealt with.
However, a number of questions still hang over the deal.
The biggest issue is what would happen to Mawlawi and Mansour, both of whom have been sentenced to the death penalty in absentia for their involvement in a deadly bombing near an Army checkpoint in Tripoli in August.
After appearing for the meeting Sunday, they disappeared again. Although their exact whereabouts are unknown, both are believed to be in Lebanon, given that they have no means of traveling while there are warrants out for their arrest.
Mawlawi is rumored to be living in Bab al-Tabbaneh with plans to move to the Qobbah or Hamzah mosque. These rumors prompted Lebanese Army units to conduct a pre-emptive raid in the areas to prevent a repeat of the Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque situation.
On a Facebook page attributed to Mansour, a post appeared Monday saying: “We didn’t promise anyone. Stop believing the lies of the media. We will not leave [Bab] al-Tabbaneh because it’s our land. [We] fought those who fought with us. As for the mosque, it’s for praying only.”
The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but some believe it is a sign that the agreement over Abdullah bin Masoud was never properly concluded.
According to a prominent figure in Tripoli, the pair are not as clearly aligned with the groups as some would have the public think.
“There’s no clear evidence linking between the [Abdullah bin Masoud] mosque’s group and the Nusra Front, regardless of whether Mawlawi or Mansour are vocal about their support for the Front,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
“There’s also no clear evidence about the involvement of the [Mawlawi and Mansour] groups in attacking the Army checkpoints,” the source said. “On the contrary, there are people quoting Mawlawi denying these things [accusations].”
Mawlawi has claimed that his gang couldn’t have attacked the Army checkpoints because they were stuck in the mosque, which was being monitored by security members, according to the source.
But even if they can be removed from the scene, many fear that others of a similar ilk will merely take Mawlawi and Mansour’s place, hence the Army’s deployment in Bab al-Tabbaneh’s narrow alleys to prevent such a situation from happening.
This comes amid a general sentiment among the citizens of Tripoli that their city will continue to be at risk of a security deterioration even after this particular incident has been dealt with. It is not about eliminating pockets of problems, residents say, but rather about the government regaining its influence in and control of the city.
Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi is clearly aware of this, as over the weekend he talked about the presence of secret cells in Tripoli and Akkar that aimed to connect the area with the Qalamoun and Qusair mountains in Syria. If successful, he said, this would give ISIS a vital path to the Mediterranean Sea.
The growing sway of jihadist groups in the north has become increasingly apparent, especially given the recent defection of three soldiers from the Lebanese Army to join their ranks.
Although these defections are not a massive setback for the Lebanese Army, they do create a general sense of instability in Akkar and Tripoli.
The dangers posed by these groups have also affected prominent sheikhs at Dar al-Fatwa.
Sheikh Hassan Merheb, general inspector at the institution, revealed that he had received threats from groups affiliated with ISIS, prompting him to leave his house and take precautionary measures.
“Around a month ago, a person came to the mosque where I preach. He was very keen on hearing my opinion about fighting in Syria,” Merheb said.
According to Merheb, he told this person that the fighting in Syria was wrong and couldn’t be considered as martyrdom in the service of God.
Then, two weeks ago, he received a message accusing him of backstabbing the jihadis and the newly established Islamic State.
“We’re not saying anything people don’t already know when we say extremist groups have a supportive environment in Tripoli,” Merheb said. “We shouldn’t let our youth and teenagers fall into their traps and follow the road of religious deviation.”
Merheb believes the threats against him are part of an ISIS plan to attack Dar al-Fatwa and eliminate its role in Lebanese society, as they are trying to do to the Lebanese Army.
He called for some 80 mosques – including Abdullah bin Masoud – not under Dar al-Fatwa’s remit to be brought under their supervision, “as long as they are places where youth get their ideas and convictions about Islam from.”
“It’s from here that combatting radicalism begins.”
Hariri meets Rai, calls for consensus president
Oct. 14, 2014/Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Rome Monday night for consensus on a new president as the only way to break the nearly 5-month-old political deadlock. The head of the Future Movement also said a new extension of Parliament’s mandate, which expires on Nov. 20, was essential to prevent the country from entering the unknown.
“All the political parties must have initiatives. From this standpoint, we have to reach a consensus on the election of a president,” Hariri told reporters after meeting Rai at the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate in Rome. “The March 14 parties must also reach consensus on this [presidential election].”
Hariri said the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition did not favor the continued vacuum in the country’s top Christian post. “I don’t think that the other [March 8] side wants the presidential vacuum to continue. I think they are keen on the presidency post and we have to search for the appropriate candidates,” he said. Hariri’s remarks appeared to rule out the possibility of a March 14 candidate to the presidency and cleared the way for a compromise candidate with the rival March 8 coalition.
“Following the talks with Patriarch Rai, we as March 14 parties must search for names [of presidential candidates] that can ensure consensus among the political parties,” Hariri said.
He reiterated the Future Movement’s rejection of holding parliamentary elections before a president is elected. He said a president is the head of the state and the country’s raison d’etre. “We as political blocs must agree on the election of a president and make initiatives.”
Although Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is the March 14 coalition-backed candidate for the presidency, the former premier said the Future Movement did not have any veto on any candidate.
Hariri said he had discussed with Rai the security problems in Lebanon. “But the most important topic was discussing the presidential election and the initiative that we might undertake,” he added. “For Patriarch Rai, the presidential election is the most important thing.”
Hariri came out in support for a new extension of Parliament’s term in light of the unstable security situation as Lebanon faced threats from ISIS and Nusra Front militants which briefly overran the Bekaa town of Arsal in August.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk last month reiterated that his ministry was not prepared to hold parliamentary elections, scheduled Nov. 16, given the precarious security conditions.
“Extension of Parliament’s term is essential in order to prevent the country entering the unknown,” Hariri said. “We don’t want the extension. The extension is a bitter choice which we have to take because the country might go to the unknown, something which the Lebanese do not want.”He added that if the presidential election was held, parliamentary polls should be conducted six months after the vote. “If the [Parliament] extension occurred, the priority for us would be the election of a president.”
Hariri’s meeting with Rai was also attended by the Patriarchal Procurator to the Holy See Monsignor Francois Eid and his deputy Monsignor Tony Gebran, Hariri’s Chief of Staff Nader Hariri, former MP Ghattas Khoury and Hariri’s adviser Daoud Sayegh.
