LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation For
Today/Ephesians 05/21-33/Instructions for
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 15, 16/14
Hezbollah’s battle-scarred image is being shaken/By: Diana Moukalled /Al Arabiya/October 16/14
Fighting Iranian expansion in the Mideast/By: Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya/October 16/14
The post-ISIS crisis for Sunni governments/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/October 16/14
Why the Islamic State Is Losing/By MICHAEL KNIGHTS/Politico Magazine/October 16/14
Turning Tensions into Disasters/By ANGELO M. CODEVILLA /Family Security Matters/October 16/14
Benny Gantz’s troubling assessments/By: CAROLINE GLICK/Family Security Matters/October 16/14
Israel Prepares For When Syrian Jihadis Turn Their Guns South/By: YAAKOV LAPPIN/Family Security Matters/October 16/14
Economics in the Age of Terror/By: Ali Ibrahim/October 16/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 15, 16/14
IS Frees Toufic Wehbi in Arsal for $50,000 Ransom
Obama Vows to Continue Humanitarian Support to Lebanon over Refugees Influx
Lebanon: Presidency a top priority
Geagea slams state over Arsal security failures
Wanted Lebanese sheikh dismisses arrest warrant
Bassil, Hale discuss counter-terrorism strategies
Berri urges for support in regional anti-terror fight
Private school teachers to be included in Lebanon wage hike: Kanaan
Fletcher praises Lebanon Grand Mufti
Lebanon tests vodka energy drinks for additives Budget deficit drops on higher revenues
Hamas official slams UN chief Ban's 'hypocrisy' after visit to Gaza, Israel
Bkirki Spokesman Says Talk on Presidential Candidates is 'Useless'
March 14 Coalition Meets at Center House, Tackles Ongoing Crises
Yaalon Says Hizbullah has Possibly 'Accumulated more Self-Confidence'
Joint Parliamentary Committees Unify Pay Hike for Public, Private School Teachers
Berri Downplays Army Defections, Says Investments and Terrorism Don't Coexist
Jumblat Rejects Iran Grant, Coordination with Syria as He Refuses Terrorist Label for Nusra
Hariri Denies Discussing Presidential Candidate Names with al-Rahi: IS Doesn't Represent Islam
Report: Army Repels Attack by Gunmen in Wadi Rafeq
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 15, 16/14
Kurdish fighters push back ISIS in Ain al-Arab
Iranian official says centrifuges are 'trivial' in nuclear deal
U.S. says no talk about extending Iran nuclear negotiations
Ban visits terror tunnel near Gaza-border
'Palestine recognition shouldn't be symbolic'
France: Palestinian recognition shouldn't be merely symbolic
Hundreds of Muslims protest at Temple Mount: We have a right to enter
Obama, foreign military chiefs coordinate ISIS plans
Syria: ISIS, Assad forces face off in Deir Ezzor
Canada Condemns ISIL’s Assault on Women
EU should let more Syrian refugees enter legally
Kobani airstrikes more accurate, Kurds give coordinates: activists
Obama, foreign military chiefs plot IS strategy
Malaysian police arrest 13 over ‘Syria terror links’
Houthis take control of Yemeni port city
Shooting of US citizen in Riyadh not terrorist attack: sources
Canadian FM, Baird Meets with Amir of Kuwait
Freedom will ultimately prevail in the Holy Land of the
By: Elias Bejjani
You thugs, thieves, and terrorists no matter how mighty you are currently, or how destructive or big your weapons’ caches are, or how many armed men are on your pay role, no matter what you will ultimately be defeated, humiliated and made to pay for all the atrocities you are committing against each and every Lebanese. The Lebanese proverb: “If it had remained for others it would not have came to you”, envisages your definite end, Yes no one in Lebanon is bigger or mightier than the Lebanese holy cause. Your fate is not going in any way to be different from the fate of all those evil people as prophet Isaiah states (Isaiah 33/01 and 02): “Our enemies are doomed! They have robbed and betrayed, although no one has robbed them or betrayed them. But their time to rob and betray will end, and they themselves will become victims of robbery and treachery”. In conclusion, You Foreigner forces who occupy Lebanon, and you Lebanese citizens, leaders officials and clergymen who willingly have sold Lebanon and became mere Trojans and Mercenaries, and you Lebanese who allege to be neutral while your country is being devoured by the Axis Of Evil Forces, All of you be on alert and repent before it is too late. You all take this note and be aware that our only and only weapon that no one can face or defeat is faith. Watch out this weapon is going to destroy you no matter what and freedom will ultimately prevail in the Holy Land of the Cedars For our beloved martyrs we say: “rest in peace, your sacrifices will rekindle the freedom, sovereignty and independence in the Land of the Cedars.
Long Live Freedom
battle-scarred image is being shaken
Diana Moukalled /Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Hezbollah’s media wing and those media outlets aligned with it tried to limit the spread of a video distributed by the al-Nusra Front which shows an attack on a Hezbollah post in the Lebanese border town of Brital a few days ago. The video showed dead Hezbollah fighters and al-Nusra fighters calmly and coldly roaming the town before they finally gather whatever ammunition and equipment they find and leave. The video is being branded the first footage of an announced strike targeting Hezbollah ever since it got involved in the Syrian war. However, this attack took place in Lebanon and not in Syria and it was carried out by non-Lebanese gunmen who violated the supposed sovereignty of Lebanese territory, killing Lebanese citizens and raiding a post before withdrawing. Hezbollah and media outlets in support of it made efforts to contain the spread of this footage and took it down from YouTube. However, the photos spread and Hezbollah suffered a major relapse.
Qusayr and Yabrud
This time, Hezbollah’s defeat was in the Lebanese town of Brital and not in Qusayr or Yabrud - the Syrian towns it invaded on the basis of combating terrorism and eradicating takfirists. Hezbollah created media campaigns purporting that Qusayr and Yabrud were bases of terrorism and asserted that the towns had to be overrun to protect Lebanon. “The victories which Hezbollah championed were illusions and these illusions are killing us in Lebanon”The question was always how this conquest of Qusayr and Yabrud would backfire. Here we are today witnessing how these conquests resulted in deaths, captivities and concern in Lebanon. Qusayr and Yabrud were two Sunni Syrian towns which a Lebanese Shiite force entered. Brital is a Lebanese Shiite town which a Syrian Sunni force entered. This is the formula that no one can miss.. When Hezbollah entered Qusayr, a video showed its fighters flying their banners in the town and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the mosque was Shiite and Hezbollah had restored it from takfirists. Al-Nusra has come to Lebanon and this armed terrorist group has been supplemented with Lebanese members. Al-Nusra has managed to drag Hezbollah into a battle inside Lebanon and the battle is no longer only in Syria.
Photos and videos granted proof of Hezbollah’s doings.
Al-Nusra members standing on Brital’s outskirts, taking a video of the town and uploading it to YouTube make it seem as though the group is playing a game and is aware of its influence. Hezbollah has invested in its image, power and audience’s trust. Al-Nusra did not shake Hezbollah’s relationship with this audience but it’s begun to shake this audience’s trust in Hezbollah’s power. This is significant and Hezbollah’s reaction via the operation it carried out in Shebaa Farms a day after the attack is an indication of the size of the injury it sustained in Brital. Al-Nusra violated Lebanese sovereignty and this resulted in the need for a united Lebanese stance. Footage of Hezbollah’s fighters in Qusayr caused pain for Syrians - pain similar to what we feel when we learnt al-Nusra trespassed our borders first in Arsal and then in Brital. The victories which Hezbollah championed were illusions and these illusions are literally killing us in Lebanon.
