LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
For Today/God’s Righteous Judgment
Romans 02/01-16/"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 18, 19/14
Kurdish leader's cry for help in town besieged by Islamic State/By YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post/ October 19/14
Falling Oil Prices and Saudi Decisionmaking/By: Simon Henderson /Washington Institute/October 19/14
How to Confront Islamic Extremism/By: Nazar Janabi/Fikra Forum/October 19/14
Saddam-Era Chemical Weapons Now Under ISIS Control: Reports/By Avaneesh Pandey/October 19 2014
ISIS’s foreign legionnaires: Cutthroats and delusional idealists /By: Hisham Melhem /Al Arabiya/October 19/14
Lebanese Related News
October 18, 19/14
Lebanon's Arabic Press Digest - Oct. 18, 2014
Mashnouq: Truth in al-Hassan's Case Imminent, We Refuse to be 'Sahwa Leaders'
Refugees evacuated after heavy rains flood north Lebanon
Lebanon no longer receiving refugees: Derbas
Jumblatt, Geagea call for consensus president
Lebanese Army arrests 15 Syrians, seizes ISIS flags De Mistura holds talks with Iran envoy in Beirut
Lebanese Authorities investigating counterfeit meds
US blacklists Lebanese firm over Syria banknotes Machnouk to attackers: Your beards won’t save you
Hezbollah fights to adapt to war with jihadis
Prostitution: Abolish or regulate?
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran/ Alienating neighbors Man Robbed after Brief Kidnap in Baalbek as Family of 2 Abductees Blocks Road
Army Arrests Syrian who Killed Soldier in Arsal's August Attack
Moqbel Begins Three-Day Visit to Tehran
Officials: Lebanon Sharply Limits Syrian Refugee Entry
Report: Next Week's General Session to Set Date to Extend Parliament's Term
Report: Detainee Confesses to Killing Officer during Arsal Clashes
Report: Hariri Vows to al-Rahi to Hold Presidential Elections after Parliament's Extension
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 18, 19/14
UN Security Council calls for beefed-up campaign against Islamic State
ISIS black market oil operation booming: officials
Turkey calls for long ‘humanitarian’ safe zone in Syria
Kurds thwart new jihadist bid to cut off Kobani
Israeli Air Force Ups Alert Over ISIS Crews Flying Captured Syrian MiGs (VIDEO)
Abbas suggest banning Jews from Temple Mount
Germany to seize ID cards to stop jihadist travel
Dutch arrest police terror plot suspect
Houthis advance in Yemen despite power-sharing deal
Houthis capture key Yemen-Saudi border post
ISIS black market oil operation booming: officials
Families of slain UK aid workers call for unity
WHO faulted for Ebola failures in West Africa
World Bank chief says ‘we are losing the battle’ against Ebola
Nigeria claims deal with Boko Haram to free kidnapped girls
Lebanon's Arabic Press Digest - Oct. 18, 2014
Oct. 18, 2014
The Daily Star
The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Confrontation with the soldiers' killers to escalate, March 14 to name consensus candidate after extension
A figure who was present during the meeting between Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and MP Walid Jumblatt told An-Nahar that discussions were frank but nothing had changed after the meeting in terms of the presidential crisis. Geagea is still a presidential candidate, and Henry Helou remains Jumblatt's candidate.
The two agreed that there was no need to look for a solution to the crisis so long as MP Michel Aoun remained the March 8 coalition's presidential candidate and refused to pave the way for a settlement.
An-Nahar obtained information that March 14 coalition was preparing to announce the name of a consensus candidate following the extension of Parliament's mandate.
Sleeper cells in the north and the killer of officer Jamal is in custody
A gunman in the Army’s custody made dangerous confessions in the case of the attack on the military on Aug. 2. The man confessed to belonging to ISIS and that he took part in the clashes. A security source said that Ibrahim Bohlok also confessed to leading a 65-strong group of gunmen and attacking an Army center in Arsal and that he personally killed Army officer Noureddine al-Jamal, who was among the soldiers stationed at the center.
Egypt head mediation to resolve presidential crisis
The mediation has not yet kicked off but information indicates that Washington hinted that Egypt has turned on its engine. March 14 coalition sources said that the Egyptian government would interfere in the presidential crisis and attempt to mediate between conflicting parties in Lebanon. The sources said there was "an Egyptian decision to communicate with all Lebanese factions to reach an agreement, similar to the case of Dar al-Fatwa.”
The sources said talk of an Egyptian mediation was mentioned on the sidelines of the anti-ISIS international coalition meeting in Washington attended by Gen. Jean Kahwagi.
The sources questioned the validity of such information and Egypt's preference to have a military personnel reach the presidency
Mashnouq: Truth in al-Hassan's Case Imminent, We Refuse to
be 'Sahwa Leaders'
Naharnet ظInterior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Saturday announced that authorities are about to unveil the “truth” in the case of the 2012 assassination of General Wissam al-Hassan, the then commander of the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau.
“We are on the verge of unveiling the truth behind the assassination of Maj. Gen. al-Hassan and it will be announced at the appropriate time and I'm responsible for my words,” Mashnouq said at a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of al-Hassan's assassination. The general was killed in a massive car bombing in Ashrafieh on October 19, 2012. Seven other people including his driver also died and nearly eighty people were wounded in the huge blast.
“He is the martyr of the state -- the state that he competently worked to consolidate its institutions,” Mashnouq said at the ceremony.
“We want to protect Lebanon and the Lebanese from the (regional) earthquakes and blazes in order to protect the martyrdom of Wissam al-Hassan and all the martyrs,” the minister stressed.
Turning to the domestic political scene, Mashnouq stressed that the leaders of his political movement will not accept that they be turned into "Sahwa leaders."He was referring to the Sahwa network of Sunni tribal fighters created by the U.S. in 2005-2006 to combat al-Qaida in Iraq. Sunni tribes are now also contributing to the fight against the ruthless Islamic State jihadist group which has seized vast swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.
“We won't accept that we be turned into Sahwa leaders specialized in imposing security on a part of the Lebanese as the other part enjoys 'partisan immunity',” Mashnouq said, in an apparent reference to Hizbullah.
“There can't be security without consensus and there can't be stability without justice,” he stressed.
