LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Death, The Puzzle & Mystery
By: Elias Bejjani
Far from politics, terrorism, the Middle East chaos, and the on going world wide Jihadists’ and terrorism wars, I have decided that my new editorial be a faith on that dwells with thorough and deep personal contemplation on death; this mystery that has puzzled and pre-occupied man since God created him with Eve. How much of an awakening and spiritual realization would it be if each and every one of us attended a funeral at least once every year, and fully utilized this short yet precious and odd period of time to deeply meditate and contemplate the very human reality of this inevitable and irreversible journey? During this short, internal procession of great solemnity and silence, from the funeral home to the church, and then to the cemetery, one should mentally and physically relax and release his self, putting aside all of his every day life burdens. To truly learn and benefit from this spiritual experience, one must temporarily forget who he is, his fortunes, his poverty, all problems that he is encountering, his enemies and friends, physical ailments they he may be suffering from, and marital, or family difficulties he may be going through.
One needs to imagine that his body is so light, so clean, and innocent, and their mind and soul so pure, free of sin with no conflict of any kind or magnitude. One needs to reminisce and go back in time to the period when he was an innocent child, not yet polluted with human evil deeds and thoughts, hatred, grudges, greed, selfishness and fear. When one feels that every kind of evil feeling and venomous instinct inside him is numb, he needs to ask himself sincerely and honestly, what this dead person who is now just a cold corpse resting motionless and breathless in the coffin, is going to take with him from this mortal world to whichever world the dead go to? No matter how rich, powerful, fearless, intelligent, famous, or mighty this dead person was while alive, would he now be able to carry with him any of his riches, or ask any of his beloved to join him in death, and be buried with him in the cemetery? At this scary, terrifying, contemplative and somber moment, the individual needs to relate with the dead person and accept death, imagining himself actually lying in the casket!
By the end of the funeral procession, and after the coffin has been buried, the dead person who could not take anything with him, becomes just a memory and his body returns back to dust. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” Genesis 3:19 19
To be the actual creatures that the almighty God has created in His own image, and to be wise, humble and forgiving, we need to occasionally ask ourselves these simple questions:
Can we not die?Can we not escape death’s inevitable journey? What can we take with us when leaving this mortal life? These questions should be asked whenever we are engaged in bloody competitions, conflicts, disputes, grudges, hatred and struggle for power and money. The one and only answer to all these questions is a definite, NO!
Attending funerals at least twice a year helps us to get back in touch with reality; to know who we are, and where we are going; to wake up and to always remember that God, on judgment day, will judge our deeds, and not the magnitude of our earthly riches, nor our earthly power. Does any one of us, rich or poor, weak or powerful, sick or healthy, know when the almighty God will reclaim his soul? Definitely not! So let us live each day of our lives as if it were our last. Let us always be ready to face our Creator on the day of judgment with a set of righteous deeds.While we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus, let us solidify our trust and faith in almighty God, and ask Him to lead our lives and grant us the graces of patience, humbleness, hope, love and forgiveness, so that we can carry with courage our life burdens. Let us remember in the face of every difficulty and crisis what the Holy Bible teaches us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11, 28-30). Death, this mystery that has worried, perplexed and confused man since his first day on earth, has been defeated by Jesus’ resurrection and made conceivable by man’s mind. We do not die, but sleep on the hope of resurrection! “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed”, (Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 15 / 51-52).
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 26, 27/14
Death, The Puzzle & Mystery/By: Elias Bejjan/October 27/14
Lebanon to lobby for support at Berlin summit/By: Elise Knutsen/The Daily Star/October 27/14
Under siege, Egypt looks for allies/By ZVI MAZEL/10/27/2014. J.Post/October 27/14
The Idea of Arab Military Intervention/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 27/14
ISIS cannot be ‘contained’/By: Abdul Moneim Said/Asharq Al Awsat/October 27/14
International roles in Middle East policies//By: Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya/October 27/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October
Tears and sorrow as families lay soldiers to rest
Clashes Between Lebanese Army, Gunmen in Bhannine, Four soldiers Killed After Being Ambushed
Tripoli Clashes Persist as Gunmen Abduct Soldier, Army Evacuates Civilians, Continues to 'Eradicate Terrorism'
Syria Qaeda threatens Lebanon prisoners over Tripoli unrest
Lebanon army fights Islamist gunmen in north for third day
Politicians support pours in for the Lebanmese Army
Lebanese Army offensive signals open-ended war Decision to combat terror supersedes all else Lebanon Army presses on with northern offensive Tripoli merchants assess damage Nusra threaten to execute Lebanese soldier on Monday
Lebanese Army seizes three rigged cars in north Lebanon
Nasrallah warns against north Lebanon strife
Inventive schooling for Syrian refugee children Nusra Front claims responsibility for Bekaa rocket fire
Time to end Tripoli wound Central Bank moves to get loans under control
Clooneys attend post-wedding dinner bash Al-Rahi from Australia: We Pray Army Will Preserve Security in Lebanon
Daher Denies Links to Militant Ahmed Miqati, Accuses Hizbullah of Fabricating Claims
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 26, 27/14
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Toronto (Canada) 18 informant: ‘We need to get our act together’
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Army, ‘U.S. drone’ hit Sunni-held positions in Yemen: tribes
Houthis secure six ministerial portfolios in new Yemeni cabinet
Tripoli Clashes Persist as Gunmen
Abduct Soldier, Army Evacuates Civilians, Continues to 'Eradicate Terrorism'
Naharnet/The army forces spread in Tripoli continued on Sunday its military operations in the city, where the clashes were renewed with the armed groups that kidnapped on Sunday morning one of the soldiers from his house. Meanwhile, the army confirmed to continue eliminating the terrorists. Media reported that, “a ceasefire declaration in al-Medea after calls from the Muslim Scholars Committee and after the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian called the Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji,” but the army sources denied it.
Military sources to LBCI: No agreement on a cease-fire in Tripoli and what is happening is only a process to facilitate the exit of civilians. “A cease-fire will not happen between the regular army and armed groups that could exploit any truce to attack again on the army,” it added. “We will continue our operations until we eliminate all terrorist acts and the rumors about an attempts to eject the gunmen is not true,” said the army. After cautious calmness prevailed in the city for some time, the clashes on the Syria Street borders, Souk al-Khoudar, Souk al-Ghourabaa and al-Ahmar Square and the Souk al-Kameh, according to the media. "20 ambulance cars inside them dozens of paramedics to the places of clashes in al-Tabbaneh, to evacuate the wounded, and help whoever needs help," the media reported. Earlier on Sunday the army continued its fighting against armed groups in the northern city of Tripoli and the nearby regions as it revealed that gunmen abducted a soldier from the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.It added in a statement that it was also continuing its deployment in the neighborhood and responding to the sources of gunfire by the gunmen. Its deployment was accompanied by raids against the positions of gunmen. It later announced that gunmen kidnapped First Adjutant Fayez al-Ammoury from his residence in Bab al-Tabbaneh. Efforts are underway to release him, the military added. Meanwhile, the National News Agency reported on Sunday that the situation in Tripoli had deteriorated at dawn with clashes erupting in Bab al-Tabbaneh between the army and gunmen.
The fighting broke out in the vegetable market, Talaat al-Omari, al-Bisar, and Syria Street areas. A child, Ali al-Sheikh, was killed in the clashes, while two people are being treated for wounds at the nearby government hospital. Rocket-propelled grenades and light, medium, and heavy weapons were used in the unrest, added NNA. The army had also employed helicopters to fly over the Bab al-Tabbaneh area.Several houses and stores were damaged in the fighting.
Clashes Between Army, Gunmen in
Bhannine, Four soldiers Killed After Being Ambushed
Naharnet /The army continued its military operation on Sunday in the area of Bhannine- Minieh where violent clashes between it and gunmen took place. The army was ambushed by a terrorist group in Dhour Muhammara which led to the death of four soldiers, including two officers. The army stated, "During its deployment in the Dhour Muhammara, army troops were ambushed by a terrorist group." "The army clashed with the gunmen and inflicted a number of gunmen," during the clashes four soldiers, including two officers were killed,” it added. The army is still chasing the gunmen in Dhour Bhannine - Beit Ajaj - al-Rihaniyya down to the Nahr al-Bared power plant, according to the National News Agency. "A soldier was killed and another was critically injured due to the clashes between the army and gunmen in Bhannine," it added. The army used machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, where they killed and wounded several in the ranks of the gunmen, meanwhile they are working to track down the rest. The clashes renewed, against the backdrop of the ambush.
