LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Released
From the Law, Bound to Christ
Romans 07/01-06: "1Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 29, 30/14
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's Kafr Qasim speech can herald change/By: Ariana Melamed//Ynetnews/October 30/14
Hamas using mafia-like tactics to make money/Dr. Adam Reuter/Ynetnews /October 30/14
A New Wave of Terrorism/By: Ali Ibrahim /Asharq Al Awsat/October 30/14
Will Egypt mediate for Assad/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/October 30/14
Bahrain's Ban on Main Opposition Prompts U.S. Policy Dilemma/By: Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/October 30/14
Responding Effectively to the Military Challenges in Syria/By: Jeffrey White /Washington Institute/October 30/14
Kerry, Qatar and the Poisonous Tree/by CAROLINE GLICK /Family Security Matters/October 30/14
Lebanese Related News
published on October 29,
Parliament Fails to Elect President for 15th Time
Qahwaji: No Secret Deals Will Occur at Expense of Our Martyrs' Blood
Al-Rahi: We Reject Any Talk of Trilateral Power-Sharing, Constituent Assembly
Israel Stages Live Ammo Drill in Shebaa Farms
Clashes Erupt in Outskirts of Bekaa Towns of Deir al-Ghazal, Qusaya
Army Cracks Down on Fugitives, Carries Out Large-Scale Raids in North
Dangerous Fugitive Arrested in Sidon amid Intensive Army Measures
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea: Hezbollah must disarm after Army victory
Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel says had ‘excellent’ meeting with Aoun
Militants surrender as Lebanese Army presses on with raids
Israeli Army: Possible Hezbollah has tunneled across border
Opposition to Parliament extension melts away
Islamist fighters hiding in Lebanese city: sources
Saudi backs north Lebanon Army offensive: envoy
Future MP Ahmad Fatfat warns Tripoli violence may reignite
Army arrests 33 terror suspects in north Lebanon
Hariri: Time to get out of Syrian fire
International donors pledge to boost Syrian refugee aid
Settling in to a new, temporary home
Time to capitalize on anti-ISIS sentiment
Extension session for the paliament likely to happen next week
Lebanon eighth worst country for gender equality
Making the case for local fisheries
Why Arab banks must comply with U.S. regulations
Lebanon makes its mark on BBC’s 100 Women list
Outcry over attack on Sukleen worker
Lebanon’s bartenders aim for Bacardi Prize
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 29, 30/14
Pope Francis endorses Big Bang Theory of creation
Al-Qaeda pushes back moderate Syrian rebel group Iraqi Peshmerga poised to join battle against ISIS in Syria
ISIS attack on Syria oil field kills 30: monitor ISIS fighters seen with advanced antiaircraft missiles US forces hit ISIS 'command node' in new strikes
UN to hold emergency meeting on Israel's settlement construction
US official: Netanyahu is a 'coward' on Iran
Report: US, Iran entered state of 'detente', facing common Islamic State enemy
Rivlin: Israel's foreign policy is just US ties
Dear mom, don’t cry,’ hanged Iranian woman says in last message
US-Israel tensions confirmed, with some exceptions, after Goldberg report
Saudi King and Emir of Kuwait meet ahead of GCC summit
Terror threat:’ U.S. boosts security at govt buildings Ray of light from Tunisia
Below Jihad Watch
Posts For Wednesday
Guardian’s Brian Whitaker: Most Arab states share Islamic State’s ideology
Senior Obama official: Israeli PM Netanyahu is “chickens–t”
Obama State Department: “Palestinians” who throw molotov cocktails at Israelis are not terrorists
Philadelphia: Muslim leaders demand arrest and execution of Bangladeshi politician for insulting Muhammad and Islam
Hamas-linked CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper compares Bill Maher to Grand Dragon of the KKK
Raymond Ibrahim: Islam and the Mafia: ‘Making An Offer You Can’t Refuse’
Why does no one remember the Assyrian victims of Turkey’s Christian holocaust?
Two-thirds of Muslims in Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia and Pakistan support unifying all Muslim countries in caliphate
Not how many, but where
Pakistan: Muslim mob torches Ahmadi shops and homes, murders woman and two girls over blasphemy claims
Boston Marathon jihad mass murderer’s friend convicted of lying to the FBI
Islamic State recruiter: “It is every Muslim’s duty to fight those of a different belief until only Allah is worshipped around the world”
Pope Francis endorses Big Bang Theory of creation
By ARIEL COHEN/10/28/2014/J.Post
Pope Francis has debunked the long-held theory that creationism is the sole means of the origin of the earth, stating the theory and the scientific theory can work hand-in-hand. “When we read in Genesis the account of creation, we risk imagining God as a magus, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so,” Francis said while discussing “evolving concepts of nature” while at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday. The Pope stated his belief that God created beings, and allowed them to develop in accordance to the internal laws set for them. By giving this autonomy to creatures, they grow within the confines of nature, while also under the dominion of God. Unlike animals, human beings have certain autonomy from nature, which allows them more freedom in their growth and development. The Pope thus concluded that God is not a wizard, but rather, serves as “the Creator who gives being to all things.”The Pope went on to state that the Big Bang theory and the theory of creationism do not contradict each other, but rather, complement each other. “The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme origin that creates out of love,” Francis said. “The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” Catholic teaching has previously endorsed the idea of evolution theories in accordance with theories of creationism. Pope Francis’s comments build on the ideas of other progressive Popes such as Pius XII and John Paul II, who both aimed to move the church away from its anti-scientific reputation that has marred it in the past.
Parliament Fails to Elect President
for 15th Time
Naharnet/Lawmakers failed on Wednesday for the fifteenth time to elect a new president over a lack of quorum at parliament. The next elections session has been scheduled for November 19. LBCI television said that 54 lawmakers attended the session. It was boycotted by the Change and Reform and Loyalty to the Resistance blocs of the March 8 alliance. In attendance were blocs from the March 14 camp, centrist lawmakers, and Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc. The speaker did not attend the session in order to chair his weekly meeting with MPs at his Ain el-Tineh residence later on Wednesday. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Hizbullah and MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, a presidential candidate, had previously accused them of adopting such measures in to order to blackmail political blocs into electing Aoun as president. Commenting on the failure to hold the elections, Geagea said: “We will continue on heading to the elections sessions as a sign of our commitment to constitutional measures and the Lebanese system.” He accused during a press conference Hizbullah and Aoun of obstructing the polls, adding: “I used to think that the obstruction was aimed at achieving personal gains, but I am beginning to question this.”“The ongoing obstruction is no longer a political maneuver, but an attempt to target Lebanon's political system,” Geagea stressed.“Certain standards stipulated in the constitution dictate how to stage the presidential elections, but Aoun and Hizbullah are violating these principles,” he explained.
Dangerous Fugitive Arrested in Sidon
amid Intensive Army Measures
Naharnet/The army pressed on with its crackdown in the southern city of Sidon on Wednesday, arresting a dangerous fugitives and seizing landmines that turned out to be obsolete. "A number of assault rifles and their ammunition in addition to military equipment and parts of 6 anti-vehicle landmines were seized during a raid in Siroub, Sidon," the army said in a statement. Earlier in the day, state-run National News Agency said "an army force found six landmines in a deserted house in the town of Siroub, east of the city of Sidon.”“The house is adjacent to that of Sheikh Othman H., which was raided yesterday, and it was owned by now-deceased citizen Mahmoud Sh.,” it said. It later reported that the landmines were “obsolete and not set for detonation.” Meanwhile, al-Jadeed TV said “army intelligence agents arrested the fugitive Abdul Rahman H. after raiding his house in Sidon,” noting that “he is one of those accused of plotting a terror operation” in the southern city. LBCI television identified the man as Abdul Rahman al-Hallaq and said he is a member of a cell loyal to fugitive Islamist cleric Ahmed al-Asir. OTV for its part said Hallaq is “the mastermind of the terrorist cells which were busted recently.”Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) meanwhile said troops raided places in the al-Kinan neighborhood in the Old City of Sidon in search of fugitives.
"The army raided the al-Taamir area near Sidon's state-run hospital in search of fugitives," al-Jadeed said later on Wednesday. For its part, Future TV said "army intelligence agents raided the house of al-Asir supporter Hadi N. in the villas area in Sidon and seized a computer."Separately, the TV network said shots were fired in the air in the Sidon neighborhood of Haret Saida “as a speeding car failed to stop at a Hizbullah checkpoint guarding a Ashoura gathering.”“Hizbullah members detained the driver of the car and there is secrecy regarding his identity,” it added. The crackdown in Sidon intensified on Tuesday as the army raided a house belonging to pro-Asir cleric Sheikh Othman H. in the Siroub area. An arms depot belonging to Asir supporters was seized on Monday in the Old City. The developments come in the wake of deadly weekend battles between the army and Islamist gunmen in several districts of Tripoli and the nearby northern region of Minieh, which resulted in the death of 11 troops, 5 civilians and several militants. The Sidon suburb of Abra had in June 2013 witnessed bloody battles between the army and gunmen loyal to al-Asir, in which dozens of people were killed and scores others wounded.
Qahwaji: No Secret Deals Will Occur at Expense of Our Martyrs' Blood
NaharnetظArmy chief General Jean Qahwaji on Wednesday reassured “there will be no bargaining at the expense of the blood of the martyrs” who fell in the northern regions of Tripoli and Minieh, stressing that the fugitive gunmen will be arrested “no matter how long it takes.”“The martyrs and the injured soldiers' blood will not go in vain," said Qahwaji during a visit to the Aley district, where he offered condolences to the families of slain officers Jihad al-Habr and Firas al-Hakim, who were killed in the latest clashes in the North.