Lebanon: Presidency a top priority
The Daily Star/Oct. 15, 2014
Amid a host of problems facing Lebanon, the presidential vacuum is certainly the most pressing, and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri highlighted this in his latest initiative, launched Monday in Rome. Meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, Hariri stressed the need for all sides to come together and settle on a consensus candidate. Nearly five months into the vacuum, it is imperative this happens sooner rather than later. Only then can parliamentary polls be scheduled, and then all the other problems – social, economic, security – affecting Lebanon can be attacked. And while Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea is the March 14 coalition-backed candidate for president, Hariri said his group had no veto on any candidate. Speaker Nabih Berri has also spoken of his commitment to helping the country find a new president, and has urged that Christians first agree on their own candidate, and that everyone else get behind that choice. FPM leader Michel Aoun has perhaps also realized that the likelihood of himself taking the throne is growing less and less likely, but his peers and rivals seem aware that it will still be useful to keep him on board with the decision-making process, as the strength of his support base is undeniable. So much needs to be done right now that it almost hard to know where to begin. But Hariri is right to focus on the need for a new president. If one can be found soon, it might represent a tiny light at the end of the tunnel in what is one of Lebanon’s darkest periods.
state over Arsal security failures
The Daily Star/Oct. 15, 2014
BEIRUT: The state should warn the public against visiting the restive northeastern town of Arsal, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Wednesday, criticizing the absence of security which has led to a string of recent kidnappings. Geagea specifically referred to the case of Toufic Wehbe who was kidnapped last week in Arsal and released Tuesday after his family reportedly paid a hefty ransom. “Wehbe remained in captivity for seven days until he was released yesterday after a ransom worth $50,000 was paid by his family,” Geagea said after meeting with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk. Geagea said he did not support the family’s decision to pay the ransom. “All security forces disavowed the crime,” however, they considered that they “don’t have any influence inside the town of Arsal,” Geagea said. If security forces can’t ensure the safety of citizens in Arsal, then the defense ministry should have at least warned the Lebanese against visiting the town, since the absence of security forces makes them highly vulnerable to kidnapping, he added.
“The situation in Arsal is not tolerable whatsoever and it’s not acceptable for the culture of kidnapping to spread among the Lebanese.”Geagea called on the public prosecutor in the Bekaa to find out who transferred the ransom to the captors in order to find out who collected the payment. “No political faction supports these kidnappers but at the same time they are not acting alone,” Geagea said.
teachers to be included in Lebanon wage hike: Kanaan
The Daily Star/Oct. 15, 2014/BEIRUT: The parliamentary joint committees has accepted the principle of including private school teachers into the public sector wage hike bill proposal, MP Ibrahim Kanaan said Wednesday. The committees will at a later session look into the details of the wage hike for private school teachers, especially those pertaining to tuition increases Kanaan said. The salary scale increase for private school teachers would not influence the state treasury, but it may have an impact on private school tuition, political sources have said. Kanaan also said that the education minister is looking into a mechanism that would allow the incorporation of private school teachers into the salary scale bill without increasing tuition fees. Clarifications over this mechanism will be discussed at a later meeting, he added. However, the meeting failed to achieve quorum over a salary increase for the public sector, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said after the session. The session also failed to agree on whether or not to provide military personnel with the same wage increases given to civil servants and public school teachers. The issue of salary hikes for the military will be postponed for another session, Kanaan said. Giving the military the same wage hike as civil servants and public school teachers would require the committee to review revenues he added. Political sources have said that a military wage hike would require the availability of more revenue, and that the committees would be unable to raise the TVA by more than1 percent, which would not generate adequate funding. A rise in the overall cost of the draft law, currently estimated at $1.2 billion annually, would force lawmakers to find new ways to increase revenues in the face of higher expenditures, according to the sources. Lawmakers have overcome massive obstacles to agree on the draft law, including balancing revenues and expenditures, a demand made by several politicians and the Cabinet.
discuss counter-terrorism strategies
The Daily Star/Oct. 15, 2014/BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Wednesday discussed with U.S. Ambassador David Hale approaches to deal with Lebanon's volatile security situation, the minister's office said. The two considered “ways to fight terrorism by military and ideological means,” according to a statement from Bassil’s office. It said Bassil and Hale also discussed assistance to the overstretched and poorly-equipped Lebanese Army as troops are engaged in a war against ISIS and Nusra Front jihadists along the northern and northeastern border with Syria. They also touched on the visit to Washington by Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi who took part Tuesday in a meeting with military leaders from the anti-ISIS coalition. Later in the day, Hale met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, sources told The Daily Star, without providing details of their discussion. The U.S. envoy made no statements following the meetings.
Berri urges for support in regional anti-terror fight
The Daily Star/Oct. 15, 2014/BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday called for the international community to support regional countries fighting terrorism and countering attempts to divide Syria and Iraq. “We call for the support of regional efforts to counter takfiri terrorism and attempts to displace a certain category of people, thus splitting the already divided region in Syria and Iraq,” Berri said at the opening of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Geneva.
IPU brings together parliamentarians to study international problems and make recommendations for action.
Lebanon is engaged in a war against ISIS and Nusra Front jihadists along its northern and northeastern border with Syria after the extremists briefly took over the town of Arsal early in August, capturing over 30 Lebanese servicemen.
The country has been in a standoff with the militants since then as the sides attempt to negotiate the release of the 27 remaining police and soldiers, who may be swapped for Islamists held at Roumieh Prison.
Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Berri said Lebanon was failing to address the disaster and called for support.
He said that while Lebanon has attracted some $2.8 million in 2013, new and unexpected problems have emerged since then, including the crisis of 1.5 million Syrian refugees in addition to about 100,000 Palestinians displaced from refugee camps in Syria.
“These numbers have added new burdens in terms of housing, water and electricity and the environment. And international support in this regard is not enough to address the problem of the refugees,” Berri said in his address to the conference.
Lebanon has been coping to deal with a massive influx of refugees who fled Syria due to the country's three and a half year war.
Nearly 1.2 million Syrians in Lebanon have registered with the U.N. refugee agency, but the actual number is thought to be significantly higher.
“Where there is war there is no investment and where there is terrorism there is no growth,” Berri said, adding that the economic problems were compounded by the security situation.
Berri also stressed the need to have a global environmental law.
“There are 1.2 billion people in the world still deprived of electricity, 870 million are malnourished, 780 million do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion deprived of sanitation services. Why don’t we have a global uniform environmental law?,” he asked.
IS Frees Toufic
Wehbi in Arsal for $50,000 Ransom
Naharnet /The abductee Toufic Wehbi was freed on Tuesday evening in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal after a hefty ransom was paid to his kidnappers, media reports said. "A $50,000 ransom was paid for the release of Toufic Wehbi," LBCI television said. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had told As Safir newspaper that the Islamic State group had taken Wehbi to the Syrian Qalamoun region near Lebanon's border and demanded a ransom to set him free. The minister told the daily that he expected “positive results soon.” His remarks came hours after Kataeb MP Elie Marouni expressed similar hopes about the return of the captive to his family. He told the state-run National News Agency that Zahle MPs were exerting all their efforts for his safe return home. Wehbi was kidnapped by four armed men while fixing a water filtration machine in the northeastern border town of Arsal last Wednesday. Over the weekend, his family blocked several roads in the Bekaa Valley to protest his capture.
March 14 Coalition Meets at Center House, Tackles Ongoing Crises
Naharnet /The March 14 alliance discussed the latest political developments in Lebanon, the ongoing presidential vacuum and parliamentary polls. The meeting that was held at the Center House and chaired by head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora tackled the recent meeting between ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Rome. The gatherers stressed the importance of unifying their stance amid the delicate stage the country is passing through. On Monday night Hariri met with al-Rahi and agreed on the importance of electing a “consensual” president. The head of al-Mustaqbal movement reiterated his rejection of holding parliamentary polls before the presidential vote. The country plunged into a political vacuum as President Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. The rival political forces have so far failed to elect a successor despite having held more than a dozen electoral sessions.
Jumblat Rejects Iran Grant, Coordination with Syria as He Refuses Terrorist Label for Nusra
Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Tuesday rejected any military coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies and warned that the proposed Iranian grant would create “obstacles” for the country. “It is inevitable to reach an internal settlement in order to preserve the military institution and address the repercussions of the Syrian war on Lebanon,” Jumblat said in an interview on OTV. “It is intolerable to cooperate with the Syrian state and we cannot coordinate with a regime that is killing its people,” he added. Commenting on Iran's recent announcement that it is willing to provide the Lebanese army with weapons, Jumblat advised against such a step. “Arms are welcome, even if they come from China, but we actually cannot take weapons from Iran. I'm not saying I'm against the offer, but the Iranian grant would create obstacles that we are better off without,” said Jumblat. Asked about Defense Minister Samir Moqbel's planned visit to Tehran, the PSP leader said he does not think the trip will yield any results.