The talks were followed by a closed meeting between Hariri and Rai. Speaking to reporters before the closed meeting, Rai said: “[Former] Prime Minister Hariri and I always speak the same language.” Rai hosted a dinner for Hariri and his aides.
Earlier Monday, Hariri warned that Lebanon was 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. Speaking in an interview published in the French daily Le Figaro, Hariri also blamed Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad’s forces for deteriorating security in Lebanon. “Lebanon, which is a model of forgiveness and coexistence for the entire region, is today threatened with the collapse of its institutions as a result of the vacancy in the presidency,” Hariri said. “The situation in Lebanon is deteriorating as a result of Hezbollah’s intervention in the war in Syria.”
“This intervention by a Lebanese party militia in a foreign territory took place without consultation with the Lebanese people or the Lebanese state under the pretext of preventing Syrian terrorist groups from coming to Lebanon,” Hariri said. He added that these terrorist groups are now using Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as a pretext to attack Lebanon.
“Moreover, Lebanon is dealing with the influx of 1.3 million Syrian refugees, which occurred in a span of three years, a matter that no country can sustain,” Hariri said.
He called on the international community to come forth with its pledged aid to help Lebanon cope with the refugee crisis and support the Lebanese Army in its battle against “extremist groups.”
Hariri scoffed at the rise of ISIS, saying this militant group has nothing to do with Islam. “The so-called Islamic State [ISIS] is neither a state nor Islamic. Rather, it is a terrorist group that is committing barbarian and wicked acts under the name of our religion. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are moderate,” he said. “The moderates in the Arab world are united and determined to fight extremism. But at the same time they must face Iran’s interference in their countries.”
Meanwhile, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said after meeting Prime Minister Tammam Salam that the United Nations and the international community “remain strongly committed” to supporting the Lebanese Army. He said Lebanon risked losing the trust of the international community after lawmakers botched 13 attempts to elect a new president last week.
“I would note that Parliament failed once again last week to elect a new President of the Republic,” Plumbly said in a statement at the Grand Serail. “The negative impact of this on stability and confidence 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.
Nasrallah visits Bekaa, pledges to defeat jihadists
Oct. 14, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: In a rare visit to the Bekaa apparently to boost morale, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah vowed to defeat terrorist groups while warning Israel that he stood ready for any confrontation despite the battle against extremists. “Victory will be the ally of the mujahedeen in their fight against takfiri and terrorist groups the same way it was their ally in the confrontation against the Israeli enemy,” Nasrallah said in remarks published Tuesday. Addressing a number of Hezbollah cadres in the Bekaa, Nasrallah also sent a strong message to Israel that his fighters were prepared for any new aggression on Lebanon. “To all those concerned, we tell them that despite the rapid changes in the region, and despite the U.S.-led international coalition – or the ‘media alliance’ against ISIS – the resistance is not weak and will not weaken,” he said. “Rather, the resistance is present, strong and ready to confront and repel any [Israeli] aggression." His remarks were published Tuesday by several local newspapers. "Our decision in Hezbollah is confrontation,” Nasrallah told his fighters. “There is no room for surrender or defeat whatever the size of the confrontation or pressures.”“Let them know that the resistance, which is always vigilant, will protect any attempt to attack Lebanon or its people ... and in the end great victory will blossom."Nasrallah pointed to the Sept. 5 Israeli violation in the border area of Adloun when an Israeli jet detonated a spy device planted on Hezbollah's telecommunications network in south Lebanon, killing a Hezbollah member. That operation, Nasrallah said, suggested that Israel "wants to test the resistance [Hezbollah] and our response was detonating a bomb in the Shebaa area.”
Lebanese Apple farmers to stage sit-in
to protest lack of support
Dana Halawi| The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese apple farmers will stage sit-ins across the country Saturday to protest the lack of government support for the sector, said Gaby Semaan, head of the Apple Farmers’ Union in Lebanon. “Apple farmers are going through a very big crisis due to the lack of the government support for this sector, and this is reflected in the low volume of exports, which has reached only 5,000 tons out of 150,000 tons produced this year,” he told The Daily Star. “We should be exporting a minimum of 70,000 tons a year.” Semaan said farmers would be dumping apples on the roads from the south to the north of Lebanon Saturday, while the main sit-in would take place in Tarshish. “We will also be distributing apples to people on the streets,” Semaan said.
Semaan said that farmers were carrying out this sit-in to protest the government’s gross negligence of this sector. “We don’t want the government to give us money, we just want them to support us with the cost of storing our produce in refrigerators, in addition to helping us with the high cost of shipping to Egypt and to other Arab countries,” he said. Semaan argued that farmers were not able to store their apples because spaces in refrigerators were filled with potatoes instead. He said refrigerator owners had increased the fees for storing produce because of the high cost of diesel for operating their generators in the absence of regular electricity. Farmers have on many occasions complained about their inability to store their produce in refrigerators, which allows retail and wholesale merchants to control the prices in the market. “Farmers are incapable of properly storing their produce, which prompts them to sell it all at once at any price,” he said, adding that merchants took advantage of this situation by buying a kilo of apples for as little as LL400.
President of the Farmers’ Association Antoine Hwayek has previously called upon the government to implement a law issued in 1994 that calls for the establishment of an agricultural development bank. “Such a bank would help provide loans to apple farmers, allowing them to preserve produce in refrigerators and save them from having to sell it at despicable prices,” he said. Hwayek said that the Association of Banks in Lebanon and some bank owners had long opposed the establishment of such a bank. “Some bank owners do not have an interest in establishing the agricultural development bank because they want farmers to take loans from their banks,” he said. He added that the commercial banks would not be capable of offering farmers the same facilities that the agricultural development bank would be able to. “Commercial banks require collateral as guarantees, while the agricultural development bank would accept the farmers’ produce as a guarantee for instance,” he said. Semaan also complained about the cost of shipping, which has increased remarkably since the Syrian war started. “The cost of shipping has more than doubled ever since the crisis in Syria began,” he said. “We used to pay around $2,000 for shipping 27 tons by land, but now we pay around $3,500 to ship the same volume by the sea.”