“There will be no bargaining or leniency with those who killed our troops and no secret deals will occur at the expense of our martyrs' blood,” stressed Qahwaji. He underlined that “anyone who attacked the army is a terrorist and they will be chased, arrested and handed over to the judiciary, no matter where they were and no matter how long it takes.”The army has tightened its security grip in the North region in the wake of unprecedented fierce clashes with Islamist gunmen over the weekend. Eleven troops and five civilians were killed and several others wounded in the gunbattles that started in Tripoli's old souks and spread to the city's Bab al-Tabbaneh district and the nearby northern regions of Minieh and Akkar. Scores of militants were killed, wounded or arrested during the military operation. However, top militants Shadi al-Mawlawi, Osama Mansour and Sheikh Khaled Hoblos vanished as the army entered their hideouts in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Minieh following days of clashes. The three militants' disappearance sparked speculation about the presence of a certain “settlement” that allowed them to escape, the thing that was strongly denied by the army.
Al-Rahi: We Reject Any Talk of Trilateral Power-Sharing, Constituent Assembly
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi renewed on Wednesday his sharp criticism over the political forces' failure to elect a president for the country, rejecting any talk of trilateral power-sharing between the major sects. “There is talk nowadays about a constituent assembly and we reject from this moment any debate over trilateral power-sharing … because that would be a violation of the (1943 National) Pact,” said al-Rahi during a dinner hosted by the Maronite parish in the Australian city of Adelaide. The patriarch added: “Talk of trilateral power-sharing means 'a plane with three wings' – one Sunni, one Shiite and one Christian, and this is against 94 years of religious coexistence in Lebanon.”The National Pact is an unwritten agreement that set the basis for the political system in the country, which is based on sectarian distribution of power. "Our dear MPs have not elected a president and we are now in the sixth month without a presidential election,” he added. The Maronite patriarch denounced how “each of the political camps is waiting to see whether the Sunnis or the Shiites, Saudi Arabia or Iran, the Syrian regime or the opposition will emerge victorious.” "Our MPs did not elect a president for the republic in the 14th (electoral) session and they did not secure the quorum,” al-Rahi lamented. “I cannot accept, in the name of all citizens, these hidden intentions that are preventing the election of a president. I do not want my doubts to fall on anyone, they know themselves,” he added. Earlier on Wednesday, lawmakers failed for the fifteenth time to elect a new president over a lack of quorum at parliament. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Hizbullah and MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate.
Army Cracks Down on Fugitives, Carries Out Large-Scale Raids in North
Naharnet/The Lebanese army carried out large-scale raids early on Wednesday in the northern coastal city of Tripoli and the region of Koura in search of suspects, as several armed men turned themselves in. The army expanded its raids in the evening and arrested several suspects, including one accused of belonging to the group of Imad Jomaa, whose arrest on August 2 sparked deadly clashes with jihadist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal. Earlier, state-run National News Agency reported that the military carried out raids in Tripoli's Abi Samra neighborhood and Dahr al-Ain in the northern Koura district. The army heavily deployed in the areas, erecting checkpoints. An army reconnaissance drone accompanied the operations. Later on Wednesday, the army announced in another statement that its forces raided places suspected of harboring gunmen in the Tripoli area of Abi Samra. “Eight individuals were arrested, including 3 Syrians, while 3 Kalashnikov rifles, an RPG launcher, 10 grenades and a quantity of ammo and military equipment were seized in their possession,” the army added. Another army unit raided Syrian refugee encampments in the Minieh region and arrested 8 people on suspicion of having ties to armed groups, according to the same statement. Meanwhile, Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) said army commandos staged patrols in Mashta Hammoud, Mashta Hassan and Jabal al-Mansoura in the northern region of Wadi Khaled, arresting several fugitives. The radio station had earlier reported that agents from the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau raided an apartment in Abi Samra that was occupied by Islamist cleric Sheikh Khaled Hoblos and confiscated a computer device. Gunmen linked to Sheikh Hoblos, a previously unknown cleric, engaged in clashes with the army over the weekend in the town of Bhanine in the district of Akkar in the North. A terrorist from Khalaf family, who is linked to the Hoblos group, was detained in the northern region of Minieh, the NNA said. The military said in a communique on Wednesday that three wanted suspects turned themselves in to the army.
They were identified as Nasser Mahmoud al-Bohsa, Azzam Rashed Taleb and Salah Mohammed Abdulhayy. The three, according to the army statement, engaged in armed clashes with the army in Bhannine. The army has tightened its security grip in North Lebanon after deadly gunbattles with Islamist gunmen in Tripoli over the weekend. VDL (93.3) reported that the army also raided Bustan al-Baghdadi neighborhood and detained four suspects, including a Syrian, for the involvement in sabotage operations.
At least 162 suspects have been arrested since Friday, the army said in a communique on Tuesday. In the evening, an army force raided the town of Tal Maayan in the Akkar plain where it arrested seven people, NNA said. Meanwhile, State Security agents arrested the Syrian Salim M. Kh. at a Syrian refugee gathering in the Akkar town of Khirbet Daoud. NNA said the man is a defected Syrian army warrant officer who hails from the town of Qusayr, noting that he is suspected of “belonging to the group of the detainee Imad Jomaa and being the founder of the Iaasar al-Haq Brigade in Qalamun.” The battle between the Lebanese army and extremists 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.
S. Nasrallah: Takfiris’ Atrocities Most Serious Distortion of Islam in History
Mohamed Salami /Manar 27.10.14
Sayyed NasrallahHezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah asserted that what the takfiris are committing nowadays is the most serious distortion of Islam throughout the history as the means of communication and media convey the images to the entire world.
During the third night of Muharram at Sayyed Al-Shuhadaa complex in the southern suburb of Beirut, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the takfiris' conduct deports the non-Muslims from Islam, adding that they kill and slaughter and base their atrocities on fabricated Prophet's Hadiths. "The takfiris present the Muslims as a group that are thirsty for bloodshed," Sayyed Nasrallah said, "This would consecrate this falsified concept about Islam."His Eminence pointed out that the takfiri thought is based on atoning, shedding blood, confiscating properties and violating the honor of all who are different (others). "The takfiri thought was established in the Arab world almost 200 years ago and was provided with financial as well as governmental capabilities which founded the universities, schools, newspapers, and houses of publications in order to pervade its concepts all over the world.""Islam, the nation and the Islamic societies are being threatened by this takfiri thought whose causes, not effects must be addressed." Sayyed Nasrallah called on defending Islam as he saw that the Sunni and the Shiite clerics must loudly convey the reality of Islam to the world. Hezbollah leader considered that the confrontation with takfirism must be primarily cultural, intellectual and scientific Sayyed Nasrallah also called on preventing the spread of this trend, considering that Saudi Arabia is primarily responsible for this task by closing the schools from where the takfiri ideology emerges. Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that facing the takfiri trend is not carried out only by the security and the militarily option because "Islam does not seek murdering, but rescuing people in this life and in the afterlife."
Israeli Army: Possible Hezbollah
has tunneled across border
Ynetnews/Reuters /Published: 10.29.14
Golan region IDF commander says though there is no direct proof, the 'working assumption that there are tunnels' from Lebanon into Israel. Israel believes the militant group Hezbollah has probably dug tunnels across the border from Lebanon in preparation for any future war although it has no conclusive evidence, an Israeli army general said on Wednesday. Israel's vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war against Hamas in Gaza in July and August. What began as shelling exchanges with Hamas escalated into a ground offensive after Palestinian militants used dozens of secret passages dug from Gaza into Israel to launch surprise attacks. Residents of northern Israel, who were battered by Hezbollah rockets during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, have at times reported underground noises suggesting that guerrillas were burrowing across the frontier in a new tactic. The IDF says searches it has carried out have turned up nothing. "We have no positive information meaning that there are tunnels. The situation is not similar to what there was around the Gaza Strip," Major-General Yair Golan, commander of Israeli forces on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts, told Army Radio. That said, this idea of going below ground is not foreign to Lebanon and is not foreign to Hezbollah and so we have to suppose as a working assumption that there are tunnels. These have to be looked for and prepared for." Hezbollah does not comment on its military capabilities. Spurred by the Gaza experience, the Israelis say they hope to develop effective tunnel-hunting technologies within two years.
Golan said Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in the civil war in Syria, appeared unlikely to seek a renewed conflict with Israel. Were that to happen, he said, Israel would hit Lebanese targets hard but would also suffer from a Hezbollah rocket arsenal believed to be 10 times more potent than Hamas's. There have been occasional attacks along the border in recent weeks, however, including a roadside bomb planted by Hezbollah that wounded an Israeli soldier. Israel responded by firing artillery shells into southern Lebanon. "We will not be able to provide the umbrella that was provided in the south by Iron Dome," Golan said, referring to an aerial interceptor system which Israeli and US officials say scored a 90 percent shoot-down rate against Gazan rockets. "We and Hezbollah are conducting a kind of mutual-deterrence balance," he said, while cautioning that isolated flare-ups on the border could still boil over into war. "There is no absolute deterrence. Each side has its pain threshold, its restraint threshold, which when passed prompt it to take action."