Responding to a question about al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's official Syria affiliate, Jumblat said “al-Nusra Front is consisted of Syrian citizens.” “I reject the U.N.'s label for it and I don't label it as terrorist and we must cope with this situation in Syria,” he added. The PSP leader warned that Syria will “turn into shreds” in the absence of a political solution, stressing that “the regime cannot continue to rule” the war-torn country. “No component of the opposition should be excluded and even the Islamic State must be asked about its objectives in Syria,” Jumblat went on to say. He noted that Syrian President Bashar Assad “must be eliminated from the regime and the army must be purified of criminals, or else the war will be long and the Syrian army will be depleted.” “I believe that Saudi Arabia wants a political solution in Syria but it cannot impose it on its own and it will seek the help of Iran and Turkey,” he said. Commenting on the recent deadly battle between the Lebanese army and jihadist groups in and around the border town of Arsal, Jumblat said “it is not for politicians nor for journalists to discuss the military incidents in Arsal, because the army defended courageously and recaptured posts.” “I had expected such an assault,” Jumblat pointed out, referring to the August 2 attack on the town, during which 19 Lebanese troops were killed and around 35 soldiers and policemen were taken hostage. “We must unite behind the army and equip it and obligatory conscription must be reinstated in order to introduce 10,000 to 15,000 troops,” said Jumblat. As for Hizbullah's controversial intervention in Syria, the PSP leader noted that the party cannot withdraw from the neighboring country “without a decision from the Islamic Republic of Iran and an agreement with Saudi Arabia.” “From the very first moment, we said we had different interpretations of the Syrian crisis but now we must immunize ourselves, end the bets and suspend the dispute in order to protect Lebanon. We cannot keep asking the party to withdraw from Syria, as neither I nor others have the ability to persuade it,” added Jumblat.
Bkirki Spokesman Says Talk on Presidential Candidates is 'Useless'
Naharnet/Bkirki spokesman Walid Ghayyad has denied that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi and al-Mustaqbal movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri have discussed the names of presidential candidates. Ghayyad told al-Mustaqbal daily that al-Rahi and Hariri agreed during their meeting in Rome Monday on the need to intensify efforts to elect a new president.He denied that they discussed the names of possible candidates, which he described as “useless at this stage.” A conversation on candidates “is a mistake that neither the Patriarch nor ex-PM Hariri would commit,” said Ghayyad. The discussions between al-Rahi and Hariri focused on “the importance of having a consensual candidate who is capable of confronting this difficult stage,” he told al-Mustaqbal. They also agreed on “choosing a head of state before any other move,” Ghayyad said. His remarks, which were published on Wednesday, came as An Nahar newspaper said al-Rahi would renew a proposal for Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea to withdraw his candidacy in return for a similar move by his rival Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun.Geagea is backed by the March 14 alliance, which includes Hariri's al-Mustaqbal movement. His candidacy has angered the FPM and the March 8 camp, whose majority of lawmakers have boycotted the presidential elections causing a lack of quorum at parliament. The differences between March 8 and 14 have kept the country's top Christian post vacant at Baabda Palace. President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25.
Berri Downplays Army Defections, Says Investments and Terrorism Don't Coexist
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri expressed belief on Wednesday that the latest defections of Lebanese soldiers would not affect the military institution, stressing a drop in investments during war.Sneaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Investment Forum 2014 in Geneva, Berri said that the announcement of several soldiers that they were joining the ranks of Syria-based jihadists were limited cases that did not affect the army or soldiers.Such defections take place in armies in different countries, said Berri. But he stressed in his remarks published in local dailies that the defections are not being embraced by politicians locally. On Tuesday, the number of soldiers who have announced their defections since July reached four. The troops, who have joined al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, have claimed that their move was the result of the injustice against Sunnis in Lebanon. Islamists in the country say that Sunnis are facing harassment by the army, which they accuse of working under the command of Hizbullah. Jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the IS captured Lebanese soldiers and policemen when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. Among their demands is the release of Islamists from Roumieh prison. In his remarks to reporters, Berri described the prison as a “hotel” saying its “guests” enjoy all their needs and contact their families and groups abroad. The inmates follow-up through their mobile phones the latest progress made by al-Nusra Front and IS in their fighting in Syria and Iraq, said Berri. He stated that some Roumieh prisoners were leading terrorist groups from inside their cells and were being “protected” by some parties in the state. He also agreed with Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat for blaming former Internal Security Forces commanders on the chaos at the prison. During a speech at the World Leaders Investment Summit in Geneva on Wednesday, Berri said international support for Lebanon was not enough to help the country meet the burden of Syrian refugees. He warned that investments suffer during times of war. “There is no place for investment where there is terrorism,” Berri added.
Yaalon Says Hizbullah has Possibly 'Accumulated more Self-Confidence'
Naharnet/Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Wednesday that Hizbullah might have more self-confidence, days after the party's chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah pledged to defeat jihadists and expressed readiness for a new confrontation with the Jewish state.
“It’s possible that Hizbullah has accumulated more self-confidence than we thought,” Yaalon told Haaretz daily in an interview. He said the Shiite party is trying to maintain a new balance of deterrence on both the Lebanese and the Syrian borders.
“Victory will be the ally of the mujahideen in their battle against takfiri and terrorist groups the same way it was their ally in the confrontation with the Israeli enemy,” Nasrallah told Hizbullah cadres during a recent visit to the eastern Bekaa Valley.
“Once, the Syrian regime used to activate Hizbullah to strike at us in south Lebanon, without our being able to blame the regime for direct responsibility. Now, Hizbullah is operating the same way on the Golan Heights,” Yaalon said.
According to Haaretz, Israel attributes several of the incidents of the past year in the Golan to the groups connected to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria but operating under the inspiration of Hizbullah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Yaalon said that Hizbullah is sending its fighters to Iraq and Syria against its will, under orders from Iran. The party is also mired in a war against extremist Sunni factions in the Bekaa, he said, adding Hizbullah has additional problems, aside from the tension with Israel.
“The incidents with us don’t prove that Hizbullah is planning an escalation,” the minister told Haaretz. “We reacted forcefully. Let Hizbullah decide whether it’s worth its while to escalate.”
Canada Condemns ISIL’s Assault on Women
October 14, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement in response to the latest reports about sexual violence committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL): “New evidence emerges every day of ISIL’s barbaric actions against women and children, including a new report that estimates that as many as 7,000 women—including many Yazidis and Christians—are being detained as sex slaves. ISIL’s barbarity is matched only by its depravity.
“Far from hiding these actions, ISIL media outlets openly promote them and offer theological justifications. It is clear that ISIL is nothing more than a terrorist group spreading hatred and intolerance around the world. “Canada strongly condemns ISIL’s hateful ideology and the so-called justification of its campaign of sexual violence and sexual slavery, which includes abducting, trafficking, torturing, raping and killing women and children. “In coordination with the Government of Iraq and other allies, the Government of Canada is taking action to protect innocent civilians and counter ISIL’s barbaric activities and expansionist agenda, which pose a very real threat to regional and global security. This includes up to $10 million committed as a direct response to sexual violence conducted by ISIL.”
Canada has also committed to providing up to 600 personnel, aircraft and other equipment, as well as a total of $28.9 million in humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the year to help meet the urgent health, shelter, protection, education and food needs of thousands of civilians. For additional information, see Baird Announces Measures to Counter ISIL’s Brutal Acts of Sexual Violence.
Tensions into Disasters
by ANGELO M. CODEVILLA October 14, 2014
Family Security Matters
Acting in the manner of sorcerers' apprentices over several decades, the makers of U.S. foreign policy have contributed to turning many of the tensions among the world's peoples into disasters. These American-caused disasters diminish the respect for America upon which our own peace depends. The trouble comes not from any errors of detail, but rather from disregarding the fundamentals of statecraft. The remedy lies in paying attention to them. Herewith, a glance at the U.S. government's responsibility for the disasters now unfolding along the Islamic State's bloody edges.