Commenting on the affairs of the unity cabinet, Mashnouq added: “I'm at the vanguard of those who seek to avoid stirring thorny debates in the cabinet but the controversial files are accumulating and we're trying to avert their 'explosion' inside the council of ministers.”
He also warned that some parties are “trying to blow up these issues outside the cabinet.”“We have devised a complete security plan that provides the conditions for security in Lebanon and the security forces will be partners with the army in combating terrorism,” the minister added.In August, Syria-based jihadist groups overran the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, sparking clashes with the military that left dozens dead. The retreating jihadists took with them some 30 Lebanese police and troops as hostages, and have since executed three. Hizbullah for its part has recently repelled a deadly militant assault on its posts along the Syrian-Lebanese border and clashes are still raging in the Syrian border region of Qalamun.
Jumblatt, Geagea call for consensus president
Oct. 18, 2014 /Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea agreed during their meeting Friday on the need to elect a consensus president to help Lebanon cope with security threats linked to the war in Syria, officials from both parties said. Jumblatt, accompanied by MP Ghazi Aridi and the party’s presidential candidate MP Henry Helou, visited Geagea at his residence in Maarab, north of Beirut, as part of the PSP chief’s consultations with rival Maronite leaders on how to shield Lebanon from the repercussions of the nearly 4-year-old civil war in Syria. “Jumblatt and Geagea underscored the importance of holding the presidential election because Lebanon is facing security threats jeopardizing its stability as a result of the fallout of the Syrian conflict,” LF MP Antoine Zahra, who attended the meeting, told The Daily Star. “The two leaders called for consensus on a candidate in order to break the presidential deadlock.” Although the PSP has maintained contacts with the LF, Friday’s was the first meeting between Jumblatt and Geagea since the PSP chief withdrew from the March 14 coalition in August 2009, an LF source told The Daily Star. Jumblatt’s talks with Geagea centered on the political deadlock that has left Lebanon without a president for nearly five months after Parliament failed over a lack of quorum earlier this month for the 13th time to choose a successor to former President Michel Sleiman. The two leaders also discussed security threats facing the country after ISIS and Nusra Front militants briefly overran the northeastern town of Arsal in early August and battled the Lebanese Army for five days, in the worst spillover of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon.
Aridi, who participated in the meeting that was also attended by Geagea’s wife, MP Strida Geagea, stressed the need for dialogue among rival factions in order to solve the country’s problems, particularly the presidential crisis. “Let’s reach agreement with each other in order to protect the country. Dialogue among the feuding parties is essential to rescue the country,” Aridi told The Daily Star. “We need to reach understanding on all matters, including the presidential election.” He said Jumblatt’s visit to Geagea was complementary to consultations he had held with other Maronite leaders, as well as with Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. PSP sources said Jumblatt’s meetings with rival leaders were aimed at defusing sectarian tensions, preserving stability in Lebanon and breaking the presidential impasse.Speaking to reporters after the three-hour meeting, which included a lunch hosted by Geagea, Jumblatt said: “It was a frank and positive dialogue with the head of the Lebanese Forces, during which our views overlapped on certain points and differed on others. But in the end we have no choice except dialogue.”Asked if his visit to Maarab would facilitate the election of a president, Jumblatt said: “Henry Helou is still our candidate.”Geagea said the talks also focused on security developments and the challenges posed by the repercussions of the Syrian conflict. “We had a comprehensive discussion of the big national concerns which are at stake, and at the core of the talks was our views for re-arranging our internal affairs, which should start with the election of a new president,” Geagea said. He said no progress has been made in attempts to elect a president and blamed the “other side,” a reference to Aoun’s and Hezbollah’s bloc, for the deadlock because of their persistent boycott of election sessions to thwart a quorum.
In a bid to break the stalemate, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has called on the rival factions to reach consensus on a new president.
Refugees evacuated after heavy rains flood north Lebanon
The Daily Star/Oct. 18, 2014/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Hundreds of Syrian refugees had to be evacuated Saturday morning from informal settlements in north Lebanon due to heavy floods, which also destroyed a bridge in the northern region. On its Twitter account, the Lebanese Red Cross said it evacuated 90 Syrians living in an informal refugee camp in the northern town of Halba after floods destroyed their tents. The National News Agency reported that Civil Defense teams had also relocated some 200 Syrian refugee families in Akkar to safer areas and helped them settle in warehouses and tents nearby. The stormy weather flooded dozens of roads in north Lebanon, particularly in remote villages such as Fnaydeq, Meshmesh and Qornah, isolating the towns from the main highway. A rapidly rising river in the northern region of Akkar flooded a few houses in Burj al-Arab as well as vehicles parked outside the homes. Civil Defense personnel and municipality workers in Burj al-Arab helped evacuate some of the residents whose homes were flooded and began cleaning the roads. Burj al-Arab Mayor Aref Shakhaydem criticized the Public Works Ministry for neglecting the northern region, especially after the municipality had contacted the ministry about cleaning the river that runs through the town. The seasonal rains also caused the collapse of a bridge connecting Sfeira and Kfardebian in north Lebanon and several residents fled the region as a result. The Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute cautioned farmers and citizens that the coming days would witness extreme weather conditions and possible flooding in several regions.It advised farmers to spray organic fertilizers and trim trees, especially olive trees, before the storm returns Saturday evening. In its statement, the institute said that 125 millimeters of rain had fallen in the north in last 24 hours.
Lebanon no longer receiving refugees: Derbas
Oct. 18, 2014 /The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon has stopped allowing the entry of Syrian refugees into the country except for humanitarian reasons to be decided by the Interior and Social Affairs ministries, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said in remarks published Saturday. “Lebanon is no longer officially receiving any Syrian refugees,” Derbas told Al-Akhbar daily. “These are measures that were agreed to in the ministerial committee and have received the preliminary agreement of the Lebanese government, and we have stopped the influx.”“Anyone who passes the Syrian-Lebanese border will be questioned and should have a humanitarian reason for their entry. This will be decided by the Interior and Social Affairs ministries.” The ministerial committee tasked with following up on the Syrian refugee crisis has made several recommendations to stop the influx of refugees, measures that the government has adopted. Among them is stripping Syrians from a refugee status if they return home and calling on donor countries to help Lebanon financially cope with the overwhelming number of refugees and to relocate some of the 1.3 million residing in the country. “We have also informed the refugee agency that we can no longer receive any more and the government has also asked the refugee agency to remove the name of any Syrian who returns to Syria and comes back,” Derbas said, referring to measures taken by the government. He also said that the government was conducting an evaluation of the refugees in Lebanon every six months, to update the numbers and determine whether the refugees met the conditions laid out by officials.