Lebanon freezes decision on Iranian
military aid: sources
by : Paula Astih /Tuesday, 14 Oct, 2014
Hezbollah threaten “reaction” if Iranian military assistance is not put to cabinet for discussion
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Lebanese government will not take a decision to either accept or reject controversial military assistance from Iran amid fears of inciting a political crisis in the country and upsetting the balance of power in the region, Lebanese sources close to the government informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday. The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, announced that Tehran had offered to provide military equipment to the Lebanese army to assist the country in the war on terror during a visit to Beirut on September 30. Iran offered to send the Lebanese army anti-tank missiles and launchers, heavy machine-guns, ammunition and other equipment, according to local media reports. The Lebanese army has struggled to contain the spillover from the crisis in neighboring Syria, which has seen as many as 1 million refugees seek shelter in the small Mediterranean state. Members of the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda offshoot active in Syria, recently attacked the town of Arsal on the Lebanese-Syrian border, taking a number of Lebanese soldiers prisoner. Violence between members of different sects and communities in Lebanon backing different sides in the Syrian war has also led to the deployment of Lebanese troops as domestic peacekeepers.
Washington called on Lebanon to postpone the decision to accept or reject Iranian military aid, well-informed Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. “The Americans have told Lebanese officials that Beirut must not rush the Iranian aid until after they have received all the other aid, and then if they need further assistance they can re-examine the Iranian offer,” a well-informed Lebanese source said. “The Americans did not announce their rejection of this offer, but called for Lebanon to postpone making a decision on it,” the source added.
However Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, citing an anonymous official, reported that Washington had threatened to cut off all aid to Lebanon should Beirut accept Iranian military aid. Speaking to reporters on Monday on a visit to Geneva, Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani claimed that the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, Nabih Berri, supported Iranian military assistance. “The Islamic Republic of Iran aims to support the security of the region and Lebanon and has no other intention in this regard and such issues will naturally be settled between the two governments,” he said. However government sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that Prime Minister Tammam Salam does not intend to put the divisive offer up for discussion. Lebanon is heading towards critical parliamentary elections and is in the midst of a presidential crisis, with the country’s two major political coalitions, the March 8 and March 14 alliances, unable to come to an agreement over a consensus figure to replace former president Michel Suleiman, who left office in late May. Relations between the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance and Future Movement-led March 14 Alliance are at their lowest ebb amid increasing sectarian violence in Lebanon. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah visited the Beqaa valley on Tuesday, pledging to defeat Sunni terrorist groups that have an increasing presence in the country as part of spillover from the Syrian conflict. “Victory will be the ally of the mujahedeen in their fight against takfirist and terrorist groups the same way it was their ally in the confrontation against the Israeli enemy,” Nasrallah said. A source close to Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, said: “When this issue [Iranian military assistance] is put forward to the cabinet for discussion, then every action will have a reaction. While if they postpone this, then there will be a reaction to that as well.”
Arsal mayor: Quarter of refugees have left
Nidal al-Solh| The Daily Star/Oct. 14, 2014
ARSAL, Lebanon: Insecurity and fear of reprisals have driven scores of Syrian refugee families to leave the border town of Arsal, either relocating in other parts of the Bekaa Valley or returning to their war-devastated villages in Syria’s Qalamoun area, Arsal’s Mayor Ali Hujeiri told The Daily Star Tuesday. Hujeiri said an estimated 28 percent of the refugees in Arsal, whose number varied between 115,000 and 120,000, had vacated the town, which witnessed heavy clashes between the Army and jihadi militants from Syria’s Nusra Front and ISIS in August. The refugees began leaving Arsal in the wake of the fighting and due to subsequent Army raids on refugee settlements during which scores were rounded up, tents were burned down and women were harassed, the mayor charged.
“All these acts prompted tens of refugee families to leave the town in different directions,” he said, noting that the few who possessed legal documents and residence permits relocated to the central Bekaa, as it is a safer area than the northern part of the valley.
“However, the overwhelming majority of the refugees returned to their towns and villages in Qalamoun despite the devastation, preferring to die at home instead of dying in camps caught up in crossfire, or under shelling or at the hands of those who are violating their honor under several pretexts,” Hujeiri added. In another development, Arsal’s police station was reopened and reinforced with additional security personnel, while a new General Security center was set up in the town to oversee the movement of refugees and regulate their presence, security sources told The Daily Star. The police station was stormed by the Nusra Front and ISIS militants in the five-day fighting in August, and its members captured along with security personnel, who are now being used by the captors as bargaining chips to secure the release of Islamist inmates in Roumieh Prison. The capture of more than 30 troops and policemen and the execution of three soldiers by the Syria militants escalated anti-Syrian feelings and tensions, triggering reprisals against the refugees in various parts of the country.
Lebanon charges former Arsal negotiator with belonging to Nusra
Oct. 14, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A military judge Tuesday charged a former negotiator in Lebanon's hostage crisis with belonging to the Nusra Front, seeking the death penalty against Arsal's Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri. The charges, filed by Military Investigative Judge Fadi Sawwan, against Hujeiri include forming a terrorist ring with the aim of undermining the authority of the state and giving speeches calling for jihad against the Lebanese Army. Hujeiri was also accused of turning Arsal’s infirmaries into places for harboring terrorists.
Sawwan referred the case to the military court to conduct a trial in absentia. Hujeiri had been negotiating with Islamist militants holding at least 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage. ISIS and the Nusra Front have been holding the servicemen captive since early August when the jihadists briefly took over the border town of Arsal. Hujeiri was credited with facilitating a visit by one of the captive's families early in the kidnapping crisis. Last month, however, Hujeiri announced he was suspending his efforts after the Committee of Muslim Scholars said it was halting similar efforts for better negotiation conditions and to open doors for foreign mediation. One of the captors’ key demands is reportedly to swap the hostages with Islamist inmates at Roumieh Prison.
Army aid to be delivered immediately once Lebanon approves: Iran envoy
The Daily Star/Oct. 14, 2014/BEIRUT: The Iranian aid to the Lebanese Army is ready to be delivered and will include weapons and ammunition, Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali said Tuesday. “After the donation [goes through] the required legal procedures, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be totally ready to deliver the military donation immediately, without any delay,” Fathali said after meeting with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Asked whether Lebanon would welcome this aid, Fathali said that Bassil would suggest adding its approval to the Cabinet's agenda soon. “I would like to mention that the Iranian military aid to the Lebanese Army is unconditional,” Fathali stressed, “and that it is provided by a state to a state, without any middleman.” In response to a question on whether Iran would further support the Army with counter-insurgency training or with equipment, Fathali stressed that Iran had a long experience in fighting terrorism and that his country would provide any expertise that the Army needed. “We consider this military aid a first step,” he added. “Once completed ... future [aid] will include training and armament, and will depend on the formal negotiations between officials of the two governments.”