For centuries, albeit uneasily, Turks, Kurds, and Arabs had lived alongside one another along the edge of the Fertile Crescent that runs between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Now, however, we see Sunni Arabs who have carved out a state from what used to be Syria and Iraq, making substantial progress in their effort to annihilate millions of Kurds in ancient communities along Turkey's southern border. As Turkey's mighty army watches, riots of resentment among Turkey's large, long-suffering Kurdish population bespeak an estrangement that may not be reversible.
The radical-Sunni Islamic State's use of superior weapons - which alone makes it possible for Arabs to make headway against superior Kurdish fighters in defensive positions - is due almost entirely to having captured American equipment from an Iraqi army upon which our government lavished vastly more resources than brains. That, in turn, is due to our bipartisan foreign policy establishment's enduring, reality-proof commitment to a "united, democratic Iraq," to be achieved by making nice with its Sunni minority, regardless of its efforts to rule Shia and Kurdish peoples. U.S. sorcerers' apprentices were surprised and disappointed when the Iraqi government - necessarily led by the massive Shia majority - appointed Shia commanders to the army. They were surprised and disappointed again when Shia soldiers in this "inclusive" army refused to fight to defend regions populated by Sunnis who are friendly to the Sunni Islamic State, in the name of an Iraq in which nobody but the Americans believe. Dismayed to see the Iraqi army's wonderful American equipment fall into the hands of the Islamic State, the U.S. government now resolves to pour more equipment into that army while making it even more "inclusive" than before.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State moves genocidally against the Kurds - to whom our government has stinted arms lest its formal declaration of Kurdish de facto independence puncture the American pretense of a "united democratic Iraq" and displease the Turkish government. Nevertheless, the United States expects the Kurds to be the most effective ground force against the Islamic State. The Obama administration has undermined its stated intention to "destroy" the Islamic State, by backing it up with air strikes so few and with munitions so light as to destroy, not the Islamic State, but what little possibility existed that the Kurds would ever fight them-that is, unless the Kurds formed an independent Kurdistan. Whatever happens to the many Kurdish communities strung along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent, all Kurds are now more certain than ever that their physical safety depends on forming their own independent state.
Turkey is sure to incur the biggest direct consequences of this. Turkey's Kurds are not Turks, in language or in anything else. Since Mustafa Kemal reduced the Ottoman Empire to the borders of present-day Turkey, the Kurds have been the country's biggest and most restive minority. The Turkish government has dealt with them by ever-varying, never successful, mixtures of violence and attempts at integration. The foreign policy of President Erdogan's Islamist government, eventuating as it has (whether this was intended or not) in what looks like an attempt to use the Islamic State's fellow Islamists to kill Kurds, may well have made it impossible for Kurds and Turks to continue to coexist within the same borders.
In a nutshell Erdogan, first as the Prime Minister and later as President, made possible the Islamic State's growth by letting his country become its main source of supplies (it buys much of its food, for example, in Turkey) as well as the transit route for its rank-and-file foreign fighters. While we cannot know for sure why Erdogan acted as he did, certain facts are suggestive. Erdogan, like many Turks, detests the Alawite dynasty in Syria, of the Assad family. Qatar, which has organized much of the Islamic State's finances, also has organized the massive, thoroughly opaque, flood of cash that has inflated the financial bubble by which Erdogan has purchased the allegiance of his party's cadres and the complaisance of countless Turks. Erdogan's sympathy for radical Islam, from Palestine to Pakistan, is also no secret.
None of this, however, dictates keeping his army watching passively as the Arabs, whom he has facilitated, try to kill Kurds. And yet that is what he is doing.
As support of the Islamic State from Turkey, a NATO member, continues to mock the work of a generation of American policymakers, President Obama has not reversed his description of Erdogan as among his best friends, and continues to treat him as an ally. Obama thereby makes America responsible indirectly for Erdogan's egregious policies.
In sum, the disasters that now stretch from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and that project violence onto America itself involve so many factions antagonistic to one another, in so many ways that intertwine with, and cut across, one another, that no attempt to sort them out makes any sense. In fact, the beginning of wisdom about this tangle is to recognize that our foreign policy establishment worsened it when, instead of responding to Saddam Hussein's enmity simply by undoing him - our business - and letting the regions' locals settle their own affairs, our officials tried to mind others' business.
Protecting America-as well as ceasing to contribute to harming the locals-requires taking care of our own business. At this point, our chief business in that region is to make sure that anyone's foremost thought about America is fear of offending us. As ever, utterly destroying enemies and their causes is a firm foundation of peace.
**A version of this piece previously appeared on Online Library of Law & Liberty
**Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. He served as a U.S. Senate Staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services. His new book Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations was published by Hoover Institution Press.
by CAROLINE GLICK October 14, 2014
Family Security Matters
The outcome of the donor conference for Gaza reconstruction that was held in Cairo on Sunday was not surprising.
Representatives of 50 countries convened to pledge funds to Hamas and the PLO. The Palestinians had hoped to receive $4 billion in pledges. They raised $5.4b.
Most of the money will be transferred to the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas. But at least $1b. will go directly to Hamas, from its primary financier, Qatar.
With its $1b. Hamas will be able to pay its terrorist operatives and rebuild its terrorist forces.
The air force revealed last week that Hamas is rebuilding its rocket arsenal already.
As for the money that will be transferred to Abbas, the billions in funding will give the PLO the money it needs to finance Abbas's rapidly escalating political war against Israel in the international arena. At least some of the money will also go to Hamas, Abbas's partner in the unity government.
The entire nature of the conference was surreal, but again predictable.
Surreal because it was based on a total disregard for reality.
In last summer's war, Hamas wantonly and deliberately waged an unprovoked, illegal missile campaign against Israel for the third time in five years. It fired 4,500 projectiles at Israeli territory. It also used tunnels it dug into Israeli territory to attack Israel.
Had Hamas not attacked, Israel would not have counterattacked. There would have been no damage to repair in Gaza.
If the US, Europe and the Arab world were interested in actually helping Gaza, rather than organize a conference to fund Hamas and the PLO, they would have enjoined Israel to finish the job two months ago and end Hamas's criminal, terrorist state in Gaza once and for all.
Yet, they did no such thing. Throughout the war, the US and the EU joined Qatar and Turkey in blaming Israel for Hamas's illegal war.
And on Sunday, they put their money where their mouths are. They pledged billions to the PLO and its political war against Israel. And they funded Hamas - both directly and indirectly. Moreover, they gave Hamas a political victory by agreeing to fund Abbas, even though he is the head of a PLO-Hamas government.
All of this was predictable because it happens every time Israel is attacked, whether by terrorist armies in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, or in Lebanon.
Every time the Palestinians and Lebanese Hezbollah attack Israel, the US and Europe eventually side with the Arabs and demand that Israel stop defending itself.
The only difference between the most recent war with Hamas and its predecessors is that this time, the US was even more adamantly opposed to Israel's attempts to defeat Hamas than the Europeans and many Arab governments.
In other words, the only difference between the most recent war and its predecessors is that the level of hostility towards Israel - and conversely support for Hamas - among leading members of the international community was unprecedented.
Israel's job in contending with this hostile environment should have been similarly unprecedented.
Israel should have been offering to lead an international force in Gaza to overthrow Hamas and arrest its leaders pending war crimes trials. It should have been sticking the international community's nose in the stench of its hypocrisy and anti-Israel bias.
Operationally, it should have recognized that Israel's chief achievement in the war was its ability to withstand US pressure and maintain Gaza's physical isolation by maintaining the borders shut, and so preventing the terrorist regime from resupplying and rearming.
At least on the last count, keeping Gaza sealed was Israel's unflinching position throughout the war. To prevent the opening of Gaza's borders, and through it, the rebuilding of Hamas's terrorist infrastructure and political power, at great diplomatic cost, Israel repeatedly rejected US demands for an open border.
But today, this position is collapsing. True, Israel is insisting officially that stringent controls be placed on all dual use goods brought into Gaza. But officials openly acknowledge that there is no way to enforce the controls once the goods are imported.
Far worse than accepting that its position is difficult to enforce, Israel is actually facilitating the opening of Gaza's borders. In so doing, Israel is giving Hamas the victory it failed to achieve on the battlefield.