“The army troops are prosecuting members of the armed group in the orchards, close to where the vehicle was attack," stated the NNA. Earlier on Sunday clashes erupted between the army and an armed terrorist group in the Bhannine area in the northern region of Akkar. It announced in a statement that the group attacked the army from its position in the al-Salam-Bhannine school. A number of gunmen were wounded and others arrested in the ensuing unrest. The National News Agency identified the group as that of Sheikh Khaled Hoblos. Several of the attackers managed to escape the scene, leaving behind them a number of weapons and ammunition, continued the army. The military later managed to take control of the school, arresting a group affiliated with the cleric. In addition, the military announced that it had seized three booby-trapped vehicles parked near the school where the gunmen were situated. It also discovered a weapons cache, a number of military equipment, and 50 explosive devices. On Saturday, at least two army troops were killed and several others wounded in an armed attack on a military vehicle in the Akkar area of al-Mhammara, which was followed by clashes with gunmen loyal to Hoblos and a failed attempt to abduct five soldiers. The attacks came amid violent clashes between the army and gunmen in the nearby northern city of Tripoli, where two civilians and two gunmen were killed and around 20 troops and civilians were wounded. For the past few months, the military has been coming under increasing armed attacks, mainly in northern Lebanon. Since August, the Lebanese army has been fighting militants from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Lebanon's northeastern border with Syria.
Support pours in for the Lebanese Army from across the political divide
Oct. 27, 2014/ The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Political figures voiced staunch support for the Lebanese Army Sunday, as the military fought to contain the worst outbreak of violence in north Lebanon in months. Clashes in north Lebanon erupted after an Army unit was attacked in the Tripoli neighborhood of Khan al-Askar Friday night in retaliation for the arrest of an alleged ISIS member detained Thursday during a raid in Dinnieh. The Lebanese Army launched a campaign targeting the hideouts of militants in Tripoli Sunday, after the fighting in the city’s old souks intensified overnight Saturday, with numerous civilians, soldiers and militants reported dead.
Sidon MP Bahia Hariri expressed her support for the Lebanese Army in a statement, mourning the destruction reaped in the northern capital. “All of Lebanon is bleeding today with the unfortunate and painful events in our beloved Tripoli and other northern areas,” read the statement issued Sunday.
Hariri contacted several figures to ensure that fallout from Tripoli would not reach Sidon, including Samir Shehadeh, the head of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch in the south, and Ali Shahrour, the head of Army Intelligence in the south.
Hariri also contacted Maj. Gen. Sobhi Abu Arab, the Fatah Movement’s head of security, to maintain order in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai also lauded the efforts of the military during a Sunday Mass at the Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, where he traveled for an official visit.
“It pains all of us [to witness] the assault on the Lebanese Army in Tripoli,” Rai said. “And here we are today all of us expressing our full support to the military institution and the security forces in Lebanon.”
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel met Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi, who briefed him on the latest developments at the headquarters of the Army Command in Yarze.
Moqbel praised the thoroughness of Lebanese Army units deployed in the north, the speed with which they launched their offensive and their dedication to protecting civilians.
“The latest incidents in Tripoli reveal that the Army and other security forces are qualified and capable of defending Lebanon when the need arises,” Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said in a statement issued by his media office Sunday.
“As long as Muslim leadership in Lebanon remains vigilant and brave, and as long as military and security institutions in Lebanon remain ready, then Lebanon has nothing to fear,” he said, praising the leadership role of former premier Saad Hariri.
Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel also voiced his backing of the Army and the residents of Tripoli in a statement.
“All the Lebanese care about Tripoli’s wounds,” Gemayel said. “It is time to put an end to violations of national sovereignty and the security of the city and attacks on the Army.”
Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi expressed trust in the Army and its operations against extremists in Tripoli and Akkar, but said the military would soon need supplies.
“The Lebanese Army is now fighting a fierce war imposed on it by the takfiri groups,” Musawi said at a graduation ceremony in Tyre.
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Sunday the Army’s actions in north Lebanon weren’t against Sunnis. Rather, Rifi said he believes Hezbollah was trying to exploit the security situation to stir sectarian strife.
“Although we have a feeling that someone is hiding behind institutions to push for strife,” he said in a veiled reference to the resistance, “and we condemn this, we will not contribute to it by allowing for the state and its institutions to be undermined.”
“I heard some voices and sides describing the events in Tripoli now and other areas of the north as a war on the Sunni people,” Rifi said in his statement. “I reject such statements.”
Rifi said many Sunnis had been targeted because they stood with the state, mentioning late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and late Mufti Hasan Khaled.
Rifi also called on residents of north Lebanon to put their trust in the Future Movement.
Tripoli MPs and local officials called for an immediate cease-fire to the fighting in north Lebanon Sunday and held a meeting to reach that end which was attended by Rifi, a representative of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Muslim Scholars Committee and other officials.
Akkar’s mufti, however, criticized Sunday the military’s offensive and called on it to reconsider its campaign and the use of force in its battle against Tripoli’s jihadists, while pleading with extremists to stop attacking the Army.
“Who is pushing the Army toward a military solution against militants, even though it threatens the lives of soldiers and civilians?” Sheikh Zeid Zakaria asked in a statement.
“We reject the targeting of the state and its security agencies and Army, but we also reject the targeting of civilians and mosques, and we find no justification for the use of the air force and airstrikes killing innocent people.” – The Daily Star
Tears and sorrow as families lay Army soldiers to rest
Oct. 27, 2014'Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star
KFAR TIBNIT, Lebanon: Sorrow and tears abounded Sunday as Lebanon bid farewell to soldiers killed in clashes in north Lebanon over the weekend between the Army and ISIS-inspired militants. Hundreds of mourners, some firing weapons into the air, carried the flag-draped coffin of soldier Mohammad Ali Yaseen through an ordinarily quiet south Lebanon village Sunday after he was shot dead a day earlier by militants in the restive north. Women wailed in grief as the family passed his body through their home in Kfar Tibnit for a last time.“You must avenge his death and ... all the other martyrs,” Yaseen’s uncle, Ahmad, told uniformed soldiers who took part in the funeral.Umm Hashem, Yaseen’s neighbor, addressed the women in the funeral march, telling them not to cry.
“Don’t cry. Ululate, because he fought takfiris and that is enough to call him a sergeant,” she said. Yaseen was killed in a militant ambush in the village of Mhamra in Dinnieh Saturday. Security sources told The Daily Star gunmen approached Yaseen and another soldier and shot at them, instantly killing one of them. The second soldier later died of wounds he sustained in the attack, the sources said. Lebanese troops battled Islamist militants behind attacks in Tripoli and the northern district of Minyeh for a third day Sunday with the death toll rising to 27. Also Sunday, 1st Lt. Firas al-Hakim was laid to rest in his hometown of Aley, private Ahmad al-Asaad was buried in Safinet al-Qaytaa in Akkar, recruit Abbas Ibrahim was buried in Shmestar In Baalbek, and recruit Jaafar Asaad was buried in Arida in Akkar.
