October 17/14

Bible Quotation For Today/Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ
Ephesians 02/11-22: "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Pope Francis,s Tweet For Today ‏
A Christian is merciful by nature; this is heart of the Gospel.
Pape François
Le chrétien est nécessairement miséricordieux ; c’est le cœur de l’Évangile.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 16, 17/14
The fatal flaw of Obama’s appeasement of Iran/By:
Shoula Romano Horing/Ynetnews/October 17/14
Syria’s chemical weapons confession: Should we have trusted Assad/By: Brooklyn Middleton/Al Arabiya/October 17/14
Say goodbye to the old order in the Middle East/By: Joyce Karam /Al Arabiya/October 17/14
Report: Islamic State group may have chemical weapons/Benyamin Tobias/Ynetnews/October 17/14
Interview with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: No imminent threat from the North/Yoav Zitun, Moran Azula/Ynetnew /October 17/14
The Arab Spring vs. development/By: Dima El Hassan/The Daily Star/ October 17/14
CSIS getting more powers to track suspected terrorists as details emerge of new federal anti-terror bill
It is Safer to be Skeptical than Naive/Eyad Abu Shakra /Asharq Al Awsat/October  17/14
The Savage Lands of Islam/by DANIEL GREENFIELD/Family Security Matters/October 17/14
Muhammad and Islam’s Sex Slaves/By: RAYMOND IBRAHIM/FrontPage Magazine/October 17/14

Lebanese Related News published on October 16, 17/14
Berri: Lebanon needs help to fight terrorists Sidon’s Nijmeh Square gets a facelift Testimony casts doubt on key fact in Hariri case
Hujeiri: My arrest will ruin hostage negotiations
Hezbollah prioritizes Israel over takfiris: Qassem
Families of Lebanese captives delay protest escalation
Tripoli residents urge Lebanon to save city
NASA’s Elachi seeks insight for humanity The Arab Spring vs. development More flooding and road closures expected
Lebanon indicts two over ISIS links Lebanon Files Complaint over Israeli Attack on Military Post
Lebanon's Role in Coalition against Jihadists Still Unclear U.N. Envoy in Beirut for 'Urgent Talks' with Salam, Bassil
Controversial Iranian Military Aid Delayed as U.S. Urges its Postponement
Asir to Mustaqbal Supporters: Hariri Has Put You in Confrontation with Jihadists
Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 16, 17/14
Iran opens up about structure of secret services
Iran says progress made in “very difficult” nuclear talks in Vienna
Iran 'confident' over nuke talks ahead of
U.S. says ISIS made ‘substantial gains’ in Iraq
Saudi court sentences Shiite cleric, Qaeda militant to death
Ramped up airstrikes stall ISIS advance on Syrian town
Airstrikes have killed hundreds of Islamic State militants in Kobani, Pentagon says
Kurdish fighters push back ISIS in Ain al-Arab
US: 18 strikes against IS in Kobani, 5 in Iraq
French MP: Recognizing Palestinian statehood would be 'grave mistake' for Europe
Egypt warplanes hit Libya militias EU, China agree to step up cooperation against terrorism Al-Qaeda takes control of area in south of Yemen GCC to set up joint naval force Iraq PM says Baghdad safe from ISIS advance Syria: ISIS, Assad forces face off in Deir Ezzor

U.N. Envoy in Beirut for 'Urgent Talks' with Salam, Bassil
Naharnet /U.N.'s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura met on Thursday with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and is expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil later in the day. “A new turn of events are controlling the region, in particular regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant... and the International community is deeply concerned,” De Mistura told reporters after talks with Salam at the Grand Serail. The envoy revealed that he will leave Lebanon and head on a tour that will include Iran, Turkey and other countries in the region and Russia. “We are trying to understand the changes the region is passing through,” De Mistura added. He expressed the international community's concern over stability in Lebanon, calling for “political stability” to maintain a strong country.
Al-Joumhouria newspaper said that De Mistura arrived in Beirut at dawn Thursday after asking for an “urgent meeting” with Salam. Al-Mustaqbal also quoted diplomatic sources in New York as saying that the envoy's meetings with Salam and Bassil will focus on the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, mainly the impact of the refugees and the security situation in the country. De Mistura was appointed to the Syria job in July, after his predecessor, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned in May following the failure of peace talks. The Syrian conflict has acquired a new dimension with the advance of Islamic State jihadists battling to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region. In August, the United States launched an air campaign in Iraq -- extended into Syria in September -- to halt the advance of the jihadists. Despite the bombing raids, the IS jihadists have continued to gain ground in both countries, including around the key town of Kobane near the Turkish border. The Lebanese army is also locked in a battle with the militants from the IS and al-Nusra Front who are taking positions on the porous Lebanese-Syrian border. In August, the jihadists overran the northeastern border town of Arsal and kidnapped Lebanese soldiers and policemen. They later executed three of them.

Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura
Naharnet/U.N.'s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura met on Thursday with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and is expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil later in the day, on the other hand, he pointed out the "agreement" with Hizbullah on "a political solution" to end the war there. “A new turn of events are controlling the region, in particular regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant... and the International community is deeply concerned,” De Mistura told reporters after talks with Salam at the Grand Serail. The envoy revealed that he will leave Lebanon and head on a tour that will include Iran, Turkey and other countries in the region and Russia. “We are trying to understand the changes the region is passing through,” De Mistura added. He expressed the international community's concern over stability in Lebanon, calling for “political stability” to maintain a strong country. De Mistura also met the Deputy Secretary General of Hizbullah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, in the presence of Wafik Safa, the person responsible for the Liaison Committee and coordination in the party. Qasim hoped for the "success of the U.N. envoy tasks,” stressing that “the only available solution in Syria is a political solution away from the pre-conditioned solutions and not to exceed the parties and influencers in such a solution. "“The visit comes within the framework of consultation of the importance of communicating with all the parties that could help in the solution for the region and especially in Syria,” he added. “The points of view were consistent that the solution in Syria is based on a political solution,” he ended. This meeting is the first between a representative of the U.N. and Hizbullah since the beginning of the conflict in Syria by more than three years since non of Lakhdar Brahimi nor Kofi Annan had ever met with Hizbullah. Al-Joumhouria newspaper said that De Mistura arrived in Beirut at dawn Thursday after asking for an “urgent meeting” with Salam. Al-Mustaqbal also quoted diplomatic sources in New York as saying that the envoy's meetings with Salam and Bassil will focus on the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, mainly the impact of the refugees and the security situation in the country. De Mistura was appointed to the Syria job in July, after his predecessor, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned in May following the failure of peace talks. The Syrian conflict has acquired a new dimension with the advance of Islamic State jihadists battling to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region. In August, the United States launched an air campaign in Iraq -- extended into Syria in September -- to halt the advance of the jihadists.Despite the bombing raids, the IS jihadists have continued to gain ground in both countries, including around the key town of Kobane near the Turkish border. The Lebanese army is also locked in a battle with the militants from the IS and al-Nusra Front who are taking positions on the porous Lebanese-Syrian border. In August, the jihadists overran the northeastern border town of Arsal and kidnapped Lebanese soldiers and policemen. They later executed three of them.

Hezbollah prioritizes Israel over takfiris: Qassem
Oct. 15, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Israeli threat takes priority over the takfiri dangers facing Lebanon, Hezbollah’s Deputy Head Naim Qassem said Tuesday, nothing that the party has been fighting exremists since since 2006. “A priority will always be given to confronting the Israeli threat,” Qassem said during a graduation ceremony held at al-Jinan Hall in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The deputy head downplayed the threat posed by takfiri groups, saying that they are linked to Israel and have only been drawn in to confrontation with Hezbollah as a result of “circumstance.” “The resistance against Israel is a decision that liberated the land,” while the reliance on the U.S. and the U.N. have failed in that regard, he added in reference to Hezbollah’s liberation of Israeli occupied territories in south Lebanon in May 2000.
Shifting to domestic politics, the Hezbollah number two announced his acceptance of Iranian aid pledged to the Lebanese Army, after some politicians voiced opposition to the donation due to complications with regards to international sanctions imposed on Tehran.
Qassem said that the only state he would exclude from efforts to arm the Lebanese military would be Israel. With regards to Syria, Hezbollah’s intervention minimized the risks against Lebanon, Qassem added. However, the takfiri threat did not emerge as a result of the Syrian war. Hezbollah intelligence has been warning of takfiris since 2006, he said, citing reports that said the extremists sought to “dispatch explosive rigged vehicles to target the party’s ceremonies and gatherings years before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis.”

Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, says his arrest will scupper hostage negotiations
Oct. 16, 2014
Rakan al-Fakih| The Daily Star
ARSAL, Lebanon: Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, who was charged Tuesday with belonging to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, said Wednesday that the arrest warrant would ruin efforts to obtain the release of 27 soldiers and policemen being held hostage by extremist groups outside his hometown of Arsal. Hujeiri made the comments during a news conference that was held in his mosque in Arsal, saying he would turn himself in once a fair judicial system was established in Lebanon, implying he had no intention of surrendering anytime soon, and decrying the arrest warrant as politically motivated. A military judge is now seeking the death penalty for the sheikh.
The Salafist sheikh rose to prominence when he became a key intermediary between the Committee of Muslim Scholars and the Nusra Front and ISIS over the Arsal hostages.“Am I now a terrorist because I supported the Syrian revolution since it started?” Hujeiri asked. “[Because] I made it a lost opportunity for those who wanted to tamper with Lebanon’s security and for those who wanted to [destroy] Arsal and its residents? Or because I helped protect the soldiers and security forces and release some of them?” he asked.
Hujeiri played a key role in helping families visit their abducted relatives last month. He accompanied the family of George Khoury to the outskirts of Arsal to meet the abducted soldier and is said to have done the same for Rana Fliti, the wife of captured soldier Ali Bazzal.
He is also believed to have played an important role in facilitating the release of seven hostages held by the Nusra Front. Two policemen were freed Aug. 17, and four soldiers and a policeman were released Aug. 30.
But with the issuing of the arrest warrant, Hujeiri said there were no longer any assurances for the hostages’ safety: “There is a possibility that a huge danger [looms] over them.”Hujeiri said he had suspended mediation efforts after the Lebanese Army closed off all supply routes leading from the northeastern border town to the area’s outskirts, where there are farmlands and caves that the militants are believed to be hiding out in. He also pointed to the Lebanese government’s refusal five days earlier to free militant Imad Ahmad Jomaa, whose arrest sparked five days of heavy clashes in Arsal in August, during which the security personnel were seized.
The sheikh said the militants had given him a one-week deadline to secure the release of Jomaa, and he was forced to withdraw from negotiations when the government said it would not comply.
The militants have also demanded an exchange for a number of Islamists being held in Roumieh Prison – many of whom have been there for years without trial – an issue the Lebanese government has dragged its feet on.
“Our military sons deserve the best. Don’t be stingy with them, even if the price is the release of those unfairly imprisoned in Roumieh Prison,” he said.
“If the Nusra Front is a terrorist organization then you should hold Walid Jumblatt accountable, because he considered it to be a faction of the Syrian revolution,” Hujeiri said, referring to comments made by the Progressive Socialist Party leader to OTV Tuesday night that the Nusra Front was not a terrorist group.
The sheikh also called on the Lebanese Army “to treat all the Lebanese equally,” adding that he considered Hezbollah to have succeeded in exploiting the Army.
“The judicial system should have from the start directed its warrants at those killing Lebanese and Syrians,” Hujeiri said.
He also criticized the judiciary’s dealing with his son: “Where was the judicial system when my 17-year-old son was captured or kidnapped at an Army checkpoint and then imprisonedAirstrikes have killed hundreds of Islamic State militants in Kobani, Pentagon says
By REUTERS/10/16/2014/J.Post
WASHINGTON - US-led air strikes have killed several hundred Islamic State fighters around the Syrian town of Kobani, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, but it cautioned that the town near Turkey's border could still fall to the Sunni militant group.
The US-led coalition has launched about 40 air strikes on the mainly Kurdish town of Kobani in the past 48 hours, the largest number since the strikes inside Syria began on Sept. 22 and illustrating the difficulty of staunching a nearly month-long Islamic State offensive on the town. Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said bad weather in Iraq had freed up coalition firepower to attack Kobani targets. But he added the situation was fluid, with the Kurdish militia still controlling the town, although with pockets held by Islamic State.
"The more they want it, the more resources they apply to it, the more targets we have to hit," Kirby said, adding: "We know we've killed several hundred of them." The strikes, he added, had degraded Islamic State's ability to move around forces and sustain themselves, "and it's not like they have a whole heck of a lot of ability to reconstitute that." The siege of the mainly Kurdish town on the border with Turkey has become a focus of the US-led effort to halt the militants, who have seized swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. The United Nations has warned of a massacre if the town falls to the militants, who now control nearly half of it. Kirby said only hundreds of civilians remained in the town, which is also known as Ayn al-Arab. He also suggested improving weather in Iraq would bolster the intelligence picture needed for air strikes. "As the weather improves, I think ... you'll see continued pressure applied as appropriate and as we're able to," he said. The Pentagon's comments came during increased scrutiny in the United States of President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat the group in Iraq and Syria without sending American ground troops into combat. Obama on Tuesday told military leaders from more than 20 countries working with Washington to defeat the Islamic State that he was deeply concerned about the extremist group's advances in Kobani and in western Iraq. Still, Obama did not hint at any change in strategy.  Republican Senator John McCain, a frequent Obama critic and his opponent in the 2008 election, said over the weekend that "they're winning and we're not," referring to Islamic State.
Asked about McCain's remarks, Kirby said: "It's a mixed picture.""We know we're having some success. We know we're making progress. But it's going to take a long time," Kirby said. "And just as readily, I'll say there's going to be days, there's going to be moments, where we're set back."

