LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
For Today/God’s Wrath Against Sinful
Romans 01/18-32/The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 17, 18/14
Iran’s Dangerous Game in Yemen/By: Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat/October 18/14
A Portrait of a Progressive Pope/by AMIR TAHERI October 16, 2014 /Family Security Matters/October 18/14
Did Someone Say 'Conquest'/By Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/October 18/14
The Road from Qatar to the Gaza Strip/By: REUVEN BERKO/Family Security Matters/October 17, 18/14
The end of a unified Yemen/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 17, 18/14
Syria and Iraq, Iran’s red lines/By: Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/October 18/14
To Lebanon, we are all in the same sinking boat/By: Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya/October 18/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 17, 18/14
Lebanese Soldier, Jamal Jean al-Hashem killed in north Lebanon bus attack, 42 arrested
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi vows Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan's killers will be brought to justice
Jumblatt meets Geagea over presidential stalemate
Salam denies hostage talks took negative turn International community with Lebanon: U.N. envoy
Hezbollah blames Future for assaults on Army
Rainy week dampens Lebanon drought fears: expert Just 1 percent of Sunnis positive about ISIS
In Hasbaya, bartering tradition endures
Polio vaccination campaign stays the course
Salam denies hostage talks have taken negative turn
Kahwagi: US to supply Lebanon with combat weapons
New Video of Defected Soldier Abdullah Shehadeh Calling for 'Defection' before 'Battle'
Hezbollah: Political rivals do not want dialogue
Palestinians in Lebanon protest Al-Aqsa measures Celebratory gunfire wounds refugee in Akkar
Bassil Slams Attempt to Topple Parliamentary Elections, Says Polls to Resolve All Crises
Aoun Slams Talks on Presidential Elections, Refuses to Back Down
Nasrallah in Military Fatigues during Visit to Party Fighters on Border with Syria
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 17, 18/14
Death Sentence of Christian Mother Convicted of Blasphemy Confirmed by Pakistani High Court
John Kerry: Defaming Islam is as Bad as Rape
Kerry: With volatile Mideast, Israeli-Palestinian peace is more important than ever
U.S. opens talks with Syrian Kurdish group Iraq imposes curfew in Ramadi, fearing militants Airstrikes allow Kurds to go on offensive in Kobani
Qaeda urges worldwide Muslim support of ISIS
ISIS black market oil operation booming: officials
Report: Spanish parliament to vote on Palestinian state recognition
Hamas urges Muslims to defend Jerusalem shrine from ‘Israeli seizure’
Syria ISIS militants train in three captured jets
Carter Center quits Egypt as freedom erodes
Honour Your Vows, No Matter What!!
Elias Bejjani/October 17/14
Back home in our beloved Lebanon, the land of the Holy Cedars, we have a very impressive popular proverb that simply shows how vital and how holy is for the righteous people who fear Almighty God and respect themselves to honor their vows and promises.
The proverb says:" Men are not tied by their necks, but by their tongues". This simply means that the righteous people are ethically and morally obliged to willingly and with joy honour the vows and promises they make and utter, and not forced against their free will by ropes tied around their necks to fulfill their commitments. This obligation of dignity and honor is stressed very clearly in the Holy Bible: "Matthew 05/33-37: "You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’ But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’—anything else you say comes from the Evil One." Lebanon's dire problem in this current sad and horrible era lies in the fact that the majority of its politicians, leaders, officials and clergymen are mere Pharisees, a bunch of thugs and hypocrites who know no honor or self respect. They do not respect their vows and promises. Meanwhile and in the same evil context many Lebanese citizens have lost their faith and became sole puppets and cheap followers void of any patriotic responsibility. They too do not respect their vows and promises. Salvation of Lebanon must start with the Lebanese themselves. Their country shell be saved and made free again only when they fear Almighty God and start to face their hardships with faith, hope, and dignity. Step one in this repent journey is respect foe vows and promises. The wrath of God shall fall from heaven on all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, do not witness for what is righteous and do not honour their vows and promises. Lebanon's evil enemies and occupiers betray their vows and promises because they are slanderers, insolent, arrogant and boastful. Their end is not far and Lebanon shall again be a free, independent and sovereign country.
Trustworthy people respect, honor and fulfill their vows. BE ONE OF THEM, BE RIGHTEOUS, HONOUR YOUR VOWS
Lebanese Soldier, Jamal Jean al-Hashem killed in north
Lebanon bus attack, 42 arrested
Antoine Amrieh/The Daily Star/Oct. 17, 2014 /TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army Friday arrested at least 42 Syrians hours after a soldier was killed and several others were wounded when a military bus carrying troops along the road in Bireh in the northern Akkar province came under fire. A security source told The Daily Star that Jamal Jean al-Hashem, a 19-year-old private in the Army, was instantly killed in the 4:45 a.m. attack. His body was taken to Salam Hospital in his hometown of Qobeiyat. The source said a number of soldiers were also wounded in the attack, but would not give an exact number. Sorrow and grief gripped his hometown, and residents blocked the Qobeiyat road in protest. Hours after the attack, the source said the Army arrested at least 42 Syrians during raids on the outer edges of Bireh and Khirbet Daoud. The Lebanese Army confirmed the assault on the bus, saying the military cordoned off the vicinity where the attack took place. In a separate statement, the military said two patrol units came under fire and an unidentified gunman who also tossed a hand grenade at one of its centers in al-Bisar neighborhood in Tripoli between 3:33 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. Soldiers responded to the source of the gunfire and were in pursuit of the perpetrators. A security source said another Lebanese soldier was wounded when an Army patrol in Zahriyeh, Tripoli, came under fire. He was identified as Jamal Ashek. Shortly afterward, the Lebanese Army found a 200 gram homemade bomb near a shop in the Tripoli neighborhood of Abi Samra. Experts safely detonated the explosive device. The raid against Syrians in Khirbet Daoud came after Lebanese troops searched the house of Atef Saadeddine, a soldier who had deserted the Army, there, the source said. No arrests were made in the initial raid in their hunt for the bus attackers. However, an individual in the Tripoli neighborhood of Akoumi was arrested later in the day for his involvement in opening fire on an Army checkpoint in a previous attack.
Ashraf Rifi : A Message To Martyr Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi vows Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan's killers will be brought to justice
Oct. 17, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi vowed Friday to uncover and punish the perpetrators behind the assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, the intelligence chief slain in a car bomb a year ago, saying investigations into the killing had made progress. “On the anniversary of your martyrdom, I have nothing else but to pledge to you that the perpetrators behind your assassination will be uncovered as well as those behind other assassinations until we know the truth,” Rifi said in a statement.
Hasan, 47, was assassinated in a car bomb that ripped through the Beirut neighborhood of Ashrafieh on Oct. 19, 2012. His driver and a woman identified as Georgette Sarkissian were also killed in the explosion, the most serious since 2008.
The March 14 coalition has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being behind the assassination while others went so far as blaming Hezbollah for the killing of Hasan, who was the head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch.
“I vow to carry on the path and reach results and the investigation has taken great strides in this terrorism crime, which resembles the killing of Hariri. The criminal is almost pointing to themselves,” Rifi, a staunch critic of Assad and a former chief of the ISF, said.