Man Robbed after Brief Kidnap in Baalbek as Family of 2
Abductees Blocks Road
Naharnet ظLebanese citizen Joseph George Ghanem, 50, was briefly abducted on Saturday in the Bekaa city of Baalbek, state-run National News Agency reported. Ghanem, the representative of the Bush Hardware Company in the Bekaa, was freed around an hour from his abduction after the armed kidnappers robbed him of $4,000, a credit card and his personal cellphone, NNA said. He was nabbed during his work outside the Jabaq stores in Baalbek, according to the agency. Meanwhile, relatives of Khaled and Mustafa al-Hujeiri, who were abducted overnight in Bekaa's Taalbaya, blocked the Taalbaya-Saadnayel highway in protest at their kidnap. The road was reopened later on Saturday. A relative of the two men told LBCI TV that the kidnappers arrived at their house in Taalbaya in three black SUVs and claimed to be State Security agents. “The family stressed that the abduction came in response to the death of a soldier from the Hamiyeh family at the hands of al-Nusra Front,” LBCI said, referring to Lebanese army soldier Mohammed Hamiyeh, who was executed by the Qaida-linked group. Hamiyeh was one of three captive troops murdered by Nusra and the Islamic State group after their abduction along with dozens of security personnel during the deadly August clashes in the Bekaa border town of Arsal. Khaled al-Hujeiri's sister told LBCI that the family was contacted in the wake of Hamiyeh's execution by individuals who advised them to hide her brother “because members of the Hamiyeh family want to kidnap him.”She said they received another phone call around two weeks later.
“We are not an easy prey and we can break the hand of those who attack us. I'm addressing these remarks to the Hamiyeh family and we know how to take our right with our own hands,” a brother of Khaled, who appeared in LBCI's report, threatened.
U.S. blacklists Lebanese firm, DK Group for shipping banknotes to Syria
The Daily Star/Oct. 18, 2014/BEIRUT: The United States blacklisted Lebanese company DK Group for arranging to ship Syrian pound banknotes from Russia to the Syrian central bank, an allegation strongly denied by the company’s general manager.
The United States Treasury said Thursday that Lebanon-based DK Group Sari and its general manager Jad Dagher were designated for materially assisting, sponsoring or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of the Syrian regime. “As of March 2014, Goznak arranged to ship Syrian pound banknotes from Russia to the central bank of Syria. Dagher, the general manager of Goznak’s official regional representative, DK Group, worked to facilitate the transportation of the banknotes from Russia to Syria via third-country cargo flights,” the U.S. Treasury said. Goznak is a unitary enterprise in Russia, responsible for the production of coins and banknotes. The agency administers the whole process cycle of banknote manufacturing. [It incorporates several factories involved in different stages of the production cycle. The Russian company is one the main suppliers of Syrian banknotes to the Syrian central bank, which is also blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.
However, Dagher refuted the claims by U.S. authorities and stressed that his company had no part in the deal. “I am surprised by the U.S. accusations. We are part of a large company based in Russia and all that we do is make presentations and promotions for the Russian firm, which prints banknotes for many countries. We are going to contact the U.S. Treasury soon and explain our position,” he told The Daily Star. Dagher stressed that his company did not ship any banknotes to Syria through a third party or any other party, noting that the Russian company which he represents in Lebanon deals openly with the Syrian government and is not even on the U.S. blacklist. “There are many Lebanese companies and banks that operate in Syria. I don’t understand why they have to pick on us,” Dagher said. Asked if Lebanese banks would stop dealing with his company after his firm was blacklisted, the general manager said it was too early to assess this matter. “I know that some Lebanese banks will probably refrain from dealing with any Lebanese company blacklisted by the U.S. But I am not sure if all the banks will do the same,” Dagher said.
Among the other blacklisted companies were Cyprus-based Piruseti Enterprises Ltd., Frumineti Investments Ltd. and their directors, Issa al-Zeydi and Ioannis Ioannou. Ioannou is suspected of helping Damascus skirt sanctions. Piruseti and Frumineti are accused of serving as front companies for the Syrian government and its financial supporters. Four banks were also listed as being owned or controlled by the Syrian government and sanctioned. And Khodr Orfali and Kamal Eddin Tu’ma were designated for being senior Syrian government officials, serving as economy and foreign trade minister and industry minister respectively. The move freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and bars all financial and commercial transactions by any American or U.S.-based persons with them.
Washington and the West have applied severe financial and economic sanctions on the Syrian regime and blacklisted any firm which deals directly or indirectly with the Syrian central bank and Syrian government institutions. Lebanese banks also refrain from conducting any financial transaction with the Syrian regime and with all the Syrian political and military officials who are blacklisted by the U.S.