And worst of all, the chief proponent of this policy is not Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, or even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Its chief advocate is IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
Throughout the war, tremors of criticism were heard in governing circles and the media against the IDF leadership in general, and against Gantz, in particular.
In a series of media interviews on the eve of Yom Kippur, Gantz showed that not only was the criticism warranted - it was far too mild.
Israel Prepares For When Syrian Jihadis Turn Their Guns South
by YAAKOV LAPPIN October 14, 2014
Family Security Matters
If you ask Israeli defense officials today about Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra Front members in Syria, and the risk they pose to Israel, expect one answer with two layers.
At present, the officials estimate, these radical Sunni jihadi elements do not pose an immediate threat to the Israeli border or to national security.
They are too busy fighting the army of Basher Assad, Shi'ite militias, and Hizballah, which has intervened on Assad's side - not to mention other Syrian rebel groups.
Eventually, however, these organizations will pose a very real threat to Israel, and the smart thing to do is to prepare for it now, the officials say.
"We see them deployed along the Israeli border, but we don't think they're about to target Israel," one senior army officer said in recent weeks. "I don't see the Al-Nusra Front having an interest in attacking us now," he added. On the other hand, Al Nusra has declared that when it finishes its war against the Assad regime, "the Jews' turn will come. We are preparing," the same officer noted.
Every morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must take a good look at the area in which a country called Syria once existed, and ask itself what has changed. On most days, it will find that a lot has.
In recent weeks, for example, Al-Qaida's official branch in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front, played a lead role in seizing the Quneitra area, right on the Israeli border with the Golan Heights. The IDF's Northern Command now sees Al-Nusra flags and fighters across the border, where it until recently saw Assad military positions and the old Syrian flags waving in the wind.
About 700 Al-Nusra Front members, as well as 1,300 rebels from other organizations, conquered Quneitra in September, and the Assad regime has been busy trying to take it back ever since - so far unsuccessfully.
Al-Nusra moved into Quneitra because it was pushed out of eastern Syria (from regions like Deir Ezzor) by its jihadi rival, the Islamic State, which has proclaimed a transnational Islamic caliphate.
Today, Islamic State members are located around 50 kilometers away from the Israeli border, and at some point, they will likely end up coming significantly closer.
Israeli military planners are not only watching the multitude of battles unfold in Syria - they also listen closely when Al-Nusra members say that their aim is to conquer Damascus first, and Jerusalem second. Such talk is taken very seriously. It prompts Israel to prepare quietly, and intensively.
It is only a matter of time until the guns of Sunni jihadis are turned towards Israel, according to the dominant view in the Israeli defense establishment. Meanwhile, both groups -Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State -are ideologically identical in their goal of creating a radical caliphate, are growing.
As they raid Syrian military bases, seize arms, and purchase additional weapons on the black market, both of these jihadi organizations are gaining all manner of weapons, from small arms to shoulder-held missile launchers to armored vehicles, and mortar cannons. It seems likely that both groups will be able to produce their own weapons, such as rockets, in the near future as well.
Some of the steps Israel has already taken to get ready for the jihadis in Syria include mobilizing a new division to the Golan Heights, and giving it the ability to rapidly deploy air power and artillery strikes, in just a few minutes.
The new division relies heavily on enhanced Israeli intelligence monitoring of the Syrian sector. It is training for potential rapid ground force deployment into Syria if necessary, to respond to terrorist attacks, whether they take the form of projectiles, hostile intrusions, or border bombings.
Other steps include last year's completion of a new hi-tech fence along the border, complete with a range of sensors that provide army controllers with input on suspicious movements.
The multi-sensory system, dubbed "Mars in Israel," is used by the IDF's Combat Intelligence Collection Corps. It sends a variety of feeds from the border, such as cameras, radars, and other devices that are classified.
Additionally, the IDF sees air defense systems, like Iron Dome and David's Sling, playing key roles in protecting northern Israel from potential future Syrian threats.
The IDF is also able to order its Artillery Corps to fire precision guided Tamuz surface to surface missiles, for accurate strikes on targets in Syria.
In addition to military power, Israel is also seeking to foster a friendlier attitude among Syrians who live near the border. Approximately 1,300 Syrians injured in the civil war have received treatment in Israeli hospitals, which helps in achieving this goal. Such measures might mitigate the threat somewhat, but a clash with radical jihadis in the future remains a near certainty.
An additional danger lies in the likelihood that Syria will act as a jihad production center, sending radicalized terrorists out all over the region.
This development could result in regional jihadi networks stretching from the Sinai Peninsula (home to Al-Qaida-linked groups like Beit Al-Maqdes) to Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State continues to consolidate its control.
Today, these forces are busy engaging enemies nearer to home, but tomorrow, their ideology will very likely place them on a collision path with the Middle East's sole Jewish state.
Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post's military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.
Why the Islamic
State Is Losing
By MICHAEL KNIGHTS/Politico Magazine
October 14, 2014
The pundits have it wrong—the terrorists’ move toward Baghdad is a sign of desperation.
Many in the world media seem to be concluding, with alarm, that the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant is at the gates of Baghdad. ISIL has made dramatic gains in Anbar province, Iraq’s perennially troubled “wild west,” and Anbar is next to Baghdad. Ergo, Baghdad must be next to fall. It was probably no accident that, on Tuesday, President Obama convened an urgent conference of defense officials from 21 countries at Andrews Air Force Base to coordinate strategies and tactics.
Everyone should calm down. The reality is that ISIL and its forerunners have always been in Baghdad. The Iraqi capital and its rural exurbs – the “Baghdad belts” — have been a desperate battleground since 2003.
True, ISIL has been posing much more of a direct threat to Baghdad since the beginning of 2014, when the movement took control of Fallujah, a city of 300,000 that is located just 25 miles west of Baghdad International Airport. But Baghdad won’t fall to cascading panic the way that Mosul did in June 2014, no matter how many towns and cities ISIL overruns in the Euphrates River Valley to the northwest of the capital.
Here’s why. Mosul was a predominately Sunni city of one million people where the Shia-led security forces were despised and where the bulk of Iraq’s security forces were hundreds of miles away. Baghdad is a predominately Shia city of more than seven million and the hub of a gargantuan popular mobilization of Shia militias and regular security forces.
Mao Zedong said that the guerrilla “must swim among the people as the fish swims in the sea,” but ISIL would be swimming with piranhas if it tried to recreate Mosul in Baghdad.
In truth, the threat posed to Baghdad this autumn is emerging less because ISIL is winning the war in Iraq and more because it might be slowly but steadily losing it. All across north-central Iraq, ISIL is being challenged by joint forces comprised of Sunni tribes, Shia militias, Iraqi soldiers, Iranian advisors and U.S. airpower. ISIL is struggling to maintain its grip on this battlefield of strange bedfellows, and it could be moving on Baghdad now out of a desperate need for a big victory more than anything else. Even as ISIL appears to be making progress in marginal places like Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish border town, inside Iraq the group has been faltering and needs a new front to rejuvenate its campaign.
Among the less-noted victories against ISIL recently: In early October, Kurdish peshmerga forces and local Sunni tribesmen of the Shammar confederation – usually bitter rivals – cooperated in a three-day blitzkrieg that recaptured the vital Rabiya border crossing that links the ISIL territories in Iraq and Syria. In Dhuluiya, 45 miles north of Baghdad, Sunni tribesmen of the Jabouri confederation are pushing ISIL back from their lands in collaboration with both Iraqi Army forces and, stunningly, Iranian-backed Shia militiamen from the Kataib Hezbollah movement.
Near Kirkuk, the Obeidi confederation, another conglomeration of Sunni tribes, is starting to cooperate with Shia Turkmen tribes and Kurdish security forces against ISIL. For the first time since June, the Iraqi government is able to drive tanks and supply columns all the way from Baghdad to Kirkuk, allowing the security forces to open a new front on ISIL’s eastern flank.
This is not to say that ISIL is just rolling over. The Islamic State certainly landed some good punches in early October, overrunning a handful of small garrisons in Anbar, capturing parts of the 100,000-strong city of Hit and driving security forces out of much of Ramadi city, the Anbar’s provincial capital.