Future MP: Hariri's initiative a step
toward presidential vote
Oct. 14, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s initiative for ending the presidential deadlock constituted a leap forward toward achieving agreement among rival Lebanese politicians on a consensus candidate, Future Movement MP Jean Ogassapian said Tuesday.“The road map proposed by Hariri is not new and starts with the election of a president, then the formation of a reconciliation government, to be followed by a new electoral law and general elections,” Ogassapian said in an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio. “The gist for the configuration of state institutions starts with the election of a president,” he said, stressing the need to agree on a presidential candidate capable of uniting all factions behind him. “Otherwise we would be facing great dangers,” Ogassapian warned, referring to upheavals that swept Lebanon in 1988 and 1990, when Parliament failed to elect a successor to then-President Amin Gemayel, resulting in Lebanon having two prime ministers claiming legitimacy to rule the country in an interim phase. Ogassapian said the March 14 coalition was willing to consider nominees other than its declared candidate, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. “Our wish as the Future Movement is to have a new president from March 14 coalition, but this is not possible at present,” Ogassapian added. After holding talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Rome Monday, Hariri declared that consensus on a new president was the only way to break the nearly 5-month-old political deadlock, and that the extension of Parliament’s mandate, which expires on Nov. 20, was essential to prevent the country from entering the unknown. Media reports said Tuesday that Hariri and Rai had agreed on possible compromise nominees. Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun, the undeclared candidate for March 8, has repeatedly rejected proposals to sideline him in favor of a compromise figure.
Abra suspects’ trial postponed over football match
Oct. 14, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A military court Tuesday postponed the trial of more than 50 alleged Abra clashes suspects, including radical preacher Ahmad Assir and singer Fadl Shaker, to Nov. 18. A judicial source said the postponement was due to the fact that Alaaeddine al-Baba, a suspect who was released on bail, was part of the Lebanon Football Federation taking part in games outside the country. The other reason was related to the illness of one of the detainees at Roumieh Prison. The suspects, including Assir and 24 other fugitives, are accused of murdering and attempting to murder soldiers and civilians, of committing terrorist acts, possessing weapons and explosives, instigating sectarian tension and calling for sectarian fighting.
Too little, too late
The Daily Star/Oct. 14, 2014
The international coalition that was assembled to confront ISIS has certainly made its mark, but as an example of tragi-comedy. Following weeks of airstrikes and related anti-jihadist efforts in Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants are moving steadily closer to Baghdad, and to the Syrian-Turkish border in Ain al-Arab. Nearly 200,000 people have fled Anbar province, and the coalition continues to struggle to convince Turkey to play a meaningful role – against a group of fighters lacking air power and significant military assets. Perhaps certain Western politicians feel good about themselves when they make candid remarks about the effort. Perhaps they think it’s refreshing to call the anti-ISIS coalition a work in progress, with “assignments” still to be handed out, as John Kerry recently put it, or as his British counterpart Philip Hammond said Monday, to predict that the air campaign won’t be enough to stop ISIS. Officials from the 40-plus member coalition appear adept only at offering lectures and theories on what needs to be done, and how others must “step up.” What they’ve failed to do themselves is step up and offer a viable solution in Iraq, after their countries oversaw the dismantling of the Iraqi army, laying the groundwork for the current mess. They should also take responsibility for delaying a decision to assist mainstream rebels in Syria over the past several years, as ISIS steadily organized and seized territory. The best course of action for coalition officials is silence – until they can offer rhetoric and policies that convince people in the region to take them seriously and risk their lives for the cause.
Tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia
returns after signs of improved ties
Oct. 14, 2014/J.Post/Agencies/DUBAI - Senior Saudi and Iranian officials have renewed criticism of each other's interventions in the Middle East in a sign that tensions between the rival Gulf powers remain high despite top-level meetings this summer. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal repeated longstanding accusations that Iran is an "occupying force" in Syria, while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian attacked the kingdom's role in Bahrain. Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are enmeshed in a struggle for influence across the Middle East and they support opposing sides in wars and political disputes in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen. In September Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Prince Saud met in New York, their first face-to-face talks since Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran's president last year vowing to improve ties with neighbours. That meeting, and one in Jeddah in August between Prince Saud and Abdollahian, had raised hopes that the two countries might find common ground in their shared concerns over the rise of Sunni militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. "If Iran wants to be part of the solution, it has to pull its forces from Syria. The same applies elsewhere, whether in Yemen or Iraq," Prince Saud was quoted by local media as saying on Monday, reverting to Riyadh's habitual rhetoric about Iran. "Mr Saud al-Faisal's remarks, if quoted accurately, contradicts the atmosphere ruling diplomatic negotiations between the two countries," Abdollahian responded, pointedly ignoring the minister's royal title. "Iran is helping the people of Syria, Iraq and the region in the fight against terrorism within the framework of international laws," he added in a statement sent to Reuters. Since Rouhani's election, Iran's tone has been far less confrontational than under his predecessor, but Saudi Arabia still sees Iranian backing for Shi'ite groups in Arab countries as a threat. Tehran is also critical of Saudi Arabia's support for the Sunni ruling family in Shi'ite-majority Bahrain, including its decision to send forces there at Manama's invitation to help it end mass anti-government protests in 2011. "If Riyadh removed their military presence from Bahrain, there would be a political solution, the repression of people would stop, and a national dialogue would be realized," said Abdollahian. The comments showed that the countries remained wary of each other's ultimate goals, Mohammad Ali Shabani, an Iran analyst who was recently in Tehran, said. "Saudi Arabia still views Iran as its main threat and rival. Thus, cooperation with Iran over issues like Iraq is likely prompted by a sense that a lack of engagement will only harm Saudi interests," he said.
Did ISIS Use Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds in Kobani?
By: Jonathan Spyer
Middle East Review of International Affairs
October 12, 2014
WARNING: This post contains images which some readers may find disturbing. Caution is advised. The fate of Kobani city now hangs in the balance, as around 9000 fighters of the Islamic State organization close in on the Kurdish held area. The current IS assault on the Kobani enclave was not the first attempt by the jihadis to destroy the Kurdish-controlled area. The Kobani enclave, most of which is now in the hands of the IS, at one time extended to Tel Abyad in the east, and Jarabulus in the west. It constituted a major hindrance to the desire of the jihadis to maintain free passage for their fighters from Raqqa city up to the Turkish border and westwards towards the front lines in Aleppo province. IS has therefore long sought to destroy it.
