September 01/14


Bible Quotation for today/Last Instructions
02 Timothy 03/10-17: " But you have followed my teaching, my conduct, and my purpose in life; you have observed my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance,  my persecutions, and my sufferings. You know all that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, the terrible persecutions I endured! But the Lord rescued me from them all.  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted; and evil persons and impostors will keep on going from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. But as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe. You know who your teachers were, and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living,  so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed


Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 31/ 01 September/14

Patriach Al Raei/Home work/By: Michael Young/Now Lebanon/September 01/14

Obama and the consequences of ‘no strategy’/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/September 01/14

What's the difference between ISIS and Asaib Ahl al-Haq/Raed Omari /Al Arabiya/September 01/14

Egypt has regained its regional leadership and the Palestinian cause/Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya/September 01/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 31/ 01 September14

Israel Says Shot Down Drone from Syria over Occupied Golan

Netanyahu Says Israel Agreed Gaza Truce to Focus on Jihadist Threat, Hizbullah

Hezbollah: ISIS wants Lebanon

Nusra warns Lebanon's Christians against following Aoun

Islamists Free 5 Security Captives, Deny Imminent Release of Christian Abductees
Rifi Calls for Investigation in Burning of Crosses in Tripoli as 2 Churches Defaced with IS Warnings
Nusra Front Threatens to 'Kill its Shiite Captives' Should Hizbullah Intervene in Qalamun Battle

Bassil: If I Were a Compromise Presidential Candidate, then so is Aoun
IS Demands Release of Roumieh Inmates, Threaten to Execute Captive Soldiers
Qahwaji: Army Prepared to Battle Any Extremist Attack

Freed Soldier Says Ali al-Sayyed 'Not Beheaded, Still Alive'

Suspicious Car Seized in Akkar after Entering from Syria

Saniora: We Extend our Hand to Hold Dialogue to Agree on President

Kidnappers Demand 1 Million Dollars to Release Kuwaiti National

Lebanon busts 14 printing passports for terror groups
Syrian jets bomb border region with Lebanon


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 31/ 01 September14

Report: Gaza cease-fire talks to resume in Cairo mid-week

Movement across Gaza crossings remain slow: official

Talks on new Iraqi government collapse

Iraqi Forces Break Jihadist Siege of Amerli as West Airdrops Food Aid

US planes strike militants near Iraq’s Amerli, airdrop aid

32 Filipino Peacekeepers Evacuated in Golan, Other under Attack

Philippine U.N. Peacekeepers Safe after 'Greatest Escape'

Syria Slams France for Not Cooperating over Jihadists

Impatience Grows in Turkey over Syrian 'Guests'

GCC ministerial meeting concludes with Qatar dispute unresolved

GCC adjourns settlement of Qatar dispute

Bahrain Upholds 10 Year Jail Term for Journalist

Saudi court jails preacher for 'glorifying' takfirist organizations

Putin Calls for Talks on 'Statehood' for Eastern Ukraine


Netanyahu Says Israel Agreed Gaza Truce to Focus on Jihadist Threat, Hizbullah
Naharnet/Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel agreed to a permanent truce in its 50-day Gaza war with Hamas in order to keep focused on the threat from regional militants. "We fought for 50 days and we could have fought for 500 days, but we are in a situation where the Islamic State is at the gates of Jordan, al-Qaida is in the Golan and Hizbullah is at the border with Lebanon," Netanyahu said in an address on public television. He was referring to Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq -- both neighbors of Jordan -- al-Qaida-linked Al-Nusra Front Syria rebels on the Israeli-annexed Golan and Lebanon's Hizbullah. "We decided not to get bogged down in Gaza, and we could have, but we decided to limit our objective and restore calm to Israeli citizens," Netanyahu added. His remarks come as the United States, Israel's chief ally, is calling for a global coalition to fight the jihadists who have set up an Islamic "caliphate" in areas they have overrun in Syria and Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to discuss the plan, which he said would involve military, diplomatic and regional efforts. Calm returned to the Gaza Strip after a Tuesday ceasefire, a permanent truce ahead of further expected negotiations between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza on a long-term peace deal. Agence France Presse

Islamists Free 5 Security Captives, Deny Imminent Release of Christian Abductees
Naharnet /Four of the soldiers and a security forces member kidnapped by Islamist militant earlier in August were released late on Saturday, announced a leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. The security personnel were transported to the residence of Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri in the northeastern border town of Arsal. They have been identified as Ahmed Ghiyeh, Ibrahim Shaaban, Saleh al-Baradei, Mohammed al-Qaderi, and Wael Darwish. The Turkish Anatolia news agency said that the militants only released Sunni captives. The Nusra Front leader denied that the Islamists will be releasing any of the Christian captives. The Front now still has in its captivity 13 security personnel, ten are held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while four others are missing, reported Voice of Lebanon (93.3) radio on Sunday. The soldiers and security forces members were kidnapped after clashes between the army and Islamists in Arsal in early August. The clashes erupted on August 2 in light of the arrest of a prominent al-Nusra Front member. The fighting ended on August 7 with the militants withdrawing from the region, but kidnapping a number of soldiers and security forces members. A few of them have since been released. Media reports have said that the militants are seeking the release of Islamists held in Roumieh Prison in exchange for the captives. The captors later aired a video of captive soldier Ali al-Hajj Hassan, who demanded that his parents pressure the state to release Roumieh inmates.