International donors pledge to boost Syrian refugee aid
Oct. 29, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: An international conference on the Syrian refugee crisis vowed Tuesday to extend long-term financial aid to countries struggling with what the U.N. calls the world’s “most dramatic humanitarian crisis,” but did not commit to an overall figure. Around 40 countries and international bodies adopted a declaration saying donors would “mobilize for years to come” increased development support to help nations like Lebanon and Jordan shoulder the impact of millions of Syrian refugees. It did not include any concrete figures. Germany said this had not been the conference’s prime aim. Berlin said it was budgeting 500 million euros ($637 million) for 2015-2017 to help Syrian refugees, and the U.S. announced $10 million in additional humanitarian assistance for host communities in the region. Addressing the conference, Prime Minister Tammam Salam urged the U.N. to increase funding to boost Lebanon’s economy, hit hard by the Syria war, and speed the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
“In order to reach an effective solution ... we must focus on finding ways to encourage donors to increase their contributions to funding development projects aimed at the rehabilitation of public services and the expansion of educational and health institutions as well as promote stability,” Salam said. “It is also vital that this conference will look at the various options for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in other countries,” he added. Salam said the Syrian war not only has affected the Syrians who were forced to flee their homes, but also the Lebanese people who host the refugees. Salam said slowness in economic activity and the significant decline in production over the past two years have increased unemployment and raised the percentage of the Lebanese population who live below poverty line to more than 5 percent, according to the World Bank. He said the dramatic rise of government spending linked to the population increase, combined with the decline in tax revenues caused by the economic slowdown, had made an already fragile situation worse and raised the budget deficit by 10 percent of gross national product.
Lebanon hosts around 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees, but unofficial figures are much higher. Their presence is exerting enormous pressure on the country’s ailing infrastructure. He noted that public schools were forced to receive, in a very short time, additional students equal to 40 percent of the number of Lebanese students. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told the conference that the impact of 3 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,” Guterres said. Salam stressed that poor communities had been unprepared to deal with the influx of Syrian refugees, saying the strain “poses a number of challenges and threats that constitute a fertile ground for extremism and violence.” He said Lebanon had paid dearly for its openness policy, where 85 percent of the Syrian refugees live in ordinary houses within Lebanese towns and villages, despite the presence of temporary camps scattered across Lebanon. Many of them have even set up small businesses and were operating without licenses, engaging in unfair competition with Lebanese traders, he said.
Salam also urged the UNHCR “to explore ways to enable the Syrian refugees to exercise their right to return to their homes. This ... may prove to be the most appropriate and effective solution. “Before Tuesday’s ministerial conference, Salam attended the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, where participants emphasized the “crucial importance of national unity for stability and security” in Lebanon and “expressed support for the efforts of Salam and his government in confronting the many challenges facing the country.” The attendees, who included Salam and the German foreign minister, voiced their concern over a prolonged vacancy in Lebanon’s presidential post and the impact the void has on state institutions, according to a statement issued by participants after the meeting. They also affirmed that “it is vital that Lebanon’s political leaders act to resolve the issue in the interest of all in Lebanon without further delay.”
Lebanese Opposition to Parliament
extension melts away
Oct. 29, 2014 /Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun Tuesday ruled out the possibility of holding parliamentary elections, sending the strongest signal yet that the extension of Parliament’s mandate has become a foregone conclusion.
Speaker Nabih Berri said he would call a session to extend Parliament’s term in the first week of next month. Political sources said lawmakers are expected to debate and endorse a draft proposal presented by Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush that calls for the extension of Parliament’s term for two years and seven months to make it a full four-year mandate after lawmakers, citing security concerns, extended the House’s term for 17 months in May 2013. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, meanwhile, urged rival political leaders to end the five-month-old presidential vacuum by agreeing on a new president to ensure a transfer of power. “I call on all Lebanese leaders ... to immediately launch national consultations to agree on a new president and end the vacancy in the first presidency,” Hariri said in a statement. He said the election of a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year tenure ended on May 25, would “adjust the work in all institutions and constitutional timelines and achieve the transfer of power in accordance with the laws in force.”
Hariri’s remarks come on the eve of a Parliament session to elect a president amid signs that the new session is destined to fail like previous ones over a lack of quorum. Wednesday’s session will be the 14th aborted attempt in more than five months to elect a president.
Berri, according to visitors, reiterated his position to comply with the National Pact on partnership between Muslims and Christians in addressing the extension of Parliament’s mandate.
Berri, who met separately Tuesday with Aoun and Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, said he informed the two men of his position.
The speaker, according to visitors, stressed the need to ensure constitutional partnership in next month’s Parliament session to extend its mandate with the presence of Christian parties. “The National Pact on partnership is applied on everyone and not on just one component,” he was quoted as saying.
Berri said he warned during his meetings with Aoun, the LF and the Kataeb Party that the failure to hold elections and extend Parliament’s mandate would plunge the country into “a parliamentary vacuum that would make it impossible to elect a new president.”
“Anyone who does not want [parliamentary] elections or an extension means that he does not want the election of a new president. In this case, let him bear responsibility,” he added.
Aoun, a staunch opponent of the extension of Parliament’s mandate, which expires on Nov. 20, acknowledged the difficulties in holding parliamentary polls, given the unstable security situation in the country. “There will be no elections and Parliament will extend its mandate. [Parliamentary] elections are out of the question,” Aoun told reporters after meeting Berri at the latter’s residence in Ain al-Tineh. Aoun, the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance’s undeclared candidate for the country’s top Christian post, said he was in agreement with Berri over the presidential vote, but he ruled out the election of a president soon.“The current circumstances are not favorable for the election. We hope the circumstances become better soon,” he said.
Aoun had earlier met with Grand Mufti Abdul-Latif Derian. “We need to overcome this situation with the least possible damage, and start a new phase characterized by national unity,” Aoun told reporters after the meeting at Dar al-Fatwa. Aoun said contacts between his bloc and Hariri have not ceased, adding he received an oral message from him Tuesday. Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said after meeting Berri that lawmakers were left with the choice of either extending Parliament’s mandate or facing a parliamentary vacuum.
“We are in a predicament and the country is in a predicament. It is no longer a situation of either an extension [of Parliament’s term] or holding elections. Rather, it is either a [parliamentary] vacuum or an extension of Parliament’s term,” Adwan said.
Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel rejected the extension of Parliament’s term. “A Parliament, which has failed in everything, must not have its mandate extended,” Gemayel said after meeting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea at the latter’s residence in Maarab.
The talks focused on the presidential deadlock and the extension of Parliament’s term. For his part, Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Frangieh said Christians prefer a presidential void over a weak president. He said the extension of Parliament’s term is a foregone conclusion. “Christians today prefer a vacuum over a weak president and this is a positive thing,” Frangieh said a statement carried by the National News Agency.
Lebanese Army arrests 33 terror suspects in north Lebanon
Oct. 29, 2014 /Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army arrested 33 terror suspects during its hunt for remaining militants in north Lebanon Tuesday, as families were returning to the embattled port city of Tripoli following clashes that left 42 people dead and more than 150 wounded.
An Army statement said soldiers rounded up 33 people suspected of belonging to terrorist groups while searching the areas of Minyeh, Ayoun al-Samak, the forests of Akkar al-Atiqa, Akroum and Nabi Yousheh for fugitive gunmen. “Army units continued to boost their deployment in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Tripoli’s old souks,” the statement said, referring to areas that were the scenes of pitched battles between the Army and militants inspired by ISIS and the Nusra Front that broke out over the weekend. The Army blocked the main highway linking the area of Minyeh with the Syrian border as troops carried out raids in nearby Bhenin, military sources said. Although the battle for Tripoli is over, a senior military official told The Daily Star Tuesday that troops would continue “raids in search of fugitive gunmen, including wanted militant leaders Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour,” who were blamed for attacks on military posts.
Reports said Mawlawi and Mansour have fled along with several gunmen to Dinnieh’s rugged outskirts.
Fighting in Tripoli ended Monday after the Army seized a mosque in the city’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood that had been used as a stronghold by militants inspired by ISIS and the Nusra Front. The four days of battles between the Lebanese Army and militants devastated swaths of the troubled streets. Returning residents expressed shock as they took stock of the damage inflicted on their property. With Army reinforcements arriving in Tripoli, troops set up permanent and random checkpoints in Bab al-Tabbaneh and nearby Al-Tal, Mina, Zahrieh and Abi Samra. Soldiers also conducted foot patrols in and around Tripoli. “Stability has been restored in Tripoli,” Future Movement MP Ammar Houri said. “Residents are going back to the city.” About 50 percent of residents have returned to their homes in Bab al-Tabbaneh, while local organizations, including the Future Movement, began providing relief aid to people whose houses were damaged during the fighting. Tripoli Municipality’s workers began removing debris and broken glass from the streets, while shop owners inspected the damage to their stores. Commando units pursued remaining militants who fled toward the orchards or the barren peaks. Security sources said the Army was hunting a group of gunmen spotted heading from Ayoun al-Samak toward the outskirts of Akkar and Arbeen mountains.
Army reconnaissance planes also flew over Bhenin and towns in the Akkar district looking for fugitives.