Prior to the current campaign, the most serious (but unsuccessful) attempt to conquer Kobani came in July 2014, shortly following the dramatic IS advance into Iraq.
It was during this assault on Kobani that evidence emerged which appeared to point to the use by the Islamic State on at least one occasion of some kind of chemical agent against the Kurdish fighters of the YPG (Peoples' Protection Units).
The July offensive commenced on July 2nd. According to Kurdish activists, the use of the chemical agent took place on July 12th, in the village of Avdiko, in the eastern part of the Kobani enclave (now in IS hands.) [i]
Nisan Ahmed, health minister of the Kurdish authority in Kobani, established a medical team to examine the incident. According to Ahmed, the bodies of three Kurdish fighters showed no signs of damage from bullets. Rather "burns and white spots on the bodies of the dead indicated the use of chemicals, which led to death without any visible wounds or external bleeding." [ii]
Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA Journal) has acquired exclusive access to photographs of the bodies of these fighters, which appear below for the first time.
According to expert Israeli sources who have seen the pictures, they appear to indicate the use of some form of chemical agent, probably mustard (blister agent), but it is not possible to conclusively confirm this without further investigation.
Where might IS have acquired these agents? According to a report in the Arabic language Al-Modon website on July 16th, eyewitnesses in Raqqa city assert the existence of a facility close to the city containing chemical agents. [iii] The reliability of the eyewitness quoted has been indicated to MERIA by third parties. It is possible that these were transferred to Raqqa from Iraq, following the capture of the Muthanna compound 35 miles north-west of Iraq, by IS in June.
Iraq's ambassador Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim, speaking after the capture of Muthanna by IS, singled out two bunkers at the facility, 13 and 41, as being of particular concern.
According to a UN report compiled after the departure of UN inspectors and quoted by Associated Press, bunker 41 contained "2,000 empty 155mm artillery shells contaminated with the chemical warfare agent mustard, 605 one-tonne mustard containers with residues, and heavily contaminated construction material." At the time, the US State Department's Jen Psaki played down the importance of the capture of Muthanna. Psaki suggested that the facility contained "degraded chemical remnants" but that it would be "difficult, if not impossible, to safely use this for military purposes or, frankly, to move it." [iv] A CIA report from 2007, however, offers evidence that might challenge Psaki's apparent absence of concern. The report notes that "The precursor and agent production area at Al Muthanna was not completely destroyed during Desert Storm. Portions of the mustard (blister agent) production and storage area survived. The VX and Tabun production (nerve agent) facilities were incapacitated." [v]
The report further observes that "ISG is unable to unambiguously determine the complete fate of old munitions, materials, and chemicals produced and stored there. The matter is further complicated by the looting and razing done by the Iraqis." [vi]
With regard to the state of al-Muthanna at the time that the report was composed (2007), it observes that
Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there. The most dangerous ones have been declared to the UN and are sealed in bunkers. Although declared, the bunkers contents have yet to be confirmed.
Numerous bunkers, including eleven cruciform shaped bunkers were exploited. Some of the bunkers were empty. Some of the bunkers contained large quantities of unfilled chemical munitions. [vii]
So the CIA report confirms that al-Muthanna was used for the production of chemical weaponry including mustard agent. The report also confirms that investigations have been unable to 'unambiguously determine' the fate of munitions at the site, and that while stockpiles clearly are stored at the site, the precise nature of these stockpiles remains unconfirmed. There are no indications that this situation has changed in the period since the report.
The evidence appears to support the contention that on at least one occasion, Islamic State forces did employ some form of chemical agent, acquired from somewhere, against the YPG in Kobani.
No further instances have been reported. The evidence also indicates that it is likely that as a result of the capture of the al-Muthanna compound, stockpiles of chemical munitions have come into the group's possession.
The incident at Avdiko village on July 12th suggests that IS may well have succeeded in making some of this material available for use in combat.
The probable possession by the Islamic State of a CW capability is for obvious reasons a matter of the gravest concern, and should be the urgent subject of further attention and investigation.
**Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010) and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters' Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His blog can be followed at: http://jonathanspyer.com/.
[i] Conversations with Kurdish activists, July 2014.
[ii] Hadi Salameh, "Did ISIS use chemical weapons against the Syrian Kurds?" Al-Modon (Arabic), July 16, 2014.
[iv] Associated Press, July 9, 2014.
[v] Al Muthanna Chemical Weapons Complex, Iraq's Chemical Warfare Program – Annex B, cia.gov, April 23, 2007.
[vi] Ibid. [vii] Ibid.
Red-Green Sweden Recognizes Palestine
By Michel Gurfinkiel/PJ Media
A Swedish MP wearing a keffiyeh that displays the whole of Israel replaced by a single state of Palestine.It would be farfetched to expect most political leaders to be thoroughly knowledgeable of the issues they deal with, especially when it comes to international affairs; or to expect them to be particularly rational and ethical. Still, the new Swedish cabinet's decision to recognize "Palestine" as a state must be singled out for its nastiness and nuttiness.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who leads a minority "Red-Green" coalition of social democrats and greens, explained the move in the following terms:
The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.
Sweden is a member of the European Union, and members are supposed to coordinate their diplomatic moves, especially on such touchy matters as the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. So far, the EU has not made any common decision about recognizing Palestine as a state. Sweden's Red-Greens do not seem to be aware of such niceties.
One wonders whether the Red-Greens are aware that a state, to be recognized, needs a clearly defined population, a clearly defined territory, and an effective government that can maintain law and order. None of the above is true of "Palestine," whatever the current meaning of that word.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) — an autonomous authority established in 1994 according to a Declaration of Principles between the state of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (the Oslo Accords), and the closest thing to a "state of Palestine" – does not effectively rule the West Bank and Gaza, the two distinct territories that pass as "Palestinian territory." As an effective government, the PA should be able to maintain law and order there. Everybody knows this is not the case in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad since 2007. Yet this is hardly the case in the West Bank, either. Parts of it are still administered by Israel and enjoy Israel's Supreme Court-monitored law and order. In other parts of the West Bank, PA rule — reduced, for all practical matters, to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party rule — survives only thanks to a modicum of security cooperation with Israel.