Qahwaji: Army Prepared to Battle Any Extremist Attack
Naharnet /Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stressed the army's readiness to wage any battle with extremists given media reports that thousands of militants are lying just outside of Lebanon's borders, reported al-Mustaqbal daily on Sunday. He declared to the daily: “There are several rumors, but should the militants attack us, then we are ready for them.”“The situation on the ground however is very normal,” he noted. Asked to comment on the pictures of the beheading of Lebanese soldier Ali al-Sayyed, Qahwaji said: “We have seen the images as have the people.” He did not confirm whether the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were behind the incident. “We should keep all options open,” said the army chief. ISIL had reportedly claimed responsibility for the beheading. The group and al-Nusra Front later denied being responsible for it, reported Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). Conflicting reports emerged on Saturday over the validity of images showing Sayyed being beheaded by an alleged Islamic State militant calling himself Abu Musaab Hafid al-Baghdadi. Security sources questioned, in comments published in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Saturday, the validity of the pictures, estimating that the beheaded man is not soldier Ali al-Sayyed. On Thursday, al-Baghdadi posted pictures on his Twitter account that show him cutting off the head of a blindfolded man with a medium beard. He identified the supposed victim as “Ali al-Sayyed, an apostate soldier belonging to the army of the cross (Lebanese army).” The militant said the purported execution is in response to “the attempts of the party of Satan (Hizbullah) to torpedo the negotiations” over the captive Lebanese soldiers and policemen who were abducted after jihadists overran the Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2.

IS Demands Release of Roumieh Inmates, Threaten to Execute Captive Soldiers
Naharnet /The Islamic State aired a video on Saturday of a captive soldier pleading to his family to pressure the state to release Islamist inmates in Roumieh Prison. Ali al-Hajj Hassan pleaded for his family to take action “otherwise the gunmen will execute the captives.” They were given three days to comply with the demand. “We can no longer support the situation … Please liberate us before they kill us,” al-Hajj Hassan said in the video. Al-Hajj Hassan had not appeared in previously released videos of the captives because he was not present at the shooting location. The families of the remaining captives staged demonstrations on Sunday, blocking the main highway in the Bekaa's Labweh region to protest their ongoing kidnapping. A number of soldiers and security forces members were kidnapped after clashes between the army and Islamists in the northeastern town of Arsal in early August. The clashes erupted on August 2 in light of the arrest of a prominent al-Nusra Front member. The fighting ended on August 7 with the militants withdrawing from the region, but kidnapping a number of soldiers and security forces members. A few of them have since been released, including five on Saturday.

Hezbollah: ISIS wants Lebanon
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The threat of ISIS to Lebanon cannot be underestimated, a Hezbollah official warned Sunday, stressing that occupying the country was part of the group’s expansionist plan. “The terrorist threat on Lebanon is actual, real and continuous,” said Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council. “And whoever doubts or underestimates [this threat] is either ignorant or negligent, and he harms the high national interest of Lebanon.”
Speaking at a ceremony at the southern village Shaqra to honor a Hezbollah martyr killed last Sunday, Kaouk accused “whoever denies Hezbollah’s role in protecting” Lebanon of being “oblivious to the truth.”“ISIS’s decision has been announced. Their pretended slogan is to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, which includes Lebanon,” he said. According to Kaouk, the fundamentalist group that has claimed authority over large parts of Syria and Iraq also has Lebanon in its sights, but might have been more focused on Syria and Iraq for strategic purposes.  “It is just a matter of priorities,” he said. He said that while the tripartite o the “Army, people and resistance” was the right equation to protect Lebanon, the Army should be politically empowered to act, “before being given the tools and equipment.” Stressing that Lebanon needed a unified defense strategy, Kaouk argued that “hesitation, procrastination, underestimation and aggressive and instigating speech give a free service to the takfiri plan.” Hezbollah’s MP Nawwaf Al-Moussawi echoed Kaouk, stressing that Lebanon needed “agreements that should lead to creating one united Lebanese front against the takfiri threat that wishes to impose darkness on Lebanon and the region.”“If there is an increasing global interest in forming an international-regional alliance to confront takfiri groups,” he said, “those eager to [safeguard] Lebanon should be even more progressive by forming this front, through which Lebanon’s diversity could be protected.”Moussawi stressed that Lebanon was not able to accept takfiri ideologies, because the country was built on diversity, “which requires the necessity to acknowledge the other.”He, too, highlighted the need for a strong political cover to the Army. “The support that the Army is supposed to receive is not there yet,” he said. “There are still some unannounced restraints that hinder the Army’s fulfillment of its national duty of defending Lebanon against takfiri groups.”

Nusra warns Lebanon's Christians against following Aoun
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Nusra Front warned Lebanon's Christians Sunday that the Free Patriotic Movement leader, MP Michel Aoun, was leading the sect into war with Sunnis with the aim of becoming president. “He seeks to drag you into war with the Sunni people,” the Al-Qaeda affiliate said, referring to Aoun. “This is why we are calling on the wise men among you to put out the flame of a war, to which the Free Patriotic Movement and its leader want to drive you.”Published on the Twitter account of Nusra’s Qalamoun branch, the statement said Aoun’s only aspiration was to reach presidency, “even if for one hour only.” “He will involve you in a war that you reject, in an attempt to achieve his objectives and satisfy his instincts by arriving to the presidential chair,” the group said, “even if at the expense of your people’s blood.”The group said that Hezbollah, an Aoun ally, had succeeded in “dividing Christian lines” and leading some of them to the battlefield. The statement said Aoun’s support of Hezbollah was blocking the release of the Christians among the Lebanese security troops that Nusra abducted during the clashes in Arsal with the Lebanese Army earlier this month. “He has deprived through his latest acts some of your people from leaving abduction and returning to you, by doing what his master, the real ruler in Lebanon, Iran’s party leader, has told him to do,” the statement said. The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that a Nusra leader had said the Christian troops would be released but later went back on his words and said: “We will not release the Christian soldiers unless their people disown Hezbollah and apologize for burning the unification flag in Ashrafieh.” On Saturday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi released a statement that said: “This morning, some people burned the flag of ISIS in Sassine Square and their symbol reads: ‘No God but Allah and Mohammad the prophet of Allah,’ which is the cornerstone of Islam.”Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi slammed the burning of the flags, saying “this symbol has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach.” Rifi asked the state prosecutor Samir Hammoud to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators given that burning the flag desecrated religious symbols and could, he argued, incite sectarian strife. In response, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, a member of the FPM, announced that he would represent the young men in court if the prosecutor took action


Nusra Front Threatens to 'Kill its Shiite Captives' Should Hizbullah Intervene in Qalamun Battle
Naharnet /The al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front threatened on Sunday to “kill the Shiite Lebanese soldiers” it had kidnapped earlier in August should Hizbullah intervene in battles in Syria's al-Qalamun region, while also issuing a warning to the Free Patriotic Movement, reported the Turkish Anatolia news agency. The group said in a statement that it will wage the battle to “liberate” al-Qalamun in a few days, adding: “Hizbullah's participation against us will force us to kill our Shiite prisoners.”Hizbullah has been taking part in the fighting in Syria for over year now. The Shiite group has been waging battles alongside the country's ruling regime. The Syrian regime forces, backed by Hizbullah, seized control of al-Qalamun in April. Commenting on the release of five Sunni security personnel on Saturday, the al-Nusra Front said: “We released them as a goodwill gesture because we are of the same fold.”The al-Nusra Front had kidnapped a number of Lebanese soldiers and security forces from the northeastern border town of Arsal in light of clashes between Islamists and the army in the region. The battles began on August 2 and ended five days later. The gunmen withdrew from the town, but abducted the security personnel. Five of them were released on Saturday. Moreover, the al-Nusra Front also addressed Christians in Lebanon, warning that Hizbullah has “dragged them in wars that have nothing to do with them.”“We turn to reasonable Christians to extinguish the flame of war that the Free Patriotic Movement has ignited,” it said. “The FPM's recent actions has thwarted the release of your Christians sons,” it said in reference to Christian security personnel among its Lebanese captives. “You must maintain neutrality between us and the Iranian party,” it added in reference to Hizbullah, which is backed by Iran and allied with the FPM.

Syrian jets bomb border region with Lebanon
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Syrian warplanes were seen hovering above the border region before striking militant hideouts along the eastern frontier with Lebanon, the National News Agency said. There were no reports of casualties or material damage. Earlier this week, the Syrian regime fired missiles on Arsal's outskirts, hours after the Lebanese Army briefly clashed with gunmen from Syria who have infiltrated the porous border.

Freed Soldier Says Ali al-Sayyed 'Not Beheaded, Still Alive'
Naharnet/One of the soldiers freed by Islamists on Saturday revealed that soldier Ali a-Sayyed, who was allegedly beheaded by the extremists, is in fact alive, various media outlets reported on Sunday. Ibrahim Shaaban sad that he was informed by al-Nusra Front that Sayyed “was not beheaded, but he is still alive.” He made the revelation upon his return to his family in the northern region of Akkar. Meanwhile, another freed soldier said Ahmed Ghiyeh said that all the captives are “alive and well.” Four soldiers and a security forces member were released by Islamists on Saturday after being kidnapped earlier in August in the northeastern border town of Arsal following clashes between the army and extremists in the area.
Conflicting reports emerged on Saturday over the validity of images showing Sayyed being beheaded by an alleged Islamic State militant calling himself Abu Musaab Hafid al-Baghdadi. Security sources questioned, in comments published in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Saturday, the validity of the pictures, estimating that the beheaded man is not soldier Ali al-Sayyed. On Thursday, al-Baghdadi posted pictures on his Twitter account that show him cutting off the head of a blindfolded man with a medium beard. He identified the supposed victim as “Ali al-Sayyed, an apostate soldier belonging to the army of the cross (Lebanese army).”The militant said the purported execution is in response to “the attempts of the party of Satan (Hizbullah) to torpedo the negotiations” over the captive Lebanese soldiers and policemen who were abducted after jihadists overran the Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2.


Rifi Calls for Investigation in Burning of Crosses in Tripoli as 2 Churches Defaced with IS Warnings
Naharnet /Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi called on Sunday for an investigation to be carried out into the burning of crosses in the northern city of Tripoli. The crosses were allegedly burned on Saturday in retaliation to the burning of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant flag in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district also on Saturday. Supporters of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front burned the crosses on the al-Tabbaneh highway, said Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). “The investigation will be carried out to safeguard the sanctity of religious, both Muslim and Christian, symbols and practices,” said Rifi in a statement. “These practices should not be violated in any way, shape, or form or under any excuse because the cross is the most important symbol in Christianity,” he added. “The violation of the cross will have negative and dangerous legal and national repercussions on national unity and coexistence,” he continued. He urged General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud to task the concerned judicial authorities to uncover the perpetrators in order to “lay down the harshest punishment against them.” On Saturday, several people were seen burning ISIL flags at Ashrafiyeh's Sassine Square. Rifi vowed on Saturday to legally pursue those who took part in the incident. He explained that the flag has the first pillar of Islam (Ashahada) written on it, which is the testimony that there is no God except for Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah. He slammed the burning of the flag, which “is not related to ISIL and its terrorist course.” “This demeanor insults religions and could incite sedition,” he noted. On Saturday, Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who is also a lawyer, decided to defend the youth who burnt down the ISIL flag. Later on Sunday, the National News Agency reported that unknown assailants defaced two Tripoli churches with phrases saying that the “the Islamic State is coming” Soldiers soon arrived at the area, worked on removing the phrases, and kicked off an investigation in the incident.

Saniora: We Extend our Hand to Hold Dialogue to Agree on President
Naharnet /Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora stressed on Sunday that the election of a president should be a priority at this present time in Lebanon. He stated: “Our hand is extended to hold dialogue in order to reach an agreement over a new president.” He made his remarks during a meeting of Our Lady of the Mountain Gathering. “The new president should represent national unity, respect the constitution and Baabda Declaration, and unite the people,” added the former premier. Moreover, Saniora rejected the spread of Islamist extremism in the region, emphasizing the need to protect Lebanon from it. “We should concentrate on how to protect our country,” he declared. “We would not have reached this stage in Lebanon had the Syrian regime not practiced terrorism and had Lebanese parties not intervened in the Syrian conflict,” he noted before the gatherers. “I am a Lebanese Arabist Muslim and I share no traits with those who claim to adhere to Islam and commit crimes in its name,” he stressed. Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. The March 14 alliance has voiced its backing of candidate Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat proposed the nomination of candidate Henri Helou, while the March 8 camp has yet to announce its candidate. Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun, who has not declared his nomination, has repeatedly said that he would run in the elections is there was agreement over him. Several elections sessions have been held, but they were not staged due to a lack of quorum at parliament over a boycott by the Hizbullah and Change and Reform blocks over the disagreement over a consensual president. Geagea accused the March 8 camp of adopting the boycott to blackmail political powers into electing Aoun president.

Bassil: If I Were a Compromise Presidential Candidate, then so is Aoun
Naharnet /Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed that he belongs to the Free Patriotic Movement of MP Michel Aoun, meaning that should he be considered to be a compromise presidential candidate, then so should the lawmaker, reported the Kuwaiti al-Anba newspaper on Sunday. He told the daily: “What is applied to me should also be applied to him.” He also did not confirm or deny whether he will run as a consensual presidential candidate. Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. The March 14 alliance has voiced its backing of candidate Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat proposed the nomination of candidate Henri Helou, while the March 8 camp has yet to announce its candidate.
Aoun, who has not declared his nomination, has repeatedly said that he would run in the elections is there was agreement over him. Several elections sessions have been held, but they were not staged due to a lack of quorum at parliament over a boycott by the Hizbullah and Change and Reform blocks over the disagreement over a consensual president. Geagea accused the March 8 camp of adopting the boycott to blackmail political powers into electing Aoun president. Commenting on the state of the Lebanese-Syrian borders and flow of gunmen to and from either side, Bassil said: “The borders are not under control.”“The borders are being violated by land, air, and sea by Israel in the South, while the activity of gunmen on the Syrian side has resulted almost in the occupation of a Lebanese town,” he said in reference to the recent clashes between the army and Islamist militants in the northeastern border town of Arsal. The borders need to be controlled by legitimate Lebanese and Syrian forces in order to ensure the security of both countries' independence, explained the foreign minister.

Israel Says Shot Down Drone from Syria over Occupied Golan
Naharnet /Israel downed a drone over the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, the army said, amid mounting tension on the U.N.-patrolled armistice line with Syria on the strategic plateau. Air defenses "successfully intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that breached Israel airspace above the border with Syria," an Israeli army statement said. Heavy fighting between Syrian government troops and opposition forces flowed into the buffer zone separating Syrian and Israeli-occupied territory at the weekend.
Dozens of Filipino U.N. peacekeepers escaped the hot zone overnight after rebels rammed their Golan Heights outpost with armed trucks, the Philippine military said. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War of 1967, then annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community. The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force has been monitoring the ceasefire since 1974. Agence France Presse


Lebanon busts 14 printing passports for terror groups
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A 14 strong-ring, who aided the movement of terrorists by printing fake passports with forged Lebanese and Arab government seals, has been arrested by the Lebanese authorities.A security source told The Daily Star that State Security members in Zahle, east Lebanon, arrested the ring - comprised of six Syrians and eight Lebanese - for printing fake passports and forging entry permits to several Arab countries. Some of the suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Lebanon earlier this year and late last year carried fake ID cards, and the vehicles used in the bombings were registered and legal. The original owners of some of the vehicles had sold their cars to buyers who would then sell them, either deliberately or unbeknown to them, to people affiliated with terrorist groups.
During a raid on the ring’s location, security forces confiscated seals of official offices in Lebanon and Arab countries, including seals for officials and airport officers in Libya, UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Aside from printing U.S. dollars and Euros, the gang confessed that the passports were intended for “members of terrorist organizations that are moving between Arab countries.” Investigation revealed that the gang worked with a printing shop in the Bekaa Valley to forge other seals. The source refused to identify the shop’s exact location. The security agency raided the shop and confiscated some 150 seals for Lebanese government offices including; the vehicle registry center; General Security; the finance and labor ministries; Customs Department; engineering and farmers’ unions; public notaries; religious courts; real estate inspectors; and Lebanese banks. Some of the fake seals represented Syrian government officers, border crossings and Syrian army directorates. They also confiscated a number of fake driving licenses and Lebanese and Syrian ID cards, the source said. The gang would sell such seals for “hundreds of dollars,” taking advantage of the inability of some Syrian government directorates to issue ID cards or personal documents.


Iraqi Forces Break Jihadist Siege of Amerli as West Airdrops Food Aid
Naharnet/Iraqi forces broke through to the jihadist-besieged Shiite town of Amerli Sunday, where thousands of people have been trapped for more than two months with dwindling food and water supplies. It is the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since militants led by the Sunni Islamic State (IS) jihadist group overran large areas of five provinces in June, sweeping security forces aside. The breakthrough came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against militants began more than three weeks ago, and aircraft from several countries dropped humanitarian aid to Amerli. The mainly Shiite Turkmen residents of the town in Salaheddin province were running desperately short of food and water, and were in danger both because of their Shiite faith, which jihadists consider heresy, and their resistance to the militants, which has drawn harsh retribution elsewhere. "Our forces entered Amerli and broke the siege," Iraqi security spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told Agence France-Presse, an account confirmed by a local official and a fighter from the town.
"It is a very important success," Atta later said on state television, adding that there was still fighting in the area. The operation was launched on Saturday after days of preparations in which Iraqi security forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters deployed for the assault and Iraqi aircraft carried out strikes against militants. But the government's reliance on the thousands of Shiite militiamen involved in the operation poses serious dangers for Iraq, risking entrenching groups with a history of brutal sectarian killings. The United States announced that it carried out three air strikes in the Amerli area, expanding its air campaign outside the far north for the first time, while Australian, British, French and U.S. aircraft dropped relief supplies for the town.
"At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. "The United States Air Force delivered this aid alongside aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom, who also dropped much needed supplies."
The aid drops came alongside "coordinated air strikes against nearby (IS) terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation," he added. "The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amerli," Kirby said. U.S. Central Command said the U.S. supplies dropped included around 47,775 liters (10,500 gallons) of drinking water and 7,000 pre-packaged meals. Three U.S. air strikes destroyed five IS vehicles and a checkpoint. Western aid for Amerli was slow in coming, however, with the burden of flying supplies and launching strikes in the area largely falling to Iraq's fledgling air forces.
"The U.S. military will continue to assess the effectiveness of these operations and work with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as international partners including the government of Iraq, the United Nations, and non-government organizations to provide humanitarian assistance in Iraq as needed," Kirby said. The U.S. military also launched air strikes Saturday on IS forces near Iraq's largest dam, north of the militant-held northern city of Mosul, the Pentagon said.
Kurdish forces retook the dam after briefly losing it to the jihadists earlier this month, securing the source of much of the power and irrigation water for the region around Iraq's second city. The jihadist Islamic State and its allies control swathes of both northern and western Iraq and neighboring northeastern Syria where their rule has witnessed a spate of atrocities that have shocked the world. Washington has said that operations in Syria will be needed to defeat IS, but has thus far ruled out any cooperation with the Damascus regime against the jihadists. It has, however, attempted to enlist the support of long-time foe Tehran, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Writing in the New York Times, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged "a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations" to combat IS.Kerry said he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would confer with European counterparts on the sidelines of an upcoming NATO summit and then travel to the Middle East to build support "among the countries that are most directly threatened". U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged that Washington has no strategy yet to tackle IS, which has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in the territory under its control in Iraq and Syria. Agence France Presse.