Interview with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: No imminent threat from the North
Yoav Zitun, Moran Azula/Ynetnew
Published: 10.15.14,/ Israel News
In interview with Ynet, defense minister says Hezbollah was not interested in escalation against Israel, there was no Islamic State presence on the Golan border and Hamas will eventually fall.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon does not foresee an imminent threat from the North. Hezbollah, he says, is not interested in escalation against Israel, there is no Islamic State presence on the Golan border and Syria's chemical weapons are almost completely gone. In an interview with Ynet, the defense minister talks about Operation Protective Edge, lashes out at rogue cabinet ministers and predicts Hamas' eventual fall. Is this the end of the seven years of calm on the northern border, has the Israeli deterrence been eroded, and is Israel wary of attacking advanced weapons being transferred to Hezbollah? "I don't foresee Hezbollah pushing for an escalation. It chose Mount Dov (an incident in which two soldiers were lightly wounded from an explosive device - YZ, MA), which is far from civilian population, as a site for recent attacks for a good reason. The red lines haven't changed, and the deterrence remains." Before "Protective Edge" you said Hamas was not interested in escalation, and we still found ourselves fighting it.
"There's a possibility of 'miscalculization' in the north as well, and we're ready for that." Ya'alon notes that there were hardly any chemical weapons left in Syria, and that there is no Islamic State presence on the Golan border. He says the Syrian-Israeli border was controlled by militias affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, while the Nusra Front (considered al-Qaeda's "moderate sect") controls the border. The extremists among the al-Nusra ranks, he says, left at the beginning of the year to form the Islamic State.
"We're trying to share our knowledge and experience because we live close by," Ya'alon says of the Islamic State. "We have bilateral intelligence ties with several of the countries in the coalitions - the Western coalition in Iraq and the Arab coalition in Syria - both led by the US. So it's only natural that any intelligence we have that could help them is being shared with them."
Netanyahu said at the UN that "Hamas is ISIS," but Israel is negotiating with Hamas in Cairo, and decided not to overthrow it.
"When facing challenges, you examine cost versus benefit in level-headed discussions, like the ones the cabinet held during the operation. What we want to do on the long term will happen. Hamas will fall. A movement based on death and destruction will not survive. Unlike the Second Lebanon War, we went on this campaign with a clearly defined target. Since the foundation of the state, we've been living from one round of fighting to the next, and this last operation will ensure a long period of calm."
Did Army Intelligence or the Shin Bet provide the cabinet with intelligence about a possible war in the summer?
"Neither the prime minister nor I received a warning, but we have to be properly prepared. We were viewing the Strip as unstable and if thought that if disaster was to be poured out, it'll be from the south. From the outset, Hamas was not interested in a round of fighting."
Throughout the Gaza operation, commanders in the IDF said Hamas fighters were fleeing the Israeli soldiers, but it was Chief of Staff Benny Gantz who dropped a bombshell when he called the terrorists who tried to infiltrate Israel through the sea and plant explosives on tanks "brave."
Ya'alon doesn't try distancing himself from Gantz's statement, and provides an explanation of his own: "Those prepared to go into battle and lose their lives - that's bravery. You need bravery even in order to commit suicide."
'I'm not delaying settlement projects'
Ya'alon believes Israel must not agree to an ultimatum the Palestinians want to set for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within three years.
"Those who live here know exactly where we're living. Talking about pulling out of Judea and Samaria in three years, does that sound like a wise thing to do in light of what we've experienced since 1994?"
He also addresses claims from the Housing Ministry that he was delaying discussions on settlement construction projects, "From my point of view, it's right to continue building and continue approving building plans. We are building. Construction hasn't been frozen," he says.
"Sometimes when we carry the burden too long, we lose more than we gain. So when we delay approval of construction plans in order to avoid getting slammed with criticism from the world, it's the prime minister maneuvering responsibly, and I'm a part of that. It's not delayed by me, I have a pile of approved projects. We delay tenders meant to be released but it doesn't delay construction of approved projects," he explains.
He rejects American criticism against the construction in the settlements. "I know it, and we don't have to agree with it. Just like the Arabs have a right to live anywhere - in Nablus and Jaffa and buy an apartment in the French Hill neighborhood - so can Jews buy a house in Silwan and anywhere else in the land of Israel. What is this? Judenrein?"
Despite that, the defense minister says there is an excellent relationship and cooperation between the defense establishment and the Pentagon, "but there are some topics we disagree on, like what to do about the Iranian nuclear threat, what exactly to put on the negotiating table and what's the right thing to do facing our neighboring regimes."
Inadvertently aiding Hamas
Twice during the interview Ya'alon raises his voice to express his fury. The normally reserved minister, who disappeared and was almost forgotten by the media during Operation Protective Edge, is angry when broaching the topic of the defense budget and his fellow cabinet member Naftali Bennett.
Those who thought Ya'alon and Bennett have patched things up since the Rontzki Affair (former Chief Military Rabbi provided Bennett with sensitive information during the operation), can now see how the top echelons of the government, even in its most right-wing section, are plagued with strife.
"I didn't deal with Rabbi Rontzki, the army dealt with him because of his improper conduct," Ya'alon says. "During the operation, the prime minister and I felt there was improper conduct in the cabinet, part of it of ministers going to the media and throwing statements of 'we will kill them' and 'we will overthrow them,' while voting otherwise in the cabinet."
Ya'alon describes the Bennett and Rontzki Affair as "a grave phenomenon - a government minister calling his friend on the field, mostly reservists, receiving information and not going through the proper channels. Every minister who wants to visit an army unit knows they must turn to the defense minister for authorization. Some of the ministers did that, and those who didn't, used the information they received in an improper manner - both in the cabinet room and out to the press and after the operation - in order to present the Army Command and the Chief of Staff as a lazy horse while the ranks below are galloping horses. Galloping horses are a good thing but the chief of staff, not to mention the ministers, have to have a broader perspective with both international and regional considerations. That infuriated me. It still does. I hope these ministers learn the lesson."
Ya'alon's onslaught doesn't end there, and he accuses cabinet ministers of practically aiding Hamas.
"The very fact there were fractions within the government that came out undoubtedly gave the Hamas leadership the feeling that we're about to break. I've been in cabinets for 20 years. You can raise a different opinion, the previous cabinet did not have a unified stance either, but it shouldn't come out. When it comes out to the press the other side can say, 'look, they're about to break. Why should we accept a ceasefire? Let's carry on for a while longer.'"
It was only a month and a half ago that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stood in front of the media and fought a PR campaign over the government's policy during Operation Protective Edge. Ya'alon, considered one of Likud's most right-wing politicians, found himself fighting off claims from his faction members on the government's weak policy against Hamas.
But Ya'alon received support from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight for the defense budget. After reaching agreements with the Treasury, some claimed there was already a quiet agreement between the prime minister and defense minister on next year's additions to the defense budget, which Lapid and Netanyahu have already agreed would amount to NIS 57 billion, on top of covering the expenses of Operation Protective Edge.
"The Treasury added more clauses that are not even in the defense budget, national projects like the IDF's planned move south, the privatization of IMI and the purchase of ships to secure gas-drilling. I did not demand the cutbacks to all government ministries," he says.
Ya'alon considers the budget fights political, and he is unimpressed by threats from coalition partners Yesh Atid and Hatnua to quit the government should a diplomatic process not resume.
According to Ya'alon "this is an unnatural coalition, and we've already seen bonds between 'brothers' who were broken, and new 'brothers' came to be. I don't suppose the diplomatic issue will break the coalition, unless someone uses it as an excuse."

Report: Islamic State group may have chemical weapons
Benyamin Tobias/Ynetnews
Published: 10.15.14,/ Israel News
New Israeli research supported by testimonies, photos and experts' analysis suggests that the organization use chemical weapon against the Kurds in Kobani, Syria.  While the world is following anxiously after the rapid advancement of the Islamic State group, new Israeli research claims that Islamic State may have succeeded in obtaining chemical weapons. According to the study, it appears that the usage of chemical munitions began as early as July during the start of the organization's fight with Kurdish forces near the town of Kobani, Syria. Moreover, at least three Kurdish fighers were killed as a result of the chemical attack, the report said. These findings were part of a report published earlier this week by The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center operating in the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) Herzliya. The report drew gained public attention in recent days in major media outlets in the United States. Its author, Dr. Jonathan Spyer, used evidence and photos provided by Kurds from Kobani to prove his claim.
An expert who examined the photos of the deceased Kurds discovered that they died as a result of toxic gas attack, most likely sulfur mustard. "At least in one incident, the Islamic State used chemical weapons against the Syrian Kurds in Kobani," the report said.
Air attacks continue
The United States and its allies have dramatically stepped up air strikes in the past two days near the Syrian town of Kobani, where Kurdish defenders said they had given the Americans target coordinates to try to halt an Islamic State assault.
The US-led military coalition said it had bombed Islamic State targets in and around Kobani nearly 40 times in the space of 48 hours, around triple the pace of last week.
A four-week siege of the mainly Kurdish town on the border with Turkey has become a focus of the U.S.-led effort to halt the militants, who have seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. The United Nations has warned of a massacre if the town falls to the militants, who now control nearly half of it. The coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September. After weeks in which Kobani was rarely targeted, the town has become the main focus of strikes.
In the two 24-hour periods since Monday, the US military reported 21 and 18 strikes on militant targets in or near the town, which is called Ayn al-Arab in Arabic. Last week it typically struck the area just six or seven times per day.
A monitoring group said the strikes had also become more effective, killing at least 32 Islamic State fighters in direct hits this week.
Reuters contributed to this report