Army seizes three rigged cars in north Lebanon
Oct. 26, 2014 |/The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army seized three rigged cars in north Lebanon Sunday as it regained control over the district of Minyeh, the military said. The Army said it discovered an explosive-laden car the Bhanine village of Minyeh, hours after it had discovered two other rigged vehicles in the same area. The troops were also able to locate and surround a key jihadist leader after chasing him and his men into a seaside neighborhood. The statement said that along with the third car, a warehouse was found containing large quantities of weapons, ammunition and military equipment, as well as “50 explosive devices ready to be detonated.” The first two cars discovered - a Mercedes and a Renault Rapid - were rigged with explosives and rocket propelled grenades, and were found during raids on militant hideouts in Bhanine. Sources told The Daily Star that the Army troops were able to locate Sheikh Khaled Hablas of the Haroun Mosque and a group of his militiamen, imposing a siege on them near As-Sharq University at Minyeh’s coast. Using a military ship, aircraft and artillery, the Army has been pounding the besieged area from all sides, wounding Hablas and many of his men. Army units have been chasing other militants, who had escaped into orchards in Bhanine, near the village’s As-Salam School, after the troops had attacked militants hiding inside the school and wounded several of them as others fled. “The militants left behind large quantities of weapons and ammunition,” an Army statement said. “The Army also seized the two cars ... rigged with explosives and rocket propelled grenades in the vicinity of [As-Salam] school.” Lebanese Army helicopters had begun pounding the hideouts of militants in Bhanine Saturday, after gunmen affiliated with Hablas killed two soldiers in the area and attempted to kidnapp five others in the morning. The Army has now seized the whole of the Minyeh district after taking control of the Haroun Mosque in Bhanine, from which a number of militants were captured after Army helicopters had pounded the area. Seven soldiers and one lieutenant wounded during the clashes were transported to the Sayde Hospital in Zgharta, while six soldiers and one sergeant wounded during the same gunfight were taken to the nearby Salam Hospital. Hablas had moved to the northern district at the beginning of the security plan in Tripoli in April. He preached in the mosques of Taqwa and al-Rahman in Bab al-Tabbaneh, recruiting a number of young men to his militia. The man and his group held many protests and demonstrations to demand the release of the Islamist militants detained at Roumieh Prison. In a speech Friday, Hablas called on Sunni soldiers to defect from the Army, and declare jihad against it. The Army raided his house in Minyeh Saturday afternoon, killing and detaining a number of his followers, but did not find the sheikh. A security source told The Daily Star that Hablas had close links to the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked fundamentalist group fighting in Syria. The Nusra Front has pledged to move its battle from Syria into Lebanon, announcing that it had recruited thousands of jihadists who are ready to act.
Nusra threaten to execute Lebanese soldier on Monday
Oct. 26, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Nusra Front threatened to execute Ali Bazzal, one of the Lebanese soldiers it is holding captive, at 5 a.m. Monday after accusing the Lebanese Army of “cheating to gain time” and failing to meet its demand to end the offensive against militants in Tripoli. In a statement posted on a Twitter account, the Nusra Front said it listed the name of captive George Khoury on the next hit list as a means of pressure to avoid a further deterioration of the internal situation in Lebanon. Nusra originally said it would execute Army solder Ali Bazzal at 10 a.m. Sunday in response to the Army's crackdown on Tripoli jihadists. But Anadolu news agency later reported that the jihadists agreed to postpone the execution by four hours after the Muslim Scholars Committee pleaded with Nusra not to follow through with the killing. “We warn the Lebanese Army against escalating its military campaign against the Sunni people of Tripoli, and we demand that it breaks the siege and launch a peaceful compromise,” the fundamentalist group posted on its Twitter account just after midnight."Otherwise, we will have to begin ending the kidnapped soldiers file gradually during the next hours,” it added. Nusra had previously executed Mohammad Hamieh, while ISIS had beheaded two Army soldiers. The two groups still hold captive about 27 Army soldiers and policemen they kidnapped during the five-day battle with the Army in the northeastern town of Arsal in early August. Seven others have previously been released. The Muslim Scholars Committee, which had at one point served as a mediator in the negotiations to free the captives, urged militants not to kill any of the servicemen, saying that such actions would further complicate the situation. At least 28 people were killed in running battles between Lebanese troops and ISIS-inspired militants in Tripoli, north Lebanon. The clashes started Friday night with an attack on a Lebanese Army unit, and escalated to a full military campaign to rid the northern city of jihadists plotting attacks in the country.
Decision to combat terror supersedes all else, Salam says
Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star/Oct. 27, 2014/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam reassured visitors to his home Sunday that he was in constant contact with the military leadership, which is doing everything to eliminate terrorist groups from Tripoli. “The military and security measures taken by the armed forces, and our choice [to combat] terrorism, are irreversible,” he emphasized, while admitting that the battle ahead would not be easy. Lebanese troops battled Islamist militants behind attacks in Tripoli and the northern district of Minyeh for a third day Sunday with the death toll rising to 27. “It is true that there are complications and accumulation [of problems], and addressing these is not easy either, but the firm decision must supersede all else,” Salam said. “We have no choice but to continue curbing terrorism and eliminate it by any means. They [militants] must not be allowed to control certain neighborhoods and limit the freedom of citizens. Therefore, it is vital to strengthen the role of [state] authority, grant people relief and put an end to terrorism. It is unacceptable for any power, for any goals or targets claimed by terrorist groups, to abuse the country or its citizens.” He said “terrorists have their own methods of mobilizing, of hitting and running, and this is what is happening presently. It will not necessarily be resolved quickly and easily.”Salam said “political measures are being carried out to coincide with security measures, and rumors that terrorists have found a welcoming environment in Lebanon are false, as evidenced by the clear position toward the state, the Army and legitimate [security] forces taken by the political leadership in response to events.”As to whether the events in Tripoli could force him to reconsider his trip to Germany scheduled for Monday, Salam said “my trip to Germany is only for 24 hours, and it is in the interests of the country concerning a national issue that has begun to take on dangerous dimensions,” as well as the refugee issue, which is “very important and must be addressed as a national issue.” “I will not be absent from developments in Tripoli and throughout Lebanon,” he vowed. Salam said he has been following from the start what has been happening in the north and is in constant contact with the military and security leadership as well as relevant political figures. He said the terrorist groups first tried to hide among civilians in the narrow streets of Tripoli, but that was thwarted. They then moved to Minyeh, where they tried to take refuge in the mosque just as they earlier sought refuge in a church in Tripoli, but that attempt was also thwarted “to prevent harm to citizens,” especially after it came to light that these terrorists were on the verge of carrying out a plan to boobytrap and destroy a university building that had recently been built in the area. Salam said these militants had resorted to methods such as intimidation and violence in order to ignite strife in the country. He added that the old souks in Tripoli had been cleared of terrorists and efforts were now underway to root out such groups from Bab al-Tabbaneh. Salam also said that the government takes the Nusra Front’s threat to execute more hostages “very seriously,” adding that “this is one of the challenges that we face.”
Nusra Front claims responsibility for
Bekaa rocket fire
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Two rockets fired by Nusra Front militants crashed on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Labweh in the Bekaa Valley Sunday, security sources said. In a statement posted on a Nusra-affiliated Twitter page, the group claimed responsibility for firing grads at a "Hezbollah stronghold" in Labweh. The rocket attack caused some crops to catch fire, but there were no reports of casualties. Jihadist militants trapped along the Lebanon-Syria border fire rockets towards Lebanese villages during periods of heightened security tensions in Lebanon. The latest attack comes amid a three-day Army offensive against militants in northern Lebanon. At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between the Army and militants in Tripoli and the northern Akkar region since Friday night.
Time to end Tripoli wound
Oct. 27, 2014/The Daily Star/As the tragedy of Tripoli flares up again, the Lebanese Army must take advantage of the enormous support it is being given to end this extremist plot against Lebanon once and for all. The violence in Tripoli and surrounding areas has been erupting again and again over the last few years, ever since the civil war began in Syria, but the roots of the problem were there before, and have not yet been truly addressed, hence the recurrent nature of the fighting. But while it is necessary to combat the roots of the problem, a security solution must now be the top priority for authorities. Civilians and Army personnel cannot keep dying on the streets of Tripoli, while the city’s economy and reputation suffer, tarnishing the entire country at the same time. The Army has repeatedly sought to implement security plans for the northern city, and while these have often worked for a time, eventually various obstacles, whether sectarian, political or logistical, have prevented peace from enduring. It appears that extremist elements based in the north want to wear the Army down, deplete its resources and manpower, and distract it from other areas in Lebanon. Now, though, the Army must take advantage of the wide support it is getting, from religious and political leaders, of all sects and groups, and the international backing it is receiving.The Lebanese are understandably weary after years of watching their countrymen killed and their northern capital torn to pieces as if it is itself part of the Syrian battlefield. The time is now for the conflict to end once and for all.
Nasrallah warns against fueling strife in north Lebanon
Oct. 26, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: There is a plan to fuel civil strife in northern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday in a speech commemorating the beginning of Ashoura, calling on citizens to support Army measures. “There is a huge, dangerous plan to fuel strife that was being cooked in Tripoli and the north,” Nasrallah said, addressing followers from a large screen at Sayyed al-Shouhada center in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “We ask God to help [officials] and the military, security and political leaders to cooperate and collaborate to confront the threat of strife.”“The situation requires wisdom, good management, and follow up.”The speech came amid intense battles between the Army and militants in the north.The death toll from three days of fighting between Lebanese troops and ISIS-inspired militants rose to 18 Sunday as the military cracked down on jihadists plotting attacks in the country in Tripoli and the northern district of Minyeh.