In response to Prime Minister Löfven's statement, one must ask how the two-state solution can work if one of the considered states – the Palestinian state-to-be — is openly opposed to it. Hamas and Islamic Jihad clearly say they will never recognize Israel. The nominal PA government and Fatah say they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state – implying their strategy is to turn Israel into a binational state. This implication is coherent with their insistence that the so-called 1948 Palestinian refugees (a population they estimate as six million people) must be granted the right to return to Israel proper. When combined with the 1.7 million Israeli Arabs, this number would overwhelm the 6.6 million Israeli Jews.
A two-state solution is even more fictitious in the light of last summer's Gaza-Israel war. Hamas and Islamic Jihad started that war, resorting to the indiscriminate bombing of Israeli civilian-populated areas and attempts to abduct or kill Israeli civilians. Both sets of operations failed, but the fact remains that they were criminal and genocidal in character.
Up, do terror attacks,
Rock them, inflict terrible blows,
Eliminate all the Zionists,
Shake the security of Israel!
Aim to make contact with the Zionists,
To burn bases and soldiers,
Shake the security of Israel,
Reveal volcanic flames of fire!
A country of weakness and delusion,
When it comes to war, they cannot hold out,
They blow away like spider's webs,
When they meet the valiant!
Demolish her down to her foundations,
Exterminate the nest of cockroaches,
Expel all the Zionists!
(Israel) is an illusion, it will not succeed,
Its time is past, and it is polluted,
Gone, like mice in a parched field,
Get close then open fire, all at once!
Rock them, now, multitude of missiles,
Turn their world into a scene of horrors,
Burn into their minds a great miracle:
That they are being expelled, and we are going to stay!
The criminal and genocidal character of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was further exposed in a song released in Hebrew by Hamas on the Internet in order to demoralize the Israeli population. At left are some of the lyrics (as translated by Yoram Hazony for Tablet).
It was written in such terrible Hebrew and sung with such a heavy Arabic accent as to make most Israelis laugh, and the genocide it threatened did not materialize thanks to Israel's military and technological superiority. However, in legal terms the song was glorification of, and incitation to, genocide.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not fare better in this respect. Instead of distancing himself from the Hamas-initiated war, he granted it political support during his September 26 speech at the UN General Assembly.
Pundits have said that Abbas had no other choice, since the Hamas war and Hamas itself are currently popular among West Bank residents, his own constituency. There is some truth here. But then again, the reason why the West Bank reacted in such a way is because Abbas' PA has never directed education towards a pro-peace attitude.
The PA was explicitly requested to do so by the Oslo Accords and the subsequent road map to peace in 2003.
Finally, one wonders whether the Swedish Red-Greens have paid heed to the present upheavals in the Middle East, the disintegration of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and the similarities and links between the Palestinian factions and such groups as Lebanese Hezbollah, Syrian Al-Nusra, and ISIS.
What brought Sweden to this new low?
Sweden is burdened with unsavory legacies. In the 1930s and the early 1940s, Swedish politics and intellectual life were dominated by a two-headed socialism: the slightly totalitarian social-democrats, and SSS — an active left-wing national socialist movement. Under a social-democratic administration, the country passed "social hygiene" laws similar to the Nazi ones, including the forced sterilization of "asocial" or "defective" human beings. It also banned shechitah (kosher ritual slaughtering). The social hygiene laws were not abrogated until the 1970s.
The shechitah ban, which stands in opposition to the European Convention on Human Rights, is still in force.
Until 1944, social-democratic Sweden sold Nazi Germany the world's best iron ore, a win-win policy that contributed to Sweden's wealth while sustaining a powerful German armament industry. It has been argued that Germany would have otherwise occupied Sweden, but Sweden could then have sabotaged its mining industry and deprived the Germans of much of its iron anyway. Swedish cooperation probably extended Nazi resilience in front of the Allies by at least a year.
To whitewash its behavior, after the war Sweden drifted ever more towards left-wing and radical politics both in domestic and international matters. In the 1960s and especially under Olof Palme in the 1970s and 1980s, Sweden became a champion of the Third World and a critic of American foreign policy. This move, conveniently enough, included increasing hostility toward Israel.
Sweden has indiscriminately and masochistically welcomed immigrants and asylum seekers of all kinds. As a result, 15% of the current Swedish population (1.5 million of 10 million) was born abroad, and 27% of the population (2.7 million) is fully or partially of foreign descent. Two-thirds of thèse immigrants arrived from Third World countries or from South-East Europe.
In many respects, the Muslim community is now the pivot of Swedish politics. Most Muslims tend to vote for left-wing parties and thus help them to survive in spite of the global turn to the right.
More significantly, 5% to 7% of the present population (500,000 to 700,000) is Muslim.
In many respects, the Muslim community is now the pivot of Swedish politics. Most Muslims tend to vote for left-wing parties and thus help them to survive in spite of the global turn to the right. At the same time, Muslim assertiveness has helped a dormant SSS constituency to resurface as the Swedish Democrats, capturing back a sizable part of the electorate and thus depriving the classic Right and the centrists of a working majority at the Riksdag, Stockholm's parliament.
In the September 14 general election returns, the Red-Greens won 138 seats out of 349. Even with the support of the more doctrinaire Left Party, they would garner only 159 seats. The Right and center would garner 190 seats — but that would include the 49 seats of the Swedish Democrats, something the classic conservatives or centrists would not endorse.
Doubtlessly, similar situations will arise in more EU countries, including major countries like France, bringing about further confusion and further political and geopolitical nonsense.
**Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.
British parliament votes in favor of recognizing Palestine
Published: 10.14.14/ Israel News
In symbolic vote after 4-hour debate, 274 voted in favor of recognition while only 12 voted against; amendment to motion adds recognition is 'a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.'
After a four-hour debate during which over 50 MPs spoke, the British Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of the government recognizing Palestine as a state on Monday night.
The ayes had it when 274 MPs voted to adopt the non-binding motion and only 12 voted against it.
The original motion stipulated that "this House believes that the government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel."
During the debate it was amended to include the words "as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution."
Prime Minister David Cameron and his government ministers abstained from the vote, which was called by an opposition lawmaker, and Cameron's spokesman earlier said foreign policy would not be affected whatever the outcome.