Canada/CSIS getting more powers to track suspected terrorists as details emerge of new federal anti-terror bill
Dylan Robertson, Postmedia News | October 15, 2014 /National Post
OTTAWA — The federal government will unveil new measures Thursday to give federal security agents more power to track suspected terrorists.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney is to announce the content of a bill he aims to table next week, according to government sources. The bill would enhance powers for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, including:
* Allowing CSIS to obtain information on Canadians fighting abroad with terrorist groups through the “Five Eyes” spy network, which includes Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
* Letting CSIS more easily track Canadians engaging in terrorist activities abroad, and similarly helping a Five Eyes country track its nationals working with terrorist groups in Canada.
* Giving CSIS informants the same anonymity accorded to police sources.
Mr. Blaney will make the announcement when he meets with provincial and territorial ministers for justice and public safety in Banff, Alta. The House of Commons doesn’t sit until next week, when the government aims to introduce the bill.
The Five Eyes proposal comes after the Federal Court slammed CSIS for spying on Canadians abroad using partner-agency warrants. In a case last November, Justice Richard Mosley deemed the approach a back-door way of spying on Canadians on foreign soil that put them at risk of being detained abroad.
The proposal to give informants more protection follows a Supreme Court of Canada decision in May on suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat. The court ruled that those who work as informants for CSIS already have their identifies protected, and don’t need the blanket animosity accorded for police sources — known as “class privilege.” At the time, the court said Parliament could create a new type of legal privilege for CSIS informants.
The measures come two weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised new legislation in the House of Commons while announcing Canada would send CF-18s to Iraq on a six-month combat mission.
“The government will continue to be seized with the broader terrorist threats against Canada. We have strengthened laws in this country to deal with the issue of so-called Canadian foreign fighters,” he said. “We will soon bring forward additional measures to strengthen the ability of our security services to monitor aspiring terrorists to, where possible, prevent their return to Canada or to, where that is not possible, give greater tools to be able to charge and prosecute.”
The government has been touting two messages this fall: that Canada is threatened by terrorist groups, but security agencies like CSIS have already managed to thwart all significant plots.
Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter, who wasn’t aware of the specifics of the upcoming bill, said he’d support giving CSIS more powers, as long as they balance justice for accused terrorists.
“We have to find a way to give these people justice under the law so you’re not falsely accusing people. They need someone way to defend themselves,” said Mr. Easter, who served as solicitor-general in 2002, after the Liberal government implemented security measures to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks. “But also from a government and a policing perspective, you can’t jeopardize your informants or your techniques in getting information.”
Mr. Easter says the public safety ministry has become overly politicized, citing Mr. Blaney’s remarks that 80 returning terrorists “have violated Canadian law” while none have been charged.
“One has to ensure national security isn’t being used for ulterior motives in terms of spying on some people and not others,” Mr. Easter said.

The Arab Spring vs. development

Dima El Hassan| The Daily Star
Oct. 16, 2014
No wonder that the so-called Arab Spring nations are currently undergoing a crucial phase with the rates of violence, destruction, emigration and instability escalating. All of these impose on us challenges that are difficult to confront. Now the entire world is concerned about what is happening here and is working to shift the development process at the international and regional levels in an attempt to prevent the impact of the disturbances from spreading worldwide. Nonetheless, given the accumulated experiences with the “planners of development,” we need to build a strong awareness on development to find ways to compromise between what we really want and what we can do in order to be able to achieve the prosperity that we aspire for our societies. For that, we may need to go back to the essence to understand how the development mentality has evolved globally in response to the emerging realities shaping our history. Going back to the roots can be an essential step in shaping the future that we want, rather than the one others want.What is development? Why are powerful authorities always rushing to dictate development to the less powerful and the so-called poor? Why are so many countries eternally doomed with “getting developed?” How can one assess the need and impact of development?
Prior to 1949, the notion of development was commonly linked to income growth per capita. This is also reflected in the U.N. Charter (1947). However, the story of development in its broader sense begins, according to the Development Dictionary, when U.S. President Harry S. Truman, in his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 1949, for the first time declared the Southern Hemisphere as “underdeveloped areas.” On that day, 2 billion people became “underdeveloped.” Hence, they stopped being what they were, in all their diversity, distinctiveness, cultural and historical backgrounds and were transformed into an “inverted mirror of others’ reality”: a mirror that degrades them and puts them at the end of the line.
The focus turned toward the probable factors behind this “underdevelopment”: imbalanced exchange, dependency, trade barriers, corruption, lack of democracy, etc. Accordingly, the main reason behind the underdevelopment of countries was the process of colonization. Hence, “underdevelopment” led to the creation of “development.”
In the late 1970s and early 1980s development considerations were overtaken by the debt crisis of the so-called “less-developed countries.” In 1974, the COCOYOC Declaration called for a focus on human development, rather than the development of things.
The human aspect of development derived from the experience of the newly developed countries (such as East Asia). But it’s also true that some countries that succeeded in spreading education among their labor force (like Sri Lanka) haven’t managed to realize much economic progress, indicating that capital investment may not be sufficient for sustained economic growth. Another major shift in development thinking stemmed from the experience of the industrialized countries themselves (like the U.S.), showing that economic growth could be coupled with social problems such as income distribution disparities, homelessness, breakdown of family ties, environmental pollution, crimes and drug abuse.
In the late 1970s, UNESCO promoted the “endogenous development” after realizing the impossibility of imposing industrial countries’ development models on others.
During the 1980s, with the recognition of environmental degradation, the notion of sustainable development emerged as a form of development satisfying the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
In 1990, the first Human Development Report defined human development as the process of widening people’s choices, introducing the Human Development Index as a new measure of development adding indicators as education and health to the simple per capita income.
A record of world summits followed in the 1990s bringing political and international commitments on issues related to education, children, environment, women, population and social development.
Throughout the decades the concept of development took many drifts. It has surely surpassed its pure economic dimension to focus more on the human aspect and enhancement of the well-being, putting the individual as both the ultimate goal and the most important means to development.
I just gave this quick review so that we can consider together why development has become a permanent rather than temporary state to nations labeled as “developing” or “underdeveloped?”
While we expect countries with sufficient natural resources to have successful economies by using or selling them to enhance their own growth, many (in the Middle East, Asia and South America) have massive supplies but are still struggling economically. Others (like Japan and Singapore) with sparse resources boast strong economies.
The education of skilled labor could be another factor for success, through its impact on generating better incomes and employment opportunities. Yet there are many countries with highly educated people that are still economically weak (like Lebanon).
An interesting review of “Why Nations Fail” (written by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and Harvard political scientist James Robinson), argues that having abundant natural resources and an educated labor force may not be enough for a sustained growth. The main reason behind the poverty gap between nations lies in the role of political and legal institutions.
Politically, nations must be inclusive by embracing competition and change. Legally, successful nations must have legal bodies protecting ownership, guaranteeing that those doing the work earn the benefits and not the ruling elite, be it political or economic. This was the case behind the success of England upon the industrial revolution and the failure of countries that developed after the Ottoman Empire. The revolution of the Arab Spring countries is still in question based on whether it will produce the needed shift toward inclusiveness or another new elite will replace the old one, signifying the “iron law of oligarchy.”
Above all, I believe stability is the key for any society to prove itself successful. There is also no recipe for development. It has to come from and by the people themselves, through their own empowerment and inclusiveness in the process of developing their own society.
**Dima El Hassan is the director of programs at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.

