LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For
Romans 03/01-08: "What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
Pope Francis’s Tweet
If faith is to be strong and healthy, it must be constantly nourished by the Word of God.
La foi, pour être saine et robuste, doit être constamment nourrie de la Parole de Dieu.
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 21, 22/14
Iran Remains the Threat in the Middle East/By: Efraim Inbar/BESA Center Perspectives/October 22/14
ISIS is real, not a nightmare/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 22/14
Kobane is bearing the brunt as its women fight on/Diana Moukalled/Al Arabiya/October 22/14
In Yemen, neither unity nor separation is a gain/By: Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/ October 22/14
Arab Uprisings May Doom Middle East Christians/By: Hilal Khashan/Middle East Forum/Fall 2014/October 21, 22/14
Facing a legacy of political violence/By: /Justin Salhani/The Daily Star/October 22/14
Driver who ran into Canadian soldiers near Montreal was known to counter-terrorism officials: RCMP/Stewart Bell/National Post/21.10.14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 21,
Al-Rahi Returns from Rome: Officials Would Be Violating Constitution by Extending Parliament's Term
Lebanon's MPs Elect Parliament Bureau, Committee Members ahead of Expected Mandate Extension
Nasrallah Says Jihadists Incapable of Invading Bekaa
Employee Tells Rifi How She was Punched by Fattoush at Justice Palace
Member of Hujeiri Family Abducted on Riyaq Highway
Lebanon to stop accepting Syrian refugees
Geagea Heads to Saudi for 'Talks with Top Officials'
Report: Hariri, Geagea, Gemayel to Meet in Jeddah
Change and Reform: We'll Resort to All Legal Measures to Reject Extension
U.S., French Delegations to Arrive in Lebanon to Discuss Latest Developments
Hizbullah Rejects Engaging in Spat with Mustaqbal despite Sharp Rift
Iran ready to send Lebanon arms to battle terrorists
Hostages’ families have ultimatum for government
MPs expected to extend Parliament’s mandate
Lebanese face ‘imminent’ Ebola danger
No calm after storm for Dinnieh residents
Jumblatt calls for closure of Naameh dump
Suicide bomber evaded Hariris protection: expert
Facing a legacy of political violence
Lebanese face ‘imminent’ Ebola danger
Lebanon in Danger: Ebola challenge
Lebanon's Industrial exports shrink by 13 percent
Report: Deaths among Drivers of Bekaa Trucks at Syria-Jordan Border
Six Charged with Belonging to Terrorist Group
Israeli Soldiers Cross Technical Fence Near Wazzani Fort
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 21, 22/14
Pope to visit Turkey as Mideast Christians flee ISIS persecution
One of two Canadian soldiers hit by 'radicalized' driver dies of his injuries
Doubling Down on Disaster in Syria
U.N. would offer support in Syria safe zones: Amos
Turkey grants passage for Iraqi Kurds to fight Islamic State in Syria
Indirect Israel-Hamas talks expected to restart next week in Cairo
Abbas adds 'hard labor' to punishment for Palestinians who sell land to Israelis
UN: Israel must uphold human rights law in its treatment of Palestinians
U.N. group warns of food shortages
Spectacular success: Nigeria declared Ebola-free
U.S. hospitals gird for Ebola panic
Japan ministers quit in wake of scandal
Iran takes action to comply with interim nuclear deal with powers, IAEA says
Syria Kurds Weather IS Assault as they Await Reinforcements
Saudi Arabia calls for restraint in Yemen as Houthis continue advance
Iranian cleric’s death leaves gap in key power body
Libyan army advancing in Benghazi: spokesman
Iran offers 'compromises' in nuclear talks
Egyptian PM: No plan for action against IS
Video/The Maronites History and Liturgy
Published on May 22, 2014
This short video gives a glance into the Maronites' History and Liturgy.
Presented to : The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas - Angelicum (Roma)
Prepared by : Br Charbel Nasr omm - Br Charbel Souaid omm - Br Ali Chameseddine omm
Narrator : Deacon Charbel Bteich omm
The History text was retrieved from www.maronite-heritage.com by Fr. Antonio Elfeghali
Employee Tells Rifi How She was Punched by Fattoush at Justice Palace
Naharnet /Justice Palace employee Manal Daou on Tuesday recounted to Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi the details of the assault she endured on Monday at the hands of former minister and incumbent MP Nicolas Fattoush. The incident has stirred a storm on social networking websites, where activists and citizens vented their anger on Fattoush and expressed solidarity with Daou, especially that the MP was behind submitting a draft law to extend the parliament's term by 31 months, following the 17-month extension in 2013. “I was sitting behind my desk when (Fattoush), whom I didn't recognize, arrived and asked where he could file a complaint. I then directed him to where lawyers can submit their complaints and to where citizens can do so,” Daou tells Rifi at the Justice Palace, in a video aired by Future TV on Tuesday afternoon. At that point, the MP placed a paper on the employee's desk. “I was putting another complaint aside in order to take his complaint, and as I was looking at the paper just to understand what it is and where I was supposed to file it, he told me, 'You are a woman who lacks morals',” Daou said. “I looked at him with surprise and told him three times, 'Excuse me, why are you speaking in this manner and who are you?'” she added. “At that moment, his bodyguard entered the place and told me, 'Minister Fattoush',” Daou explained. According to several media reports, Fattoush “punched” Manal on her shoulder and tried to press on with his assault before he was stopped by the other employees. “I did not tell the president (Judge) Claude (Karam) that he tried to beat me up,” Daou tells Rifi in the video broadcast by Future TV. MTV had on Monday reported that a “reconciliation” between Daou and Fattoush had taken place at Karam's office and that she was the one who “apologized.”Meanwhile, Rifi stressed on Tuesday his “keenness on the dignity of the judicial and administrative employees at the justice palaces,” noting that “a probe and appropriate legal measures will be conducted.”
Al-Rahi Returns from Rome: Officials Would Be Violating
Constitution by Extending Parliament's Term
Naharnet /Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi reiterated on Tuesday his rejection of the proposed extension of parliament's term, noting that it would violate the constitution and the will of the people. He said upon his return from Rome: “I told Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri that he would be violating the constitution by seeking the extension.” “Hariri wanted to explain that the failure to elect a president in a timely manner and the need to hold the parliamentary elections and avoid vacuum is forcing us to extend parliament's term,” he revealed. “I informed him that I do not intervene in such affairs because we still oppose the extension,” added the patriarch from Rafik Hariri International Airport. “I asked Hariri: 'What more would it take for lawmakers to elect a new president after seven months of vacuum?'” he stated. Seeing as the MPs will head to parliament to extend its term, “why don't they dignify us by electing a president?” wondered al-Rahi. “I will not bless the extension or the violation of the constitution,” he declared. Hariri had held talks last week with al-Rahi in Rome. The two officials discussed the presidential and parliamentary elections. “The priority in the country is the election of a new president and we as political forces must make initiatives and elect a president who enjoys everyone's approval,” said the former premier after the closed-door talks. “This does not mean that we support extending the parliament's term and forgetting about the presidency, as we see the extension as a necessity aimed at avoiding the unknown,” he explained. Media reports said over the weekend that Hariri pledged to al-Rahi to exert efforts to hold the presidential elections after extending parliament's term. The country plunged into a political vacuum as president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 and the rival political forces have so far failed to elect a successor despite having held more than a dozen electoral sessions.
Change and Reform: We'll Resort to All Legal Measures to
Naharnet/The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday vowed to resort to “all legal measures” to reject the proposed extension of the parliament's term, stressing that the issue “will not be a walk in the park” for the proponents of such a move. “We are with holding the presidential vote, but it must be preceded by a (constitutional) amendment that allows direct election by the people,” the bloc's secretary MP Ibrahim Kanaan announced after the weekly meeting in Rabieh. “Is it a crime to resort to the people's will? Why isn't this a priority while extension is a priority?” he wondered. The MP warned that confining the presidential vote to the parliamentary polls would be “a grave and rejected mistake.” “Preparations for parliamentary elections should have started a year and a half ago,” he pointed out. “The bloc announces that it will resort to all legal measures to reject extension. All democratic measures are on the table,” Kanaan added. He emphasized that Change and Reform is “serious more than anyone can imagine regarding respect for the Constitution and rejection of extension.” “This issue will be discussed with everyone and the stances and measures that we'll take will materialize in the coming days,” said Kanaan. “When problems happen, the solution is to resort to elections, and we won't accept that the elections be usurped under various slogans,” he noted. Commenting on the security situation, the lawmaker added: “Enough with mistakes and hiding behind slogans that have cost Lebanon a hefty security bill. Where is the seriousness regarding our demands in the issue of (Syrian) refugees?” He called on the government, parliament and political blocs to “shoulder their responsibilities in the issue of refugees,” underlining that “Lebanon cannot withstand humanitarian slogans from now on.”Some political blocs have been demanding that the parliamentary elections, which are set for November, be held even if a head of state is not elected. Others have been demanding that parliament's term be extended for a second time given the vacuum, poor security situation, and dispute over an electoral law. The same arguments had led to a 17-month extension of parliament's term last year.Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have been impeding the elections.
Lebanon's MPs Elect Parliament Bureau, Committee Members ahead of Expected Mandate Extension
Naharnet/Parliament's bureau members were reelected during a short session on Tuesday as a first implicit step towards a second extension of the legislature's term. MPs also elected the heads, members and rapporteurs of 16 parliamentary committees in line with the internal system. Speaker Nabih Berri hoped in remarks to the lawmakers that they “would agree on everything including the election of a president.”Parliamentary sessions on the election of a head of state have been paralyzed over the differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances on a compromise candidate. Their dispute left Baabda Palace vacant since the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's six-year term end of May. Tuesday's session was seen as a first tacit move towards the extension of the parliament's term, which is likely to take place end of the month. Poor security and a disagreement among rival MPs over a draft-law on the elections forced the extension last year. The same political blocs are now demanding that the polls, which are set for November, be held even even if they failed to elect a successor to Suleiman. Others are calling for the extension of the legislature’s term for more than two years under the excuse that the security situation does not permit to hold the polls. Berri discussed the issue with al-Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora and deputy Speaker MP Farid Makari following Tuesday's short session. A draft-law proposed by Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush calls for an extension of two years and seven months. Fattoush's proposal in addition to another draft-law suggested by the Lebanese Forces - to amend the legal deadline to run in the elections and form a committee to supervise the polls - are expected to top the agenda of next week's session.
Nasrallah Says Jihadists Incapable of Invading Bekaa
Naharnet/Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has stressed that jihadists located in Syria's Qalamun region and on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal in Lebanon are not able to enter the Bekaa Valley. “We are fully prepared” for such a scenario, Nasrallah was quoted as saying on Tuesday. According to al-Akhbar daily, he told visitors that Hizbullah should stay united. “If there had been any security breach, this does not mean that we failed.”“The biggest countries in the world cannot claim that they are in full control of security,” the Hizbullah secretary-general said. Last week, local dailies said that Nasrallah visited his party's fighters on the Lebanese-Syrian border dressed in military fatigues in a strong show of support. 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. “As every day passes, we become more aware that our fighting in Syria is for the protection of Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, according to al-Akhbar. “We have a golden opportunity to break the takfiri plan,” he added. Hizbullah fighters have also clashed with jihadists, who infiltrated Lebanese territories. Earlier this month, 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. Nasrallah described the battles in his remarks carried by al-Akhbar daily as a “minor mistake that has been resolved.”He told his visitors that he walked on foot for several kilometers during his visit to Hizbullah fighters in their bases on the border with Syria. “Our situation on the ground is very strong and our preparations are very advanced. Our plans are coherent and we are ready for any step they (the jihadists) take,” he said. The militants “are incapable of invading any Bekaa region because they are trapped,” Nasrallah added. The fighters from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State have only two options – either to die from cold or leave in civilian clothing, he stressed. The militants engaged in bloody clashes with the Lebanese army in Arsal last August. They took with them hostages from the military and police and later executed three of them.