“The joy of seeing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon begin its work was not complete because of your absence and Wissam Eid's absence. Justice that has kicked off owes you a lot. Because you two are martyrs of justice and sovereignty,” he added, referring to a communications analyst with the Information Branch who was assassinated in 2008. Many believe Eid was killed because he obtained critical evidence in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Eid’s work is now the basis of the STL prosecution’s case against five Hezbollah suspects accused of involvement in the Hariri murder. “Our faith will not be weakened and we will continue on that road until the big criminal is served justice,” Rifi said.
He praised Hasan for heading the Information Branch when the security agency began its investigation into the Hariri assassination. "The criminal responded by killing Wissam Eid to prevent us for continuing investigation but the Internal Security Forces preserved and continued its mission under Hasan.” “Every year this month, Lebanon and the Lebanese remember an exceptional man who loved his country to martyrdom and I remember a friend and a colleague. He was a man of courage, patriotism, professionalism and commitment.”
Lebanon's Defense minister headed to Iran to discuss military aid
Oct. 17, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Defense Minister Samir Moqbel will head to Tehran Saturday to discuss the pledged military aid to the Lebanese Army, his office said Friday. The minister’s trip will last two or three days, during which he will meet Iranian officials to examine the status of the aid, an official from his office told The Daily Star. A statement released by Iranian Embassy earlier this week said the aid would only include weapons and ammunition, but could open the doors to new, more sophisticated military support in the future.
Although the Lebanese government had announced that it welcomed any unconditional support to the Army, the Iranian aid has been the subject of a local and international dispute. Opponents of the grant have said that accepting the aid would violate Security Council Resolution 1747, which forbids Iran from selling or exporting weapons. March 14 officials called for a rejection of the aid because of Iran’s involvement in supporting Hezbollah. There have also been unofficial reports saying the United States is pressuring Lebanon not to take the donation. March 8 figures, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah officials have announced their support of accepting the aid. Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is a member of MP Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, also welcomed the donation, telling the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon earlier this week that he would suggest the item for Cabinet approval soon.
Siniora meets UN Syria envoy, blasts attack on Army
Oct. 17, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Future MP Fouad Siniora held talks Friday with U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who has been meeting with Lebanese politicians to assure them of the international community’s support for Lebanon’s stability as the country faces threats from Syria’s Islamist militants.“It was a useful meeting during which I was briefed on his [Siniora’s] evaluation of the situation in Lebanon and the Syrian conflict’s repercussions on the country and the region in general,” de Mistura said after the meeting which was also attended by U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumby. De Mistura arrived in Lebanon Thursday as part of a regional tour aimed at promoting a political solution to end the raging war in Syria. He has met with several government officials and Lebanese politicians, including Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general, Sheikh Naim Qassem. Separately, Siniora, a former prime minister and head of the Future bloc in Parliament, issued a statement strongly condemning the attack on an Army bus in north Lebanon in which a soldier was killed Friday, calling on the security forces to act quickly to apprehend the culprits and punish them severely. “We strongly and utterly denounce the attack on the Lebanese Army in Bireh, in Akkar, and present our sincerest condolences to the Army, the people of the north and the family of martyr Jamal Jean al-Hashem,” Siniora said. Siniora said the 19-year-old private was a martyr of Lebanon and the Future Movement and that the tragedy that hit his family was also a national tragedy. “We call on the security forces to arrest the culprits and inflict on them a just (severe) punishment,” Siniora said, stressing his party’s total support for the state and its military and security institutions in the confrontation against terrorism. Hashem was killed and several other soldiers wounded early Friday when their military bus came under fire along the road in Bireh in the northern Akkar province.
Hezbollah: Political rivals do not want dialogue
The Daily Star/Oct. 17, 2014/BEIRUT: A Hezbollah leader has accused the party's rivals of being under foreign orders to avoid political dialogue, saying that his party is ready to make concessions for the sake of Lebanon.
“We have long called for agreement and dialogue for the sake of finding common solution,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said during a Hezbollah ceremony at the Batoul High School. “But unfortunately, the other camp does not have the appetite for dialogue at this stage, because foreign orders ban such a move.” Agreeing on social and economic policies or reviving the state’s institutions do not require political consensus, the deputy head of Hezbollah added, calling to resolve the least controversial matters and leave the big questions aside. “We acknowledge that any agreement required concessions from all sides, and we are ready for that,” he said. “But are you [Hezbollah's rivals] ready to make concessions for the sake of building the country?” The government has been largely paralyzed over the last several years, with the most recent cause being the vacancy in the presidency. Parliament has failed more than a dozen times to elect a successor to Michel Sleiman, who left office in May, due to a boycott led by Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement. Addressing students who successfully passed the ninth grade, Qassem stressed that Hezbollah was strong and solid on Lebanon's eastern border. He said ISIS and the Nusra Front, which he described as far from following Islam, would not be able to achieve any victory over Hezbollah’s fighters. Hezbollah's fighters have been engaging in fierce clashes with Syrian rebels and Islamists along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Earlier this month, Nusra militants attacked Hezbollah posts in eastern Lebanon, sparking a deadly battle. The incident provoked an atmosphere of caution and panic in Lebanon, two months after the end of the clashes in Arsal, where Army fought militants from Nusra and ISIS.
Report: Nasrallah in Military Fatigues during Visit to
Party Fighters on Border with Syria
Naharnet/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has reportedly visited his party's fighters on the Lebanese-Syrian border dressed in military fatigues in a strong show of support. Al-Liwaa newspaper said Friday that Nasrallah met the fighters in their posts after he visited some families in the eastern Bekaa Valley to extend condolences to the party members who were killed in battles with extremist groups. Hizbullah has sent fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad's forces against rebels trying to remove him from power. The armed intervention in Syria earned the Shiite group the enmity of Syria's predominantly Sunni rebels. Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Over the past year, Syrian troops and Hizbullah fighters have captured most of the towns and villages in Syria's mountainous Qalamun region along the Lebanon border, depriving the rebels of residential areas where they can stay during the winter. Hizbullah fighters have also clashed with jihadists, who infiltrated Lebanese territories. Last week, al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra Front, attacked positions manned by Hizbullah on the outskirts of Brital, killing several of its fighters. There have been reports of other skirmishes between Hizbullah and militants along the Lebanon-Syria border.According to al-Liwaa, Nasrallah told the fighters during his visit to the Bekaa that there was “a big plot against the resistance, which will fight in any region to defend itself.”The Hizbullah secretary-general also said that his party was “fully ready to confront the adventures of takfiris and Israelis.”On Tuesday, several local newspapers quoted Nasrallah as telling his party's cadres in the Bekaa that “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.”
Friday's report in al-Liwaa was likely mentioning the same visit that Nasrallah did to eastern Lebanon. Nasrallah, who lives in hiding, has made few public appearances since his group fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 for fear of assassination by the Jewish state.
Salam denies hostage talks have taken negative turn
Hasan LakkisHashem Osseiran| The Daily Star/Oct. 17, 2014
BEIRUT: Although Prime Minister Tammam Salam assured the Cabinet Thursday that mediation efforts to free the 27 Lebanese hostages were making progress, a source close to the militants said the negotiations had taken “a very negative turn” in the past few days.
The hostage crisis dominated discussions during the Cabinet’s weekly session, and Salam told ministers negotiations to secure the release of the servicemen held hostage by ISIS and Nusra Front militants were continuing to make progress, political sources told The Daily Star. Salam dismissed media reports that the negotiations had taken a turn for the worse. He told ministers that Secretary-General of the Higher Relief Committee Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir was updating the families of the hostages on a daily basis.