But overall, ISIL’s reaction to Sunni tribal uprisings – suicide bombings and assassinations against the tribes – will only reinforce tribal resolve. ISIL still needs to relieve pressure on its northern Iraqi territories and open a new front.
Which is where Baghdad comes in. Regardless of what happens in Anbar, ISIL needs to punch back somewhere vital, somewhere sensitive, if it is to regain the initiative in Iraq. Iraq-watchers have been waiting for an ISIL thrust against Baghdad for many months, and many are scratching their heads as to why it has not landed yet.
It is not for lack of opportunity. ISIL was well-established in the inner suburbs of Baghdad even before June 2014: With great fanfare, Islamic State militants held a 75-vehicle parade in Abu Ghraib, just 15 miles from the U.S. Embassy, in May. Terrifyingly, there’s little to prevent missile attacks closing down Baghdad’s sole international airport.
So what is ISIL waiting for?
They cannot capture the Shia metropolis of Baghdad outright and have been putting their effort into consolidating control of Sunni areas in northern and western Iraq. As counterterrorism analyst Daveed Gartenstein-Ross adroitly notes, they also seem to have become fixated on Kobane, perhaps at the expense of higher-priority missions in Iraq and Syria.
One option could be an uprising in the Sunni neighbourhoods of west Baghdad, areas that are open to the ISIL-dominated Jazeera desert to the northwest of Baghdad. The uprising need not succeed or get much backing from Baghdad’s Sunnis: ISIL’s gambit would rely upon sparking sectarian cleansing by Shia militias, thus dragging all Sunni men in Baghdad into the fight.
ISIL could also try a spectacular terrorist attack like its July 22, 2013, assault on the heavily defended Abu Ghraib prison, when 800 inmates were freed. Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) nestled in vulnerable west Baghdad and adjacent to insurgent-infested farmlands, would be a prime target. On Oct. 12, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told ABC’s “This Week” that Apache gunships flew strike missions from the airport in early October because ISIL had come “within 20 or 25 kilometers of BIAP” and had “a straight shot to the airport.”
But most likely, ISIL is simply readying for its annual killing spree against Shia pilgrims during the Ashura and Arbaeen religious festivals. In the week before Ashura begins on Nov. 3, Baghdad will swell with millions of pilgrims making their way to Karbala, just southwest of the capital. Many of these pilgrims make the 50-mile walk from Baghdad to Karbala, which passes within seven miles of Jurf as-Sakr, a heavily-contested ISIL stronghold to the south of Baghdad. We can expect mortar attacks, car bombings and suicide-vest detonations inside the crowds.
This is the real meaning of ISIL being at the gates of Baghdad – that the movement is poised perilously close to key religious and transportation hubs, and may be intent on mounting sectarian outrages at the most sensitive moment of the year for the Shia. The Iraqi security forces view Ashura and Arbaeen as an annual trial – and in recent years they have achieved significant success in limiting the mayhem caused by ISIL and its forerunners.
This year the Iraqi military and allied Shia militias have been fighting hard, with U.S. air support, to clear ISIL back from the pilgrim routes between Baghdad and Karbala – and with some success. Protecting the pilgrims and blunting ISIL’s gambits in Baghdad will be the next great test for Iraq’s recovering security forces – because the enemy is truly at the gates of the Shia world.
**Michael Knights, fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, regularly travels to Iraq and has worked in all of the country’s 18 provinces.
Kobani airstrikes more accurate, Kurds give coordinates: activists
Humeyra Pamuk/Tom Perry| Reuters/Oct. 15, 2014
MURSITPINAR, Turkey/BEIRUT: U.S.-led air strikes killed at least 32 ISIS fighters in direct hits in Kobani this week because of closer coordination with Kurdish forces on the ground, activists said, after bombing of the Syrian town intensified.
Kurdish officials said the main Kurdish armed group, the YPG, was giving the coordinates of ISIS fighters in Kobani to the U.S.-led alliance that is bombing the group in both Iraq and Syria.
"The senior people in YPG tell the coalition the location of ISIL (ISIS) targets and they hit accordingly," Polat Can, a YPG spokesman, told Reuters, using an acronym for ISIS
"Some of them (ISIS) have withdrawn, but they regroup and return. But because the air strikes are working in coordination, they hit their targets well," he said.
The Kurdish YPG have been struggling to defend Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, from better armed ISIS fighters who have used tanks, artillery and suicide truck bombs in a month-long offensive against the town at the Turkish border.
ISIS has taken control of much of eastern and southern Kobani but has not made much progress this week. The Kurdish forces say they have taken back areas on the west of the town.
ISIS has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria in an effort to reshape the Middle East according to its hardline vision of Islam.
The U.S. military said the coalition conducted 21 attacks on the militants near Kobani Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed ISIS advances there, but cautioned the situation remained fluid.
U.S. President Barack Obama voiced deep concern Tuesday about the situation in Kobani as well as in Iraq's Anbar province, which U.S. troops fought to secure during the Iraq war and is now at risk of being seized by ISIS militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war using a network of sources on the ground, said one of the allied air strikes in the last day killed a group of ISIS fighters just 50 metres (yards) from a Kurdish position.
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said seven ISIS fighters had been killed in clashes with the Kurds Wednesday, compared to five Kurdish fighters.
"(The air strikes) are more serious than before because the coordination has grown in the last six days," Abdulrahman said.
The Syrian Kurds on Saturday voiced concern that the air strikes had become less effective and urged more.
Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist inside Kobani, said the latest air strikes had allowed the YPG to make some gains.
"Following the air strikes I went to the last safe point in eastern side of the city. Some buildings that were occupied by ISIS fighters were empty," he said. "On the west, YPG destroyed a vehicle that belonged to ISIS and killed the militants inside."
Turkey has rejected requests by the Syrian Kurds for it to open a corridor so they can resupply Kobani with fighters and weapons from other Kurdish areas of northern Syria.
The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq has sent ammunition and mortar shells to help the Kurds in Kobani, but the weapons are stuck in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria because they have no way to reach the town.
Kobani is besieged from the east, south and west by ISIS, meaning the Turkish border or an air drop are the only way for them to get supplies without penetrating ISIS' blockade.
Turkey's policy towards Kobani has angered Kurds in Turkey who accuse Ankara of supporting ISIS in its campaign against the Syrian Kurds, who have carved out three autonomous areas in northern Syria since the civil war began there in 2011.
Anger at Turkish policy triggered riots among Turkey's 15 million Kurds last week in which at least 35 people were killed. The main Syrian Kurdish party, the PYD, has close ties to the PKK, a Turkish Kurdish party that waged a militant campaign for Kurdish rights and has threatened to abandon a peace process with Turkey in response to the Kobani crisis. Turkish warplanes were reported on Tuesday to have attacked Kurdish rebel targets in southeast Turkey after the army said it had been attacked by the PKK, risking reigniting a three-decade conflict that killed 40,000 people before a cease-fire was declared two years ago.
The post-ISIS crisis for Sunni governments
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
It’s relatively clear who the enemy and the friend are in this current war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but the situation is subject to change. Newly-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi says Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia have changed their strategies because they realized that their support of extremists threatens their own security. Saudi Arabia stresses that ISIS was born in the bosom of the Syrian regime. The Iranians publicly admit that some al-Qaeda leaders are still based inside Iran while it’s well-known that Turkey is a wide-open gate for the thousands of fighters - respected and terrorists alike – to sneak into Syria. Everyone agrees that the American government’s hesitation to intervene over the past three years is to blame for turning the cat into a terrorist monster which is threatening the entire world. The Americans themselves currently admit that they underestimated the situation and that the former Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki, with its vengeful sectarian policy, led to the birth of the Iraqi ISIS army.
“Gulf countries have been fighting Sunni terrorist groups since al-Qaeda surfaced a decade and a half ago”
There is hope that the danger will be curbed despite the differences and the difficulty of dealing with terrorist groups. The current anti-ISIS alliance is a political, legal and military framework that can be developed to find solutions for the root causes by ending regional political competition, curbing sectarian struggle and ending the likes of the Syrian regime. Without that, stances may change, the alliance may divide, the struggle may expand and different parties will engage in regional proxy wars in which everyone uses terrorist groups to serve their aims.