The debate that preceded the vote took place in a House of Commons that was more than half-empty. Only 286 of 650 lawmakers voted, with many outside the government choosing to abstain.
Britain does not designate Palestine as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help the long-running peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
Lawmakers who backed the motion said it would increase pressure on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to revive the stalled peace process.
"Its purpose is very simple, based upon the belief that the recognition of a state of Palestine, alongside a state of Israel will add to the pressure for a negotiated two-state solution and may bring that prospect a little closer to fruition," said Jack Straw, who served as foreign minister between 2001 and 2006.
Labour Party legislator Grahame Morris said recognizing a Palestinian state could help break the impasse in peace negotiations before it was too late.
Conservative lawmaker Nicholas Soames - grandson of World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill - said that "to recognize Palestine is both morally right and is in our national interest."
The British government said progress towards a two-state solution was urgent, and recognition of Palestine as a state should be carefully timed to help that outcome.
"The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that it can best help bring about the peace," said Tobias Ellwood, the government minister with responsibility for the Middle East.
"You can, after all ... only play this card once," he said. "Once it's done, you cannot repeat it, so the timing of this is critical."
The motion in Britain's lower house of parliament, put forward by a lawmaker from the opposition Labour party, asked parliamentarians whether they believe the government should recognize the state of Palestine.
It has the backing of the left-leaning Labour party's leadership which has told its lawmakers to vote in favor of the motion, an edict which has caused anger with some pro-Israel members of parliament set to rebel or stay away altogether.
According to the British media, some of the party's shadow ministers are outraged at being told by leader Ed Miliband how to vote on the issue, as they support recognition through as part of a peace agreement. They are reportedly considering a boycott on Monday should their lobbying to allow a free vote prove to be unsuccessful.
British newspaper the Independent quoted a senior pro-Israel MP as saying that, "To say that there is a row going on it putting it very mildly. People are furious. This is an attempt to rip up 13 years of carefully calibrated policy. It total madness and makes the prospect of peace less rather than more likely.”
Other parties allowed their lawmakers to vote according to their own consciences.
The vote is unlikely to shift official policy, as it is non-binding and would not force the British government to changes its diplomatic stance. It was designed instead to raise the political profile of the issue.
The debate comes as Sweden's new center-left government is set to officially recognize Palestine, a move that has been criticized by Israel.
The UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012 but the European Union and most EU countries, including Britain, have yet to give official recognition.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem. While Gaza's boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, negotiations which are currently on hold. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Report: Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in southeast
Reuters /Published: 10.14.14 / Israel News/Ynetnews
Turkish General Staff says country 'opened fired immediately in retaliation' for three days of attacks by Kurdish group on outpost near Iraqi border; Istanbul unnerved by signs of IS support.
Turkish warplanes attacked Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in southeast Turkey on Sunday in the first significant air operation against the militants since the launch of a peace process two years ago, Hurriyet news website said on Tuesday.
The air strikes caused "major damage" to the PKK, Hurriyet said. They were launched after three days of PKK attacks on a military outpost in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border, it added.
There was no immediate comment from the military on the reported air strikes, which Hurriyet said was carried out with the knowledge of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The incident came amid Kurdish anger in southeast Turkey at Ankara's failure to intervene along its border with Syria where Islamic State militants have besieged the mainly Kurdish town of Kobani for the last month.
"F-16 and F-4 warplanes which took off from (bases in the southeastern provinces of) Diyarbakir and Malatya rained down bombs on PKK targets after they attacked a military outpost in the Daglica region," Hurriyet said.
It said the PKK had attacked the outpost for three days with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. The general staff said in a statement it had "opened fired immediately in retaliation in the strongest terms" after PKK attacks in the area.
Ankara launched a peace process with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012 to end an insurgency which has killed more than 40,000 people in 30 years.
Istanbul rattled by signs of Islamic State support
Istanbul University student Aysegul Korkut is outraged by the images coming out of Syria. But these days the Islamic State group's horrors seem closer to home: She recently faced off against masked supporters of the brutal militants on her own campus.
"I couldn't understand what was happening at first," the 21-year-old said of the moment she first spotted baton-wielding youths striding across the Department of Literature, shouting: "Allahu Akbar!" Within minutes, she and other leftist students had been sucked into a fight, with both sides hurling glass bottles at each other and trashing a science fair set up in the main hall.
"I was shocked," she said.
The Sept. 26 clash, described to The Associated Press by Korkut and a half a dozen other university students, was the first in a series of fights at Istanbul University's Beyazit campus. There has been repeated violence since, and Turkish media have reported scores of arrests. On Monday alone 42 students were detained when police broke up a fight in a courtyard adjoining the department, the state-run Anadolou Agency reported. Several sticks – and a meat cleaver – were recovered from the scene.
Police and university officials did not return messages seeking comment.
The fights are one of many signs of support for the Islamic State which have popped up across Istanbul, a cosmopolitan metropolis better known to tourists for its vibrant nightlife and Ottoman-era glories.
Pins bearing the militants' black-and-white flag are on sale at a jihad-themed bookstore just a few blocks from the Istanbul University campus. Inside, magazines bear the face of Osama bin Laden and the memoirs of the Chechen jihadist Ibn Khattab. Global Books' owner, Osman Akyildiz, said students and alumni are his biggest customers.
Local media have reported seeing other signs of Islamic State group support across the capital: A black flag hanging from a second story window, for example, or a sticker on the rear windshield of a car. Others still have written about an "IS gift shop" – a now-empty store reported to have sold T-shirts and sportswear emblazoned with the Islamic State group emblem. A recent video showing a youth wearing one such T-shirt on Istanbul's tram sent a shiver of concern across social media.
A few scattered sightings of Islamic State group paraphernalia in a sprawling city of 14 million people do not necessarily indicate significant support. It's not clear, for example, to what degree the youth on the tram or the masked rioters at Istanbul University are committed supporters or just provocatively dressed sympathizers.
But Turkish academic Ahmet Kasim Han says there's still cause for concern.
"Sociologically speaking, it all starts with those signs," he said in a recent interview at his office at Istanbul's Kadir Has University. "Some of those people who are declaring sympathy ... might easily get radicalized."
The fights at Istanbul University suggest Islamic State group sympathizers aren't afraid of making their presence known.
