LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Divisions
in the Church
01 Corinthians 01/10-17: "By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose. For some people from Chloe's family have told me quite plainly, my friends, that there are quarrels among you. Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.” Christ has been divided into groups! Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptized as Paul's disciples? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. No one can say, then, that you were baptized as my disciples. Oh yes, I also baptized Stephanas and his family; but I can't remember whether I baptized anyone else.) Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ's death on the cross is not robbed of its power.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 07 and 08/14
The FSA and the anti-ISIS Alliance/By: Abdulrahman
Al-Rashed /Asharq Al Awsat/September 08/14
Israel won Gaza war after all/Isaac Ben-Israel / Ynetnews/September 08/14
Despite Setbacks, Islamic State Faces no Danger to its Existence/By: Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post/September 08/14
It’s ‘business as usual’ as some of Israel’s friends in Europe increase trade with Iran/By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post/08.09.14
The End of Globalization/Hussein Shobokshi /Sunday, 7 Sep, 2014 /Asharq Al Awsat/ September 08/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 07 and 08/14
Rai, patriarchs to meet Obama over Christian
Salam Declares Qatari Help in File of Abducted Soldiers: We Will Not Surrender
Several options to free the captured soldiers: Salam
Family of second beheaded Lebanese soldier call for calm and unity
Official: Hezbollah won’t target refugees
Report: Lebanese State Not Informed of Qatari Delegation Mediating Release of Arsal Captives
Jumblat's Parliamentary Bloc to Submit Candidacies for Parliamentary Polls
Bassil Urges Arab Foreign Ministers to Declare War against ISIL
Fear of further violence haunts Lebanese border town
Rifi Visits Mar Elias Church: We Will Thwart Attempts
to Destabilizing Coexistence in Tripoli
Al-Rahi Urges Politicians to Put Aside Personal Interests
Angry Protesters Torch Syrian Tents in Beirut, Bekaa
Lebanon to speed up Islamist trials
Foreign Minister calls for total war against ISIS
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 07 and 08/14
Pope says war no way to address injustice
US air strikes target militants near Iraq’s Haditha Dam
Iraq: Allawi, Nujaifi and Maliki offered VP posts
Abbas hints PA close to ending unity agreement with Hamas
Report: US attempted rescue mission for Sotloff and Foley in Syria
IDF soldiers saved Irish UN troops from hostage crisis in Golan Heights, says report
Israel's Lieberman Doubts Gaza Truce Can Last
Kerry discusses militants with Arab League chief
Palestinians Face Boycott Threats over Hamas Wages
U.N. Security Council condemns ‘heinous’ Sotloff murder
Egypt’s Sisi vows to resolve power crisis
Female Iranian editor who irked hard-liners to 'face media court'
Libya FM calls for “consensus” ahead of Arab League meeting
Top Saudi Cleric Urges Muslims to Fight IS Jihadists
Turkey in talks with France over missile purchase
Pope says war no way to address
Agence France Presse/VATICAN CITY: War is not the way to address injustice, Pope Francis said Sunday, in comments that appeared to distance himself further from any faith-based justification for US airstrikes in Iraq. "War is never a satisfactory way to right injustices," the pontiff said in a message to an inter-faith colloqium being hosted in Antwerp, Belgium by the St Egido community. "War leads people into a spiral of violence which becomes difficult to control. It destroys what it has taken generations to establish and leads the way to even worse conflicts and injustices." The Vatican had last month seemed to endorse airstrikes against the Islamic State, described as "perhaps necessary" by the Holy See's representative at the United Nations. Shortly afterwards the pope's own remarks in a press conference caused confusion about what the church's stance was. Asked specifically if he could back US strikes in Iraq to help protect Christians there, Francis replied: "In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor." He qualified his comment however by adding: "I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit."
Rai, patriarchs to meet Obama over
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Arrangements are underway to set a meeting between Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and Eastern patriarchs and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, officials in Bkirki said Sunday. Rai is scheduled to leave for Washington Monday at the head of a delegation of Eastern Church patriarchs to attend a three-day conference on protecting the Christian presence in the Levant in the face of mounting threats posed to the community by ISIS and other takfiri groups in Syria and Iraq. The “Defending the Middle East Christians” conference, sponsored by an American NGO from Sept. 9 to 11, will draw senior Middle Eastern Christian figures and American officials to Washington, D.C. “Arrangements in principle are being made for a meeting between President Obama and Patriarch Rai and the Eastern Church patriarchs at the end of the conference,” Walid Ghayyad, a spokesman for Rai, told The Daily Star. “During the meeting, Patriarch Rai will stress the international community’s role in putting an end to the wave of violence and wars sweeping across the region,” he said.A senior source in Bkirki said Rai would underline during talks with Obama the need for protecting the Christians through “halting the financing of ISIS and other terrorist movements” blamed for the displacement and killing of Christians in Iraq and Syria.
“Patriarch Rai will call for helping countries to stop the expansion of ISIS and other takfiri organizations in the region. He will also stress that protecting the Christians cannot be achieved through encouraging them to emigrate to European countries,” the source told The Daily Star. The first day of the conference will take place at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C., followed by two days at the Capitol building, where Rai and his colleagues will hold talks with U.S. senators and attend lectures on human rights and freedom of belief.
The delegation of patriarchs includes Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako. Rai headed a delegation of Eastern patriarchs to Iraq last month to show support and solidarity with Iraqi Christians suffering at the hands of ISIS militants in the northern city of Mosul. Earlier Sunday, Rai urged Lebanon’s Christian politicians to incorporate Christian values into their political performance and immediately elect a new president.