Spreading the blame
Now everyone is trading the blame and there are enough problems to spread the blame around as everyone is, to some degree, responsible for the negative realities in Iraq and Syria. No party, regardless of how powerful its military is and of how far it is from the areas of crises, can escape the imminent threat unless it admits the reality of the situation and considers itself a partner in this war against ISIS. But when Iran wants to maintain the authority of the Assad regime, this means getting rid of Sunni terrorists while keeping Iran’s own terrorists active. This is unacceptable. It will only lead to the expansion of ISIS’s capabilities because the crimes of the Assad regime and its associated Shiite militant groups have killed a quarter of a million Syrian citizens. If Assad’s regime remains in power it will undermine the anti-ISIS alliance and its military efforts, increase hatred across the Islamic world and act as magnet to more fighters.
We must also understand the religious dimension of the crisis at hand. Being biased towards ISIS will embarrass Sunni governments in front of their citizens. Without eliminating the Assad regime and without rectifying the sectarian situation in Iraq, the pace of the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites will increase on the level of governments, organizations and individuals. Such competition would improve extremists’ status and make them key players and a center of attention and it will weaken the authority of Sunni governments who will find themselves involved in a game of polarization and will thus be forced to take sides either with Iran or with ISIS. So will the world be able to tolerate the expansion of chaos which would result from the military alliance standing against the Sunni terrorist ISIS while letting Assad and Shiite terrorists emerge victorious? The obvious question is thus: Isn’t what we are witnessing today a sectarian war?
It is partially. But the second chapter of the crisis hasn’t yet begun as the region is not yet divided because Gulf countries have been fighting Sunni terrorist groups since al-Qaeda surfaced a decade and a half ago. Gulf states are still leading the fight against these groups because they know that al-Qaeda, ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham target them as well as other Sunni regimes like Egypt more than they target Shiite regimes. However, these countries cannot maintain their stance if it later turns out that there’s a sectarian coalition supported by foreign parties. They will not be able to maintain their stance if it turns out that Iran, Western countries in support of the Assad regime, the Iraqi government and extremist Shiite militias are working on one front. In this case, regional countries like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Egypt and Turkey cannot stay in their current camp.
Iranian expansion in the Mideast
Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
The preoccupation to the point of obsession with ISIS is terrifying. It is as though the world is standing still in a panic over an organization, the terror of which is rivaled only by the terror of the Ebola epidemic. The direct reason behind ISIS’s rise to the top slot in international priorities is that President Barack Obama went to war against ISIS. This war became Obama’s war, into which he was summoned by barbaric beheadings and the systematic crimes that have characterized ISIS’s terrorism. The United States is sucked in into one obsession after another traditionally, perhaps on account of the U.S. media’s fixation on one issue after the other, as though the world should always stop at the U.S. priority as its “dish of the day,” so to speak.
The dangerous thing about this pattern is that events of the utmost importance are sometimes absent entirely from its attention, even as they brew to become, in the near future, an imminent danger that “surprises” America. What is even more dangerous is that the allies and friends of the United States are rushing to meet its urgent priority without insisting on a clear strategy, and are completely distracted from what they should otherwise be aware of at their own doorsteps or in their own backyards. This is exactly what happened in Yemen recently, when the capital Sanaa fell to the pro-Iranian Houthis – Ansar Allah – making Yemen a possible candidate for becoming the tip of Iranian domination overt the Strait of Hormuz and international navigation. This is in addition to turning into the largest and most dangerous direct border challenge to Saudi Arabia. How and why did this happen? There are many answers, some vague and others flabbergasting; yet the more important question is, what next? Yemen has become to Iran what Lebanon was and continues to be. Both countries are on the brink of explosion, while the world rushes to meet the U.S. summons to the “ISIS priority” in Syria and Iraq. Lebanon is caught in the square represented by its two neighbors – Israel and Syria – and Hezbollah and ISIS. And Yemen is likely to witness exhausting wars where al-Qaeda, the Houthis, the armed clans, and the army clash with one another, with the latter being seemingly loyal to an agenda of revenge represented by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who left only to now make a comeback.
The Obama administration waged war on al-Qaeda in Yemen using drones for many years. This suited the administration greatly because drone wars cost no U.S. soldiers, and produced no U.S. victims, bodies, or blood. This was the favored type of warfare for the U.S. president, who fulfilled the demands of the American public, namely, not to see blood or receive the bodies of U.S. soldiers returning from the wars of others, as they were seen. The Americans prefer war to be far from their sights, and the U.S. public prefers not to know about the “collateral damage” caused by the drones.
Quandary on Iran
The Americans are in a quandary when it comes to Iran. They want to appease Tehran but not to the extent of explicitly blessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons. They are drawn to the narratives trying to convince them that the Muslims terrorist enemy are the Sunni Muslims, of whom 19 carried out the attacks of 9/11, but they also remember that the mullahs and revolutionaries of Iran were the ones who detained 444 Americans, and that Iran has been accused of masterminding several terrorist attacks, from Khobar to Lebanon. What the Americans do not understand are the details of the Iranian role in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen. These are complex details for ordinary Americans, details in which they have no interest. As for decision-makers, this is another matter. Still, it would be naïve to assume that U.S. policy is based on ignorance, naivety, or foolishness.
“Lebanon remains relatively absent from the U.S., European, and even Arab list of priorities”
This begs the most important question: Why has all the attention and all the priorities been focused on fighting ISIS, mobilizing a regional and international alliance for the purpose, with the disclaimer that this war is going to last for years?
To clarify, raising this question is not with the aim of downplaying the importance and necessity of fighting ISIS everywhere through a serious and firm international alliance. The goal is to shed light on the dangers of obsession and exclusive fixation on fighting ISIS for years without a strategy or a political horizon for the war itself, in parallel with terrible neglect of what is happening in a small fragile country like Lebanon or a large country on the verge of being exhausted dreadfully like Yemen.
What could help save Lebanon from falling between the jaws of Hezbollah on the one hand, and ISIS and al-Nusra Front on the other, are geography and the presence of international troops in south Lebanon. This is while Israel could find the wars between Hezbollah and ISIS and its ilk advantageous as it would mean its enemies are preoccupied away from it.
Wars of attrition
But for Lebanon to turn into an arena of wars of attrition sets off alarm bells in Israel, because of the lack of institutions that could act as a safety valve and prevent battles from spreading to its border, or ensure that Lebanon would not become a staging ground for all these groups against Israel. This troubles Israel and its U.S. and European allies equally.
The other issue is the presence of U.N.IFIL international forces, which could become a hostage for ISIS or al-Nusra Front, if Lebanon descends into total chaos. This is a source of great concern particularly for the Europeans.
Nevertheless, Lebanon remains relatively absent from the U.S., European, and even Arab list of priorities. It is the explosives box that no one wants to touch, as though merely pretending it would not explode is in itself a safety valve. This is a dangerous and terrifying policy, and it is time for Washington and the European capitals to be afraid, very afraid, if they continue to hide behind their finger, claiming that this offers enough protection.
These countries know exactly where the keys to fortifying Lebanon against explosion lie. These keys are not entirely in the hands of ISIS, al-Nusra Front, or similar organizations. Some of the important keys are in the hands of Tehran, which Hezbollah listens to completely, whether in terms of its involvement in the war in Syria alongside the regime, or in terms of allowing the election of a president in Lebanon and end the policy of vacuum. Other keys are in the hands of Western and Arab capitals, in relation to the nature of the dialogue with Tehran at a time when these capitals have banded together in the war on ISIS and its ilk.
The Western powers do not want to start a dialogue about the Iranian roles in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq with Tehran because if they did, as they claim, this would affect nuclear talks with the Iranian government. This is nonsense.
All they have to put on the table are two main issues: Iranian nuclear ambitions, and regional Iranian ambitions. If the two issues are raised together, they could tip the balance in Iranian decision-making in favor of the moderates, which want to focus on the Iranian interior and do not want regional dominance that characterizes the strategy of the forces in favor of exporting the Iranian revolution. This way, if Iran wants to have the sanctions lifted, it would have to cease its overt intervention in Syria in favor of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, in Lebanon in favor of Hezbollah’s dominance of the country, in Iraq in favor of the continuation of the exclusion policies imposed by Tehran’s ally former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and in Yemen in favor of the Houthi occupation of the capital Sanaa. It is following this approach that Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin must deal with negotiations with Iran, if they were really sincere in supporting the stability of the region rather than undercutting it.