Clooneys attend post-wedding dinner
Oct. 26, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Newlyweds Amal and George Clooney were hosted for a post-wedding dinner party thrown in their honor by the bride’s parents at the Danesfield House Hotel in London Saturday. Although no A-list celebrities were expected at the event, Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt was set to attend the second wedding celebration thrown by the bride's parents, mom Baria and dad Ramzi. Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk and MP Marwan Hamade were also expected to join the PSP head. According to E Online news, Amal sported “a bronze sequined dress with a black faux fur shoulder wrap,” as her husband “worked a charcoal suit with a white shirt and black tie.”Almost one month to the day, the Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal, 36, and Hollywood actor, 53, dominated world headlines in a lavish Venice affair that included a secret wedding ceremony at one of the famed city's luxurious hotels. An internationally acclaimed barrister, Amal Clooney surprised tabloids by pushing the American celebrity to break his long-time vow to remain a bachelor forever.
Lebanon to lobby for support at Berlin summit
Oct. 27, 2014/Elise Knutsen| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas will travel this week to Berlin, where they will lobby the international community to increase its support for Lebanon during a conference on the Syrian refugee crisis. Tuesday’s conference in the German capital which will gather foreign ministers and international organizations will be co-hosted by German ministers and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
Organizers hope governments will “commit to medium-term humanitarian solutions in support of the refugees and local [host] communities who are increasingly feeling the impact on structures and services,” according to the German Foreign Office. The International Support Group for Lebanon will meet Tuesday morning to discuss the particular challenges the country faces as it struggles to cope with more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees within its borders. At an International Support Group meeting in New York last month, Salam stressed that the Syrian refugee crisis was having a severe economic impact on Lebanon. He is expected to repeat a call for increased international financial support in Berlin.
Aside from fundraising efforts, the Lebanese delegates will seek political backing for the government’s new decision to stem the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. “We are asking for additional support for Lebanon. We’re not only talking about [financial] pledges, we’re talking about political support ... particularly [regarding] the refugee situation,” said Hala al-Helou, an adviser to Derbas. Last week, the government decided Lebanon could accept no more refugees, and would only welcome displaced Syrians with urgent humanitarian needs. Helou said that at the forthcoming conference Lebanese ministers would insist on the country’s sovereignty and, working closely with Jordanian counterparts, would ask that other countries take a more proactive role in sharing the bur den of the refugee crisis. “They need to start looking into serious solutions for the situation aside from giving us advice,” Helou added.Particularly, Lebanon and Jordan will demand that European countries accept more displaced Syrians, and that the international community seriously discuss the prospect of refugee repatriation, Helou told The Daily Star. The Lebanese government has long maintained that there are safe areas within Syria where refugees could be responsibly resettled. “This is one of our priorities,” she stressed. According to Helou, the international community is “negotiating” whether the safe return of Syrians is currently feasible. Both Helou and Derbas denied reports of an international plot to pressure Lebanon into signing the Geneva Convention. Helou said, however, that some language in the final declaration of the conference was “not acceptable” to the Lebanese authorities. Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention, which affords certain legal rights to those fleeing conflict. Initially, a draft of the conference’s closing statement included references to the Geneva Convention, Helou said. Both Lebanon and Jordan objected to the wording, and to the fact that the declaration was referred to as a legally binding compact. The statement has since been revised. “There was no actual coercion,” Helou said. “But at the same time we did not approve of it.”Still, Derbas insisted that Lebanon adheres to international human rights principles. “We are a member of the U.N. and we abide by human rights declarations,” Derbas told The Daily Star. “But we must always look out for the rights of Lebanese.”
U.S. publicly humiliates Israeli defense minister as his
visit to U.S. ends
Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch/Oct 25, 2014
This is all of a piece with Obama’s relentless determination to blame Israel for the jihad against it and to box it in and oppose it at every turn. “U.S. publicly humiliates Israeli defense minister as visit ends,” by Barak Ravid, Haaretz, October 25, 2014:
The White House refused to give Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon an audience with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice during his trip to the United States this week, senior American officials confirmed Friday. The reason for the cold shoulder was a number of statements Ya’alon made six months ago, in which he criticized the Obama administration and Kerry in particular.“Given some of his comments in the recent past, it should come as no surprise that he was denied some meetings,” a senior U.S. official told Haaretz. During his visit, Ya’alon met with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. A senior American official told the Associated Press that the White House wanted to instruct Power to decline meeting with Ya’alon but that they had only learned of the meeting after she had consented. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Department of State Spokeswoman Jen Psaki didn’t deny these reports in their daily press briefing Friday. Instead they merely answered laconically that Ya’alon’s meeting with his counterpart Hagel was “a natural, standard procedure.” Despite the fact that Ya’alon’s requests to meet with the senior members of the Obama administration were declined over a week ago, Washington waited until the visit ended before making the story public in order to humiliate the Israeli defense minister. Senior U.S. officials leaked the story to the Israeli news website Ynet, which was first to break the story, then to the AP news agency, and after that to the rest of the press. The first reports came out just after Ya’alon returned to Israel Friday afternoon….
Canada Condemns Iran’s Execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari
October 25, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:
“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms Iran’s execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year old interior designer and the latest victim of a murderous regime.
“In 2009, Ms. Jabbari was convicted after a deeply flawed trial process of killing a man she claims was trying to sexually assault her. Today, Iran executed her despite international efforts to see a fair trial and justice properly served.
“The execution of Ms. Jabbari is another truly tragic example of Iran’s contempt for due process and of systemic flaws within Iran’s judicial system.
“Canada strongly believes that due process and the rule of law are fundamental to ensuring human rights and dignity. By failing to accord Ms. Jabbari due process, Iran has once again cynically demonstrated its unwillingness to live up to international human rights obligations and to respect the dignity and rights of its people. The people of Iran, and on this day particularly the family of Reyhaneh Jabbari, deserve better.”
The Sykes-Picot Agreement : 1916
It is accordingly understood between the french and British governments:
That France and great Britain are prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab states or a confederation of Arab states (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.
That in the blue area France, and in the red area great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.
That in the brown area there shall be established an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of the sheriff of mecca.
That great Britain be accorded (1) the ports of Haifa and acre, (2) guarantee of a given supply of water from the tigres and euphrates in area (a) for area (b). His majesty's government, on their part, undertake that they will at no time enter into negotiations for the cession of Cyprus to any third power without the previous consent of the french government.
That Alexandretta shall be a free port as regards the trade of the British empire, and that there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards British shipping and British goods; that there shall be freedom of transit for British goods through Alexandretta and by railway through the blue area, or (b) area, or area (a); and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against British goods on any railway or against British goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.
That Haifa shall be a free port as regards the trade of France, her dominions and protectorates, and there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards french shipping and french goods. There shall be freedom of transit for french goods through Haifa and by the British railway through the brown area, whether those goods are intended for or originate in the blue area, area (a), or area (b), and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against french goods on any railway, or against french goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.
That in area (a) the Baghdad railway shall not be extended southwards beyond Mosul, and in area (b) northwards beyond Samarra, until a railway connecting Baghdad and aleppo via the euphrates valley has been completed, and then only with the concurrence of the two governments.
That great Britain has the right to build, administer, and be sole owner of a railway connecting Haifa with area (b), and shall have a perpetual right to transport troops along such a line at all times. It is to be understood by both governments that this railway is to facilitate the connection of Baghdad with Haifa by rail, and it is further understood that, if the engineering difficulties and expense entailed by keeping this connecting line in the brown area only make the project unfeasible, that the french government shall be prepared to consider that the line in question may also traverse the Polgon Banias Keis Marib Salkhad tell Otsda Mesmie before reaching area (b).
For a period of twenty years the existing Turkish customs tariff shall remain in force throughout the whole of the blue and red areas, as well as in areas (a) and (b), and no increase in the rates of duty or conversions from ad valorem to specific rates shall be made except by agreement between the two powers.
There shall be no interior customs barriers between any of the above mentioned areas. The customs duties leviable on goods destined for the interior shall be collected at the port of entry and handed over to the administration of the area of destination.
It shall be agreed that the french government will at no time enter into any negotiations for the cession of their rights and will not cede such rights in the blue area to any third power, except the Arab state or confederation of Arab states, without the previous agreement of his majesty's government, who, on their part, will give a similar undertaking to the french government regarding the red area.
The British and french government, as the protectors of the Arab state, shall agree that they will not themselves acquire and will not consent to a third power acquiring territorial possessions in the Arabian peninsula, nor consent to a third power installing a naval base either on the east coast, or on the islands, of the red sea. This, however, shall not prevent such adjustment of the Aden frontier as may be necessary in consequence of recent Turkish aggression.
The negotiations with the Arabs as to the boundaries of the Arab states shall be continued through the same channel as heretofore on behalf of the two powers.
It is agreed that measures to control the importation of arms into the Arab territories will be considered by the two governments.
I have further the honor to state that, in order to make the agreement complete, his majesty's government are proposing to the Russian government to exchange notes analogous to those exchanged by the latter and your excellency's government on the 26th April last. Copies of these notes will be communicated to your excellency as soon as exchanged.I would also venture to remind your excellency that the conclusion of the present agreement raises, for practical consideration, the question of claims of Italy to a share in any partition or rearrangement of turkey in Asia, as formulated in article 9 of the agreement of the 26th April, 1915, between Italy and the allies.
His majesty's government further consider that the Japanese government should be informed of the arrangements now concluded.
Ottawa (canada) shooting driven by ideological motives: RCMP
The Canadian PressBy The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press/26.10.14
OTTAWA - The killing of a Canadian soldier in Ottawa and subsequent gunfight on Parliament Hill was driven by "ideological and political motives," RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Sunday.
A statement from Paulson said the man responsible — Michael Zehaf Bibeau — made a video recording of himself just prior to last Wednesday's attack.
"The RCMP has identified persuasive evidence that Michael Zehaf Bibeau’s attack was driven by ideological and political motives," Paulson's statement said. "The RCMP is conducting a detailed analysis of the video for evidence and intelligence."
The statement, released during the Sunday dinner hour, said the video could not be immediately made public.
In their statement, the RCMP said they are still looking into the origins of the "old and uncommon" gun Zehaf Bibeau used, but believe he obtained a knife from his aunt's property near Mont-Tremblant, Que., where he had buried it previously.
The RCMP say they have traced Zehaf Bibeau's savings to money he had earned while working in Alberta's oil patch.
And they say they are still investigating contact Zehaf Bibeau had with other individuals in the days before the attack, to determine whether he had any help.
Zehaf Bibeau gunned down Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard at the National War Memorial.
He then went to the Parliament Buildings where he died in a hail of bullets after a gunfight with RCMP and House of Commons security.
Paulson's statement was issued hours after a published report in which Zehaf Bibeau's mother said her son acted in despair and expressed doubt he was radicalized.
In a letter published by Postmedia News, Susan Bibeau painted a picture of her son as an "unhappy person at odds with the world" and mentally unbalanced in his final days.
Bibeau writes Michael told her he wanted to go to Saudi Arabia where he could study the Qu'ran and thought he would be happier in an Islamic country.
Bibeau says Michael was angered that federal officials had not granted him a passport and felt trapped.
"He felt cornered, unable to stay in the life he was in, unable to move on to the next one he wanted to go to," writes Bibeau in the letter to Postmedia, adding she may never understand what drove her son to commit such acts.
She also disputes a suggestion from the RCMP last week that Zehaf Bibeau wanted a passport so he could go fight in Syria's civil war.
Bibeau writes she doesn't believe Michael was part of an organization or acted "on behalf of some grand ideology or for a political motive."
She said she believes "he acted in despair."
Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to Zehaf Bibeau's actions were a terrorist attack and his office didn't change its tune Sunday. "This was a terrorist attack. He attacked two Canadian institutions - the soldiers standing guard at the War Memorial, and Parliament - had espoused extremist ideology, was, as the police have indicated, radicalized," said Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Harper told The Canadian Press in an email. Paulson says the RCMP have also asked an outside police force to review the Mounties' handling of the gunfight in the halls of Parliament. "Consistent with the principles of independent investigation where police shootings or use of force result in serious injury or death, the RCMP has asked the Ontario Provincial Police to take complete conduct of the investigation of the shooting of Zehaf Bibeau inside Parliament."
Analysis: Under siege, Egypt looks for
By ZVI MAZEL/10/27/2014. J.Post
Over the weekend, 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the past year in northern Sinai. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reacted with a stark declaration, saying terrorism was an existential threat and that Egypt will fight it till it is eradicated.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is at the forefront of Jihadi groups grimly determined to throw the country into chaos. The army is making an all-out effort to eliminate all Islamist terrorist movements, and claims to have killed some 600 insurgents and to have destroyed many of their strongholds, seizing huge amounts of arms and explosives – last week it estimated the number of underground tunnels blown up or closed at 1,875.
Those were heavy blows to the terrorists, but they are securely entrenched among the population in the north of the peninsula, and they can depend on their extensive networks of Beduin in the area. Furthermore, they are being reinforced by a steady stream of men and material coming through all Egypt’s borders. It can be said that to a certain extent, Egypt is under siege, with the Gaza Strip functioning as the logistic hub. Gaza has the capacity to develop and produce weapons, to package explosives and to train terrorists before infiltrating them to the peninsula through the tunnels, of which there are always enough left for that purpose.
However, an ever-growing number of fighters and ammunition are coming in through the borders with Libya and Sudan. The border between Egypt and Libya runs across 1,200 km. of deserts and mountains, making monitoring near impossible, the more so since strife-torn Libya is no longer functioning as a sovereign state.
Its capital city has been partially taken over by Islamic and tribal militias, its parliament and its government have fled to Tobruk, not far from the Egyptian border. Many jihadi terrorists, among them some who came from Syria and Iraq, can be found all along that border.
Dozens of Egyptians soldiers have been killed in recent months in a number of clashes with insurgents infiltrating from Libya. And if that was not enough, more arms and more rebels are coming in from Sudan, through its 400-km.- long border with Libya. There could also be Iranian weapons still reaching the Sinai Peninsula. Iran is intent on destabilizing Egypt, even if it entails aiding extremist Sunni movements as it did with al-Qaida in the past.During the Mubarak era, extensive smuggling networks were left to grow in Egypt as a whole and in the Sinai Peninsula, in the mistaken belief that it was a problem for Israel alone. It was a costly mistake, for which Egypt is paying dearly. Sisi was confident he could depend on America’s assistance to fight the threat of terror.
However, instead of cooperating with Cairo, the White House, still smarting over the ouster of former president Muhammad Morsi and of the Muslim Brothers, declared an embargo on arms for Egypt.
The recent visit of the Egyptian president to Washington and his meeting with his American counterpart did not bring a thaw. Obama allegedly quizzed Sisi over human rights in Egypt. The Egyptian president retaliated by saying he would join the coalition against Islamic State but would not send troops, since they were badly needed to defend his country against terror.
Relations between the two countries are still fraught, though America is now grudgingly dispatching ten Apache helicopters that were meant to have been delivered a year ago.
Deprived of the support of his country’s former staunchest ally, Sisi had to look elsewhere.He is in the process of setting up his own coalition with North African countries facing the threat coming from Libya, such as Sudan and Algeria.
He is in close contact with the legal government of Libya, whose prime minister, Abdullah al-Thani came to Cairo in mid-October and signed a cooperation agreement between the two armies.
Egypt will help train Libyan security forces and police, there will be joint border control, and cooperation will extend to exchange of intelligence.
This was followed by steps on the ground. “Unidentified” planes bombed Tripoli airfield, held by Islamic and tribal militias.
Various groups accused Egypt, and the White House was prompt to condemn the raids. Cairo denied that its forces intervened beyond its borders.
It appears likely that the attack was not carried out by the Egyptian army, but probably by Libyan pilots taking off from Egyptian air fields flying Egyptians planes and planes from the Emirates.
The Libyan army has now launched an all-out offensive against the Islamists with the help of former renegade general Khalifa Haftar and has retaken Benghazi – it is moving to reconquer Tripoli and restore order.
Sisi then turned to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Little is known about their discussions, though a spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency said that both presidents agreed to cooperate, with special emphasis on the common threat from Libya.
It was also decided to set up a free-trade zone along their borders and to strive together to find a solution on the issue of the dam on the Blue Nile being built in Ethiopia, which threatens the water quotas of Egypt and Sudan.
By inviting the Sudanese president, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the Egyptian president was taking the calculated risk of outraging world public opinion. The needs of his country, deprived of the assistance of the United States, had left him little choice.