The brazenness is in part down to lack of a robust condemnation at the official level, said Han. Although the Islamic State group was designated a terror organization last year, Turkish officials are still reluctant to use the term publicly. Back at the bookstore, Akyildiz, spoke for some religiously conservative Turks when he said jihadists didn't deserve to be called terrorists.
"For everyone the definition of terrorist is different," he said. "According to us they are heroes."
The Sept. 26 clash at the university started after a left-wing group put up a poster in the main hall of the Department of Literature denouncing the killings carried out by "IS gangs," said Korkut and others. In the early afternoon, masked men came to deliver an ultimatum: Take the poster down, or else.
What happened next was filmed by students who recorded the confrontation from the balconies overlooking the hall. Islamic State group supporters, dressed casually and with black masks and baseball caps pulled over their faces, milled around on one side, separated from a group of left-wing students by a barricade of folding tables grabbed from the science fair. The two groups shouted at each other before hurling projectiles across the vast room.
"Security! Why are you just watching?" one student screamed over the sound of shattering glass. "Why aren't you taking them away?"
Irem Meten, whose socialist student group, FKF, shot much of the video, says the men had no trouble getting into campus, even though entry requires university identification.
Media attention has occasionally driven hardliners into hiding. The Islamic State group "gift shop" in Bagcilar, which was in the press earlier this year, is now empty save for a few bare mannequins and a religious inscription above the door. Landlord Koksal Coskun says the occupants left after attracting negative attention from neighbors and police.
The masked attackers at Istanbul University, by contrast, show no sign of going underground, even as Turkey inches closer to joining the US-led military intervention in Syria. In a statement recently published by the religiously conservative Haksoz magazine, the group claiming responsibility for the skirmishes shrugged off the threat of arrest.
"If anyone will be called to account, it will not be those who wage jihad," the statement said. "It will be the collaborators and the so-called imperialists who find refuge behind NATO, the UN, and the US".
When reporters visited the university on Sept. 30, there was an undercurrent of tension. About 20 riot police, a few carrying submachine guns and several wearing body armor, loitered outside the Literature Department. Inside, all appeared calm. Students smoked, drank tea and played ping pong. Students from the university's women's society were busy hand painting an anti-Islamic State group sign.
Many were defiant but some were clearly worried. Left-wing students now go to and from campus in one large group, citing safety in numbers.
"Of course we're stressed," said Ulas Suder, a 20-year-old archaeology major. "What can you feel when an organization that terrorizes the Middle East enters your school?"
AP contributed to this report.
Moving on: Rowhani wants to leave the nuclear issue behind
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
President Hassan Rowhani of Iran is not reminiscent of any of his predecessors. He, in my view, is not charming and intellectual like Mohammad Khatami and not as harsh and socialist and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He is instead more of an in-between character, able to move between the hardliners and his reformist supporters. A year into his term, he has butted heads with both, however, on Iran’s nuclear file.
The nuclear issue is at a complicated stage which perhaps explains why the president has not opened up to the nation.
Of course, in any presidential campaign the candidates speak differently and promise many things. It often happens that they cannot deliver on those promises, especially in Iran where the president is observed and supervised by the supreme leader. Working with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and securing his support is important and difficult.
“Iran is quietly working hard to convince the Western powers that its nuclear program is peaceful”
Despite his being in office for over a year, we still do not know the real Rowhani. His foreign trips are limited to a few visits to central Asia and Caucasus with a few trips to Russia and the United States.
When it came to media briefings and interviews, most of the questions were about Iran’s nuclear program. Even the two speeches he delivered to the Security Council at the United Nations were mostly based on the nuclear file.
Neither Rowhani nor his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif began their tours by visiting Saudi Arabia or other heavyweight Arab countries. Iran did show interest in improving relations with Saudi Arabia, but so far it seems that no concrete steps have been taken.
At the present time, Iran is quietly working hard to convince the Western powers that its nuclear program is peaceful.
It seems like Iran and the West are keen to wrap-up the nuclear disputes by the November 24 deadline so they can move on to other matters such as the regional fight against terrorism.
Iran is certainly interested to get involved in with regional matters in a positive and constructive way after almost four decades of isolation.
Thirty six years after the revolution, Iran is still experiencing an identity crisis among the international community and deem economic problems due to the sanctions imposed because of the nuclear program and problems that arose after the infamous hostage crisis.
These harsh images of Iran’s past make the country look like an unfriendly nation and President Rowhani has long way to go before he secures a second term.
Once he has finished with the nuclear talks, he will have a host of other issues to focus on, including domestic issues such as imprisoned journalists, freedom of speech and human rights.
Iran needs to make sure its allies in Syria and Lebanon are safe. Hezbollah is more important to Iran than a few journalists in prison and that is simply why the president has to take the risk of challenging his authority to protect them.
At his press conference in New York City on September 26, Rowhani clearly called Hezbollah part of the Lebanon’s national government, not a terrorist or militia group.
Iran’s head of the National Security Council Ali Shamkhani was sent to Syria and Lebanon on Saturday according to IRNA, Iran’s state news agency. Shamkhani, in a press encounter with the media, told them of Iran’s readiness to cooperate in the defense and mobilization of Lebanon’s army. From now on, even if Iran wants to support Hezbollah or help them it would be coordinated directly with Lebanon’s government which helps Hezbollah to get more politically engaged and save face.
Just because Iran has not been publically invited to join the anti-ISIS coalition, it doesn’t change the fact that Iran is a very important player in the fight.
As for the new strategy President Rowhani has for his nation, all the values and importance of the revolution can be protect and observed once Iran’s regional activities are accepted and legitimized at the eyes of the international community.
Rowhani understands that Iran can’t continue to speak with aggressive language and irritate neighbors, which is simply used as a double edged sword against itself and its national security.
Rowhani has a plan to put an end not only to the nuclear disputes but also to matters like Iran’s sponsoring of terrorism by legitimizing the activities of Hezbollah by associating them with the Lebanese government like what he does with Iran’s Quds Force. The activities of the Quds Force are never publicly discussed but Rowhani openly talked in New York about this force’s activities and the support that has been given to the Kurds in Iraq against ISIS.
If Rowhani could define the activities of both groups, it would be a huge success.
Iran’s next goal after the nuclear talks is securing its allies rights and its own power in the region. President Rowhani handled the questions about Syria and Iraq quite well and carefully in New York without making any provocations. It seems he wants to move on from the nuclear issue.
This article was first published in al-Hayat in October 2014.