LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Humbleness and Forgiveness
Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4/24-32: "and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. Therefore putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another. “Be angry, and don’t sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you'
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 01 and 02/14
Arm twisting à la Hezbollah/By: Farid Ghadry/iraqi newswire/September 02/14
Iran and its sudden defense of the Kurds/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/September 02/14
Confront Extremism With Unified Protests/The Daily Star/September 02/14
The Saudis will be vital in helping to fight ISIS/By: David Ignatius/The Daily Star/September 02/14
Iran is playing a win-win game at the nuclear talks/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/September 02/14
Punish Saudis who misbehave abroad/By: Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya/September 02/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 01 and 02/14
Israel downed a drone over Golan after it was
identified as a Hizballah Ababil 2
Al-Sayyed's Body Handed Over to MSC, Any Swap 'Won't Involve' Convicts
Report: Hezbollah seized 3 Nusra commanders to trade for soldiers
Army Detains Eight Syrians as Crackdown on Refugees Continues
Salam: Struggle against terrorism just beginning
Salam Calls for 'Full Mobilization' to Combat Terrorism
Jumblatt calls for speedy Islamist militants trials
Lebanon to speed up Islamist trials
Protests across Lebanon over missing soldiers
ISIS handing over body of beheaded soldier
Israeli Army Plants Spying Device on Border with
Report: Lebanese, Syrian Fighters Heading to Iraq to Help IS and Set up Sleeper Cells in Lebanon
Report: Nusra Front to Keep Shiite Hostages in Custody to Use as Pressure Tool
Mashnouq in Moscow this Month as Qahwaji Sets Stage for Activation of Russian Military Grant
Berri: Electing President Must be a Priority, Taef Needs to be Implemented Not Manipulated
Zureiqat to Troops Families: Hizbullah Caused Your Sons Captivity, Battle Hasn't Begun
Lebanese minister calls for ISIS flag burners to face trial
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 01 and 02/14
ISIS laptop reveals project to build biological weapons
Human Rights Watch: ISIS using cluster bombs
U.N. Rights Body Mulls Sending Mission to Iraq to Probe IS Abuses
Iraq presses fight back after breaking ISIS siege
Iraq Violence Killed at Least 1,420 People in August
Ayatollah Urges Iran To Boycott 'Immoral' High-Speed Mobile Data
Syria Army, Rebels Clash as U.N. Bids to Free Golan Monitors
Assad swears in gov't, urges reconstruction
Lapid: Gaza demilitarization only way forward
Canada Declares Solidarity with Prisoners in Iran
Saudi Crown Prince in Paris for Talks on Arms, Jihadist Threat
Turkey detains dozens of Erdogan foes
Shiite rebels rally in Sanaa after leader defies UN
Shiite Rebels Rally in Sanaa after Leader Defies U.N.
Houthi leader calls for civil disobedience against Yemen government
New Libyan cabinet to be formed “within a week”: parliamentary speaker
Ask Almighty God And You Shall Be Granted What You Ask For
By: Elias Bejjani
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”. (John 07/37)
No matter what we ask Almighty God for in our prayers, He definitely shall listen attentively to our requests and respond in the time, way, mode and manner that He sees with His great wisdom and love good, fair and appropriate for us. If we fully trust in Him, obey His Commands, and pray with faith and sincerity, there is no doubt that He will hear and come to our rescue when we call on Him.
Almighty God always responds to our prayers, but because of our very limited human intellectual capabilities, we do not entirely understand or grasp how we were helped, when and where. “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it. “(Matthew 21/22)
It is very true that Almighty God knows not only about all our acts and conduct, but also, He is fully aware all the time of all our thoughts and intentions. He knows what our needs are, and also what we want before asking Him, but still He wants us to take the initiative, talk to Him, share with Him, let Him know what we need and most importantly fully trust in Him.
He is a loving Father and we are His children. A loving father will always listen to His children and give them all that He has. Even bad and evil fathers give their children all what they ask for and need, if these fathers have in their possession what their children are asked for. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone” (Matthew 7/9). “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7/11)
Some people and because of their lack of faith and hope might question, defy, argue and say, if God truly is our loving Father and knows all that much about us, then why we even should ask Him for what we need, or bother to pray for Him? They blindly continue to say, If He is our father then He has the duty and obligation to provide us with all our needs without any terms, conditions or praying rituals.
Wrong thinking, wrong approach and wrong attitude. Our Father wants to be sure that we His children truly love him and that we are always fear Him in all what we do, think or say. He wants us to be respectful, loving, forgiving, modest, sincere, transparent, helpful, friendly, obedient, generous and share with Him all our burdens, hardships and fears. He wants us to ask Him for all that we need. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 07/07″
The answer to this kind of futile and childish thinking is very simple and comes under the broad title of freedom. God granted us full freedom through His crucifixion and gave us the free choice of either to follow His commandments in both acts and rhetoric, or to do other wise, follow the devil’s temptations and live as sinners.
This gracious and unlimited freedom will end and expire on the Judgment Day when we shall be either rewarded or punished according to our life time span acts and works. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11/28)
Almighty God, our loving Father wants us to obey Him in a bid to be qualified to return to His heaven. “And receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him”(01 John 3/22). “My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit”. (Isaiah 65/14)
Those of us who do not obey are punished and thrown in hell to pay for their disobedience and sinful earthly life. “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8/12). “The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.” (Psalm 112/10)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him”. (Psalm 116/01-02)
In conclusion, we are God’s children. He gave us the freedom to maintain this parental holy bondage in a bid to return to His heavenly mentions, or to break this bondage, abandon it, follow our sinful instincts, and give up the eternal life to end in hell. Because He is a loving and caring Father He is always ready to listen and respond to our prayers. So let us pray and pray with, joy, faith, hope and trust.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (01 Thessalonians 5/16 and 18/16).
All what we need to do is to ask Him for our needs and put our burdens on His shoulders and no evil thing can effect or control us. “What shall we then say to these things, If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans.08/31″.
Pray and pray; Almighty God always listens to your prayers and responds.
Arm twisting à la Hezbollah
By: Farid Ghadry/iraqi newswire
The saga of the “In Defense of Christians” (IDC) conference to be held in Washington DC on September 9-11 keeps getting more intriguing by the day.
First, we updated the story related to “Hezbollah-backed Stealth Conference in Washington DC” with new fresh materials pointing the fingers at Hezbollah, the next thing we know our site is hacked. Those doing the hacking are sophisticated professionals because we have taken good precautions to build more layers of security; nonetheless, the hackers found a way to erase our database from the servers of the host company.
We published the Hakim part yesterday in the afternoon and the site was hacked about 14 hours later. Coincidence? Not really, the site was hacked on August 17 right after we published the original story on August 15.
Here are the latest two updates that are important to distribute. Once we re-establish connection to the website, we will publish them.
The alleged coordinator between Gilbert Chagouri and IDC is a Lebanese man by the name of Joseph Hakim. My well-informed sources in Lebanon told me that Hakim’s alleged connections to Hezbollah are not a secret, something that he has hidden well from his friends in the US.
These US friends, according to my information, have been instrumental in introducing him to Jewish groups Hakim is building relationships with for a day of reckoning when a more hawkish president occupies the White House and Assad and Iran find themselves cornered instead of fêted as Obama is doing today.
