LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Slaves to
Romans 06/015-23/: "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 28, 29/14
Tripoli battles part of ISIS-Nusra scheme to establish Islamic emirate/By:Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/October 29/14
Tripoli neighborhood scarred by battles/By: Kareem Shaheen/he Daily Star/October 29/14
No hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace/By:Sever Plocker/Ynetnews/October 29/14
Pious defenders of Druze land, but not extremists/By: Samar Kadi/The Daily Star/October 29/14
Turkey: No Longer a "Rock Star" on Arab Street/By: Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/October 29/14
Is there a personal animus against Israel from President Obama/By: BARRY SHAW/Family Security Matters/October 29/14
Negotiating With Iran/By: HERBERT LONDON/Family Security Matters/October 29/14
Islam’s ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ Routine/By: RAYMOND IBRAHIM/Family Security Matters/October 29/14
The Beautiful Face of an Ugly Regime/By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Al Awsat/October 29/14
We're singing our failures and indulging in our defeats/Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/October 29/14
Saudi Arabia's hate preachers must be silenced/By: Khaled Almaeena /Al Arabiya/October 29/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October
U.S. Jails Indian 15 Years for Hizbullah Weapons
Nasrallah Says Main Responsibility Falls on Saudi in Anti-IS Fight
Salam Hopes for Financial Support to Meet Burden of Refugees
Aoun from Dar al-Fatwa, Urges Calm Political Practices during Current Phase
Qatari Mediator to Head to Arsal to Push Release of Captive Servicemen
Hariri Rejects Calls for Defections and Incitements to Join Armed Groups
Tripoli battle part of jihadist Islamic state bid
Lebanese Army restores order, militant leaders on the run
Sorrow grips Bekaa Valley as fallen soldiers laid to rest
Tripoli neighborhood scarred by battles
The two faces of the Beirut weekend Pious defenders of Druze land, but not extremists
PM, Tamam Salam: Refugees the most dangerous issue Report: Army Informed of Plot to Sabotage Ashoura Gatherings
LebanonTerrorist Cells, Weapons Depot Discovered in Sidon
Lebanon Among Nations with Most Gender Inequality
Man Wounded at Akkar Checkpoint as Army Arrests Syrians in Bekaa
Al-Rahi Calls on Christians to Confront Attack on Islam
Berri Lauds Army's Uncompromising Role against Militants
Clages: Support Group to Discuss Challenges Facing Lebanon, Offer Further Aid
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 28, 29/14
Rouhani adviser: Islamic State crisis coupled with US's ‘weakest president’ could mean nuclear deal
Slim chances’ of Iran nuclear deal by deadline
Analysis: With elections in the air, Israeli PM takes on the world in Knesset address
ISIS uses chemical weapon in Iraq; police officers killed
Palestinian PM visits Temple Mount amid riots
Israel-Jordan peace is still holding on
'We won't be good Arabs,' says MK Zoabi
Lapid: Settlement building 'provokes' US
Only Syrian opposition and Peshmerga can save Kobani: Turkish PM
Netanyahu Slams U.S., EU Settlement Criticism
After Putin condemns 'oppression' of Palestinians, diplomats see Russia increasing peace role
US says Israeli housing action 'incompatible' with peace
US seeks 'military credibility' for weakened Syrian rebels
coalition to fight IS in cyberspace
Rebels storm Syrian army positions in Idlib Car bombings in Iraq kill at least 42
U.N. Urges More Help for Countries Sheltering Syrian Refugees
Iraq: Abadi agrees to Anbar anti-ISIS volunteer force
Tunisians shun Islamists in vote for stability
Ex-counterterror official: “We don’t have enough FBI agents who understand Islam”
Iraq: Islamic jihadists murder 38 in car bombings
Mother of jihad terrorist who murdered baby girl: “Praise Allah he’s a martyr”
Florida: Videos show convert to Islam burning American flag, preaching jihad terror
UK: Memorial for soldier Lee Rigby, beheaded by jihadists, will not bear his name
Canada gunman Zehaf-Bibeau threatened to act “in the name of Allah in response to Canadian foreign policy”
Malaysia: Muslim group says Halloween a ploy by non-Muslims to turn Muslims godless
Dutch Mayor: European Muslims joining Islamic State just like Jews going to Israel after World War II
Islamic State may have beheaded iconic female Kurdish warrior
UK: 75-year-old man charged with “racially aggravated harassment” for saying “I’m not Muslim” at airport security check
An open letter to Ben Affleck from a woman born and raised in Islam
Nathan Cirillo, Canada’s Martyr & Hero
By: Elias Bejjani
Beloved, dear, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, I am sure that you and your bereaved family are all fully aware of the fate of Heroes.
This solid and deeply rooted fact states that Heroes do not die although their earthy bodied do, like every other human being.
In faith and patriotism realities, brave – devoted Heroes, and you are one of them never die and never ever are forgotten.
Heroes from your like and caliber remain alive in the minds, hearts, consciences and everlasting memories of all free and peace loving-caring people all over the five continents.
You made yourself a sacred offering, and a holy communion on Canada’s alter, so all Canadians and all people all over the globe can live in a free, safe, democratic and peaceful world.
You loved Canadians and Canada, as well as every other human being on this earth to the extent that you willingly and happily did what Jesus Christ asked those who know what is true love to do.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15/12).
Because of the heroism of peace soldiers like you, all evil terrorism, and all wicked and mean terrorists, shall be ultimately defeated no matter what.
Because of your sacrifice, by God’s will, peace shall prevail world-wide.
Rest in peace, Canada and Canadians, as well all people all over the Globe who eagerly long for peace will never forget you holy and highly appreciated sacrifice.
We pray and ask Almighty God that your soul be joyfully dwelling in Heaven with the Saints and righteous.
May Almighty God grant your family all graces of hope, faith, and patience to be able to endure and cope with their great loss.
Long Live Canada, Long Live Freedom
Canada mourns 'kid at heart' at funeral for gunned down Cpl. Nathan Cirillo
The Canadian Press/By Paola Loriggio/28.10.14
HAMILTON - Thousands of people lined the streets of Hamilton on Tuesday to pay respects to a soldier described as a "kid at heart" who was gunned down as he stood ceremonial guard in Ottawa in what the prime minister called a terrorist attack.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's coffin, carried atop a gun carriage to Christ's Church Cathedral, was accompanied by members of his regiment as well as scores of soldiers and police officers marching to the sounds of muffled drums.
In a homily, Rev. Canon Rob Fead called Cirillo "Canada's son" and said the tragedy of his death had helped bring the country together.
"We gather this day in faith and in hope," Fead told mourners. "His bravery, his sacrifice, is not in vain."
In a message to Cirillo's regiment, the Queen expressed sorrow at his death under such "grievous" circumstances.
"I send my deepest sympathy to all those affected by this tragedy, in particular to members of Cpl. Cirillo's own family," the Queen, who is the regiment's colonel-in-chief, said in her note.
Near the church, people lined up four deep to watch the procession, many of them holding Canadian flags and balloons emblazoned with the Maple Leaf. At one point on the route, a group of young women sang the national anthem, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd.
However, as the casket went by, silence befell the street save for the mournful strains of bagpipes or drumming.
Hundreds of bouquets and wreaths were piled on the steps Lt.-Col. John Weir Foote armoury, along with written tributes to Cirillo.
"Reservist Cpl, Nathan Cirillo — we will never forget your sacrifice," one read.
Others left toys and treats for Cirillo's dog.
An unarmed Cirillo was standing ceremonial guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa last Wednesday when a gunman shot him in the back before rushing into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, where security staff felled him in a hail of bullets.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen were among family, friends and a host of dignitaries bidding farewell to Cirillo, 24, at the full regimental funeral.
In his tribute, Harper talked about the "gut-wrenching" irony that Cirillo was killed guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
"He knew what he was protecting and he knew what he was preserving," Harper said. "He died protecting and preserving."
Cirillo's cousin, Jenny Holland, said he was a rambunctious, smiling adventurous child — qualities he kept even as he grew into manhood.
"Nathan may have looked like a big tough man, but he was such a kid at heart," Holland said.
Because only invited guests were allowed into the funeral service, proceedings were broadcast on screens at a sporting arena in the city.
Throngs of people nonetheless stood watch from across the street during the service. Someone shouted "We love you!" as mourners filed out the church, prompting others to yell their support.
There was a burst of applause from the crowd and dignitaries — including the prime minister — as the motorcade pulled away.
Ron Weinberger, whose son Ryan was a close friend of Cirillo's, said he believed something positive had come out of the tragedy of Cirillo's death.
"It really seemed to unite the country," Weinberger said as he walked to the church.
"That unity, that strength — that's what Nathan has done."
Cirillo, the father of a five-year-old son Marcus, is to be buried in a field of honour at a Hamilton cemetery.
Harper said he hoped Marcus would one day take solace in the fact that the entire country "looks up to his dad."
Lt.-Col. Lawrence Hatfield, commanding officer of the Argyll regiment, praised Cirillo as a soldier of character whose warm and radiant smile exuded "unmistakable confidence."
While bullets took his physical life, Hatfield said, his attributes have illuminated Canada.
Cirillo's death came two days after another soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was run down and killed in an attack south of Montreal.
A fundraising effort for their families has raised $550,000.
On Monday, a steady stream of mourners filed into a funeral home to pay their respects at his open coffin.
Cirillo lay in his formal uniform, his white-gloved hands crossed on his chest, as two members of his regiment stood guard on either side of the coffin.