Putin Calls for Talks on 'Statehood' for Eastern Ukraine
Naharnet /Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday sharply raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for the first time for statehood to be considered for the restive east of the former Soviet state. Putin's defiant remarks came just hours after the European Union gave Moscow -- which the bloc accuses of direct involvement in the insurgency -- a week to change course or face new sanctions. "We need to immediately begin substantive talks... on questions of the political organization of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine," the Russian leader was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. Moscow has previously only called for greater rights under a decentralized federal system to be accorded to the eastern regions of Ukraine, where predominantly Russian-speakers live.
But Putin has this week sparked renewed speculation that he may be seeking to create a statelet in south-east Ukraine, after he employed a loaded Tsarist-era name "Novorossiya" to refer to the region. Putin's tough talk also comes as rebels turned the tide on advancing Ukrainian troops, by snatching a series of towns and trapping the army in some. Kiev has warned that it was on the brink of "full-scale war" with Moscow that Europe fears would put all of the continent at risk of conflict. The European Union agreed to take "further significant steps" if Moscow did not rein in its support for the rebels, with new sanctions to be drawn up within a week.
Kiev said the invigorated rebel push of the past days has included substantial numbers of Russian regular army contingents who are now concentrating forces in big towns across the region. "Terrorists and Russian soldiers continue to concentrate personnel and equipment in regional centers," said security spokesman Andriy Lysenko. A ragtag mix of volunteer battalions and local residents were meanwhile bracing for a desperate defense of Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Azov Sea coast.  "We can hold them off, but for how long? We don't have the strength to beat them," said Panther, a tattooed fighter with the Azov battalion, said to be one of the most radical nationalist groups fighting in the area. NATO last week accused Moscow of sending at least 1,000 troops to fight alongside the rebels, and presented satellite imagery showing artillery, tanks and armored vehicles crossing the border. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the new sanctions would build on existing measures against Russia which mainly cover financial services, armaments and energy.
Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose Baltic nation is wary of the resurgent power on its eastern border, warned that "Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe" and urged EU military assistance to Kiev. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urged in Brussels to take tougher steps against Russia's "military aggression and terror" and warned that a "full-scale war" with Moscow is closer than ever. "Today we are talking about the fate of Ukraine, tomorrow it could be for all Europe."
Poroshenko said he expected the West to ramp up its arms supplies to Ukraine after discussions at a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday. Although Russia continues to deny direct involvement in the conflict, there have been media reports of secret military funerals for those sent to fight in Ukraine. Moscow admitted that Russian paratroopers had been captured in Ukraine, but alleged they crossed the border by accident. On Sunday Russian and Ukrainian officials confirmed that a prisoner swap had taken place on the northeastern border with Ukraine. "Nine Russian paratroopers were given to the Russian side" on Saturday evening, Lysenko said. A few hours later, 63 Ukrainian soldiers were handed over by Russia. Rebels have pushed a lightning offensive around Ukraine's Azov Sea in the past week, prompting speculation of a possible attempt by Moscow to establish a corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula it annexed in March. The rebels have advanced swiftly along the coast, capturing the town of Novoazovsk last Wednesday, just one day after Poroshenko met with Putin for talks that failed to achieve any breakthrough. Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told Russian media on Saturday that the insurgents were "preparing a second large-scale offensive." At Mariupol, volunteers manning the barricades fear their trenches and barbed wire will be little match for the insurgents' tanks, but recognize the importance of their task. "It is the last big town in the region under Ukrainian control, home to half a million people," commander of Ukraine's Azov battalion, Andriy Biletskiy told Agence France-Presse.