Hakim covers his tracks well by playing his Christian credentials.
Already, one of those who fell in the trap is a good journalist by the name of Joseph Puder who wrote in FrontPage Magazine a glowing introduction to Hakim’s bio.
The second part deals with how James Zogby is allegedly arm-twisting editors of publications in Lebanon to remove their stories about IDC and Hezbollah. These publications have revealed the same information with even more details about these connections. One editor-in-chief confirmed to my sources that he has received a phone call from Zogby asking him to remove the story.
My sources tell me Zogby did not present any materials contradicting the article establishing a connection between Hezbollah and IDC. In our case, they just jacked the site.
Furthermore, the Times of Israel removed the original Blog I published citing there was no proof to the connection except my sources.
Iran may be taking advantage of this period of détente with the White House to cast a wider net of influence peddling in Washington. Iran realizes that as long as their enemies have influence over policy because of their historical relationships with the United States, the Mullahs will always have to look over their shoulders.
The hawks are one of the most important groups Iran needs to secure their support indirectly. The Mullahs already secured the liberals. The FrontPage Magazine intro of Hakim was not an accident.
It is important interested parties understand the reach of Iran and Hezbollah to take the necessary precautions before the region finds itself struggling even more to dismantle the Iranian regime using third parties as shields or extensions of their operations.
Report: Hezbollah seized 3 Nusra
commanders to trade for soldiers
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah has allegedly captured three senior commanders from the Nusra Front to exchange for captive soldiers, according to a report published Monday in Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper. The report said Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad forces against the Islamist rebels, seized the militants during battles inside Syria’s rugged mountains of Qalamoun, straddling Lebanon’s eastern border. “Such development might lead to a possible swap operation between Hezbollah and Nusra Front, which holds several Shiite Lebanese soldiers,” the report said. Nusra Front said in a statement Sunday that it was preparing to wage a battle to “liberate Qalamoun” from regime control and warned Hezbollah that it would kill the Shiite troops it held if the party’s fighters participated in the battles. A Hezbollah official, who requested anonymity, wasn’t able to confirm or deny the report. “We did not hear anything of the sort,” the source told The Daily Star. At least 29 Army troops and Internal Security Forces personnel were captured by militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS during a five-day showdown in the border town of Arsal last month. At least 24 remain in the hands of the militants, following Sunday’s release of five captives by the Nusra Front. The militants have submitted a list of demands to the government, including the release of Nusra commander Imad Jomaa, whose arrest had triggered the clashes in Arsal, and other Islamist prisoners.
Al-Sayyed's Body Handed Over to MSC,
Any Swap 'Won't Involve' Convicts
Naharnet /The Muslim Scholars Committee was on Monday handed over the corpse of Sergeant Ali al-Sayyed who had been reportedly taken hostage by Islamic State militants, as the government seemed inclined to swap non-convicted Roumieh inmates for the security personnel who are still in the captivity of jihadist groups. Al-Sayyed's body was handed over in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal and the Red Cross is expected to transfer it to the military hospital in Beirut. Meanwhile, sources informed on negotiations told LBCI TV that “there is agreement, in principle, to the proposal of swapping” prisoners for the captive troops. But the sources noted that “should an exchange occur, it won't be for Roumieh prison convicts.”“It is out of the question to release Islamist convicts or inmates detained over the issues of Nahr al-Bared, Fatah al-Islam and the bombings, even if they have not been convicted,” the sources added. “It is possible to discuss and negotiate the release of those who were arrested during Arsal's battle or the detainees who have not been convicted until the moment,” the sources said, noting that “the judiciary absolutely does not accept to set free dangerous convicts.” According to LBCI, the militants of the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front have put at the top of their demands the release of jihadist leader Imad Jomaa, who had pledged allegiance to the IS prior to his arrest but who still enjoys popularity among the ranks of the Front, to which he belonged in the past. Al-Nusra is also demanding the release of Jumana Hmayyed, who is accused of transporting bomb-laden cars from Arsal's mountains to the Bekaa, in addition to "around 15 Syrian militants." On August 2, gunmen belonging to the two aforementioned groups overran Arsal as clashes erupted with the Lebanese army, killing 19 troops and kidnapping around 35 soldiers and policemen.
Al-Nusra later released 10 hostages before freeing five "Sunni" troops and policemen on Saturday. However, 18 captives are reportedly still in the group's custody. The IS for its part has 10 hostages in its captivity in addition to an unidentified corpse other than al-Sayyed's.
The sergeant had appeared in a video posted on YouTube on August 4, in which he appeared to be forced to declare his defection from the Lebanese army.
Army Detains Eight Syrians as
Crackdown on Refugees Continues
Naharnet/The army intelligence arrested on Monday eight Syrian refugees and referred them to the competent judiciary for questioning. The state-run National News Agency reported that the army intelligence raided several places in the northern Koura district where Syrian refugee are residing. “Eight Syrians were detained and referred for interrogation,” the NNA reported. No further details were obtained. The army began cracking down on Syrian encampments after troops battled jihadists who overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. Scores of soldiers were killed and wounded in the battles that ensued the attack, which ended with a ceasefire on August 7. Media reports had said that some Syrian refugees residing in encampments across the country have in their possession arms and had reportedly aided jihadists in Arsal.
Israeli Army Plants Spying Device on Border with Lebanon
Naharnet/An Israeli military unit erected on Monday a utility pole carrying spying equipment near the occupied Shebaa Farms area in the South, the state-run National News Agency reported. The pole was placed at the Farms Gate near Berket al-Naqar, it said. Spying and transmission devices were placed on the six-meter telecommunications pole, NNA stated. The Israeli army technicians were backed by around 25 soldiers and five armored vehicles, the agency added. Israel has on several occasions planted surveillance devices along the technical fence to spy on Lebanon. Devices aimed at spying on Hizbullah have also been found in southern Lebanon.
Salam: Lebanon's struggle against terrorism just beginning
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s struggle against terrorism will not be over soon, Prime Minister Tammam Salam warned Monday, while stressing that electing a president and strengthening the state were top priorities. “The battle against terrorism is still at its beginnings, and in these difficult conditions we ought to empower our political institutions and unite around our military,” Salam said in a speech at the Grand Serail during a ceremony celebrating the 94th anniversary of the announcement of Greater Lebanon. “Fighting dark terrorism should be prioritized on the decision-making level, and confronting the murky wave is a long and complicated operation,” he added Salam highlighted the strong link between presidential vacuum and national security. “I again invite all political factions to elect a Christian Maronite president as a head of state, because this is how we fortify our home and revive our institutions,” he said. Saying Lebanon had paid a huge price because of terrorism, the last of which was the attack on the eastern Arsal town, Salam promised the captive soldier’s families that Lebanon would dedicate all efforts toward freeing their sons. “I tell the families of the captives: You are not alone, and all Lebanon stands by you,” he said. “Your sons represent our honor and splendor, and like they stood to defend the nation, we will all stand, hand in hand, until we free them.”Salam praised Lebanon’s ability to overcome historical difficulties and remain as one entity, saying this could change if political parties did not unite on the project to strengthen the state.“Ninety-four years and Lebanon has remained; it has passed through many crises, its land was occupied by enemy armies, its people emigrated many times, and it remained.”“Men will eventually vanish, and political systems are subject to alternation and transformation, but Lebanon remains one and unified in the borders announced 94 years ago,” he said ending the speech, receiving a round of claps from top Lebanese officials and political leaders, including former President Michel Sleiman
Report: Nusra Front to Keep Shiite
Hostages in Custody to Use as Pressure Tool
Naharnet /The al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front will reportedly keep the Shiite Lebanese hostages it had kidnapped last month in the northeastern border town of Arsal, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday. Sources told the newspaper that jihadists will soon free Sunni, Christian and Druze abductees but will keep the Shiites in their custody. “They want to use them as a pressure tool,” the sources said. For his part, Sheikh Moustapha al-Hujeiri also known as Abou Taqiye, who is familiar with the case of the abducted soldiers and policemen, stressed that he will not “stop his endeavors until all soldiers are released without any exception.”On Sunday, al-Nusra Front threatened to “kill the Shiite Lebanese soldiers” it had kidnapped should Hizbullah intervene in battles in Syria's al-Qalamun region.
Hizbullah has been taking part in the fighting in Syria to aid President Bashar Assad's troops. The Syrian forces alongside the Shiite group have seized control of al-Qalamun in April. Judicial sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper that a high-level security meeting, held at the Grand Serail on Sunday, was briefed on the cases of the Islamist prisoners held at Roumieh prison. The sources said that 66.6 percent of the trial procedures have been carried out, pointing out that the sentences will be issued soon and those who are innocent will be acquitted. On several occasions, the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant vowed to free Islamist prisoners in Roumieh. Islamist gunmen had kidnapped a number of Lebanese soldiers and security forces from Arsal in light of clashes between Islamists and the army in the region. The battles began on August 2 and ended five days later.
Canada Declares Solidarity with Prisoners in Iran
September 1, 2014 - Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement marking the Day of Solidarity for the Prisoners of Iran:
“Canada remains deeply concerned by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s determination to use the courts and prison system as tools of repression. Hundreds of people are currently imprisoned in Iran simply for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association. “These teachers, lawyers, artists, writers, students, scientists and leaders have not only been deprived of their freedom, they are also systematically abused by Iranian officials and subjected to violent attack, torture, rape and threats against their loved ones. Others are simply executed. “Iranian officials deny holding political prisoners, but these brave men and women are not unknown and they will not be forgotten. Canada offers its sincere condolences to those who have lost family or friends to Iran’s security apparatus and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.”
Report: Lebanese, Syrian Fighters Heading to Iraq to Help IS and Set up Sleeper Cells in Lebanon
Naharnet /Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees have traveled to Iraq to join the Islamic State group's fighters and to train there to set up terrorist cells in Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported on Monday. The fighters have been traveling to Iraq since mid-June, the newspaper quoted informed officials as saying. Some of them have returned to Lebanon after receiving the appropriate training to establish the sleeper cells, they said. The jihadists have sent instructions to many followers to stay in the country rather than heading to Iraq and Syria's northeastern region of Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State. There are estimates that 3,000 of the group's fighters – Lebanese and Syrians – are based in Lebanon. Many of the Syrian fighters are hiding in Lebanese towns and working in construction sites as a cover-up, the officials said. Jihadists engaged in heavy gunbattles with the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal last month. Before retreating toward Syrian territory, the militants, took with them hostages from the Lebanese army and security forces. The clashes were the most dangerous spillover of violence from the civil war in neighboring Syria. By some estimates, the Islamic State group occupies up to 35 percent of Syria, or about a third of the country. It also spreads into most of the Sunni-dominated areas of northern and western Iraq, right up to the edges of Baghdad.
Protests across Lebanon over missing soldiers
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Families blocked roads across Lebanon in a bid to press the government to work to release their relatives held by militants groups from Syria. Security sources said angry protesters erected sand mounds and parked cars in the middle of main roads in Abdeh, Wadi Jamous and Mohammara in the northern Akkar region, as well as in Minnieh near Tripoli. Similar protests were staged in Bar Elias in the Bekaa area, as relatives of the hostages cut off the main road leading to the city of Zahle.
In Baaqlin in the Chouf mountain, the family of a captive soldier blocked the main roundabout linking the town with nearby Beiteddine and Mukhtara, the hometown of MP Walid Jumblatt. At least 29 Army troops and Internal Security Forces personnel were captured by militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS during a five-day showdown in the border town of Arsal last month. At least 24 remain in the hands of the militants, following Sunday’s release of five captives by Nusra Front. The militants have submitted a list of demands to the government, including the release of Nusra commander Imad Jomaa, whose arrest triggered the clashes in Arsal, and other Islamist prisoners.
Mashnouq in Moscow this Month as Qahwaji Sets Stage for Activation of Russian Military Grant
Naharnet/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq is expected to visit Moscow on September 18 to sign a deal to buy military equipment for the Internal Security Forces, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday. Lebanon will buy the equipment from a recently announced $1 billion Saudi grant to Lebanon, it said. The grant was announced by al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri last month. Saudi Arabia is already financing a $3-billion package of French military equipment and arms for the army although bureaucracy has slowed down the procedure. According to al-Akhbar, al-Mashnouq will also discuss with Russian officials the possibility of receiving a Russian military grant. It quoted diplomatic officials as saying that Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji recently visited Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin to prepare for his visit to Moscow. His agenda will include the activation of a Russian grant that was announced in November 2010 and which includes providing the Lebanese army with helicopter gunships, tanks, cannons and ammunition, they added.
Qahwaji's trip comes amid a rising threat by jihadist fighters who have deployed along the eastern border with Lebanon. The gunmen overran the northeastern border town of Arsal last month and took with them hostages from the army and security forces.
Lebanon to speed up Islamist trials, but no deal for hostage swap
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: While the trial of Islamist militants at Roumieh prison will be put on the front-burner in an effort to defuse the hostage crisis gripping Lebanon, rumors that prisoners will be released without trials are “baseless,” sources told The Daily Star Monday. Security, judicial and ministerial sources told The Daily Star that the trials, which are expected to begin within a few days, would involve Islamist detainees who had already spent as much time in prison as any sentence they faced. The sources said that the prisoners’ trial and eventual release was aimed at ending the deadlock over the hostages’ crisis. Roumieh holds several Islamist detainees awaiting trial, with the majority linked to the 2007 Fatah al-Islam battles against the Lebanese Army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon.The decision on the commencement of the long-awaited trials was made during a meeting Sunday held in the presence of Magistrate Jean Fahed, the head of the Higher Judicial Council who oversees the trials of Islamist prisoners in Roumieh. The release of the prisoners tops the demands of militants who are holding at least 24 soldiers and policemen captive after the Nusra Front released five hostages Sunday. The security personnel – from the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces – have been held captive by Nusra Front and ISIS since last month’s deadly gunbattles with the Lebanese Army in the northeastern border town fo Arsal. Political sources said discussions during Sunday’s meeting focused on finding a “legal exit” in which Lebanon could release some Roumieh prisoners inconspicuously, in a manner that would not suggest a connection with the case of the captured soldiers. Sheikh Adnan Amama, a member of the Committee of Muslim Scholars that was at one point involved in negotiating the release of the captive soldiers, said he believed reports of a possible deal were legitimate and that “a kind of swap is being prepared, to exchange prisoners not charged or indicted.”“It is clear that the government is being more flexible by considering the idea of a swap, even though it concerns less significant individuals,” Amama told The Daily Star. “This is very positive.”Judicial sources, however, have denied such reports as “baseless rumors.”Speaking to The Daily Star, they stressed there won’t be any random release, saying only the court would order a prisoner release. Local mediator Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri in Arsal said that the government had not taken a firm decision to truly engage in the negotiations. “At least they are considering [the swap deal],” he said, “because before they were not open to making any concessions.” He said Qatar was handling negotiations with ISIS to secure the release of the troops and policemen held captive by the group. “The Lebanese state knows very well that nothing comes free, the militants have demands, so the state must assume responsibility,” he said. Both Amama and Hujieri said that reports circulating about the numbers of prisoners being considered were mere speculation.