The sight drew tears from many mourners, a number of whom didn't know him personally but felt compelled to pay tribute to him.
Wreaths, bouquets and signs of support have been laid outside Cirillo's family home and outside the funeral home where his visitations were held.
Thousands of people also expressed their grief and paid tribute along the Highway of Heroes, from Ottawa to Hamilton, as Cirillo's body was brought home on Friday.
U.S. Jails Indian 15 Years for Hizbullah Weapons
Naharnet/A U.S. judge on Monday sentenced an Indian man to 15 years in prison for conspiracy and attempting to provide weapons to Hizbullah. Patrick Nayyar, a 50-year-old living illegally in New York, was arrested in 2009 and found guilty by a jury in March 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail by District Judge Robert Sweet. He was convicted of agreeing to supply an FBI undercover agent with guns, ammunition, vehicles, bulletproof vests and night vision goggles between July and September 2009. Before his arrest, he supplied a pistol, pick-up truck and box of ammunition to the agent, whom he thought would deliver the items to Hizbullah, which is designated by Washington as a terrorist group. An alleged co-conspirator, Conrad Mulholland, 47, is not a U.S. citizen and left the country before charges were filed. He remains at large, the prosecutor's office said. Agence France Presse
Nasrallah Says Main Responsibility
Falls on Saudi in Anti-IS Fight
Naharnet /Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Monday that Saudi Arabia must shoulder a bigger responsibility in the fight against the extremist ideology of the Islamic State group, noting that military efforts alone cannot eradicate the jihadist organization. “Nowadays, the prime responsibility in the Islamic world for stopping the proliferation of this ideology falls on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “It is not enough to create an international coalition and bring the armies of the world to fight ISIL (Islamic State). My remarks are addressed to everyone: close the schools that are educating the followers of this ISIL ideology … and stop labeling people as polytheists for the most trivial reasons,” Nasrallah added. In June, the IS declared an "Islamic caliphate" straddling vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, ordering Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to their chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The U.S. has formed a coalition of Western and Arab allies to battle IS, which has been accused of widespread atrocities in Iraq and Syria, including mass executions, beheadings, rape, torture and selling women and children into slavery.
FM, Tamam Salam: Refugees the most
The Daily Star/Oct. 28, 2014/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Monday, after arriving in Germany to attend a Syrian refugee conference, that the refugee crisis was the most dangerous problem facing Lebanon. “We came to Germany, a friendly state which is hosting a conference on the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the region. We consider this issue to be the most important and dangerous that Lebanon is facing today,” Salam said in a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Co-hosted by German ministers and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the conference, which takes place Tuesday, will bring together foreign ministers and international organizations. Organizers hope governments will commit to medium-term humanitarian solutions in support of Syrian refugees and host communities. Lebanon hosts around 1.2 million Syrian refugees, with the largest number residing in the Bekaa Valley, according to the UNHCR.So far, the international community has failed to honor its commitment to provide sufficient financial aid for Lebanon to deal with the problem. Salam, who spoke prior to holding talks with Merkel, said that discussions with the German leader would tackle several issues and would be an occasion to improve ties between Lebanon and Germany, a country he said played a crucial role in cementing stability in the world. Commenting on four days of clashes between the Lebanese Army and militants inspired by ISIS and the Nusra Front in Tripoli and other northern districts, Salam praised the Army. “The Lebanese Army confronted terrorism and acted decisively, which boosted security and stability in my country,” Salam said. Clashes subsided Monday after the Army took over the last bastion of Islamist militants in Tripoli. For her part, Merkel expressed solidarity with Lebanon as it grappled with the problems resulting from war in neighboring Syria, particularly the challenge of Syrian refugees. “We remember that Lebanon’s population is 4 million and there are over 1 million registered refugees, not to speak of unregistered refugees,” Merkel said. She added that Lebanon had also been affected by the flow of Palestinian refugees. “The situation was difficult from the beginning and we cannot imagine, here in Germany, the great challenge posed by this,” Merkel said.
“We express our solidarity with Lebanon and Germany is taking part in providing aid to refugee camps. We are pleased to host the conference tomorrow ... I hope ... that we will listen to you directly about the current situation in Lebanon and means to get out of the crisis.”Later Salam met with the heads of Arab delegations taking part in the conference on refugees. Salam will also attend a meeting Tuesday for the International Support Group for Lebanon.
Salam Hopes for Financial Support to
Meet Burden of Refugees
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam hoped on Tuesday that the international community is aware of Lebanon's huge financial needs to confront the burden of refugees. “The refugees are affecting our economy and security ... We call for more funding to confront the repercussions of the refugee crisis,” Salam said at the opening of the Berlin conference on Syrian refugees, which was attended by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas. In addition to placing huge strains on the country's hospitals, schools and other institutions, the refugees also are taking jobs from Lebanese workers, creating resentment, Salam said. "The massive influx of Syrians into poor communities totally unprepared to cope with such a sudden burden has had a destabilizing effect, with a variety of challenges and threats that constitute a fertile ground for extremism and violence," he said. Jordan warned of similar issues at the conference which was attended by foreign ministers and other representatives from 40 nations to coordinate international support for the refugees from the Syrian civil war. Guests included the head of the United Nations refugee agency, Antonio Guterres. Turkey's deputy foreign minister, Naci Koru, noted that his country had spent some $4 billion on dealing with Syrian refugees so far, and received only $250 million from the international community. “We have big challenges, including the crisis of refugees that Lebanon and neighboring countries are suffering from,” Salam told reporters before attending the one-day conference.
“We should cooperate with the international community,” he said in hopes that it would be “aware that Lebanon needs huge financial support” to confront such a burden. “The Lebanese are providing all what the Syrians need … But we adopted a practical measure to deal with the refugees,” the PM said ahead of talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Steinmeier stressed the need to focus not only on the refugees' humanitarian needs but also on shoring up the stability of neighboring states grappling the influx.
"Whoever has seen how much, in Lebanon for example, the public health system, the schools, the water supply and much else is utilized by the 1.5 million refugees, knows or can guess how much of an explosive force that really is for the social structures of a country like Lebanon," Steinmeier told reporters. The Lebanese government announced last week that it will ask the U.N. to stop registering refugees who enter the country from war-torn Syria. It formalized a decision to all but close its borders to them.
Only Syrians whose files had been approved by the government would be given refugee status in Lebanon. Lebanon is hosting around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, an enormous strain for a country with a population of just four million.
The UNHCR has regularly urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the influx. The agency has also called on other countries to open their doors to fleeing Syrians to ease the burden on Lebanon and other neighboring states.
More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the uprising that began in March 2011, with most taking shelter in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Ahead of the conference on Syrian refugees, the International Support Group for Lebanon held a meeting in Salam's presence. Participants recognized with grave concern the tremendous burden Lebanon continues to bear in hosting the refugees. They noted the recent decision of the Lebanese cabinet concerning its Syrian refugee policy. They encouraged the government and UNHCR, with other U.N. agencies and partners, to cooperate closely to promote the effective management of the refugee presence. The participants also recognized the security related implications of the crisis that threaten the safety of host communities and refugees alike and the efforts of the Lebanese government to mitigate them. elcomed ongoing international assistance to address Lebanon’s security concerns and underlined the continuing urgent need for international support to the Lebanese army and the security forces.
Hariri Rejects Calls for Defections
and Incitements to Join Armed Groups
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri condemned on Tuesday calls to defect from the Lebanese army and the incitement of Sunnis to join terrorist groups, and reiterated that the nation would enjoy security only if Hizbullah withdrew from Syria. “All calls to defect from the army and incite Sunni men in particular to … join armed organizations in Lebanon and abroad are condemned and rejected,” Hariri said in a lengthy statement issued by his press office. He stressed that such invitations will not have any influence on Sunnis across Lebanon. The former prime minister said that calls for a Sunni revolution in Lebanon do not go hand in hand with the aspirations and goals of Sunnis. They are aimed at turning the country into mini-states that “survive on the rubble of coexistence,” he stressed.
Hariri said that his stance from the Syrian revolution is based on the noble causes of the uprising that erupted against President Bashar Assad in March 2011. “The Syrian regime tarnished the image of the revolution … but we are convinced that the Syrian people will overcome this crisis,” he stated. Hariri stressed that “turning Lebanon into a scene of destruction similar to the devastation in Syria is one of the wishes of the Syrian regime.” The armed terrorist organizations that are infiltrating the Lebanese border and avenging Hizbullah for its involvement in Syria's war are giving the party a new excuse to expand its security and military operations in Lebanon, he added. Lebanon is bitterly divided over the war in Syria, with Sunnis supporting the Syrian rebels and Shiites siding with Assad's government. Hizbullah has sent fighters to support Assad's troops while Sunni militants in Lebanon have responded with attacks on Shiites as well as security forces, who they believe are dominated by Hizbullah. Hariri's statement came a day after the Lebanese army asked militants in the northern city of Tripoli and nearby areas to surrender as calm returned after four days of deadly clashes. Hariri warned against any attempt to undermine the army. Troops entered on Monday the militants' stronghold of Bab al-Tabbaneh, the area that witnessed some of the worst clashes. The army said troops detained some of the gunmen while others fled. A battle between Lebanese troops and militants in northern Lebanon was widely expected after members of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, launched several attacks over the past weeks in areas on the border with Syria. Hariri called for the control of the Lebanese-Syrian border and invited “all the partners in the nation to put Lebanon's interest first.” “It is time to become aware of the dangers of the premeditated involvement in the Syrian fire and to disengage from the Syrian front,” he said in reference to Hizbullah. “It is only then that we could protect Lebanon and shut the door to terrorism,” he added. Hariri urged Lebanon's rival politicians to engage in swift consultations to agree on a new president and end the vacuum at the country's top Christian post. The election of a head of state would regularize the work of institutions and guarantee the rotation of power, he said. Baabda Palace has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May. The Mustaqbal movement chief appealed for a comprehensive security strategy to deal with the repercussions of the Syrian war on Lebanon. Such a strategy would protect the border with Syria and stop military operations from both sides, he said. Hariri also threw his weight behind the government's strategy to stop the influx of Syrian refugees. But said the authorities should guarantee the safety of the displaced. Last week, the cabinet approved a new policy to stop the flow of refugees to Lebanon with certain exceptions.