Lebanon to stop accepting Syrian refugees
Oct. 21, 2014 |The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas announced Monday that Lebanon would accept no more Syrian refugees but said the borders would remain open to people traveling for other purposes. “Any Syrian national is welcome, but not as a refugee,” Derbas said as he left a meeting held at the Grand Serail with the ministerial committee responsible for Syrian refugees.The meeting was headed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam. The borders will remain open in emergency cases, but refugee flow will be halted, Derbas said. “Stopping the refugees is final, because Lebanon is no longer able to host any more,” he said, adding that there were many border areas on the Syrian side that were free of clashes and could host refugees. As for the potential refugees coming from areas far from the borders, Derbas said it was “unfair” for Lebanon to host them, explaining that they could be relocated inside Syria. The new decision, which Derbas said would be adopted as an official policy soon, came after months of debate in Lebanon over how to handle refugees. At least 1.13 million Syrian refugees have registered with the U.N. in Lebanon, but officials say the actual number is much higher. As for the existing refugees, Derbas said their cases would be regularly examined to make sure those who do not meet the criteria for refugee status were removed from the U.N. list.
Lebanon's Industrial exports shrink by 13 percent
Oct. 21, 2014The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The raging war in Iraq, fierce competition and high cost of insurance premiums caused Lebanon’s industrial exports to shrink by 12.9 percent in the first five months of 2014, compared with the same period of 2013. According to Industry Ministry figures, total industrial exports up to May of this year reached $1.303 billion, compared to $1.5721 billion in the same period of 2013. Fadi Gemayel, the president of the Lebanese Industrialist Association, was not surprised by the fall in the industrial exports this year.
“This fall in exports is very natural. Our exports to Iraq, which was one of the primary destinations, have dropped due to security incidents in this country. Furthermore, the costs of insurance premiums have risen as a result of the volatile situation in the region. Insurance companies are charging more on the goods shipped by land to Iraq via Syria,” he said. Imports of industrial machinery and equipment in the same reporting period also sank 16.6 percent to $117.6 million. In the month of May, total industrial exports fell by 6.7 percent to $286.9 million, compared to $307.3 million in the same month of last year. Among the main industrial items exported in the first five months were machines, electrical appliances, paper and recycled cartons. “Iraq used to grab nearly 30 percent of our total exports in 2012 and 2013. But since the war broke out in this country, our exports declined considerably,” Gemayel said. Iraq and Saudi Arabia remained the biggest recipients of Lebanese-made goods this year. Gemayel added that the insurance premiums on the cargoes shipped to some countries in the region had risen sharply and this had affected exports this year. Gemayel stressed that Lebanese industrialists were looking for new markets, although this task was not easy at all. He regretted that the Lebanese government did not show any interest or desire to alleviate the pressure on the local manufacturers, especially in these difficult times. “The government should cover part of the cost of shipping of the industrial goods. Most countries offer a lot of facilities and incentives to the local manufacturers, with the exception of our government,” Gemayel said. But despite the bleak picture, Gemayel was pinning high hopes on the promising Russian market, especially after Moscow banned the imports of food and certain industrial goods from the West. “Russia has a big population and some of them are very affluent and we should focus on this class in particular and supply them with added value products. A government delegation is going to visit Moscow soon to explore the prospects of increasing export of Lebanese-made goods,” he added.
Iran ready to send Lebanon arms to battle terrorists
Oct. 21, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Military supplies “appropriate for ground battles against terrorists” are ready to be shipped from Iran to Lebanon, according to the Islamic Republic’s semiofficial Fars News Agency. “What we are supplying to the Lebanese Army is a rapid reaction in response to a possible threat,” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Monday. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, with the aim of consolidating national authority and reinforcing security in Lebanon, is ready to supply the needs of the Lebanese Army, and share its experience with this country’s army for fighting terrorist and takfiri groups,” Dehghan said. Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Moqbel is currently in Tehran to discuss, among other things, possible Iranian military aid to the embattled Lebanese Army. Moqbel said that Iran’s military support would play an important role in helping the country push back radical Islamist groups ensconced in the border regions. According to Al-Manar TV, Moqbel visited multiple weapons productions facilities on his trip. The Lebanese Army has been engaged in intermittent ground clashes with terrorist groups along the country’s eastern border for almost two months. More than a dozen soldiers were killed when militants affiliated with the Nusra Front and ISIS briefly took over the northeastern town of Arsal in early August. In separate meetings Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Moqbel that that ignoring the extremist groups along Lebanon’s borders was “a big mistake,” according to the country’s state-run Press TV. Iran has expressed a commitment to support both the army and the resistance group Hezbollah, which has sent significant assets to Syria to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, will stand by the Lebanese nation’s resistance and Army and is fully prepared for political, security and intelligence cooperation in order to counter extremist and terrorist groups,” Zarif said. Moqbel is expected to return to Lebanon with Iranian military aid, according to Fars News Agency. Earlier on his trip Moqbel met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who insisted that his country would stand by the people of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, who he said are all fighting terrorism. Iran’s pledge of military aid has been a source of controversy in Lebanon since it was announced three weeks ago. It is unclear whether Lebanon will actually accept the aid package, as several ministers affiliated March 14 have expressed concern that such a deal would breach U.N. sanctions against Tehran. Iran’s former ambassador to Beirut, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, dismissed such concerns. “They say the aid breaks sanctions, but it is just a gift and there is no money in return,” Roknabadi said, according to the Associated Press. Iran had initially suggested sending military aid to Lebanon several years ago, he added. Since 2007, Iran has been barred from importing and exporting weapons by a United Nations embargo.
Israeli Soldiers Cross Technical Fence Near Wazzani Fort
Naharnet /An Israeli army patrol crossed on Monday the technical fence near the so-called Wazzani Fort in southern Lebanon and stayed in the area for three hours, the state-run National News Agency reported. The eight-member patrol, which was backed by a Humvee, reached the banks of Wazzani river and monitored the area for three hours around 5:00 am, NNA said. The Wazzani Fort is a rest and recreation resort that is literally a stone’s throw from Israel. The Israeli unit did not cross the Blue Line, the ceasefire line drawn by the U.N. after Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 following 22 years of occupation.
Geagea Heads to Saudi for 'Talks with Top Officials'
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea traveled to Saudi Arabia on Monday evening on an “official visit.”“The chief of the LF party left this evening for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia via Beirut's airport, on an official visit during which he will meet with top Saudi officials,” Geagea's press office said in a statement. The LF leader's visit comes amid protracted vacancy at the Baabda Palace that had started on May 25, amid a boycott of electoral sessions by the MPs of Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement in protest at Geagea's nomination. The LF chief has recently insisted that he will not pull out of the race unless the other camp changes its stances, knowing that he had several times expressed his willingness to withdraw if the rival camps agree on a “consensual” candidate.The press office did not elaborate on whether Geagea intends to meet in the kingdom with al-Mustaqbal movement leader MP Saad Hariri, who has since January 2011 lived in self-imposed exile between Jeddah and Paris over security concerns. The two leaders have recently voiced conflicting stances regarding the issue of the parliamentary elections, with Hariri rejecting that the polls be held before the presidential vote and Geagea supporting such a move.
Report: Hariri, Geagea, Gemayel to Meet in Jeddah
Naharnet/A tripartite meeting is expected to be held in Jeddah between al-Mustaqbal movement leader Saad Hariri, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel. An Nahar newspaper reported that Gemayel, whose visit to Saudi Arabia coincided with that of Geagea, will meet with senior Saudi officials. Geagea traveled to Saudi Arabia on Monday evening on an “official visit.”According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, Gemayel accompanied the LF chief on the same plane. The three officials are expected to tackle the lingering political crises. Lebanon's political scene reached an impasse over differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances. The country has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May as the rival parties have failed so far to agree on a compromise candidate, which is threatening to thwart the upcoming parliamentary elections. The crises are threatening further vacuum at Lebanese institutions, which could also impact the cabinet.
Hizbullah Rejects Engaging in Spat with Mustaqbal despite Sharp Rift
Naharnet/Hizbullah is determined not to get involved in a verbal spat with al-Mustaqbal Movement, calling on the March 14 alliance to end its “adventures” and “have the honor to join the battle against takfiris.” “The resistances today is fully ready and equipped today,” al-Joumhouria quoted sources close to Hizbullah as saying on Tuesday. The sources reiterated calls on the March 14 coalition to “join the battle to defend Lebanon.”“The army, people, resistance formula allowed Lebanon to accomplish what the (international) coalition against the Islamic State group failed to achieve in Iraq and Syria.”The sources pointed out that Lebanon “was able to prevent ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) from invading the country by depending on its army and resistance.” Al-Liwaa newspaper reported that Hizbullah's leadership will not respond to Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq's latest statement, considering that State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammed's stance is enough. A war of words occurred between al-Mashnouq and Fneish, who are affiliated to al-Mustaqbal movement and Hizbullah respectively, after the Interior Minister lashed out at the party during a memorial commemorating the assassination of General Wissam al-Hassan in 2012. Mashnouq told al-Joumhouria newspaper on Tuesday that he had previously conveyed his point of view to several officials including Army Intelligence chief Brigadier General Edmond Fadel and Hizbullah Liaison and Coordination Officer Wafiq Safa. The al-Mustaqbal official said on Saturday that “the security plan in Lebanon failed due to the implementation of partisan immunity,” accusing security forces of targeting the Sunnis in Lebanon. He rejected attempts to turn his party into Sahwa leaders, a network of Sunni tribal fighters created by the U.S. in 2005-2006 to combat al-Qaida in Iraq In his strong rhetoric statement Mashnouq accused a security institution without naming it of being biased to Hizbullah. Fneish lashed out at Mashnouq, rejecting any security balance. “Areas that don't support takfiris or attack the army shouldn't be equal to groups that carry out such acts.”Sources close to the March 14 alliance told al-Liwaa that Mashnouq's statement indicates that he “had enough.”“Hizbullah violated all its commitments with the interior ministry and its branches... and didn't cooperate.”The sources, however, considered that the verbal spat will not impact the cabinet.
Report: Deaths among Drivers of Bekaa Trucks at Syria-Jordan Border
Naharnet/Several drivers of refrigerated trucks transporting goods from Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley were killed and injured after they came under fire during battles between the Syrian army and rebels at the Syrian-Jordanian border. The head of the Bekaa Farmers Gathering, Ibrahim Tarshishi, told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) on Tuesday that there were deaths and injuries among the drivers of trucks at the Nasib crossing. Several of the trucks were engulfed in flames, he said. There were around 250 Lebanese and Syrian lorries in the area when the battles started, he added. Tarshishi called on the Lebanese Customs to stop trucks from entering Syria through Lebanon's Masnaa crossing pending a solution to the situation on the Syrian-Jordanian border. An Nahar newspaper quoted a source as saying that the drivers are stuck inside the customs area at the Nasib crossing and can't leave it because of the intensity of the fighting between the Syrian army and the rebel Free Syrian Army. The source said a Syrian driver was killed in the clashes.
Six Charged with Belonging to Terrorist Group
Naharnet/Six people were charged on Tuesday with belonging to an armed terrorist group aimed at carrying out attacks in Lebanon, reported the National News Agency. It said that detainee Ibrahim Bohloq and five Syrian fugitives were charged by State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr. Bohloq is also accused of attacking an army checkpoint in the northeastern border town of Arsal that resulted in the injury of a number of soldiers. The case has been referred to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abou Ghida. Bohloq was arrested last week at Arsal's Wadi Hmeid checkpoint on charges of taking part in the town's clashes against the army in August. He admitted, during interrogation, to being involved in a terrorist attack within a group of 65 gunmen on an army position in August and causing the death one of the officers. Arsal witnessed in August clashes between the army and Islamist militants from the Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. The clashes ended with the militants abducting a number of soldiers and policemen from the area.