However, a source close to the militants said negotiations to free the hostages had taken “a very negative turn” in the last six days, blaming the lack of a unified Cabinet stance. ISIS has placed the hostage crisis under the Nusra Front’s control so the two groups would have a unified set of demands, which, if met, would secure the release of all the hostages, the source told The Daily Star. The nine hostages currently held by ISIS would be transferred to the Nusra Front when their requests are met. “ISIS is backing the Nusra Front in negotiations. There is a de facto agreement between the two.”The Qatari delegation overseeing the talks has been negotiating with militants through a Syrian mediator who is working on its behalf. A meeting between the Syrian mediator and the militants takes place at least once a week on Arsal’s outskirts, with the next meeting scheduled in the coming two days, the source said. The mediator has established a good working relationship with the Nusra Front which, according to the source, has delivered a clear set of demands that includes the release of Islamist inmates in Roumieh Prison. Despite that relationship, the Syrian mediator is receiving mixed messages from Beirut, which is hindering his ability to communicate a clear stand. “The absence of a unified official stance is causing confusion for the Syrian businessman, who is lost over what message to relay to the militants,” the source said. The families of the hostages released two statements Thursday, the first threatening that “tomorrow will be a black Friday in Beirut if no positive developments occur in the issue of our sons.” Later, in a statement released after meeting Kheir, the families said they would hold off escalating their protests after recognizing the government’s efforts to secure the release of their loved ones. During the Cabinet session, a spat erupted over spending between Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Zeaiter and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, prompting Salam to intervene, political sources said. The row was related to the amount of money to be invested in regions where MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement enjoys wide support.
The session, which lasted more than five hours, failed to reach a decision over several items on the agenda, including renewing the tender for Sukleen and Lebanon’s two major mobile operators touch and Alfa.
Oct. 17, 2014/The Daily Star/Lebanese leaders have been publicizing the threat of extremism and the repercussions of the war in next-door Syria, sounding call after call about their urgent need for assistance from the world community. Even before the war erupted, Lebanon was the region’s weakest link in when it came to security- and defense-related matters, handicapped by the problematic relationship between aspiring to have a fully fledged national army while maintaining the Hezbollah-led resistance. With the threat from ISIS and other takfiri groups on the rise and an international coalition assembled to fight them, one might expect Lebanon to seize a golden opportunity. Instead, politicians and officials behave as if the world has nothing else on its mind except Lebanon’s political paralysis. Recent high-profile, multilateral meetings in Saudi Arabia and the United States put a glaring spotlight on this dilemma. If a Lebanese official formally endorses any type of multilateral effort, he will be sabotaged back home because Lebanon’s inevitable reservations and “special situation’ aren’t taken into consideration. And if an official attends such events but says Lebanon has no official commitment to what is endorsed, then why attend in the first place? How can the world take Lebanese leaders’ calls for urgent assistance seriously, if these same leaders inevitably excuse themselves from embracing anything concrete? Instead of applying the “disassociation” policy on Syria to the entire international community, officials should instead adopt some transparency and tell people the truth about the limits to their ability to act. The disconnect between demanding international help and being unable to commit to international action is getting larger, and is hidden from no one.
Mass Army defections unlikely scenario
Wassim Mroueh| The Daily Star/Oct. 17, 2014
The Army Command does not fear large-scale defections into the ranks of jihadists, according to a high-profile Army source. “Sunni servicemen will not defect from the Army, because they have clear knowledge of how the military is behaving and they know that allegations by terrorist groups that the Army is oppressing Sunnis are mere lies,” the source told The Daily Star Thursday. “The head of the Army battalion deployed in Arsal is a Sunni – why hasn’t he defected?” the source said. “Some of the soldiers killed or kidnapped during the Arsal battles are also Sunnis.” The source explained that the military establishment, whose members are from Lebanon’s various sects, was treating all religious groups in the country equally. “Just as we arrest Sunni suspects, we also chase and detain Shiite fugitives.”
He pointed to repetitive Army raids on the Baalbek neighborhood of Hay al-Sharawneh, where many Shiite suspects often seek refuge. He also said the Army had arrested members of the powerful Shiite Meqdad clan in 2012 after they kidnapped Syrian refugees and Turkish nationals in Lebanon. The source explained that only soldiers Atef Mohammad Saadeddine, who announced that he had entered the ranks of the Nusra Front in July, and Abdallah Shehadeh, who joined the same group this month, have actually fled Army ranks.
The others were sacked from the Army over misconduct way before they announced their joining of terrorist groups, the source said, in reference to two other soldiers who announced that they had joined ISIS and the Nusra Front earlier this month.
The source downplayed accusations by the Nusra Front, ISIS and other Islamist groups that the Army was under Hezbollah’s control. “We receive military aid from the U.S. which Hezbollah describes as the ‘great Satan.’”The military official dismissed claims that the Army was cracking down on Lebanese who were aiding Syrian rebels, while refraining from taking action against Hezbollah militants crossing the border to fight alongside the Syrian regime. “We are not arresting residents of Tripoli who are fighting in Syria and returning home, although we know their names,” the source said. “Even extremist groups positioned in the outskirts of Arsal now, if they drop their arms and abandon their takfiri ideology, we won’t mind that they live in Lebanon like other Syrian refugees,” he said. The source described Arsal as the “hot spot” in Lebanon at the present time. He said that the course of battles in the outskirts of the northeastern town and adjacent Syrian territories indicated that ISIS and the Nusra Front were now focusing on taking over a village on the Syrian side of the border. “But who knows? If snow falls early this year, they might choose the short route and attack Arsal again. We are waiting for them,” the source said.
He said it was unlikely that radical Syrian rebels would attack the southern region of Arqoub, which includes the areas of Kfar Shuba, Shebaa and Hasbaya, similar to how they did in Arsal. “The demographic structure in Hasbaya is different. The plan of the terrorist groups is to have a sea outlet and it is very hard to reach the sea from Arqoub,” the source said. “UNIFIL troops are also present in the area.” The source described the situation in Tripoli as “excellent,” particularly after fugitives Shadi al-Mawlawi an Osama Mansour evacuated a mosque in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. The source stressed that the crackdown on terrorist cells across the country was ongoing, although sometimes it was away from the media spotlight. He said that despite their deep differences, the various political groups in Lebanon were interested in preventing the overall situation from exploding. “It is clear from the way the government was formed and how it is functioning. Ministers set aside all their disputes and attend the Cabinet session every week,” he said. “There is an international umbrella protecting Lebanon,” he added. “But this does not mean that we should stand by idly. All political groups should also do their part in protecting stability.”
Hezbollah blames Future for assaults on Army in Tripoli
Oct. 17, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah dismissed Thursday accusations that it was involved in assaults against the Lebanese Army in Tripoli, pointing the finger back at the Future Movement, which Hezbollah said ultimately bore responsibility for the attacks.
Officials from the Future Movement and March 14 media outlets “have issued false accusations over repeated assaults against the Lebanese Army in Tripoli, pinning the blame on individuals, it alleges, are allied ... with Hezbollah,” a statement released by Hezbollah’s media office said. The statement came after prominent March 14 figures, including Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, said Hezbollah was implicated in the attacks on Army positions in the northern port city. Rifi Monday claimed that “investigations had revealed the identities of those who threw the grenades on the Army bases and checkpoints,” who turned out to be “from Hezbollah’s circle and aim to create a conflict between the Army and the city’s residents.” The Muslim Scholars Committee Wednesday echoed the claims, saying “investigations revealed that Hezbollah is responsible for attacks on the Lebanese Army.” Hezbollah considered the accusations to be “baseless” and “void of any truth,” negating the claims by saying that “those responsible for firing at the Army in Tripoli are known by the residents of the town, the Lebanese Army and security forces.” None of the perpetrators are “friends or allies” of Hezbollah, the party said. Hezbollah claimed that the perpetrators were “close allies of the Future Movement,” which has supplied the necessary “legal cover to prevent their trials.”
Hezbollah further decried the accusations by stressing that the party “rejects any assault on the Lebanese Army.” Any attack on the military is “a grave national crime,” the severity of which is only worsened by the fact that the Army is waging battles against terrorists, Hezbollah said. The statement went on to call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. The party also hoped that investigations would reveal their “identities, goals and the groups they are working for.” In the latest incident in a spate of Army-related violence in the city, a resident of the Beddawi refugee camp was killed during a shoot-out with soldiers Thursday evening. The gunfight broke out after the Army tried to arrest someone suspected of killing a soldier, the National News Agency said. Earlier this week, the Lebanese Army beefed up security measures in Tripoli following repeated attacks against the military.
http://www.persecution.org/2014/10/16/death-sentence-of-christian-mother-convicted-of-blasphemy-confirmed-by-pakistani-high-court/ Did Someone Say 'Conquest'?
By Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
October 17, 2014
Turkey's terrible miscalculation in Syria has pushed its foreign policy rhetoric from "shallow arrogance" to "defensive bewilderment." Over the past five years, Ankara has claimed that "Syria, Palestine and Egypt [and other former Ottoman territories] are Turkey's domestic affairs." It's bizarre, we have not heard Interior Minister Efkan Ala speaking on what has been going on in Syria over the past few months – not even once. Does Kobane not fall under the jurisdiction of his ministry?
Not learning from past mistakes, the Turks and their part-time allies across the Atlantic have now set out to train and equip "moderate" Islamists in Syria: The Americans hope the "moderates" will finish off their less moderate brethren, while the Turks hope that the new fighting will enforce bad Sunnis instead of bad Shiites in Damascus.
Press reports say that thousands of moderates will specialize in ambush, bombing and subversion skills at a military base in Turkey, courtesy of the American taxpayer. Nice plan. A plan that probably needs a back-up plan too: Better if the Turks and their part-time allies start thinking about training and equipping future moderates to fight today's moderates. Be prepared, gentlemen, for the perpetual Frankenstein's monster stories.
Salih Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful Kurdish opposition group in Syria, put it most realistically in an interview with Hurriyet on Oct. 13: "While you [Turkey's leaders] were strolling arm in arm and enjoying kebab in Ankara, Damascus and Aleppo [with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], we [Syrian Kurds] were being tortured in dungeons. We [Syrian Kurds] won't be Turkey's front line soldiers [in its fight against al-Assad]."
"The Turks must now invite the major foreign powers they denounce at every occasion to fight a war that presumably falls under their own domestic affairs."
So Turkey needs non-Kurdish proxy warriors to fight its former ally, regional nemesis and dramatic obsession al-Assad: the moderates! Just like it once thought of, funded and armed what it now feels compelled to fight: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The perpetual Frankenstein monster story…
Mesopotamia is full of ironies. It always has been. It probably will be in the future too. The Turks must now invite the major foreign powers they denounce at every occasion to fight a war that presumably falls under their own domestic affairs. If Syria is a domestic Turkish affair, why should Ankara make war plans with the Americans and court the Kurds to fight the enemy? Did Ankara invite U.S. troops to defeat the Gezi protesters in 2013?
But the Best Political Irony Award of the year should go jointly to Messrs. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ahmet Davutoğlu and ISIL's leaders. For several years, the men who made Turkey's foreign policy argued (and still argue) that "when Turks and Muslims capture foreign lands by force, it is a merry thing to celebrate for all because it is 'the conquest of the heart and mind,'" and that when foreign armies take back from the Turks or Muslims what they had lost by force it is a bad thing because it is "invasion of our lands."
Most recently, ISIL's HQ spoke to Ankara in the language Turkey's conquest-fetish leaders should best understand, and thus qualified to join the award nominees when it threatened to "conquer" Turkey and ultimately remove President Erdoğan. ISIL's video, "A Message to Erdoğan," warns that "Turkey shall be conquered with the shouts of 'Allahu Akbar.'"
A narrator in the background is heard saying, addressing Mr. Erdoğan: "Be prepared for the good news, for the time for your rule to end is getting close at the hands of the state of the caliphate [ISIL]." The narrator further says: "Turkey has been spearheading the armies of 'Kufr' [infidelity] in fighting the Mujahedeen. It was the leader of the NATO forces in chasing the Taliban fighters. And today, the people of treachery refuse but to continue in their malicious ways although it is in a 'new and different look.'"
What ISIL men do is no doubt barbaric. But what they say can sometimes be amusing. Especially when one thinks of the same way Turkey's "lighter" Islamists view secular Muslims. Even more amusing is when they resort to the "conquest" rhetoric in the exact same way their "lighter" versions often do.
**Burak Bekdil is a columnist for the Istanbul-based daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
To Lebanon, we are all in the same sinking boat
Friday, 17 October 2014
Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya
The Lebanese people feel as though they are being left to face their fate and that no one makes any decisions regarding affairs linked to their security and lives. No one is defending them. It’s as if they are living in the absence of a state and in the shadow of a deep-rooted political vacuum. This vacuum deepens by the day and it’s not only caused by a vacuum in state institutions but also by the death of prominent figures who influenced our national culture thanks to their wisdom in times of fanaticism. The last of these intellectuals to pass away is Monah al-Solh. Solh, who was a moderate voice fighting sectarianism and divisional rhetoric, passed away on Saturday. The post of the presidency remains vacant and there’s no hope on the horizon considering the blind approach that has haunted the election of a new president. Meanwhile, the parliament is incapable of electing a president due to the sharp divisions obstructing its legislative role after the Taif Agreement cancelled out its regulatory role. As for the government, it’s not doing any better. I don’t intend to attack the government like some are currently doing, however, its structure does not allow it to function. The division of ministerial portfolios has split the government into parties with conflicting interests. This was shown during last week’s session as all controversial issues, which would serve certain parties’ interests, were postponed.
“Lebanon’s deteriorating livelihood conditions have spared no one”What concerns us even more than all of this is the fear that took over the Lebanese people’s lives. The issue of the border with Syria worries them in the north, Beqaa and the south. There’s no agreement on any solutions regarding this problem, especially as borders with Syria are not demarcated. There’s also an inability to control these borders which are wide-open for fundamentalist parties, movements and groups - Lebanese and Syrian alike – to traverse. These groups violate these borders’ sovereignty and thus humiliate our dignity.
The thorny issue of the abducted military personnel and the incidents in which soldiers were fired upon in northern areas do not bode well. They foreshadow the worst repercussions of this chaotic situation. Amidst this dire situation, there’s an urgent need for a positive shock. This won’t be possible unless there’s a minimal agreement amongst all parties and groups - even those in crises. All sects and parties are in crisis and actually lack a clear vision. No one can bid over anyone regarding this point because everyone is in one boat subject to sinking if they don’t realize the current imminent threats and address them. The security situation threatens everyone and economic regression pressures everyone. The deteriorating livelihood conditions have spared no one. So what are politicians, parties and religious leaders waiting for? Isn’t this threat of sinking worthy of establishing a state of emergency and descending from the ivory towers before the state’s foundations collapse on everyone’s heads and remorse is of absolutely no use?