Asoun Mayor Motasem Abdul-Kader said there was no presence of ISIS or Nusra Front “sleeper cells” in the village in the Dinnieh area of north Lebanon. But the mayor expressed concerns that militants who fled the gunbattles in Bab al-Tabbaneh have likely sought shelter in Asoun. “We are fully cooperating with the security forces and we are conducting joint patrols in the village,” Abdul-Kader told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. Asoun was the scene of a military raid last week. The Army captured one of its highest value terror suspects yet in a dramatic pre-dawn raid and gunbattle there Thursday. Three gunmen were killed during the raid to arrest Ahmad Mikati, who is also a relative of a jihadist involved in the beheading of a captive Lebanese soldier.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel dismissed reports of a compromise brokered by political leaders to end the fighting and allow gunmen to flee Tripoli.
“We have heard talk of compromises in Tripoli, but we affirm that no deal had been reached in Tripoli or elsewhere,” Moqbel told reporters after meeting former Prime Minister Najib Mikati at his Beirut office. “The Army and the military command continue to do their job.”
“There is no backing down,” Moqbel vowed. “The military operation is ongoing to clean the area of gunmen and of all the terrorists.”The local daily Al-Akhbar said Tuesday that the fighting suddenly stopped after a deal was reached that called for the “disappearance” of the militants while the Army deployed inside the battered areas of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Minyeh. Security sources had told The Daily Star that the Army was resolute in the crackdown on armed militants and was taking a no-compromise approach.
Mikati also denied reaching a deal to end the Tripoli battle. “I did not sponsor any compromise of any form,” he said. The Army also continued its raids for the third day running in the southern city of Sidon in search of supporters of fugitive Salafist preacher Ahmad Assir suspected of plotting to attack an Army Intelligence center and a Hezbollah-affiliated compound in the city. Mohammad F., a Lebanese and one of the terror suspects, gave himself up to Army Intelligence, security sources said. The Army Monday foiled an attack on Sidon’s Fatima Zahra Compound, which houses a Shiite mosque, an infirmary and a lecture hall, before thwarting an assault against an Army Intelligence post. – Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea: Hezbollah must disarm after Army victory
The Daily Star/Oct. 29, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Wednesday said the Lebanese Army's victory over Islamist militants in the north proved it was capable of defending the country, reiterating calls for Hezbollah to disarm.
“The Tripoli violence highlighted some of the facts the other team [March 8] tried to hide,” Geagea told a news conference from his headquarters in Maarab, north of Beirut. “The Lebanese Army [has emerged] as the most powerful military force on the ground and is capable of defending Lebanon and every Lebanese citizen, so others [Hezbollah] must step down,” Geagea told a news conference. A four-day military standoff between the military and Islamist gunmen ended Monday after the Lebanese Army seized the last militant stronghold in the northern city of Tripoli. Geagea stressed that Lebanon’s Sunnis do not support terrorists. "Sunnis in Lebanon do not provide a supportive environment for terrorism,” he said. “This shows that the people of Tripoli are not with terrorism and extremism,” Geagea said, adding that the Army would not have been able to press ahead with its operation had residents supported extremism. Addressing Hezbollah, Geagea said: "The Future Movement’s opinion was a huge loss especially for you because the Future Movement greatly contributes to the prevention of the growth of terrorism and extremism and spreads moderation."Turning to the 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by ISIS and Nusra Front, Geagea disagreed with attempts to negotiate a deal with the kidnappers.
"The way the government is trying to solve this tragedy, in my opinion, is not a solution,” he said, while suggesting two options to resolve the hostage crisis: either for Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, or to launch a military operation
Militants surrender as Lebanese Army presses on with raids
The Daily Star/Oct. 29, 2014/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army tightened security in north Lebanon Wednesday, carrying out large-scale raids in Tripoli and areas to the north and east of the city in search for fugitive militants, security sources told The Daily Star. Troops raided an apartment in Tripoli’s Abi Samra neighborhood which was occupied by fundamentalist preacher Sheikh Khaled Hablas, confiscating a computer, the sources said. By midday, the Army arrested one of Hablas' supporters, identified by his last name Khalaf. The Army said in an afternoon statement that three gunmen had turned themselves in. It said that "during massive raids in search for fugitive terrorists, Nasser al-Bahsa, Azzam Taleb and Salah Abdul-Hai surrendered to the Lebanese Army in north Lebanon for taking up arms and engaging with other [militants] in a clash against the Amy in and around Bhenin.”The Army issued a strongly worded statement Monday warning militants to hand themselves over, or be hunted down. Hablas, who was previously seen as a low-key figure, preaches at Haroun Mosque in his hometown of Bhenin in the district of Minyeh, north of Tripoli. He is also an outspoken opponent of the military. The Army has also been carrying out raids since early morning over a large perimeter stretching between Abi Samra and Dahr al-Ain, including Wadi Haab in the region of Koura. Helicopter gunships backed ground troops as they searched for the runaway militants involved in the four-day fighting in Tripoli last week that killed 42 people, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians.
Soldiers redeployed heavily in Abi Samra and Zaytoun, conducting patrols and setting up fixed and roving checkpoints on the roads leading to the battered neighborhoods. About 200 suspects have been arrested since the fighting erupted on Friday. In the meantime, schools and universities in the city reopened after several days of forced closure. Residents displaced by the fighting continued to return gradually to Tripoli's battered Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, where much of the fighting was centered. Local sources said that some residents returned to check on their belongings, amid calls for government assistance to help them repair damaged property. Dozens of shops and businesses remained closed Wednesday, with some parts of the neighborhood in complete ruins.
Saudi backs north Lebanon Army offensive: envoy
The Daily Star/Oct. 29, 2014/BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia commends the Lebanese Army’s efforts to safeguard national security and calls upon all Lebanese factions to rally around the military, Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri said. “The Army is drawn from all factions of the Lebanese people and constitutes the (main) factor of security and stability for all Lebanese denominations,” Asiri said after a meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam Wednesday. The Saudi envoy reaffirmed his country’s firm support to help Lebanon overcome the dangers of the current phase of regional upheavals with the least possible damage. “Saudi Arabia and the Custodian of the Holy Shrines King Abdullah were, and will always stay on Lebanon’s side,” Asiri said, calling on Lebanese officials to place national interest above any other consideration. He also called for “reinforcing national unity,” which he stressed “is the strongest umbrella for protecting Lebanon in this (turbulent) phase.” The Army cracked down on jihdadist militants during weekend fighting in Tripoli and northern Lebanon in which 42 people were killed, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians. The military has been on a large-scale manhunt since the clashes broke out Friday in search of fugitive gunmen. About 200 suspects have been apprehended so far.
Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel says had ‘excellent’ meeting with Aoun
Oct. 29, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel said Wednesday he had an “excellent” meeting with his Christian rival Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun. “If we don’t meet in these circumstances, when will we meet?," Gemayel told reporters following talks with Aoun in Rabieh, north of Beirut. Gemayel was referring to the country's presidential deadlock, with Parliament Wednesday failing for the 14th time to elect a new head of state amid a boycott by Aoun's March 8 bloc.
Lebanon has been without a president since Michel Sleiman's term ended in May. "We tried to convince Aoun to go down with us to a parliamentary session to elect a president, but he was not convinced. Maybe next time,” Gemayel said jokingly, according to remarks carried by the state-run National News Agency. Kataeb, the Lebanese Forces and the FPM oppose the extension of Parliament’s mandate, which expires on Nov. 20. Gemayel said after a meeting Tuesday with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea that he rejects a parliamentary extension. “A Parliament, which has failed in everything, must not have its mandate extended,” he said from the LF headquarters in Maarab. Speaker Nabih Berri later Wednesday said he will call a session next week to vote over an extension of Parliament’s mandate, after Christian parties against the extension showed a willingness not to launch a boycott. Berri has warned during separate meetings with Aoun, the LF and the Kataeb Party that failure to hold elections and extend Parliament’s mandate would plunge the country into “a parliamentary vacuum that would make it impossible to elect a new president.” Aoun has acknowledged the difficulties in holding parliamentary polls, given the unstable security situation in the country. Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan also said after meeting Berri Tuesday that lawmakers were left with no choice but to extend Parliament’s mandate or face a parliamentary vacuum.
Future MP Ahmad Fatfat warns Tripoli violence may reignite
Oct. 29, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Future MP Ahmad Fatfat warned Wednesday that the Army’s crackdown on Islamist militants in Tripoli may be inconclusive and fighting could erupt again in the absence of any attempt to resolve the root causes of the violence. “Any problem which is settled without resolving its causes is an unsettled (problem),” Fatfat said in televised remarks. Fatfat questioned the security plan which was implemented in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley last April. The security plan was originally hailed as a success, having ended the northern city's deadly clashes between the warring neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. But numerous security failures, including the five-day battle with jihadists in the northeast bodertown of Arsal, have called into question the effectiveness of the plan. “How could the (militant) armed groups surface under such a plan?,” Fatfat asked. “I am not reassured about the security settlement (in Tripoli) and wonder where are the perpetrators who carried out the terrorist acts,” Fatfat said, warning that “the issue was not resolved and (the violence) would recur.” The Army cracked down on jihdadist militants during weekend fighting in Tripoli and northern Lebanon in which 42 people were killed, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians. The military has been on a large-scale manhunt since the clashes broke out Friday in search of fugitive gunmen. About 200 suspects have been apprehended so far.
US-Israel tensions confirmed, with some exceptions, after Goldberg report
By MICHAEL WILNER/10/29/2014 /J.Post
Senior Obama administration officials respond to article in 'Atlantic' after one US aide quoted calling Prime Minister Netanyahu "chickensh**t."