Tripoli neighborhood scarred by battles
Kareem Shaheen| The Daily Star
Oct. 28, 2014
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A mural bearing the word “Allah” stood pierced with bullets in the heart of the restive neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. It was hours after the end of fierce battles between the Lebanese Army and militants inspired by ISIS and the Nusra Front that devastated swaths of the troubled streets and left residents in a daze as they picked up the pieces once more. The military was deploying at the center of Bab al-Tabbaneh, its armored vehicles manned by soldiers who rarely held ground this deep in the heavily armed district. While the fighting had ceased, the occasional sound of a mine being exploded by the Army echoed nearby.“The Army must enter because there is too much filth,” said one merchant who was clearing shards of broken glass from his shop, as Army soldiers snacked on sandwiches and smoked nearby, enjoying respite from the fighting. “Everybody wants their own state and think they know religion and God, and they know none of that.”
The merchant said the extremists had been recruiting young local men, preying on them amid high unemployment.
“Get any youth and give them a few thousand liras and they’ll do anything,” he said. “Let them clean up, we want to work and live.”
The neighborhood was devastated in the fighting, smoke rising from its center, debris lining the streets from burnt out apartments, vegetable stands in the district’s famed market toppled. Machine-gun casings and shells lined the street, and broken glass was everywhere as well as around the husks of cars with shattered windows and bullet holes.
The bullet holes were everywhere, some the mark of the weekend’s fighting while others had scarred the neighborhood in previous months when militia leaders fought fierce battles with the neighboring Jabal Mohsen, a predominantly Alawite area that supports the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.
The corpse of a dog killed in the fighting lay in the sun on Syria Street, the traditional flashpoint of the previous clashes, rotting in the heat.
Shops had shuttered their doors, and there appeared to be little life in the ramshackle apartment blocks in the area, some of them collapsed and others blackened by shelling. A burning stench was omnipresent amid the estranged quiet that took hold.
The military’s fierce and unprecedented response, including the use of helicopter gunships to attack militant hideouts, was a clear message that the Army would no longer tolerate militancy.
But some residents decried the Army’s measures, saying many civilians had been wounded in the assault, pointing out trails of dried blood and locations where family members were wounded in the shelling as well as pathways through which they were evacuated.
They said the use of force was excessive, that the Army could have arrested the militants without a broad campaign, and pointed out in particular the use of aerial fire.
“We are Lebanese,” one resident said, implying the Army should not have used helicopters against citizens.
Some residents claimed that there were no gunmen in the area when the Army launched its campaign.
“Those houses all had women and children and they destroyed them,” said a resident of the neighborhood who appeared to be in his 20s, gesturing at a row of damaged houses in the center of Bab al-Tabbaneh.
Still, flags belonging to the Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda offshoot fighting in Syria, fluttered in the neighborhood alongside posters glorifying Sheikh Houssam Sabbagh, a Salafist militia commander arrested back in July.
A poster of fugitive Salafist Preacher Ahmad Assir, whose fighters engaged in deadly clashes with the Army last year in Sidon, declared him the “lion of the Sunnis.”
“Only God is with us,” said a resident who expressed his anger at the campaign as well as the rampant poverty of the neighborhood. “Where are the human rights? Nobody hates the state but the state is walking over all the poor people.”
But some older residents praised the Army campaign, saying it was necessary to “cleanse” the neighborhood of extremists who were using the poverty and high unemployment in one of the most impoverished areas of Tripoli to recruit young men.
Some said night watches of gunmen with long beards and face covers had emerged and were recruiting youth and disbursing austere religious teachings to residents, giving them meager cash handouts to earn their loyalty and take up arms for various groups of unknown affiliation. But many did not remain. Some families fled during a two-hour cease-fire on Sunday to the nearby public schools in the Zahriyya neighborhood. One widow who fled with her four children said she was woken up at 5 a.m. by the sound of gunfire, and shots landing inside her home. She said the presence of gunmen, weaponry and lawlessness in the neighborhood had intensified in recent times, and that more teenagers were taking up arms. She heard the gunmen paid the youths in the neighborhood quite well.
Aid workers distributed food and household products to displaced residents. They held activities for children to comfort them after the violence they witnessed. “Our hope is for things to be cleaned up,” the woman said. “We want to live in security.”
Lebanese Army restores order, militant
leaders on the run
Oct. 28, 2014/Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: An uneasy calm took hold across Tripoli Monday shortly after the Lebanese Army, backed by helicopter gunships, brought the northern city fully under its control by seizing the last bastion of an Islamist militant leader blamed for attacks on military posts. The Army’s campaign against terrorist groups has put an end to four days of fierce clashes with militants inspired by ISIS and the Nusra Front. The clashes left 42 people dead and some 150 wounded. Among the fatalities were 23 gunmen, 11 soldiers and eight civilians. The wounded included 92 soldiers, and 63 gunmen and civilians, security sources said. By Monday evening, at least 162 gunmen had been arrested throughout the north since the fighting erupted, according to the Army. The United States, meanwhile, voiced support for the Army after the Tripoli clashes. Washington joined with Lebanon “as it mourns the loss of the soldiers and officers who died defending Lebanon from terrorist groups,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The U.S. also “commends the bravery of the personnel of the Lebanese armed forces who are working to keep Tripoli and Akkar safe for all residents.” Psaki said Washington stood by the country and its government, adding: “We condemn those who seek to sow chaos in Lebanon and are confident that the Lebanese people will persevere if they stand united in the face of this threat.”Psaki also praised Prime Minister Tammam Salam for his “strong stand,” adding Washington was “very confident” in the Army’s ability to defend the country.Residents who fled their houses in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, the scene of pitched battles between the Army and militants, returned Monday as troops surrounded the district and mounted raids in search for fugitive gunmen. There was public relief over the end of the latest round of fighting in Tripoli, with residents expressing satisfaction with the heavy Army deployment in the city, ravaged by several rounds of sectarian clashes linked to the war in Syria.
Aoun from Dar al-Fatwa, Urges Calm
Political Practices during Current Phase
Naharnet /Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun noted on Tuesday that differences are a normal part of political life, stressing that he seeks national unity among Lebanese factions. He said: “The differences are normal part of politics, which should be practiced calmly during this phase.”He made his remarks after holding talks at Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan. “We should overcome this phase with the least amount of damage and begin a new one characterized by national unity,” he added to reporters after the meeting. “We hope peace would prevail throughout Lebanon and the region,” he stated. “Our ties with Dar al-Fatwa will not take a step back regardless of attempts to sabotage this relationship,” he continued. Asked about the weekend's unrest in the northern city of Tripoli, the MP responded: “I believe that the crisis is over.”He warned however of the existence of sleeper terrorist cells in other regions, such as Mhammara in the North, that may cause unrest in the future. “Lebanon is affected by regional developments and we hope that the negative repercussions witnessed over the weekend will not happen again,” Aoun stated. Moreover, he revealed that he was in contact with head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri, saying that he recently received an verbal message from him. He did not elaborate on the details of this message. Tripoli witnessed over the weekend clashes between the army and gunmen. Several soldiers, gunmen, and civilians were killed in the unrest that erupted on Friday and lasted three days. The army has since deployed in the city in order to detain fugitive gunmen.
Pious defenders of Druze land, but not extremists
Samar Kadi/The Daily Star/Oct. 28, 2014
DEIR QOUBEL, Lebanon: The militants come from different parts of Mount Lebanon, the Chouf and the region of Arqoub in southeast Lebanon, where the country’s minority Druze community has been settled for centuries. But although they are diehard fighters dedicated to protecting Druze land and honor in times of crises, the partisans of Dai Ammar group roundly reject any suggestion that they are radicals.
“We are not radicals or extremists. We just go by the original rules and principles, which are at the roots of our faith, and apply them correctly,” said a high-ranking official of the group that follows the teachings of an 11th-century preacher named Ammar.
Almost unknown prior to Hezbollah’s takeover of large swaths of west Beirut in May 2008, Dai Ammar’s followers, all Orthodox Druze, were thrust into prominence for fiercely battling party militants and preventing them from entering the Druze stronghold of Shoueifat, southeast of Beirut. Ten members, including the group’s leader Sheikh Allam Nasreddine, were killed in the fighting and Hezbollah also reportedly suffered losses.
Their fervent commitment to “defending” the Druze areas against “external dangers” gained the group appreciation and respect among others of their faith and, as a result, their number allegedly sprung from a handful to several hundred after May 2008.
Now, as fears grow about the spread of jihadist militancy in the Levant, most of Lebanon’s religious communities are feeling increasingly threatened. Not so for the militant Druze organization.
“We do not fear our enemies, and we will not disavow our religion out of fear from ISIS or any other group, because God is on our side,” the official, who requested anonymity, told The Daily Star.