Say goodbye to the old order in the Middle East
Joyce Karam /Al Arabiya
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once quipped “you can’t make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria.” This doctrine that framed Arab politics for the second half of the 20th century, has entirely collapsed today with militias booming in Iraq and Syria, as a new tier of actors gain military and political clout in shaping the regional trajectory.
The new modus operandi of Middle Eastern politics is defined by the rise of militias in the Levant, and a shift in influence to the GCC countries and Iran. The first is coming at the expense of state infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, while the second is bringing forth nascent players in the Gulf with more political and economic leverage in places like Egypt, Gaza and Libya.
Rise of militias
From Sanaa where the Houthis are battling the central government, to the Bekaa valley with Hezbollah fighting Jabhat Nusra, it is the rise of militias that is dominating the political and military landscapes in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. While the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide draws the battle lines among the many non-state actors, tribal and ethnic elements drive these alliances as is the case with support of Iran to the Kurds or that of some Sunni tribes to ISIS. In Yemen as well, the Houthis benefited from the backing of the tribes affiliated with the former regime of Ali Abdallah Saleh and who took control of Sanaa on September 22.
The rise of militias was not an inevitable outcome in either Iraq or Syria, but a product of the failure of the new and old regimes in addressing the political and economic disaffection among large segment of their population especially the Sunnis. In Iraq, the shortsighted policies of the post-war period dealt a huge blow to the central government in Baghdad and the Iraqi army. Iraq has not been able to recover from the Bremmer-Rumsfeld blunder of Debaathification in 2003 that marginalized the Sunnis and fueled a militant insurgency evolving into ISIS today. ISIS in Iraq does not exist in vacuum, it drives support from tribal groups and former members of the Iraqi army who were exorcised in 2003.
In northern Iraq as well, the failures of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in reconciling with the Kurds and agreeing on new security and oil distribution arrangements, has promoted more autonomous rule and a better armed Peshmerga force. The Iraqi Shiite parties are no exception to this rule, and with increased funding from Iran, have formed powerful militias such as the Mahdi Army, Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah, and Asaib Haqq. Ironically, Iran after the ouster of Maliki is growing more dependent on these militias, relying on them in fighting ISIS alongside the Peshmerga while the Iraqi government continues to struggle in finding a new minister of defense.
A similar dynamic has emerged in Syria after three years of war that has ravaged the country and left over 200,000 dead. The over-reliance of the Assad regime on Iran in fighting the opposition, and the lack of a unified rebel force against him, has multiplied the number of militias in the Syrian war. The Lebanonization of Syria is on display on the regime side with groups such as the National Defense Force, National Ideological Resistance and Hezbollah operating on their own calculus and sometimes at odds with Assad in places like Damascus and Homs. The BBC’s Lina Sinjab spoke of a regime concern about the rise of paramilitaries and “mafia style gangs” among its supporters. On the opposition side, it is a more convoluted turf with rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra with outside funding and arming of the more moderate brigades of the Free Syrian Army. The Kurdish militias are promising to have a bigger role in Syria in the light of the Kobane battle and the attempt by the YPG to regain control of the city.
Power shift
The rise of insurgencies and militias in what was once the cradle of civilization in the Middle East, along with the decline of the U.S. influence in the region, has shifted the center of political leverage into the GCC countries and Turkey and Iran. This has reshaped the political debate and is redefining the parameters to negotiate and settle conflicts in the region.
In Gaza, Libya, and Egypt, it is the GCC countries and Turkey that enjoy today the more leverage in shaping events and influencing those in power. This was on display during the latest Gaza war, where the U.S. effort to reach a ceasefire initially failed and another arrangement was reached after gaining consent from Cairo, Doha and Tel Aviv. But in Egypt itself, the spat among the GCC countries continues on the future of the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in politics, following the military coup last June and then the election of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as president. Washington, a longtime player in Egyptian politics, had to take a backseat as UAE and Saudi Arabia emerged as the more influential actors in Cairo.
In the Levant, it is Iran and Saudi Arabia which enjoy the most influence today. Lebanon cannot vote for a president before an arrangement is agreed upon between Riyadh and Tehran, and Iraq has little hope of stabilizing without a similar rapprochement. The Syrian crisis is proving to be the most daunting and complex to reach an agreement upon. One former senior Assad official told his Lebanese guest that the conflict will be a repeat of the Lebanese war which had lasted fifteen years and ended in a new consensual agreement signed in Saudi Arabia in 1989 between the fighting factions. The buildup of militias in conflict areas in the region promises a challenging road head and an uphill battle to restore stability even if ISIS is defeated or if Assad leaves power. A battle that only grows more complex with the intra-regional rift, and the declining role of the U.S. as an arbitrator in a troubled Middle East.

Syria’s chemical weapons confession: Should we have trusted Assad?
Brooklyn Middleton/Al Arabiya
Thursday, 16 October 2014
As far back as April 2013, Israeli intelligence sources indicated to local press that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was hiding chemical weapons. The reports were not exclusive to Israeli security forces, however. In November 2013, the United States also expressed concern about Syria’s plan to remain in possession of at least some of their chemical weapons to CNN: “There are various threads of information that would shake our confidence…They have done things recently that suggest Syria is not ready to get rid of all their chemical weapons.”
Now, over a year after the U.S.-Russia agreement to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal was struck, Damascus has announced it possesses at least four other chemical weapons facilities.
The nebulous reports on the matter indicate that three of the previously undisclosed sites are for “research and development” while the other is for “production.”
“With the international community distracted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Assad regime must be held accountable for the flagrant violation”
Brooklyn Middleton
Putting aside the issue of chlorine – which the West has accused Assad of weaponizing and using against Syrians – the omission of these four sites is a grave breach of the agreement being overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The U.S. State Department spoke in high regard about the agreement, stating that “the world has come together in a historic way to ensure that these weapons can never again be used against the Syrian people.” What followed in the same statement was a list of achieved “milestones.” Absent from the statement was the continued chlorine attacks carried out “systematically and repeatedly” in Syria.
Distracted by ISIS
With the international community distracted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its continued advancement toward Turkey’s border, the Assad regime must be held accountable for the flagrant violation. The consequences of undisclosed chemical weapons sites are two-fold; the most obvious implication is that we cannot rule out that regime forces will not execute a chemical weapon attack. The other consideration is entirely security related; the Assad regime has proved unable (or totally unwilling) to prevent ISIS from overrunning large swathes of Syrian territory. It cannot be ruled out that the previously undisclosed chemical weapons, stored in previously unknown locations that were previously thought to be destroyed, will be seized by the militant group. Moreover, as the U.S. gathers more information from the Syrian regime on these new sites, it must also execute a plan to monitor movements in the vicinity of the compounds and prevent a repeat of events in 2013.
Only days after the initial agreement was struck, Syrian National Coalition member Kamal al-Labwani indicated to the press that the Assad regime immediately began transferring chemical weapons to various sites across the country in an effort to make inventory of the weapons that much more difficult. Labwani also indicated that the Assad regime facilitated the transfer of at least some of its chemical weapons arsenal to Hezbollah “aboard trucks used to transport vegetables.”
From the beginning, the integrity of the entire deal hinged on whether the Assad regime would truthfully declare its own chemical weapons stockpile. While this was a quixotic plan with consequences easily predicted, the world applauded itself when they thought it achieved a substantial victory. Now that the regime has admitted to circumventing one of the most basic stipulations of the agreement, it should be forced to explain the flagrant violation. Equally as important is that the international community take responsibility for backing a ludicrous deal that relies on Assad to be honest.