A Portrait of a
by AMIR TAHERI October 16, 2014 /Family Security Matters
Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words
By Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin
Penguin, 304 pages
New York, 2013
In a curious coincidence, the list of candidates for this year's Nobel Peace Prize included two religious leaders. The Argentinian parliament nominated Pope Francis for his "efforts to bring peace in Syria." Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the spiritual leader of most of Iraq's Shi'ites, was nominated by a group of intellectuals for his role in preventing full-scale sectarian war in Iraq. The two nominations indicated that the boundary between religion and politics, always thin, may have become even paler in our times. In the end it was Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl campaigning for education for Muslim girls that was chosen. Again, the relationship between politics and religion was a factor.
Thus, readers of Pope Francis should not be surprised to find this a political rather than theological tome. Based on long conversations between the new Pope and two journalists-one Argentinian, the other Italian-the book provides a biographical sketch of Francis, along with an expose of his political views. Francis emerges as a modern, center-left, political figure committed to the usual "good things" such as peace, sharing and caring, solidarity and progress.
Because Francis is the first Jesuit priest to become Pope, it is not surprising that, true to his evangelist mission as a "soldier for Christ," his emphasis is on securing the largest possible audience for the Catholic Church rather than defending doctrine in an age of cultural relativism.
He has learned a great deal from the experience of his most recent predecessors: Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. The former emphasized the political dimension of his mission, especially in the struggle to help central and Eastern Europe bring down the Iron Curtain. When the Cold War ended with the disintegration of the Soviet Empire, John Paul II was among history's victors, his doctrinal conservatism conveniently pushed aside. In contrast, Benedict XVI, a theologian by training and temperament, put the emphasis on doctrinal issues in a brave attempt to save the Catholic Church from the ravages of political correctness and multiculturalism. As a result, many Catholics did not warm up to him while non-Catholics found him anachronistic.
Francis appears to have decided to look to John Paul II rather than Benedict XVI as a model. The difference is that John Paul II was a political Pope on the right of the center while Francis intends to be left of center.
That has encouraged some of Francis's critics on the right to portray him as a fellow traveler or even a communist. Francis admits that he was attracted to communist themes, if not actual policies. In fact, the only political book he cites is Our Word and Proposals by the Argentinian communist writer Leonidas Barletta. "It helped my political education," Francis says.
Francis deepens his "progressive " profile with a list of his favorite authors, including German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Belgian mystic Joseph Maréchal, and, last but not least, Argentina's own literary icon, Jorge Luis Borges. Interestingly, with the exception of Maréchal, a Thomist priest, all of Francis's favorite writers were either agnostic or atheists.
Francis' "progressive" profile is deepened with reference to his taste in cinema; he loved Italian neo-realism and made sure to see all films with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi. He also cites the film Babette's Feast, a critique of religion as an oppressive ideology, in which a French "fallen woman" played by Stéphane Audran injects some life into a Danish community of Calvinists.
Francis regards "liberal capitalism" as immoral and finds some sympathy for the "liberation theology" of the Latin American guerrilla-priests of the 1960s, while insisting that he was "never a communist." In fact, he includes communism, along with unbridled capitalism, Nazism and liberalism in his list of totalitarian ideologies. And, yet, he points at secularism as the principal enemy of faith. "There is a denial of God due to secularism, the selfish egoism of humanity," he asserts.
The trouble is that Francis confuses secularism with atheism, which is the outright denial of the transcendental. However, secularism simply means keeping the public space open to all religions, protecting the weak against repression by the strong.
Regarding religion as a matter of individual belief, secularism does not deny God in whatever metaphysical form people wish to promote; all it does is to oppose the use of the resources of the state in favor of one religion against others. There are countless examples of secular writers and political figures who were sincere believers at the same time.
A fascinating part of the book deals with the "social issues" that have dominated the public debate in the West in recent decades, among them abortion, birth control, divorce, gay and lesbian marriages, and celibacy for priests.
Here, Francis faces a real difficulty. If he simply reaffirms the traditional positions of his Church-as Benedict XVI did, for example-he would weaken his claim of being a "progressive." If, on the other hand, he adopts the "progressive" position, he would antagonize many, perhaps a majority, in his flock.
Francis deals with this dilemma in the classical Jesuit style of seizing the bull by both horns. He asserts that what really matters is the core narrative of Christianity, the technical term for which is kerygma. Beyond that we have what Francis calls "catechism," which, in the sense he deals with it, concerns behavior and social organization. Interestingly, he does not mention dogma, the bridge between kerygma and catechism. Thus, issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and the Eucharist for divorced individuals, do not affect the kerygma. As for celibacy for priests, it is "a discipline, not a matter of doctrine," he asserts, and thus could be abandoned in the future.
In addition to being a "progressive," Francis is also an optimist. "The moral conscience of different cultures progresses," he asserts, reminding us how such "evils" as incest, slavery, exploitation, for example, were once, in different phases of human history, tolerated by all cultures and even religions but are now rejected with revulsion by all.
But is human "moral progress," if it exists at all, as linear as the Pope seems to believe? Francis himself reminds us that slavery continues to exist in different forms. In fact, the United Nations' estimates put the number of slaves today at over 27 million, and that does not include human trafficking for sexual exploitation. As for incest, right now, Germany is debating a law to decriminalize incest between consenting adult sisters and brothers. If slavery was banned in the 19th century it was not due to "moral progress." The Industrial Revolution had made slave labor largely uneconomical.
Francis' intellectual landscape is dominated by ideas that could be traced back to ancient Athens rather than Jerusalem. He is more comfortable in the company of Aristotle than the Church Fathers. The only one he quotes is the quasi-Aristotelian St. Augustine, ignoring the contrasting positions of Jerome and Tertullian, among others.
Is the church, indeed any formal religious organization, necessary for salvation? Francis cannot but answer with a resounding "yes." However, he weakens that "yes" by recalling that, as a young man, he dreamed of becoming a missionary to Japan, where Christianity had managed to survive and to some extent even prosper without any priests and no organization for over two centuries.
I don't know whether the Pope has read Japanese novelist Shūsaku Endo's fascinating novel Silence, which deals precisely with that subject. Endo shows that, even under the worst conditions of torture and despair, human beings look to religious faith for a measure of certainty about right and wrong, good and evil.
Today, the problem is that religion, in most its forms, is trying to imitate philosophy, which is the realm of doubt, or replace ideology as a means of organizing political action.
Francis repeats the assertion by André Malraux, that the 21st century will be "religious or it will not at all." The question is: religion in which of its many forms? There are those who see kerygma as poetic conceit, focusing on catechism, or its Islamic version the Shari'a, as a means of social and political control and domination. Then there are those who, having asserted the kerygma, allow the elastic to be pulled in opposite directions as far as possible.
The problem is that, at some point, the elastic might snap.
**Amir Taheri writes for the New York Post. His latest book is The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution.
The Road from Qatar to the Gaza Strip
by REUVEN BERKO October 16, 2014
Family Security Matters
In a recent speech, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor mentioned the central role of Qatar in supporting international terrorist organizations. Money flowing from Qatar to Hamas, for example, paid for the terrorist attack tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip under the security fence into Israeli territory, and for the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets in both the distant and recent past. In response, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf rushed to Qatar's defense, claiming it had an important, positive role in finding a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Qatar's funding for Islamist terrorist organizations all over the world is an open secret known to every global intelligence agency, including the CIA. It was exposed by Wikileaks, which clearly showed that funds from Qatar were transferred to al-Qaida. Qatar also funds the terrorist movements opposing the Assad regime in Syria, such as the Al-Nusra Front, encourages anti-Egyptian terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula and within Egypt itself, and is involved in Islamic terrorism in Africa and other locations. It accompanies its involvement in terrorism targeting Israel and Egypt (through the Muslim Brotherhood) with vicious and inflammatory propaganda on its Al-Jazeera TV channel.
Qatar also spends millions of dollars supporting the Islamic Movement in Israel, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. The Islamic Movement is responsible for ongoing acts of provocation on the Temple Mount and in Judea and Samaria, and incites the entire Islamic world against Israel, claiming that the Jews are trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with the Jewish Temple. The incitement continued even as the Islamic Movement's sister movement, Hamas, fired rockets at Jerusalem and endangered both the mosques on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem's sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
As Qatar's representative, the Islamic Movement, which has not yet been outlawed in Israel, contributed to Hamas what it could during Operation Protective Edge by instigating riots, blocking roads and seeking to foment a third intifada which, according to the plan, would be joined by Israeli Arabs to augment the deaths of thousands of Israelis killed by rockets and the mass murders through the attack tunnels planned for the eve of the Jewish New Year.
In his recent UN speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebutted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' accusations of Israeli "genocide" of the Palestinian people. He reminded his audience of Hamas' use of Gazan civilians as human shields and of the rockets fired to attack specifically civilian Israeli targets. Unfortunately, he did not mention the Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all the Jews. The fact that Abbas now heads a national consensus government in which Hamas is a full partner commits him to the slaughter of the Jewish people - a true genocide - and it is to the disgrace of the international community that such an individual was permitted to address the UN instead of being tried for war crimes.
In fact, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are clearly stated in the Hamas charter, which defines Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's global Islamic movement. One of its objectives is to fight "infidel Christian imperialism" and its Zionist emissaries in Israel in order to impose the Sharia, Islamic religious law, on the world. According to the charter's paragraph 7, Hamas' intention is to slaughter every Jew, as ordered by Muhammad and those who accept his legacy. That is the basis for the threat issued by ISIS "Caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that under his leadership, Islam will "drown America in blood."
Throughout its history, Hamas, like ISIS, has been committed to the concept of the global caliphate, which it plans to help construct by creating its own Islamic emirate on the ruins of the State of Israel. Since its founding, Hamas has attacked Israel and murdered thousands of its citizens exactly as ISIS has attacked and murdered "infidels." They share the same slogans, with "There is no god but Allah" and "Allah, Prophet Muhammad" inscribed on their flags and headbands. Hamas terrorists have blown themselves up in Israel's coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, buses, malls and markets, wherever there are large concentrations of civilians. The way Hamas executed suspected collaborators during the final days of Operation Protective Edge bore the hallmarks of the al-Qaida execution of Daniel Pearl and the ISIS beheading of James Foley and others.
In the decades during which Hamas has carried out a continual series of deadly terrorist attacks against Israel, wearing the same "Allah, Prophet, Muhammad" headbands as ISIS terrorists, the international community rarely voices its support for Israel, or takes into account that by defending itself Israel also defends the West, which has failed to understand that "political Islam" inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood was setting up shop in the free world's backyard and that the ticking bomb was set to go off sooner than expected. The West has not clearly condemned Qatar for openly supporting Hamas and its terrorist activities against Israel or demanded that it stop.
While Israel responded to Hamas' rocket attacks on civilian targets to keep thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Israeli civilians from being killed, the international community demanded "proportionality." That requirement kept Israel from responding as it should have and encouraged Hamas to fire ever more rockets at "military targets" such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When Israel built its security fence to keep Hamas suicide bombers from infiltrating into Israeli territory to blow themselves up in crowds of civilians, the international community opposed it, rushed to embrace the Palestinians' vocabulary of "racism" and "apartheid," and willingly played into the hands of Hamas and Abbas. This reaction occurred although Israel is the only truly democratic country in the Middle East, where Jews and Arabs can live in peace without "apartheid."
Today President Obama says he "underestimated" the threat posed by ISIS, while Israel has been warning the world of extremist military Islam for at least a decade, as Netanyahu warned the world of a nuclear Iran in his UN speech.
The international community has been curiously silent about the genuine apartheid in the Arab states neighboring Israel. There, descendants of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees, by now in their fourth generation, still live in refugee camps, do not have citizenship, and are excluded from jobs and social benefits. Israel, however, absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, many of them destitute, who fled Europe and were expelled from the Arab countries when the state was founded, and were given citizenship and enjoy full rights, as do the Arabs who remained in Israel after the War of Independence.
Israel, which has nothing against the Palestinian people, would like to see the Gaza Strip rebuilt for both humanitarian reasons and to give Hamas something to lose. Radical Islamic elements around the globe, however, including Hamas, ISIS, al-Qaida, the Al-Nusra Front and Hizballah, all financed by Qatar, do not want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved. They all have the same global agenda, based on fueling the conflict to unite Islam around it, under their leadership.
Therefore, Qatar continues to support global Islamic terrorism. On Sept. 13, Qatar paid the Al-Nusra Front a ransom of $20 million to free abducted UN soldiers from Fiji. The world praised Qatar for its philanthropy, but in effect, it was a brilliant act of manipulation and fraud, both filling the Al-Nusra Front's coffers and representing itself as the Fijians' savior. Qatar is using the same underhanded trick in the Gaza Strip. After sending Hamas millions of dollars to fund its anti-Israeli terrorist industry, it pledged $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip during last weekend's conference in Cairo.
While the world hopes Operation Protective Edge was the last round of Palestinian-Israeli violence, senior Hamas figures reiterate their position of gearing up to fight Israel again. Not one Hamas leader is willing to agree to a full merger with the Palestinian Authority to establish a genuine unified Palestinian leadership. Hamas rejects even the idea of disarming or demilitarization as part of an agreement to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the peace process. Unfortunately, no one has suggested it as a pre- condition for any U.S. dollars that will be contributed to the reconstruction of Gaza.
All that is left now is to hope that the billions of dollars poured into the Gaza Strip for its rebuilding will be accompanied by the disarmament of Hamas and the establishment of an honest mechanism for overseeing the money and materials Egypt and Israel allow into the Gaza Strip. It is imperative that they not be diverted to rebuild Hamas' terrorist infrastructure and tunnels, or to bribe UNRWA officials to look the other way, as has happened so often in the past. There is every indication that only Hamas and Qatar know whether there is anything to justify that hope.
**Dr. Reuven Berko has a Ph.D. in Middle East studies, is a commentator on Israeli Arabic TV programs, writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and is considered one of Israel's top experts on Arab affairs.
The end of a unified Yemen
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Friday, 17 October 2014
Popular, political and military activity calling for the separation of southern Yemen from the republic of Yemen picked up its pace this week in the areas of Aden and Hadramout. The possibility of the south becoming an independent state is closer than at any other point in Yemen’s history.
Unity and separation are two issues that concern everyone in the region. They mainly concern Yemen’s major neighbor, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
When southern and northern Yemen united, it was backed by people from both sides but it was not the product of popular demands or activity. It was the result of a struggle over governance in the south among communist powers. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh seized the chance to expand his authority when the South’s political leader Ali Salem al-Beidh - who almost lost his rule - called for unification. Saleh and Beidh signed the unification agreement in 1989 and instead of achieving unity and power sharing, Saleh dominated authority in both northern and southern Yemen. The promises of unification were not fulfilled and it became a burden on northern Yemen, leading to the neglect and appropriation of southern Yemen. Saleh was thus the only winner and ruled over the country alone.
“New developments now raise the decisive question: Is separation the solution?”
Prior to this unification, I sat with late Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz who was also an official in the joint Saudi-Yemeni committee. I asked him about Ali Abdullah Saleh’s media allegations that Saudi Arabia had objected to unity and see it as a threat. He summarized the nature of the relationship and its historical roots since the 1950s.
He said that a united Yemen is best for Saudi Arabia as we suffer when we have to deal with two governments, one in Sanaa and one in Aden, because satisfying one means angering the other. This is especially so when there are tensions between the two. In this case, either of these governments will ally with the Saudi kingdom’s rival. This happened during the Cold War as rebels in the north allied with the Nasserites and later on the south allied with the Soviet Union. It’s easier for us to manage relations with a unified country that has one government while maintaining good relationships with the different domestic powers who’ve had historical ties with Saudi Arabia.
Truth be told, Saudi Arabia has also suffered politically even during the period when Yemen was united; however, the suffering was the result of mere disputes. Former President Saleh, whose period in power coincided with that of three Saudi kings, was known for his attempts to glorify himself, even if it came at the expense of Yemen and its people. When former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Saleh sided with him against Saudi Arabia. Saleh then allied with the Qataris when they disagreed with Saudi Arabia over the period of a few years. He also allowed former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to fund Yemeni tribes against Saudi Arabia. Last but not least, Saleh invented the Houthis, he turned them into a dangerous political and religious group when originally they were simply a tribal group. He resorted to the excuse of having to religiously educate the Houthis and sent some of them to Iran to be recruited to work against his neighbor, Saudi Arabia. They also worked against the opposing northern Yemeni tribes in an attempt to subjugate them in an-ever changing balancing act.
New developments now raise the decisive question, not for the Saudis but mainly for the Yemenis of the north and the south: Is separation the solution?
I think that the separation will exacerbate problems for people in both sides because there are no dominating powers that can end this rivalry and end the fighting and there’s no real electoral system the Yemenis can resort to and count upon. Therefore, separation will foment chaos in both the north and south. Despite this, separation is a very possible scenario as a result of the rapid collapse of the ruling institution in northern Yemen and of the frustration at the failure of the unification agreement. Yemenis are now aware that the unification agreement was merely part of the personal agenda of ousted President Saleh. Northern Yemenis have truly tried to compensate for Saleh’s sins towards their people in the south and they displayed a lot of flexibility and concern regarding unity. Proof is that the posts of the presidency and premiership are now occupied by southerners although the northerners constitute the sweeping majority of the population. Despite that, southern political powers compete with one another and call for separation as they are aware that declaring an independent state has become the southerners’ favorite tune and that unity has become a hated idea due to Saleh’s policies which inflicted further poverty and marginalization in the south.
As a result of the weakness of the central authority, the north currently faces a political vacuum as the three major powers are fighting each other. The first party is that of Saleh who still actively sabotages political plans by inciting strife and buying loyalties so as to return to power. The second party is that of the Houthis who are linked to Iran and whose militias have seized some major state institutions. The third party is that of the state and the government which is sick in bed and which only has one card up its sleeve, that of international legitimacy based upon the recognition of the U.N. Security Council and the Gulf countries.
In the case of announcing the death of the current Yemeni government, or if it dies within the next few months but no announcement is made, we would witness the inevitable end of a unified Yemen as well as the South’s declaration of a separate state. Yemen would thus begin a new chapter in its history. Its first chapter will most probably be full of further domestic disputes and foreign interferences and the victims will be the Yemenis who have not been asked to express their opinions yet.
Syria and Iraq, Iran’s red lines
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
Friday, 17 October 2014
The Islamic Republic has recently warned the Turkish government over its military presence in Syria and for “Turkey’s dangerous policies” in Syria and Iraq. The head of the political bureau of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, pointed out that “the crisis in Iraq and Syria will move to Turkey if Ankara does not modify its behavior.” Amidst the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Iranian leaders appear to have successfully and forcefully made their point to the West and regional state actors regarding Tehran’s red lines: Iraq and more significantly Iran’s long-time protégé, Syria.
The professionally taken photos of General Qassem Suleimani in Iraq, the commander of Iran’s Quds force who normally keeps a low profile and the projection of these pictures on Iran’s TV outlets suggests a significant strategic shift in Iran’s policies to publicly project its power. According to the Guardian, Amirali Hajizadeh, the airforce commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, stated on Iran’s national TV that “if it wasn’t for Iran’s help, Iraq’s Kurdistan would have fallen into the hands of Daesh (ISIS).” Further, Iran is attempting to send a message to the Iranian people that Tehran can tackle any regional threat.
“Currently, for Washington and Western allies, the battle against ISIS is at the top of their foreign policy agenda”
The ongoing fighting against ISIS has emboldened Iran and definitely deflected attention from some aspects of Iran’s increasing military, financial, intelligence, and advisory assistance to President Bashar al-Assad, along with Tehran’s ambitions for regional supremacy.
Appeasing policies of the U.S. and Western allies
Part of the reason lies in the current foreign policies, weaknesses, and failure of the United States and its Western allies in the Middle East. Since the U.S. and the Islamic Republic have been indirectly cooperating and coordinating aerial and ground battles against ISIS, the U.S. and its Western allies came to the understanding that they will carry out a policy of appeasement towards Iran’s role in the region, its military involvement in Syria, and Iran-Iraq ties. More fundamentally, the United States and Western allies seem to have accepted and recognized Iran’s red line with regards to Assad, and are appearing to appease the Islamic Republic’s objectives in that regard.
For the West, particularly Washington, as long as Iranian leaders are assisting them in beating ISIS, this tactical shift and doctrine is viewed as the most effective foreign policy to serve the campaign against ISIS.
Currently, for Washington and Western allies, the battle against ISIS is at the top of their foreign policy agenda. The future of Assad, his use of brute force, and Iran’s IRGC assistances have definitely become secondary and marginal objectives to tackle. In addition, Iran’s nuclear ambitions have also slid to the sidelines of the U.S. and Western allies’ objectives as the battle against ISIS continues. The U.S., the major negotiator in the P5+1 group (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), has significantly softened its position towards Iran’s nuclear program by favoring policies such as nuclear containment rather than dismantlement of Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure. This follows that Iran might be allowed, like Japan, to be a nuclear threshold state.
The West’s appeasement towards Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, among other nations, has also contributed to the emboldening of ISIS, other insurgencies, and extremism across the Middle East.
The Islamic Republic denies
Although the Islamic Republic denies that it has forces on the ground in Syria, the fighters from Hezbollah (Lebanon’s pro-Iranian Shiite movement) and Quds forces (an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps) have been significantly instrumental in tipping the balance of power in favor of the Syrian government as well as keeping Assad in power after more than three years of the conflict in Syria. The powerful Iranian-backed Shiite Badr brigade has played a crucial role in Iraq as well.
The shortcomings of the U.S. and Western allies’ foreign policy in the Middle East is linked to policy and objective compartmentalization. Without a doubt, the rise of ISIS is related to Iran’s military and financial support to Assad, which has further radicalized and militarized the Syrian civil war.
This protracted conflict has provided the required environment for extremist Jihadist groups to organize, recruit, and develop. On the other hand, Iran’s rising power in the Middle East amid the Islamic State’s conflict, will be posing much more ominous results in the close future.
Efficient and informed policies: Compartmentalization of foreign policies?
As a result, isolating, taking Tehran’s role in the region out of the equation, as well as turning a blind eye to Iran’s support to the Syrian government would eventually lead to failure and be counterproductive. What is needed in order to address the raising conflict in the Middle East is a comprehensive marshal plan, which would take all the different layers of Iran’s role in the conflict into consideration, including the Islamic Republic’s forces involvement in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. A comprehensive strategic plan is required that would tackle all the angles of the conflict. This plan should address the root of the problem, not just the problem’s effects.
When it comes to the Islamic Republic’s increasing military, financial, intelligence, and advisory involvements in Syria, another underlying factor is that Iranian leaders have clearly sensed the American President’s and Western leaders’ weaknesses. On several occasions, Assad crossed the red line imposed by the United State and President Obama did not act on his words.
Currently, the U.S. and Western allies’ major campaign in the Middle East is fighting ISIS while ignoring addressing Iran’s military engagements in other countries and ignoring Tehran’s apparent determination for regional supremacy seriously.
The most effective approach is to simultaneously address the Islamic Republic’s multi-dimensional functions across the Middle East, including its military, financial intelligence, advisory assistance to Assad, Tehran’s military involvements in Iraq, and Yemen, the involvement of pro-Iranian and pro-Shiite proxies and militias in the region, as well as Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This comprehensive strategy will address some of the crucial underlying factors behind the crisis in the Middle East, including the rise of extremist groups. By not taking Iran’s nuanced role in the Middle East seriously, and by turning a blind eye to all Iranian military activities in Syria and other countries- due to the notion that the Islamic Republic is assisting the United States and Western allies in their fighting campaign against ISIS - will solely ratchet up the conflict and eventually lead to significant foreign policy failures.
Iran’s Dangerous Game in Yemen
By: Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat/Friday, 17 Oct, 2014
“Yemen is simple,” says a European diplomat working on a report for NATO on the war-torn nation. “The Saudis feed the Yemenis and the Iranians arm them. So, what is left for Yemenis to do, except chew qat and fight each other?”
Like all caricatures, this verbal caricature puts the aggrandizing lens on just one aspect of a complex situation, exaggerating its importance.
Today, Yemen is a tangled web of conflicts that, though they must be examined one by one, can’t be fully understood without reference to their collective context.
Since 2010, Yemen has been on a slippery slope towards becoming an ungoverned or semi-governed territory, an experience shared by many others at different times in their history. Right now, a number of countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and, of course, Somalia, are passing through the same experience in different degrees. No nation is immune from suffering that fate. If the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not crushed it could turn four of Iraq’s 18 provinces into “ungoverned” zones. The phenomenon could spread from Syria and Iraq to their neighbors, notably Lebanon and Turkey. Some analysts include the so-called “badlands” of northwest Pakistan in the list of ungoverned zones. Parts of the disputed Kashmir and both the Pakistan and Iranian provinces of Baluchistan are also in danger of moving in this direction.
The disease, if one may call it such, is not confined to newly created states in the Third World. Vast areas of the United States became ungoverned territory during its Civil War. Spain had a similar experience during the Spanish Civil War. For much of the 1990s, Afghanistan was a vast ungoverned zone. More recently, ungoverned territories emerged in parts of the former Yugoslavia for almost a decade. Parts of Myanmar (Burma) are in that situation today.
Looking at the Yemeni crisis as an issue of regional—and to some extent even international—security, is therefore perfectly legitimate. Yemen’s crisis poses a threat to both Saudi Arabia and Oman, if only because it could produce a humanitarian catastrophe with vast numbers of refugees trying to cross the borders. The effective disintegration of governmental authority could also threaten the security of sea-lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, especially Bab El-Mandeb, one of the most sensitive chokepoints in global maritime traffic. Throughout the Cold War, the United States feared that the Yemeni island of Socotra would provide the Soviet Union with a platform to project power across the Indian Ocean. Anarchy in Yemen today could mean the capture of Socotra and smaller islands in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea by terrorist groups like ISIS. We have already seen what piracy is doing in Somalia.
What is astonishing is that this growing danger is either ignored by the major powers or exploited for petty tactical advantage by regional rivals. In the latter context, Iran is pursuing a dangerous opportunistic gambit.
Tehran official media wax triumphant because a few Houthi demonstrators in Sana’a carried portraits of the late Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei. The daily Kayhan, published under Khamenei’s control, headlined a report on the entry of Houthis in Sana’a as “the victory of our Islamic Revolution.”
The paper’s editorialist couldn’t contain his excitement in narrating what he thought was the adoption by Yemenis of Khomeini’s version of Islam. He ignored the fact that the Houthis’ army of around 10,000 gunmen can hardly control Sana’a, a city of some 2 million inhabitants, not counting the mass of recently arrived refugees. Those who know Sana’a’s countless labyrinthine twists and turns know that talk of any enforced control is nonsense, especially when the supposed controllers are not natives of the sprawling city.
Another thing the editorialist didn’t know is that the Houthis are reluctant to assume governmental responsibility, something for which they lack the most elemental preparation. Like almost all Yemenis, Houthis know how to use their guns. But they have no political program or administrative experience to offer. In fact, no one can really control Yemen, or ever has. In Yemen, the question is one of the management of chaos rather than governance in the classical sense of the term. More importantly, Kayhan’s editorialist did not know that Yemenis with guns could always be hired but are never bought. Iran is not alone in ignoring that fact. The United States, too, has been spending vast sums trying to buy various Yemeni factions, chasing the will-o’-the-wisp of an ever-elusive alliance. Though among the 10 poorest nations in the world, Yemenis still walk in the middle of the street as proud as Gary Cooper in High Noon.
Yemenis certainly don’t want, or need, either a Hezbollah or an Iranian-syle Supreme Leader, as Khamenei seems to believe. But nor do they want liberal democracy as some in Washington claim. This may shock some people, but Yemen, even under Imam Ahmad, presented as a medieval monster by many in the Western media, seemed to be happy. The reason was that the so-called Imam lacked the coercive instruments to frighten them, and did not have the resources to bribe them. He just left them alone.
The civil war of the 1960s was the result of outside intervention, notably by Gamal Abdel Nasser pursuing his dream of an Arab Empire. Khamenei’s dream of a Khomeinist empire is equally doomed.
Today, Yemen is on the edge of humanitarian tragedy. It is effectively divided into at least four segments: the north where Houthis form the biggest armed group; Aden and part of the south, where the secessionists of the Al-Hirak movement have most of the guns; the Hadhramaut, where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda are on the rampage; and finally, a few isolated pockets where tribal chiefs still exercise some authority. The nation is dependent on foreign aid for 90 percent of its food and almost all of its medical needs. Almost all of foreign aid has now been diverted to emergency operations and, yet, the prospect of mass famine looms larger. What is needed are urgent efforts to create breathing room to prevent the tragedy of total systemic collapse. The United Nations should take the lead by calling on all concerned to at least stop pouring more oil on the fire.
Yemen can’t be anybody’s poodle but, if turned into a hungry wolf, it could bite many.
**Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.