According to the group, God has bestowed mercy on the Druze, referred to as “muwahiddin” or monotheists, and divine protection has preserved the small community distributed across Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Israel from being wiped out by upheavals throughout history.
Although it strongly disapproves of their interpretation and implementation of the faith, the Druze religious establishment – Machyakhat al-Akel – refuses to refer to Dai Ammar group as fanatics or fundamentalists.
“There is disagreement over the explanation of the Druze religion, but they [Dai Ammar] do not attempt to force their doctrine on others, be it within the sect or outside, so they cannot be considered fundamentalists,” explained Sheikh Hadi Aridi, the head of the Druze Religious Council.
Aridi downplayed concerns that the trend of extremism among some Sunnis and Shiites would echo in Druze circles, arguing that members of the sect, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, have no history of initiating confrontation with other sects, but have instead always been drawn into battle.
“Militant extremism has no place in our culture, and any possible manifestation of Druze zeal in the existing environment of sectarian polarization is nothing but a temporary reaction,” Aridi said.
He argued that the conflict in Syria was having an enormous impact on Lebanon, creating tensions between sects and endangering security across the country, hence the need to moderate public speech. “The Druze political and religious authorities preach tolerance and moderation and the need to rally behind the state and the Army, but if need be, we will not hesitate to defend our villages and land,” Aridi added.
According to Dr. Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut, the likelihood of seeing radical groups emerge within the Druze community was very weak because the vast majority was secular and adhered to the advice of their political leaders rather than religious authorities.
“Extremism has no room in a cohesive sect such as the Druze, mostly because the cost of extremism for the minority Druze is much higher than its cost for other sects, and because it wouldn’t work in the best interest of the community,” he said.
Extremism seeks to introduce a new political and religious order by force, he said. “I don’t think these people [Dai Ammar] are interested in creating a new order,” he added. “This is a reactive movement to threats facing the community.”
“As long as extremism is present among us in the region, the Druze will continue to prefer to walk on a tightrope,” Khashan said, noting that “the Druze [political] leadership has always been extremely keen to shore up the community in turbulent waters.”
Thanks to their tumultuous history, the Druze have developed survival mechanisms to cope with times of crisis. “They are not interested in indoctrinating other communities. The phenomenon [of Dai Ammar] may have been exacerbated by present conditions and trends [of extremism] that brought to memory the historical interactions,” Khashan added.
Referring to recent statements by Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt in which he stressed the Islamic roots of the Druze, Khashan argued, “these points were not meant for the Druze community, but for Sunnis and radical Islamists.”
In neighboring Syria, where the dangers of the raging conflict are already a reality, the main Druze priority remains to protect the community’s “land and honor.”
“The Druze want to live in peace with the others, but if anyone commits aggression on the Druze land, he will have to suffer the consequences,” Aridi said. “This is common sense, not extremism.”
Sorrow grips Bekaa Valley as fallen
soldiers laid to rest
The Daily Star 28.10.14
RIYAQ, Lebanon: The Bekaa Valley town of Riyaq was mired in grief and sorrow Monday as Lebanese Army Maj. Ibrahim Fawzi Salhab was laid to rest after being killed during clashes with Islamists in north Lebanon. The town’s husseinieh was crowded with locals who gathered to mourn the fallen soldier, including Salhab’s father, who wore his son’s military uniform.
Also attending the funeral were Lt. Col. Mohammad Shmaiteli, representing Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, as well as representatives of the Internal Security Forces and General Security.
Salhab was killed during one of the worst bouts of violence to hit the north in years, and was one of 42 people who died, 11 of whom were soldiers.
The Lebanese Army has been fighting militants since late last week after a military unit was attacked by Islamist militants in Tripoli in retaliation for the arrest of an alleged ISIS member Thursday during a raid in Dinnieh.
“Assaulting people’s security and insulting the Army are prohibited,” Shmaiteli said, explaining that the military institution had a strict goal to prevent terrorism from destabilizing the country.
Riyaq Imam Sheikh Saadoun Ayoub urged the government and officials to provide the Army with the necessary support. “This is how we protect the country and its security.”Salhab’s coffin was then raised on the crowd’s shoulders as the anthem of martyrdom was played and he was honored by Shmaiteli, who presented the fallen soldier with the Cedars medal and other honors.
Not far away in the village of Halaniyeh in Baalbek-Hermel, soldier Ihab Halani was also laid to rest. Various officials and representatives participated in the funeral, which was dominated by a sense of overwhelming sadness.
“We will combat the terrorism plans,” said Col. Michel Nakhle, representing the Army commander.
Maj. Deeb Tahesh, who hails from the Akkar district village of Qerqouf, was also buried amid a motorcade of local officials and representatives.
“[We put our hands] with our children that are building this country in the face of terrorists who are trying to ruin it,” said Mohammad Tahesh, the late soldier’s father, during the funeral.
First Lt. Firas al-Hakim was laid to rest Sunday in his hometown of Mechrefe in Aley district, Private Ahmad al-Asaad was buried in Safinet al-Qaytaa in Akkar, recruit Abbas Ibrahim was laid to rest in Shmestar in Baalbek-Hermel, and recruit Jaafar Asaad was buried in Arida in Akkar.
Tripoli battles part of ISIS-Nusra scheme to establish Islamic emirate
Hussein Dakroub/ The Daily Star
Oct. 28, 2014
BEIRUT: Four days of fierce fighting between the Lebanese Army and Tripoli’s militants were part of a scheme by ISIS and the Nusra Front to establish a foothold in northern Lebanon, and eventually set up an Islamic emirate in the multi-sectarian country, analysts said Monday. They added that the Army’s determination to crush militants in northern Lebanon, regardless of the sacrifices that entailed in the ongoing battle against homegrown terrorism, has foiled attempts by ISIS and Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front to establish an Islamic state in the country. “The scheme to establish an Islamic emirate in north Lebanon is a long-term objective of militant groups. ISIS and the Nusra Front had prepared this scheme two years ago,” Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese Army general and an expert on terrorism, told The Daily Star. “Destabilizing north Lebanon and awakening sleeper cells to attack the Army are signs of laying the ground for establishing an Islamic emirate,” said Jaber, director of the Middle East Center for Political Studies and Research, a Beirut-based think tank. “The Army is being targeted because it is the only force confronting terrorist groups in the north.”
He added that the establishment of even an “illusory” Islamic emirate is “a very dangerous signal” for Lebanon, long known for its religious tolerance and sectarian diversity.
Fadia Kiwan, head of the political science department at Universite St. Joseph, said she shared fears voiced by Lebanese officials, including Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi, that ISIS and the Nusra Front were planning to set up an Islamic emirate in the north.
“In the past, extremist groups threatened to set up an Islamic caliphate or emirate in north Lebanon,” Kiwan told The Daily Star. “Now, part of the ISIS-Nusra Front scheme is to make a breakthrough to reach the sea and secure a safe access to the sea in order to export oil.”“I have confidence in the Army commander’s statement when he says these groups were planning to establish an Islamic emirate in the north,” she added. “The Daesh [ISIS] phenomenon, which is alien to the Lebanese, has found home among Lebanese militants in the north.”“ISIS and the Nusra Front have two goals: to incite Sunni-Shiite strife and build a foothold in Lebanon,” Kiwan said. “ISIS and the Nusra Front have shattered all borders [between Syria and Iraq] and are now trying to expand to Lebanon.”
Speaking at a news conference following clashes between Lebanese troops and ISIS and Nusra Front gunmen in the northeastern town of Arsal on Aug. 2, Kahwagi said confessions by Imad Ahmad Jomaa, the alleged ISIS commander in Syria’s Qalamoun region whose arrest by the Army triggered the fighting, showed that the militants planned to establish an Islamic state between the Bekaa Valley and north Lebanon.
Tripoli was calm Monday after Lebanese commandos, backed by helicopter gunships, captured the stronghold of militant leaders Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour following four days of pitched battles that rocked the predominantly Sunni city, leaving 42 people dead and some 150 wounded. The two militants are reportedly linked to the Nusra Front.
The fighting in Tripoli and the Minyeh district was the worst spillover of Syria’s war into Lebanon since ISIS and Nusra Front gunmen briefly overran Arsal in August.
Both Jaber and Kiwan said the Tripoli militants were part of the regional ISIS-Nusra Front network operating the region with the aim of promoting an Islamic Shariah-based rule in the Arab and Muslim worlds. They also praised the Army’s role in foiling alleged plans to set up an Islamic emirate in the north.
“The Tripoli battle is over but the Army’s war against terrorist groups is not finished at all. This war will drag on for a long time,” Jaber said.
“With its offensive in Tripoli and the Dinnieh region, the Army has thwarted a major terrorist scheme aimed at undermining Lebanon’s security through three bomb-rigged cars, an arms cache and explosives belts and devices discovered by the military [in Minyeh],” he said.
Kiwan said: “The Army has so far succeeded in saving Lebanon from a scheme to set up an Islamic emirate. The Army has proved that it had prepared Plan-A and Plan-B for the battle against terrorism.”
Because the Army’s siege had severed supply routes to ISIS and Nusra Front militants who are holed up in Arsal’s outskirts and are still holding 27 servicemen hostage, Jaber said the gunmen would try to secure safe access to the sea.
“I expect these terrorist groups to try again to break into Arsal or attack villages in northern Bekaa with the aim of finding a logistical outlet to secure food, water, arms and ammunition during the winter,” he said.