WASHINGTON -- Tensions between the United States and Israel have simmered for months and are now beginning to "spill over" into the public, several Obama administration officials acknowledged to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night.
Those tensions have been on full display in spats between aides of US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the treatment of their deputies, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon during his visit to Washington last week, and over a steady stream of continued settlement activity, including Netanyahu's approval of 1,060 units in east Jerusalem on Monday.
National Security Council spokesperson Alistair Baskey publicly rejected a new column by Jeffrey Goldberg, a prominent columnist on matters concerning the Israeli and American Jewish communities, on Tuesday night, suggesting Goldberg's assertion in the piece that relations are in "crisis" is a simplification."We do not believe there is a crisis in the relationship," Baskey said in an e-mail. "The relationship remains as strong as ever and the ties between our nations are unshakable."
"However, there are times," he continued, "when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government and we must raise our concerns, such as our concerns about Israel’s settlement policy. We raise these concerns as a partner who is deeply concerned about Israel’s future and wants to see Israel living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors."But US officials confirm to the Post that the frustrations behind Goldberg's article are real. Whether Goldberg accurately depicted the policy implications of those tensions is another matter.
In the piece featured in the Atlantic, Goldberg wrote that the Obama administration "may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations."The US holds permanent veto power on the UN Security Council, and in that position, has historically blocked efforts from the Palestinian Authority to circumvent peace talks with Israel for recognition as an independent state, or to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes. Corresponding by e-mail on Tuesday night, one senior administration official suggested that is not the case.
"We’re not going to get ahead of actions that have not yet been taken," the official said. "But our views remain firm. We strongly believe that the preferred course of action is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly."
Whether there will be administrative policy consequences for frustrating Israeli behavior has been a question for months, and one that officials say is "too soon" to ponder in a strained relationship just short of a crisis.
But on one major topic of concern to both governments— Iran— the Obama administration has questioned Netanyahu's commitment to a peaceful solution to concerns over its nuclear program.
According to Goldberg's reporting, US officials believe the Israeli government has missed its window of opportunity to conduct a successful strike against Iran's nuclear facilities unilaterally.
Despite US lobbying efforts to prevent such a strike— including assurances that it would provide all American means required to stop Iran's nuclearization itself— one source of Goldberg's called Netanyahu a "chickens**t... coward."
On this insult to the premier's leadership and character, senior officials declined to comment.
US official: Netanyahu is a 'coward' on Iran
In damning report on crisis in US-Israel ties, senior Obama administration officials tell the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg of 'red-hot anger' towards Netanyahu. As the crisis between Israel and the US deepens, senior American officials continue to express "red-hot anger" at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration. "The thing about Bibi is, he's chickenshit," said one US official to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg in a damning report published Tuesday. Goldberg writes that over the years Washington officials have described Netanyahu as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, and pompous – but none of these insults were as surprising, he says, as "chickenshit." One official told Goldberg that the Israeli leader was a "coward" on Iran and that the Obama administration no longer believes Netanyahu's threats of a preemptive airstrike on Tehran's nuclear facilities. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late," the official said in the Atlantic report. Goldberg writes that in the two recent US election cycles, the Obama administration was concerned that Netanyahu would follow through on his threat of a strike. But, the official told the Atlantic, "The feeling is now that Bibi's bluffing." "He's not Begin at Osirak," added the official, referencing the 1981 air strike by former prime minister Menachem Begin on an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Goldberg further writes that both former and current administration officials have at times told him that Netanyahu leads as if he is the mayor of Jerusalem. One senior US official stressed to Goldberg that, unlike many of Israel's iconic leaders, Netanyahu was afraid of taking action. "The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not (Yitzhak) Rabin, he’s not (Ariel) Sharon, he’s certainly no (Menachem) Begin. He’s got no guts." The official emphasized to the Atlantic journalist that "the good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars," but that – in opposition to the Obama administration's goals in the Middle East – " the bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.
Hamas using mafia-like tactics to make money
Dr. Adam Reuter /Ynetnews /Oct. 29, 2014
Op-ed: Gaza economy based on blackmail and protection money received as 'donations' from world's nations after round of violence with Israel.
Published: 10.28.14/The history of ancient times and the Middle Ages is filled with examples of empires and kingdoms that "made a living" from blackmail and demanding taxes and "protection fees" from nations they conquered or threatened. The return for the extortion of protection money could have been gold and silver, goods or even slaves and maids.
Economical reliance on blackmail and protection money was a cross-continent "livelihood," which was popular among the occupying nations and was extremely profitable. The Roman Empire made a very good living from it, as did the Persian Empire, kingdoms in China and even the Aztec and Inca kingdoms in Central and South America. After being threatened itself, the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) was forced to pay taxes and protection money to the Huns, and the Western Roman Empire paid the Vandals (a tribe of German-Danish descent, in which the term "vandalism" originated).
In the Early Middle Ages, it was the bloodthirsty Vikings, the forefathers of the Scandinavian people, who based their economy in certain periods on plunder raids as well as blackmail of the English and Franks, among others people.
Later on, the Mongolic people received protection money from the Chinese and the Koreans, as well as from the Persians. The Arabs and Ottomans made a living from it too. Taxes under threat and protection money in different forms were demanded by colonialist empires such as Portugal, France, Holland, Spain and Britain, from different nations under their control up until the modern era.
In fact, there has hardly been a single dominant nation in human history which has not abused its power to threaten and demand taxes and protection money from the people it intimidated. The Islamic State is repeating the exact same practice in a modern version, but that's not the only group doing so.
The Gazans' new livelihood
Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in 2006, realized within a short period of time from where it could draw financial resources to fund its rule. In addition to taxes on the public and an "import tax" on goods smuggled through the tunnels, the Gazans enjoy financial resources in the form of international donations from the United Nations, mainly UNRWA, European countries, Arab countries, Japan and the United States.
The funds help with the endless reconstruction of the Strip and provide the Palestinian people with permanent assistance.
Several years ago, Hamas "discovered" what nations used to do in ancient times and in the Middle Ages and what the mafia in the US does in the modern era: Making a living through threats and demanding protection money. The need for funds to rebuild the Strip is renewed every few years after each round of violence with Israel.
The background of the latest round was clearly financial – Hamas had run out of money to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of members of its "security organizations," and that was a good enough reason to provoke Israel.
Hamas assumed that a conflict with Israel would pressure it to allow the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to transfer funds to Gaza (Hamas was willing to enter a unity government with its bitter rivals, Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, on these grounds), and in case an overall clash developed, it would be able – for the third time – to obtain grants and donations to rebuild the Strip.
Everyone knows how such a round ends, and the only unknown is the price both sides will pay in casualties, and mainly the Gazan side. So why is entering a round of violence worthwhile for them? We must understand that the Palestinian side makes a living from the conflict, and therefore destruction and a high death toll provide them with many benefits in the cold financial calculation (and of course benefits of propaganda and morale to encourage the national identity).
It's important to remember that as far as they are concerned, there are serious economic interests at the basis of any consideration to launch a new round of conflict with Israel.
How does Hamas' method work?
Hamas' assumptions were verified in this round as well. The threats it hurls into the ether force donor states to pay it "protection money" so that it will not make good on its threats and instead will maintain the calm in our corner of the Middle East. These threats make Israel (and Egypt) agree that once again billions of dollars are handed over to Hamas.
This pattern of action has become akin to that of the Vandals, Huns, Mongols, Aztecs and others. Hamas makes a living from protection money (which is euphemistically called "donations") which it receives from many countries in the world in order to prevent it from unleashing violence.
According to media reports, the Gazans have succeeded in raising the massive sum of $5.4 billion for Gaza's reconstruction, a sum which can be compared, for example, to the sale of 100 good startup companies.
If that is the case, the Gazans have scored big time with their venture capital fund. There is really no need to invent anything, but simply to stick to the ancient idea of threats and demands for protection money ("donations") – and the world will pay up.
Because the economic interest is one-sided – as the Palestinians are the only ones who financially benefit from a new brawl with Israel – the created asymmetry works in their favor. It provides them with an important advantage in their overall view of the desire to start another round.
This may be the main reason why we should have prevented them from receiving funds for "reconstruction" purposes from the world's nations, or at least insisted that some of these funds would be channeled to constructive goals like building them an independent power station, a seawater desalination facility and industrial plants.
**Dr. Adam Reuter is the chairman of the Reuter Meydan Investment House and CEO of Financial Immunities Ltd.
A New Wave of Terrorism
Ali Ibrahim /Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 29 Oct, 2014
It is natural that Egyptians feel shock and anger about last Friday’s terrorist attack in Sinai, which killed 30 soldiers. It is also natural for there to be widespread calls across the country for a decisive response to this crime, and for the liquidation of terrorist elements in the country as quickly as possible.
But the reality, painful as it may be, is that this is a fight that will likely take some time and will require much patience, determination and perseverance in the face of further attacks—and this is clear from past attempts to combat the phenomenon, whether in Egypt or elsewhere.
Terrorism is not new to Egypt. During the last three decades there have been a number of violent confrontations between the state and several terrorist–extremist groups of different ideological stripes, especially during the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. These confrontations, which claimed hundreds of lives, also had an adverse effect on the country’s all-important tourism sector, especially after the 1997 massacre at the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, which claimed the lives of around 60 innocent tourists, and the Sharm El-Sheikh bombings in 2005.