Maronite Patriarch Al Raei/Home work
Michael Young/Now Lebanon
31 August/14
For Maronites, salvation begins in Lebanon
The patriarchs and bishops of the Eastern churches met on Wednesday in the presence of several foreign ambassadors to sound the alarm on the Christian presence in the Middle East. In reference to the offensive by the Islamic State, the clerics condemned “the silence in the face of what is happening, in the absence of a unified regional plan on the part of [those with] influence in the world –notably Islamic, spiritual and political authorities – as well as the lukewarm international attitude toward these events.”Their anxiety is understandable. Christians face an existential threat. Even in the best of scenarios it’s difficult to imagine that the communities in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon will go back to where they were demographically even a decade ago.But one community stands out in the desolate field of dwindling Arab Christian minorities: the Maronites. Of all the region’s Christians, they alone have a senior post reserved for them, namely the presidency of Lebanon. Better still, they have a patriarch whose vanity and pomposity have frequently pushed him to speak in the name of all Eastern Christians. But before picking up the sword on behalf of his Arab brethren, Patriarch Beshara al-Rai should clean nearer to his front door. There is perhaps little he can do to prevent the jihadist threat in the region, but the Maronites are facing a host of lesser challenges, some of which Rai can help resolve in such a way as to create a climate benefiting the whole community. To get a sense of Rai’s priorities, however, recently many Lebanese learned that the patriarch had asked a leading engineering firm to prepare a preliminary project for the construction of hotels and cable cars in the Qadisha Valley. The valley, which has historical importance for Maronites, is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. There is uncertainty whether the project will go forward. No one is happy with the plan and the church probably wants to avoid an unseemly confrontation over a place regarded internationally as worthy of preservation. But Rai is mulish. Whenever he has made mistakes he has bull-headedly pressed on in his errors. Yet it is a mistake for Rai to vulgarize the collective Maronite memory. If there is one thing Maronites must preserve today, it’s a focal point for communal identity, and the valley has served such a function. To see it transformed into an ecclesiastical version of Club Med would be an insult. Even those who do not read scripture know the story of Jesus attacking the money changers in the temple, accusing them of turning a house of prayer into a robbers’ den. The Qadisha Valley may not quite be a house of prayer, but in the Maronite psyche it is very nearly so. It is not worth devastating it just so that Rai can take his cut from tourist package tours.
A principal thing the patriarch has failed to do is reform his corrupt church. When Rai came to office in 2011, there was hope he would replace the upper echelons of the clergy. Instead, the same decomposing crew is around, though several bishops have long passed retirement age. If these are the men who hold the church’s future in their hands, don’t be surprised that the Maronites are facing a crisis of confidence – or that the younger clergy are as feckless and materialistic as their predecessors.
Nor is this solely a religious matter. The Maronite Church is powerful thanks to its network of parishes, schools, social institutions and media. These are instruments allowing it to spread its ideas and agendas. If there is rot at the top, you can be sure that it will soon spread to the bottom. No one can mention Rai without commenting on his passion for politics. The thing is, he is bad at it, which has eroded his standing nationally. From Rai’s early defense of Bashar Assad’s regime to his recent efforts, all vain, to play midwife to a new Lebanese president, the omni-patriarch has sinned by excess. He has an opinion about everything, travels everywhere, delivers speeches anywhere. Rarely does he mention religion, and when he does it serves as dull filler while his mind races to elections.
Would resolving these problems save the Maronites? Probably not. And to give Rai credit, he has rightly grasped that the presidential vacuum is bad for the community as a whole. But the health of the Maronites rests on two foundations: the ability of the community to revitalize and reform itself, and the ability of Maronite elites to adapt to a changing regional environment. The church is vital to the first aim, given its control over many of the institutions that profoundly shape Maronite society, above all its youths. And while the second involves all Christians, the church’s function is essential in a region where religion is central to social and political life. The Maronites’ strategy toward both Sunnis and Shiites, for example, cannot possibly be formulated without church backing.
This doesn’t diminish the importance of the call by the Eastern churches. But salvation begins at home. A corrupt and venal church will end up reflecting on the community it represents. Christians who refuse to leave Lebanon do so because they feel they have something for which to fight. But if the church – as the spiritual and symbolic embodiment of the community – is a robbers’ den, don’t expect Christians to fight for very long.
**Michael Young is opinion editor of The Daily Star newspaper. He tweets @BeirutCalling

Obama and the consequences of ‘no strategy’
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
It was good that U.S. President Barack Obama was honest enough to admit that his government doesn't have a strategy to deal with terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria. His frank confession attracted attention and angered some American politicians. A White House spokesman tried to clarify the situation, saying that while Obama said there is no strategy to confront ISIS, this did not mean that there is no policy towards the situation in Syria, like some observers had thought. But truth be told, this clarification further complicated the situation.“If the U.S. president had a plan to confront ISIS a year ago, the organization may have not have been able to claim such victories”
Syria is now merely a battlefield as there's no longer a state, even after the Syrian regime succeeded at surviving thanks to Russian military support, Iranian forces and Iraqi and Hezbollah militias. There is no longer a regime, but an organization that represents Bashar al-Assad and remnants of his regime present in some Damascus neighborhoods and coastal town. The rest of the country is divided among other organizations such as ISIS, al-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army and the Kurds. When Obama says he doesn't yet have a strategy to combat ISIS, he's practically saying there's no strategy for Syria, and if he doesn't have a plan to deal with ISIS in Syria then this means he doesn't have a comprehensive plan against ISIS in Iraq. This is the logical conclusion since the organization's hub is in Syria while its activity is in Iraq!
If ISIS had been confronted back then…
If the American president had a plan to confront ISIS a year ago, the organization may not have been able to claim such victories and it may not have posed such a grave threat. It could have been possible to support the Syrian national opposition which believes in civil values and whose leaders include women, Christians, Kurds, Alawites and Sunni Arabs. It could have been possible for countries neighboring Syria to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Syria. Turkey in particular has become a passage for thousands of foreign fighters who arrive from across the world to Hatay province, crossing to northern Syria. If Turkey had succeeded at preventing the passage of ISIS and al-Nusra fighters – especially that Turkey is a NATO member – then perhaps only a few dozen jihadists would have arrived to the battlefield and ISIS may not have been born. A strict stance against Russian and Iranian support to Assad would have stripped ISIS of its reason to exist as it has gained legitimacy during the past two years while urging people to join its fight against Hezbollah militias, Iraqi al-Haq brigades and Iranian Revolutionary Guards who arrived in Syria to save Assad's regime.
The lack of an American strategy for the past three years - except for their strategy of wait and see - has led to the emergence of terrorist organizations, like ISIS and al-Nusra, who are now stronger than al-Qaeda. It has enabled extremist jihadist movements, like Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, Ansar Beit al-Maqdes in Sinai and al-Qaeda in Yemen, to go public. Jihadists now consider the world's strongest country – the U.S. – as no longer being in a state of war against them. They believe the U.S. has withdrawn to its own territory, leaving them with a chance to achieve their dreams in countries with a political vacuum and chaos, particularly in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The lack of a strategy to practically confront terrorist organizations helps them spread like cancer and threaten not only the Middle East, but the entire world.