The problem is that the countries allied with the United States do not address it with the seriousness and frankness required by this stage. These countries believe that complying with the U.S. priorities is a testament to their loyalty, reliability, and trustworthiness. In reality, however, this approach undermines partnership and confidence. Therefore, it is time to reconsider it.
The Gulf states say that they do not agree to legitimize the Iranian role in the Arab countries. Very well, they are right. In reality, these countries face a fait accompli that must be addressed either politically or militarily. The Iranian tentacles now extend to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. The international coalition is fighting one of the most prominent enemies of Iranian expansion in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon represented by ISIS, and consequently, it is relieving Iran and its ally in Damascus, and its partners in Iraq and Lebanon. No matter how much the goal to fight ISIS serves the interests of humanity and the Arab governments, the war on ISIS strongly benefits Iran, and this must be raised explicitly on the table of Arab-American partnership in the coming protracted war. If not, Iran will continue to implement its own priorities, without any cost that it would pay equally with others. Iran would win Iraq again, as well as Syria and Lebanon as a natural consequence of the war on ISIS. Iran will also consolidate in Yemen, as a result of the Arab and international absence and neglect of this issue.
Yemen as proof
What happened in Yemen is proof of how absence can turn into a stunning surprise. Saudi Arabia was probably shocked by the speed and momentum of the Yemeni event, and how the Houthis dominated the arena and seized the capital. Why did this happen when Yemen is at its doorstep? This is what is stunning. It has been said that the kingdom is preoccupied with the Hajj season, and that it would be difficult for it to open a front in Yemen when it is bogged down in the war on ISIS. It has been said that Saudi Arabia wagered on its tribal allies, whose performance caught the kingdom off guard. And it has been said that Saudi Arabia was shocked by the sharp revenge staged by Ali Abdullah Saleh against it, but also by the weakness of the current President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who found that his army is actually the army of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Whatever the rationale might be, the kingdom, in my view, has committed a mistake that is not going to be easy to correct. Throwing money at the pro-Saudi clans is not the way forward, while Saudi Arabia is not in the process of establishing a radical understanding with Iran over sharing influence in Yemen.
Most likely, the next step would be to lift immunity from Ali Abdullah Saleh, through a resolution issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council or the U.N. Security Council, on the basis of the Gulf initiative that gave Saleh immunity as part of a package that could not be partitioned. This means effectively terminating the initiative. It is also likely that the U.N. Security Council would impose sanctions on Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi leaders, including asset freezes, travel bans, and perhaps trials for war crimes.
What would be new is cancelling the old, i.e. the Gulf initiative, and ending dialogue with the Houthi sword hanging over Yemen. However, this is not a strategy as much as it would be punishment for revenge. It is important for what was agreed upon before through dialogue, that is the political mechanism to transition Yemen to federalism and democracy, not to be squandered. Similarly, wagering on the inevitability of the decline of Houthi power and control because it would be stretched too thin throughout Yemen is not a strategy. It is a recipe for a civil war and for exhausting yet another Arab country, in the wake of another failed strategy in Syria that ended up draining the country, and destroying its people, culture, and state.
It is time to end the strategy based on “may happen,” here and there, and replace it with a comprehensive strategy for both engagement and withdrawal. Being absent then being drawn in is a devastating tactic for the region.
Economics in the Age of Terror
Ali Ibrahim/Wednesday, 15 Oct, 2014
Approximately 50 percent of international financial assistance to the Middle East—which makes up just 5.5 percent of the global population—is spent on fuel subsidies, World Bank Vice-President for the MENA Region Inger Andersen said in a recent interview with Asharq Al-Awsat. This is an indication of one of the major imbalances in the region’s economies which is hindering plans for healthy growth.
The list of structural defects in the economies of the region is long and well-known, and we have heard talk about this for decades. The region’s governments remain unable to address them; no-one is dealing with this phenomenon in a serious manner for fear of the political repercussions that could result should they take a step towards cutting fuel subsidies—while a significant proportion of these subsidies goes to serve those who simply don’t need them.
A good example of this is Yemen. The former government tried to partially resolve this issue while confronting a very difficult economic situation, and during a difficult transitional period that was accompanied by bloodshed and terrorist attacks. However, this all blew up in the government’s face, and the Houthi movement was able to exploit the situation to turn the street against the government while taking control of Sana’a itself. At the same time, if the Houthi movement forms the next government, it will face the same issue regarding fuel subsidies and could, in future, take the same decision in dealing with them.
What happened in Yemen was the political exploitation of an economic reality that no-one can escape from, regardless of their political ideology. There are also many precedents in different Arab states during different eras seeking to deal with this same situation. However, they all ended the same way, with political unrest forcing the various governments to back down from their decisions.
Despite World Bank figures regarding the regional growth rate, as well as the projected growth rate next year, we cannot talk about healthy economies in our countries so long as there is violence and terrorism, as well as fighting against political regimes. For example, Syria has witnessed a huge economic setback and nobody knows how it will emerge from this crisis—whether as a single regional entity or a group of divided mini-states. As for Iraq, it is projected to experience negative economic growth at a time when some of its regions are completely outside of central government control. And in Libya, huge oil profits are financing armed militias that are spreading destruction across the country.
At a time of violence and chaos when the war on terror dominates the region, talk about economic reform is akin to a luxury. It would be easier to leave this until a compromise is reached that achieves a semblance of stability that allows the implementation of such plans. For example, it would not have been possible to hold a Gaza reconstruction conference—and for pledges of more than 5 billion US dollars to have been be made—without a ceasefire and the possibility for a long-term political solution. These funds will not reach Gaza if the cycle of violence resumes.
No-one will build or invest in a region where destruction, violence and conflict are raging. The reality is that these economic defects and the ensuing confusion and lack of development have led to a state of affairs that has, for decades, failed to meet the aspirations of the people, and to provide them with sufficient employment, education and healthcare. This, in turn, is the main reason for the ongoing twin phenomena of poverty and ignorance, which create a suitable environment for terrorism and violence to thrive. Unless genuine solutions to these problems are implemented, we will continue to see the spread of different forms of violence and terrorism.
So how can we achieve a breakthrough in dealing with this horrible self-sustaining cycle? This requires the emergence of a group of responsible politicians who are not just selling dreams to their people, but want to achieve genuine reforms instead, ones that might not bear fruit during their own time in office but which must be commenced nonetheless. These leaders must create trust between themselves and the people, which will lead to an environment capable of bearing the price—and the side effects—for any actions taken to repair and reform the economy. We have seen that this is possible in Egypt following the recent decisions to cut fuel subsidies, which the people accepted. If trust and openness exist between ruler and citizenry, unpopular reform is easier to apply.
Canadian FM, Baird Meets with Amir of Kuwait
October 15, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today concluded a successful visit to Kuwait, where he met with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, and other senior officials to advance a number of foreign policy priorities and reiterate Canada’s strong commitment to working with Kuwait and other allies to combat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Canada’s relations with Kuwait have been particularly strong since we participated in the liberation of Kuwait more than 20 years ago, during the First Gulf War,” said Baird. “I am grateful to Kuwait for its generosity in providing facilities for Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan and, more recently, for allowing the upgrade of those facilities to serve as a support hub for our operations in Iraq.
“ISIL has directly threatened both Canada and Kuwait. We are working together to meet this challenge face on.”
While in Kuwait, Baird also met with His Excellency Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Prime Minister; His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; and His Excellency Lt. General (ret.) Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
He also visited Camp Canada, the support hub for Canada’s military in the region, where he met with Canadian and Kuwaiti military personnel.
On October 7, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada, as part of its military engagement in Iraq, will provide up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, as well as aircraft and other equipment, for a mission of up to six months.
Kuwait is a priority market for Canada under the Global Markets Action Plan and a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between Canada and Kuwait came into force on February 19, 2014.