These waves of terror changed rapidly throughout the years, first in the 1970s, and then in the 1980s after the assassination of president Anwar Sadat, when a number of these groups returned to Egypt following their participation in conflict zones across the world, most notably the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. During this time several previously disparate Egyptian extremist groups, as well as foreign ones such as Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda, merged with other groups to pool ideology, methods and even funding.
At times the general environment was terrifying, especially in the 1980s when it almost seemed like there was an actual war going on between Egyptian state security and the two prominent domestic extremist groups of the time, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya. Every successive wave of terror ended with a mix of armed and ideological confrontations between the state and the extremists, with each of these waves taking considerable time to eventually ebb.
But these waves pale in comparison to the current one we are experiencing, for it is undoubtedly fiercer, and far more complex and dangerous than its predecessors. This time, regional circumstances have resulted, for the very first time, in a terrorist organization taking over vast swaths of land across Arab countries currently ridden with conflicts or crises, as we have seen in Syria and Iraq with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a group which regards itself, as the name suggests, as a state and not just a jihadist organization. The group is also allied to a number of others, who have sworn allegiance to it, or who adopt the ideology of Al-Qaeda, although it is now past its heyday and no longer appeals to the new generation of extremists. We even witness today Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri struggling to keep up with his new rivals, who do not acknowledge his leadership.
This new wave has also coincided with another phenomenon, one which makes today’s terrorist threat more complex and dangerous. We see a number of extremist groups or political forces possessing armed militias with differing ideological backgrounds now able to extend their power over nation states which are no longer as powerful as they once were. We see this in Lebanon with Hezbollah, which has been able to make military decisions on behalf of the country in light of the power vacuum there; in Yemen, where the state’s influence has retreated drastically in the face of the advance of militias belonging to the Houthi movement; and in Libya, with the state currently struggling to regain control of parts of the country overrun by armed militias. Among all these terrorist groups and armed militias whose activities lie outside the state’s purview, we find a common thread: the dismantling of the states in question along with all their institutions.
This is the bitter reality the region is witnessing at the moment, one which makes this latest wave of terror more dangerous than all those that have come before. This current wave of terror needs a strong, determined response in order to be repelled and subdued, whether the threat is domestic or foreign. But it also needs patience and stamina, and a comprehensive strategy that doesn’t just focus on responding to this or that attack.
In Egypt’s case, the terrorist threat it faces aims to halt or slow down the country’s progress through the political and economic road map laid out for it since last July. And this is something that must not be allowed to happen.
Will Egypt mediate for Assad?
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seeking, through his diplomatic contacts, to convince Egypt of mediating and convincing Saudi Arabia, Egypt's currently biggest ally, to amend its strict stance regarding him and his regime. These are documented diplomatic contacts, and it's through these contacts that Assad is trying to imply there are major disputes between him and Iran, especially regarding the role of religion within the state and regime. [Assad is doing so] knowing that an Egyptian response [to his demands] may be unlikely!"
This is what Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper columnist Sarkis Naoum wrote last week. Naoum's credibility makes us pause and reflect. Assad resorting to Cairo for help confirms all the information we have: he's going through the worst period since the revolution erupted in early 2011. But is there really a dispute between him and the Iranians? Is the Egyptian leadership willing to mediate to save the worst dictator the region has known in 100 years? Is it possible for Saudi Arabia to restore relations with him?
Assad is cornered
Many reasons make it impossible for Saudi Arabia to accept a deal with Assad regardless of what the deal is and who the mediators are. Among these reasons is that a quarter of a million have been killed by the Assad regime and this is unforgivable regardless of Assad's repentance. Another reason is that the struggle has expanded beyond being a mere dispute with Assad. I don't rule out the besieged Assad resorting to Egypt, seeking its help to save himself but it's totally unlikely for Saudi Arabia to consider his wishes.
“The Syrian regime currently dreams of some sort of miracle that prolongs its time in power”
If Assad is really trying to deceive the Saudis and the Egyptians, alleging there's a dispute between him and Iran due to religious interferences state affairs then no one will believe him because he is in position to look down upon the Iranians who are defending him and spent so much to keep him in power.
The Syrian regime has lost most of the capabilities of his military and security institutions which have been used to rule the country for the past four decades. The Assad regime will collapse overnight without Iran's support.
Assad has several times tried to convince Saudi Arabia to alter its stance but he failed because he never intends to give up power even if within the context of a reconciliation that maintains the state's structure and includes some of its current figures. Saudi public opinion also strongly agrees with the Saudi government's stance and it's impossible that it will accept reconciliation with Assad, whom it considers the worst ruler the region has ever known.
Therefore, Assad must forget about reconciliation and take the only path available which is to pack up and depart to either Moscow or Tehran. If Egypt wants to bargain with him, it can grant him residency in one of the several guesthouses, although this will upset many.
The Egyptian stance regarding the struggle which erupted in Syria since the 2011 revolution is certainly confusing. In the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood, who were in governance, supported the Iranian suggestion of reconciliation based on keeping Assad in power and on granting the opposition marginal posts in the government.
The Brotherhood's stance thus harmonized with their strong ties with Iran - ties which were established since Khomeini's revolution three decades ago. Meanwhile, the Iranians are still the biggest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Sudan and Gaza. Later on, during the Muslim Brotherhood's last days in power and prior to the June 30 revolution, Mohammad Mursi's government adopted a different stance as Mursi announced his support for a change of regime in Syria during a ceremony that included delegations from Gulf Islamic groups.
Truth be told, what we are saying about these options for Assad is no longer of importance as we've gone beyond the phase of discussing the falling Syrian regime, which only survives now thanks to Iranian military support. The Syrian regime currently dreams of some sort of miracle that prolongs its time in power.
I think the only miracle remaining would be for Assad to request the Egyptian president's mediation to allow him to exit Damascus within the context of a political agreement that maintains small parts of the regime and that harmonizes with the agreement reached during the Geneva I conference. This is the sort of mediation which Egypt can take on and may be accepted by the Syrian opposition, amid the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the West's involvement in the crisis and the failures of Assad and his allies.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's Kafr Qasim speech can herald change
By: Ariana Melamed//Ynetnews
Published: 10.29.14/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Reuven Rivlin is the first Israeli president who can make Jews and Arabs reach out to each other – not out of love, but because there is no other choice. "We will never act against the principle of equal rights and will never try to force someone from our land," President Reuven Rivlin said during his historic visit to Kafr Qasim.
Remember the date: October 26, 2014. With a lot of intellect and goodwill and a bit of luck, this may have been the pivotal speech of the official State of Israel ahead of the establishment of a different kind of relations between Jews and Arabs, who are all clinging with their fingernails onto this bleeding, split land that we all call "homeland."
Here's a summary of the facts – the ones the official Israel never recognized, and the ones that bothered public officials when they heard that Rivlin was planning to visit Kafr Qasim.
It's good that he insisted. Because in 1956, while Israel's Arab citizens were under military rule, Border Guard officers fired at Kafr Qasim residents who wanted to return to their homes during a curfew, massacring 49 unarmed citizens.
This is not the statement of a delusional leftist, but of Israel's Supreme Court, which convicted some of the shooters and outlined the principle of an illegal order, one which has a black flag hanging over it, one which stems from the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
This isn't the first time Israel preferred to deny, hoping that reality would disappear. We have a long and documented history: The refugees? They fled out of their own free will. No one banished them. Arab villages wiped off the face of the earth? Well, that's the way it is with them. Unusual military activities in the territories? It's just errant weeds. Sabra and Shatila? That was a long time ago, who can remember. A wholesale violation of human rights? Oh, they started it, they deserve it. Kafr Qana in Lebanon? If you don't make mistakes, you don’t achieve anything. A disproportional response according to binding principles of the rules of warfare? Everyone is anti-Semitic.
Never has an Israeli president spoken to Arab citizens with the understanding and pain which were evident in Rivlin's speech. It's possible that we have never had a president so familiar with the Arab culture, from his intellectual habitat. It's possible that we have never had a president who was willing to quote Ze'ev Jabotinsky not only when he finds it convenient.
"We will never try to force someone from our land," Jabotinsky said 80 years ago, and you will never hear that from Likud Knesset Member Miri Regev, or Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, or the small Zeev Elkins, Danny Danons and Yariv Levins who have developed here over the years.
Rivlin himself was decent enough to say that he is stating the obvious, but even the obvious is not at all obvious at times of hatred, with a widening gap between the two people, after years of deprivation and discrimination – whose existence the honorable president finally admitted, loudly and without trying to wriggle out of it – as the violence on both sides is becoming intolerable.
We have the stone-throwers on one side, and the mosque-desecraters on the other; the harassers on the one side, and the olive tree destroyers on the other; the murderers of the three teens on the one side, and those who burned a youth alive on the other; many terrorists whose names we don’t remember on the one side, and Baruch Goldstein, Ami Popper, Jack Teitel, the Jewish Underground, Yigal Amir and more on the other.
Rivlin is the first president who can make both sides reach out to each other, not out of love but – as he reiterated in his decency – because there is no other choice. Because the Arab citizens must accept the principle that this is the Jewish people's homeland, and Israel's Jewish citizens must accept the principle that there is a large national minority here who shares this homeland and that no one is going away, and no one should go away.