Kurds thwart new jihadist bid to cut off Syria town
Oct. 18, 2014/Fulya Ozerkan| Agence France Presse
MURSITPINAR, Turkey: Kurdish forces in the Syrian town of Kobani repulsed a new attempt by ISIS fighters to cut off the border with Turkey Saturday as troops battled the jihadists in neighboring Iraq. A Kurdish official reported five new U.S.-led strikes around Kobani overnight as the coalition kept up its air support for the town's defenders. But the U.S. military said that while it saw some "encouraging" signs, the strikes might not prevent Kobani's fall and its priority remained the campaign against ISIS in Iraq. Heavy ISIS mortar fire hit the Syrian side of the border crossing with Turkey that is the Kurdish fighters' sole avenue for resupply and the only escape route for remaining civilians, Kurdish official Idris Nassen told AFP. The jihadists launched a fierce attack from the east toward the border gate before being pushed back, he added. Nassen said that ISIS had taken casualties in the fighting, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the jihadists had sent in reinforcements. U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura earlier this month warned that about 12,000 civilians remain in and around Kobane and risk "massacre" if the jihadists cut off the border. Kobane district chief Anwar Muslim said Friday that ISIS sniper and mortar fire was preventing authorities from evacuating civilians caught up in the battle. "Their situation is difficult," he added. An AFP correspondent on the Turkish side reported sporadic exchanges of fire in eastern Kobani later in the morning but said the crossing area was calm.The U.S. commander overseeing the air war hailed "encouraging" signs in the defense of Kobani, but said the town could still fall and that Iraq remained the coalition's priority. "Iraq is our main effort and it has to be, and the things that we're doing right now in Syria are being done primarily to shape the conditions in Iraq," Gen. Lloyd Austin said. Iraqi government troops are battling ISIS on two fronts - in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, and near Tikrit, hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein. Ramadi is in a shrinking patch of territory in the predominantly Sunni Arab province where forces loyal to the Shiite-led government still hold ground, and its loss would be a major blow for Baghdad. Iraqi troops have been struggling to retake and hold ground, despite coalition air support. Security in the capital also remains a problem with bombings killing nearly 50 people in the past two days alone. But the Pentagon insisted Baghdad faced no "imminent threat" from the jihadists. "There are not masses of formations of (ISIS) forces outside of Baghdad about to come in," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran/ Alienating
The Daily Star/Oct. 18, 2014
There was something familiar in the ebb and flow of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the summer, when a steady rise in optimism about the future was followed by a noticeable cooling-off. That’s because it resembled past experiences, when officials from both countries would issue statement after statement about the value of defusing tension between Muslim countries, and then gradually descend into exchanging of angry accusations. This year’s demolition of optimism resulted, as in past instances, from developments on the ground, and specifically in Yemen, although several other factors might have come into play. Iranian officials talked up the “victory” by Houthi rebels, and a member of Iran’s parliament even bragged that Sanaa would become the fourth Arab capital to fall to Tehran.
The Houthi rebels exploited the corruption and weakness of the central authorities to advance their cause. But unlike other groups, they have an obvious foreign patron, whose interests don’t coincide with those of the Yemeni people. Iran has armed and trained the Houthis, who have borrowed the same old Iranian slogans – death to America, for example – and signaled how close they are to their backers. The Houthis control seaports in Yemen and are moving closer to taking control of the Bab al-Mandab strait, which would give them a stranglehold over the Red Sea. Whether Iran’s pressuring of Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries is directly or indirectly connected to progress in the negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program, the end result is that fewer and fewer people believe Iranian officials, even when they sincerely call for better relations with their neighbors.
Analysis: Kurdish leader's cry for help in town besieged by
Behind the lines: The defense of Kobani
By YOSSI MELMAN \ 10/18/2014/J.Post
“If we receive help, we can push them back,” Anwar Musalem, a Kurdish leader from the besieged Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, told us by telephone this week. An attorney by trade, Musalem is one of the leaders of the Kurdish Defense Council. He is also one of the few local council members who have remained in Kobani in order to fend off Islamic State invaders. In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Ma’ariv Hashavua, he told this reporter and Yasser Okbi that “the problem is that Islamic State has heavy weaponry.” “In recent days, we saw T-57 tanks and Hummers on the outskirts of the town,” he said. “We are being shelled with heavy artillery.”Musalem said that thus far Islamic State fighters are occupying 40 percent of the town, particularly the suburbs, though they have been unsuccessful in gaining control of the city center. “In the last week, they’ve sent truck bombs into the city center,” he said. “We are up against a superior fighting force that numbers over 10,000 men. Islamic State has also enlisted criminals from nearby regions, promising to give them the best houses in the city center if they join in the fighting. But we have managed to repel them. Hundreds of bodies [of Islamic State fighters] are scattered in the city center.”Musalem declined to give a number as to how many Kurdish fighters are taking part in the defense of Kobani. “You have to understand,” he said. “We have no interest in divulging military information to the terrorists.”
Kurdish women are also taking up arms and enlisting in the cause. The commander of the all-female units told Asharq al-Awsat this week that 500 women were fighting “at the head of the pack.” Even if the number is a bit exaggerated, that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a strong, impressive female contingent that is fighting for the Kurdish town’s survival. There are even rumors to the effect that Islamic State fighters are fearful of being killed by women since it would deny them the promised award of reaching paradise, where the services of 72 virgins await. “If we receive military aid, with an emphasis on anti-tank weapons, ammunition and humanitarian aid food, and medicine, the town won’t fall, and ultimately we will prevail,” Musalem said.
“Even though there is a slight change in the Turkish position because of American pressure, we still need to see if this will be translated into serious action,” he said. “It’s hard for us to put stock in Turkish promises.” Musalem was referring to various media reports – which have been denied – that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is showing more flexibility by agreeing to allow the United States and its NATO allies to use a Turkish military base for its aerial bombardments of Islamic State targets. Erdogan has thus far refused to join the campaign against Islamic State, although Turkey is a member of NATO.
According to Musalem, the town of Kobani, which lies just one kilometer from the Turkish border, numbers 15,000 Kurds, 700 of whom are elderly who either refuse to flee or are physically incapable of crossing the border. On the Turkish side of the border, there are hundreds of Kurds willing to aid their brethren, but the authorities have refused to allow them to cross over. This is Turkish hypocrisy at its worst. Throughout the course of the civil war, Turkish authorities, including the military and other security services, knowingly permitted thousands of volunteers from around the world – including 30 Israeli Arabs – to traverse its territory and join rebel and insurgent forces in Syria and Iraq. These volunteers were primarily interested in joining Islamic State. Kobani is of great strategic importance. It lies at crossroads. Taking the town would permit the barbarians of Islamic State to use another access point along the Turkish border. It would also extend its control of Syria while giving it a considerable push in its campaign to reach the coast of the Mediterranean. When asked if the Kurds expect aid from Israel, Musalem didn’t answer in a direct manner. “We don’t have direct cooperation with Israel,” he said. “I don’t think Israel is involved in the war. But I also believe that every country in the world, every UN member state, is aware of and shares the concern regarding the dangers of terrorism. So it’s clear that it is in Israel’s interest, as well as the interest of every country, to assist us.”