What's the difference between ISIS and Asaib Ahl al-Haq?
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Raed Omari /Al Arabiya
Except maybe for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the reactivation of the U.S.-led global war on terrorism was good news to people around the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. We were all concerned after seeing what appeared to be the world returning to the Dark Ages. Mass killings, looting, forced migration, torture, crucifixion and beheadings have been just some examples of the inhumanities resurrected by ISIS. The word “beheading” has no place in the human dictionary anyway. It is indubitable that ISIS’ predominance in the region, culminated in the proclamation of its caliphate, has been the direct result of the world’s inaction on both Syria and Iraq. It is also beyond doubt that the world’s failure to institutionalize the anti-terror war has emboldened ISIS and other similar groups to act as if they were independent and sovereign states, while killing, robbing and crushing minorities without fear of punishment or prosecution. There is no need to delve into the reasons why the U.S. and the EU had remained silent on ISIS until recently, suffice to say that their fear of militant extremism reaching their own doorsteps was what led them to make their long-awaited decisiveness on dealing with terror. What triggered the U.S. airstrikes on ISIS posts in Iraq was the stomach-turning beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by the Jihadist militia. “In order for the resurrected global war on terror to succeed, it has to be kept aside from the influence of politics”
It is better late than never, anyway. We all feared such horrific acts would go unpunished and that ISIS would turn into a reality and untouchable entity one day. Now there is regional and international cooperation to stand firm against the jihadist militia and there is a reactivation of the global war on terror through the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Center and other international channels.
The embodiment of all terror
However, it seems ISIS is the embodiment of all terror. If mass killings, executions, bombings, shelling of civilians and crushing minorities are terror attributes, I wonder why it is that the Iraqi Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) has not been labeled a terrorist organization. Until proving otherwise, the Shiite militia has been accused of being behind the two attacks on Baghdad’s northern province of Diyala, one of them on a mosque, which killed dozens of Arab Sunnis. For political and sectarian reasons and with regard to similar violent acts carried by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Iran-backed militia could have committed the shooting attack on the Sunni mosque, now referred to as the Musab Bin Omair Mosque massacre.
It is not Asaib Ahl al-Haq alone that matters most in this context. There are other similar Shiite militias in Iraq, including Mahdi Army, Badr Organization and Hezbollah Brigade of similar terrorist and sectarian attitudes that are typified in ISIS and the Nusra Front.
But, again, why have such violent Shiite militias not been elevated to the status of terrorist organizations like ISIS? It may be due to ISIS’ “show off” attitude, its large-scale operations or horrific televised acts as opposed to the small-scale, secret terrorist acts by private Iraqi Shiite militias against Sunni communities.
While the U.S. is in declared war against ISIS, it should be noted that the reason why some Arab Sunnis had subscribed or supported ISIS in both Iraq and Syria was the marginalization and crackdown they long suffered under the Shiite governments. ISIS owes much of its predominance to the Arab Sunnis in both war-hit countries who saw in the Jihadist group a “savior” or even a tool to help them get rid of sectarian regimes.
With the departure of Nouri al-Maliki and the beginning of the U.S. bombardments of ISIS targets, the pragmatic ISIS-Arab Sunnis relationship began to collapse but it might be reinforced again if the “selective” anti-terrorism approach remains the norm. Terrorism is terrorism: it is not confined to a single sect and should not be applied with double standards. ISIS, the Nusra Front, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Syrian regime are all terrorist groups, responsible for mass killings, torture and crimes against humanity. In order for the resurrected global war on terror to succeed, it has to be kept aside from the influence of politics, waged purely in the service of humanity with no other considerations.

Egypt has regained its regional leadership and the Palestinian cause
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya
The Egyptian-Saudi-Emirati roles overlap on many fast-developing issues, including Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. This tripartite partnership constitutes an important strategic choice with many regional and international dimensions. First of all, there seems to be a determination to restore an Arab position in the regional balance of power, and it is clear that the two Gulf partners see Egypt as naturally qualified for this role that they both support.
The second dimension is that the integration between the two Gulf states and Egypt has a direct impact on decision-making concerned with the Arab future itself, and not only as concerns the Arab weight in the regional balance of power. This dimension has two parts: One that has to do with the confrontation with multilateral and multilayered projects, such as the politically ambitious Muslim Brotherhood project, and the project led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is coming down with devastating force on the Arab region with nihilistic goals that spare no one. The other part has to do with the hot issues and conflicts that both Iran and Turkey play a role in, in varying degrees and for varying purposes, and also the Palestinian issue, where Israel is proving that it is not interested in the two-state solution but is instead resolved to find alternatives such as the demographic solution to establish a purely Jewish state.
In Palestine, it is clear that Egypt played a key role in brokering a truce, and that Hamas and its regional partners had to accept the Egyptian initiative in the end, after initially rejecting it stubbornly. Egypt, then, has restored its leading role in Palestine, and was keen for the Palestinian Authority to restore its main role in Palestinian decision-making, the goal: to prevent such powers from being left in the hands of others at a high cost paid by the Palestinians, rather than by the polarizers or the exploiters of the Palestinian cause.
At best, it is possible to say that Hamas’ strategy implicated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lured him into making mistakes, precipitated by his arrogance, which grew stronger thanks to Israeli popular support for the recent decisive military action against Hamas. It is also possible to say that Hamas’ rockets, which hit an Israeli airport and forced airlines to cancel their trips to Israel, were a new qualitative achievement in the Palestinian-Israeli arena. This is in addition to the military cost for Israel, including the killing of a large number of Israeli soldiers who carried out the incursion into Gaza, and this is considered a military victory especially since the war took place between a militarily superior state and a non-state actor.
“In Palestine, it is clear that Egypt played a key role in brokering a truce”
The Palestinian Authority has benefited from the fait accompli, and is on the cusp of making new decisions in the aftermath of the third Gaza war. Hamas had no intention of giving the Palestinian Authority regional and international momentum, and what Hamas did in the Gaza war was not part of a ploy with Fatah or the Palestinian Authority to play different but coordinated roles.
Losers claiming to be victors
Hamas did not achieve what it had in mind when it entered the war, and Israel did not win what it had mobilized itself to achieve. Both sides are losers who are claiming to be the victors. This is what happened in all of Israel’s wars with the organizations that challenged it, using excessive barbaric power against civilians and infrastructure, and leaving behind thousands of victims and tremendous devastation. Israel has lost traditional Western sympathy, especially after the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) exposed it for committing crimes against humanity. Hamas for its part lost what it sought politically, and also lost leaders while its tunnels were destroyed. But the biggest lost is the loss of the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians and the destruction of thousands of homes.
Yet both sides claim to have won, and there is some ground for their claims. However, victory is far from the real equation. Today’s truce will be followed by extensive negotiations that require serious concessions. When the time comes for that, seasoned Egyptian diplomacy will play a role that boosts its efforts to restore its leading Arab role in the Palestinian issue, supported by its Saudi and Emirati partners. Egypt has taken the reins of this leadership with a Palestinian decision that Hamas was forced to consent to, and that the Palestinian Authority welcomed, though now it has to prove its political merit.
Manipulating the Palestinian cause
Regionally, the Palestinian cause has been pulled away from Syria’s hands. For years, Damascus manipulated the Palestinian cause as it pleased and when it pleased. Today, Egypt has regained control of it with its regional leadership. This development has implications for more than one country, including Lebanon, where the Syrian management of the Palestinian cause led to using Lebanon as a military platform for many goals that had nothing to do with the Palestinians.
The Egyptian-Syrian equation is remarkable on several levels. The comparison between the two countries since the outbreak of the wave of change in the Arab region is also remarkable. Egypt today is on the rise, after having deposed two presidents. By contrast, Syria is in decline, it is paying the price of its recalcitrance with the terrible destruction of the country; is facing fragmentation and disintegration; and has lost its regional leadership. Now, Syria is the focus of “counter-terrorism,” with terrorism being perpetrated by both the regime and the imported opposition equally.
Damascus is calling for internationalization as an opportunity for its rehabilitation. It wants to lure President Barack Obama to Syria as part of the war on terror, while ISIS is seeking to lure the American president to the Syrian and Iraqi arenas at the same time.
Covert and overt operations
Barack Obama is in a predicament. He cannot cooperate openly with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who he once said had lost legitimacy and called for his resignation. But intelligence cooperation is a different issue, and this kind of cooperation has existed between Damascus and Western intelligence services for some time. There is a big difference between covert and overt cooperation. The former is something that the West wants, while the second is something that Syria wants, as a prelude to internationalization and rehabilitation. No matter what happens, the American president’s actions against ISIS in Syria will most likely be different from those against ISIS in Iraq. To be sure, there are no indications that the U.S. policy has deviated from the goal of turning Syria into a graveyard for everyone in it – i.e. all those who are participating in, supporting, and adopting the fight.
There is also no sign of a radical U.S. intervention in Syria, beyond deploying drones and reconnaissance planes. Certainly, this limited intervention remains of extreme importance, but it will not amount to the formal public partnership that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has called for. Most probably, Barack Obama will avoid anything that could drag him deeper and further, by establishing a relationship of appeasement with Damascus, because this is something that he would be held accountable for internally. As he has said, the battle with ISIS and its ilk is complex and protracted, as long as there are policies that fuel such groups and create nurturing environments for them.
Two cardinal errors
President Barack Obama has committed two cardinal errors in his policies towards the Middle East: Distancing himself from the Syrian event, which has helped terrorism grow and Syria to be fragmented; and his overwhelming eagerness to endorse the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and to assume that the people of Egypt would accept imposing religion on the state and the Muslim Brotherhood project, and that other influential countries would cave in to his erroneous and failed strategic choice. Saudi diplomacy has relayed to Barack Obama very clearly that Egypt was a red line. Saudi Arabia and the UAE thus moved immediately to support Egypt in the wake of the popular trial of President Mohamed Mursi, whose party had assumed that the elections that brought it to power gave it the right to seize all levers of power in Egypt.
The Saudi move to dispatch a high-level delegation headed by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to the Gulf states, starting with Qatar, is important especially in light of rapid escalation in many issues, especially in Libya and Yemen, along with Iraq and Syria.
Libya needs rescuing before it turns into an inferno whose fires could spread to neighboring countries. But this appears to be impossible without Egyptian and Algerian intervention of one kind or another. Indeed, both of these countries are directly concerned because of the border they share with Libya, and they are the most important Arab-African nations. Though they always competed in the past, what brings them together now is the threat of radical Islamist groups in Libya, which are their common enemy.
Libya today has become an Arab and African problem. Libya will not recover without Egyptian-Saudi-Emirati partnership, or away from Egyptian-Algerian cooperation, and in the absence of this, Libya is likely to suffer further fragmentation, disintegration, and collapse.
Yemen is another issue where Obama’s war on terror through drones overlaps with the Iranian support for the Houthis, amid insistence by the Muslim Brotherhood on imposing themselves; amid tribal conflicts; and amid rampant corruption.
The signs of Saudi-Iranian understandings had come through the Iraqi gateway, with the removal of the obstacle represented by Nouri al-Maliki, who was removed from power, followed by the visit of a senior Iranian delegation to Riyadh. The signs of confrontations came from the Yemeni gateway, when the Houthis began a major escalation that threatens the country.
What is a constant here is that there is a Saudi-Egyptian-Emirati strategic relationship has important regional dimensions, and this deserves appreciation, at least for what it represents in the regional balance of power and as a bulwark against the projects led by radical Islamist groups.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on August 28, 2014 and was translated by Karim Traboulsi.