Last week, Egypt tried to convince Algeria, a country with a 600-km. border with Libya, to join its coalition against terrorism coming from Libya. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri visited Algeria, and his talks with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika centered on the threat posed by the situation in Libya to all bordering countries.
Following the weekend attack in Sinai, Sisi has ordered a crackdown on all terrorist organizations. A state of siege was decreed in Northern Sinai and the Rafah terminal was closed. A Hamas delegation to the negotiations with Israel following Operation Protective Edge, scheduled for this week in Cairo, was asked not to come after a Hamas connection to the attacks was hinted.
In fact, military commentators wanted all North Sinai Beduin deported in order to be able to proceed unhampered against the terrorists. It does not seem likely – for now. However, there are talks of setting a no-man’s land between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, without vegetation or habitations and protected by a security border.
Such determined fighting comes at a price. Instead of concentrating the country’s efforts and resources on much-needed economic and social reforms on the way to development and progress, Sisi must fight Islamic terror trying to destroy Egypt as it has destroyed Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
Maybe his coalition will not make up for American training, equipment and technology, but he is doing the best he can; he might even ask for Russian help after the recently concluded agreement on the sale of Russian weapons.
Should he fail, it would be a disaster for the Middle East and for the West. Incredibly, neither the United States nor the European Union appear to care, let alone assist.
**The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
Toronto (Canada) 18 informant: ‘We
need to get our act together’
Mubin Shaikh, the informant who foiled the Toronto 18 terrorism plot, on the need to act on Islamic self-radicalization
By Charlie Gillis | Maclean's 26.10.14
That a shooter got past security at the Centre Block of Parliament, sending MPs and staff scuttling for their lives, came as a shock to Mubin Shaikh, the police informant who infiltrated the so-called Toronto 18 back in 2005.
That a Muslim raised in Canada might launch such a suicide mission didn’t surprise him one bit.
“I know how these people think and how they operate,” he says. “Yes, I’m shocked that they got past security. But this just shows us that we need to get our act together. We have all these discussions about this issue as if we’re inside a bubble. As public safety policy, it’s just disastrous.”
Shaikh says Western intelligence and law enforcement agencies have consulted him repeatedly in recent months, as the pattern of self-radicalization he witnessed nine years ago repeats itself among young Muslim Canadians—many spurred on this time by the militant group Islamic State. Governments are now scrambling, he says, to catch up to the new paradigm, where Canadian youths sign up to fight in Islamic State’s wars abroad. “From what we’ve just seen,” Shaikh adds, “it might be too late.”
Shaikh, a former Islamic activist, was invited to join the al Qaeda-inspired plot of the Toronto 18 after several members came to him to learn more about Canada’s security certificate program. He turned informant shortly thereafter, allowing police to follow the scheme from the inside until the day they broke it up in a series of raids.
He had thought the Toronto 18 case would prove a turning point that would halt the drift of young men toward extreme Islamist ideology. That was before Islamic State formed in Iraq and Syria, restarting a drift of Canadian-born youths toward its extreme ideology and what is now referred to as the “foreign-fighter” phenomenon. On Wednesday, it emerged that the gunman shot to death in the corridors of Parliament, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had had his passport seized to prevent him from going overseas to wage jihad. Martin Couture-Rouleau, the man who killed a soldier in a Monday hit-and-run that took the life of a soldier in St-Jean-sur-Richilieu, Que., reportedly had his passport seized for similar reasons.
In light of these attacks, Shaikh believes Canada must take more concrete steps against those espousing extremist doctrine—especially when authorities know the individuals plan to wage jihad.
“If somebody goes on Facebook and posts, ‘I’m going to Syria to fight in jihad,’ then we’re going have a discussion over whether this qualifies as evidence. I think, yeah [it does]. Should we wait to arrest somebody? Or release him to go and do something like what we’ve just seen? I mean, come on.
“This is what pisses me off,” Shaikh goes on. “I’ve been going to governments telling them we need something, on-the-ground counter-radicalization programs, something. Instead, they’re giving money for academic research on what causes radicalization. I mean, we’re eight years after the Toronto 18, 13 years after 9/11 and we’re just starting to look into what causes this? While all this other s–t is going on?”
Shaikh says he’s recently discussed self-radicalization with members of the U.S. Counter-violent Extremism (CVE) initiative, advising them where to find converts both on the web, and in person. He makes little distinction between the new generation of jihadists and those he informed on—at least when it comes to background and ideology: “Young, impressionable, alienated—or so they claim. Ignorant of the religion. It’s almost like a cult mentality, with virulent anti-Western sentiment, to the point that they’re cheering online when a Canadian gets killed.” (On the question of religious ignorance, many Muslim leaders agree: “These acts of terror have no basis in any religion,” leaders of the religious revival movement Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada said in a statement Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the soldier who gave his life in today’s attacks in Ottawa as well as the soldier who was killed earlier in the week in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu”).
The real difference, says Shaikh, lies in their methods. The new self-starters have abandoned the grand spectacle, à la Sept. 11, 2001, in favour of smaller attacks on symbolic targets that are harder to prevent. “They’ve realized, hey, if our intent is to scare the s–t out of people—to trigger heavy-handed responses by government, to force isolation of the Muslim community, pushing them to more radicalization—what do you have to do? Take two guys into a mall, shoot it up, and you’re done. You’ll be out of there in 15 minutes, and we’ll be talking about it for days and weeks and months.”
Opinion: The Idea of Arab Military Intervention
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 27 Oct, 2014
In recent history, political battles were limited. Most of the time, each epoch was distinguished by a single crisis. A crisis in a country would not extend to neighboring states for a number of reasons: the political situation was governed by regional powers, the borders of the region were taken very seriously, and above all this was the international recognition of the status quo. Therefore, the Lebanese civil war lasted for a decade-and-a-half without being exported. The same applies to Iraq, when Saddam Hussein’s regime was besieged after 1991 and then toppled in 2003. Iraq’s crisis lasted for 18 years without spreading beyond its borders to the rest of the region.
However, this changed following the so-called Arab Spring. The protests in Tunisia were echoed by more in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and armies of foreign fighters are now being transported across borders to at least four Arab countries. Civil wars are no longer contained within the borders of their countries. The terrorism in Libya has reached Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and western Tunisia. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is moving between Syria and Lebanon, and the fighting is happening on Turkey’s borders for the first time since the Second World War. Hezbollah are fighting in Syria, and the borders between Syria and Iraq are almost completely under the control of terrorist groups. Chaos is spreading across the region and it is no longer possible for any country to think it is safe from it.
Due to the simultaneous crises, and the difficulty of predicting how they will develop, the experience of Libya suggests a method that may be suitable for some hotspots, if not to impose peace then at least to contain the crisis. It’s clear that Egypt, Algeria and other countries have recently been active on the military and political fronts to end the chaos and support the legitimate government there. Although the situation hasn’t stabilized yet, we can mark this as the first time we can see signs of a regional agreement to use military power and political influence in Libya to end the chaos and bloodshed.
Regional military intervention can be successful if some conditions are met. The first of these is to attain some sort of legitimacy. There is an internationally recognized government and an elected parliament in Libya. However, several armed groups confront these legitimate but ramshackle institutions, and several foreign powers want to impose their tutelage in order to establish the regime of their choice. Another condition of this limited, regional intervention is the presence of military and security institutions of some kind, because their absence would make it impossible to engage in battles on the ground. This condition is hardly available in Libya. If Arab military intervention in Libya succeeds, it may be the only remedy to end the chaos. The question is: can this experience be repeated in Yemen, Iraq and Syria?
It could in Yemen—if security collapses in the capital, Sana’a. The UN Security Council has been paying attention to Yemen, and is backing a political solution, the implementation of which requires military aid to protect the Yemeni army and support it with intelligence and equipment. Saudi Arabia and Jordan worked together in Yemen in the 1960s, until rebellious factions and other groups who were supported by foreign parties were forced to accept a compromise that finally ended Yemen’s civil war.
Will we witness Saudi–Jordanian military cooperation in Yemen once more? Maybe not, as there is still a chance to reach a political solution and broker compromises that ensure every faction will be able to participate in politics. The idea of military support, and not necessarily direct intervention on the ground, may be one of the means to control the chaos spreading in every direction, and which will likely continue for the next 10 or 20 years.