ISIS Has Almost No Popular Support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon
David Pollock /Fikra Forum
October 14, 2014
New polls show that the group has curried little favor in key countries, but the nuances behind the numbers have important implications for U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran, and other actors.
How much grassroots support does the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) enjoy in key "coalition" countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon? Until today, one could only guess at the answer. Recent news reports about the arrests of ISIS adherents in all three of these countries add urgency to the question.
Now, however, a trio of new polls -- the first ones of their kind -- provides the hard data on which to make this judgment. The polls were conducted in September by a leading commercial survey firm in the Middle East, using face-to-face interviews by experienced local professionals. The sample was a random, geographic probability national sample of 1,000 respondents (nationals only, excluding expatriates or refugees) in each country, yielding a statistical margin of error of approximately 3 percent.
The most striking as well as encouraging finding is that ISIS has almost no popular support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon -- even among Sunnis. Among Egyptians, a mere 3 percent express a favorable opinion of ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher: 5 percent rate ISIS positively. In Lebanon, not a single Christian, Shiite, or Druze respondent viewed ISIS favorably; and even among Lebanon's Sunnis, that figure is almost equally low at 1 percent.
Nevertheless, there is a real difference between almost no support and no support at all. Since 3 percent of adult Egyptians say they approve of ISIS, that is nearly 1.5 million people. For Saudis, the 5 percent of adult nationals who support ISIS means over half a million people. And even in tiny Lebanon, 1 percent of adult Sunnis equals a few thousand ISIS sympathizers. In any of these places, this is enough to harbor at least a few cells of serious troublemakers.
Another major caveat is that the nearly uniform opposition to ISIS does not extend to other political Islamist organizations. In Egypt, for example, a surprisingly high proportion -- one-third of the total population -- voices a positive attitude toward Hamas. In Saudi Arabia, that figure is even higher at 52 percent. Still more surprising, despite the Egyptian and Saudi governments' relentless crackdowns and propaganda campaigns against the Muslim Brotherhood, is the comparable percentage who say they view the group favorably: 35 percent in Egypt and 31 percent in Saudi Arabia. By way of comparison, Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamist organization, receives just 12-13 percent popular approval among Egypt's or Saudi Arabia's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim populations.
On these and other issues, there is very little variation among Egyptians by various demographic categories. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood rates 37 percent approval in urban concentrations like Cairo or Alexandria; 35 percent approval in Upper Egypt; and 33 percent approval in the Delta countryside. The subsample of Egypt's Coptic Christians, fewer than 10 percent of the total, is too small to be statistically significant.
In Lebanon, by contrast, even as nearly all reject ISIS across the board, opinions about other Islamist groups are highly polarized by sect -- but not always in the way one might expect. Hezbollah, as expected, is rated favorably by 92 percent of Shiites. Among Christians, that figure drops dramatically, yet still hovers near 40 percent. But among Lebanon's Sunnis, a mere 8 percent have a positive view of Hezbollah. More counterintuitive, however, is the relatively low level of support for Hamas among Lebanon's Sunni Muslims, especially so soon after the latest war in Gaza. Only one-fourth have even a "fairly positive" view of the Palestinian Islamist movement.
A further major point is that shared opposition to ISIS does not mean high ratings for the United States. In Egypt and in Saudi Arabia alike, America now has a dismal 12 percent approval number. In Lebanon, that number doubles to 25 percent, but again along a sharply polarized sectarian gradient: from 39 percent among Christians, to 30 percent among Sunnis or Druze, down to a measly 3 percent approval among the plurality Shiite population. To put these figures in perspective, China rates 38 percent positive among Saudis, 40 percent positive among Egyptians, and 54 percent positive among Lebanese.
One final key finding concerns popular attitudes toward two other common enemies of ISIS: Syria and Iran. In both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, favorable attitudes toward either the Iranian or the Syrian government barely make it into double digits. The relevant numbers in each country are stuck at merely 12-14 percent approval.
But in Lebanon, once again, sectarian polarization is the rule, in this case to an astonishing degree. Among the country's Shiites, both the Iranian and even the Syrian governments enjoy a 96-97 percent approval rating. Conversely, among Lebanon's Sunnis, Iran gets just 12 percent favorable reviews and Syria just 14 percent. Interestingly, however, Lebanese Christians fall somewhere in the middle on this measure: over a third (37 percent) give Iran at least a "fairly positive" rating, and nearly half (47 percent) say the same about Syria, where Bashar al-Assad's regime is sometimes viewed as their protector against ISIS and other Islamic extremists.
What do all these numbers mean for the current U.S. campaign against ISIS? Public opinion can be fickle, but for now several policy implications emerge from this analysis. First, Washington and its allies need not fear that ISIS might attract a mass following in these nearby Arab societies, or that a strong popular backlash might develop against U.S. airstrikes, or against our other Arab allies in this fight. But second, the United States would be well advised to target its actions very narrowly against ISIS -- not against other Islamist groups that have recently come under American fire, and could well add to their substantial popularity as a result. And third, any U.S. overtures either to Assad or to Iran, as potential partners against ISIS, run a great risk both of further alienating the Egyptian and the Saudi publics, and of further inflaming the dangerous sectarian polarization among Lebanese at the same time.
**David Pollock is the Kaufman Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of Fikra Forum.

It is Safer to be Skeptical than Naive
Eyad Abu Shakra /Asharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 16 Oct, 2014
Yet again, Washington has turned down all calls for safe havens and no-fly zones in Syria’s border areas. It has thus far refused to answer a vital question: If it really believes that “Bashar Al-Assad has no place in the future of Syria,” then what practical steps is it taking to prevent Assad’s militia, along with its sectarian non-Syrian allies, from re-occupying the territories we are promised will be liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups?
Another question worth posing, in the light of Washington’s dubious handling of the unfolding Iraqi–Syrian scenario, is whether it has a genuine comprehensive strategy for the Middle East, a strategy that links its declared regional ambitions with the ever-changing political and military realities on the ground. So far, Washington has not clarified its position on Hezbollah preventing the election of a new Lebanese president until it can install a puppet candidate who will obey its own directives. And regarding Yemen, here too we have not heard any serious comment about the Houthi campaign to take control of the fragmenting country. Last but not least, there is no clear indication on where the US stands on an Iranian official’s recent boast that Tehran now controls four Arab capital cities: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a.
What we are witnessing is strange indeed.
ISIS has occupied the Syrian city of Raqqa for more than a year now, and in June it overran Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, and its environs. This has happened against the backdrop of ISIS’s takeover of virtually the whole of eastern Syria and western Iraq. Still, Washington did not seem to be unduly alarmed until ISIS began airing images of the brutal executions of innocent American and British nationals, and threatening the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, and later the Syrian town of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) in the Kurdish strip along the border with Turkey.
It is worth noting here that extremist groups managed once before to take over wide swaths of Iraq’s Anbar province, the vast Sunni tribal stronghold that extends from greater Baghdad’s western boundaries to the Syrian border. Back then, the extremists were defeated and driven away by tribal Sunni Sahwa (Awakening) movements. However, Nuri Al-Maliki’s pro-Iranian government continued to persecute and discriminate against the Sunni population, whom it treated as a “defeated” community, doubting its “patriotism.” In the course of Maliki’s hegemony, Iraq’s security forces lost the national, all-encompassing aspects of their identity, and thus became merely confessional organs imbued with sectarian loyalties. Thus, it was hardly surprising that both the (American-built) army and police collapsed when ISIS overran Mosul and also disappeared throughout Anbar, which is now back under the control of extremists. In fact, the farce of Maliki’s premiership did not end until Washington realized it was becoming a threat even to the strategy he was clumsily serving, and so he had to go in order to ensure its survival.
What is taking place in Iraq now represents attempts to save the status quo brought about by the 2003 invasion. The very same invasion opposed by Barack Obama, who has been very keen to undo it, to the extent of withdrawing American troops from the country.
But the ambiguity of the American position does not stop here. There is no point revisiting the Syrian tragedy, so let us look at the current situations in Lebanon and Yemen.
What does the Obama administration want for these two countries, and subsequently for the region as a whole, given its preoccupation with detente with Tehran? And why does it seem to see terrorism and extremism as exclusive to only one confession, allowing itself to hand the Middle East to the Iranian leadership and their cronies, and not without Israel’s blessings?
It is true that Al-Qaeda, which was responsible for carrying out the 9/11 outrage, was and is an extremist Sunni group. I also appreciate the fact that President Obama and his two soul mates, Susan Rice and Denis McDonough, were still young in the late 1970s and the 1980s, so they do not remember well that period in the history of the Middle East before the appearance of the Sunni demon they hate so much. But I do think it is worth looking back on those days, not to revive old animosities, but rather to discredit the notion that terrorism and extremism have fixed religious, sectarian or racial identities.
In 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage for 444 days at the US embassy complex in Tehran in the aftermath of Khomeini’s “Islamic Revolution.” Then, in October 1983, while Obama was in his senior year at Columbia University in New York, the US Marines’ barracks in the Lebanese capital Beirut was hit by a suicide bombing. All in all, 241 American servicemen were killed in the explosion, which Washington blamed on pro-Iran operatives. Furthermore, between 1982 and 1992, Lebanon witnessed a wave of kidnappings and hostage-taking targeting foreign nationals, during which 96 people were kidnapped and imprisoned—some even killed—including 25 Americans and 12 Brits. Again, pro-Iran Shi’ite extremists were held responsible, an accusation later vindicated by the circumstances and conditions of their release.
Today, following a series of assassinations since 2005, including some which members of Hezbollah have been formally accused of being involved in, the pro-Iran party holds the whole of Lebanon hostage, aided by its Christian stooges. It is also pushing the Lebanese army into a bloody sectarian quagmire, gradually destroying state institutions, and systematically trying to exploit extremist Sunni elements that it had initially aided and abetted in the hope of weakening the moderate Sunni leadership that Iran detests. This is part of Iran and Hezbollah’s attempts to ingratiate themselves with the West and Israel.
As for Yemen, Iran seems to be playing both home and away at the same time. In the former Marxist–Leninist and predominantly Sunni South Yemen, it is supporting secessionists. In the North, its followers, the Shi’ite Houthis, are now the de facto rulers of the country, despite the fact that most of Yemen’s sizable Shi’ite minority are Zaydis, not Twelvers, and thus have nothing to do with Iran’s doctrine of velayat-e faqih. As for the Sunni, Shafi’i majority, they too had nothing to do, in the good old days, with Al-Qaeda’s extremist brand of Sunni fundamentalism.