However, Imad Salamey, a political science professor at the Lebanese American University, said he did not think ISIS and the Nusra Front were working to establish an Islamic state in north Lebanon for the time being.
“The strategy of all radical political Islamic groups, Sunni or Shiite, calls for the establishment of an Islamic state,” Salamey told The Daily Star. “ISIS and Nusra’s plan for now is to maintain Lebanon as a logistical backup for their operations in Syria, rather than establish an Islamic state.”Although noting that the Lebanese Army has taken control of Tripoli, Salamey said: “The Tripoli battles definitely will breed more extremism, setting the stage for new rounds of fighting in the future.” He said the threat of renewed fighting in Tripoli will persist “unless there is a comprehensive solution under which the Lebanese government applies the law equally among all its citizens and the state is the sole authority politically and militarily on its own territory.”
Salamey said he expected Lebanon to continue to suffer from the fallout of turmoil in the region. “The regional environment is unstable. So it is difficult for Lebanon to be stable. Lebanon needs to take any possible measures to prevent a spillover of external conflicts,” he said.
In addition to strengthening and reasserting government authority across the country, Salamey said Lebanon needs to maintain “neutrality” on regional conflicts and comply with the Baabda Declaration.
Asked about whether the Tripoli militants were part of the regional ISIS-Nusra network, he said: “Some of them might be part of this network, but others are local residents who do not like what they see as the Lebanese Army’s ‘aggressive role’ against the Sunnis. These people reflect long-standing Sunni grievances.”
No hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace
Published: 10.27.14/Israel Opinion
Experienced American diplomat says hostility between Israelis and Palestinians has reached new levels and gaps are deeper than ever. It was a depressing meeting. The man we spoke to, who is one of a handful of American diplomats who have been trying for years to find the golden key to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, didn't leave a glimmer of hope. As our conversation extended into the late evening hours, the feeling of an impasse grew stronger. "There seems to be zero chance of reaching any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians right now," the man summed up his impression from many years of full and partial diplomatic service. "Whose fault is it?" we asked. "It's your fault, it's their fault, and it's our – the Americans' – fault," he said. He started off with America: The current administration in the White House has adopted the approach that the Israeli construction in the settlements is the mother of all sins. Factually, that's incorrect.
Nearly the entire construction, apart from symbolic exceptions, takes place within blocs that will remain under Israel's sovereignty as part of a land swap.
But the advisors and experts roaming the White House and State Department corridors these days are fixated on the conception of the settlements as the only obstacle to an agreement. They deny reality and avoid dealing in any way with other disputed issues, such as Jerusalem, refugees, normalization and stalemated initiatives.
"Why get in trouble," he asked ironically, "bring up latent issues and anger friendly Arab regimes?"
The political left in Israel is waiting in vain for American pressure, he clarified. US President Barack Obama has washed his hands off the conflict, apart from occasionally reprimanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has decided to hand the hot potato of the conflict to the next president. In addition, in the past six months the Islamic State has been added to the list of urgent targets as far as Washington is concerned.
And the Palestinians, we asked, what about them? "Mahmoud Abbas is good for nothing," responded our converser, who is also a frequent and distinguished guest of the Palestinian Authority. "He is not interested in any shift which may force him to make decisions, and is hanging on to any reason, real or fictitious, to avoid negotiating with you. He often contradicts himself in speeches and appearances."
Abbas, our interlocutor summed up the Palestinian chapter, is the big loser of Operation Protective Edge, and as long as he holds on to the title of Palestine's president, there will be no progress. And after him? After him the deluge.
Finally, we reached Netanyahu. "Your prime minister," the man from America said, "is troubled by two issues: Iran and the coalition or the coalition and Iran. The makeup doesn’t change. Only the order changes, in accordance with the local and international state of mind."
Recently, he went on, the coalition has been his top priority. But if the nuclear talks with Iran end up in nothing – which is definitely a possibility in our interlocutor's opinion – the nuclear issue will become the top priority again.
"However," he noted, "your military threats about Iran have lost a lot of their credibility. They are less and less taken into account by the world powers."
As an example of the priority given to coalition considerations, the American mentioned – again – the construction in the territories. In practice, he noted, Bibi only builds where he is allowed to, but he won't admit it. He won't jeopardize his coalition with a public admission about an actual construction freeze outside of the settlement blocs, and is therefore intentionally creating an impression of an overall construction boom.
In his list of priorities, his government's fate overrides the fate of Israel's relations with Washington and Ramallah. Like Abbas, Netanyahu likes the stalemate and is convinced that initiatives to change it will increase the risks – including, the man said bitterly, the risks to their personal status.
"So what do you think will happen here?" we asked as we bid farewell.
"Both the Palestinian Authority and Israel believe that time is on their side," he replied, "and are failing to internalize the ramifications of the bi-national state option. The intensity of the hostility between the two people has reached new levels, and the gaps between you and them are deeper than during all the years I have worked for peace.
"But I don't want to ruin your mood," he immediately apologized.
Rouhani adviser: Islamic State crisis coupled with US's ‘weakest president’ could mean nuclear deal
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON \ 10/28/2014/J.Post
Negotiating team member quoted by Iranian media says deadline extension not on the table.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser, Ali Younesi, said that the combination of the Islamic State crisis and “the weakest president the US has ever had” provide an opportunity for a nuclear agreement on its terms.
According to a report by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Iran’s pragmatic camp, led by Rouhani’s mentor Hashemi Rafsanjani, is “pressuring the Obama administration to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran on the latter’s terms.”
According to this view, “the Obama administration desperately needs a substantial achievement to show for its term in office, and therefore this is the time to pressure it.”
Younesi, Rouhani’s adviser on religious minorities, told Iran’s Fars News Agency earlier this month: “I am not so optimistic about the nuclear negotiations, but both sides do want it to yield results. The Americans want this more than other countries. Some ostensibly friendly countries, like Russia and China, do not want it to yield results at all...
[but] America does, because, if Obama fails to achieve this, he will have no achievements whatsoever.”
Younesi went on to add, “Obama is the weakest president the US has ever had, because he has suffered humiliating defeat in this region, and his term in office saw the coming of the Islamic awakening that dealt the Americans the greatest defeat.”
“It is during Obama’s term in office that terrorism spread to the greatest extent. During these eight years, America suffered immense defeat, and that is why he wants to reach an agreement [with Iran]. But he is very influenced by the Congress and the Zionist lobby... ” Younesi then said, according to the report, “ISIS [Islamic State] poses a great danger to the Islamic world and to the world at large. We must minimize this danger and force the Americans to meet our demands in the nuclear agreement, in a manner that guarantees the interests of the Islamic Republic.”
“If this does not happen during Obama’s term, who knows when [such an opportunity] will come again,” commented Younesi.
In a meeting with Swiss Ambassador to Tehran Giuilio Hass, Rafsanjani said that Iran’s current nuclear policy, which he leads, would allow the US to end the nuclear file with Iran in return for resolving other crises such as that of the Islamic State.
“If the Western officials do not manage to resolve their problems [with Iran] during the term of the [current] capable government, what will they tell public opinion?” said Rafsanjani in the meeting, according to MEMRI.
“In the present circumstances, political excuses and [capitulating to] the obstacles [created] by the Zionist lobby will deprive the Western countries of the best opportunity to solve most of the regional and even international problems with Iran’s help.”
Meanwhile, top Iranian officials sent mixed messages regarding the ongoing nuclear talks as the November 24 deadline approaches.
“If the negotiating parties have the necessary political will as well [as Iran] in this regard, achieving the comprehensive agreement will be possible within the next month,” said President Rouhani on Monday in a meeting with Norway’s new ambassador to Iran, the country’s Tasnim News Agency reported.
However, a member of Tehran’s nuclear negotiating team also said on Monday that an extension of the November 24 deadline is not on the table, an Iranian diplomat told Iran’s IRNA.
Turkey: No Longer a "Rock Star" on Arab Street
By: Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute
October 27, 2014
President Erdogan's star power is on the decline.
Early in 2010, James Jeffrey, then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, sent a cable to Washington, DC in which he described Turkey as a country "[w]ith Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources." Time has proven him right.
Back in 2009-10, then Turkey's Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan was greeted like a rock star in every Arab capital. He was presumably the darling of the Arab street, including Damascus, Beirut and Egypt -- all of which are today Turkey's regional nemeses. In 2011, an Egyptian columnist wrote a commentary in which he "begged the Turks to lend [them] their prime minister." To which this columnist replied: "By all means. Take him, and you need not return him."
Erdogan's "rock star" popularity on the Arab Street was based on a single dimension: his constant Israel-bashing and deep hatred of the Jewish state. "When there are matters of conflict between the Turks and Arabs all those love affairs will disappear," a Lebanese friend said at that time.
All the same, Erdogan thought that the rock star treatment would earn him his lifelong dream of reviving the Ottoman Empire with the Sunnis of the former Ottoman lands worshipping a new Turkish caliph. Proof? Turkey was a rising star. In 2008, it had won 151 votes out of 193 members of the United Nations to win easily a coveted non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council [UNSC]. With that seat, Turkey would further reinforce its influence in the region and the world.
Erdogan's "rock star" popularity on the Arab Street was based on a single dimension: his constant Israel-bashing and deep hatred of the Jewish state.
After Turkey won the Security Council seat, then Foreign Minister (now Deputy Prime Minister) Ali Babacan spoke like a Rolls Royce: "This is the product of our efforts during the last five years. The election is an indication that Turkey's global perception, visibility and influence are on the rise. It shows how positively Turkey is perceived by the international community."