Families of hostages have new ultimatum for government
Oct. 21, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Families of the 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held by Islamist militants Monday threatened a “day of rage” if the government failed to show significant progress toward the release of the hostages within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the head of the General Security, who is negotiating a deal to secure the release of the servicemen, held talks with senior Qatari officials over the case. “We give the government and political figures 48 hours before we launch a ‘day of rage’ Wednesday,” said a statement on behalf of the hostages’ families. The families also said they had boycotted meetings with political and military authorities “because no positive signs have emerged from the talks,” according to the statement, read by Nizam Mogheit, whose brother is among the kidnapped. ISIS and the Nusra Front are holding 27 soldiers and policemen they captured during a five-day battle with the Lebanese Army in the northeastern town of Arsal in August. Relatives of the servicemen set up tents near the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut earlier this month to pressure the government to work on winning the freedom of their loved ones by exchanging them with Islamist prisoners held at Roumieh Prison. They had planned to escalate their protests last week, but postponed action after receiving assurances that positive news would emerge in the coming days. Qatar is mediating a deal to secure the release of the captured servicemen. Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the director general of the General Security, flew to Doha Sunday to follow up on negotiations. “Things were stalled and suddenly we received a call [from the Qataris] requesting he [Ibrahim] head to Doha,” a General Security source said. “I hope there will be positive developments soon.” The source said that Ibrahim was holding meetings with “very senior” political and security Qatari officials, expecting that he would remain in Qatar for few more days. Ibrahim mediated the release of 11 Lebanese pilgrims who were snatched by Syrian rebels in the Azaz district of Aleppo in May 2012. Two of them were release later in the same year and the remaining nine were freed in October 2013.
Member of Hujeiri Family Abducted on Riyaq Highway
Naharnet/A member of the al-Hujeiri family was abducted on Tuesday in the Baalbek region, reported the National News Agency. It said that the victim was kidnapped on the Riyaq – Baalbek highway near the Nassar Nassar stores. The assailants, riding in a black Jeep Cherokee vehicle, then fled with the victim to an unknown location. Earlier, members of the Hujeiri family blocked the Saadnayel – Taalabaya road in the eastern Bekaa region in protest against the kidnapping of Khaled and Mustafa al-Hujeiri. They erected tents in the middle of the road to press for their release. On October 14, Khaled al-Hujeiri was kidnapped in the northeastern border town of Arsal, while two of his relatives were taken from the nearby Masharii al-Qaa region.
Facing a legacy of political violence
Oct. 21, 2014 /Justin Salhani| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: In a country riddled with corruption, the Lebanese judiciary is far from immune. “Corruption is an obstacle that really touches a lot of fields [in Lebanon],” said Khalil Khairallah, a lawyer and professor of law at the Lebanese University. “Someone on the higher judicial council told me that most judges are corrupt, and today you have to search for the good ones.”After Lebanon’s Civil War ended around 25 years ago, an amnesty law was implemented, with the consequence that many of the issues, traumas and crimes that arose during the 15-year conflict were never faced head-on. To begin to address this, the International Center for Transitional Justice hosted a conference Monday at the Crown Plaza in Hamra, gathering prominent lawyers, academics and other officials to discuss expert recommendations and findings on events between 1975 and 2008. It marked the launch of recommendations on “Confronting the Legacy of Political Violence in Lebanon: An Agenda for Change.”
Violence in Lebanon rears its head every couple of years to remind the Lebanese it hasn’t disappeared, it is only in slumber. Lebanon’s judiciary would be expected to play a crucial role in confronting the legacy of political violence in Lebanon but officials said that the same political pressure exerted on so many of Lebanon’s institutions also extends to the country’s courts. And with judges facing pressure from major political actors or parties, the Lebanese court system is actually becoming an impediment to transitional justice.
“I think that corruption is a major issue and seeing this in a number of contexts interplays with human rights abuses,” David Tolbert, the ICTJ’s President, told The Daily Star. “To be honest, transitional justice is [just] now beginning to grapple with this.” Tolbert said transparency was an important tool that allowed civil society to counter corrupt practices by the government or other actors. The conference also saw a heated debate regarding the issue of a unified history book addressing Lebanon’s Civil War era. Unlike the usual debate however, the detail of contention was not historical events, but whether or not such a book should be written at all. Experts on the panel and in the audience pointed to the examples of France and the United Kingdom, where there is no single unified, state-approved history book. Controversy has long surrounded this issue in Lebanon, as political factions disagree on many points regarding how the Civil War played out. “When there is a new government, history is reformed and new [politically] biased historians join [the process of making a history book],” said Maha Shuayb, the director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies. “Is it practical to write a unified history book, and even if we do, will we all love each other again?”Shuayb argued that nothing would be achieved by such an act. She said that Lebanese should be taught to be critical of historical accounts of events and their causes, instead of simply accepting an oral version passed down from their parents’ or grandparents’ generation, which was bound to be highly subjective.
“I think ultimately it’s very important that truth works its way into history books,” Tolbert said. “The ultimate end is dealing with abuses of the past and the ultimate objective is for history books and curriculum that reflects what happened in society.”
The issue of Lebanese displaced in foreign, mostly Syrian, jails was also focused on by the various panels’ experts. “The biggest respect goes to any of the family of the disappeared and hostages,” said German Ambassador to Lebanon Christian Clages. “Nobody can feel the same pain as those families.”Also presented at the conference were findings from study groups asked about their perceptions of the Civil War, to which they largely responded: “The war isn’t over.” Formed of six to eight people, the groups were based in the neighborhoods of Chiyah, Hamra, Burj al-Barajneh, Sin al-Fil, and Mazraa – all of whose residents are primarily from one sect, aside from the religiously mixed Hamra neighborhood of Ras Beirut.
Lebanon's MPs expected to meet next week to extend Parliament’s mandate
Oct. 21, 2014 /Hussein DakroubHasan Lakkis| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lawmakers are expected to meet in a crucial legislative session next week to extend Parliament’s mandate for more than two years, overriding opposition from civil organizations, in a move designed to prevent the country from descending into deeper political malaise. “The situation is headed toward an extension of Parliament’s term,” former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told The Daily Star Monday.
However, Siniora, the head of the parliamentary Future bloc, said any new extension of Parliament’s mandate would be conditional on “commitment [by lawmakers] to hold parliamentary elections after a new president is elected.”
Siniora said he planned to meet with Speaker Nabih Berri in the next few days to agree on the extension draft proposal presented by Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush and other draft laws to be debated by Parliament’s general assembly.
“The discussions [with Berri] will also cover political issues and security threats facing the country,” he said.
Fattoush’s draft proposal calls for the extension of Parliament’s term for two years and seven months to make it a full four-year mandate after lawmakers, citing security concerns, extended the House’s term for 17 months in May 2013.
Although some major blocs have publicly voiced reservations about the extension proposal, the majority of lawmakers are eventually expected to endorse the move.
The Lebanese Forces have not yet taken a final stance on the extension proposal. “We are in principle against the extension of Parliament’s term, but we are not campaigning against the extension,” LF MP Antoine Zahra told The Daily Star.
He said the LF lawmakers would attend the session to extend Parliament’s mandate, but the decision to support or oppose the extension would be taken by the party’s executive committee before the session.
Hezbollah has not yet taken a final decision on the extension of Parliament’s term. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk last month reiterated that his ministry was not prepared to hold parliamentary elections, scheduled for Nov. 16, given the precarious security conditions, sending the strongest signal yet that the vote would be postponed and clearing the way for an extension of Parliament’s term.
Civil associations have been campaigning against a new extension of Parliament’s mandate.
The Civil Movement for Accountability – a coalition of NGOs and student associations – has been fighting against a second extension of Parliament’s term through an active civil society campaign. In their Oct. 1 protest, activists from the CMFA took to the streets once again carrying their usual signs addressed to members of Parliament: “We’re sick of you,” “Get out,” and “128 thieves.”
Meanwhile, Parliament is scheduled to meet Tuesday to elect heads, members and rapporteurs of 16 committees, as well as members of Parliament’s Secretariat, in line with the internal system.
There will be no change in the distribution of key posts and membership in the committees between March 8 and March 14 blocs, parliamentary sources said.
The Secretariat currently includes Berri, Deputy Speaker Farid Makari and MPs Zahra, Marwan Hamade, Ahmad Fatfat, Serge Torsarkissian and Michel Mussa.
Following the election of committees’ members and heads, Berri is expected to call Parliament’s Secretariat to meet to prepare the agenda of the next legislative session.
Fattoush’s draft proposal to extend Parliament’s mandate for two years and seven months tops the agenda, along with a draft law presented by the LF to amend the legal deadline to run in the elections and form a committee to supervise the elections.
Although Tuesday’s session is devoted to the selection of committees’ members and heads, the five-month-old presidential crisis will dominate the lawmakers’ discussions, the sources said.
Berri, who has called for a Parliament session on Oct. 29 to elect a president, was quoted by visitors as saying Sunday that there was nothing new in the issue of the presidential vote.
Parliament failed on Oct. 9 for the 13th time in the past five months to choose a successor to former President Michel Sleiman because of the a lack of a quorum. In a bid to break the presidential deadlock, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called on the March 8 and March 14 parties to reach consensus on a new president, after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Rome last week. He also said a new extension of Parliament’s mandate was essential to prevent the country from entering the unknown.
Separately, LF leader Samir Geagea left for Saudi Arabia Monday, on an official visit for talks with senior Saudi officials, his media office said in a terse statement, which did not specify what officials he would meet, or what would be discussed.
Although Geagea is the March 14-backed candidate for the presidency, Hariri’s call for a consensus president suggested that the coalition was reconsidering its candidate. But Geagea has vowed not to drop his bid, saying that withdrawing his candidacy would create more problems than it would solve. Meanwhile, commenting on the tension between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said rival political parties wanted to avoid a clash over controversial issues.
“I have sensed from all the parties their desire to avoid a clash over critical issues because the government is the last intact constitutional” authority, Derbas told a local radio station.
Stressing that the formation of a new government was not possible under the given circumstances, he said: “This is why differences must be kept within narrow limits.”A war of words erupted over the weekend between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, as Lebanon faces mounting security threats from Islamist militants.
Machnouk implicitly criticized Hezbollah, blaming it for the failure of security plans in Lebanon, while accusing certain security institutions of being biased toward the party. Hezbollah swiftly responded, rejecting talk about a “security balance,” a phrase uttered by Machnouk.
Lebanese face ‘imminent’ Ebola danger
Oct. 21, 2014/Kareem Shaheen| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The health minister warned Monday that Lebanon faces an “imminent danger” posed by Ebola due to the country’s expat community in West Africa, and gave big private hospitals a three-week deadline to prepare quarantine units. Wael Abu Faour pledged to build isolation chambers in the country’s major public hospitals and detailed for the first time tight measures imposed in air and seaports as well as surveillance of travelers from nations affected by the deadly virus. But he also said hospitals and medical staff in Lebanon were ill-equipped and mostly untrained in the necessary protocols in handling suspected Ebola patients, promising to train health care workers. “Lebanon, unfortunately, is more exposed than other nations, as we have very large Lebanese communities in infected countries, and these communities are made up of third generation immigrants and ... consist of large families,” Abu Faour said at a news conference at Lebanese University. “It is not a choice – the safety of the Lebanese is at stake,” the health minister said after meeting dozens of hospital staff to discuss the measures. Lebanon has not yet had any Ebola cases. A number of patients with preliminary symptoms similar to Ebola have been hospitalized but later found to be ill with malaria. The highly contagious Ebola virus has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa since December. Liberia and Sierra Leone, both of which have significant Lebanese communities, as well as Guinea have experienced widespread transmission of Ebola. Nigeria, which experienced localized outbreaks but was declared free of Ebola Monday, also has a large Lebanese community.
Most Lebanese families in the affected countries have already returned to Lebanon, though some businessmen continue to travel to and from the affected zones.
Abu Faour outlined a raft of travel, surveillance, training and medical measures that collectively form the country’s most serious effort yet of dealing with the potential fallout from the Ebola crisis. Lebanese diplomatic missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have introduced tougher visa restrictions including medical tests for non-citizens traveling to the country. Abu Faour said airlines have agreed to distribute questionnaires to patients flying in from affected areas asking for information on possible symptoms, and those arriving at Rafik Hariri International Airport and the Beirut and Tripoli ports are undergoing temperature tests. In addition, since Ebola symptoms can take up to 21 days to appear, individuals arriving from affected areas have to provide contact details to the Lebanese authorities and ministry staff will contact them on a regular basis to check for symptoms, Abu Faour said.
Individuals suspected of having Ebola can be taken to the airport isolation unit and from there to Rafik Hariri Hospital’s isolation chamber, which can hold two patients but will be soon be expanded, he said. Abu Faour pledged to build isolation units in the coming days and weeks at the public hospitals of Nabatieh, Sidon, Tripoli, Dahr al-Basheq and Baalbek. At the moment, the only hospital equipped to handle Ebola patients is Rafik Hariri Hospital. The AUB Medical Center is also in the process of preparing its own isolation unit.
Abu Faour also ordered that all private hospitals with over 100 beds prepare a quarantine unit to hold potential or suspected Ebola patients. There are 24 such hospitals throughout Lebanon. Sleiman Haroon, the head of the Association of Private Hospitals, said the hospitals will need three weeks to have the new units in place. The heads of private hospitals are set to meet Wednesday with the health minister to coordinate the new plan.
“We hoped that we’d not be in this situation as hospitals, but we are forced to adapt,” Haroon told the gathering of health care staff.
Haroon said the new isolation chambers will present a technical challenge in addition to procuring equipment that will be needed to operate them, and will add to the financial burden of hospitals. In addition, hospitals will have to offer incentives to medical staff in order to entice them to work on patients with a highly contagious disease, and who may die. Lebanese medical personnel will also need protection suits in case they have to treat Ebola patients. Some suits have been distributed to Lebanese hospitals following training regimens that were held with the Health Ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization on handling the aftermath of chemical, radiological and biological attacks that occurred around the time of the chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
But Abu Faour said the biggest challenge is training medical staff in identifying and handling Ebola cases, many of whom lack the knowledge to receive such patients. Most emergency departments also do not have the facilities yet to isolate potential Ebola victims.
A recent ministry survey of health care workers that asked what they would do if confronted with an Ebola patient showed that most would not know how to handle the individual, and would opt to refer them to other hospitals.
In addition, Abu Faour said there is a lack of awareness among the public about the disease in general. The ministry held a training session in Sidon Monday for medical staff in the south, and will hold another Tuesday for Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The government has also distributed 80 protective suits to health facilities around the country. A key debate in Abu Faour’s meeting with hospital staff was over whether patients ought to be treated in various locales around the country or if they should be housed in a centralized facility. While using multiple hospitals is more convenient, it could spread the risk of infection over a wider geographical area, while a central location would have problems transferring patients who prefer to seek out nearby facilities.
Still, Abu Faour said the measures will only ameliorate the risk, saying Lebanon’s health infrastructure is not equipped to handle such a crisis.
Lebanon in Danger: Ebola challenge
Oct. 21, 2014/The Daily Star
With a fatality rate of 70 percent and no certified cure, people around the world are understandably concerned about Ebola. The strong ties between West Africa and Lebanon have rightly prompted action by the health authorities here, and that is commendable.
Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Monday that all hospitals have three weeks to build dedicated Ebola units. Adequate steps are being taken at the airport to ensure that passengers are screened. But Lebanon, as we know only too well from other pressing security concerns, has porous borders. The U.K. has been praised by the U.N. for its Ebola response, but it is an island with extremely tight border controls. It is inevitably not as easy for much of the world. While the right noises are being made by health authorities here, more needs to be done. An emergency response committee needs to be created and tasked with further developing precautionary and response procedures. It needs to secure international funding for reserves and create an awareness campaign about the virus. But most importantly it needs to be apolitical and comprised of experts. So often in Lebanon we hear that certain crises and problems will be dealt with and solved just as soon as certain positions are filled, and once various political parties reach an agreement. But Ebola is not a political issue, it does not discriminate between rich and poor victims, or victims from different sects, and nor should the response.
U.N. would offer support in Syria safe zones: Amos
Oct. 21, 2014 |Reuters
ANKARA: The United Nations would offer humanitarian assistance for proposed “safe zones” inside Syria even if they were created without a Security Council resolution, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official Valerie Amos said Monday. An estimated 3 million people have fled Syria since 2011, when an uprising began against President Bashar Assad. About half of them are in neighboring Turkey, which wants the zones to be set up in Syria close to its border where civilians could be protected from the civil war.
“If there happened to be areas of Syria that were established as protection or safe areas ... we would get to those areas to give people help,” Amos, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator told Reuters in an interview.
So far Turkey’s call has received at best a lukewarm response. The United States has said it is not a priority while Iran and the Syrian government have warned against the move, saying it would break international law.
Russia, which holds the power of veto on the U.N. Security Council, is also thought to oppose to the idea. Amos said any secure zone would require a force on the ground ensuring the protection of civilians, and ideally this should be done with the backing of a U.N. resolution. “The political differences we’ve seen on the Security Council make it less likely that this will be passed,” she said, while adding: “I hope that I’m wrong.”
“Of course some countries may decide this is important enough for them to go it alone. Whichever one of those things happens, the important thing is that if there is protection area or a safe zone, is that people are kept safe,” she said.
The U.N. already operates in parts of Syria where the government is not present, and also negotiates with rebel groups to reach some of the estimated 11 million people trapped inside the country and in need of help.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last week he favored a U.N.-led effort to establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria, seen as a crucial first step toward establishing safe zones. However, he also said that an “international coalition” could decide to act if members of the Security Council vetoed the plans. Turkish officials say they have spent over $4 billion helping refugees, but there are growing fears of social and economic upheaval if they are unable to go home.
The fate of the Syrian border town of Ain al-Arab, besieged by ISIS fighters for more than a month, has put growing pressure on Ankara to take a more active role in tackling the militants on its frontiers.
Turkish officials have repeatedly said that a comprehensive strategy to pacify Syria is the only way to tackle ISIS and other groups like it which have taken advantage of the chaos to seize territory. Amos warned that U.S.-led approach of bombing ISIS did not offer a solution to Syria’s complex problems. “Of course I’m frustrated,” she said. “Without a solution we’re just going to see these numbers [of refugees] spiraling even more out of control, in a year where we’re seeing so many crises around the world ... where we are running out of resources, out of money, out of people who are able to do the work that’s needed.”
Indirect Israel-Hamas talks expected to restart next week in Cairo
By HERB KEINON/10/21/2014/J.Post
Israel and Hamas are expected to resume indirect negotiations in Cairo next week, following an invitation issued to both sides by the Egyptians. The talks will come two months after a cease-fire went into effect ending Operation Protective Edge, and some two weeks after international donors pledged $5.4 billion to rehabilitate Gaza. The talks are meant to find a long-term arrangement in the Gaza Strip. A senior Hamas official reportedly said the talks were set to resume on October 27. "Hamas and the Palestinian factions will take part in a session of indirect negotiations with the occupation (Israel) on the 27th of this month at the invitation of Egypt," AFP quoted Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk as saying. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel’s position on the talks was simple: Israel supports the rehabilitation of Gaza on the condition that “this is not taken advantage of for the building of tunnels, or manufacturing rockets, or anything else that has a military-terrorist purpose.”Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, meanwhile, said it was clear Hamas is trying to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure. He said he hoped the supervisory mechanism that has been put into place to oversee the transfer of construction materials into the Gaza Strip actually works. “We have no reason to prevent the building of clinics or schools,” he said in an interview with Israel Radio. “But we do have to make sure that the supervisory mechanisms prevent them from using construction materials to rebuild the tunnels. We will know in a few weeks whether this supervision is effective or not. That is our responsibility.”The two sides held indirect talks for less than a day in Cairo last month. Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report.
Driver who ran into Canadian soldiers near Montreal was known to counter-terrorism officials: RCMP
Stewart Bell | October 20, 2014 |National Post
The driver of a car who rammed two Canadian Forces members near Montreal before being shot dead by police was known to counter-terrorism authorities who believed he had become radicalized, the RCMP said on Monday as they continued to investigate the possible terrorist attack. “This individual was known to federal authorities including our Integrated National Security Investigations team in Montreal who along with other authorities were concerned that he had become radicalized,’’ the RCMP said in a statement. The force declined further comment. The 25-year-old, known as Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau, allegedly hit two members of the Canadian Forces as they were walking in a strip mall just outside St-Jean-sur-Richelieu at about 11:30 a.m. Police chased the man more than four kilometres until his car flipped into a ditch.
The man then exited his car, allegedly holding a knife, and police opened fire, seriously injuring him, said Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Joyce Kemp. He was transported to hospital, but police later confirmed he had died.
The suggestion the incident was an act of terrorism was first raised in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said he was aware of the “extremely troubling” reports and that authorities were investigating.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the investigation by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, and National Security Adviser Stephen Rigby. “Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized. As Canada’s national security agencies have said, Canadians should remain vigilant,” said a statement from Jason MacDonald, the prime minister’s spokesman.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Sûreté du Québec spokesman Lt. Guy Lapointe said it was too early to determine whether the military personnel were deliberately targeted. “All I can say is that the theory that this is a deliberate act is part of what we’ll be looking at,” he said. The soldiers were being treated in hospital. One was said to be seriously injured, while the other soldier’s injuries were less severe, Sgt. Kemp said. Police were reconstructing the scene, with the brown car still upside down in the ditch..
A knife lay next to the car, underneath a bag. Sgt. Kemp would not confirm reports the driver had previously charged at police with the knife. “At this point, it’s too soon to say,” the sergeant said. “The investigation is still in its early stages.”
Because the local St-Jean-sur-Richelieu police were involved in the shooting, the SQ has taken over the investigation. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is home to the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, which conducts basic military training as well as professional development programs and employs about 600 military personnel and civilians.
A Twitter account under the name Ahmad Rouleau featured the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, the terrorist group that last month called on its followers to kill Canadians because of Ottawa’s role in the anti-ISIS military coalition.
“Islam is the only true religion. Anyone who want scientific proof of God that your terrorist Zionism Rothschild media hide, contact me or add me if you re open minded,” he commented beneath an online Time magazine article last May.
‘Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell’
On a Facebook page under the same name, French and English posts — the last one on Friday — denounced Christianity and Judaism. “Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment,” he wrote.
No information has been officially released linking the incident to ISIS, but the possibility he was a lone wolf incited by the group’s propaganda was being examined. On Sept. 21, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Adnani explicitly called for attacks against Canadians. In his 42-minute audio taped message, Adnani urged his fanatical followers to single out a victim and “run him over with your car.”
The use of a car to ram identifiable soldiers was reminiscent of the December 2013 murder of British serviceman Lee Rigby. In that attack, two men armed with knives struck him with their car near a military facility in Woolwich, United Kingdom, and then attempted to sever his head. They were later filmed making Islamist extremist slogans.
Following the attack, Canada’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre prepared a “Secret” intelligence report noting that the killing was the second of two attacks in six months that “appear to have targeted military personnel in public areas.”
The document noted that the Toronto 18 and a 2010 group headed by Iranian-Canadian Hiva Alizadeh had also talked about striking Canada’s military. “Canadian Forces personnel and facilities have been discussed as targets by domestic extremists in the past,” said the 2013 report, released under the Access to Information Act.
As recently as Monday, calls to attack Canadians for joining the anti-ISIS coalition continued to surface. A Canadian extremist who converted in 2010 and now goes by “Abu Khalid Al-Kanadi” posted a message inciting attacks on Canadians.
adists to attack Canadians: ‘You will not feel secure in your bedrooms’.
“Yes, my message is clear,” the self-proclaimed ISIS member tweeted last week. “Canada initiated attacks on the Islamic State, so Muslims in Canada, retaliate & KILL THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM.”
Adnani’s 42-minute audio speech emphasized that victims did not have to be military. But the ISIS message has found little following in Canada. While a handful of Canadians have joined ISIS, Canadian Muslim organizations have strongly denounced the terrorist group and have held demonstrations against it.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair cautioned about reaching quick conclusions about the perpetrator’s motives. “Let the police do their job and then we’ll know whether we’re dealing with the type of situation they’ve described,” he said.
The hit-and-run comes as Canada prepares to joint a U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq. CF-18 Hornets were to leave 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., on Tuesday for Kuwait, where they will be stationed during Operation Impact.
National Post with files from Postmedia News
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Briton Mamunur Roshid 'killed fighting in Syria', mosque says
21 October 2014
Mamunur Roshid travelled with four other friends from Portsmouth in October last year
A third man from Portsmouth who went to fight in Syria for Islamic State (IS) has been killed, his mosque has said. Mamunur Roshid, 24, travelled to the country with four friends in October 2013. Iftekar Jaman - who left the UK separately in May last year - and Hamidur Rahman were previously killed in the fighting. The Jami Mosque in Portsmouth said Mr Roshid's parents told them their son had been killed on Friday in Syria. Abdul Jalil, chairman of the mosque, said "The parents are very upset. I went to visit them and they told me that he had been killed in Syria. This is very difficult for them." Mr Roshid left the UK with Mr Rahman, Assad Uzzaman, Mehdi Hassan and Mashudur Choudhury. Choudhury returned to UK after a few weeks and was arrested at Gatwick Airport. In May, he became the first person in the UK to be convicted of terrorist offences in connection with the conflict in Syria. The two other men, Mr Uzzaman and Mr Hassan, are still believed to be in Syria. Ifthekar Jaman, from Southsea, Hampshire, told the BBC before his death he joined IS as he felt it was his "duty" because Muslims were "being slaughtered". Mr Jaman's family told the BBC that he was killed while fighting forces loyal to the government.
One of two Canadian soldiers hit by 'radicalized' driver dies of his injuries
Published October 21, 2014/FoxNews.com
Police: Driver who killed Canadian soldier was 'radicalized'
One of two Canadian soldiers hit by a car driven by a Quebec man whom authorities said had been "radicalized" by Islamists has died of his injuries.
The Associated Press, citing Quebec provincial police, reported that the soldier had died of his injuries early Tuesday after being struck by the car Monday. The soldier's name has not been released at the request of his family.
The suspect in the attack, which took place in a mall parking lot near Montreal, has been identified as 25-year-old Martin Rouleau. Police fatally shot Rouleau after a car chase that ended with the suspect losing control of the car and rolling over several times in the town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, about 25 miles southeast of Montreal. Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet said Rouleau exited the car and was shot. He said police found a knife on the ground, but could not say if he had it in his hand when police fired their weapons. Television images showed a large knife in the grass near his flipped over car. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that Rouleau was known to provincial and federal law enforcement agencies, according to CBC News. Police declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation. It was not immediately clear whether either soldier was wearing a uniform when they were attacked. A statement from the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper late Monday said that authorities "have confirmed that there are indications that this is clearly an individual who has been radicalized ... Canadians should remain vigilant." Harper was briefed about the incident by the head of Canada's national police force, the head of the military and his national security adviser.
One neighbor told reporters that Rouleau stopped wearing jeans and started wearing a tunic and that he changed over the last year and was alone a lot. Another neighbor said Rouleau converted to Islam a little over a year ago.
The case is similar to one in London, England, last year in which an Al Qaeda-inspired extremist and another man ran over a soldier with a car before hacking the off-duty soldier to death. Images of Michael Adebolajo, 29, holding a butcher knife and cleaver with bloodied hands in the moments after the May 2013 killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby shocked people around the world and sparked fears of Islamist terrorism in Britain.
The self-described "soldier of Allah" was sentenced along with his accomplice to life in prison. The pair were convicted of murdering Rigby, 25, who was walking near his barracks in south London when the men ran him over with a car. They then dragged his body onto the road, and repeatedly stabbed him with knives. The Islamic State group has urged supporters to carry out attacks against Western countries, including Canada, that are participating in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militants who have taken over large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. It was not known whether Rouleau had any ties to Islamic militant groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Canadian Soldier dies, Martin "Ahmad" Rouleau killed by police, following hit and run in St. Jean
CTV Montreal /Last Updated Tuesday, October 21, 2014
One of two soldiers hit by a car in St. Jean sur Richelieu has died of his injuries.
His family has asked that his name be withheld.
The second soldier who was run down by a car on Monday morning in St. Jean remains in hospital on Tuesday.Meanwhile police continue to investigate Martin "Ahmad" Rouleau, his history, and what led to the car crash and subsequent chase that ended in his death.
The incident began at 11:40 a.m. Monday when a car drove into two soldiers walking in the parking lot of a strip mall in St. Jean sur Richelieu, about 40 km southeast of Montreal.
"I went inside to do a transaction and you see the staff is traumatized from what they saw," said a witness outside the centre.
Rouleau fled when police arrived, leading to the police chase on Seminaire Blvd.
The 25-year-old local man then lost control of his vehicle and rolled several times, ending up in a ditch four kilometres away from the hit-and-run incident.
Surete du Quebec Lt. Guy Lapointe said the man was shot multiple times by St. Jean sur Richelieu police after threatening officers, and that the officers feared for their lives. They would not confirm reports the man was armed, but did say a knife was found at the scene. "We found a knife on the ground," he said. "It's still there but I can't tell you if he had it in his hand at that time." Rouleau was taken to hospital in critical condition where he died of his injuries.
Provincial police spokesman Joyce Kemp said it was "really premature" to speculate on any possible motives.
"We've just started the investigation, so it will take a certain time before we can say it was something accidental or deliberate," Kemp said in an interview.
A Facebook page with the name Ahmad Rouleau contains posts about religion, 9/11 and the Quran. Rouleau's neighbours said he had recently undergone a transformation. "That's my neighbour. He changed over the past year," said the next-door neighbour, who only wanted to be identified as Bruno. "He seemed to become a Muslim, then he was all alone. He was alone - not like before, when he had many friends. It was sad" "I've seen him in... an Islamic robe or something like that," said another neighbour, Bill Sawka. When asked if he wore a beard, he added, "He may have, yes I've seen that, because I found it odd... there was a change, he used to wear loose jeans."
Stephen Harper's statement
The incident was brought up in the House of Commons on Monday, with the prime minister's office saying Rouleau was "known to federal authorities, including the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
"Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized," the PMO said in a statement, noting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was briefed on the situation by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Chief of Defence Staff General Tom Lawson, and National Security Advisor Stephen Rigby. "As Canada's national security agencies have said, Canadians should remain vigilant," Harper's office said.
The statement came after a planted question from Conservative MP Randy Hoback in Question Period, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the information surrounding a hit-and-run that ended in a police shooting were "extremely troubling."
"We're closely monitoring the situation and we'll make available all of the resources of the federal government," said Harper.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also said he believed the government's immediate analysis to be premature.
"I think we need to be extremely careful before drawing conclusions. When (the Hoback question was asked), I said to myself, 'Come on, let the police do their work'," he told a news conference in Ottawa.
Iran Remains the Threat in the Middle East
By: Efraim Inbar/BESA Center Perspectives
October 21/ 2014
The emergence of the Islamic State (IS) on the battlefields of the civil war in Syria, and its subsequent spectacular successes in conquering parts of Syria and Iraq, have grabbed international attention. The gruesome pictures of IS's barbaric beheadings supplied to the international media has only added to its notoriety. The Islamic State's quest to establish a new bloody Caliphate became a cause célèbre.
Many pundits have decided that the Islamic State is fundamentally changing the Middle East and they grope for new strategies to meet the challenge. In reality, however, the novelty of the Islamic State, as well as the magnitude of the threat it poses, are greatly exaggerated.
This organization is a reflection of the rise of radical political Islam in the Middle East over the last decades. Islam has always been a central component in the identity of the peoples of the Middle East. While Egypt, Iran and Turkey succeeded in maintaining a strong ethno-statist parallel identity, most of the Arab states have failed to instill statist identities through their education systems. This means that primordial identities, tribal or sectarian, usually were stronger than the demand for loyalty by the particular states.
Moreover, many of the Arab states failed to modernize and deliver basic services, allowing for alternative Islamist structures to do a better job in providing education, medical and social work services to the impoverished masses. It is worth noting that the Muslim Brotherhood was established as early as 1928. Ever since, it has developed grassroots by trying to take care of the masses, while subverting the statist order in Muslim states with the goal of building a new Caliphate. Pan-Arabism – a popular ideological inclination among the Arab elites – also undermined the legitimacy of the statist order, reinforcing Pan-Islamist impulses. Among the Shiites, the religious zeal turned Iran into an Islamic Republic in 1979 that has been trying since then to export its version of radical Shiite Islam.
For decades, it was the security services, probably the only well-functioning governmental agency, which provided stability, law and order. But maintaining a monopoly over the use of force was a challenge that has not been met successfully by the statist order established after the end of World War I and it has been disintegrating for quite a while. We have seen a failed state develop – where there is no monopoly over the use of force, but a myriad of militias – in Lebanon since the 1970s. In Yemen, there was a civil war in the 1960s which created much instability to this very day. Somalia is the best known example of a failed state. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority turned into a battlefield among competing militias almost immediately after its establishment in 1994. Strong dictators held Libya and Iraq together, but when they were gone these states became failed political entities. The Assad republican dynasty seems to have gone in the same direction.
Therefore, the Islamic State of today, which displays religious extremism and transnational tendencies, is the result of historic dynamics in the fledgling Arab civilization. Any long term look at the performance of the Arab states could reach the gloomy conclusion that their societies are doomed to poverty and political instability for a long while yet.
While the military and political successes of the Islamic State seem remarkable, its achievements are taking place in a political limbo with no real power to oppose it. The Islamic State has not faced yet any real test in state building and in overcoming violent opposition. Therefore, it is probably much too early to conclude that the Islamic State is able to govern and impose law and order in the swaths of land it has conquered.
Will it be spared the typical processes of fragmentation taking place among radical groups? Can the Islamic State take on Turkey or Iran – the rising powers in the Muslim Middle East? Can this organization be more dangerous to Israel than Hamas – a sister radical Sunni entity? If the Islamic State is able to consolidate its conquests into a coherent state and turn south to take the energy riches of the Gulf, then it might become a real strategic actor. But any progress toward such a scenario will galvanize tremendous opposition by the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia. Then the huge amounts of petro-dollars will be able to buy some security in the face of such an imminent danger. Even a confused Obama administration might eventually figure out what is at stake.
Therefore, the current situation does not yet warrant a change in the strategic assessment. Much of the fragmented Arab world will be busy dealing with its domestic problems for decades, minimizing the possibility that it will turn into a formidable enemy for Israel or the West. It is crystal clear that the Iran-led Shiite axis remains the main threat to stability in the Middle East. Iran's journey toward a nuclear arsenal – a true game changer – must be stopped. Unfortunately, the gullible West seems to continue to appease Iran, while the "threat" of the Islamic State serves as a welcome diversion.
**Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a Shillman/Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.
ISIS is real, not a nightmare
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Tuesday, 21 Oct, 2014
Prior to June 6, Iraq’s former prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, treated warnings about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with disdain, claiming reports about the group were meant to exert pressure on him. Although American drones were roaming across Iraqi airspace on a daily basis, monitoring fighters’ movements and sending information to Washington—which repeatedly warned Maliki—he preferred to listen to the reassurances of his advisers, although they had no information.
But the truth was quickly revealed when Mosul, along with its military bases, fell into the hands of ISIS. More cities and provinces later suffered Mosul’s fate, proving ISIS was a real threat and not a political maneuver or an attempt to play mind games.
As part of an official campaign aimed at reassuring people, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi told Iraqi citizens not to worry because 70 percent of the conflict they were hearing about was mere psychological warfare! To back up this claim, the Defense Ministry showed television footage of citizens saying the situation was safe and that Baghdad was secure.
If 70 percent of the war is really psychological, how should Iraqis understand the presence of those fighter jets swarming around in their airspace? And how does Abadi explain the fall of one-third of Iraq’s territory into the hands of ISIS?
Perhaps the government is afraid that citizens will flee Baghdad en masse the minute they hear news of the arrival of ISIS fighters. The government is right to be worried about a possible disaster, but denying that threats exist does not remove them. The veracity of Abadi’s statements will be tested in the coming weeks and months. If Iraqi forces succeed in confronting militias and achieving stability, Abadi will have won the propaganda and psychological battles. But what if other major areas fall to ISIS? This cannot be ruled out, as the terrorists’ advance towards the governorates of Babil and Karbala continues and they are fighting ferociously in Anbar, hoping to seize the city of Amiriyah Fallujah, close to Baghdad.
What is happening in Iraq, and Syria as well, is not just a war to shape perceptions; it is one of the most “real” wars in the region’s history. Most modern wars are managed like video games—people get killed without seeing the fighters’ faces, hearing the roar of aircraft, or witnessing explosions. But the fighters of these battles are from the Middle Ages: while they carry American and European weapons and use Japanese cars, they pursue their victims on foot and display their severed heads.
Abadi can say “70 percent of the war is psychological,” but he must recall what Maliki said and did in the months before he was defeated—he showed footage of soldiers dancing and celebrating imaginary victories as towns were being destroyed!
What will happen if gunmen gain complete control of the Anbar province, surround the capital, and shell the airport?
The government’s reassurances will be of no use without comprehensive steps. One million people may flee Baghdad because their trust in the government is still weak. The flight of Maliki’s forces from Mosul and the aftermath of its downfall make everything that is being said meaningless. Winning the trust of Iraqi citizens requires more transparency and reassurance about the nature of the government’s policies, not by underestimating militant threats. Abadi has not yet established a public image for himself that distances him from Maliki. His promised political plan for reconciliation remains mere talk. Unless it becomes a reality, the war with ISIS and a few rebellious groups will turn into an outright civil war. This is the nightmare scenario which the new government should bear in mind. ISIS is a terrorist group and the Iraqis—both Sunnis and Shi’ites—will fight it and the world will assist them. However, an Iraqi civil war will be one Abadi will have to fight on his own.
Doubling Down on Disaster in Syria
Why you shouldn’t buy what pundits like Fareed Zakaria and Les Gelb are selling.
By MICHAEL WEISS and FAYSAL ITANI October 20, 2014
Fareed Zakaria and Leslie Gelb both have made what they think are bold and unfashionable proposals for U.S. policy in Syria without bothering to realize that their prescriptions have become the new conventional wisdom. Both not only advocate that the United States team up with the very regimes responsible for the outbreak of transnational jihad in the Levant and Mesopotamia, but also seem to neglect the mounting evidence that this is exactly what the United States is doing, even as they decry the palpable insufficiencies of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Zakaria warns against any growing U.S. military interference in Syria in his latest Washington Post column, preferring instead a policy of “containment”. Only by “bolstering [Syria’s] neighbors,” the CNN host and foreign policy doyen writes, can President Obama hope to achieve any result from his campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Gelb, meanwhile, has just written in the Daily Beast: “Only Assad’s Syria and Iran can and would provide plausible ground forces in short order” — a claim with which Assad’s own Alawite support base apparently disagrees given the proliferation of loyalist protests against the regime precisely for failing to provide what might be called plausible ground forces against ISIL.
Containment, of course, has been President Obama’s Syria strategy all along, beginning in 2011. It has led to the caliphate. It is also the reason why 21 nations, including those Zakaria wants to see enlisted in his old-new strategy, are now committed to what former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says may be a “30-year war” against ISIL.
But Zakaria’s real purpose isn’t to tell the president what to do; it’s to tell him what not to do: namely, work with or empower the Syrian opposition. This is of course the ancillary component of Obama’s policy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIL. By 2017, the United States hopes to have trained and equipped some 5,000 Syrian rebels as a kind of counterterrorism strike force in Syria, one that would hopefully coordinate directly with the United States against ISIL. As Zakaria’s colleague David Ignatius noted last week, drawing on discussions with administration officials, many of whom want greater U.S. intervention in Syria, the White House might double that number. Perhaps if only to ensure that half a billion dollars in taxpayer money aren’t immediately wasted, Secretary of State John Kerry also favors imposing a no-fly zone over northern Syria to protect these would-be U.S. assets from slaughter by Syrian Air Force barrel bombs, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey told ABC News’ This Week that he could “anticipate circumstances in the future” where one will be necessary. Thus, just as key decision-makers are finally and rightly concluding that the containment strategy has failed — and advocating the more promising course of helping the United States’ Syrian allies beat ISIL —Zakaria argues for the exact opposite.
Most troubling is Zakaria’s fuzzy math about the opposition, its ideology and the terrain it is said to control. He writes: “The Islamic State controls about one-third of the country, and the other militias control a little less than 20 percent. But the largest and most effective of these non-Islamic State groups are al-Qaeda-affiliated and also deadly enemies of the United States. The non-jihadi groups collectively control less than 5 percent of Syria.”
These data points are dubious and misleading. A look at reliable maps of ISIL-dominant zones in Syria indicates that the terrorist army holds much of the Euphrates River Valley and Raqqa province, as well as parts of Aleppo province. Here is one produced by the Washington-based think tank the Institute of the Study of War, dated September 2014:
This is, self-evidently, hardly “one-third” of Syria’s territory. A glance at the same maps demonstrates that Syria’s non-jihadist rebels — including the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Harakat al-Hazm, the Southern Front and Division 13 – control more of Syria than “5 percent.”Even supposing that ISIL might have the upper hand over its rivals in one-third of Syria, which is quite different from “controlling” it, area percentage is not a useful measure of the balance of power in Syria. The meaningful metric is control over major population zones and infrastructure, which are heavily contested by the regime and insurgent groups, but less so by ISIL. The Islamic State is present in Syria’s least populated areas, far from the country’s demographic heartland; their importance lie in their hydrocarbon assets, which the U.S.-led coalition has bombed and which ISIL is now struggling to exploit as a means of self-financing. ISIL has been wholly absent from Aleppo city since January 2014, when many of the rebels Zakaria disdains helpfully expelled it from Syria’s largest city and commercial/industrial capital. ISIL is now struggling to take more valuable terrain from rebel forces that Zakaria dismisses as dominated by extremists.
**Michael Weiss is a columnist for Foreign Policy and NOW Lebanon. He reported from the 2012 siege of Aleppo. Faysal Itani is resident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.
Kobane is bearing the brunt as its women fight on
Diana Moukalled/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Amid the worry accompanying the siege imposed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane, Arab criticism and restlessness surfaced despite the heated situation in the city and the fierce fighting on the ground.
This restlessness was frank and rather rude at some points despite all the deaths and the possibilities of relapse in the city.
So according to some, the city is not called Kobane but Ain al-Arab, the Arab name for the city. Only the Arabs could seek to control the name of a city with Kurdish inhabitants. Let them stop protesting and demanding their linguistic and cultural rights as they have no choice other than fading into this Arab world and cancelling all differences. At this point, it’s also okay to admonish the media attention in Kobane and ask “why did you forget Daraya, Homs and other Syrian cities but remember Kobane? Is it because you suffer from the complex of minorities while the majority suffer worse?”
“Kobane and its people will not bear the responsibility of the West abandoning the Syrians and leaving them to their fate against a criminal regime and extremist fighters”
The peak of this unease and restlessness was voiced via writers, columnists and comments stating that there’s an “exaggerated” celebration of the Kurdish female fighters’ participation in the battles in Kobane. Those observers commented that this apparent exaggeration in celebrating these female fighters is based on some form of orientalism, God forbid!
Such criticism is being considered as subjective criticism without any Baathist or nationalist suspicions surrounding it. Of course, the city’s reality is that it is besieged by complications – the Turkish factor mixed with the Syrian Kurdish factor.
Syria’s dramatic recent history
We cannot deny the truth that Kobane is another chapter in Syria’s dramatic recent history and that other cities have suffered what Kobane has suffered and that what the Kurds are going through is an extension of their historical suffering that does not diminish others’ sacrifices. However, this does not mean that the Kurds are only to fail in their ordeal and will find no one to sympathize with them.
Kobane and its people will not bear the responsibility of the West abandoning the Syrians and leaving them to their fate against a criminal regime and its extremist fighters. What was referred to as an orientalist vision in celebrating the Kurdish female fighters is also a mystification of this very same perspective when those celebrating Kurdish female fighters realized that the environment which produced these fighters has also produced a high rate of honor killings. So when noticing this is apparent orientalism, who said we cannot adopt this from the West? The West is not home to only negative values and when we engage in revolutions and in values linked to freedom and human rights, we don’t bring these values from the East.
Those criticizing our orientalism must check Google right away to fight out how many Syrian cities and non-Kurdish Syrian women have been celebrated.
The world is unjustly treating the Syrians by not seriously working to end their ordeal. This is true. But celebrating Kobane did not bring about an orientalist rhetoric but a deep-rooted Baathist and nationalist one. There will be no freedom for us, the Kurds and all other factions in the East unless we get rid of this latter rhetoric just like we hope to get rid of ISIS and of tyrannical regimes.
In Yemen, neither unity nor separation is a gain
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
My friend Hamad al-Ammari, of the Arab Thought Foundation, invited me to their upcoming conference Morocco which will be on “Arab Integration: The dream of unity and reality of division.” I told him that if I attend, I will say that “unity is not a gain and division is not a loss.” He liked the idea and said: “Great, your opinion will be different from the dominant ones.”
Yes, it’s a common thought that “Arab unity” will resolve all our problems, liberate Palestine and achieve prosperity particularly as oil-rich countries could unite with countries that have fertile lands and a labor force. However, we failed to notice that all these factors, for example, were present in Iraq and prosperity was not achieved. Iraq is now seeking to avoid division. Yet we stubbornly refuse to admit that the problem lies in mismanagement and tyranny - the two factors which made separation a preferable option over unity - and instead we just blame our situation on conspiracy theories.
The problem is in the style of governance practiced in the Arab world. The unity of two Arab countries under cruel rule is not a renaissance project but a project that actually extends and expands cruel rule. An example is the unity of Egypt and Syria under the rule of the late Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1958. The Syrians enthusiastically and willingly replaced a constitutional and democratic government and an elected president with a totalitarian security regime and an “immortal” revolutionary leader. Unity collapsed and Abdel Nasser died, or rather his man in Damascus Abdelhakim Amer died, and left them with the totalitarian security regime and the immortal leader until this very day. Who wants such unity?
The unity of two Arab countries under cruel rule is not a renaissance project but a project that actually extends and expands cruel rule
Lebanon is a model of separation. If it hadn’t been for God and France, it would have been under the mercy of Greater Syria. If this happened, Lebanon would have escaped the bloody civil war of 1975 because Hafez al-Assad’s state was strong enough to restrain the Palestinians and the Kataeb from that misguided adventure which they involved themselves and Lebanon in. But the same scenario of Lebanon being a part of Greater Syria would have prevented the Lebanese from enjoying the benefits of a free market economy, not just in Lebanon but also in the Gulf and its booming cities. Also the Lebanese would not have escaped the current civil war in Syria which would’ve become more complicated if the Druze, Maronites and Shiites of Lebanon are involved in it.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are two successful examples of unity, not because they’re rich in oil but because of their style of governance, which benefited their several regions that could have been small independent states and emirates. This is not only a reason to hold on to unity but also a reason to admit its benefits. On the other hand, there is Libya which is also a federal rich-oil country; however it failed due to its style of governance. Founder of modern Libya, King Idriss Senussi, is not to blame for this. He who is to blame is Muammar Qaddafi of course, and there’s no need to explain how he destroyed Libya and its unity.
Yemen is currently the headline story of “unity and separation.” People in South Yemen dream of separation and reject unity, believing that separation is the magical solution to their problems of poverty and marginalization. They met last Tuesday to commemorate the 51st anniversary of their revolution against the British occupation. They gathered to celebrate this event despite their differences and called for the separation of the south from the north. They even gave the north until Nov. 30 to gather its military personnel and employees and leave. However, South Yemen does not have an organized force like the Houthis who opened the door for these great changes in Yemen. They have not agreed on a leadership structure and they have no military power. They came together under the slogan of restoring South Yemen’s independence but failed to agree on the details and governance style of the new regime. It seems they only agreed to separate, leaving the details for later.
Yemen is currently the headline story of “unity and separation.” People in South Yemen dream of separation and reject unity, believing that separation is the magical solution to their problems of poverty and marginalization.
If the separation mechanism had been instigated via a referendum, the south with its sweeping majority would have chosen separation. The unification of 1990 failed to achieve prosperity in both the north and the south. Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime was a failure on the developmental level and this failure expanded to the south and was used to Saleh and his supporters’ benefit. Even the reasons behind unification back then were not clear. The ruling socialist party in South Yemen was falling apart and South Yemen was crumbling along with it as a result of its management and development failures, of its domestic disputes later and of the collapse of Communism across the world.
Even when the socialist party and its leader Ali Salem al-Beidh fought with the north and with Saleh, their struggle was over power and not over a developmental cause or over a plan to prosper with Yemen. The struggle in Yemen today continues to be fought over power. Therefore, unity is not a gain worthy of fighting over for northern Yemenis. The same applies to separation as there’s no good to come out of it for southern Yemenis. If Yemen continues to crumble as the mysterious march of the Houthis toward Yemen’s wider territories continues and if they provide a proper basis for the separation of the south upon some sort of deal they strike with someone, the southerners will wake up independence in their territories but with no army, no government, no national consensus and no leading figure agreed upon. They will even disagree over establishing a constituent assembly and look towards their northern neighbor Saudi Arabia for perhaps it can be their big brother and guide them towards stability.
However, so far, the Saudi kingdom does not want to send any message conveying any aspirations for any Yemeni lands. It instead is hoping for one unified Yemeni state and supports a peaceful transformation, like its Gulf and international partners do. It’s even afraid that if South Yemen separates it may be an easy target for its enemy al-Qaeda, which will be the only military power capable of filling the vacuum that will reign iin case the central government in Sanaa falls. The southerners would have thus jumped out of the north’s frying pan into the fire of al-Qaeda.
These are difficult choices, of which the best is very bitter. The horizon is very foggy and unclear. The Houthis are expanding in North Yemen, seizing one city after another. However, they maintain the state’s structure and participate in choosing a prime minister and the government’s pillars. But at the same time they cancel out the state by establishing their own checkpoints and by controlling governmental headquarters, ports and airports. Their stance on the south’s separation is not even clear.
So, what is to be done? This is the question raised by the common southern Yemeni who’s seeking security and a better life as he sees the massive changes occurring in the north. Should he seize the moment and separate, despite all threats, and thus exploit the weakness and preoccupation of the central government? Or should to prepare and self-organize? If he does this, he may lose the chance as the situation in the north may stabilize with a strong, enthusiastic, young and revolutionary government led by the Houthis.
The answer is: I don’t know.
Arab Uprisings May Doom Middle East Christians
By: Hilal Khashan
Middle East Quarterly/Fall 2014
Not even having the Arabic word for resistance (muqawama) tattooed on his right arm could save the life of avowedly-secularist, pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni. The Italian leader of the blockade-breaking Free Gaza flotilla was executed by Salafists for "spreading corruption" and having been born in an "infidel state."
In April 2011, Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist and "journalist" who had spearheaded the blockade-breaking Free Gaza flotilla was kidnapped from Hamas-held territory and shortly thereafter, killed. His captors and executioners were not a branch of the Israeli special services but members of a local Islamist group, Salafists going by the name Jahafil al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad fi Filastin (Armies of Monotheism and Holy War in Palestine). The Salafists released a YouTube video in which they accused Arrigoni, a secularist, of "spreading corruption" stemming in part from his connection to his birthplace, an "infidel state."
"He came from across the world, left his country and family and his entire life, and came here to break the siege, and we kill him? Why?" cried one of his Gazan friends. The answer is essentially twofold. For one thing, bias against Christians is embedded in a literal interpretation of Qur'anic verses, and apparently a sizable number of Muslims, and certainly Salafists, take the Qur'an literally. For another, a preponderance of Muslims views Middle Eastern Christians as an extension of Europe and thus a constant reminder of past colonial encroachments and supremacy over them. A survey of past examples and those of more recent vintage bears out this assessment unambiguously.
Coping with Centuries of Christianity's Decline
Contrary to the conventional Muslim wisdom that the Crusades (1095-1291) ended a mythic period of Muslim-Christian coexistence, the indigenous Christian population of the Middle East had been compelled by its Muslim conquerors, much before the Crusades, to either convert, be slaughtered, or accept a second-class existence (dhimmitude). Payback for the "humiliation" of Crusader incursion took many different shapes over an extensive period of time. One of the most horrific bloodbaths was the massive Egyptian Mamluk retribution against local Christians who had had no say in ordering European onslaughts on Muslim lands. The attacks took place in 1320 when churches throughout Egypt were destroyed on the heads of thousands of worshippers and asylum seekers. Christian participation in the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258 was also deemed a provocation, and when the armies of the khan were defeated in the battle of Ain Jalut (1260), the Muslim victory ushered in a "devastating reversal of Christian hopes… [and] the … decisive collapse of Christianity in the Middle East and much of Africa." Over the next few centuries, Christian (and Jewish) scapegoating became enshrined in the thought and mores of most Muslim communities, a debilitating tendency that only worsened as Islamic decline set in. Eventually, a once thriving and widespread Christian community was ground down but it "did not simply fade away through lack of zeal, or theological confusion; it was crushed, in a welter of warfare and persecution."
Along with restrictions on freedom of worship, Islamic religious fanaticism and sectarian discrimination took numerous forms including the pervasive use of offensive religious slurs and exclusion from political and high-ranking military leadership. Over time, attacks on Christian property, the destruction of churches, and the cold-blooded murder of worshippers became the norm rather than the exception. Systematic and unabashed attacks on churches were seemingly aimed at eradicating Christianity from the region because these places of worship "preserve the traditions of the Apostolic era in ways no other Christian rites or denominations do."
Despite the early promise of a better future that accompanied the collapse of the religiously-rooted Ottoman Empire and the subsequent establishment of a secular Middle Eastern state system, Christian fortunes as a whole did not improve. At first, Christians found themselves in a privileged economic and educational position because they eagerly embraced Western education and served in the local administration of colonial governments. But the militarization of Arab politics dampened their hopes and contributed to their continued marginalization. The secularist Arab rulers did not harass their societies' avant-garde and more liberal Christians, but neither did they factor them into their political or economic calculations. As kleptocratic tendencies increased, coupled with reckless governance and poor economics, Christians were hit hardest, especially in Iraq, Egypt, and Syria.
The Iraq War and Mesopotamian Christians
The number of Iraqi Christians has dropped from two million in the early twentieth century to less than 450,000 since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. Horrific bombings aimed at Christians, like the one at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic cathedral (above) in Baghdad in 2010, have both decimated the community and ignited the exodus.
On the eve of the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom, Pope John Paul II sought to convince the Bush administration to forgo its invasion plans. The Vatican feared that war would bring about regional destabilization as well as significant casualty figures, but most significantly, open up a "new gulf between Christianity and Islam." The pope was aware that, in the aftermath of the 1991 Kuwait war, al-Qaeda had begun to operate in the Middle East and North Africa, and he was clearly concerned that with a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, armed Islamists would start converging on the country to fight "Christian infidels."
These fears came to pass shortly thereafter. A little more than a year after President Bush announced the end of major military operations in May 2003, the first major attacks against Iraqi Christians took place, with five churches in Baghdad and Mosul targeted, killing eleven people and wounding more than fifty. Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists took the lead in opposing a U.S. military presence in Iraq, perceiving coalition troops as religious predators. But as soldiers are harder to kill and military bases more difficult to penetrate, they found it expedient to target "the Christians of Iraq as an easy option."
In 2010, al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq vented its hate at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, leaving fifty-eight dead, after more than one hundred people had previously been taken hostage during the evening mass. A dual bomb attack in Baghdad that targeted a Syriac Christian church during the 2013 Christmas mass as well as a nearby outdoor market left thirty-seven Christians dead and many others wounded. Since the U.S.-led coalition offensive, an uncounted number of Christians have been killed by Islamic terrorists, their bloody handiwork including beheaded women, mutilated priests, and a 14-year old Assyrian Christian boy crucified near Mosul. The number of Iraqi Christians has dropped from two million in the early twentieth century to one and a half million during Saddam Hussein's regime to less than 450,000 since the regime's overthrow in 2003.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians have sought shelter in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. With its absorptive capacity overburdened, the region's appeals for help from the U.S. government have fallen on deaf ears. Even in that relatively peaceful and religiously tolerant part of Iraq, Christian young men have reported being told by Kurdish policemen that "they should not be in Iraq because it is Muslim territory."
In light of Iraq's protracted conflict and potential slide into chaos, it is hardly likely that a Christian exit from Mesopotamia can be halted. If anything, "Iraq's Christians continue to flee into exile, prompting fears that this community, one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, could be facing extinction in its ancient homeland."
The Egyptian Uprising and the Copts
Leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church were leery when many young Copts took part in sit-ins to demand Egyptian president Husni Mubarak's ouster—and rightfully so. In the subsequent turmoil, hundreds of Christians were targeted by Egyptian Islamists. In response, when Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was ousted by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (left), Coptic pope Tawadros II (right) eagerly embraced a return to secular-leaning, albeit, authoritarian rule.
Although the Copts are literally Egypt's indigenous inhabitants, their situation under Muslim rule has always been precarious. Egyptian Muslims are not only very devout, but they widely believe that Christians have no role to play in running the affairs of the country. Thus, for example, despite their participation in the uprising that forced President Husni Mubarak to abdicate on February 11, 2011, Copts have been excluded from political activities, police departments, security agencies, and the academia. Muslims tend to regard Egypt's Islamization as permanent and consider the Copts a historical nuisance. According to analyst Nabil Abdulmalak, "Islamic movements frequently harass Copts with the aim of proselytizing them into Islam. They use a variety of means, ranging from incentives to outright violence." The Shari'a-based dhimmitude system, denying Christians equal rights to Muslims, means that they have no future in the world of Islam. Tensions between the majority and minority populations have been exacerbated due to the "state's lack of regard for the Copts [that] has encouraged anti-Christian feelings among many Muslims in all walks of life." While examples abound, one case illustrates the situation. Describing an incident in July 2013, Amnesty International reported that the security forces "stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor … [They] left six besieged men—four of whom were killed and one hospitalized—to the mercy of an angry crowd."
The substantial weakening of the Nasser regime following Egypt's crushing defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War encouraged the Copts to become vocal, demanding equality. At the same time, their Muslim compatriots seized upon these protests to charge them with unwarranted accusations of collusion with the Christian West. In this charged atmosphere of growing Coptic demands and persistent Muslim denial, even "al-Azhar, the world's preeminent Sunni Islamic institution, has contributed its share to this widespread hostility by publishing a pamphlet declaring the Bible a corrupted document and Christianity a pagan religion."
Muslims tend to regard Egypt's Islamization as permanent and consider the Copts a historical nuisance.
Anti-Coptic violence has raged on and off since the 1970s but reached new heights during the turmoil surrounding the uprising that eventually toppled President Husni Mubarak in February 2011. Just as the annual New Year mass was concluding at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, a massive bomb exploded claiming the lives of twenty-three worshippers.
Many young Copts had taken part in the demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand Mubarak's ouster even though "pro-democracy Copts were not the majority within their community." The leaders of the Coptic Orthodox church did not hide their unease with their followers' participation in the revolution and publicly restated their commitment to a peaceful partnership with the regime whereby the army would ensure keeping militant Islamists away from them and under control. The Copts demonstrated their en-during affinity with the military in the aftermath of the overthrow of Morsi in July 2013, when "the vast majority of Copts … expressed their support for the army … [and] the Coptic Orthodox Church … had once again unreservedly taken the side of the army." The Coptic Orthodox leadership had good reasons for wishing to maintain the status quo as the fallen regime had given it preeminence in handling Coptic minority affairs.
The uprising brought neither democracy nor stability to Egypt. In fact, the state's machinery of coercion dealt heavy-handedly and unexpectedly with Coptic protestors. In October 2011, Egyptian army troops opened fire on nonviolent Coptic demonstrators near the Maspero building, the headquarters of the Egyptian radio and television union in Cairo. The Copts were protesting an earlier attack on a church in Aswan; twenty-five demonstrators lost their lives while state television broadcast falsified reports of armed protestors attacking military personnel. The "Maspero massacre" led to a major disillusionment within the Coptic populace with both the uprising and its promise of placing them on par with the Muslim majority. That disillusionment grew into alarm when Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi won the presidency in a democratic election in June 2012. His victory at the polls shocked most Copts, who saw it as a setback to their hopes of constructing a liberal political system. Their concern turned out to be justified as Morsi and his cronies tried cementing Islamist prerogatives into Egyptian law through a new constitution.
The overthrow of Morsi has not provided the Copts with relief from violence and persecution.
As dissatisfaction with the Islamists' governance escalated to massive protests, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Morsi in a bloodless coup. To legitimize his action, Sisi sought to obtain broad public support, especially from Egyptian spiritual leaders. The head of the Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, joined the head of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Tayyib, and the head of the Salafi an-Nur party, Sheikh Yunis Makhyun, in endorsing the ouster of Morsi. The general mood among Copts seems to be that only Sisi "can spare Egypt from the horrors and evil of the Muslim Brotherhood … and spare us from being subject to the attacks of terrorists who wanted to burn down our churches and throw us out of the country."
In turn, resentful that the vast majority of Coptic voters did not endorse Morsi's presidency, Egypt's Islamists feel betrayed by Pope Tawadros' decision to support the president's arrest. Anti-Coptic violence has surged, especially in Upper (southern) Egypt. In one particular incident, Morsi supporters killed four Copts, but the Egyptian police took no action to pursue the killers or to offer protection subsequently to the Christians. In fact, the police invariably take the side of Muslim mobs when they torch churches.
The overthrow of Morsi has not provided the Copts with relief from violence and persecution, especially when they attempt to renovate churches or build new ones, actions deemed to be an affront to Islam. Meanwhile, the number of Copts seeking to leave their homeland has grown exponentially.
The Syrian Uprising
President Bashar al-Assad (right), looks at the damaged interior of a monastery in the ancient Christian town of Ma'lula, April 20, 2014. Anxiety about the Syrian uprising's outcome, rather than any fondness toward Assad, swayed many Christians to side with the regime. Assad's Shiite ally, Hezbollah, whose military intervention in the conflict has helped prevent his downfall, has striven to portray itself as a defender of Christians.
The secularism promoted by both father and son Assad in Syria may not have allowed Christians to thrive politically, but it did enable them to achieve at least a modicum of socioeconomic success. As a result, Christian reactions to the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011 were mixed. Anxiety about the protests' outcome, rather than any fondness toward President Bashar al-Assad, swayed many to side with the regime.
Christian apprehensions were not unfounded. In the early days of the uprising, anti-regime demonstrators in Homs were heard to chant "Alawites to the coffin and Christians to Beirut." Horrific stories soon emerged about abuse of Christians by Syrian Muslims not identifying as militant Islamists. An 18-year old Christian woman fleeing Homs to Zahle in Lebanon recounted her agony:
They wanted to kill us because we were Christians. They were calling us kaffirs [infidels], even little children saying these things. Those who were our neighbors turned against us.
Matters soon worsened. A nun who administered the Catholic patriarchate school in Damascus reported that jihadists occupying parts of Syria were giving Christians the option of converting to Islam or paying the jizya, the traditional Islamic poll tax demanded of dhimmis who wished to remain alive. In the ancient Christian town of Ma'lula, militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front crucified two young Christians because they refused to accept Islam: "Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like your master [Jesus]." Greek Orthodox archbishop Bulus Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox archbishop Yuhanna Ibrahim were kidnapped in April 2013 outside Aleppo in an area under the control of jihadist rebels. Ironically, several days before he was kidnapped, Ibrahim told the press that "Christians in Syria are not being targeted like their coreligionists in Iraq." In July 2013, another al-Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), kidnapped and then murdered Italian priest Paolo Dall'Oglio in northeastern Syria, despite the full knowledge that he had been previously deported by the Assad regime for his relief work aiding victims of the Syrian military's campaign.
Nor are the Christians of Syria receiving any real relief from the other side in the fighting. The Syrian regime has regularly capitalized on Christian fears in order to win them over but has not protected them and has had no qualms about resorting to terror, using Christians as human shields and shelling opposition forces from Christian areas in order to invite counter-fire so as to increase their sense of vulnerability and dependence. A young woman reported being arrested in Aleppo by regime operatives who subjected her to torture and rape when they failed to convince her that, as a Christia targeted by Salafists, she ought to side with the regime.
Meanwhile, Assad's Shiite ally, Hezbollah, whose military intervention in the conflict has helped prevent his downfall, has striven to portray itself as a defender of Christians. Upon seizing the Syrian Christian town of Sednaya from Sunni militant rebels, Hezbollah circulated a photo showing one of their fighters, wrapped in the group's iconic yellow flag, saluting a saint's statue. Hezbollah is keen on convincing the international community that, unlike Sunni jihadist groups, it is a benign religious movement committed to religious pluralism.
Grim Years Ahead for Christians
It appears clear that "Arab culture is intrinsically prejudiced against ethnic and religious minorities. Islam cannot be truly permissive unless it allows other religions to exist in its midst. Animosity towards Christians is a by-product of the culture of hate and fear instilled by repressive Arab regimes." It is ironic that Eastern Christians, who launched the nascent Arab renaissance movement in the nineteenth century and the nationalist, pan-Arab Baath party a century later, not to mention the introduction of Western liberal concepts to their Muslim compatriots, felt increasingly compelled to support "the old secular tyrants [who] abused their victims equally, whether they wore the cross, hijab or skullcap" in order to secure a modicum of protection.
The plight of Arab Christians is un-mistakably bleak. While Western governments have recognized the seriousness of the issue, the modest measures they have taken to address it are incommensurate with its gravity. Some in the international media have addressed the core threat to the vulnerable existence of the region's Christians, but a chorus of voices from the press protesting the marginalization and the violence is woefully lacking.
Arab societies cannot hope to modernize without fully integrating Christians and other minorities in their countries' political systems.
Middle East Christians are a casualty of historical processes that do not bode well for their future. Their loyalty to the state is always in question, perhaps because they have difficulty seeing themselves as part of its evolution. In the course of frequent Christian-Muslim dialogue meetings, "the Christian partners have tended self-critically to admit … the egregious cases of violence that have been justified by religious reasons. … However, there is no reciprocal self-critical reflection by our Muslim partners of Islamic aggression and conquest of formerly Christian-dominated lands."
The Arab uprisings demonstrate societal limitations rather than opportunities. Resolution of lingering issues is essential for political success. Arab societies cannot hope to modernize without fully integrating Christians and other minorities in their countries' political systems. The first step in this direction, which requires moral courage, is to admit their mistakes instead of rationalizing them.
There may be a major role still awaiting Arab Christians to contribute to the transition of their countries from fratricide into civility, but that road is long and currently fraught with danger. Whether they survive this period of turmoil, in order to make that contribution, is very much in doubt.
***Hilal Khashan is a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut.
 "Vittorio Arrigoni Murdered, Islamic Execution," You Tube, Apr. 15, 2011.
 BBC News, Apr. 15, 2011.
 Father Joachim Boutros, The History of Christianity in Egypt: Post Chalcedon and the Islamic Era (Fort Myers, Fla.: Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, 2007) p. 21.
 Colin Chapman, "Christians in the Middle East—Past, Present and Future," Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies, no. 2, 2012, p. 94.
 Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East and How It Died in Africa and Asia (New York: HarperCollins, 2008), p. 100.
 The Los Angeles Times, Dec. 15, 2010.
 Andrew Doran, "How the Iraq war became a war on Christians and why supporting Syria's rebels may extinguish Christianity in its oldest environs," The American Conservative, May 9, 2013.
 Fox News, Aug. 2, 2004.
 Western Mail (Cardiff, U.K.), Dec. 17, 2010.
 Al-Mayadeen TV (Beirut), Dec. 25, 2013.
 The Telegraph (London), Mar. 31, 2007.
 Asharq al-Awsat (London), Oct. 27, 2013.
 Doran, "How the Iraq war became a war on Christians."
 World Watch Monitor (London), Oct. 22, 2013.
 Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), Nov. 26, 2013.
 Menelaos Agaloglou, "Victims of the Revolution," Think Africa Press (London), May 31, 2011.
 Nabil Abdulmalak, "Aslamat al-Aqbat wa Mas'uliyat al-Kanisa" ME Transparent, Dec. 14, 2004.
 The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2010.
 "Egypt Security Forces Abandon Coptic Christians during Deadly Attack in Luxor," Amnesty International, London, July 23, 2013.
 The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2010.
 Salma Mousa, "To Protest or Not to Protest? The Christian Predicament in the Syrian and Egyptian Uprisings," International Journal of Arts and Sciences, no. 1, 2013, pp. 275-92.
 The Vatican Insider (Rome), Aug. 17, 2013.
 Paul S. Rowe, "Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt in the Wake of the Arab Spring," Digest of Middle East Studies, no. 2, 2013, p. 262.
 Al-Wafd (Cairo), Oct. 10, 2011.
 Al-Ahram Weekly, Apr. 17, 2014.
 The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), Sept. 17, 2013.
 Al-Shrouk (Cairo), July 15, 2013.
 The Christian Post (Washington, D.C.), Mar. 26, 2014.
 The Telegraph, Jan. 13, 2013.
The U.S. Strategy to Defeat ISIS
A briefing by Max Boot
Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a foreign policy analyst and military historian who advised U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Boot briefed the Middle East Forum in a conference call on October 6, 2014.
President Obama has not offered a cohesive strategy for fighting ISIS. Since 2010, his determination to disengage from Iraq and Syria was evident in his refusal to assist the Free Syrian Army and keep U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2011. He has partially reversed his stance following the August 2014 beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, but this is too little too late.
The U.S.-led air strikes have not shaken ISIS's stranglehold on Syria and Iraq as it closes on Kobani and Baghdad. Obama's lack of resolve was evident from the start when he ruled out sending U.S. ground troops to tackle ISIS.
To increase the effectiveness of air strikes requires, at minimum, U.S. Special Operations to work alongside those Iraqi security forces that have not been infiltrated by Iranian militia, to instill discipline and leadership. Similar steps are needed to galvanize the ground forces of the Peshmerga units, Sunni tribes in the Anbar province of Iraq, and the Free Syrian Army.
Instead, by seeking a larger rapprochement with Tehran beyond even the nuclear talks, Washington appears to be tacitly working with the Syrian regime and empowering its Iranian sponsors, further alienating the Sunni tribes in Iraq that helped so much in the 2007 surge. The Iranians and their proxies being the greatest drivers of the conflict, aligning with them will exacerbate problems. Further, Iran's tactical short-term objectives have not softened its nuclear ambitions or status as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism.
Considerable evidence exists of Syrian and Iranian complicity with al-Qaeda and ISIS. A rampaging ISIS strengthens Assad by making his case that the alternative to his rule is that of ISIS. A close look shows that ISIS has gained control primarily of Sunni areas in Syria, and not by fighting Assad.
The U.S. government should back a third way, by encouraging moderates to target ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra while avoiding cooperation with the regime. A more active anti-Assad position would encourage Turkey to use its troops to set up enclaves in Syria where the FSA and government opposition forces could operate – notwithstanding Erdoğan's nasty rhetoric and troubling behavior.
Summary account by Marilyn Stern, Associate Fellow with the Middle East Forum.