This state of affairs places responsibility for a partnership on both sides. It's a pleasure to quote the honorable president bluntly telling his Arab audience that, "As long as there exists any aspiration to eradicate the Jews from this land, there will be no chance of building a true partnership," and painfully telling his Jewish listeners that "the ambition to live alongside a Zionist Arab minority, which proudly sings the Hatikvah (national anthem), will not and cannot be realized."
But in order to create this partnership, instead of a shared fate of cemeteries, hospitals and hatred on the streets, we need someone out there to execute the president's vision. He has to have enough people alongside him and with him who believe in each side's duty to recognize the other, to play with each other and to learn each other's songs, language and customs from a very early age, when there is no inherent hatred and racism yet.
In the past two decades, private initiatives of small and local generators of change are almost all we are left with. This has to be a national, binding, documented and budgeted educational program, as important as a national program that has to be created to identify all the budgetary discriminations and immediately fix what can be fixed.
If we – on both sides – want to live, we must thank our honorable president from the bottom of our hearts, and tell him it's now time for action.
Yalla, come on. And inshallah, God willing, we will succeed.
Report: US, Iran entered state of
'detente', facing common Islamic State enemy
Published: 10.29.14, 08:04 / Israel News
Wall Street Journal says Washington has reassured Tehran that strikes on IS fighters in Syria will not be used to oust Assad. The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday quoted senior US and Arab officials as saying that the Obama administration and Iran "have moved into an effective state of détente over the past year", as they hold direct nuclear talks and face a common threat from the Islamic State. The report comes a day after The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, long considered close to the Obama administration, claimed that a US official had called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a coward" on tackling Iran's nuclear program, despite his frequent rhetoric on the issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, the officials say that "recent months have ushered in a change as the two countries have grown into alignment on a spectrum of causes", at the forefront of which are "peaceful political transitions" in Iraq and Afghanistan, tackling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.US officials also told the paper that the US has clarified to Iran that ongoing strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria will not also target forces belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad, a long-standing Iranian ally who is currently battling opposition fighters - including Islamic State - inside his country.
Furthermore, the report claims, the White House has "markedly softened its confrontational stance" toward Iranian allies Hamas, which fought Israel in a 50-day conflict over the summer, and Hezbollah, the Lebanese group armed by Iran and long-considered a major threat to Israel's northern border. The newspaper also quotes senior US officials as saying that top American diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, negotiated with Hamas via Turkish and Qatari intermediaries during ceasefire negotiations in July, in an effort to end Hamas rocket strikes on Israel from Gaza. In addition, the report cites American and Lebanese officials who claim that US intelligence agencies have "repeatedly tipped off Lebanese law-enforcement bodies close to Hezbollah about threats posed to Beirut’s government by Sunni extremist groups, including al-Qaeda and its Syria-based ally the al-Nusra Front.
Kerry, Qatar and the Poisonous Tree
by CAROLINE GLICK
Family Security Matters
October 28, 2014
It would be interesting to know which Arab leaders are telling US Secretary of State John Kerry that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is "a cause of recruitment" to Islamic State.
Is that something he is hearing from Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani? The Qatari leader, whose kingdom has been cited by the US Treasury Department as a major funder of Islamic State (IS), is certainly one of Kerry's favorite regional leaders.
If Thani did blame Israel for the rise of IS, then his statement would constitute yet another instance of the double game Qatar has been playing with the Americans. On the one hand, the regime is financing jihad, and other the other hand, it pretends to side with the West against the jihad that it is funding.
This is certainly the case in Jerusalem.
According to an investigative report published Friday in Yisrael Hayom , Qatar is financing the violence in the capital. Veteran Jerusalem affairs reporter Nadav Shragai wrote that the Islamic rioters who daily attack Jewish visitors and police forces on the Temple Mount are paid by Qatar through the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.
The Qatari government and other Islamic funds are transferring vast sums of money to the Islamic Movement's radical northern branch headed by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. The Islamic Movement in turn is paying thousands of shekels every month to hundreds of women and men, mainly Muslim Israeli citizens, who call themselves the Murbitat.
The Murbitat presents itself as an Islamic prayer group, but according to Shragai, the group's job is to harass Jews and police on the Temple Mount. They scream and curse at Jewish visitors and in recent months have escalated their violence against them, and their police escorts. These violent attacks include assaults with rocks, firebombs and firecrackers.
To prevent the police from blocking their entry to the Mount, members of the Murbitat enter the mosques in times of relative calm and then remain there for weeks at a time. The women are used as well to smuggle firecrackers and other weaponry onto the Temple Mount by hiding them in their burkas.
In a report published Sunday by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Palestinian affairs researcher Pinchas Inbari explained the goals of the violence.
The riots and assaults on the Temple Mount have two goals. First, they aim to incite the Islamic world against Israel and return attention to the Palestinians. And second, they seek to destabilize the regimes in Egypt and Jordan.
Regarding the goal of galvanizing support for jihad by attacking Israel, Inbari recalled how immediately after longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood's most influential cleric, Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, gave a speech at a mass rally in Cairo and called for the Muslims to march on Jerusalem.
The rally was organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and attended by two million people. It marked the first time that Qaradawi had returned to Egypt since he was forced to flee in the 1960s for his support for jihad.
From Doha, Qaradawi has become the most influential cleric on the regime-controlled Al Jazeera satellite network. As such, he has become the most important Islamic cleric in the Sunni Islamic world.
As Inbari noted, following his speech in Cairo Qaradawi authored a book titled Jerusalem: The Problem of Every Muslim, in which he restated his call for an Islamic conquest of the city.
Saleh, who is extremely close to Qaradawi, stated that "Jerusalem is the capital of the imminently approaching Islamic Caliphate."
In other words, the Palestinians and their Qatari financiers are seeking to galvanize the forces of global jihad, including IS, to view the Palestinian war against Israel and the Jews as the centerpiece of the jihad.
These efforts are backed by both Fatah and Hamas, who are competing for Qatari money. Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resonated the claims of the most radical jihadists when earlier this month he referred to Jews on the Temple Mount as "herds of cattle," and called on Muslims to attack them for they "desecrate" the holy site simply by being there.
Doha-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal called on the Palestinians "to defend Jerusalem and al-Aksa, and on the Muslim nation to send a painful message of rage to the world."
As to the goal of using the violence on the Temple Mount to destabilize Egypt and Jordan, Inbari noted that efforts to intensify violence in Jerusalem have grown since the Egyptian military overthrew Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood regime in July 2013. "Presumably," Inbari argues, "Qatar tried indirectly to help the Brotherhood in Egypt by inspiring support for them on the Jerusalem issue."
The Jordanian regime is even more acutely threatened by the violence on the Temple Mount. Israel recognized Jordan as the custodian of the Temple Mount in its peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has capitalized on the violence on the Temple Mount to condemn the regime for what it claims is its failure to protect al-Aksa from the Jews.
In contending with the violence in Judaism's holiest site, and throughout its capital city, the Israeli government is caught in a trap.
While telling their fellow Muslims that they must wage a jihad for Jerusalem, Fatah and Hamas as well as the Israeli Islamic Movement tell Western leaders that their violence against Jews in the city owes to actions that Israel has taken to safeguard the lives and civil rights of Jews.
To appease these specific purported grievances, the Palestinians demand that Israel deny protection and civil rights to Jews by among other things, denying Jews the freedom to visit the Temple Mount and denying Jews property rights in Jerusalem.
Rather than recognize that they are being played by double-speaking Palestinians and their jihadist supporters, Washington and Brussels are going along with their deceit. Both the Obama administration and the EU firmly side with the Palestinian demand that Jews be denied civil rights in Jerusalem. Both have condemned and threatened Israel for not preventing Jews from lawfully purchasing homes in Silwan and for allowing contractors to build homes for Jews in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
This places the Israeli government in an impossible position. It is being attacked by jihadist forces who seek its destruction. It is told by Washington and Europe that if it doesn't appease those who cannot be appeased by denying protection and civil rights to Jews, then it will lose whatever is left of its good relations with the US and Europe.
And this brings us back to Kerry's claim that Arab leaders are blaming Israel for the rise of Islamic State.
As IS forces draw closer to Baghdad and expand their control over Anbar Province in Iraq, it is becoming more and more apparent that the US-led campaign against the terrorist army is failing.
To a significant degree, Washington's inability to forge a coherent and feasible strategy for containing and defeating IS owes to its refusal to understand the nature of the enemy and its goals.
What we see in Qatar's financing of the violence on the Temple Mount is that the same forces that are financing IS are financing the violence against Israel.
The goal of IS is the establishment of a global Islamic empire. The first targets on its target list are Sunni Mus - lim states that oppose the Muslim Brotherhood.
The goal of the Islamic violence on the Temple Mount and throughout Jerusalem is to overthrow regional regimes that oppose the Muslim Brotherhood while igniting a pan-Islamic war against the Jewish state.
By insinuating that Israel is to blame for IS's rise to power, Kerry was not simply blaming the victim. He was empowering the aggressor.
For the West to defeat IS, it first needs to recognize that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right when he said at the UN last month that IS and Hamas - and increasingly Qatari-financed Fatah - are "branches of the same poisonous tree."
With his announcement Monday that the government had approved the construction of 1,250 new housing units in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Netanyahu showed that Israel prefers freedom and security to good relations with Washington and Brussels.