Fine. When a country wins a UNSC seat for the first time after 47 years, it is normal that politicians claim credit. But by simple logic, if it had lost the contest in 2008, the defeat should have meant that "Turkey's global perception, visibility and influence were on decline;" how negatively Turkey was being perceived by the international community. Right? Right. Not in the Turkish psyche.
On Oct. 16, Turkey once again bid for the same seat it had won six years earlier. A day before the vote, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared to journalists in New York: "We believe, Allah permitting, that we will get the [positive] result of the work we put in."
Allah did not permit. Turkey won merely 60 votes -- compared to 151 in 2008 -- and was defeated by New Zealand and Spain. Does that mean that Turkey is now being negatively perceived by the international community? Or that Turkey's global perception, visibility and influence are on decline? Of course not!
Cavusoglu heroically defended the defeat: "There may be those that are disturbed by our principled stance." How lovely! In the Turkish Islamist thinking, the country's election to the UN Security Council is an acknowledgement of Turkey's success story but failure is the work of unprincipled nations who envy Turkey. Enjoy your Rover!
It is an open secret in diplomatic circles in Ankara that several Arab and African countries in which Turkey has heavily invested -- both economically and politically -- over the past several years, lobbied against Turkey's UNSC bid. Another group of countries with decent democratic credentials preferred to vote for a country [Spain] with the same democratic credentials, instead of a country known by its alarmingly autocratic resume.
Erdogan's Turkey is no longer an attraction for the Muslim Street. Instead, it is, overtly or covertly, on hostile terms with Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Iran -- all at the same time. Ironically, after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which a Turkish flotilla tried to break an Israeli naval blockade aimed at preventing weapons from reaching the Gaza Strip, Erdogan and his then Foreign Minister (now Prime Minister), Ahmet Davutoglu, vowed to "isolate Israel."
Instead, it is Turkey that has been badly isolated, with the help of its one-time Arab brothers who had rushed to one city square after another, waving Turkish flags, to attend Erdogan's public rallies in Arab capitals.
The U.S. ambassador's wording, "Rolls Royce ambitions," denotes a mental condition that categorically refuses admittance of own fault. In this mind-set, "We are so superb that we cannot be wrong because what we think right is Allah-given." If things go wrong, it must be because of something else.
It is often amazing to observe that Erdogan and Davutoglu have every confidence in their foreign policy calculus despite repeated -- and sometimes tragic -- failures. At moments of despair, both men have had the reflex to blame failure on the "wrong world order." It is this childish psychology that, from time to time, when it suits their convenience, prompts them to question the legitimacy of international institutions, including the UN and the UN Security Council. They do not, for instance, question the UN's legitimacy when a resolution denounces Israel. But they question that legitimacy only when it does not fit their agenda. Once, Erdogan said that the permanent UN Security Council members should have Muslim representation. Which country could he have been thinking of? I'll bet he was thinking of the one that he considers the heir to the throne of the Ottoman caliph.
For the mess they created in Syria, they have accused the West and NATO. For the failure to move an inch toward European Union membership, they have accused the EU of discriminating against a Muslim country. And most recently, Turkey failed to win the UN Security Council seat because of "those who are disturbed by [Turkey's] principled stance."
***Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Is there a personal animus against Israel from President Obama?
by BARRY SHAW October 27, 2014
Family Security Matters
Since when does the US Administration send condolences to a criminal's family?
I know it happened in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. Now it is happening in Israel after an Arab youth who hurled firebombs at passing Israeli cars in Judea & Samaria, was killed by security forces. The Obama Administration sent official condolences to the family of this young terrorist when, as part of a violent mob, he endangering the lives of Israelis.
Any country must adopt an unquestioned zero tolerance to growing deadly violence and terrorism. But the attitude of an American Administration is troubling. Would it, I wonder, have sent condolences to the family had the perpetrator of firebomb attacks been an Israeli-American, and the intended victims Arabs? I doubt it. I suspect the Administration would have harshly condemned the act, the perpetrator, and Israel.
Enough, already, of this political incorrectness!
But where is this biased animus coming from? I strongly suspect it is coming from the top of the present US Administration, from Obama himself.
There is a deep motive behind Obama's animus toward Israel. It stems from his far left Socialist political upbringing both at family and personal mentor levels. It has framed his political mindset both at home and abroad. It is this that affects his worldview. Anyone reading his autobiography, particularly the imprisonment and alleged torture of his grandfather in Kenya by the British, must take from it a sense that the American president harbors resentment to perceived colonizers, oppressors, and imperialist powers. He looks on countries through the prism of his upbringing. Official relations may appear normal on the surface, but grievances bubble up in personal slights. Take, for example, the little addressed gesture by Obama of returning the bust of Winston Churchill that had taken pride of place in the White House, to Britain on entering the presidential residence. It was nothing less than a personal gesture of resentment.
There is little doubt that Obama feels a personal kinship with the Muslim world. This again is grounded by his personal life experiences in Muslim countries. A personal affinity by an important world leader is often a good thing and can make for a more peaceful world if balanced with wisdom and diplomatic skills. What Obama does not take on board is the centuries old hatred of non-believers, and a past of corrupt and primitively brutal reigns of conquest, slavery, and slaughter. Instead, he shares their accusations that all their troubles have been caused by the colonizers, oppressors, and imperial powers of which America is the modern day leader.
Once adopted, Israel is perceived as a colonizer and occupier, especially if that view is expounded through his formative contact years with people such as Khalid al Mansour a vile anti-Semite and radicalized Muslim, who was a high level adviser to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. He wrote a letter of recommendation to Harvard for Barack Obama to gain acceptance, and Arafat adviser, Rashid Khalidi, to whom Obama lavished praise at a Chicago farewell party when Khalidi headed off to Columbia.
Obama has exhibited a double-talk and double vision to the carry-over of nations formally viewed as American allies prior to his election. Trapped in an establishment that conducts business as normal, his antipathy spills over in personal spats that Israel has seen on numerous occasions.
Obama is a quintessential abusive husband. He tells Israel he loves us even as he abuses us.
The latest example was his, and Kerry's, rebuttal of Israel's Defense Minister in Washington, which was a new low point in US-Israel relations.
The nastiness of the Obama Administration was displayed by the State Department spokesperson that summarily dismissed the Mahmoud Abbas incitement that led to ongoing Jerusalem terror attacks which left a 3 month old baby dead, but slammed down on Jews legally buying homes in Jerusalem.
This spitefulness is seen in America denying visas to Israelis and temporarily preventing the resupply of armaments to Israel in the middle of a Gaza war.
A headline display of spite was Obama leaving Israel's Prime Minister to stew in the White House while he stormed off to have dinner with Michelle in March 2010. Obama snubbed Netanyahu again in September 2012 over important Iranian nuclear issues.
In an October, 2013 article, "Obama gets cozy with Turkey; Snubs Israel." Frank Gaffney wrote; "his administration has behaved toward Israel as though it were, at best, a country in which we have no interests. At worst, Obama seems to consider the Jewish State as a hostile power. He has: repeatedly demeaned its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; contributed to its international isolation (for example, by demanding at one point an end to settlement expansion as a precondition for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations); and subverted its vital interests (notably, by declaring that Israel must withdraw to the indefensible pre-1967 borders)."
Gaffney added, "Barack Obama has treated Turkey as a reliable partner even though, for the better part of a decade under its Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this nation that is supposedly a NATO ally has been aligning ever more palpably with our adversaries."
We see the US both retreating from the region but also changing sides in the region. Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt. During the Gaza conflict, his Administration sided with Qatar and Turkey against the wishes of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Because of local upheavals linked to the attitude of Obama's Administration we have seen the emergence of an alliance of common interests which is a fascinating new opportunity for Israel.
As Caroline Glick astutely pointed out in a recent talk in Netanya, our neighbors are pondering on how to get through an Obama presidency. This particularly applies to an Israel suffering from a presidential animus, which is an integral part of his personal and political DNA.
***Barry Shaw is the Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.' www.israelnarrative.com
ISIS uses chemical weapon in Iraq; police officers killed
by JIM KOURI, CPP October 27, 2014
Family Security Matters
The United States military and law enforcement scientists are investigating reports that the terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are using a chemical weapon against the Iraqi military, according to Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday. The ISIS fighters are allegedly using the deadly weapon of mass destruction (WMD) chlorine gas. "I am not in a position to confirm it, but I can tell you that we take these allegations very, very seriously," Kerry told reporters during a press briefing on Friday.
According to reports from the Middle East news media, about a dozen Iraqi police officers so far have been diagnosed to be poisoned by chlorine gas, which many believe is the first confirmed case of chemical weapon use by ISIS on the battlefield. "These allegations are extremely serious and we are seeking additional information in order to be able to determine whether or not we can confirm it," Kerry said.
Deadly chlorine gas attacks the human respiratory system and it usually leads to a painful and slow death by asphyxiation of its victims. Historically, it was the German Army during World War I who first used the gas in 1915 against the French troops holed up in their trenches. When the gas covered the trenches, soldiers began to complain about excruciating pains in their chests coupled with burning sensations in their throats. They had no idea they had been subjected to a deadly chemical attack.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during his daily briefing said on Friday that the U.S. will dispatch investigators on the ground in an effort to "analyze what exactly happened and try to get to the bottom of these reports."
The use of any chemical weapon is "an abhorrent act", said Kerry, adding that the allegations underscore the importance of the work that the U.S. is currently engaged in. "It will not change our strategy," the top U.S. diplomat said. "It obviously can affect tactical decisions within that strategy, but our fundamental strategy remains absolutely clear."
The first chemical weapon ever used was chlorine gas. The gas causes damage to the lungs and throught and has an effect on a person's eyes and nose. High concentrations and prolonged exposure it can cause death by asphyxiation. However, if trained properly military and police can use simple countermeasures when exposed such as covering the mouth and nose with a damp cloth is effective at reducing the effect of the gas.
Negotiating With Iran
by HERBERT LONDON October 27, 2014
Family Security Matters
It is something of an old saw to contend that if a woman says "no," she means "maybe." If she says "maybe" she means "yes," but if she says "yes" she is not a "lady." Similarly if a man says "yes," he means "maybe," if he says "maybe" he means "no," but if says "no," he could not possibly be a negotiator in Vienna for the Obama administration.
So keen is President Obama on a deal with Iran, he cannot say "no." The fact that zero tolerance for an Iran with nuclear weapons is no longer a negotiating point is telling. The fact that Iran's missile force site is not on the agenda suggests yet another concession. The fact that the U.S. has already conceded the existence of at least 1500 centrifuges enriching uranium indicates U.S. "flexibility." And the fact the plutonium facility is not a discussable item suggests preemptive acceptance of the Iranian position.
After one failure on the foreign policy front after another, Obama needs a victory or, more accurately, the appearance of victory. He is likely to get one and only one concession from the Iranian negotiating team: It will pledge not to weaponize its missiles. The translation is that Iran will have the fissile capability to build nuclear weapons and a delivery force with the Shahab 3 and the Kavoshgar 3 rocket used as a space launch. But it will say the two are not to be united. Of course, no one, but Obama will take this claim seriously.
Nevertheless President Obama amid some media fanfare will argue that through the negotiating skill of his team, he has achieved an understanding with Iran that will avert hostility with this once adversarial nation.
Iran's president Ruhani will merely shake hands with Secretary Kerry for a photo op. and go on his merry way knowing that he duped the feckless Obama representatives into a deal that will give Iran enormous leverage in pursuing its dominant long term regional goal.
Recognizing the flaws in the agreement, senators on both sides of the aisle will object to being left out of the negotiations. Some will even cite a Constitutional provision that maintains the Senate must ratify treaties, but Obama will argue deceitfully that this deal isn't a treaty, but merely an understanding or accord.
The Israeli president and representatives will balk contending that this agreement sets the stage for a second Holocaust. Not only has Iran pledged to wipe Israel off the map; it will have the means to do so. Secretary Kerry will be dispatched to Tel Aviv to assure Israeli leaders deterrence will work. No one is likely to believe him, but that too doesn't make any difference.
With the completion of the deal, the Middle East is forever changed. All escalation scenarios in regional conflict will have to account for the prospect of an Iranian bomb. To deter acts of aggression enhanced by this prospect, Egypt and Saudi Arabia will acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan. The region will now be hostage to a possible nuclear war. Obama may get his political victory but at a price that puts the international community in a precarious state into the distant future. Thinking the unthinkable becomes thinkable again.
John Dryden wrote "...fool'd with hope, men favor the deceit." One might contend that the naïve hope for the best and believe it will be achieved, but the sly enemy thinks hope is my ally in the effort to pursue negotiating advantage. Let the forces of innocence betray themselves on the altar of acceptance. The Ides of March are before us and we must entertain very bleak and uncomfortable scenarios.
Herbert London is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the President of the London Center for Policy Research. He is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).
Islam’s ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ Routine
by RAYMOND IBRAHIM October 27, 2014
Family Security Matters
Yet one more piece of evidence tying the United States to the Islamic State recently came to light. In a new video interview, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most authoritative clerics in the Muslim community who has his own program on Al Jazeera and is chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, asserted that the leader of the head-chopping, infidel-crucifying Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was once a member of the Brotherhood, which the U.S. government, especially the Obama administration, has been allied with.
Indicators of a U.S./Brotherhood alliance are too many to list here and have been on open display from people like HillaryClinton, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, and Sen. John McCain (who may have taken pictures not only with known Islamic terrorists, but with al-Baghdadi himself).
According to Sheikh Qaradawi, "this youth [al-Baghdadi] was from the start among the top ranks of the Brotherhood, but he was inclined to [positions of] leadership and so forth... Then, after he spent years in prison [for Brotherhood activities] he came out and joined with them [nascent Islamic State]," eventually rising to be its "caliph."
Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments (Awqaf), Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom‘a said that "Qaradawi's confession [concerning al-Baghdadi] confirms that the Brotherhood is the spiritual father to every extremist group."
Even so, Qaradawi's revelation was not meant to cast aspersions on the Brotherhood, especially as he is one of its spiritual fathers. More likely he was invoking the idea that imprisoning and suppressing "moderate Islamists," namely the Muslim Brotherhood-most recently in Egypt's last revolution-only leads to their "radicalization" and turn to violence.
This is a widely accepted meme, especially in the West. Al-Qaeda's Ayman Zawahiri is another former Brotherhood member who is regularly portrayed as turning to "radicalism" and jihad after being imprisoned in Egypt in 1981-though any evaluation of the facts of his life demonstrate that he was a "radical" well before he was incarcerated, that he was imprisoned precisely because he was radical.
The idea that it is best to cooperate and ally with the "moderate" and "nonviolent" Muslim Brotherhood lest, aggrieved, it turns to "extremism, radicalism, and terrorism" has been swallowed by many Western academics and politicians hook line and sinker.
To understand this phenomenon, one need only turn to the "good cop, bad cop" routine and see how it captures U.S. behavior towards "moderate/nonviolent Islamists" ("good cops") on the one hand, and "radical/violent Islamists" ("bad cops") on the other.
According to the CIA Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (as cited in the book Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003-2010),
Good cop/bad cop, also called joint questioning and friend and foe, is a psychological tactic used for interrogation. "Good cop/bad cop" tactics involves a team of two interrogators who take apparently opposing approaches to the subject. The interrogators may interview the subject alternately or may confront the subject at the same time. The "bad cop" takes an aggressive, negative stance toward the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself. This sets the stage for the "good cop" to act sympathetically, appearing supportive, understanding, in general showing sympathy for the subject. The good cop will also defend the subject from the bad cop. The subject may feel he can cooperate with the good cop out of trust or fear of the bad cop. He may then seek protection by and trust the good cop and provide the information the interrogators are seeking.
Consider how this definition applies to the U.S. government's approach to the supposed Islamist dichotomy of "violence" and "nonviolence."
The violent jihad-whether under the rubric of "al-Qaeda," "Islamic State," etc.-like the "bad cop" "takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject [U.S./"infidels"], making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself."
Thus the violent jihadis become the "feared enemies" who cannot be reasoned with.
This of course sets the stage for the "good cops," the purportedly nonviolent Islamists, namely, the Muslim Brotherhood, to step in
appearing supportive, understanding, in general showing sympathy for the subject. The good cop ["moderate" Brotherhood] will also defend the subject [U.S. interests] from the bad cop [Islamic jihadis]. The subject [U.S.] may feel he can cooperate with the good cop ["moderates"] out of trust, or fear of the bad cop [terrorists].
This in fact is the idea long spearheaded by Mideast academics and talking heads-that there are "nonviolent" Islamists and "violent" Islamists, and that the best way to weaken the appeal of the latter is to cooperate with the former, which, after all, shouldn't be too hard, since the "good cop moderates" come in suits, smile, and shake hands over cups of coffee.
For instance, CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, an Obama advisor, argues in his book, Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat, published by the Naval Institute Press (2010), that "It is the Militant Islamists who are our adversary. They represent an immediate threat to the national security of the United States. They must not be confused with Islamists." Aboul-Enein, like many before and after him, argues that U.S. leadership should work with the nonviolent Islamists in order to weaken the appeal of the militants.
And yet, just as the "good cop/bad cop" is a false dichotomy in that both "cops" are working together and for the same goal, so too is the "nonviolent Islamist/violent Islamist" a false dichotomy in that both Islamists are working together and for the same goal-the resurrection of a Sharia-enforcing caliphate, which the Islamic State ("violent Islamist"), led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a former Muslim Brotherhood member ("nonviolent Islamist"), recently accomplished.
***Raymond Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam expert. His books include Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). RaymondIbrahim.com
U.N. Urges More Help for Countries Sheltering Syrian Refugees
The United Nations issued a clarion call Tuesday for more funding to help countries such as Lebanon and Jordan host millions of Syrian refugees, warning it posed the world's "most dramatic humanitarian crisis".
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told an international conference in Berlin that the impact of three million Syrians having fled the long and bloody conflict was "enormous" on its neighbors.
"Economics, public services, the social fabric of communities and the welfare of families are all affected, not to mention the security impact of the Syrian conflict in the whole region," he told the gathering.
More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the uprising that began in March 2011, with most taking shelter in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Germany has convened the one-day conference to focus not only on the refugees' humanitarian needs but on the wider necessity to shore up the stability of host countries struggling to cope with the exodus.
Several foreign ministers and other representatives from around 40 countries and international bodies are attending the talks.
"The host countries need and deserve much stronger financial support to their budgets to allow them to address the structural gaps," Guterres said, pointing to education, health care and adequate infrastructure.
He described the Syrian situation as "the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time", as ministers from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq outlined their struggles.
"Lebanon, as it has been recognized by all, is beyond its absorption capacities and urgently needs other countries to share its burden," Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam said.