The fatal flaw of Obama’s appeasement of Iran
Shoula Romano Horing/Ynetnews
Published: 10.16.14/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: US president seems to have made up his mind that normalizing ties with Tehran is an even more important American interest than preventing a nuclear Iran.
The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has retreated from its longstanding demand that Iran dismantles its nuclear centrifuges, and instead seems to be willing to agree that Iran will simply disconnect some centrifuges.
In plain English, this means that US President Barack Obama has agreed to let Iran keep its nuclear enrichment capacity and in exchange received nothing. The Iranians can in a short time reconnect the centrifuges and resume their progress towards a nuclear weapon whenever they wish.
This latest concession follows many other one-sided US concessions since the beginning of the negotiations with Iran. This is illogical and flabbergasting when one remembers that the US began the nuclear negotiations from a position of strength and leverage after Iran was brought to its knees economically and only came to the negotiating table due in large measure to the crippling economic sanctions drafted by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez.
On September 27, it became clear why the US has acted so weakly and eager to make concessions throughout the negotiations and the reasoning behind this calculated appeasement.
Philip Gordon, the White house coordinator for the Middle East said in a speech to the National Iranian American Council that "a nuclear agreement could begin a multi- generational process that could lead to a new relationship between our countries (Iran and US)" and that "Iran could begin to reduce tensions with its neighbors and return to its rightful place in the community of nations."
While the US, at the beginning of the nuclear talks between the major powers and Iran, were adamant that the only relief Iran should expect from any deal was the removal of sanctions, Gordon's characterization of a nuclear deal as part of a normalization process and not an end in itself revealed a major strategic shift in Obama’s policy.
It seems that Barack Obama has made up his mind that normalizing ties with Iran is an even more important American interest than preventing a nuclear Iran. Apparently, the president believes that he is the one who can civilize Iran and reason with them about weaponizing their nuclear program if only he has cordial relations with Iran and facilitate their re-entry into a community of civilized nations.
Such a naive belief is historically reminiscent of the fatal flaw in the appeasement policy of British Prime Minister Chamberlain toward Nazi Germany.
On October 5, 1938, during a debate about the Munich agreement which Chamberlain signed with Hitler, Winston Churchill told the House of Commons about what he believed was the fatal flaw in the policy of Britain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany, stating that "the prime minster (Chamberlain) desires to see cordial relations between the country and Germany. There is no difficulty at all in having cordial relations with the German People. Our hearts go out to them. But they have no power. You must have diplomatic and correct relations but there can never be friendship between British democracy and the Nazi power, that power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onward course …... which vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force. That power cannot ever be, the trusted friend of the British democracy."
Similarly, there can never be renewed ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leader of the free world. Just as with the Germans in Churchill’s time, there is no difficulty in having a cordial relationship with the Iranian people. Our hearts go out to them but they have no power.
Inside Iran, in the time since the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani became president, roughly 1,000 Iranians have been executed without any due process. Two weeks ago, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s special investigator on human rights in Iran, released a report detailing multiple cases of torture, rape, electroshock, burnings, public hand amputations and floggings of prisoners.
The talks should not lead to the entry of Iran into accepted legitimate status without addressing the fact that Iran has long been, according to the US State Department, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Its activities include providing military and financial support to Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi in Yemen and Shia oppositionists in Bahrain.
Since 2003, Iran and its proxy militias have killed more than 1000 American soldiers in Iraq, and both its Islamic Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah have been fighting in support of the Assad regime which has resulted in the death of more than 100,000 civilians in Syria. The US cannot be friendly to a tyrannical state which has regional aspirations to control the Middle East and eventually to confront the West including Israel and the US.
Signing such an agreement with Iran, based on naïve wishful thinking, which will allow it to become the first Jihadist state with nuclear capability, would be a dangerous, irresponsible, and destabilizing act by President Obama.
**Shoula Romano Horing is an Israeli attorney. Her blog can be found here:

The Savage Lands of Islam
by DANIEL GREENFIELD October 15, 2014
Family Security Matters
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia ruled that ten year old girls can be married off, because in his words, "Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age." The Mufti, who also called for destroying churches in the Arabian Peninsula, is descended from Mohammed Wahhab who gave birth to Wahhabism and whose descendants have controlled the Saudi religious establishment, and through it Islam around the world.
However for all his power and influence, the Mufti is blind and hasn't seen a thing in the last half century years; an apt metaphor for his entire religion.
Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Islam, still tries and executes witches. What sort of religion can come out of a place that marries off ten year old girls and murders old women on charges of witchcraft? The sort that flies planes into skyscrapers, murders teenage girls for using Facebook and bases its entire society on a ladder with Muslim men at the top, Muslim women a few rungs below and everyone else somewhere at the bottom.
The Saudis are not an aberration, they are Islam in its purest and truest form. That is why Al Qaeda was founded by a Saudi and why Saudis, the wealthy citizens of a wealthy kingdom, are its best recruits. It is not poverty or oppression that moves them to kill, but wealth and privilege.
This is where Islam originated, whose brutality and cunning spread it across the world, whose clans killed each other, then killed or enslaved minority groups, and then embarked on a wave of conquest that destroyed countless cultures and left behind the seeds of hate of the wars we are fighting today.
Unlike Egypt or Syria, they were never colonized by European powers and the impact of Ottoman influence was limited. Oil has brought in massive amounts of money, but it has changed very little. There are limousines instead of camels, the slaves have foreign passports, though they are often still slaves, there is still a brisk trade in imported luxury goods, harems for princes and clans staggering under the weight of their indolent progeny.
Religiously, Wahhabism has done its best to recreate the "pure" Islam of its origins. Economically, oil has allowed the Gulf Arabs to prosper without reform or change. And if Mohammed were to ride out of the desert tomorrow, he would have little trouble fitting in, as soon as he developed a taste for Porsches. Anyone who wants to see the world as it was in Mohammed's day can visit Saudi Arabia and see inbred clans, slave labor, veiled women and thugs enforcing the will of Allah on every corner.
But you don't even need to visit Saudi Arabia because diluted forms of it can be found everywhere from Cairo to London and from Islamabad to Los Angeles. A hundred and fifty years after the United States freed its slaves, Muslim immigrants have brought back slavery, importing young girls to live as their slaves. Ninety years after American women won the right to vote, the ghosts of Islam tread the streets in sheets that hide their personhood and mark them as property.
The religious wars of the desert have not stayed there as the immigration Hegira has brought them here and everywhere. And that is the source of the Clash of Civilizations. Immigration has brought Muslims into closer contact with different cultures and religions who don't defer to them or give Islam the privileged status that its adherents are used to enjoying.
To know the truth of this all you have to do is measure the respective tolerance levels of America against the average Muslim country. There is no comparison with even the more secular Muslim countries, not in law and not in public attitudes. The sole benefit of the Arab Spring has been to expose the fraud of the moderate Muslim country. Egypt's transition to theocracy reminds us that a moderate Muslim state is a completely unrepresentative dictatorship. The alternative is majority Muslim rule.
The endgame of the Arab Spring and the immigration Hegira is to reduce the entire world to the level of Saudi Arabia. And that means eliminating outside influences in a long march to purification. Islamists know that they cannot enjoy complete cultural dominance over their own people until their rivals in the West are obliterated. To turn Egypt and Malaysia into Saudi Arabia, and to purify Saudi Arabia, the infidels must be brought down, their religions subjugated and their nations replaced with proper Islamic states.
Islamic leaders are under no illusion that religion is a spiritual matter, they know that it is a numbers game. Wage enough wars, terrorize enough nations, marry enough barely post-pubescent girls and use them to crank out an endless supply of babies, intimidate or trick enough infidels into joining up and you win. That was how Islam took over so much territory and spread around the world, that is how it is doing it again now.
Islam is not a spiritual religion, even its paradise is a materialistic place, a fantasy harem where the physical pleasures of life can be enjoyed without restraint. That gives it an advantage over Judaism and Christianity, just as it gives the Saudis and the Pakistanis an advantage over the Americans and Israelis. There is no angst in Islam, no spiritual seeking and no room for doubt. The marching orders are always clear and individual deeds and thoughts matter less than a willingness to always obey.
Islam came out of the desert and it has never left the desert, instead it has brought the desert with it along with its codes, its deep hatreds, its constant deprivation, its deceptiveness and its nomadic expansionism. Where Islam goes, the desert rises, its tents, its red knives and its insecurities. It was backward even at the time of its birth and it has only become more so, but its singlemindedness is an advantage in an age of effete leftectuals and eurocrats dreaming of a transnational world.
While the leftectuals dream of windmills, the Saudis hire foreigners to pump their oil and then sell it to them, the money goes to fund the Hegira, its mosques in every city from Dublin to Moscow to Buenos Aires and Toronto, the fatwas, the bombs, the websites where the masked faithful hold up AK-47's, the Islamic science courses and sessions on learning to love the Hijab and then the Burqa,
The Saudis just want what everyone wants, for everyone to acknowledge their greatness and live like them. They can hardly be blamed for that when the West spends almost as much money promoting democracy and its own way of life to people who still execute witches and blasphemers. They may be savages, but they fell ass backward into enough black gold to fuel a global religious war, and they're using it cleverly and cunningly to transform our societies and wage war against us even while attending dinners at the White House. It's smoother work than our diplomats are capable of.
You can hardly blame the desert bandits for being what they are, but you can blame the apostles of reason for preaching about a golden age of tolerance and enlightenment from every purloined pulpit and then turning away the heartland to a religion that is nakedly brutal and intolerant at home.
An honest look at Saudi Arabia, at its cruelty, its slaves, its intolerance of other religions and even of women, should be enough to tell even the dimmest Eton or Harvard grad exactly what the West is in for. No matter how many specialists in Muslim tolerance show up at universities, there is the Grand Mufti explaining that Mohammed commanded the eradication of Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore there can be no churches allowed there.
Even few apologists for Islam will defend Saudi Arabia for the simple reason that it is indefensible. The media will run the occasional story about the House of Saud's commitment to reform, much as Charles Manson keeps committing to becoming a better person, but even they don't really believe it. Yet even though Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Sunni Islam, and its fortunes shape and control mosques and teachings around the world, they insist on treating Islam and Saudi Arabia as two separate things.
It is brutally telling that the two centers of Islam, Saudi Arabia for the Sunnis and Iran for the Shiites, are genuinely horrifying places. Neither can remotely be associated with tolerance or human rights. It is simple common sense that the spread of Islam will make Western countries more like Saudi Arabia and Iran, rather than less like them.
If Saudi Arabia is not an example that we wish to emulate, then why must we bodily incorporate the religion of Mecca and Medina into London and Los Angeles? What other possible outcome do we imagine that there will be but fewer rights and more violence, dead women, abused children, bomb plots and polygamy?
There are two Islams. The real Islam of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and an imaginary Islam that exists only in the mosques of air and card table Korans of academics apologists and political pundits who have decided that Islam cannot be bad, because no religion can be bad, not even one which kills and kills, it must just be misunderstood.
But then why not tell the Grand Mufti that he has misunderstood his own religion, the religion that he and his ancestors have dedicated themselves to purifying and reforming back to its roots? Telling him that would be a dangerous thing on his own turf, but it would also be foolish. The Grand Mufti's controversial statements contain nothing that Mohammed had not said.
Can the founder of a religion misunderstand his own teachings?
Islam is savage, intolerant, cruel and expansionistic, not due to a misunderstanding, but an understanding of the worst aspects of human nature. It is what it is and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise.
We have opened the door to the desert and a hot wind blows through into the northern climes. Either we shut the door or get used to living in the Saudi desert.
**Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, columnist and freelance photographer born in Israel, who maintains his own blog, Sultan Knish

Muhammad and Islam’s Sex Slaves
by RAYMOND IBRAHIM October 16, 2014
FrontPage Magazine
Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities.
According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph,
Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.
A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.
"After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated," the article says.
As for "theological reasons" for sex slavery "according to the Sharia," these are legion-from male Muslim clerics, to female Muslim activists. Generally they need do no more than cite the clear words of Koran 4:3, which permit Muslims to copulate with female captives of war, or ma malakat aymanukum, "what"-not whom-"your right hands possess."
The article continues:
But most of it [Islamic State "article" or fatwa] is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.
Indeed, while many are now aware of the Koran's and by extension Sharia's justification for slaves, sexual or otherwise, fewer are willing to embrace the fact that the prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad.
One little-known story is especially eye-opening:
During Muhammad's jihad on the Jews of Khaybar, he took for himself from among the spoils of war one young woman, a teenager, Safiya bint Huyay, after hearing of her beauty. (Earlier the prophet had bestowed her on another Muslim jihadi, but when rumor of her beauty reached him, the prophet reneged and took her for himself.)
Muhammad "married" Safiya hours after he had her husband, Kinana, tortured to death in order to reveal hidden treasure. And before this, the prophet's jihadis slaughtered Safiya's father and brothers.
While Islamic apologists have long tried to justify this account-often by saying that Muhammad gave her the honor of "marriage" as opposed to being a concubine and that she opted to convert to Islam-they habitually fail to cite what Islamic sources record, namely Baladhuri's ninth century Kitab Futuh al-Buldan ("Book of Conquests").
According to this narrative, after the death of Muhammad, Safiya confessed that "Of all men, I hated the prophet the most-for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father," before "marrying" (or, less euphemistically, raping) her.
So there it is. Muhammad seized for himself as rightfully earned booty (or ghanima) a young woman; he took her after killing everyone dear to her-husband, father, brothers, etc.
And, according to authoritative Islamic sources, she hated him for it.
If that is not rape, what is?
In fact, this incident is regularly cited by former Muslims as one of the greatest anecdotes that convinced them that Islam and Muhammad are not of God.
Nor, as expected, was Muhammad alone in this sort of rape. For example, Khalid bin Walid-the "Sword of Allah" and hero for aspiring jihadis around the world-raped another woman renowned for her beauty, Layla, right on the battlefield-but only after he severed her "apostate" husband's head, lit it on fire, and cooked his dinner on it.
If this is how Muhammad-whom Koran 33:21 exhorts Muslims to emulate in all ways-behaved towards conquered female "infidels," should there be any more surprise concerning the Islamic State's behavior?
**Raymond Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam expert. His books include Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).