Musalem would not even entertain the thought of what would happen if his Kurdish comrades fail to beat back the Islamic State onslaught. “This will not happen,” he said. A source in the Kurdish leadership told us through an intermediary that “we are also armed with knives in the event that we run out of fighters and we do not receive ammunition.” “It’s obvious to us that we cannot leave our city,” the source said. “Islamic State will murder us, just like it has done in every other place it has overrun. We have no illusions. There are those among us who will prefer to commit suicide rather than fall captive in the hands of murderous terrorists.” The Kurdish fighters of Kobani may end up turning into the modern-day version of the Jewish defenders of Masada who killed themselves rather than submit to the Romans.
UN Security Council calls for beefed-up campaign against Islamic State
By REUTERS/10/18/2014 /J.Post/UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council on Friday pushed for a bombing campaign in Iraq against Islamic State militants and associated extremist groups to be strengthened and expanded. A US-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. US President Barack Obama told military leaders from more than 20 countries working with the coalition that he was deeply concerned about the Islamic State's advances at the Syrian town of Kobani and in western Iraq. "The members of the Security Council urged the international community, in accordance with international law, to further strengthen and expand support for the government of Iraq, including Iraqi Security Forces, in the fight against (Islamic State) and associated armed groups," it said in a statement. Iraqi pilots who have joined Islamic State in Syria are training members of the group to fly in three captured fighter jets, a monitoring group said on Friday, saying it was the first time the militant group had taken to the air. The 15-member Security Council "stressed that [the group] must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out."The United States has been trying to persuade Turkey to take an active role in the campaign against Islamic State. Ankara this week agreed to help equip and train some Syrian armed groups fighting the militants, as well as the Syrian government. US and Turkish officials say talks are under way on allowing the use of Turkish facilities for countries engaged in the campaign against Islamic State.
Israeli Air Force Ups Alert Over ISIS Crews Flying Captured
Syrian MiGs (VIDEO)
October 17, 2014
Author: Dave Bender/.algemeiner
The Israeli Air Force has raised its alert level in the north over reports that Iraqi defector pilots are training ISIS air crews to fly missions using captured Syrian MiGs warplanes, Israel’s 0404 News said Friday. Israel is concerned that the militants might opt to use the aircraft to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, despite the Jewish State’s substantial air defence capabilities. After heavy fighting in late August, ISIS militants overran the al-Tabqa air base on August 24th, and captured three Syrian MiG-21 or MiG-23 models, as well as missiles and related gear, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the International Business Times reported. “They have trainers, Iraqi officers who were pilots before for [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein,” according to witnesses, who said they saw the jets in Aleppo, in northern Syria. It is unclear how many Iraqi pilots – or fliers from other Arab countries, for that matter – have joined ISIS forces. “People saw the flights, they went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back,” SOHR head Rami Abdul Rahman said, according to the report. The reports compound Israeli concerns over evidence that ISIS militants have taken control of some Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles, including sarin, VX, and mustard gas agents. On September 23, an Israeli Patriot missile shot down a Syrian Mig 23 bomber that strayed into Israeli airspace over the eastern Golan Heights. “This jet could have reached the center of the country within a short time,” according to IDF officials. “In under a minute, it would have been over Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), and within five minutes, it could have gotten to any place,” an air force officer said. ”This decision is in line with our policy of intercepting all intrusions into our air space,” he said. The two crew members, who were believed to have survived the hit, were filmed by a Syrian ejecting from the craft, and landing within Syrian territory.In 1989 a Syrian pilot flying a Mig 23 defected to Israel (see photo). An Arab pilot flew a Mig 21 to Israel in 1966, in a similar defection.
Prices and Saudi Decisionmaking
Simon Henderson /Washington Institute
October 17, 2014
As prices drop to around $80 per barrel, more attention is being focused on the mindset of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.
The 20 percent decline in oil prices over the past three months has been attributed to a wide range of factors, including declining growth in China, poor growth in Europe, and the increase in U.S. production of "light tight" oil, often known as shale oil. As always, though, Saudi Arabia's policies are a key factor shaping prices. Apart from its huge oil wealth -- nearly a quarter of proven global reserves -- the kingdom is also the leader of OPEC, the cartel of mainly Middle Eastern oil producers who leverage their collective market influence to achieve the best price. Riyadh's reaction to the latest price shifts will therefore have numerous implications at home and abroad.
In addition to producing more than 10 percent of the world's oil and having very low production costs, Saudi Arabia is OPEC's "swing producer." The latest figures show it producing more than 10 million barrels per day, but it could pump around 12.5 million. At times of high demand, this excess capacity enables it to increase volume, thereby smoothing price increases. And during periods of declining demand, as now, its low costs and large financial reserves mean that it can weather lower export revenues -- it has the option of either sustaining production to preserve its market share (exporting more oil, but at a lower price) or cutting production to maintain prices (exporting less oil, but at a higher price).
Neither mechanism works perfectly. For now, the kingdom has evidently decided to maintain its production volumes and tolerate the fall in price. In effect, it is contributing to price weaknesses by discounting its own prices for contracted sales to clients in Asia, believed to be companies with refineries in China, Japan, and South Korea. The widely accepted economic explanation for this tactic is that by pushing down the price, the Saudis can drive out some global competitors who use higher-cost production methods, such as Canadian tar sand companies and U.S. shale oil firms. Maintaining markets is also important to Riyadh -- especially in the competitive Asian region, which could quickly shift to non-Saudi sources such as Iraq if the kingdom cut back output in a bid to keep prices up. And despite high shipping costs, Riyadh wants to remain a top exporter to the United States as well because of the relationship's perceived geopolitical importance.
The notion that Saudi Arabia carefully calculates its political advantage when influencing oil prices had its heyday four decades ago, when Arab countries declared an oil embargo on the United States because of Washington's support for Israel during the 1973 October War. Yet that has rarely been Riyadh's practice, and the current perception is that Saudi behavior is reactive rather than controlling.
ROYAL FAMILY TENSIONS
One reason for this belief is the kingdom's geriatric leadership situation. King Abdullah, who turned ninety-one this year, is suffering from years of heavy smoking, is reliant on bottled oxygen, and can no longer walk without assistance. His notional successor and half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, is seventy-eight and has his own ailments. He recently spent a month abroad on what was officially dubbed a "special vacation," interpreted to mean medical treatment.
In theory, Saudi oil decisions are taken by a Supreme Petroleum Council made up of the king, senior princes, and relevant cabinet ministers, but there has been no recent public announcement of any council meeting. Instead, these decisions seem to have been left in the hands of long-serving oil minister Ali al-Naimi. Although he is in his late seventies and said to be looking forward to retirement, Naimi retains a firm grip and, until recently, calmed markets with the gnomic utterances for which he has become famous.
But Naimi's magic is apparently no longer working and, worse still, has prompted a rare public display of division in the royal family. On October 13, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a prominent business tycoon and nephew to the king, published an open letter expressing his consternation with the minister's apparent equanimity about the price decline. Alwaleed, who has no official position in the kingdom, cited several newspaper reports as evidence, including a September 11 story in the English-language Saudi Gazette headlined "No Cause for Alarm." Although the headline was not an actual quote from Naimi and appeared at a time when prices had only fallen to around $95 per barrel, the article quoted the minister as stating, "Prices of oil always go up and down so I really don't know why the big fuss about it this time." Many in Riyadh will likely dismiss Alwaleed's audacity because his father -- Prince Talal, a half-brother to the king -- has an established reputation for eccentricity. Yet his gambit almost certainly grabbed the monarch's attention. In addition to criticizing Naimi, Alwaleed's letter implicitly asked the king to fire the minister, even citing the Prophet Muhammad for good measure: "Truly a leader is not to deceive his people."
If oil prices remain weak as expected, Riyadh may feel compelled to find a scapegoat, and the aging Naimi could indeed become a political casualty. Traditionally, Saudi oil ministers have been nonroyal technocrats like Naimi. His professional alma mater, the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, could provide several well-qualified replacement candidates, though King Abdullah may prefer someone from the Finance Ministry or Central Bank. Another possibility is Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the assistant oil minister and son of the crown prince. Although he is said to be ambitious for the top job, the king may hesitate to appoint him due to the wider politics of royal succession. Abdullah apparently prefers that another half-brother, Prince Muqrin, succeed him as king -- earlier this year, he gave Muqrin the title of deputy crown prince. He may therefore be reluctant to bolster the power base of Crown Prince Salman, whom he is trying to sideline.
CHALLENGES FOR THE KINGDOM
Although the current price decline will demonstrate anew Saudi Arabia's market influence, the situation will not be without some pain at home if it persists long term. The kingdom is believed to need a minimum of around $80 per barrel to meet its budgetary spending requirements without running a deficit. Its huge cash reserves provide a major -- though not limitless -- cushion against such deficits. For example, if oil income fell in half from its high 2013 levels, Riyadh would still have sufficient money to maintain its generous subsidies, salaries, and handouts for years. This largesse is perceived as essential to the kingdom's implied social contract: namely, that its people tolerate their lack of democratic freedoms because of the House of Saud's paternalistic generosity. But a significant price fall would be seen as a policy failure, invigorating opposition -- perhaps including those radical Saudi youths (and potential jihadist recruits) who despise the House of Saud.
In the short term, Riyadh wants to maintain its leadership of the Islamic and Arab worlds and, more immediately, its control of OPEC. The cartel's scheduled November 27 meeting in Vienna is already shaping up as a grudge match. Saudi Arabia is opposing any cuts in the current oil production ceiling, a stance supported by Gulf Arab allies Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Yet Venezuela, Iran, and other members whose budgets require high oil prices will probably urge cuts. Riyadh likely believes that it would have to shoulder the bulk of any such cuts, so it will resist them. The kingdom also has no desire to ease economic pain on Iran.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES
The falling oil prices have raised concerns in the United States about the commercial viability of shale oil production, some of which ceases to cover its costs at around $75-80 per barrel. While this may indeed be a valid concern if prices continue to fall, improvements in fracking techniques are boosting margins. In the meantime, price drops should improve the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Russia, while the broader decline in energy prices will eventually boost the American and global economy. But the speed at which oil prices are weakening poses a challenge to decisionmakers across the world, and how the Saudi leadership behaves will be crucial to a smooth outcome.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.
Chemical Weapons Now Under ISIS Control: Reports
By Avaneesh Pandey/October 15 2014
International Business Times
Correction: In the original story, the name of the city where the chemical weapons facility is located was incorrectly mentioned as Muthanna in the third paragraph. While the name of the weapons complex is Muthanna, it is located near the city of Samarra, northwest of Baghdad. The story has been updated to reflect this correction.
According to a recent report published in the journal Middle East Review of International Affairs, or MERIA, militants of the Islamic State group used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, against Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani during their first attempt to capture the town in July.
The report, which is based on testimonies from eyewitnesses on the ground, said that the chemical weapons had been transferred to the Syrian province of Raqqa from a Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons facility located near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The report has prompted fears that ISIS could have access to vast stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin, mustard gas, and VX, a nerve agent.
In June, reports emerged that the Islamic State group had captured Muthanna, a chemical weapons facility, near the city of Samarra, located 45 miles northwest of Baghdad. At the time, the United States government said it did not believe that the complex, which was considered to be one of Saddam Hussein’s most important chemical weapons facility, built during Iraq’s war with Iran in the early 1980s, contained “Chemical Weapons materials of military value.”
However, according to a report published by The New York Times on Tuesday, the U.S. military not only recovered massive stockpiles of chemical weapons in Iraq, including in the Muthanna complex now controlled by ISIS, it actively attempted to keep the discovery of the munitions a secret. The report, which is based on interviews with several former U.S. army personnel, alleged that between 2004 and 2010, soldiers found thousands of rusty and corroded chemical munitions.
The Times report noted that all of the chemical munitions discovered in Iraq were made before the 1991 Gulf war, and had been “designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.”
The U.S. campaign in Iraq in 2003 was launched on the assumption that Saddam Hussein was hiding and actively enriching a massive stockpile of chemical weapons. However, the Times report alleged, because no such “active weapons of mass destruction program” were reportedly discovered in Iraq, the U.S. government suppressed knowledge of the discovery to avoid further embarrassment.