ISIS handing over body of beheaded Lebanese soldier
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The body of a Lebanese soldier beheaded by ISIS will be handed over to a delegation from the border village of Arsal alongside the Red Cross Monday, sources close to the negotiations told The Daily Star. “A delegation from the village and the Red Cross left from Arsal and will receive the body directly from ISIS,” Muslim Scholars Committee member Hussam al-Ghali said. A Red Cross ambulance will transport the body of Sergeant Ali Al Sayyed from Arsal's outskirts to the military hospital in Ablah, in the Bekaa Valley.
The committee member said the areas controlled by ISIS in the outskirts of Arsal were closer and easier to access for the handover of the body than locations under the control of the Nusra Front. Ghali confirmed that there were direct contacts with ISIS militants but did not disclose any information concerning the identity of the mediator. Future Movement MP Khaled Zahraman confirmed Sayyed’s death, ending several days of uncertainty about his fate since pictures first emerged Friday of his beheading. Zahraman said efforts were underway secure the delivery of the body. Red Cross teams were in the meantime placed on alert, awaiting instructions for the delivery of the body. A Red Cross source told The Daily Star that ambulance operators were ready to carry out the mission but waiting for the Army to complete the arrangements for the handover.
Lebanese MP Jumblatt calls for speedy
Islamist militants trials
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The trials of Islamist prisoners held in Lebanon's Roumieh prison should be held without any further delay, MP Walid Jumblatt said, while ruling out any deal to trade the detainees for soldiers and policemen being held by militants.
Jumblatt said Lebanon would have been spared a crisis if judicial authorities had not delayed the trials of these prisoners. “Why the procrastination and reluctance to conduct a fair trial, taking into account the political circumstances that are completely different [now] after ISIS reached the border,” he told As-Safir. Jumblatt, however, rejected any swap deal with the Islamist inmates over fears this “could lead to chaos and undermine Army morale.” Jihadists are holding at least 24 soldiers and policemen captive after the Nusra Front released five hostages Sunday. The security personnel – from the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces – have been held captive by Nusra Front and ISIS since last month’s deadly gunbattles with the Lebanese Army in Arsal. Prime Minister Tammam Salam has announced the formation of an emergency cell to tackle the hostages’ issue. The cell, made up of senior security and political officials, held its first meeting Sunday. Political sources, speaking to The Daily Star, described as “very significant” the meeting held in the presence of Magistrate Jean Fahed, the head of the Higher Judicial Council who oversees the trials of Islamist prisoners in Roumieh. Fahed’s attendance, the source said, indicated the government’s willingness to seek out his opinion, as the release of the prisoners tops the militants’ demands.
During the meeting, Fahed said the trials were underway, and 22,000 out of the 36,000 total charges pressed against Islamist detainees had been processed, with some acquittals. The sources said discussions focused on finding a “legal exit” in which Lebanon could release some Roumieh prisoners inconspicuously, in a manner that would not suggest a connection with the case of the captured soldiers. The officials were expressly looking into releasing detainees who had not been charged, the sources said.
Confront Extremism With Unified Protests
The Daily Star/A small demonstration in Beirut against Al-Qaeda has triggered a commotion because the flags of ISIS and the Nusra Front, which feature a phrase that is the cornerstone of Islam, were set on fire.
Politicians have stressed that these extremist groups have no connection to mainstream Islam and that such acts only enflame a dangerous situation. In reaction to the protest, anti-Christian phrases were painted on the walls of churches in the city of Tripoli, highlighting the explosiveness of the situation. It should be clear to all that two “wars” are raging. One is being waged by professionals; the Lebanese military and security bodies are confronting ISIS and the Nusra Front on several levels, and their effort has received near-unanimous support. But the other, political conflict is a wider one, and when amateurs get involved, the results can be disastrous. When people focus on religious symbols, with or without realizing the offense they are causing, the only groups that benefit are ISIS and Nusra. Lebanon isn’t immune to sectarian agitation and leaders are playing with fire if they try to exploit the explosive situation. If Lebanese who are angry at ISIS do an Internet search, they’ll easily find images of dozens of anti- ISIS demonstrations in Syria over the past year – people crossed out the word “ISIS,” demanded that it leave the country, and creatively mocked or condemned the group for its many misdeeds, all without offending anyone’s feelings. ISIS has targeted just about everyone – Kurds, Yazidis, Christians, Shiites, Turkmen, Sunnis, Westerners – meaning that the most effective way to confront its extremism is with unified acts of protest, which bring people together instead of pushing them further apart.
Zureiqat to Troops Families: Hizbullah
Caused Your Sons Captivity, Battle Hasn't Begun
Naharnet /Sirajeddine Zureiqat, a so-called spokesman of the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, warned Sunday that “the battle has not yet started in Lebanon,” telling the families of the abducted Lebanese security personnel that Hizbullah is to blame for their sons' captivity. “You must know that had it not been for Hizbullah and its foolish acts, your sons would not have been taken captive. Who other than Hizbullah has implicated Lebanon in the battle?" the fugitive Lebanese cleric said addressing the families on his Twitter account.
"Who has turned your sons into fuel for the war of the Iranian party (Hizbullah) against the Sunni community in Syria and Lebanon?” Zureiqat added. He warned that “the battle has not yet started in Lebanon,” calling on the troops' relatives not to let their sons be "a shield for Iran's party, which is offering them as sacrifices to satisfy (Iran's) Vali-ye faqih (supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)." Zureiqat also accused the Lebanese army of becoming “a guardian of the Jews' (Israel) border and of Hizbullah's security zones.”
“It has turned into a murderer of children and women, with U.S. weapons, Iranian allegiance and Saudi money,” the militant added, referring to the latest shipment of U.S. arms that the military has received and Saudi Arabia's donations to the army. On August 2, jihadists from the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Qaida breakaway group Islamic State overran the Bekaa border town of Arsal after clashes erupted with the army over the arrest of Imad Jomaa, a militant leader. The fighting ended five days later but the two groups kidnapped around 36 Lebanese soldiers and security forces from the town. Five of them were released on Saturday. Earlier on Sunday, al-Nusra Front threatened to “kill the Shiite Lebanese soldiers” it had kidnapped should Hizbullah intervene in battles in Syria's Qalamun region. The group said in a statement that it will wage a battle to “liberate” Qalamun in a few days. Hizbullah has been taking part in the fighting in Syria for over a year now, arguing that its participation is necessary to protect Lebanon from extremist groups.
The Syrian regime forces, backed by Hizbullah, seized control of most of Qalamun in April.
Berri: Electing President Must be a
Priority, Taef Needs to be Implemented Not Manipulated
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri on Sunday stressed that putting an end to the presidential void must be a “priority,” noting that the Taef Accord should be “implemented” rather than “manipulated.”
“The election of a new president should be a priority because the confidence of citizens and the world in Lebanon would erode should we continue our failure to elect a president,” said Berri in a televised speech marking the 36th anniversary of the disappearance of revered Shiite cleric Imam Moussa al-Sadr, the founder of the AMAL Movement that the speaker heads.
“A new chapter can start with the election of a new president ... The election of a president would open the door to parliamentary elections and launch a political process that is needed in the confrontation against the transnational terrorism,” Berri added.
He called on the Lebanese to close ranks in order to “put an end to strife and divisions.”
“Now is the time to transit to a real state and to devise a roadmap to implement the Taef Accord instead of manipulating it. It's time to stop the policy of paralyzing the state by a certain institution at the expense of another institution,” the speaker added.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May due to the sharp political rift between the rival March 8 and March 14 camps.
The March 14 alliance has endorsed Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea as its candidate while Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun -- who has not officially nominated himself -- has repeatedly said that he would run in the elections as a "consensual candidate."
Recently, Aoun's Change and Reform parliamentary bloc submitted a controversial draft law proposing the election of a president directly by the people as a way out of the deadlock.
Berri noted that diversity and national unity are a “necessity” in order to confront terrorism, “the same as they were a weapon in the confrontation against the Israeli aggression.”
“The fight against terrorism needs national mobilization and a culture combating fanaticism and terrorism,” he said.
“Confronting terrorism is not the responsibility of Sunnis, confronting aggression is not the responsibility of Shiites and confronting the displacement of minorities is not the responsibility of Christians. Everyone must shoulder the responsibility," Berri urged.
He slammed what he called the "horrible international silence in the face of terrorism," warning that "it will lead to tragedies."
"Terrorism is threatening Lebanon, the Gulf, Jordan and Syria and the movement of militants and arms through some countries' airports must stop," Berri underlined.
He said resolutions are needed to support the sovereignty of some countries and their people and territorial integrity.
"The weapons of the Lebanese army must be boosted through the first Saudi donation and the second one must be utilized in order to give the army modern arms," Berri added.
"Lebanon is bigger than any plot and there is no need to fear for it," he reassured.
Saudi Arabia has recently pledged $1 billion in military assistance to the poorly-equipped Lebanese army after it fought a deadly battle against jihadist militants in and around the Bekaa border town of Arsal in early August.
On al-Sadr's case, Berri said a Lebanese ambassador was delegated to Libya following the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi's regime but stressed that "there won't be any normalization with Libya before it cooperates with us in the case."
"We call on the media to closely follow up on the case and we stress that this is an Arab, Islamic and humanitarian issue. There is no room for private interests or bargaining," Berri said. He pointed out that a memorandum of understanding was signed with Libya and "it most importantly contained the Libyan side's acknowledgement that the abduction crime took place in Libya and that the story of traveling to Italy is a fabrication."“The MoU also contained a Libyan pledge to open the doors of cooperation and take all measures needed to inspect likely locations” where al-Sadr or his remains could be present, the speaker said. “But unfortunately the situation collapsed in Libya,” he lamented.
“We mulled alternative plans and we won't stand idly by,” Berri vowed, noting that Lebanon's Judicial Council is also still looking into “parts of the case.”
He said that a personal lawsuit has been filed “against new defendants belonging to the Gadhafi regime.”
In 1978, al-Sadr was invited to Tripoli by Gadhafi and was trying to negotiate an end to the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war. But his visit to Tripoli along with two aides took a sour turn after he got into a heated argument with Gadhafi who ordered that the three men be "taken away," according to an indictment against the slain Libyan leader issued by Lebanese authorities. Gadhafi’s regime had stated that the three left Tripoli for Italy, which after conducting an investigation into the case denied the claims.
In 2004, the passports of Sadr and his companion Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub were found in a hotel in Rome.
In August 2008, Lebanon issued arrest warrants against Gadhafi and some of his aides, accusing them of kidnapping Sadr and his companions
The Saudis will be vital in helping to
David Ignatius| The Daily Star
With Iraq and Syria ablaze, the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems almost an afterthought. But Riyadh will be a crucial, if quixotic, ally as the United States seeks to mobilize Sunni Muslims against the terrorist ISIS.
The kingdom’s many critics argue that Saudi Arabia itself helped spread the toxic virus by bankrolling Islamist rebels and their extremist Salafist Muslim ideology. As if to insulate itself from such criticism, the kingdom recently donated $100 million to a new U.N. counterterrorism center, and its senior religious leader, the grand mufti, declared ISIS and its Al-Qaeda forebear “enemy No. 1 of Islam.”
Complicating Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in containing regional instability is the fact that generational change is slowly coming in the kingdom, too. The stakes for the U.S. in this leadership transition are large, and the outcome is hard to predict.
King Abdullah remains in power, a generally popular and respected monarch. But at 90, his energy and attention span are limited. Tensions have surfaced at several Saudi ministries over the last year, suggesting a jockeying for power.
For a generation, Americans and Saudis have worried that the kingdom was a potential tinderbox, with Muslim and secular extremists vying to undermine the conservative monarchy. If anything, the kingdom seems slightly more stable now than a decade ago – but Sunni and Shiite extremists, otherwise deadly adversaries, share a common dream of toppling the House of Saud.
The inner workings of the royal family remain all but impenetrable to outsiders. The senior princes are slow-moving, self-protective and resistant to foreign counsel – traits that invite speculation about what’s happening behind the palace walls. But whatever their internal disagreements, the sons and grandsons of King Abdul Aziz, the kingdom’s modern founder, have been able to maintain the family consensus necessary to preserve their rule.
U.S. and Arab experts describe a kingdom that is worried about three dangers: the rise of Iran and its Shiite Muslim allies; the resurgence of Sunni extremism embodied by ISIS; and the reliability of the United States, the kingdom’s protector, which is seen by many Saudis as a superpower in retreat. The unsettled situation is illustrated by the mercurial Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He was ousted as intelligence chief last April, then rehabilitated this summer with the honorific title of chairman of the national security council. The outcome is probably a net gain for Saudi stability: Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, the new chief of the spy service, is seen as a more reliable and professional operator; he works well with Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, the interior minister who is trusted by the United States.
The new spy chief and the interior minister, accompanied by Bandar and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, traveled to Qatar this week, presenting a common front to a regional rival that has often bedeviled Saudi and U.S. policy.
One question mark has been Crown Prince Salman, 78, the defense minister, who is reportedly in poor health. Speculation about succession was fueled by the appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince last March. Meanwhile, Salman has struggled to run the Defense Ministry. Since assuming that post in November 2011, he has had four deputies, including two sons of his predecessor, Prince Sultan.
The wild card in the Saudi deck is Bandar, the flamboyant former ambassador to Washington. When he was head of Saudi intelligence and paymaster to Saudi allies in Syria and Lebanon, he was an unpredictable – and in Washington’s eyes, sometimes untrustworthy – operator.
Some Americans feared Bandar’s covert efforts in the Syrian civil war were unintentionally spawning Al-Qaeda terrorists. U.S. officials were relieved when Bandar was removed as steward of the Syrian opposition.
It has been Saudi Arabia’s recurring nightmare to fight external enemies by encouraging Sunni movements that turn extremist and threaten the kingdom itself. This happened in the 1980s, when the Saudis joined the CIA in sponsoring the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The devout Muslim fighters drove out Soviet troops but evolved into the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The Saudis must worry that a similar process has happened again. Some of the Sunni fighters they backed against Iran have drifted toward ISIS. The Saudis didn’t intend the ensuing disaster, but they must now deal with it.
Western analysts credit Mohammad bin Nayef and Khaled bin Bandar for seeking to build more competent, professional security services at Interior and Intelligence. They’ll need that skill, and luck, too. For Saudi Arabia, big challenges lie just over the horizon.
**David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.
ISIS is eyeing U.S. and Europe, say lawmakers
Associated Press, Washington
Monday, 1 September 2014
Cities in the United States and Western Europe are being eyed as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants’ future targets and President Barack Obama needs to take action, two U.S. lawmakers are warning.
Without offering specifics on any threats or suggestions on how to confront them, the leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees on Sunday prodded the White House to work to prevent the ISIS extremists from launching attacks on U.S. soil. The bipartisan pair of lawmakers shared a dire warning against the Islamic State group, which now has control of vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, has killed civilians from that region and beheaded American journalist James Foley
“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate intelligence panel. “And they’ll kill with abandon.”
In a separate TV interview, the leader of the House
Intelligence Committee warned the leaders of the IS, sometimes called ISIL or
ISIS, are looking for a spectacular attack that would help them raise money and
recruit more fighters.
“ISIL would like to have a Western-style attack to continue this notion that they are the leading jihadist group in the world,” said Republican Rep. Mike Rogers. The pair of lawmakers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.
“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, ‘spill our blood.’“
The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of ISIS-trained Americans who can return to the U.S. with their American passports.
“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” Rogers said.
Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. If they helped ISIS fighters, he said, they should be charged under laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.
The top Democrat on Roger’s intelligence panel, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, was more skeptical. He said more needs to be known before judging whether ISIS extremists plan to commit terrorist acts in the U.S. any time soon. The group’s priority now seems to be to hold on to territory it has gained rather than export violence. “It is extremely urgent, but you don’t just rush in,” he said. It was a view shared by Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington state Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee: “We can’t simply bomb first and ask questions later.”Feinstein spoke to NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Rogers appeared on “Fox News Sunday.” Ruppersberger was on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Smith was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Human Rights Watch: ISIS using cluster bombs
By AFP | Beirut/Monday, 1 September 2014
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have used cluster munitions in Syria in at least one location and Syria's regime is continuing to use the widely banned weapon, Human Rights Watch said Monday. The New York-based group, citing reports from local Kurdish officials and photographic evidence, said IS fighters had used cluster bombs on July 12 and August 14. They were deployed in fighting around the town of Ayn al-Arab in Aleppo province, near the border with Turkey, in clashes between the militant group and local Kurdish fighters.The group said it was believed to be the first time ISIS had used cluster bombs, and it was unclear how it had acquired them. Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of small bomblets and can be fired in rockets or dropped from the air.
They spread explosives over large areas and are indiscriminate in nature, often continuing to maim and kill long after the initial attack when previously unexploded bomblets detonate. The weapons have been used by the Syrian government as well in its battle against rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. HRW said Syrian government forces had used at least 249 cluster munitions since mid-2012, according to video and film evidence, witness accounts, and research. Syria is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has also not been signed by the United States. HRW urged all members of the international community to accede to the treaty, and also repeated a call for arms embargoes on the Syrian government and any other party committing abuses in the country's conflict.
"Any use of cluster munitions deserves condemnation, but the best response is for all nations to join the treaty banning them and work collectively to rid the world of these weapons," said HRW arms division director Steve Goose. "The UN Security Council should impose an arms embargo on the Syrian government and other armed groups that commit systematic or widespread rights abuses," the group added in the statement. More than 191,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict there began in March 2011, according to the United Nations.
Iran and its sudden defense of the
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Monday, 1 September 2014
We must not underestimate the significance of the Iranian government’s initiative to provide military help to Iraq’s Kurds who suddenly found themselves confronting the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Before analyzing the Iranian stance and the motives behind it, we must re-narrate what happened after the Iraqi city of Mosul fell into the hands of ISIS and after alarm bells were sounded following news that it appeared that ISIS forces, not the Baathists, defeated the troops of outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, as Baghdad fortified its defenses in preparation for the battle, ISIS surprised everyone by heading north towards the country’s Kurdistan region!
The second surprise was the defeat of the Peshmerga forces,
known as a traditionally strong militia. It turned out that years of Kurdish
relaxation, particularly following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime 10
years ago, affected these Peshmerga forces as they are no longer as competent as
they used to be. If it hadn’t been for the U.S. military’s quick air force
intervention, terrorists may have succeeded in seizing major Kurdish cities.
There has been news of Kurdish anger against Arabs and Arab governments, blaming them for the spread of ISIS. If this is true, it certainly expresses the Kurds’ ignorance of ISIS’ regional relations.
Meanwhile, Iran’s rush to aid the Sunnis among Iraqi Kurds
expresses Iran’s tripartite strategy towards Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Tehran
wants to dominate the area to protect its influence in Baghdad. It also aims to
control eastern Syria and to influence Kurdish relations with Turkey. Arabs
don’t have plans to dominate or to gain influence in either Iraq or in Syria and
they also avoid raising Turkey’s suspicions. Iran, however, is less concerned
about respecting the rules of the regional security balance. Iran desires to
take over Iraq at any price by presenting itself as the protector of Sunni Kurds
and Shiite Arabs.
Tehran wants to dominate the area to protect its influence in Baghdad
I am still not convinced by the statements made to justify ISIS’ turn towards the north (to Kurdistan) and their move away from Baghdad - including statements written by Wafiq al- Samarrai in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, even though he is more experienced than us on this matter. This makes one wonder: How can an organization whose members do not hesitate to die, head towards a distant area and give up the capital, Baghdad, when it was only 80 kilometers away from it? In all cases, ISIS is a mere brief historical stage in a long era of regional struggles. No one will remember ISIS in few years but Iran wants to seize Iraq for decades to come, and this is the regional game of the struggle over land and influence.
The interests of Arab governments
Unfortunately, the interest of Arab governments in Iraq’s Kurdistan is limited and it’s no match for the interest of the United States and Iran, although the Kurdistan region is like a balcony which different powers use to overlook Baghdad since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Kurdistan is also important in the game of balance played out in the Iraqi parliament and cabinet. Iran’s domination over Iraq will eventually lead to targeting the Arab Gulf area, because this is the center of regional and international battles and it is the center of global energy, funds and political influence.
As for the Kurds, they feel grateful to the Iranians without giving any attention to the nature of Iran’s goals, particularly as Arab governments have not communicated with them to even verbally convey their solidarity against the threat of ISIS. This is what one Kurdish official told me.
Truth be told, Kurdistan’s leaders are wrong to point this exaggerated finger of blame as Arab governments don’t have an expansionist agenda like Iran does.
Second, ISIS is a general problem that is not limited to Kurdistan. There are Kurds, not only Arabs, fighting alongside ISIS!
Third, ISIS has done worse to the Sunnis of Anbar. It also shed the blood of many Syrian people and killed hundreds of young men from the al-Sheitaat clan and they are all Sunni Arabs.
Finally, the Kurds must remember outgoing Iraqi Prime
Minister’s Nouri al-Maliki’s abuses against them and how all these violations
would not have occurred if Maliki hadn’t coordinated with Iran. So, let’s not
think that Iran’s sudden rescue of Kurdistan is for the sake of god.
Iran is playing a win-win game at the
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
Monday, 1 September 2014
Recently, I sat down to dinner with a few Arab friends, all of whom were educated in the West and are engaged in policy making. They were very interested to hear my opinion on Iran’s nuclear program and whether or not Iran is tricking the West and its Arab neighbors while secretly planning to produce a nuclear bomb.
No one at that table believed Iran was sincere in its pledge to work with the international community to solve the lagging and controversial nuclear file. My Arab friends asked for evidence to prove President Hassan Rowhani’s negotiating team were being sincere.
Of course, being too optimistic or too pessimistic is not constructive. Simply put, Iran’s foreign policy has been changed due to the regional and international circumstances.
The interim deal benefits Iran far more than the production of a nuclear bomb. Also, the incentives offered by the West are not bad at all
Today, running a country with a population of almost 80 million, with a high youth unemployment rate, is difficult.
Unemployment, drug addiction and frustration among the youth all the consequences of the international isolation Iran has suffered for years. The “smart sanctions” which hit Iran’s oil industries in recent years forced the regime to resume the talks with the West.
President Rowhani and his nuclear negotiating team took very constructive and major steps in order to restore Iran’s image and to try to solve disputes.
They seem to be succeeding because the supreme leader decided to change course and achieve the ambitions they had since the revolution, but in a different way. He understands the importance of being engaged in regional and international matters to play a part rather than sit back in isolation, worrying about national security.
In my opinion, what made Iran’s supreme leader back the nuclear talks and show flexibility, according to his own statement, are the events in the region and the opportunities for Iran to become a regional power once again.
The events in Iraq and Syria,the rise of extremism and Iran’s geopolitical and regional importance coalesce to make Iranians feel like they could gain by changing their language and the way they presen themselves in the region.
Nuclear bombs can't feed the masses
North Korea’s breakup of the nuclear talks and their nuclear bomb gained the country starvation for its people and deep isolation. The hostile Pyongyang regime has the bomb but using it is as dangerous as committing suicide. Also, how will they use the bomb to feed the hungry masses? Pakistan and India are other good examples. Nuclear weapons have not helped Pakistan to become a stable nation and have not helped India to feed its poor.
So, the deal benefits Iran far more than the production of a nuclear bomb. Also, the incentives offered by the West are not bad at all. To become a regional power doesn’t mean creating a nuclear bomb if the United States and Western powers give Iran such space.
Plan B works better for Tehran than a hostile Plan A. The interim deal, which was reached last year in Geneva, was proof that all parties accept each other’s terms and conditions.
On August 17, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain must be prepared to ally itself with Iran to combat the “shared threat” of Sunni Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria who want to create “a terrorist state” that could extend to “the shores of the Mediterranean.”
Now the U.S. and the UK share the national interest of putting aside decades of enmity with the Shite regime in Tehran. The British prime minister called on Rowhani to “engage with the international community” in combating ISIS. A year of negotiations with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. security Council plus Germany) since Rowhani become president hasn’t been wasted as part of the interim deal was that some of the sanctions were lifted and the economy eased. Now an invitation for Iran to join the regional coalition to counter terrorism means finally, after 35-years of the revolution, the world recognizes the regime’s importance. Iran is not far from reaching the comprehensive deal to be outlines by November 23.
The harmony between the different factions of the Iranian government is astonishing which leaves no doubt in my mind that the supreme leader is behind all these changes, otherwise it could be impossible for Rowhani to reach the comprehensive deal with the West in such a “win-win” manner as he calls it.
Punish Saudis who misbehave abroad
Monday, 1 September 2014
Khaled Almaeena/Al Arabiya
Two Kuwaiti lawmakers have called for revoking the passports of any Kuwaiti who harms the country’s reputation abroad amid embarrassing reports about Kuwaiti travelers making a nuisance and a spectacle of themselves in public.
In a news item appearing in a Gulf paper, Nabeel al-Fadl was quoted as saying that the interior minister should look seriously at those Kuwaitis tarnishing the country’s image abroad. Another member of parliament, Abdul Hamid Dashti, also called for a debate on this subject. Social media has brought to our attention various types of behavior best described as not in harmony with Islamic or Arab traditions. Though only a minority may be involved, their actions grab the attention of the press in foreign countries and cast a blanket accusation against all. Among the issues brought up in the Kuwaiti case, which by the way are applicable to other Gulf states, are examples of a Kuwaiti female tourist using flip flop sandals to hit her children in public, young people tampering with fountains and people throwing empty plastic bags and cans and other litter everywhere they go.
In my travels
In my travels, I have seen worse things and at times have spoken to some of our young Saudi citizens for behaving in an inappropriate manner. A very annoying trend is to find Saudi tourists standing right in front of an elevator thus blocking people from coming out, or deciding to pray in exits blocking the passage for people passing by. Another is talking to a salesperson while he or she is dealing with another customer. In one case, a saleswoman told an impatient Saudi woman: “Please note that my manager gets upset when I speak to two customers at the same time.”
Our tourists must use good and polite behavior, say “thank you” and “please” and respect the rules and regulations of the countries that they visit
In a small town in Austria, residents complained about Gulf visitors. “Their men are loud and their women are covered from head to foot and this has scared the young children.” This was in a letter to the town’s mayor. Apparently, when these shrouded women took their kids to the kindergarten area of the park, many of the young children screamed in fear. While I believe in the right of anyone to wear what they want, I would caution that at times we can do damage to ourselves if we do not consider how others perceive us.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior has always issued guidelines to maintain the safety and security of its citizens who travel abroad. These include the safekeeping of passports, avoiding trouble spots, not engaging in flashy behavior or carrying large amounts of money, etc. However, it cannot tell us how to behave in public. That is something which we must be aware of ourselves.
“Thank you” and “please,” the must-do's
Our tourists must use good and polite behavior, say “thank you” and “please” and respect the rules and regulations of the countries that they visit. There are many incidents of Saudis being abusive to their maids, waiters in restaurants or salespersons or cashiers behind the counter.I remember an incident at a famous New York restaurant where one of my countrymen was shouting at an Asian waiter for no apparent reason. The waiter looked him in the eye and said: “Please sir, I am not an iqama holder!!”
The manager of the restaurant came and said: “In our country, we do not shout. If there is any shortcoming in service, please let us know.”
There was dead silence in the restaurant and the wife of the Saudi gentleman was red-faced and apologized.
Other embarrassing behavior of some of our countrymen abroad includes being insensitive to neighbors and landlords. Some Saudi tourists are often loud and noisy until late hours of the night and they leave the flats they rent in a terrible condition, destroying furniture with stains and lingering shisha odors. We as a society do not want our image to be tarnished by these people no matter how many or few they may be in number. I believe that cases of misbehavior or unethical conduct should be taken seriously and people who violate our Islamic values of cleanliness, good neighborliness and politeness should be punished. Uncouth and uncivilized behavior that is alien to our Islamic values should not be tolerated anymore, whether at home or abroad.
Ayatollah Urges Iran To Boycott 'Immoral' High-Speed Mobile Data
Business Insider/By James Cook /AP/Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has appealed to the country's religious leaders to embrace 3G internet after a prominent cleric used his website to denounce the technology. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi warned that rolling out 3G access in Iran would allow citizens to access "negative features," "immoral photos," as well as "spying." 3G networks began to spread rapidly with the rise of the smartphone in 2007. By June 2007, over 200 million people were using the mobile data network around the world, thanks to its high-speed delivery of data to mobile phones. After being petitioned by activists, the ayatollah posted a statement on his website that slammed 3G as "un-Islamic" and violating "human and moral norms." The claims come at a tricky time for Iran's government, which is attempting to modernize the country through improved internet access. Three companies are reportedly involved trying to bring 3G access to Iran, although at present only a small number of Iranian citizens are using 3G networks. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking on Monday at a gathering of clerics, urged the country's religious leaders to embrace technological change, warning them that Iran can't "close the gates to the world." Ayatollah Shirazi is one of Iran's most outspoken critics of internet reform, although he is perhaps best known for issuing a fatwa against domesticated dogs. The cleric had previously rallied against video calls and social networks, in April the ayatollah told a gathering of politicians that "using modern tools and devices to communicate with each other is not forbidden by Islam, but social networking sites are originally developed by the Western governments for reasons other than communications." In 2013, Ayatollah Shirazi joined three other clerics in issuing a fatwa against 3G provider RighTel for providing 3G access to Iran. The clerics accused the company of being corrupt, as well as enabling Iranians to download pornography.
ISIS laptop reveals project to build biological weapons
Foreign Policy reports reveals contents of a laptop found in Syria, laying out instructions for building chemical weapons and detailing attempts to weaponize bubonic plague.
Ynet /Published: 09.01.14/ Israel News
US intelligence officials discovered that one of the world's nightmare scenarios may have some base in reality as, according to a report in Foreign Policy last Friday, a laptop was recently discovered in war-torn Syria, detailing the attempts and ambitions of the Islamic State (ISIS) to build and use weapons of mass destruction.
According to the report, the computer was discovered in the city of Idlib in north-western Syria, near the Turkish border after fierce battles in which.
Foreign policy said that the computer belonged to a Tunisian national who studied chemistry at two separate universities in his home country before leaving to join ISIS in Syria.
The Syrian rebels who captured Idlib didn't know what was on the computer or what importance it may have and therefore passed it on to Foreign Policy reporters who initially thought that the laptop was empty.
Only after further investigation did they discover tens of thousands of folders and documents in French, English and Arabic. The computer's contents were originally unsurprising for a terrorist organization like ISIS. Reporters found old videos of Osama Bin Laden, a guidebook for building a bomb and stealing a vehicle, and how jihadists should use disguises and fake identities to travel from country to country without being caught.
Finally, after hours of filing through the computer's documents, Foreign Policy reporters found documents proving that the Tunisian had taught himself how to construct biological weapons for attacks that would astound the world.
Perhaps the most alarming of the documents however, detailed ISIS sanctioned work to weaponize the bubonic plague and other viruses that would have an even greater affect than that of a localized chemical attack.
"The benefits of a biological weapon are that it doesn't come up often, and the losses are massive," said the instructions on the laptop. "When a mouse is injected by the bacteria, the symptoms of the disease begin to show after 24 hours. It's best to use in places like underground trains or soccer fields and it can be used in a suicide attack as well."
Alongside the instructions was also a message of religious approval for the use of such weapons - part of a Fatwa which says that, "If the Muslims can't overwhelm the infidels in any other way, they are allowed to use weapons of mass destruction to kill everyone and erase them and their descendants from the earth."
While the idea of ISIS establishing such devastating weapons can easily conjure fear, this isn't the first time that terrorist organizations have brought the issue of biological weapons to the forefront of the war on extremism.
Even before the September 11 attacks in the US, al-Qaeda was involved in attempts to use chemical weapons in Afghanistan. In a CNN report from 2002, members of the extremist group could be seen using toxic gas on dogs. The US invested substantial efforts to prevent al-Qaeda from getting biological weapons, but the information on the laptop from Syria proves that terrorist organizations are still working to develop such weapons, which can kill thousands of people in one breath. The fear is that the longer ISIS continues to exist, the more specialists may join its ranks and use labs in the areas already capture by ISIS to work toward chemical weapons capabilities. Such labs exist in Mosul in Iraq and Ar Raqqah in Syria, both in the hands of ISIS militants.
Israel downed a drone over Golan after it was identified as a Hizballah Ababil 2
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 31, 2014 /DEBKAfie’s military sources report exclusively that the UAV, shot down Sunday Aug. 31 by an Israeli Patriot battery over Quneitra on the Golan, was launched by Hizballah – not Syria as initially reported. The Iran-made Ababail 2 was on a photography and intelligence-gathering mission over the Golan battleground where the Syrian army and rebels have been fighting for control off the Quneitra crossing between Syria and Israel.
Our sources add that Hizballah launched the unmanned aerial vehicle from a Syrian air base attached to Damascus international airfield, where Hizballah keeps a fleet of Ababil 2 drones transferred from Lebanon.
When the IDF picked up the drone on course for Quneitra, the information was flashed to top Israel government and military decision-makers, who decided on the spot that the Golan military situation was messy enough without a new complicating factor entering the fray. And so it was decided to shoot it down.
Arrayed against Syrian troops on this sliver of land, are at least five insurgent groups, the largest of which is the Syria Revolutionaries Front. Another is the Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front. Around 1,100 troops of the UN Disengagement Observer Force are responsible to policing the buffer zone between Syria and Israel that runs through Quneitra.
The Fijian contingent’s 44 members, who were abducted Thursday, Aug. 28 by Al Qaeda, are being held in an unknown location as hostages for a ransom that has not been published.
Our military and intelligence sources reveal that, shortly before the abduction, various intelligence watchers spotted a number of Hizballah officers who had arrived on the scene. It was generally estimated in Israel that the Lebanese Shiites were not planning to join the fighting, but had come out of concern that Syrian rebels would manage to drive Syrian troops out of Quneitra and its surrounding villages, and then break through to the Syrian villages on the Hermon and the Chabaa Farms on the Western slopes of the Hermon range. From there, the way would be open for the Syrian insurgents to reach southern Lebanon and mount another front against Hizballah from the rear.
The Druze villages on the Syrian slopes of the Hermon are loyal to Bashar Assad and appear to be preparing to resist the rebel advance should it take place.
HIzballah sent its drone to bring back firsthand information on the state of play in the struggle for Quneitra, as well as on Israel’s military deployment just across the border. That was one reason for sending an Israeli Patriot into action to down the aircraft. Furthermore, Israel stood by last Thursday, when Syrian warplanes came overhead and bombed rebel positions in the Quneitra crossing, although this was in breach of the 40-year old accord for the separation zone’s demilitarization.
At the same time, Jerusalem relayed a strong warning to Damascus against any recurrence. Next time, Israel would shoot down any intruders. It was therefore important for the IDF to make good on that warning and down the Hizballah drone for the sake of deterrence.