Washington and Brussels need understand that by forcing Israel to make that choice, they are hurting themselves and the cause of their own freedom and security far more than they are harming Israel.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Responding Effectively to the Military Challenges in Syria
Jeffrey White /Washington Institute
October 29, 2014
The moderate rebel force currently envisioned by Washington would take far too long to arrive on the battlefield and could be easy prey for ISIS and Assad.
As the Obama administration's plans for raising a moderate Syrian opposition force become clearer, its approach seems to center on a lengthy recruitment, training, and deployment program initially dedicated to defense against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). If carried out, this plan promises a long delay before significant forces are on the battlefield. It would also limit their potential effectiveness in the near to midterm and perhaps commit them to a protracted enterprise in which defeat is likely.
The administration's concept is consistent with its fixation on terrorism as the heart of the problem in Syria, and its ill-starred relations with the armed opposition. Faced with the complexity of diverse rebel forces on the ground, unwilling to accept more than minimal risk in supporting them, and focused on worst-case costs and consequences, it is advancing a program with limited prospects.
REALITY IN SYRIA
The administration's approach reportedly includes these basic elements:
Recruiting personnel from Syrian refugee populations
Providing them with basic military training in Saudi Arabia or perhaps Jordan
Creating a starter force of 5,000 personnel, with initial deployments inside of six months and additional increments to follow
Using initial deployments solely to defend rebel-held areas against ISIS, with offensive forces ready in eighteen months
Along the way, a command structure for the force will be created with some connection to a political opposition entity.
This limited approach has many potential problems. The first is its extended timeline. Opposition, regime, and ISIS military activities in Syria have their own drivers and rhythms, which in turn lead to near-term changes on the battlefield, so a program that will not yield significant results for months carries great risk. For example, several major events could occur within six months or so, before the first full increment of 5,000 "defenders" appears on the battlefield; these include the isolation and perhaps fall of Aleppo city to regime forces, the conquest of northern Aleppo province by the so-called "Islamic State," an ISIS advance toward Damascus, and the rout of rebel forces in northern Hama province through separate regime and ISIS operations. None of these developments is certain, but they are all possible given the current situation and would be very damaging if not fatal to rebel prospects in Syria. Even if one discounts such scenarios, no one -- apparently including within the administration -- expects ISIS to be defeated or even significantly degraded by the time U.S.-trained forces arrive. In short, the Obama administration's defensive force could well come too late to play a meaningful role.
Second, creating a force of defenders against ISIS is not consistent with the nature of the current military situation. The rebels are fighting on two fronts, against ISIS and the regime, and the latter seems like the more important priority for them -- and indeed for the future of Syria. Moreover, in their war against the regime, the rebels are conducting both defensive operations (e.g., in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama) and offensive operations (Quneitra, Deraa). They cannot and will not ignore this part of the war, so Washington should not ignore it either. The nature of the war in Syria certainly complicates the administration's "Iraq first" and "terrorism always" strategy, but that is the messy realty of the situation, and the U.S. approach must face up to it.
More specifically, training initial units for purely defensive operations would limit their potential to seize ground when opportunities arise, raising concerns about this limitation becoming engrained among moderate rebels in the longer term. Syrian battlefields are often fluid, at least tactically, with forces rapidly shifting from attack to defense and back. No one in Syria fights purely on the defensive. The history of combat against the regime and ISIS suggests that opportunities to seize territory will present themselves either in the course of operations or as enemy forces redeploy or withdraw. In the past, the rebels have taken advantage of such situations to expand their areas of control. Yet press reporting indicates that the administration's plan would not produce appropriately prepared offensive forces for at least eighteen months, if at all.
Third, the contemplated size of the force to be raised seems inconsistent with the tasks at hand. ISIS probably deploys ten to fifteen thousand personnel in Syria, in addition to allied local forces. Committing an initial force of less than 5,000 would mean one of two things: either the trained rebels will be spread thin and thus vulnerable to destruction by concentrated enemy forces, or some areas will be left vulnerable to ISIS and regime advances. In either case, failure could prove disastrous for the force's future and those it is tasked with defending. The administration has refused to consider putting U.S. forces on the ground to assist the rebels, and air intervention alone would not necessarily preclude their failure.
Other uncertainties could create problems as well. For example, it is not clear what types of weapons will be provided to the force. If it is equipped solely with small arms (assault rifles, machine guns, light antitank weapons, light mortars), its capabilities will be very limited, even in a purely defensive role. All forces in Syria employ a wide range of weapons, including significant numbers of heavy weapons (tanks, artillery, mortars, antiaircraft guns, vehicle-mounted heavy machine guns). Lightly armed units would be ineffective against such opponents and likely chased from the battlefield in short order.
How the U.S.-built force would be used and supported in operations is also unclear. As indicated above, the line between defensive and offensive actions in Syria is quite flexible. How could Washington enforce such a line in practice, especially at the tactical level and without U.S. personnel present to determine and shape what is going on? And what happens if U.S.-trained forces suffer reverses on the battlefield? Consistent military success in Syria has been elusive for all parties, and at some point U.S.-backed forces would likely fail even if constrained to a purely defensive role.
The administration's current train-and-equip plan would create moderate rebel units with limitations destined to frustrate their development and presage their failure if committed to serious combat. Weak, halfheartedly supported units probably cannot succeed on Syria's Darwinian battlefields; they would more likely become prey for the formidable predators operating there.
Given that events in Syria do not necessarily proceed according to the U.S. timetable, the most promising answer is to build effective moderate forces sooner rather than later using the vetting that has already occurred. This means incorporating existing moderate units into a structure that takes advantage of their numbers, their presence on key battlefields, and their experience in fighting the regime and ISIS. Washington would then enhance its train-and-equip program for these units, especially by providing antitank, antiaircraft, and light artillery/mortar systems.
Finally, such forces should not be constrained to a defensive role against ISIS -- they should be expected, even encouraged, to fight the regime as well. They will have successes and failures, but the United States would not "own" them in the same sense it would with a force built from scratch. And there would be risks, as there always are when working with irregulars: unauthorized weapons transfers, criminal activity, violations of the rules of warfare, and so forth. But this kind of force is more likely to be deployed in a shorter timeframe, and to be more effective on the battlefield against ISIS and the regime.
**Jeffrey White is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute and a former senior defense intelligence officer.
Bahrain's Ban on Main Opposition Prompts U.S. Policy Dilemma
By: Simon Henderson/Washington Institute
October 28, 2014
Washington faces a stark choice between pressing for political reconciliation or jeopardizing the anti-ISIS coalition and access to important military facilities.
Earlier today, a Bahraini court suspending the activities of the island's main Shiite opposition group, al-Wefaq, for three months. The decision comes just weeks before the November 22 parliamentary elections -- although al-Wefaq is not, strictly speaking, a political party, it had already announced a boycott of the polls to protest the lack of progress in political reform talks with the Sunni-led government and the unilateral redistricting of constituencies.
By apparent coincidence, Gen. John Allen, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (a.k.a. the Islamic State/ISIS), was on the island today for meetings with the Bahraini foreign minister and the commander of the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF), which has been contributing F-16s for strikes against the jihadist group in Syria. Allen was accompanied by Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the Bahrain-headquartered U.S. Fifth Fleet -- a force that includes the aircraft carrier from which strikes against ISIS have been launched, as well as ships that have been firing cruise missiles at ISIS targets.
Ever since the government clampdown on protestors in 2011 and the subsequent mass resignation of al-Wefaq parliamentarians, Washington has attempted to foster political reconciliation on the island. Yet its efforts have been hampered by hardliners in the Sunni ruling family, who believe the majority Shiite population is sympathetic to Iran and are reluctant to countenance concessions toward them. Today's court decision was on a suit filed by the government this summer, after U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor Tom Malinowski irritated King Hamad by meeting with al-Wefaq members before he met with government officials during a July visit to Bahrain. Malinowski was expelled from the island, prompting a diplomatic crisis. Although a reconciliation of sorts was achieved when he met with the Bahraini foreign minister in New York last month, his return visit to the island, planned for last week, never happened.
Currently, BDF commander Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa and other royal hardliners appear to have outmaneuvered Washington by marginalizing not only al-Wefaq, but also ruling family members who support reform, such as Crown Prince Salman, the king's American-educated eldest son. Of additional concern is that Bahrain appears to be signaling that it wants to put distance into its previously close alliance with Washington. Two weeks ago, for example, King Hamad met with President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort city of Sochi, and just today, Bahrain's national airline began a new service to Moscow.
For its part, al-Wefaq called today's decision "irrational and irresponsible" and vowed to "continue in its struggle for democratic transition and justice." The group is now said to be hoping for diplomatic intervention by international stakeholders such as the United States and former colonial power Britain in order to prevent further government action. Despite the ban, al-Wefaq still plans to conduct internal leadership elections in early December, including for its top post of secretary-general currently held by Sheikh Ali Salman, who is despised by the royal hardliners.
Although Washington's top priority at the moment is ISIS, it should also take time to remind the Bahraini government that excluding al-Wefaq from the political process risks bolstering other, more militant Shiite groups. These groups have already concluded that political progress within the current system is impossible and have been supporting violent protests on the island for some time. Bahrain's neighbor and ally, Saudi Arabia, needs to understand the same message in regard to its own Shiite community. Finally, U.S. officials may need to explain that any attempt by Bahrain to withdraw its public commitment to the anti-ISIS coalition would reflect poorly on its diplomatic stature.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute