LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Latest analysis, editorials from
miscellaneous sources published on October 30, October 31/14
Congress must stand against a deal with Iran/ J.Post/By: TED POE/October 30/14
Candidly Speaking: Obama is seeking a confrontation with Israel/By ISI LEIBLER/J.Post/October 30/14
From sanctions to veto: The US has plenty of ways to punish Israel/By: Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/October 30/14
Normalization between Ankara and Jerusalem? Guess Again/By: Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/October 31/14
Time for Canada to Take on the Jihadist Agenda/By: Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/October 31/14
Lebanese Related News
October 30, October 31/14
Qatari Envoy Arrives in Arsal Outskirts after Captives' Families Step Up Protests
Ahmed Miqati, 17 Others Charged with Terrorism, 'Islamic Emirate' Plot
Lebanon’s Army chief, Kahwagi: No compromise with soldier-killers
Book and prizes to honor cartoonist Mahmoud Kahil
Hostage negotiations going in positive direction
In Akkar, locals and refugees wary of one another
No recovery until Syria crisis ends: Hajj Hasan
EDL workers to stage new strike
Army nabs 16 'militants' in north Lebanon raids
Lebanon slips in Doing Business ranking
Extension of Parliament's Term Likely during Nov. 5 Session
More Arrests as Army Clampdown on Militants Continues
Cabinet Allocates L.L.30 Billion for Tripoli, Secures Payment of Civil Servants Wages
Hariri Donates $20 Million for Reconstruction Efforts in North
Report: Gunmen in North Lebanon Fled Clashes during Truce
ebanonMore Arrests as Army Clampdown on Militants Continues
Saudi to Nasrallah: The Parties Embracing Terrorism Have Become Well-Known
Israeli General Says Hizbullah Threat Greater than Gaza
Wanted Robbery Suspect Arrested in Bekaa
NDU, USJ Suspend Student Elections as Geagea Regrets Decisions
MP Sami Gemayel in Bnashii for Talks with Franjieh
Plumbly Rules Out Naturalization of Syrian Refugees
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 30, October 31/14
Peshmerga cheered by Kurds in Turkey
Abbas to Israel: Make peace with us and 57 other nations will follow
US rejects 'chickens--t' insult against Netanyahu as 'counterproductive'
Netanyahu-Obama ties rocked by comments insulting PM’s character
PLO submits resolution to UNSC to ‘end occupation'
Netanyahu fumes at reported U.S. slur
Kerry Says Insults against Netanyahu 'Disgraceful, Damaging
Syrian regime bombs refugee camp in Idlib
Middle EastIsrael Recalls Envoy after Sweden Recognizes Palestine
Canada Condemns ISIL’s Massacre of Sunni Opponents
Canada Welcomes Results of Historic Tunisian Elections
Egypt starts destroying homes to create Gaza buffer zone
U.S. Says Egypt Has Right to Build Gaza Buffer Zone
U.N. Envoy Proposes Zones to 'Freeze' Syria Fighting
Top U.S. General Favors Military Advisers in Western Iraq
Hagel Blasts U.S. Syria Strategy in Memo
Norway to send 120 soldiers to Iraq to help train army
Vigilance Urged over Threat to American Schools in Mideast
Below Jihad Watch
Posts For Thursday 30.10.14
LA Times discovers: “N.Y., Canada attacks appear inspired by Islamic State exhortation”
UK: Muslim child sex exploitation “now normal in parts of Greater Manchester”
Canada: Shot fired after Muslim in security investigation punches officer
Obama administration won’t apologize for calling Netanyahu chickens**t
Christian priest tells UN: Israel is the only Middle Eastern country not persecuting its Christians
Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai donates $50,000 for UN schools in Gaza
Islamic State runs school named after Osama bin Laden
Netanyahu responds to Obama official’s “chickens–t” charge: “The attack on me only comes because I am defending the State of Israel”
Sweden: Police point out 55 Muslim-dominated areas where “criminals” have taken control of the area
Robert Spencer in FrontPage Mag: Berkeley’s Jihad Against Bill Maher
Texas: Muslim plasters Houston with Islamic State stickers
India: Muslim former Google employee detained for trying to join Islamic State
UK: Muslim chemistry teacher pleads guilty to attempting to join the Islamic State
Supporters and enablers of jihad terror join global elite at Brookings Institution forums
Ahmed Miqati, 17 Others Charged with
Terrorism, 'Islamic Emirate' Plot
Naharnet/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr on Thursday filed terror charges against the dangerous detainee Ahmed Miqati and 17 others. "The military judiciary has received the terrorist detainee Ahmed Salim Miqati, 46, who is one of the top cadres of the ISIL (Islamic State) group and goes by the noms de guerre Abu Bakr and Abu al-Hoda," state-run National News Agency reported.Miqati, the prisoner Fayez Othman, the detainee Ahmed al-Ahmed and 15 fugitives were charged with "belonging to a terrorist group with the aim of carrying out terror acts." The charges also included "the formation of armed groups, recruiting individuals, training on the use of arms and explosives, and plotting to occupy the Dinniyeh region villages of Asoun, Bakhoun, Bqaa Safrine and Sir al-Dinniyeh with the aim of creating an IS emirate." Miqati was also accused of “taking part in operations against the army, inciting the murder of its troops, stirring sectarian strife and possessing arms and explosives.”NNA noted that some of the charges are punishable by death. Miqati was referred to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abu Ghida, the agency said. On Monday, NNA said the dangerous militant confessed that he had been plotting to establish an “Islamic emirate” straddling four towns in the northern district of Dinniyeh as part of a broader scheme to connect Syria's Qalamun to the Lebanese coast. Miqati was arrested at dawn Thursday in the Dinniyeh town of Asoun during a deadly army raid on an apartment that he and several militants had been residing in for several days. Three gunmen were killed in the operation, including defected soldier Abdul Qader Akkoumi. His confessions came in the wake of fierce clashes that erupted in Tripoli's old souks Friday over a false rumor alleging that Miqati had died during interrogation.
The clashes spread to the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, where a group loyal to Shadi al-Mawlawi and Osama Mansour was entrenched, and to the nearby region of Akkar where Sheikh Khaled Hoblos led an armed assault against the army.
MP Sami Gemayel in Bnashii for Talks with Franjieh
NaharnetظKataeb party MP Sami Gemayel met on Thursday with Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh on the third day of his tour on Christian leaders. Gemayel headed to Zgharta's Bnashii for talks with Franjieh a day after he met with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun. The lawmaker said after talks with Aoun on Wednesday that the circumstances compelled him to visit Rabieh. Gemayel had discussed with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea the latest developments in Lebanon and the ongoing presidential vacuum during a meeting in Maarab on Tuesday. Last week, Gemayel accompanied Geagea to Saudi Arabia for separate meetings with senior Saudi officials and al-Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri. The country has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May as the rival parties have failed so far to agree on a compromise candidate, which is also threatening to torpedo the upcoming parliamentary elections. The crises are threatening further vacuum at Lebanese institutions, which could also impact the cabinet.
Israeli General Says Hizbullah Threat Greater than Gaza
Naharnet /Hizbullah is more dangerous than militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli army general said, expressing belief that the party has dug tunnels across the border from Lebanon in preparation for any future war with the Jewish State. As a result of the greater threat from Hizbullah and in the event of a future conflict, the Israeli army will have to take “many more decisive acts and employ much more power” than it did in Gaza, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, commander of Israeli forces on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts, told Army Radio on Wednesday. Golan said Hizbullah, which has sent its fighters to Syria to help the regime of President Bashar Assad against the rebels, was unlikely to seek a renewed conflict with Israel. If a war took place, then the Jewish state would hit Lebanese targets hard. However, it would also suffer from a Hizbullah rocket arsenal believed to be 10 times more potent than Hamas', he said. About the suspected tunnels, he told Army Radio: "We have no positive information.”"That said, this idea of going below ground is not foreign to Lebanon and is not foreign to Hizbullah and so we have to suppose as a working assumption that there are tunnels. These have to be looked for and prepared for." Addressing the threat posed by Hizbullah’s arsenal, Golan said Israelis need to understand that the army “will not be able to provide the same umbrella (air defenses) that it provided in the south by the Iron Dome” anti-missile defense system. “I assess that we will be able to intercept mainly the rockets and heavy missiles, and less the regular rockets. The biggest challenge regarding the Israeli home front at the moment is to explain that a clash in the North will not look like a clash in the South. There will be many more hits to the home front,” he said. "We and Hizbullah are conducting a kind of mutual-deterrence balance," Golan added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was incapable of implementing its mission in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1701.He told the Knesset that the peacekeepers' mandate to stop Hizbullah's arsenal from growing was not successful.
NDU, USJ Suspend Student Elections as Geagea Regrets Decisions
Naharnet/Notre Dame University – Louaize and Saint Joseph University decided on Thursday to suspend student elections for the current academic year. The decision comes in light of a quarrel between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement students on Wednesday over the erection of electoral banners at the main NDU campus. The polls at NDU were the first since the FPM boycotted the elections three years ago. “The political and security situation in Lebanon, which could impact the campus... will not allow the students to practice their democratic role positively,” USJ board of members said in a statement. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea expressed regret over the scuffle that erupted at NDU, voicing hope that students would adapt with practicing a “democratic and right” political process. He considered that the incident doesn't “suit our society.” Geagea called on the USJ to reconsider its decision to suspend the student elections, urging the administration to carry out the “necessary measures to stage a transparent elections.”
NDU expressed regret in a statement over the incident that occurred in its campus in Zouk Mosbeh, considering it “marred the image of democracy at the university.” The administration vowed to carry out the necessary investigation to reveal “those who were behind the chaos and who participated in it.” The FPM youth lashed out in a statement at electoral law adopted by the NDU administration, saying that Wednesday's row is a “clear assault by students affiliated to the LF against the FPM students, who were erecting banners that call for boycotting the elections.”“Never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it,” the FPM said in its statement, quoting a British proverb. The FPM considered that the “suspicious timing of the incident coincided with a meeting for the USJ administration to discuss whether or not the student elections will be held.”
Qatari Envoy Arrives in Arsal Outskirts after Captives' Families Step Up Protests
Naharnet/A Qatari mediator arrived Thursday afternoon in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal to resume talks with the kidnappers of the Lebanese troops and policemen, amid an escalation of protests by their families. “The Qatari envoy headed at 3:45 pm to Arsal's outskirts after he was escorted by Lebanese security agents to the center of the town,” state-run National News Agency reported. Earlier in the day, LBCI TV said the Qatari delegation “was accompanied by a Lebanese General Security team and six trucks carrying aid to the refugee encampments in Arsal.” “The Qatari delegation made practical steps today in order to receive the demands of the abductors,” the TV network quoted sources informed on the case as saying. The al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front accused on Thursday General Security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim of obstructing the release of the abducted soldiers and policemen, without further elaborating. “We have been informed by al-Nusra Front that Ibrahim is hindering the release of our sons,” Hussein Youssef, the father of abducted soldier Mohammed Youssef, told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5). Ibrahim rejected in comments to NBN television carrying out negotiations without conditions with the abductors, rejecting attempts to “blackmail” the state.
“We have been waiting for the demands of the kidnappers, who are insisting to only hand them over to the Qatari negotiator who has been late.” Youssef vowed to continue escalations to press politicians and ministers with all the available means to seriously negotiate the release of the captive servicemen. “Escalations will not be limited to burning tires,” Youssef warned.
The father hailed Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, saying: “Al-Nusra Front informed us that he (Abu Faour) is the only one following up the case seriously.” The families of the captive troops and policemen burned tires on Wednesday evening at the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut near the Grand Serail over perceived “procrastination” in negotiations to free their loved ones. Al-Nusra and the Islamic State group have been holding several troops and policemen hostage since August 2, when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal and engaged in bloody clashes with the army. The two groups have since executed three troops and threatened to murder more hostages if Lebanese authorities didn't fulfill their demands. Later on Thursday, the families vowed to “turn downtown Beirut black” if the cabinet failed to meet the demands of the abductors. “The zero hour for our escalation will start when the Qatari envoy returns from Arsal,” one of the relatives told reporters gathered in Riad al-Solh square as the cabinet convened at the nearby Grand Serail.
Internal Security Forces special panthers unit deployed at the entrance of the Grand Serail as the families threatened to storm into it. They had requested to meet with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who postponed the meeting until the cabinet session ends.
More Arrests as Army Clampdown on Militants Continues
Naharnet /The army said on Thursday that it has arrested a Lebanese man who admitted to smuggling arms to jihadists taking position on the Lebanese-Syrian border as the military rounded up dozens in its clampdown on militants. Abdullah Mahmoud al-Hujairi was apprehended in the area of Wadi Hmeid in the northeastern border town of Arsal, said an army communique. He admitted to smuggling weapons and food to the terrorists on the outskirts of Arsal, it added. Also Thursday, the state-run National News Agency said the military arrested 13 suspects in the town of al-Dreeb in the northern Akkar district. NNA said that three of the suspects are Lebanese nationals. The remaining are Syrians, including the leader of an armed group that engaged in battles in the village of al-Hosn in central Syria. The army said in its communique that the number of suspects rounded up during raids in northern Lebanon on Wednesday reached 50. Nine of them are Lebanese, one is Palestinian and the others are Syrians, it added. The Lebanese army has been carrying out large-scale raids since weekend battles with fighters in Tripoli and the region of Koura in search for suspects. Despite the arrest of scores of militants, several of them have fled. 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. Army units continued on Thursday clamping down on gunmen involved in the town of Bhannine Akkar as Army chief General Jean Qahwaji inspected military positions in Tripoli and Akkar. An army reconnaissance drone accompanied the operation.
MPs In Lebanon fail on president, prepare to extend Parliament's term
Oct. 30, 2014/Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Parliament will vote next week on a bill that would extend its mandate by over two years, Speaker Nabih Berri said Wednesday, shortly after the legislature failed again to elect a new president. The speaker did not set a specific date for the legislative session on the controversial draft law, which political sources have said is almost guaranteed to pass. The bill, presented by MP Nicolas Fattoush, proposes to extend Parliament’s term by two years and seven months. Berri’s visitors said the speaker had announced he would work on endorsing a new election law and push for the election of a new president once the extension was passed. They also said that discussions with Christian parties on the extension were ongoing. The session might convene Thursday next week.
The major Christian parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Forces, have spoken out against the extension, but their members are unlikely to boycott the extension session, sources told The Daily Star.
Sources close to Berri said that the speaker hoped that one of the three major Christian parties would vote in favor of extension so that the move would not be depicted as a violation of the National Pact, an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state. Berri had initially opposed any extension, but announced last week that he had become convinced of necessity for the move after the Future Movement said it would boycott parliamentary elections, scheduled for Nov. 16, in the absence of a president.
If it passes, the extension will be second of its kind voted on by the current legislature since its election to office in June 2009.
Parliament last year voted to extend its mandate by 17 months, with political factions arguing that the country’s fragile security situation prevented elections. Its current term expires Nov. 20. Berri also set Nov. 19 as a new date for presidential elections after lawmakers failed to elect a new head of state for the 14th time Wednesday, reflecting persistent disagreement on a consensus candidate. Only 54 of 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote, leading to a lack of a quorum, which has been the case over the last 13 sessions earmarked to elect a head of state.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai condemned the latest failure, saying it was time to use the “stick.” In one of his harshest statements on the issue, he accused MPs of waiting on foreign powers to elect a head of state. “Both political factions are waiting to see who is victorious: Sunnis or Shiites, Iran or Saudi Arabia, the regime in Syria or the opposition,” Rai said. LF leader Samir Geagea, who was nominated by the March 14 bloc for the presidency, told reporters after the session that the failure to elect a president amounted to “overthrowing the Lebanese political system” and would have dire consequences on all the Lebanese and the Christians in particular. He called for pressure to be put on Hezbollah and FPM leader Michel Aoun, the March 8 candidate, to reach a deal on the presidency, and said Aoun’s ambitions had left the country with a vacuum. Geagea also criticized the proposed extension of Parliament’s mandate, saying it was the “greatest current fraud operation.” Meanwhile, Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel met Aoun at his residence in Rabieh to discuss the ongoing political deadlock, a meeting he described as “excellent.” “If we don’t meet in these circumstances, when will we meet?,” Gemayel told reporters following the talks. “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. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tammam Salam will chair a Cabinet session Thursday morning that is set to discuss a raft of security and administrative items, including a proposal by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to recruit 1,000 General Security personnel, along with 400 Internal Security Forces members.
The plan is part of a broader effort to draft 17,000 new security personnel into the military and security institutions.
Salam will also brief ministers on this week’s conference in Berlin, in which donor countries pledged financial assistance to Lebanon to help it address the refugee problem.
The Cabinet is also expected to address the crisis of the servicemen captured by ISIS and Nusra Front militants during their brief takeover of the northeastern town of Arsal in August, the recent fighting in Tripoli and the Army’s continuing efforts to combat terrorism.
Eight soldiers were killed during four days of fighting that started over the weekend between the Army and Islamist militants in Tripoli and other parts of the north.
Lebanon’s Army chief, Kahwagi: No compromise with soldier-killers
Oct. 30, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Army chief Wednesday declared there would be no truce with terrorists who attack soldiers, dismissing rumors that a secret compromise with militants was forged to end this week’s crisis in Tripoli. Gen. Jean Kahwagi vowed to hunt down Islamist militants during a visit to the families of two soldiers killed during the four-day military offensive against jihadists in north Lebanon that ended Monday. “There will be no compromise or truce with the soldier-killers,” Kahwagi said in remarks carried by the state-run National News Agency. He reiterated the Army’s position against striking any deal with militants, insisting that the clashes ended after the jihadists crumbled, and not because of a secret agreement. “Each party that attacked the Army is considered a terrorist,” Kahwagi added.
The fighting that killed 42 people, including eight civilians and 11 Army troops, was among the fiercest bouts of Syria-related violence in the northern port city since the 2011 outbreak of the neighboring war. But Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansur, two jihadist leaders who were involved in the clashes, disappeared as the Army moved into their embattled neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, leading some to suspect a secret compromise. The Army chief’s remarks were made during Kahwagi’s visits to families of Maj. Jihad Haber and Capt. Firas al-Hakim in the towns of Mansourieh, Bhamdoun and Aley Wednesday afternoon. He commended the fallen soldiers’ “momentous sacrifices during the battle,” promising that “their blood and the blood of their military companions would not go to waste.” Kahwagi’s comments came as the Army launched widespread raids in the north, arresting 16 suspected militants. Troops raided suspected militant hideouts in Tripoli’s neighborhood of Abi Samra, arresting eight people, including three Syrians, and confiscated three automatic rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade and 10 hand grenades, in addition to ammunition and military gear, an Army statement said. Similar raids were carried out on Syrian refugee gatherings in the area of Minyeh, during which eight people were apprehended on suspicion of having links to terrorist groups, it added. Earlier Wednesday, the Army raided an apartment in Abi Samra which was occupied by fundamentalist preacher Sheikh Khaled Hablas, confiscating a computer, security sources told The Daily Star.
By midday, the Army arrested one of Hablas’ supporters, identified by his last name Khalaf. The Army said in a separate statement Wednesday that three gunmen had turned themselves in. It also 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 carrying out raids beginning in the 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 fighting in Tripoli. Soldiers redeployed heavily in Abi Samra, 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 last 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 their damaged property.But dozens of shops and businesses remained closed Wednesday, with some parts of the neighborhood in complete ruins. The Army’s campaign spread to the south in Sidon, where it found six bomb detonators, rifles and ammunition in an abandoned house in the area of Sirob, a military statement said.
The military also arrested a suspected militant in connection with a foiled attack against an Army headquarters and a Hezbollah complex in Sidon, security sources told The Daily Star. The residence of suspect Abdel-Rahman Hallaq overlooks Hezbollah’s Fatima Zahra Compound, which houses a Shiite mosque, an infirmary and a lecture hall. Army troops also raided several informal refugee settlements in the area of Sharhabil, arresting three Syrians for not possessing legal documents, they added.
An Army source said the situation in Sidon was not dangerous and measures there were intended as precautionary. Additional reporting by Antoine Amrieh
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command PFLP-GC steps up Lebanese border presence
Oct. 30, 2014/Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star
A security source told The Daily Star that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command PFLP-GC has recently fortified its military posts over a 14-kilometer-stretch of the Lebanese border in the Bekaa Valley, in coordination with Hezbollah and Syrian military figures. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that the recent security measures were aimed at protecting border areas in the western and eastern Bekaa Valley from possible attacks by the Nusra Front, ISIS and the Free Syrian Army.
The militants are expected to first attack from Syria’s Zabadani region and then be joined by sleeper cells in the Lebanese areas of Majdal Anjar, Barr Elias, Suweiri and Deir Znoun. The sources said that a new leadership for the PFLP-GC had been appointed and tasked with supervising military operations and deploying Palestinian fighters at their bases in Qousaya, Deir al-Ghazzal, Bayyad and Deir Znoun. The fighters are reportedly equipped with various medium and light weapons as well as anti-aircraft weaponry, while in the post of Jabal al-Muaysira, PFLP-GC personnel are said to be armed with tanks and rocket launchers, and are connected to Syria by way of a paved road. The posts receive food from cold storage trucks and water from tankers, while fighters use Syrian mobile lines to communicate with each other. The sources said that the group, assisted by Iranian experts, had strengthened its fortifications and tunnels in Jamal Hashmesh, a hill located to the northeast of Qousaya. Over a month ago, the PFLP-GC also received weapons such as anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft weapons and heavy machine guns from Hezbollah. The weaponry reportedly came from one of Hezbollah’s secret caches in the western Bekaa Valley village of Mashghara. Members of the new PFLP-GC leadership in Qousaya include Brig. Issam H., whose nom de guerre is Abu Wael. He was appointed as a general military commander.Brig. Ammar Q. is now head of operations, while Brig. Khaled A., who is better known as Abu Karam, has been put in charge of military tunnels. Also among the newly appointed leaders is Captain Riad K., better known as Abu Kayed. Meanwhile, residents of the northeastern Bekaa are reportedly complaining about the deterioration in economic activity in the area due to ongoing battles between Hezbollah and radical Syrian groups on the border. The violence has negatively impacted business in the city of Baalbek and various other Bekaa Valley villages, towns and cities. Eight Hezbollah fighters were killed when fighters from the Nusra Front attacked party military posts on the outskirts of the Baalbek village of Brital earlier this month. During a visit to the region this month, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah held meetings with party commanders there and stressed that his party would not show leniency in its war on takfiri groups.
Shameful inequality In Lebanon
The Daily Star/Oct. 30, 2014
Lebanese have made several bids in recent years to enter the Guinness Book of World Records, with the planet’s largest bowl of hummus or tabbouleh, plate of kibbeh, or longest dabkeh dance line. But this week’s release of an annual global index by the World Economic Forum provides a new opportunity for Lebanon to make its mark in the Guinness book, after the country was ranked 135th out of 142 in gender equality. If a strong campaign is mounted, there’s no reason why Lebanon can’t become the world’s worst country for gender equality, if it can just underperform the competition: Ivory Coast, Iran, Mali, Syria, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen. The index is a bucket of cold water on those who continue to trumpet the situation of women in Lebanon as being relatively better than the rest of the region. In fact, Lebanon didn’t even make the region’s top 10. While the blame for the sorry ranking is easy to assign – laws, attitudes and other factors – women’s rights activists face several serious questions:
Do conferences and social events do anything to help their cause? Helping women become economically productive is good, but can such endeavors lead to significant change?
Boosting Lebanon’s gender equality ranking will require hard work. This isn’t a cause that can be championed for a few hours on a given day, and then put aside. The many groups that devote their time to gender equality must also find a way to pool their efforts so they can speak with one, powerful voice – backed up with the threat of large-scale action – if there is to be any hope of improvement.
No recovery foe Lebanon's economy until Syria crisis ends: Hajj Hasan
Dana Halawi| The Daily Star/Oct. 30, 2014
BEIRUT: The economic situation in Lebanon will improve only if the crisis in Syria comes to an end and refugees return to their homeland, Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said Wednesday. “Lebanon was already suffering from dire economic and social circumstances prior to the war in neighboring Syria and the flow of refugees to Lebanon,” he said. “But the country’s woes have been exacerbated with the increasing number of Syrian refugees flowing to the country.”
The minister called for an economic state of emergency in Lebanon and taking exceptional measures in a bid to improve troubled sectors.
“Our exports retreated by over 20 percent in the past 10 months and the deficit in our trade balance reached $17 billion, which is equivalent to one third of the volume of our economy,” he said.
Hajj Hasan said that since the Syria crisis began, unemployment in Lebanon had increased while the performance of the different sectors of the economy had slowed.
“The only solution is to announce an economic state of emergency and take exceptional measures to curb the negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis on the Lebanese economy,” he said.
Hajj Hasan said that the international community had not fulfilled its aid promises to Lebanon, noting that the World Bank expects the conflict to cost the country no less than $10 billion by the end of this year.
Hajj Hasan’s remarks came during the launch of a new project for supporting manufacturing capacities of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives. The event took place at the Movenpick Hotel in Beirut.
The project is the third phase of an initiative called the “Community Empowerment and Livelihoods Enhancement Project” (CELEP), which is funded by the Italian government and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with the Instituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria (ICU).
The project aims to assist the government of Lebanon in improving the performance of selected enterprises to enhance their competitiveness and integration into the global market, as well as supporting rural communities to promote income-generating activities and to strengthen their household economies.
The cost of the first two phases reached 2.43 million euros ($3.1 million), covering 53 enterprises which were technically upgraded to enhance their performance and increase their market share.
During the first two phases of the project, around 17 cooperatives were fully restored and became operative. Moreover, 188 pieces of equipment were delivered and 17 establishments were rehabilitated. Around 1,700 beneficiaries have benefitted from the capacity-building activities, of which 500 are women.
Third phase will cost around 900,000 euros, according to UNIDO representative Cristiano Pasini.
“This project will focus on supporting manufacturing capacities of SMEs and cooperatives in the Bekaa Valley and North Lebanon, and it will target the vulnerable areas because of the high presence of Syrian refugees,” he said.
“We need to help the communities that are hosting the refugees to keep up their economic activities and sustainable livelihood,” Pasini told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the event.
Pasini said that the industrial sector has an important role to play in the communities affected by the economic shocks of the Syrian crisis. “Improving host communities’ production capacity enables small companies to respond to a market demand, livelihood support and economic recovery for their communities,” he said.
Italian Ambassador in Lebanon Giuseppe Morabito said that the Syrian refugee crisis has to be faced not only through the classical tools of the emergency interventions but also through a medium-term development approach.
Ambassador Morabito highlighted in his speech that “our goal is to build competitive small- and medium-size enterprises and to create new jobs, especially in the poorest areas of the country. In this framework women entrepreneurs have an essential role to play.”
He added: “We must be ambitious: Through this project we want to give a message of peace, of rejection of violence and of dialogue. There is no alternative to dialogue, interconfessional and political. Within this initiative, ICU, an Italian Catholic NGO, works in areas where there are also Sunni, Shiite, Druze. It is the best example of what we mean when we say that we have to reach all communities, regardless their respective confession.”
For his part, Ziad Bekdash, who was representing President of the Lebanese Industrialists’ Association Fadi Gemayel, praised the role of UNIDO in development programs, saying that the organization has supported many projects in the past including Libanpack, the Lebanese packaging center, which has succeeded on the regional level.
Anwar Daou, consultant to Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb and his representative at the conference, said that the presence of Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi refugees was having a negative impact on agriculture, infrastructure and the Lebanese workforce.
From sanctions to veto: The US has plenty of ways to punish Israel
Published: 10.30.14/Israel Opinion
The clash between Obama and Netanyahu could have devastating ramifications for Israel: From postponed arms shipments, to international isolation and even a possible shift regarding Israel's alleged nuclear program. "The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit … recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and 'Aspergery'." These most undiplomatic epithets were fired at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by an unnamed US official in a fiery article published by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. But this is only the apex of a lengthy conflict between Washington and Jerusalem that has been long in the making and could have devastating implications for Israel. The most dangerous weapon in the Obama administration's arsenal is that ability to rebrand Israel as a partisan actor, undermining Israel's neutral support across the aisle. Israel enjoys a unique status in the American political discourse; it was an issue which enjoyed across the board support by both Democrats and Republicans. Anyone entering the White House was by default committed to supporting Israel by virtue of the unbreakable bond between the two nations, because Israel enjoys wide reaching popular support.
Nowadays, that is being eroded; Obama can portray Israel and its prime minister as part of the Republican Party, an active player in the divisive politics polarizing American society. Netanyahu's actions and statements allow Obama and his affiliates, in a string of well-planned press leaks, to treat Israel as part of the Republicans' more conservative flank. Thus, the administration also succeeds in pushing Israel into a position which is antagonistic to most Hispanic and African American voters.
Becoming a "side" in American politics is the worst possible damage Netanyahu could inflict on Israel and its citizens in the long run. But it is not the only damage it could result from the dust up between DC and Jerusalem. As Ynet discovered during Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's visit to the US, when his requests to meet top administration officials were denied in possible retribution for comments he made in the past regarding Kerry's 'obsessive and messianic' disposition toward the peace process.
In the field of security, the US has a strong and unwavering commitment to Israel. This is a longstanding commitment which to no small extent stems from American interests, now even more so. Thus it is safe to assume that the Obama administration, despite its anger, will continue to arm Israel, share intelligence and technological information, and still take part in defense establishment initiatives.
But Obama, like Jimmy Carter and Bush senior before him, can postpone the transfer of arms and funds, an additional tool he can use to pressure Israel by delaying programs like the Magic Wand anti-missile system - something that could cause real damage to Israel, which would not be prepared should Hezbollah launch an offensive. Lack of coordination between the US and Israel in the fields of intelligence and cyber threats – were it not intimate already – could harm Israel's ability to address the threats it faces in the Mideast, when it really counts. Delays are the main weapon the American defense establishment has against Israel and, as past experience has shown, its potential damage is real. The last time such a delay took place - during this summer's Operation Protective Edge – was of Hellfire missiles. They were not desperately needed for the fighting in Gaza, but the very fact that such a threat was implemented while Israel was in the midst of a military conflict was a not so subtle hint from the White House of what the administration can do.
By the book
Israel could also pay a heavy price for the deterioration of its ties with the US in the international arena. It is unlikely that the US, because of its anger at Netanyahu, would completely cut its diplomatic support for Israel in international institutions – namely, the UN. But the US could chose to act "by the book" – support only what dovetails with American interests and policy and not veto every anti-Israel initiative put forward once Israel does not follow that policy or even acts against it.
In such a scenario, any construction beyond the Green Line, regardless of whether it is in Jerusalem or the West Bank, could mean the US would allow Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab nations to attack Israel, portray it as pariah state, and even permit the introductions of sanctions against it. The US is unlikely to let Israel face sanctions in the way South Africa did, but it could permit "soft sanctions", which deal more harm to Israel's image and create collateral economic damage.
In the diplomatic arena, the White House is already pushing the EU and certain Asian nations to toughen their stance on Israel, and try to push it into greater international isolation. It is safe to assume that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande have come under the influence this new sentiment. This is especially damaging at a time like this, in which the world is holding critical negotiations with Iran over its nuclear military program.
The Europeans and American are in cahoots in this regards, and any declaration of Israel as an international law violator due to settlement construction could permit the US to further shut its protective diplomatic umbrella that protects Israel on the nuclear question. So far, for example, the US has blocked attempts for a nuclear nonproliferation conference in the Mideast – despite the fact that it is in fact Obama's policy to clean the Mideast of nuclear arms. Obama has two years left in the White House, which is more than enough time to change his policy on Israel's alleged nuclear program without fearing it would harm his future political chances.
Others have mentioned the threat of Israel facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which have also been thwarted by the US.
All of the aforementioned measures have been taken to varying extents by past presidents, when Israel acted out of line or even in provocation of openly stated US policy. On the basis of past experience, it can be said that Obama's White House and John Kerry's State Department will not turn on Israel with force, but with numerous small jabs that will sting and cause real damage to Israel's international standing and image as a state that once enjoyed full and unwavering US support, thus harming Israel's deterrence.
Egypt starts destroying homes to create Gaza buffer zone
October 30, 2014/ http://www.smh.com.au/world/egypt-starts-destroying-homes-to-create-gaza-buffer-zone-20141030-11e2my.html
Cairo: Egypt has begun demolishing houses along its border with Gaza to set up a buffer zone to prevent militant infiltration and arms smuggling following a wave of deadly attacks. The move, which will result in about 800 homes being razed, comes after a suicide bomber killed 30 soldiers in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Palestinian territory, last Friday. It also comes two days after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi enacted a decree allowing military trials for civilians suspected of attacking state infrastructure, as he promised a tough response to what he called the "existential threat" posed by the militants. "The president is monitoring the area along the border ... especially the area that is being evacuated for eliminating terrorist hideouts and to prevent any infiltration of terrorists that will threaten national security," his office said. The authorities want to establish a 500-metre wide buffer zone along the 10-kilometre long border with Gaza. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decree on Wednesday formally ordering the establishment of the buffer zone. "If any resident of the area earmarked to be closed off does not move out voluntarily, his property will be confiscated," said the decree, carried by state news agency MENA. In the town of Rafah, which straddles the Egypt-Gaza border, witnesses reported seeing dozens of families leaving homes on the Egyptian side, their furniture piled into trucks. Bulldozers began razing abandoned houses along the border as military helicopters hovered overhead. The authorities said those whose homes were demolished would receive compensation, but not all residents were convinced. "We are for national and border security, but not at the cost of our homes and interests," said Wissam al-Agha, a Rafah doctor, whose house lies within the area earmarked for the buffer zone. North Sinai governor Abdel Fattah Harhur said emergency assistance would be provided to everyone affected, with families receiving 900 Egyptian pounds ($140) to cover rent for three months. One resident said people in the area had been given three options: money to compensate for their property, an apartment in a nearby village or a plot of land on which to build. Analysts said the buffer zone marked a major shift in Egypt's strategy against the militants. "It is an operation to isolate terrorists in an area empty of people, in turn facilitating targeting of terrorists and also reducing civilian casualties," said Eman Ragad, an expert on regional security at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. AFP, Reuters
Candidly Speaking: Obama is seeking a confrontation with Israel
By ISI LEIBLER/10/29/2014/J.Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the intensifying global pressure on Israel is to firmly reject any further territorial withdrawals that would put Israel’s security at risk, stating that “Israel will not lose hope for peace, but neither will it cling to false hope.”
He was also forthright about his intention to continue residential construction in Jerusalem, noting that “all previous Israeli governments have done so. ...It is also clear to the Palestinians that these territories will remain within Israel’s borders in any deal.”
The Obama administration’s response to Israel’s confirmation that it would continue to create homes in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem was vindictive, brutal and in stark contrast to its deafening silence in relation to Palestinian incitement.
The State Department went so far as to accuse Israel of acting “illegally,” and in a manner “incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”
In an interview with American journalist Jeffery Goldberg published in The Atlantic, a senior US official referred to Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chickenshit” and described him as “the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most.” More than Assad, Erdogan, the Iranian ayatollah, Putin and the “peace loving” Abbas? The curtain drop to the administration’s malice was displayed last week in the Ya’alon imbroglio. In a private conversation earlier this year, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon disparaged US Secretary of State John Kerry’s behavior in relation to the peace process as “obsessive” and “messianic.” He made his remarks when Kerry was repeatedly making provocative statements against Israel and then retracting them.
As defense minister, Ya’alon is limited in what he can say publicly, and the fact that he spoke off-record is irrelevant if he was subsequently quoted. But he apologized and reiterated the importance of the US-Israel relationship. Nevertheless, the White House inflated his unofficial remark totally out of proportion.
To invoke such a vendetta against the defense minister of its most important regional ally, months after the event, exposes the pettiness of the Obama administration. That Ya’alon was denied access to Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice is problematic. But that this was leaked by State Department sources at the end of his visit was odious. To make matters even worse, the information was leaked to the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, whose publisher is engaged in a long-standing crusade to demonize Netanyahu and his government and which was the source that had initially released Ya’alon’s off-the-record comments. Clearly, the White House regarded this as an opportunity to undermine not only Ya’alon’s standing, but the entire Netanyahu government. This is just the latest in a series of vindictive acts by the Obama administration because Israel has dared to reject its diktats. Nothing illustrates President Obama’s contemptuous attitude toward Israel more than his directive to withhold arms to Israel during wartime because Israel had rejected Kerry’s initiative to engage Qatar as the mediator to end the Gaza hostilities.
As virtually every foreign policy initiative by Obama has proven to be disastrous, his recommendations or directives must be viewed with skepticism. After all, it is we who will have to live with the consequences.
This administration adamantly insists that the Israel- Palestine status quo is untenable. Yet it remains silent as Hamas boasts of efforts to restore its tunnel network; barely reacts to the mayhem in Syria and Iraq where close to a quarter million people have been butchered; ignores the Qatari funding of Hamas and other terrorist entities including Islamic State; fails to castigate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for enabling jihadists to traverse Turkey’s territory to fight in Syria, while standing by and allowing the massacre of the Kurds on his border. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas humiliated the US administration by merging with Hamas without prior consultation. But the US failed to criticize this move, has not responded to Abbas’ stated policy of ethnic cleansing, nor condemned him for executing any Palestinian found selling land to an Israeli. The US did not reprimand him for failing to denounce the act of terror in which a baby and a young woman were killed last week in Jerusalem. Yet when an Arab teenager was shot to death while hurling potentially lethal firebombs at Israeli automobiles, the US immediately conveyed its condolences to the family and urged Israelis to initiate an investigation.
Israel, the principal regional ally of the US, is the only country consistently facing criticism and has become the punching bag for the inept Obama administration, even being denunciated for opposing a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Only recently, Kerry again conveyed to an Arab audience the absurd allegation that the Arab-Israel conflict fanned IS and Islamic extremism. Yet the US assiduously avoids condemning or responding to rogue states guilty of criminal bloodletting, out of fear of being further humiliated and exposed as lacking leadership.It should be noted that there is a broad consensus throughout Israel that the government is justified in resisting efforts by the US and others to restrict construction in its capital Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs – which were never challenged prior to the Obama administration.
There are those who question the wisdom of such an announcement at this time, but if there is one issue for which we should stand united and maintain our rights, it is construction in Jerusalem, whose development must not be dependent on endorsement from other countries.
The administration’s efforts to demean Israel’s leaders have always been counterproductive. Despite the initial media frenzy, Israelis have in such circumstances responded by rallying in support of their government. And yet now, when the house of Israel should display unity, some of our politicians are behaving irresponsibly. Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s public response to the recent pathetic and mean attempt to humiliate Ya’alon, implying that the fault for the breakdown in relations rests with Israel rather than with a bumbling and spiteful US administration, were highly inappropriate. They promote chaos and bring shame upon themselves and the government they purport to represent, conveying the mistaken impression that Israel suffers from battered-wife syndrome.
It is also regrettable that, in the face of a vindictive US administration, opposition leader Isaac Herzog failed to suspend political infighting and accused Netanyahu of being “personally responsible for the destruction of relations with the US.” He could have gained respect by stating unequivocally that there cannot be any limits on construction in the Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem.
Yes, there is constant tension and endless recriminations bouncing between the US administration and Israel. And according to Goldberg, there is now even the threat that the US “may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.”
The government has made every effort to avoid aggravating the situation, but Israel is a sovereign democratic nation and there are occasions when it must reject unrealistic or dangerous demands from the US. Netanyahu should be commended for his extraordinary diplomatic balancing act in withstanding the unreasonable pressure from Obama and Kerry, avoiding outright confrontations and in so doing, retaining the support of American public opinion and Congress. Israel is a small country and its people are aware that the US is crucial to their survival. But does that oblige us to forfeit our self-respect or sovereignty and fawn on an administration that repeatedly displays its contempt for us and humiliates us? We should display unity by supporting our prime minister’s policy of rejecting further territorial concessions until the Palestinian leaders separate from Hamas, engage in negotiations and display flexibility to enable us to achieve our security requirements. We will not be denied the right to construct homes in our capital or in the major settlement blocs, which will remain within Israel. We seek the support of the US but we must retain our sovereignty.
** The author’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
Congress must stand against a deal with Iran
J.Post/By TED POE /10/29/2014
The US must be clear and unequivocal: there will be no reductions in sanctions without verified steps to show that Tehran is abandoning, not just freezing, its nuclear weapons program.
Bushehr nuclear power plant. All eyes have been on the terrorist army Islamic State (IS) as it slaughters its way through the Middle East. IS is the most infamous villain on the world stage today, leaving Americans more fearful than ever about an attack on the homeland. With shocking headlines of beheadings and mass graves, it seems IS has stolen the spotlight from another world villain, the largest state sponsor of terrorism: Iran. For over a decade the United States along with the rest of the UN Security Council has tried – and failed – to reach a deal with Tehran on its clandestine nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear ambitions became public 12 years ago when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered that Iran had covertly violated the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) for years by falsifying reports of its nuclear development activities. Since then, Iran has defiantly marched toward developing a nuclear weapon, while refusing to negotiate in good faith with anyone – especially the United States. Instead, its leaders have continually called for the destruction of America and our ally Israel. Iran’s actions over the years are not surprising; after all it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Using both its own military operatives and its proxy, Hezbollah, Iran has planned attacks around the globe. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps funds, trains, arms, and directs Hezbollah, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist organizations. Hezbollah is the puppet; Iran pulls the strings. Finally, after years of Iran stalling and defying calls to halt its nuclear weapon development, the West played hardball.
In 2012, the US and the European Union implemented sanctions primarily targeting Iran’s banking and energy industries. Tehran’s economy felt the pinch. In 2012, the Islamic Republic’s net exports of petroleum dropped to their lowest level since 1990. Its GDP dropped for the first time in 20 years. The Iranian Central Bank acknowledged an annual inflation rate of 45 percent in late July 2013 and many economists believe it was more likely in the 50%-70% range.
The sanctions worked, and Iran finally came to the negotiating table. In 2013, Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment of uranium in exchange for some relief from the sanctions imposed in 2012. The US and our allies agreed to some relief incrementally over six months. Loosening up on sanctions just when Iran was beginning to feel the consequences of its actions was a monumental mistake. Since then, Iranian leaders have been emboldened by the economic relief they have experienced, and they have reverted to their defiant ways.
Then along came IS. The US and Iran have oddly enough found themselves on the same side of the war against IS terrorists.
Both nations are aiding the Iraqi government but in different ways. The US so far has fought the enemy from the air. In contrast, Iran has fought on the ground. Iran is well aware that it could be a valuable asset to the US in the long-term fight against IS, especially since the US administration has already publicly said no American boots will be on the ground. In a recent interview with CNN, the speaker of the Iranian parliament said: “Terrorists cannot be destroyed by bombing them. You cannot solve terrorism by occupation. And in order to fight them effectively, you have to choose another method. And you know that we have good experience in that, because we have actually fought against them.
The leaders in Iran are now publicly using this fact as leverage in US media outlets, as surely they must be doing behind closed doors. The question is: have they convinced this administration? Apparently they have. According to a troubling New York Times report, the administration plans to bypass Congress and sign a deal with Iran. The report cites a senior administration official who allegedly said, “We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years.” According to the report, the administration believes it has the authority to suspend sanctions without Congress’ approval. This is interesting timing, just days out from the midterm elections. President Obama knows that if the Republicans take control of the Senate, a deal with Iran that allows Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons would not pass either Chamber. This does not give him the authority to unilaterally make a backroom deal with the devil. Sanctions have worked; now is not the time to retreat. If anything we should increase them. Just this week, a top advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Obama is the weakest of US Presidents.”Now is the time for the leader of the free world to prove Iran wrong. The world, including our enemies, are watching. The US must be clear and unequivocal: there will be no reductions in sanctions without verified steps to show that Tehran is abandoning, not just freezing, its nuclear weapons program. Sanctions are what have brought Iran to the table to talk in the first place. But getting to the table is not good enough. Actions speak louder than words, and we have seen Iran’s tentacles spread to terrorist attacks across the world. We cannot trust this country’s leaders, and we should not take any steps to ease the sanctions without verifiable actions by the Iranian regime. Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons anyway. It’s our responsibility to the world to make their defiant march forward more difficult, if not impossible. Easing sanctions will leave us right back to where we started in 2002. Why? Because without these sanctions and without US leadership, no one will stop them. And that’s just the way it is.
**The author is a US Congressman.
Enemies, Allies, and Kurdistan
The case for a major new U.S. military base.
November 3, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 08
he Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com)
It is not clear at the time of writing if Turkey will or will not allow the United States to use the NATO air base at Incirlik for airstrikes against ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq. On October 13, national security adviser Susan Rice announced that Turkey had finally agreed to the use of the base, only to be contradicted the very next day by Turkey’s foreign minister. A subsequent press report claimed that the Turks were allowing their American allies to fly reconnaissance drones from Incirlik but no manned aircraft.
The brouhaha exemplifies a troubling downward trend in America’s ability to project power in the Middle East, a trend that goes beyond Turkey and its peculiar, complicated, sometimes hostile relationship with America. The ISIS crisis and the feebleness of the current air campaign don’t just provide evidence that only a foolish leader would preclude putting at least some “boots on the ground” in a military campaign. They also show that the countries that have long given us basing rights in the region may not be as cooperative or as trustworthy as our planners assume them to be, and that this is likely to get worse.
Given this unfortunate development, it is time for America’s planners to consider breaking with tradition and setting up new bases in countries that are likely to remain reliable allies—even if they are not yet recognized as independent states.
Iraqi Kurdistan is just such a place (another is the Somaliland Republic, just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen). It is not technically an independent state, as it has not seceded from the battered, unraveling republic of Iraq. But at this point that doesn’t really matter. Baghdad is hardly in a position to object to any deal between the United States and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Indeed, any hope that Iraq has of remaining a single state, federal or confederal, once ISIS has been defeated would depend on Baghdad and whoever controls it (likely a Shiite-dominated government), giving the KRG something very close to de facto independence.
Similarly, the only way Iraqi Kurdistan will feel really safe from invasion by Baghdad-controlled forces, an ISIS-Sunni alliance, a Turkey that has returned to its old anti-KRG ways, or Iran (Syria is unlikely to be a threat for a long time to come) is if there is a U.S. military presence in the country.
For both the Iraqi Kurds and the United States, then, a U.S. base in Kurd-istan—which already has airfields with long military-spec runways—would offer the United States tremendous strategic advantages.
These are all the more important in a region where U.S. influence has diminished, and in which the United States may well lose access to some of its biggest air, land, and naval bases in the medium or long term.
In the short term it obviously makes sense. There has been much talk about the need for the United States and its allies to stand up effective local forces in the war against ISIS. But the 5,000-strong Syrian rebel force that U.S. military leaders think they can stand up within a year or two is nowhere near adequate.
A proper alliance with Iraqi Kurdistan, one that includes the training and equipping of more effective Kurdish armed forces, offers perhaps the only hope of defeating ISIS without having to cooperate militarily with Iran (which would demand nuclear concessions and continue to undermine U.S. interests in Iraq) or Syria’s Assad regime (which has much American as well as Syrian and Iraqi blood on its hands).
Despite the Obama administration’s reflexive hostility to Kurdish aspirations and the official U.S. government preference for dealing only with Baghdad, the airports of Iraqi Kurdistan have reportedly become U.S. military installations as a matter of simple necessity. Some of the big air bases in Iraq proper like Balad and Taji are either too vulnerable to ISIS attack to be used by coalition aircraft or have already been captured. As for bases further south like the Rasheed base in Baghdad, the Iranian military is already using them to launch surveillance drones, and U.S. military officials are rightly nervous about the security implications of sharing an air base with, and being studied by, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
But quite apart from the immediate value of Iraqi Kurdistan in the ISIS campaign, it would make sense for the United States to form a closer military partnership with the KRG. Unlike several of the countries from which we fly our aircraft or base our ships, its leaders and people are pro-American, its ruling regime is not a monarchy ripe for Arab Spring-style overthrow, it’s not trying to replace the United States as a regional hegemon, it does not sponsor Islamist terrorism, and if we did ally with it, we would be guaranteeing its freedom and security in such a way as to bind it to us by the strongest cords of self-interest and gratitude.
Currently, American military efforts in the region are dependent on Qatar, which hosts CENTCOM’s forward HQ and the huge al-Udeid air base, Kuwait, home of the Ali-al-Salem airfield, the UAE, location of the Al-Dhafra air base, and Bahrain, which is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Qatar is said to sponsor Islamism and jihadist militancy around the world: Its financial beneficiaries have allegedly included Hamas, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Somalia’s al Shabab, the al Qaeda-allied Nusra Front in Syria, and finally the Afghan Taliban. Alleged Qatari support for ISIS has prompted the U.S. Treasury to single out the kingdom as an especially “permissive jurisdiction” for terrorist financing.
Kuwait, too, has sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood as well as more radical Islamist groupings around the world. It was revealed by WikiLeaks to have been a key transit point for al Qaeda financing.
Moreover, the Arab Spring showed that even the most stable-seeming authoritarian monarchies and dictatorships can be more vulnerable than they look. It should be clear to U.S. planners that it is risky to assume that the rulers of the Gulf States will continue in power or that they will continue to be on America’s side.
Certainly violence in Bahrain, where members of the Shiite majority protested against Sunni rulers and were brutally repressed with Saudi assistance, should have the Pentagon making plans for the day when the regime has been overthrown and neither CENTCOM nor the Navy can use the country as a base.
As for Turkey, now that it sees itself as potential top dog in a region from which America withdrew, it is unlikely ever to give us free rein at Incirlik, regardless of the destination or mission of U.S. aircraft. And even if the Erdogan government were inclined to be more cooperative in the matter of ISIS, the Turkish military has on several occasions shown itself willing to sacrifice the U.S. alliance on the altar of its anti-Kurdish obsession.
There is a strong argument that gaining a permanent U.S. base in Iraq, preferably in Kurdistan, always ought to have been a primary U.S. goal after the 2003 invasion, and not just because such a boon might have quieted those “realist” opponents of the Iraq mission who abhorred talk of fostering democratic government in the Middle East.
The United States has lost several key bases in recent years, the most significant one being the Kharshi Khanabad base in Uzbekistan (thanks to Russian pressure). At the very least, the existence of a major modern U.S.-equipped air base in Kurdistan would offer redundancy for whenever Turkey refuses permission for the use of Incirlik, or for the day when Turkey might cease being even a nominal ally.
A U.S. air base in Iraqi Kurdistan would give America the ability to influence events in the immediate region and also in the Caucasus. Just the reconnaissance capability would be transformative. After all, Sulaymaniyah is only 330 miles from Tehran and 500 miles from Damascus.
A U.S. base in Kurdistan could make all the difference to Washington’s military options when dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. The fact that airstrikes would be significantly less difficult—not to mention the potential for inserting special forces by air or land—might well have a salutary effect on Tehran and therefore make such an action less necessary and less likely.
Iraqi Kurdistan is one of the few places in the world where both the government and the population actively desire an American military presence. Indeed the KRG has been quietly lobbying for more than a decade for the United States to establish a base in its territory.
The Kurdistan Regional Government certainly has its flaws and would continue to have them even if the country asserted its independence and became a formal U.S. ally. Its key institutions are dominated by two rival clans, there are serious problems with corruption, and also periodic problems with press freedom. Still, the country is more democratic and much more religiously tolerant than most others in the region. A formal, quasi-permanent arrangement for a U.S. base in Kurd-istan could transform for the better America’s position in the region. It would also be a good thing for all the Kurds (not just those in Iraq), a good thing for Iraq, and arguably a good thing for a region that otherwise will be a proxy battleground for Iran and Turkey.
*Jonathan Foreman is the author of Aiding and Abetting: Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception.
Canada Welcomes Results of Historic Tunisian Elections
October 30, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today welcomed the results of Tunisia’s parliamentary elections, which were held October 26, 2014.
“Tunisia’s peaceful, credible and well-organized elections were a testimony to the dedicated work of Tunisians to build a democratic society and political system based on the values of peace, protection of human rights and the rule of law. It was a historic and exciting day for all Tunisians, as shown by the very high turnout, particularly among women.
“I would like to offer my best wishes to all the women and men of Tunisia’s new parliament. These parliamentarians will devote the next five years to strengthening and building upon the important achievements the country has made, notably the full implementation of Tunisia’s new constitution and a continued rejection of extremism.
“In the months and years to come, I encourage these lawmakers to continue to strengthen Tunisia’s democracy and to work toward building a bright, prosperous and peaceful future for all Tunisians.”
Canada Condemns ISIL’s Massacre of Sunni Opponents
October 30, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:
“I am deeply horrified by reports that mass graves have been uncovered in the Iraqi province of Anbar, allegedly containing the bodies of hundreds of members of the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe, which is opposed to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL].
“These acts are a clear reminder of ISIL’s total disregard for human life and that they will kill anyone who does not adhere to their brutal ideology and distorted version of Islam, be they Shia, Sunni or members of other religious communities.
“Canada condemns ISIL’s brutality and calls upon the diverse population of Iraq to face the terrorist threat as one and bring those responsible to justice.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims.”
ISIL, formerly known as Al Qaida in Iraq, has been listed as a terrorist group in Canada under the Criminal Code since August of 2012.
Normalization between Ankara and
Jerusalem? Guess Again.
By: Burak BekdilظThe Gatestone Institute
October 30, 2014
"The Jewish lobby has lost much of its mythical power. Our prime minister's rhetoric and actions have largely caused this. The way he [Erdogan] walked out of the Davos meeting [in 2009] has substantially tarnished Israel's regional charisma. Despite all that, Israel has been unable to harm Turkey." This quote was from former senior diplomat and member of parliament Volkan Bozkir, of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP], in an interview with the daily Hurriyet on March 18, 2013. In Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's mini-cabinet reshuffle last month, Bozkir became Turkey's European Union Minister and chief negotiator with the club for Turkish membership.
Since Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel four years ago, the Jewish state has tried, in vain, to normalize ties. Efforts have included a 2013 move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to phone then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident of 2010. Since the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla that aimed to break the "illegal siege" of Gaza, Turkey has repeatedly said that normalization would never come before: a) Israel apologized for Mavi Marmara, b) Israel compensated for the families of the nine Turks killed aboard the vessel, and c) Israel altogether removed the blockade on Gaza. News of a potential breakthrough has never been absent on newspaper pages in both countries.
Most recently, Verda Ozer, a columnist with Hurriyet, quoted a "top official in Ankara" telling her: "We are ready for normalization with Israel." She wrote in her column on Oct. 25:
My question was this: Is Turkey considering normalizing its relations with Israel and Egypt, which are the only countries offering stability in the region other than Iran? The official continued: "There is only the compensation issue remaining. After this is solved, we could send back our ambassador and relations would be normalized."
Is normalization possible? Theoretically, it is. In reality, it is a near impossibility.
Since Netanyahu's apology, Turkey, both governmentally and publicly, has reached peak after peak in exhibiting anti-Semitism unseen before. A year-and-a-half after Netanyahu's initiative to apologize for the Mavi Marmara, Erdogan ordered the Turkish Ambassador to Washington, DC, Serdar Kilic, to write on his behalf to the American Jewish Congress to express his willingness to return a 2004 "Profile of Courage Award" the New York-based organization had awarded him. Shortly before that, the organization had said that Erdogan had become the world's "most virulent anti-Israeli leader" and demanded that he return the award. During Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, Erdogan commented that "Israel had surpassed Hitler in barbarism."
Erdogan (and Davutoglu, for that matter) has both pragmatic and emotional reasons to challenge Israel publicly, and to maintain Turkey's "cold war" with Israel.
Erdogan (and Davutoglu, for that matter) has both pragmatic and emotional reasons to challenge Israel publicly, and to maintain Turkey's "cold war" with Israel. Emotional, because a holy struggle against Israel is a prerequisite for his pro-Hamas Islamism. And pragmatic, because the cold war and his explosive rhetoric around it have yielded a treasure-trove of votes in a country that champions anti-Semitism. The critical parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015 will most likely be another setting for his new verbal assaults on Israel.
In a speech last week, Erdogan defended Turkey's press freedom record by claiming that 16 journalists were killed during Israel's military offensive against Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, this summer.
"Unfortunately, some politicians in Turkey and some international media outlets are harshly criticizing Turkey, saying there is no press freedom in the country," he said. "But the 16 journalists who were killed by Israel during the Gaza attacks have never been brought up." That was Erdogan's account of press freedoms in Turkey and Israel. As always, reality is different from fabrication.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ], 16 journalists have been killed in Israel since 1992, but NOT during Operation Protective Edge. And the CPJ's database puts the number of journalists killed in Turkey since 1992 at 20!
On Freedom House's press freedoms index, Turkey belongs to the "not free" group of countries, ranking 134th globally, and sharing the same score as South Sudan, Libya, Ecuador and Armenia. Israel belongs to the "free" group of countries, ranking 62nd and scoring better than EU member states Italy (64), Hungary (71), Bulgaria (78) and Greece (92).
On the 2014 press freedoms index of the Reporters Without Borders, Turkey ranks an embarrassing 154th, a score worse than Iraq, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Burundi, Jordan, Chad, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Angola, Mali, South Sudan, Uganda and Kyrgyzstan. On the same index, Israel ranks 96th.
Once again, Erdogan corrupted facts and figures in order to bash Israel -- while his diplomats are speaking of "Turkey's readiness to normalize its ties with Israel." In reality, with or without the normalization of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, the Turks have never hidden their broader goals in the Arab-Israeli dispute: that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state; and that Israel should be pushed back to its pre-1967 borders. Until then, it will be 'halal' [permitted in Islam] for Erdogan to blame Israel for global warming, the Ebola virus, starvation in Africa and every other misfortune the world faces.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Time for Canada to Take on the
By: Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun
October 28, 2014
[Originally published under the title "Time to Take on Jihadist Agenda"]
Damian Clairmont, a Calgary-based convert to Islam, was radicalized for two years before departing Canada to fight and die for ISIS in Syria. His mother has denounced the government's "cavalier attitude" toward Islamist indoctrination of Canadian youth.
At times, my fellow Canadians alarm me.
When three anonymous women allegedly have kinky sex with radio celebrity Jian Ghomeshi and are allegedly physically and/or verbally assaulted by him, the country goes into a tizzy.
However, when three anonymous Toronto girls are recruited by Islamic State to marry ISIS fighters overseas who are warring against Canada, and are subsequently rescued by our security agencies and released back into the community, Canada yawns.
While Canadians were distracted by the Ghomeshi affair, the Senate Security Committee heard from RCMP and CSIS officials about the threats we face at the hands of homegrown jihadists.
One exchange between Sen. Daniel Lang and CSIS Assistant Director Michael Peirce ended with the security official making a startling admission — CSIS does not investigate mosques!
SEN. LANG: "Is there teachings going on in this country, in Canada, that are espousing that particular viewpoint [of Islam], which is then transferring itself into radicalization?"
MICHAEL PEIRCE: "The short answer to the question is yes. There are individuals who are espousing a radical extremist view of Islam, and they are doing so specifically to radicalize individuals … I'm not talking about specific institutions. I'm talking about individuals. And I should be very clear about that. When we investigate, we investigate individuals and their activities … So for instance, we don't investigate mosques." (My italics)
How could CSIS give a pass to some of the very institutions where Muslim youth are introduced to the doctrine of Islam's supremacy over other religions?
To sample this type of rhetoric let me share the words of a Canadian imam who is regularly consulted by Canada's security agencies.
In one sermon, he had this to say about non-Muslims:
"O Allah, protect us from the 'fitna' (mischief) of these people. O Allah, protect us from the evil of these people. O Allah, destroy them from within themselves, Ya Allah, and do not allow them to raise their heads against Islam."
In another mosque sermon:
"We have to establish Islam (in Canada). I want to see Islam in every single corner of the city. I would like to see Hijabis, Niqabis (face-masked women) everywhere in the city. I want to see brothers (Muslim men) in beards and kufis (skull caps) everywhere."
Another Islamic organization in Toronto runs a school as well as a mosque.
On an Urdu-language TV channel, its cleric and its administrator defended the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate, saying, "Having a Caliphate is an integral part of the Islamic faith. Every believing Muslim prays for a true Caliph."
The dissension being planted in the minds of young Muslim children is widespread and not new.
It's time for CSIS and the RCMP to recognize that outreach and appeasement programs have failed.
A Toronto high school teacher, Brian Sambourne, recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail, revealing that on the day the New York twin towers fell on 9/11, some of his Muslim students celebrated the event.
Sambourne, who noted these students had "deep grievances" about constant wars in the Mideast, told me that over the last decade, these anti-West feelings have gotten worse.
On the day Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, he said, Muslim students disrupted his class and were visibly angry with the U.S. mission.
It's time for CSIS and the RCMP to recognize that outreach and appeasement programs have failed.
It's time to take off our kid gloves and land a knockout punch on the jihadist agenda in Canada.
**Tarek S. Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.