“We expect a biblical voice from Christian politicians to pull the country out of the presidential vacuum and paralyzed institutions,” Rai said in his Sunday Mass in Bkirki. “We expect them [Christian MPs] to take new initiatives that will lead to the election of a new president as soon as possible because it is the only thing that can guarantee national unity.”Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea called on Lebanon’s Christians not to be intimidated by ISIS, which he described as “a cancerous tumor.”“ ISIS is a cancerous tumor that surfaced at first in parts of Iraq and Syria and it’s still containable to a certain point. This can be removed only if we join our efforts via an international and Arab alliance,” Geagea said during a ceremony at his residence in Maarab, north of Beirut, Saturday to commemorate the LF martyrs killed during the 1975-90 Civil War. “If they’re trying to intimidate us, then do not fear them ... Those who faced major challenges and the likes of ISIS throughout history should not fear those today,” he said. “We are the sons of the historical Lebanese resistance.”Geagea said ISIS was doomed to extinction. “ ISIS has nothing to do with Islam and Arabism. It carries with it the seeds of its extinction. Like fire, it will eat itself,” he said. Speaking about the presidential election deadlock, Geagea indirectly criticized his rival MP Michel Aoun for aspiring the presidency even at the country’s expense. “It is a political crime to cut off the head of the republic in order to occupy that position,” Geagea said. He added that the only reason Aoun sought to amend the Constitution was “because he failed to reach the presidency.”The March 14 coalition has rejected Aoun’s proposal for a constitutional amendment that would allow the president to be elected directly by the people instead of by lawmakers.
Top Saudi Cleric Urges Muslims to
Fight IS Jihadists
Naharnet/Saudi Arabia's top cleric has urged Muslims to confront the "oppressive" Islamic State jihadist group if it fights Muslims after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria, media reports said Sunday. "This group is aggressive and oppressive. It sheds blood," Al-Eqtisadiah daily quoted Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh as saying. "If they fight Muslims, then Muslims must fight them to rid people and religion of their evil and harm," he said in a response to a request from an Iraqi for a fatwa or edict on fighting IS.
"They have been killing ever since they began their fight. Their killing is filled with mutilations and hideousness that distort (the image of) Muslims," Sheikh said. His remarks come as the United States seeks to build a broad-based international coalition to fight the Islamic State, which has carved out a stronghold in large areas of Syria and Iraq. The United States last month launched air strikes against the militant group in Iraq, in support of government forces and allied tribesmen, as well as Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the north.
Last month, the desert kingdom's highest religious authority branded al-Qaida and IS jihadists Islam's "number one enemy", and warned Muslim youths to steer clear of "calls for jihad" issued on "perverted" grounds. IS jihadists, already well established in Syria, launched an offensive in Iraq on June 9 and rapidly seized control of vast swathes of Sunni territory there. King Abdullah vowed on June 29: "We will not allow a handful of terrorists, using Islam for personal aims, to terrify Muslims or undermine our country and its inhabitants."
The ultra-conservative and largely Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam's holiest places, Mecca and Medina. Agence France Presse.
Salam Declares Qatari Help in File of
Abducted Soldiers: We Will Not Surrender
Naharnet ظPrime Minister Tammam Salam announced on Sunday that Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has been exerting efforts to help free the abducted Lebanese soldiers, stressing that negotiations with “blood” will not make the government surrender.
“Anger is immense but we should know that sedition, which terrorists seek, could be taken advantage of by ignorant individuals and weak souls. It is the entrance to ruin our national peace,” said Salam in a speech addressing the Lebanese.
On Saturday, several pro-jihadist Twitter accounts published gruesome pictures apparently showing Islamic State militants beheading one of the abducted Lebanese soldiers who were held captive in the clashes in the northeastern town of Arsal in August.
The beheading comes around ten days after the same group executed captive army sergeant Ali al-Sayyed. The pictures triggered massive protests and angry people blocked several roads and burned tires in various areas.
“What happened in the streets of Lebanon in the last few days harmed the cause of the martyrs and our kidnapped soldiers. It could have led the country to dangerous repercussions,” he stated, adding that blocking roads and obstructing the country will not bring the soldiers back. “Although the pain is immense, allowing terrorism to infiltrate out national structure is much more agonizing. It is what the criminals want,” he stressed. In reference to the Islamist jihadists, he added: “They only understand the language of slaughter, but we will not panic and our intent will not weaken. We will stay united and determined to get our sons back.”“We are not in a position of weakness, we have several power cards. Contacts are continuing based on the latest cabinet session which set the rules not to swap any inmates, but to use international channels for negotiations with the kidnappers.”Slamming all reports claiming that Qatar did not engage in the negotiation efforts to free the soldiers, Salam extended gratitude to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his adamant efforts to help Lebanon overcome this ordeal. “The enemy is not a traditional one, it caused us much pain and we are all required to have faith in the government and its ability to manage this thorny file,” he concluded.
Several options to free the captured
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: In a defiant response to the ISIS execution of two Lebanese soldiers, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Sunday Lebanon was not in a weak position and has “several options” to secure the release of its troops and policemen held hostage by ISIS and Nusra Front militants. Speaking in a televised speech to the Lebanese Sunday night, Salam stressed that national unity was crucial to defeat terrorist groups threatening the country’s security and stability and prevent sectarian strife for which the “criminal killers” are working. Referring to ISIS militants who have slaughtered two soldiers out of the 11 they are holding hostage, Salam said: “They are negotiating with us with blood because they are barbarian. They have no religion and they understand only the language of slaughter because they believe that it will help them attain their objectives.”“Blood is precious but we will not be intimidated. We will not lose our way or surrender to the feelings of revenge,” he said. “Our determination will not be weakened. We will uphold our cohesion, patience, wisdom and our insistence on bringing back our sons by all means.”In what appeared to be a strong message to the soldiers’ captors, Salam said: “We are not in a weak position. We have several options. There are various elements of strength in our hands.” He did not elaborate.
The government last week rejected the militants’ demands to swap the 23 hostages with Islamist detainees held in Roumieh prison. Salam’s speech came a day after ISIS militants slaughtered Abbas Medlej, one of the captured Lebanese soldiers. Earlier this week, Lebanon laid First Sgt. Ali al-Sayyed to rest, who was beheaded by ISIS over a week ago. Salam said the battle against terrorism was long, but assured the Lebanese that terrorist groups would be defeated. “ Lebanon will not be defeated. Those terrorists will definitely be defeated,” he said.
Report: Lebanese State Not Informed of
Qatari Delegation Mediating Release of Arsal Captives
Naharnet/Controversy loomed on Sunday whether a Qatari delegation negotiating the release of abducted security forces' members was commissioned by the Lebanese government or not. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had denied a prior knowledge of the presence of a Qatari delegation in Lebanon to mediate the release of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen, who were taken hostage by Islamist gunmen while withdrawing from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. Mashnouq's statement comes in light of media reports saying that the Qatari delegation held indirect contacts with the Islamist gunmen to ensure the safe release of the remaining hostages. The minister was expected to head to Doha after he has been invited to the Gulf Cooperation Council's interior ministers' meeting.
He was reportedly set to follow up the case with senior Qatari officials during his visit, but he revealed on Saturday evening that he canceled his visit due to the developments. The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported on Sunday that the delegation left Lebanon on Saturday after gaining a pledge by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front to extend the zero-hour before starting to execute the hostages. “None of the security forces will be harmed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as long as negotiations are ongoing,” sources told the daily. The delegation had reportedly arrived overnight Thursday in Lebanon before immediately heading to the Bekaa town of Arsal, which borders Syria. Informed sources told the daily that the Lebanese government prefers to remain silent over any development. Sources close to the Nusra Front said in comments published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the Qatari delegation didn't hold direct talks with the group's leaders. “The meeting was held through mediators,” the sources said, confirming that a list of demands was handed over to the delegation. On Saturday, the Islamic State group said that a meeting was held with Qatari mediators and that "other parties" were obstructing the talks. The Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported that the Qatari delegation tasked a Syrian national with mediating with the Islamist gunmen the release of the abducted security personnel. The newspaper identifies the Syrian national by his initials J. H., pointing out that he played a leading role in the release of 12 abducted Syrian nuns from the Syrian Maaloula in March. Lebanon has been reportedly seeking the help of Qatar and Turkey to ensure their safe release. On Saturday, several pro-jihadist Twitter accounts published gruesome pictures apparently showing Islamic State militants beheading Lebanese army soldier Abbas Medlej, around ten days after the same group executed captive army sergeant Ali al-Sayyed. About two dozen more members of the country's security forces remain held captive by the militants. They were seized in August when several Syrian rebel factions, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, overran Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighboring civil war.
Jumblat's Parliamentary Bloc to Submit
Candidacies for Parliamentary Polls
Naharnet /Members of Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat's parliamentary bloc will reportedly submit their candidacies for the upcoming general elections. Sources close to Jumblat said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper on Sunday that the lawmakers of the National Struggle Front will run for the elections, including MP Ghazi al-Aridi. In 2013, Aridi announced his resignation from ex-premier Najib Miqati's caretaker cabinet in light of corruption allegations, revealing that he will “take a break from politics.”
“The bloc abides by all the constitutional deadlines, at forefront the parliamentary polls,” sources told the newspaper. However, the sources said running for the elections doesn't “necessarily mean that the polls will be staged.”“The bloc supports carrying out timely parliamentary elections, although extending the legislature's term for a second time would be a bitter option,” the sources added. Last year, the rival MPs extended their tenure until November 2014 after they failed to agree on a new electoral draft-law. Media reports said on Friday that the March 14 MPs will submit their nominations for the parliamentary elections despite the differences among them over holding the polls in light of the vacuum in the presidency. Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid differences between the rival parliamentary blocs on a compromise candidate. On Thursday, Speaker Nabih Berri and his Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc submitted their candidacies for the polls. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq issued a memo last week detailing the documents needed for those seeking to run in the elections on November 16. The memo was based on a decree that he issued last month, calling on the electoral bodies to elect lawmakers.
Bassil Urges Arab Foreign Ministers to Declare War against ISIL
Naharnet /Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil proposed during the opening session of the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers to “declare war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” ISIL. Media reports said that Bassil, who is attending the Arab League meeting in Cairo, urged conferees to issue a decision under the slogan: “The Arab World Declares War on ISIL.”The opening session's agenda includes the political and security developments in Palestine and Libya and Syrian. It will also focus on ways to confront terrorism. On Saturday, several pro-jihadist Twitter accounts published gruesome pictures apparently showing Islamic State militants beheading a second Lebanese army soldier, around ten days after the same group executed captive army sergeant Ali al-Sayyed. The so-called Qalamun branch of the Islamic State also published a statement confirming the execution of 20-year-old army soldier, Abbas Medlej, after he reportedly tried to escape. Medlej hailed from a large Shiite clan from the eastern city of Baalbek. About two dozen more members of the country's security forces remain held captive by the militants. They were seized in August when several Syrian rebel factions, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, overran Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighboring civil war. The captured soldiers and police are from country's many religious sects.
Rifi Visits Mar Elias Church: We Will
Thwart Attempts to Destabilizing Coexistence in Tripoli
Naharnet /Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stressed on Sunday that the country is passing through a critical stage, however, he pointed out that it will not have an impact on the solidarity between Christians and Muslims. “I denounce the writings on the churches in (the northern city of) Tripoli,” Rifi said during a visit to Mar Elias Church that was vandalized by unknown assailants recently. He pointed out that Tripoli is a city of coexistence, which is the corner stone of the country's unity. Rifi justified his decision to investigate the Ashrafiyeh incident and the burning of crosses in Tripoli, saying: “We have taken the right choice... We will pursue any mischievous person trying to harm our coexistence or unity.” In Lebanon, the disrespect of religious symbols is punishable by law. “We are completely aware of the delicate stage we are passing through... We are keen to safeguard this country,” the minister said. He said that “the decision was against who are inciting sedition and destabilizing the civil peace.”Rifi had asked General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud to investigate burning of the Islamic State group's flag in Beirut over the pretense that the flag includes the Islamic shahada, “There is no god but Allah, Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”A video showing several men burning the IS flag in Ashrafiyeh's Sassine square was circulated on social media last week. MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who is a member of the Change and Reform bloc and a lawyer, immediately rushed to their defense. However, media reports had said that Rifi, Hammoud and Kanaan agreed to freeze the summons.
There are fears that burning of the flag would up sectarian tension. Assailants have been spray-painting the walls of several churches in the northern city of Tripoli and reports said that angry men have burned crosses. Rifi has also ordered an investigation into the alleged cross-burning.
Family of second beheaded Lebanese
soldier call for calm and unity
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The family of the Lebanese soldier who was executed by ISIS Saturday called for unity against takfiri groups, saying citizens need to support the state and the Army, not slip into civil strife. “Our choice remains as is, Lebanon a country of coexistence for all its components,” said the statement by the family of Abbas Medlej Saturday night, appealing for calm. “The terrorist act that killed our son Abbas is a crime against all Lebanese; Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze.”The Medlej family called for Lebanese to prevent “takfiris from penetrating into our national fabric,” and thus stop them from achieving their goal of division among the Lebanese. The family also placed their trust in the Army, calling on the authorities to “act immediately to put an end to the remaining soldiers’ suffering. “We call on all our people to show self-control and to behave in a manner that respects the heroic martyrs,” the statement said. The Turkish news agency Anadolu had reported Saturday afternoon that an ISIS commander told one of its reporters that the extremist group had beheaded Medlej over an escape attempt. After the news, both the Nusra Front and ISIS warned Saturday that any attack on Syrian refugees in Lebanon would prompt them to behead more of the kidnapped Lebanese soldiers.
“We will slaughter all the captive Shiite soldiers if Hezbollah or his fans attack Syrian refugees in Lebanon,” an ISIS commander reportedly told Anadolu. The two groups’ threat came in light of a serious concern that the second beheading in recent weeks would prompt revenge attacks on Syrian refugees or militants' relatives in Lebanon.
A group naming itself “the youth of the Radwan Neighborhood” reportedly pasted anti-Syrian flyers in the Hay al-Sellom neighborhood of Beirut’s southern suburb Saturday night. “In honor of our brethren (Ali al-Sayed and Abbas Medlej) we ask all the Syrians, without exception, to leave this neighborhood by Sept. 15,” the flyer said. Using the Arabic expression “he is excused, he who has warned,” the flyers addressed Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, calling on them not to intervene in the matter.
Medlej, according to the ISIS commander's account to the Anadolu Agency, had said he was going to the bathroom but shot at ISIS members instead. No account was given as to how he obtained a weapon. Medlej, who was 24 years old, hailed from the town of Maqneh in the northern Bekaa Valley. Earlier this week, Lebanon laid First Sgt. Ali al-Sayyed to rest, who was beheaded by ISIS over a week ago. Sayyed and Medlej were captured, along with at least 27 of their colleagues from the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces, during clashes with jihadists from ISIS and the Nusra Front in the northeastern town of Arsal. They were seized during major fighting that began on Aug. 2 and lasted for five days, between the Army and jihadists who had flooded in from neighboring Syria. The militants have requested the release of several high profile Islamist prisoners as a pre-requisite for the release of the soldiers and policemen. The Lebanese government rejected negotiating a prisoner swap with the militants, but a Qatari negotiator has recently started a mediation to break the deadlock over the abducted troops.
Al-Rahi Urges Politicians to Put Aside Personal Interests
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called on Sunday on politicians to set aside personal interests, urging them to fend off crises. “We demand political leaders and Christian figures to put aside their personal interests,” al-Rahi said in his sermon during Sunday's mass from Bkirki. He reiterated calls on Christian politicians to swiftly elect a new president and end the vacuum at the Baabda Palace in a manner that would preserve the “dignity” of the nation and people. Al-Rahi said that he will travel to the U.S. on Monday the patriarchs of the Orient to attend a conference in Washington.However, he didn't confirm or deny media reports saying that he will hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the conference. The conference, which will be held on September 9,10 and 11, aims at discussing the situation in the Middle East and the conditions of Christians. An organization called “In Defense of Christians” will be hosting the summit. “Our role as Christians requires us to pray for the takfiris to repentance," al-Rahi said. Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May. Disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a consensual candidate have thwarted the election of a president. The majority of March 8 parliamentary blocs have boycotted the elections sessions over the dispute.
Official: Hezbollah won’t target refugees
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah won't assault Syrian refugees, an official assured Sunday, after the Nusra Front and ISIS warned that any attempts to target Syrians in the country would result in the deaths of more captives. “We will not assault any Syrian refugees,” said the head of Hezbollah's religious committee, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, arguing that such a move would only serve to spark sectarian and civil strife.“If ISIS and those aiding it are planning on sectarian strife in this country, then we will turn off the sectarian flame,” he said.
The Hezbollah official expressed his party’s commitment to coexistence and civil peace, calling on all religious sects to provide a unified front against threats facing the country. Tensions have been rising in the country following ISIS' beheading of two Lebanese soldiers in the past weeks, with a flyer surfacing in Beirut’s southern suburbs overnight Saturday following the news of Medlej’s slaughter. “In honor of our brothers Ali al-Sayyed and Abbas Medlej, we request of all Syrians, without exception, to leave this street by Sept. 15,” the flyer stated.In the Bekaa Valley, Syrian refugees residing in a camp near the Riyaq Baalbek - Hawsh al-Ghanam highway near Baalbek, packed their belongings and left towards the western Bekaa. In further evidence of mounting tensions, several tents belonging to Syrian refugees were set ablaze in the Bekaa town of Brital. Concerns over revenge attacks on Syrian refugees have prompted both ISIS and Nusra to release statements late Saturday warning against any assault. “The response will be harsh and we will start killing our military detainees” if Hezbollah infringes on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, warned the Nusra Front in a statement released on Twitter. Similarly, ISIS said that any infringement on a Syrian refugee would prompt a very harsh response, saying that it would hold the Lebanese government accountable for the slaughter of all Shiite captives.
Angry Protesters Torch Syrian Tents in
Naharnet Newsdesk 13 hours ago/Angry Lebanese nationals reportedly torched tents that were housing Syrian refugees after news emerged on the beheading of another Lebanese soldier by Islamist gunmen who overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.
MTV reported on Sunday that enraged protesters set ablaze tents for Syrian refugees residing in encampments in Beirut's southern suburb neighborhood of al-Lailaki and Hay al-Sellom. Other refugees were given an ultimatum to leave the towns they are residing. LBCI also said that furious protesters torched tents for Syrians in an informal campsite in the Bekaa town of Brital. The National News Agency later reported that Syrians residing in an encampment on Riyaq - Baalbek highway left their unofficial camp site and headed toward the west Bekaa. On Saturday, several pro-jihadist Twitter accounts published gruesome pictures apparently showing Islamic State militants beheading a second Lebanese army soldier, around ten days after the same group executed captive army sergeant Ali al-Sayyed.
The so-called Qalamun branch of the Islamic State also published a statement confirming the execution of 20-year-old army soldier, Abbas Medlej, after he reportedly tried to escape. Medlej hailed from a large Shiite clan from the eastern city of Baalbek.
About two dozen more members of the country's security forces remain held captive by the militants. They were seized in August when several Syrian rebel factions, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, overran Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighboring civil war. The captured soldiers and police are from country's many religious sects. The family of Medlej issued a statement late on Saturday calling for warding off sedition and preventing takfiris from infiltrating the country and achieving their goals. As news broke that Medlej was executed, angry protesters took to the streets and blocked roads in Beirut's southern suburbs, Bekaa's Ablah, al-Labweh, al-Ain, and the northern town of Halba.
There are fears that Syrian refugees would be assaulted in retaliation to the beheading of the two army soldiers, however, the Islamic groups warned of any revenge act. Hosting more than 1.1 million Syrians fleeing their country's three-year war, Lebanon is home to the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region, and also to the highest refugee population per capita in the world.
Fear of further violence haunts Lebanese border town
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Fears of a resurgence of violence in the Lebanese border town of Arsal grew over the weekend, following the return of the body of a resident, Kayed Ghadadah, who was shot dead by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the outskirts of the town. The town, located on the Lebanese–Syrian border, was the scene of clashes between the Lebanese armed forces and Syria-based rebels from ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front, in one of the most serious examples of spillover from the conflict in Syria into its smaller neighbor to date. Both Al-Nusra and ISIS, and the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, have all issued lists of residents they accuse of collaborating with opposing sides during the fighting in August, which reportedly killed 20 Lebanese soldiers, 16 civilians, and scores of insurgents.
Ghadadah was reportedly kidnapped from his home in Arsal by ISIS last week. His body was returned on Thursday after he was executed by the organization, which claimed he had been assisting Hezbollah.
As well as the killing of a resident by ISIS, a Twitter account linked to the Al-Nusra Front recently announced the “detention of collaborators of Iranian Hezbollah,” in the Arsal area, and published a video of two people who claimed to be Syrians in the pay of Hezbollah, and who said they had received training from the organization.
Hezbollah has fought in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Al-Assad, whom ISIS and Al-Nusra are battling to overthrow.
A senior source from the town, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Hundreds of families have left Arsal for fear of being kidnapped by ISIS and also due to the recession which has paralyzed the town recently.”
The source added that those wanted by ISIS and Nusra were seen as “traitors who must be killed, because they opposed their violations and the presence of [armed fighters] in the town, and they opposed the arrival of insurgents in Arsal during the clashes.”
The town’s mayor, Ali Al-Hujairi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that those who left the town were mostly people who owned property in Beirut or could afford to pay rent in the capital. He said some of those who left “feared for their lives because they worked for Hezbollah.”
“Some Syrian nationals and local residents are wanted by the armed groups for working for Hezbollah during the clashes and firing at the army and the Syrians to cause sedition,” while in turn, “a number of people are wanted by the Lebanese government and Hezbollah for collaboration with the insurgents,” he said.
Meanwhile, an ISIS twitter account announced on Saturday the killing of another Lebanese soldier captured by the group during the fighting in Arsal.
The announcement came a few hours after the return of a Qatari mediator from talks with the group with ISIS and Nusra’s list of demands on Friday. The kidnappers demanded the release of Islamist prisoners in the Lebanese Roumieh Prison, and a cash ransom.
An ISIS commander said Lebanese soldier Abbas Madlaj was executed while attempting to escape. A Twitter account purported to be owned by Abu-Mossaab, the grandson of ISIS leader Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, published photos of Madlaj with his hands tied, kneeling in front of the group’s flag, surrounded by five masked insurgents.
Another picture showed one of the insurgents holding the head of the Lebanese soldier while holding a bloody knife in the other. A third picture showed the decapitated head of the soldier placed on his back.
The organization executed another captive just over a week before. Both men were among a group of around two-dozen Lebanese army and Internal Security Force soldiers captured during the fighting in Arsal in August and believed still held by ISIS and Al-Nusra.
The FSA and the anti-ISIS Alliance
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed /Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 7 Sep, 2014
In response to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mouallem’s statement calling on the US and UK to obtain permission from Bashar Al-Assad’s government to strike the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Assad’s government lacks political legitimacy and so there is therefore no need to obtain any such permission.
Ultimately, Assad will not mind so long as the airstrikes do not target him later on—if, for example, the mission changes to bombing his forces and the militias fighting for him. These militias include Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Iraqi Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Mouallem’s call for foreign states to ask for Assad’s permission to target ISIS was an attempt to show that Assad’s government is heading a sovereign state, and it is this very notion that Cameron so explicitly rejected.
The most difficult aspect in all of this is acknowledging that eradicating ISIS cannot be accomplished by air strikes alone, especially since this terrorist group is hiding out in city centers, using civilians as human shields. This is precisely what Al-Qaeda did in Iraq in the past. So how will NATO forces and regional allied countries be able to eradicate ISIS with air strikes? The Americans fiercely fought Al-Qaeda in Iraq for many years with all kinds of weapons, but they were only able to succeed after securing the assistance of Iraq’s own tribes and citizens.
We therefore question the effectiveness of this “leading from behind” policy. We are also sure that the air strikes will fail. The solution lies, first and foremost, in “coordinating” with a Syrian ally on the ground. However, the only Syrian ally ready to fight ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar Al-Sham and the rest of these terrorist groups remains the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The FSA is the only force that has legitimacy and civil values, gained from popular support on the ground. The war on these terrorist groups will take at least two years—this is a relatively long period of time that requires for arrangements to be made on the ground along the lines of what happened previously in Iraq.
Today, Syria has become a safe haven for global terrorism. ISIS senior leadership, as well as other terrorist groups, have found a home in Syria; air strikes alone will not be enough. While the limited support being given to the FSA is also not enough to allow them to confront and eradicate these terrorists. The FSA cannot turn its full attention to ISIS and its affiliates without abandoning its primary mission of overthrowing the Assad regime.
The FSA’s main mission is to gain control of the capital Damascus and establish a new government that represents all Syrians. This new government would then be responsible for the liberation of the rest of Syria’s territory from terrorist groups and mercenaries. Therefore, the new anti-ISIS alliance has to recognize and support the FSA to take the lead in pursuing and destroying ISIS. The FSA must do this not just for the sake of Syria and the Syrian people, but also for the Arab world and the West.
Analysis: It’s ‘business as usual’ as some of Israel’s friends in Europe increase trade with Iran
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
Germany and the Czech Republic – key allies of Israel in the European Union– have boosted economic ties with Iran. The Czech government is slated to send 20 companies to Tehran on Saturday to jump-start business contacts.
Increased commerce with the Islamic Republic, particularly from such strong supporters of Israel, sends a powerful message of “business as usual.”
The visit by the Czech trade delegation is the first of its kind, Radio Prague reported. “We have a lot to follow up on. Iran and the Czech Republic have had historic trade ties which were established in the 1960s and ’70s,” the station quoted Vladimír Dlouhý, head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, as saying.
While Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek couched his country’s revival of business relations in cautious terms, saying that Iran has to reach an agreement to end its alleged nuclear weapons program, the initiative suggests an unsettling intensification of Czech-Iran relations.
The media in the Islamic Republic heralded the rekindling of relations.
A FARS news report titled “Czech PM calls for practical steps to develop ties with Iran” described how Zaorálek met on Wednesday with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi and said, “We need to take practical steps aimed at expansion of bilateral relations with an optimist vision about the future.” FARS news is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps – an organization responsible for repressing Iran’s democratic Green movement in 2009 and sponsoring global terrorism.
According to Radio Prague, “In 2012, trade between the Czech Republic and Iran amounted to some 1.2 billion... crowns, down from 2.4 billion registered in 2003, before the country’s accession to the European Union.” The country’s international news outlet added that “Czech firms mainly export machinery products, electrical goods, and other products to Iran, while the bulk of imports from Iran consists of fruit and vegetables.”
The Czech Republic was the only EU country to vote against the PLO’s application for non-member observer state status at the UN in 2012.
Meanwhile, neighboring Germany is positioning itself to recapture its €5 billion-plus trade relationship with the Islamic Republic. The Wall Street Journal reported in an August titled article “German Businesses Warm to Iran” that a two-day conference on Iran in Frankfurt in July drew 40 companies from the machine and factory-engineering industries. Topics included “market entry options, investment rules, sanctions and Iranian politics.”
German-Iranian trade has continued to increase since the world powers reached an agreement last November to relax sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran’s regime agreed to curtail its illicit nuclear program. The bilateral commerce saw in increase of 42.8% between January and May of 2014, according to Eurostat, a European Union website that tracks trade data.
Iran’s state-controlled Tehran Times euphorically announced on Monday that Germany was Iran’s leading trade partner during June.
“The European country [Germany] exported €207 million of goods to Iran in June 2014, an 88 percent rise compared to June 2013,” wrote the paper.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that Israel’s security interests are integral to her country’s national security. However, she has had little appetite to confront Germany’s powerful business community.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of a new book Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes, wrote on Monday, “As Iran redoubles its investment in its military, nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the region will be paying the price for years to come for allowing Iran such a cash windfall without winning anything in exchange.”
Rubin zeroed in on the danger of sanctions relief without an ironclad agreement with the regime in Tehran. Absent Iran agreeing to shut down the military components of its nuclear and missile program, sanctions relief funds and increased trade will enable it to further militarize.
A “penny-wise and pound-foolish” strategy with Iran will expose the EU to a similar Islamic State-style danger, but on a nuclear and missile scale.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on European affairs for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Former Israeli Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy: There are
signs of support for Islamic State in Israel
Efraim Halevy says Israel should be wary of strengthening of Islamic State terrorists in Jordan and Gaza, but biggest danger could potentially come from Israeli-Arabs volunteering for group. Israel should be concerned with the possibility that its own citizens will potentially volunteer to join the Islamic State terrorist group, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy warned on Sunday. Speaking during an interview with Army Radio, Halevy said Israeli-Arabs volunteering for the group pose a greater threat than the possibility of the organization threatening Israel's borders. "There are signs of sympathy for the Islamic State among Israeli citizens," Halevy told Army Radio. "When a backdrop of sympathy exists, there are usually some who cross over to wider action."He said a similar process "occured in western Europe and could already be happening here."He said Israel must also keep an eye out for Islamic State activity in Jordan and Gaza, "despite the fact that in Gaza there is already an effective actor in the struggle against Islamic State - Hamas."
Islamic State, fighting to redraw the map of the Middle East, has been coaching Egypt's most dangerous militant group, complicating efforts to stabilize the biggest Arab nation. Confirmation that Islamic State, currently the most successful of the region's jihadi groups, is extending its influence to Egypt will sound alarm bells in Cairo, where the authorities are already facing a security challenge from home-grown militants. A senior commander from the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has killed hundreds of members of the Egyptian security forces over the past year, said Islamic State has provided instructions on how to operate more effectively. "They teach us how to carry out operations. We communicate through the internet," the commander, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.
"They don't give us weapons or fighters. But they teach us how to create secret cells, consisting of five people. Only one person has contact with other cells." Militant groups and the Egyptian state are old foes. Some of al-Qaida's most notorious commanders, including its current leader Ayman al-Zawahri, are Egyptian. One Egyptian president after another has crushed militant groups but they have always resurfaced. The success of Islamic State in seizing large parts of Syria and Iraq has raised concerns in Egypt, where authorities are battling Ansar as well as militants who have capitalized on the chaos in post-Gaddafi Libya to set up over the border.Islamic State became the first jihadi group to defeat an Arab army in a major operation after steamrolling through northern Iraq in June almost unopposed by the Iraqi military.*Reuters contributed to this report.
Obama’s plan for local armies to fight IS under a
“core coalition” is unreal for lack of military muscle
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 6, 2014/
Facing pressing demands to do something serious about the brutal Islamic State, US President Barack Obama threw together a mix of US air strikes, strengthening moderate Syrian rebel groups and enlisting friendly regional governments for the fight “to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL” A “core coalition” of nine NATO governments was put together, made up of Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark, whose leaders were assured that they were not expected to put boots on the ground.
The US President unveiled this plan at the NATO summit in Wales which ended Friday, Sept. 5
debkafile’s military and counterterrorism sources conclude that his slick recipe lacked the most essential ingredient: Military muscle. No armed force capable of taking on the marching jihadis is to be found in all the vast territory of some 144,000 sq. km seized by the Islamist terrorists, between Raqqa in northrn Syria and the northwestern approaches to Baghdad.
Even in the unlikely event that President Obama was to pour out hundreds of billions of dollars to build such a force, the “core coalition” will hardly find any local governments ready to shoulder the mission, which would be potentially more daunting even that the Al Qaeda and Taliban challenge facing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The most the US president can hope for in the months remaining to the end of 2014 - and perhaps even much of 2015 - is a string of minor local successes, fought by small forces like the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, with limited US air support.