According to the Times report, though U.N. inspectors reported finding no evidence of weapons of mass destruction as claimed by the U.S. administration at the time, American troops during their occupation of Iraq found stockpiles of chemical weapons, which were identified as having been manufactured before 1991. The aged and rusty shells and rockets, though unfit to be used as originally intended, reportedly still contained deadly chemical agents.
The rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq has rekindled concerns that the militants could now be in control of a huge chunk of the nearly 5,000 chemical warheads discovered in Iraq, and that they could use these weapons, banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, in their onslaught in Syria and Iraq.
“The probable possession by the Islamic State of a chemical weapons capability is for obvious reasons a matter of the gravest concern, and should be the urgent subject of further attention and investigation,” the MERIA report said, adding that evidence strongly suggested that at least a part of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons arsenal is now being used in combat by the Islamic State group.
How to Confront Islamic Extremism
Nazar Janabi/Fikra Forum
October 19, 2014
Although President Obama has outlined a strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), it is missing a critical component: a counter-narrative to tackle Islamic extremism. If the United States and its allies do not challenge ISIS’s ideology, as well as its grassroots recruitment capabilities, then they will be unsuccessful in confronting this threat for the foreseeable future.
As brutal as it may be, ISIS is only the latest iteration of a string of Islamic extremist groups that have risen to prominence in recent years. It is simply another group that commits grave atrocities in the name of Islam. Multiple social, political, and economic factors have undoubtedly contributed to ISIS’s rise. But at its most basic level, the United States and the broader anti-ISIS coalition need to develop a viable and comprehensive counter-narrative to the group’s perverse ideology, which helps it recruit and indoctrinate fighters and supporters. To garner support in the Middle East, ISIS’s leaders and recruiters deliver speeches in eloquent and flawless Arabic and release them via various online outlets. Their audience is vast, but their target demographic remains mostly young Sunni Arab men.
Therefore, to complement its military campaign, the United States must present its counter-narrative in Arabic targeting the same audience in hopes that it would prevent them from being recruited by ISIS. A good first step would be actively disputing ISIS’s attempts to label Muslims who practice Islam differently than they do as “apostates” or “polytheists.” This is alien to the core teachings of Islam and can be easily refuted with evidence from the Quran and hadith. The United States could also create an ideological task force that would coordinate with the current anti-ISIS coalition. The task force would reach out to scholars, imams, and religious seminaries around the world, such as al-Azhar in Egypt, Dar al-Iftaa in Saudi Arabia, and the Hawza in Iraq, and enlist their help. It would draw on the knowledge and reputation of these institutions to craft a precise method of countering ISIS’s extremism.
Such an effort will not be easy. Working with the different, and sometimes, competing schools of Islamic jurisprudence will be thorny. The United States will have to lead, bringing its intrinsic diversity and pragmatism into play. Ultimately, merging these competing views will provide the framework in the war of ideas against ISIS. Later on, media outlets in the Arab world and elsewhere could be utilized to broadcast this counter-narrative.
If the war against Islamic extremism could have been won by mere military might, it would have ended years ago. But past efforts seem to have bred more extremists, strengthening and not undermining the cause of groups like ISIS. Even though coalition forces outmatch ISIS militarily, this war must be fought and won on the intellectual level too, and regional and international actors, led by the United States, must explore alternate means to do so. Maintaining the moral high ground in the face of ISIS’s barbarism, exposing ISIS’s flawed logic, and depriving them of new recruits and donors is the only way to defeat ISIS and neutralize Islamic extremism.
**Nazar Janabi is a former Next Generation fellow at The Washington Institute. From 2004-2006, he served as director general for defense policy and requirements in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
ISIS’s foreign legionnaires: Cutthroats and delusional idealists
Saturday, 18 October 2014
Hisham Melhem /Al Arabiya
On October 4, a 19-year-old American citizen named Mohammed Hamzah Khan was arrested at the international terminal at Chicago O’Hare airport before he boarded a plane to Turkey via Austria, to reportedly volunteer his services to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Khan was charged with “knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources, namely, personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization…” according to the official Criminal Complaint. The investigators found a letter written by Khan to his parents and left in his bedroom in which he explains the reasons for his political and spiritual “migration” to the new proclaimed Caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The letter signed “your loving son” says “my dear parents; there are a number of reasons I will be going to the blessed land of Shaam, and leaving my home.” Khan saw an obligation to “migrate” to the Islamic State, now that it has “been established.” Khan was angry because as an adult citizen he was obligated to pay taxes to a government that would use them to kill his “Muslim brothers and sisters” in the Levant. Not surprisingly, the letter echoes the sentiments of Muslims who feel alienated politically, culturally and spiritually in western secular societies. He observes the decline of western societies; “we are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this…” Khan then adds “I extend an invitation, to my family, to join me in the Islamic State.”
The allure of the Caliphate
Indeed ISIS is a terrorist nihilistic cult, but much more can be said about it. For the first time we see a non-state actor born out of the bloody U.S. occupation of Iraq, the long harsh decades of repression visited upon the Iraqi and Syrian peoples by the Baath party, the Arab state system that emerged after WWII which failed in protecting the state, or in establishing good governance and achieving economic prosperity. Add to that a new cruel strain of sectarianism resulting from decades of crude puritan Sunni interpretation of Islam, (various forms of Salafism) and an assertive, even belligerent interventionist Iranian policy in the Arab world relying on Shiite Arabs, with Hezbollah being the best example.
“Most of the volunteers, who will be drawn to ISIS, will not be idealists, but those who seek the thrill to kill”
But unlike al-Qaeda, in its various branches which would occupy small tracks of land, preferably mountainous, to hide and plot their schemes, ISIS wants to rule over a large community of believers. The allure of the Caliphate – to live in a puritan Islamic utopia – is an important aspect of ISIS’s recruitment techniques. That is one of the reasons why some jihadists bring with them to Bilad al-Shaam (greater Syria) their wives and even their small children, to avoid the “filth” that Mohammed Hamzah Khan was warning about. We know for sure, that since the ”declaration” of the Caliphate, and more importantly since its recent swift military “successes” in both Iraq and Syria, the number of would-be jihadists, including western recruits, has surged.
All ISIS’s military leaders and most of its fighters are Arabs, with the core of the political leadership made up of Iraqis and Syrians. ISIS’s military advances are in part due to the professional skills of former Baathi officers and soldiers of the disbanded Iraqi army following the U.S. invasion. But ISIS, unlike other Islamist terror groups has been actively luring Muslims from all over the Muslim world, not only to join the fight against the common enemies, but to build the Caliphate, hence ISIS’ recent call on Muslim engineers, doctors, and professionals with useful skills to come to the Caliphate.
Of lies, money, YouTube and social media
Islamists have a good track record of using communication technology and media to mobilize and preach. From the lowly cassette tape employed by Ayatollah Khomeini to spread his sermons and diatribes against the Shah of Iran, the video tape and the occasional interview by Osama Bin Laden, to ISIS’s very sleek promotional and recruitment videos and smart use of social media.
These tools are effective in drawing the young and the restless (and senseless), who are promised lives of excitement and comradery, and a good salary. The demented among them, are also drawn by the horrible tales of enjoying women and young girls as spoils of war. The recent Human Rights Watch report on the plight of the Yazidi women captured by ISIS is a terrible chronicle of sorrow and despair. ISIS’ propagandists ought to know that recent converts make for ideal zealots. Many people converting to a new religion or ideology tend to go to extreme lengths to justify the conversion. That may be one of the reasons ISIS is interested in attracting new converts, particularly from the West.
The savvy media campaign by ISIS to recruit would be Jihadists, coupled with the barbaric videos of beheading westerners, and the sight of U.S. and European leaders struggling without success to stop these ritualistic killings, has enhanced the image that ISIS’ propaganda wanted to foster in the minds of potential recruits, that it is almost invincible. The fact that the Western-Arab air campaign against ISIS has yet to change the strategic reality in Iraq and Syria, has enhanced ISIS’ standing in the eyes of its supporters and would be jihadists because it succeeded, for the time being at least, in exposing the limits of U.S. deterrence.
Cutthroats and idealists
To understand the phenomenon of the Western would be jihadists, the newly converts willing to kill and be killed and why young Muslims would leave their comfortable lives and lead a rough and dangerous existence, we have to say that ISIS’s foreign legionnaires, includes adventures, misfits, cutthroats and people with vacant lives looking for the thrill of a lifetime. But we have to also accept that some of those who answer the appeal of ISIS’s slick propaganda are idealists outraged by the brutality that their co-religionists are suffering from in Syria and Iraq. These men are not driven by hatred of the West necessarily, but by a sense of moral duty to help the oppressed. Yes, many of them are naïve and delusional, and they maybe leading lives of quiet desperation, that make them susceptible to the cunning manipulation of ISIS’ recruiters, but they are not in it for the thrill of the kill. Journalist and author Michael Muhammad Knight who called himself “the jihadi who never was” explained recently that as a young man his moral outrage at the repression of the Chechen people by Russia almost led him “to pick up a gun and fight for Chechen freedom.” The young Knight, who converted to Islam in the mid-1990s says he was not moved to want to fight by anything he read in the Quran, but by American values. In an op-ed he published in the Washington Post last September he writes “I grew up in a country that glorifies military sacrifice and feels entitled to rebuild other societies according to its own vision. I internalized these values before ever thinking about religion.”
According to anecdotal evidence, while some foreign volunteers and recruits have no idea about the complexities of Syria and Iraq, others are nominal Muslims or disaffected youths with uncertain or bleak future, and others have criminal records. But if they are willing to be good soldiers, their past is forgotten, the way the French foreign legion used to treat the checkered and unsavory past of its recruits. In fact most of the history of the French foreign legion is instructive here, such organizations attract adventures, thrill seekers and zealots willing to cut throats with abandon as we have seen in recent ISIS videos.
Fighting other people’s wars
From time, immemorial young men have been driven by the spirit of adventurism, material gain, delusions of grandeur or the need to settle perceived grievances be they political, religious or ethnic as well as idealism to travel afar to do battle in somebody else’s war. In recent history, the war in Bosnia and Kosovo drew few thousand volunteers, the majority of them Muslims from the Arab world and beyond, who were motivated mainly by a sense of solidarity with their fellow Muslims, particularly after right-wing Serb militias committed the worst atrocities against civilians on European soil since the Second World War. In the 1980s, Afghanistan was the magnet for Muslim Mujahedeen who trekked to the rugged country to repel the evil Soviet occupiers, and they have done so with the blessing and material support of the United States and its allies in this epic war by proxy during the Cold War; Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Of course the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was, as Lionel Trilling said “one of the decisive events of our epoch.” That most passionate of civil wars in the twentieth century drew 50,000 volunteers from 54 countries to fight on the Republican (leftist) side including 3000 Americans who went to Spain clandestinely defying the U.S. government’s ban on travel to that country and organized themselves under the banner of the famed Abraham Lincoln Brigade which became the first racially integrated military unit in American history. These young American volunteers (average age was 23) were idealists, who suffered the economic deprivation of the 1930’s, were driven by Marxian ideology to fight “the good fight” to defend socialism and defeat fascism. Half of them died and were buried in Spain. The surviving half “left our hearts there” as on observer spoke for a generation. These volunteers either did not know, or did not want to admit that the monstrosity named the Soviet Union was fighting on their side too, given that Stalin sent few thousand “advisors” and a large number of tanks and planes. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sent tens of thousands of soldiers and airmen whose military contribution and brutality against civilians (German warplanes destroyed the town of Guernica, immortalized by Picasso’s haunting painting of the same name), was one of the reasons that the fascist rebellion won.
Adventurists and idealists will always be drawn to other people’s wars. Lord Byron, the romantic poet, is not only known for his poetry, and scandalous private life but also for his devotion for Greek independence a cause for which he volunteered to join the fight to free Greece from Ottoman occupation. There were so many literary figures and artists involved in the Spanish Civil war on the side of the loyalists, such as George Orwell, Andre Marlow, Stephen Spender and Ernest Hemingway to the point that led one volunteer to quip “Everybody was there but Shakespeare.”
Most of the volunteers, who will be drawn to ISIS, will not be idealists, but those who seek the thrill to kill. However, there will be few idealists and misguided souls who will find their way to the Caliphate, before the atrocities repel them or consume them. Such is the nature of the beast.