ISIS cannot be ‘contained’
By: Abdul Moneim Said/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 26 Oct, 2014
By the time this article goes to print, the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobani, or Ain Al-Arab as it is known in Arabic, may have reached its logical conclusion with the collapse of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) campaign to seize it.
The fate of Kobani has clung between two possible outcomes; the fall of the city to ISIS terrorists or the city’s defenders successfully repelling this attack. Airstrikes by the US and its allies have tipped the scales in favor of the defenders, in this battle at least. As for the war effort as a whole, there is still a long way to go. Despite all this, ISIS continues to advance in parts of Iraq, seeking soft targets. The group is now pushing in the direction of Baghdad and expanding its assault on the less populated areas in the western governorate of Anbar. ISIS has no intention of laying down its weapons or surrendering. It will persist in its drive to consolidate and expand its positions in Iraq and Syria.
And it will continue to act as a model and an important source of inspiration for similar organizations that are working to achieve the same ends whether in Derna in Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula or elsewhere in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and the Western Sahara.
ISIS has managed to achieve all this not out of tenacity or tactical flexibility but rather because its adversaries have yet to agree on an appropriate strategy to deal with the group and the extremism that it is espousing. The world does not know how to deal with ISIS’s use of extremist ideology, violence and terrorism to spread its ideas across all quarters of the Islamic world. Because ISIS’s objectives seemed so outlandish, hailing as they do from the Dark Ages, it was initially difficult to take them seriously. But this is not the first time in history that the world has been forced to confront what initially had appeared to be an implausible or strange idea. When Nazism and fascism first emerged, international public opinion scoffed. As these ideas coalesced into organizations that did not bother to hide their racist intentions, the world continued to shrug this off with a smirk. Even when these organizations began to flex their muscles in violent tests of their strength, the phenomenon was portrayed as a form of impetuous hot-hotheadedness. It was only later that the world woke up to the true nature of the threat it was facing and the murderous and genocidal motives that drove it.
While Washington did sense the danger from ISIS, it did not judge it with the required degree of severity and, therefore, it has restricted its approach to “limited” airstrikes, adamantly ruling out “boots on the ground.”
Accordingly, the international and regional coalition have undertaken a series of airstrikes targeting ISIS but left the ground campaign to the Iraqi army—which had suffered from years of attrition—and to the Peshmerga—in spite of many years of inactivity. Therefore, as praiseworthy as these steps may be, they are not enough to confront the threat.
This strategy shows an insufficient appreciation of the levels of savagery and barbarity that we have seen, and which we will continue to see over the coming days, months and years. One consequence of this strategic short-sightedness is the appalling position taken by Ankara. This was epitomized by the image of Turkish tanks standing silently along the border overlooking Kobani all the while ISIS forces massacred inhabitants of the city. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Kurds fled their homes for the border where Turkish forces screened them for affiliation to the party of Abdullah Öcalan. Writing in The Washington Post, on 16 October, Fareed Zakariya argues that the idea of ultimately defeating ISIS is not possible in light of the realities on the ground. The only feasible alternative, he writes, is “containment”, acknowledging ISIS’s gains and preventing it from expanding further.
Containment was the policy that the West put into practice with the USSR from the end of World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But the Soviet Union was a vast empire consisting of 15 republics that had all revolved around imperial Russia during the Czarist era and that all subscribed to the universal ideology that took over central and eastern Europe, spread to East Asia and attracted minds around the world.
We should add that the USSR possessed nuclear arms. ISIS is a far cry from that. But it does represent groups from similar backgrounds and, hence, is best compared to cancerous cells that need to be cut out.
In this type of war there are certain matters that need to be taken into consideration when formulating a successful strategy. The first is the need to understand the nature of the enemy. If this nature includes a high degree of flexibility to shift from one front to another then it is important to strip the enemy of this advantage.
Perhaps, it is not ideal to launch a direct offensive against ISIS in this manner. By focusing on rapidly defeating other fronts it will be possible to cut off ISIS’s sources of manpower and its ability to open other new fronts in this multifaceted conflict.
Second, it is important to bear in mind that time is not necessarily in favor of ISIS. Time is in favor of the side that best exploits this condition. In this case, this entails putting paid to ISIS’s belief that the regional and international coalition against it will gradually peter out.
The third consideration is that, according to all criteria, the balance of forces is not in ISIS’s favor. However, ISIS will be able to overcome this issue if it manages to overturn the operational balances of forces in the field in its own favor. It is essential to prevent this scenario, not only by means of defensive battles to protect cities and villages under threat, but also through offensive battles to liberate territory under ISIS control. We must do this before ISIS succeeds in developing limited air power or seizes control of chemical weapons—both of which are available in Iraq and Syria. Fourth, we should bear in mind that ISIS has been successful in capitalizing on the political situations in Iraq, Syria and other countries of the region, in a way that keeps the regional and international coalition in a state of confusion. Their aims have become contradictory: eliminate ISIS or eliminate the Bashar Al-Assad regime? Confront ISIS or confront the Shi’ite hold on power in Iraq?
Therefore, there is a need for more strategic thinking. In the final analysis, war is not a collection of separate and isolated battles but rather a comprehensive methodology used to break the will of and ultimately destroy the enemy.
This holistic approach is all the more necessary when your adversary has a nature that cannot be contained, that cannot be negotiated with, and is not open to compromise. If ISIS has made one thing clear during the recent period, it is that it is determined to fight until the bitter end.
International roles in Middle East policies
Sunday, 26 October 2014
Raghida Dergham /Al Arabiya
China has no strategy, but it has a policy. This is what Chinese experts have said in the course of explaining – or justifying – Chinese policy toward the countries of the Middle East. Russia is clinging to its policy because it is a state that understands strategy and what makes a strategy, from geography to natural resources. Russian experts speak in this manner, sometimes condescendingly, with their Arab counterparts. The Europeans are fragmented and they confess to their disunity. Their strategy is tactical in nature. For their part, the Americans take turns in refusing to blame the United States on the one hand, and in admitting their tactical mistakes, on the other. When it comes to a long-term U.S. strategy, most American experts almost deny its existence, arguing instead that U.S. policy is the policy of respective presidents and administrations.
This is some of the most prominent impressions that came out of the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate forum, organized by the Emirates Policy Centre (EPC), in collaboration with the Foreign Affairs Ministry in the UAE earlier this week. The goal of the event is to reach a common understanding among international and regional actors about tendencies of regional and international powers, as well as enhance efforts of policy-making among those actors. EPC is headed by Dr. Ebtisam Al Qutbi, the first woman to ever head a think-tank in the UAE.
Going into the details of the topics addressed by the meeting, including the impact of hotspots on Gulf countries, as the conference put it, the international actors seem to have brought interesting insights with them to the Middle East region, deserving pause for the sake of a better understanding of current regional and international developments.
In the opening session, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargash identified the main outlines of UAE policy, calling for a “clear vision,” a “comprehensive strategy,” and “coordinated efforts” regionally and internationally to tackle challenges including, but not limited to, ISIS.
Gargash considered war on extremist groups a necessity because extremists “were not amenable to moderation” and urged a clampdown on the flow of money and fighters to where these groups are, and also called for promoting education, culture, and openness.
Concerning Syria and Iraq, Gargash blamed sectarian and exclusionary policies. He expressed “cautious hope” in recently nominated Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi but described his comments on the statements made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attacking the UAE and Saudi Arabia by saying: “Unfortunately, they undermine the willingness to turn the page on the past” and raise “doubts.”
Egypt represents the “cornerstone of stability in the region,” as per UAE foreign policy, Gargash said. He stressed that Egypt must regain its historical and key position in the region and the world.
Iran is a neighbor with whom warm relations should be sought, Gargash also said, but he stressed that there was a difference between Iran as a state and society and Iran as an expansionist foreign policy. Iran’s policy has provoked sectarian wars, exacerbated instability and promoted chaos in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. As for nuclear negotiations, the Gulf countries want them to lead to an airtight agreement. Otherwise, these countries will have to think about what better suits their interests.
Gargash stressed that the UAE had no ambitions for a greater regional role, preferring to be a model for “moderation” in the region that refused attempts to “change our world through extremist movements.”
The first intervention came from Dr. Vitaly Naumkin, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies and a professor at the faculty of global policy at the University of Moscow.
Russia and Middle East
He said that the Middle East is not high up on the list of priorities and strategic interests of the Russian Federation, albeit it remains of interest to the Russians. Naumkin stressed that the oil and gas factor is extremely important to Moscow, indicating that there are a lot of conspiracy theories involving Russia and the Gulf. In particular, he referenced an article by American journalist Thomas Friedman in which he wrote that there was a U.S.-Saudi conspiracy against Russia behind the dramatic fall in oil prices in the past few weeks.
There have been voices saying falling oil and gas prices were part of a new strategy to harm Russia, being one of the world’s top exporters of oil and gas. It has also been said that one of the goals of this strategy was to push Iran to show more flexibility in nuclear negotiations, which, if successful, would lead to lifting the sanctions on Tehran.
Russia is committed to the alliance with Iran in the Middle East and this was clear through all the Russian interventions made at the Abu Dhabi Debate. The Russian participants were almost in complete agreement in the main topics of their interventions, which did not diverge much from official Russian policy.
What is frustrating about a large number of interventions made by the Russians, whether by speakers behind podiums or in the course of their comments on the sidelines of the meeting, was the extent of arrogance and condescendence they displayed toward Arab attitudes and interventions. There was a kind of contempt and ridicule of the Arab character and not just of the various opinions expressed by the participating Arabs. The goal of the forum, which invited more than 10 Russian figures, was to open the door for interaction and exchange of experiences.
Unfortunately, the Russian presence was characterized by mocking Arab “sentimentality” and by belittling the Arab positions, which insist in their majority on independent decision-making within the Arab region, away from Iranian meddling in Arab countries.
“What is frustrating about a large number of interventions made by the Russians, whether by speakers behind podiums or in the course of their comments on the sidelines of the meeting, was the extent of arrogance and condescendence they displayed toward Arab attitudes and interventions. ”
The Russian comments – including the ones made by Dr. Elena Suponina, director of the Middle East and Asia Center, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies – stressed that Iran is not only a key player in solving the problems of the Arab countries but must also be a leading player in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Suponina downplayed Arab roles and leaders, and suggested that the UAE follow Russia in lifting the sanctions on Iran, given that the UAE has the highest trade volume with Iran in the region. Suponina completely ignored Arab objections to Iran’s military roles in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Russia's order of precedence
Dr. Ekaterina Stepanova, head of the peace and conflict studies unit at the Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow, summed up the conditions that govern whether or not a given issue is seen as important in Russian foreign policy as follows: First, the issue has to be a source of concern for society, such as the Afghan refugees and the situation in Ukraine. Second, it has to be linked to energy because Russia is affected by the state of oil and gas. Third, it must be linked to the issue of extremism and terrorism because Russia assigns great importance to the impact of ISIS and extremism in general on Russian Muslims.
Back to Naumkin, he said that Russia was willing to cooperate in the fight against ISIS as part of a joint comprehensive strategy that he said “has not been adopted yet.”
Naumkin called for including Tehran and Damascus in this strategy as a condition. He said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants to participate in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS and that Russia “is willing to support his efforts in the fight against terrorism.”
The fact of the matter is that there is no change in Russian policy in terms of the centrality of its alliance with Iran and its commitment not to backtrack from supporting Tehran’s regional ambitions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. There is no change in Russian policy in terms of supporting Assad’s bid to remain in power. Moscow is pleased to have the members of the anti-ISIS coalition wage a war on its behalf to a certain extent. If the war against ISIS were confined to within Syria, this would most likely affect Russia and Iran more than others. Hence, practically and realistically, Russia and Iran are not in a hurry to take part in the coalition against ISIS. They are both satisfied by the developments in the war, because it relieves some pressure on them, even if provisionally.
“The fact of the matter is that there is no change in Russian policy in terms of the centrality of its alliance with Iran and its commitment not to backtrack from supporting Tehran’s regional ambitions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.”
This does not mean, from an American perspective, that Syria is no longer a quagmire for Russia and Iran’s own “Vietnam.” There are still those who insist on the theory regarding the long-term U.S. strategy that sees the developments in Syria as an opportunity for U.S. interests, first because Russia “winning over” a Syria in ruins, a Syria that is torn apart, and a Syria that is overrun by terrorism and extremism is not a strategic victory. Second, Iran’s “victories” in Syria pave the way for a broader and deeper immersion for Iran and its regional ambitions in a bloody war like the one raging in Syria.
Here, returning to the issue of the difference between strategy and policy, i.e. tactic, the United States appears to have a strategy, while the policies of the administration governing it appears to be a tactic. For this reason, the majority in the Arab region are convinced that everything that is happening is part of a U.S. plot. U.S. experts reject this view and accuse its proponents of conspiratorial thinking.
China and Middle East
In the context of the equation of strategy versus tactics, the Chinese participants voiced some interesting opinions during the Abu Dhabi event. The first surprise came in an intervention by Dr. Chen Yiyi, head of the Center for Middle East Peace Studies at Shanghai University.
He said: “China has no strategy or a vision on the Middle East.” He said he asked himself how China wronged Syria in the context of the argument that no one is innocent in what happened in Syria, but was not convinced by the answers. He spoke about the negative perception of China in the context of the rift with the Gulf countries. He talked about the U.S. policy based on not sending U.S. troops to the battlefield, and said that the “Israelization” of the United States has reached a peak. Yiyi declared that China does not believe in quick change because it runs the risk of failure, saying that China had no experience in building institutions but had a unique experience in building an administration for a large number of people and was determined to press ahead with economic development as the mainstay of its policy.
For his part, Dong Manyuan, senior research fellow specialized in Middle East studies, China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Beijing, stressed the core constant principles in Chinese policies related to absolute respect for countries’ sovereignty.
He said that China is working to strengthen its relations with Arab countries and at the same time to maintain relations with Iran. He defended the triple Chinese veto in the Syrian issue at the Security Council and said: “Arabs wanted a different stance from China in the Security Council, but China adheres to the principles of international relations such as non-interference.”
When he was confronted with some tough questions, he ignored them completely and made a passionate and combative speech on the Palestinian issue instead, in a deliberate move to outmaneuver the Arabs at the conference.
His colleague Dr. Jisi Wang, president of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University, Beijing, called on the United States and the Arab countries concerned to abandon their demand for Bashar al-Assad to step down. He diagnosed the practical aspect of Chinese policy on the basis that China has no well-defined policies, and instead relies on policies related to the needs of the market.
As is known, China has enhanced and developed its economic ties with Iran and military ties with Israel simultaneously, even as Chinese experts were engaging in one-upmanship over Palestine and defending the veto without any attempt to understand Arab criticisms.
Because China and Russia are allies of Iran – and also have advanced relations with Israel – it is perhaps worthwhile to note the Iranian interventions at the event by Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, associate research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and Dr. Mohsen Milani, professor of politics and chair of the department of government and international affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Iran's objectives in region
Mousavian called on the Arabs to alter their strategy and refrain from supporting continued sanctions on Iran because a nuclear agreement would be good for the region and said that there was a need to promote regional cooperation to achieve stability in oil prices. Mousavian said agreeing to consider ISIS the largest threat was a good beginning for fostering cooperation between Iran and the Arab Gulf countries, calling for the creation of a new regional security system (practically replacing the Gulf Cooperation Council). Mousavian also said that Iranian-Gulf negotiations must take place without preconditions, which include for example the demand that Iran withdraw from Iraq and Syria, and so on.
Milani summed up Iran’s major objectives in the region, including maintaining a good relationship with Iraq; managing the mini-cold war with Saudi Arabia that has been raging for years; and agreeing on regional security arrangements to maintain the security of the region and to ensure the continued flow of energy supplies.
Milani challenged the accusations against Iran of pursuing sectarian policies, saying that Iran acts as a state based on its interests, though it may use sectarianism as a tool like any other. Milani said it was important to contain sectarianism, especially since Shiites do not account for more than 20 percent of the population in the region. Interestingly, Milani criticized the Arab objection to Iranian intervention in the affairs of Arab countries when Iran is not an Arab nation, considering this to be “discrimination.”
It was very useful to listen to Iranian, Chinese, and Russian opinions, though it would have been better if the messages were expressed with less arrogance. The goal of such conferences, in part, is for experts to influence one another and convey a useful gist that would help shape policies, be they tactical or strategic in nature. Hopefully, the next round will see less patronization and more attentive engagement. Dr. Ebtisam al-Qutbi did well to design a forum that highlighted the importance of international roles in the Middle East, beginning with Russia and China, and not ending with Europe and the United States.