Lebanon last week said it would ask the U.N. to stop registering refugees who enter the country from war-torn Syria, formalizing a decision to all but close its borders to them.
It already hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, an enormous strain for a country with a population of just four million.
The influx has tested overstretched infrastructure and created fresh tensions.
About 1.5 million Syrians, including refugees and economic migrants who arrived before the crisis, are currently living in Jordan, with 140,000 Syrian students swelling Jordan's education system, its foreign minister Nasser Judeh said.
Jordanians have shared their housing, schools, hospitals and water "with their Syrian brothers and sisters", he said.
But he also stressed the pressures on the health system and other services, and stiff competition for jobs.
"There is an urgent need for a more robust international response in support of host countries to preempt host country and host community fatigue," he warned the conference.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said the idea for the Berlin meeting came during his last visit to Lebanon, said it aimed to show a "vow of solidarity" for the refugees and host countries.
"Whoever has seen how much, in Lebanon for example, the public health system, the schools, the water supply and much else is utilized by the 1.5 million refugees, knows or can guess how much of an explosive force that really is for the social structures of a country like Lebanon," Steinmeier told reporters ahead of the talks. Host countries need investment in schools, hospitals, water supply and waste disposal systems and funding should be used more efficiently, he said. But he also warned that refugees needed hope. "Hopelessness and despair make people vulnerable to radicalization and manipulation," he said, adding that half of the refugees were children and teenagers. Agence France Presse
The Beautiful Face of an Ugly Regime
By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Al Awsat
Tuesday, 28 Oct, 2014
In this day and age, with its proliferation of images and videos online, it is easy to become bewitched by a beautiful face and a sweet-sounding voice. So it was with the Western media—sick as it is of the ugly images of death and killing and destruction coming out of our countries—when it recently fell under the spell of two Syrian girls, Faiayo and Rihan Younan, whose online video, ‘To Our Countries,’ quickly went viral, and was received with open arms in Western media outlets. The video shows the two—highly attractive—Syrian girls standing almost angelically in front of a white background while one of them sings a song about her homeland and the other recites poetry detailing the horrors the Syrian people and others in the region have had to endure in recent years. Here, the true meaning of the video, the song and the poetry recited, all take a back seat to the visual sophistication of this professional-looking video and its beautiful protagonists talking about their country—the one which now provides us with a steady stream of images and videos of murder and slaughter and horror. Here is how the Western media can finally hand over its traditional purview of calling for “peace” to someone else—specifically, two beautiful Syrian girls living in Sweden posting a video about the sufferings of people in the Levant, Baghdad, Beirut and Jerusalem, spreading a “noble” message of hope and love for their war-torn country, Syria, now emblazoned all over newspaper headlines. Those who welcomed or even celebrated this video ignored an important question. Do these two girls truly stand for the values of freedom, truth and peace as some Western media outlets would have us believe? We haven’t even mentioned the very similar response the video garnered from the Syrian regime and its allies’ own media outlets yet.
How seductive is all this talk of “freedom” coming from these girls; how poetic their admonition of the faceless enemy that is extremism and the foreign, hegemonic Western hands reaching into our lands and meddling in our affairs. In their song, the two girls adopt the same rhetoric used by the Syrian regime, generalizing the Syrian problem as a pan-Arab one, without pointing the finger at any one particular oppressor, and lumping together Western interference and the terrorist threat into one vague, ill-defined opponent.
So let us dig a little deeper, and we will soon find out just how vacuous this video and the message behind it is.
It is no secret that these two girls, who bewitched the foreign press and hundreds of thousands of others online, are fierce supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the primary architect of the current crisis in Syria; neither is their support for his army, now an expert in dropping barrel bombs onto the heads of the Syrian people; nor their stance toward those farcical presidential elections held in Syria earlier this year. As such, the Syrian regime’s media machine welcomed, like some of its Western counterparts, these two girls and the video they appeared in. This is not the first time the West, with its general ignorance of our region, our language and the events occurring here, has become bewitched by a beautiful, exotic face singing an “innocent song for peace.”
Here we are taken back to the beginnings of the Syrian uprising, back in 2011. How can any people revolt against a youthful, handsome president, who was trained as a doctor and is married to such a beautiful, elegant, educated woman, and who was previously hailed by the West only years before? In reality, this president is nothing but a butcher responsible for the deaths of around 200,000 of his own people and the destruction of an entire country.
And so the inevitable online video rebuttal to the Younan sisters’ video followed on its heels rather swiftly. In this video—entitled, ‘The Genuine Version’—two young men appeared mocking the sisters’ appearance in the original video and the words of the song one of them had sung. How can these “deluded” youths, as the sisters had called them in their video, have the temerity to revolt against “our beloved doctor?” In reality, the buffoonery and mockery of the second video puts things in their proper place. In the first video, a despotic regime attempts to seduce us through a beautiful voice and two pairs of hypnotic eyes; in the second, two youths give us the truth.
We're singing our failures and indulging in our defeats
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Octavia Nasr /Al Arabiya
Tell me how you measure success. Actually, you don’t need to tell me. I can probably find out on my own. Just as I can find out your likes and dislikes, hobbies, political views, your friends’ updates, your family’s peculiarities and many other details. Others, with specialized surveillance tools, can find out your secrets, from how much money you make to how you spend it and where. So much of our life is available these days in raw format, computed, categorized and filed forever. As soon as one becomes a “person of interest,” there is no telling what can spill out. There is no limit to how much of what we consider our most private life can be disseminated to hurt us or entertain the masses. Judging by the amount of information we are willing to share with strangers every day, we cannot claim to care. How often do we “agree” to terms of service without even thinking, let alone reading the lengthy forms and their fine print? The problem is that the “real” you - in its ethical, conceptual, human contexts – does not exist in the public domain. Your public personality known to search engines, online voyeurs and hackers is one peel of who you are and that is why you don’t care if anyone finds out. But when you are reduced to that superficial image of you and when your core is missing, will you care then?
“The problem is that the “real” you -- in its ethical, conceptual, human contexts – does not exist in the public domain” Examine our planet and the existential challenges we face as humans. Compare that to our behavior tracked step by step through our mobile phones and our computers. An ugly truth stares at us: We are avid consumers of superfluous information. Judging by what popular mass media offer these days, we are shallow beings who feed on entertainment and unfounded gossip. We do not have principles and do not stand up for what we believe in. We are heading to our demise entertained by our own failures and further indulging in our own defeats.
This could very well be our darkest information age. Each one has his or her own version of the truth and we agree to have it delivered to people’s fingertips and straight into their brains without much scrutiny, challenge, context or even the option of considering alternative views or opinions. Instead, sinking deeper in trouble, we encourage accepting a perception as truth.
Saudi Arabia's hate preachers must be
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Khaled Almaeena /Al Arabiya
A Gulf paper reported the suspension of the Twitter account of a Saudi preacher who urged followers on social media networking websites to celebrate the death by suicide bombing of dozens of protestors in Yemen thought to be Houthis. On Twitter, Khalid al-Ghamdi gloated over the corpses of people killed in bomb attacks in Sanaa on Oct. 9. He praised the al-Qaeda group who carried out the attack and in his twisted way asked followers to watch images of the burnt bodies. His show on Al-Wesal TV has been accused by patriotic Saudis of stoking sectarianism in the region. The sadistic comments caused outrage among peace-loving people who called for his prosecution. “We must work harder to preserve our security and stability and strive to achieve greater prosperity”
Al-Ghamdi’s perverted, uncivilized and barbaric behavior is totally repugnant to the majority of Muslims all over the world. To ask people to gloat over the killing of innocent women and children reveals a demonic mind. The government is intent on fighting this evil ideology of hate, intolerance, incitement to murder and the vicious brutality of glorifying such heinous acts. However, we can’t do this by praying in mosques against “Daish,” the so-called Islamic State, or by reading circulars from the authorities asking us not to be swayed by deviants. This is a threatening evil ideology that has to be fought with serious determination and political will.
Ugly forms of extremism
Sadly, over the past 25 years extremism in all its ugly forms has spread in every strata of society. These self-appointed guardians of religion have become a “state within a state.” They have infiltrated all professions and many of us have tolerated them thinking it was a passing phase that posed no serious harm. Today, we are paying a serious price for having neglected to address what was clearly a recipe for disaster. We have allowed these agents of obscurantism and perverted ideology to spread like cancer. We cannot continue to be passive bystanders any longer. We should speak louder with our own narrative. They have hijacked our religion and preyed upon the minds of our innocent youth.
Let us encourage a united public outcry condemning their distorted interpretation of our Islamic ideology and let us project our true Muslim faith that shares universal values of tolerance, decency and righteousness. Let us also promote the proper Jihad of striving to do good deeds and serving the Merciful by spreading peace and love to all mankind. The public should understand that they have a religious responsibility to report to the authorities any talk that encourages extremism or sympathizes with any acts of terrorism.
The authorities on their part should weed out extremist elements and fifth columnists from public offices. Business people should contribute to building playing fields, libraries and theaters for the benefit of the young. Let them focus on love of life and hard work to counter the purveyors of death, the likes of al-Ghamdi who want to create a society of hatred, destruction and ruin. Let us glorify the message of God in the Holy Quran that celebrates life on earth and the Hereafter, a life of compassion and harmony.
A lot of progress has been accomplished in our country. However, we must work harder to preserve our security and stability and strive to achieve greater prosperity. This will require disciplined and sensible progressive minds, and we have plenty of them who need more recognition and support. Our message to these preachers of hate should be loud and clear: We will not allow you to hijack our country!