Such low-intensity warfare will never gain enough traction to reverse or repel the IS onslaught. There is no real chance of an effort, so stripped-down of the basic tools of war, loosening the clutch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on a broad domain, or deterring thousands of jihadis from flocking to the vibrant new caliphate rising there from across the Muslim world, especially the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
Getting to grips with this task would not take months, but much longer – certainly if it rests on the dim hope of rebuilding the Iraqi national army, which never recovered from its humiliating defeat at Islamist hands in May and June. None of its divisions remain intact, and most of them left their weapons on the battlefield in their haste to flee the enemy.
The only combat-trained forces in Iraq are Sunni militias. But they have lost faith in US steps in their country and many have opted to fight under the black SIS flag.
US spokesman hurried to contradict debkafile’s disclosure of Friday, Sept. 5, that the Obama administration and Tehran were fighting ISIS together and sharing intelligence in Iraq and Syria.
But the facts on the ground are undeniable and are pushing Iraqi Sunni leaders and commanders into the arms of the jihadists, roughly 30,000 fighters whose numbers are being swelled by volunteers .
The Kurdish army may not be able to defend its semi-autonomous republic (KRG) and the oilfields of Kirkuk in the north with an army of no more than 20,000 troops, outdated weapons and no air force.
Obama’s reliance on moderate Syrian rebel groups to stand up and fight the Islamists is even less realistic, when they have recently started losing enough spirit to fight their arch enemy, Bashar Assad.
Around the region, too, Saudi King Abdullah and the Emirates will shun any US-led coalition that rests on military and intelligence cooperation with Iran.
President Obama will soon discover his mistake in offering Turkey’s new president Tayyip Erdogan a role in the “core coalition” as the only representative of the Muslim Middle East, and scorning to count Egypt and Saudi Arabia into his formula for “degrading and defeating” Al Qaeda. Erdogan is by and large persona non grata in the Sunni Middle East, excepting only in Qatar. He has won further distrust of late for his avid courtship of Tehran in the footsteps of Barack Obama.
Ankara’s hands are moreover tied by its failure to obtain the release of 46 Turkish citizens including diplomats held hostage since the Islamists overran Mosul in June.
Lebanon to speed up Islamist trials
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The trials of Islamists held in Roumieh Prison will speed up, the interior minister said Sunday, following the beheading of a second Army solider late Saturday and renewed clashes on the outskirts of Arsal. The interior minister also said that any security defect that results from an increase of Syrian refugees in the country would prompt him to propose the closure of Lebanon’s border with Syria to Cabinet. “The latest incidents will contribute to speeding up the trials of detained Islamists in Roumieh prison,” Nouhad Machnouk said in an interview with the Voice of Lebanon radio station. The Nusra Front and ISIS militants, who took at least 29 military and police captive after clashes in Arsal last month, have demanded the release of Islamists detained in Roumieh Prison in return for their release. However, the government has repeatedly refused to consider any kind of trade with the militants. According to judicial sources, the government is working through the Justice Ministry with the judiciary to find “a legal and judicial solution” for the cases of 94 Islamist detainees held in Roumieh prison since 2007. Speaking on tensions with Syrian refugees, Machnouk said that “the critical point is distancing Syrian refugees from Arsal and transporting them to a specific point either within Lebanese territory or in any other place.”“There are 1400 unofficial refugee camps and we don’t know the extent of their violation of the law,” he said. “ Lebanon can’t accommodate this many Syrian refugee in light of the danger this immigration is posing.”
The minister has also cancelled a planned trip to Doha in light of current security concerns. Machnouk's trip to Qatar, to attend a conference with his counterparts from other Arab states, was also allegedly tied to the Qatari mediation over the hostage crisis, after a Qatari delegation met with both the Nusra Front and ISIS commanders Friday, in a bid to negotiate the release of the captives. Speaking on Qatari mediation efforts, Machnouk said that “ Lebanon did not choose Qatar for negotiations.”
“But the Prime Minister contacted some states, some of which expressed their readiness to assist while others just expressed their sympathy.”On Sunday, Prime Minister Tammam Salam called for a meeting of the emergency ministerial committee tasked with overseeing the case of the military and police hostages. The meeting is set to take place at 3 p.m. in the Grand Serail, and Salam is due to deliver a televised speech at 8 p.m. An ISIS commander told the Turkish news agency Anadolu Saturday, that the group had beheaded a second Lebanese soldier, blaming it on an escape attempt by the captive. "Yes, we slaughtered Lebanese soldier Abbas Medlej because he attempted to escape," the ISIS leader told Anadolu. A military source would not confirm the identity of the solider and told The Daily Star that the Lebanese Army was investigating graphic pictures of the decapitation that were circulating on social media outlets. Local mediator Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri confirmed to The Daily Star that "it is true that Medlej was killed.” Earlier this week, Lebanon laid First Sgt. Ali Sayyed to rest, the first soldier beheaded by ISIS. Sayyed and Medlej were captured along with at least 29 of their colleagues from the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces during clashes with jihadists from ISIS and the Nusra Front in the northeastern town of Arsal.
Mahmoud Abbas' next move
By: Nahum Barnea
Ynetnews/Latest Update: 09.07.14/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: As Palestinian leader turns 80, he is losing his fear of his political rivals, of Hamas and of Israel – and has nothing to lose as he turns to UN.
Next March, Mahmoud Abbas – the leader of the Palestinian Authority – will turn 80. But instead of running him down, the advanced age provides him a sense of freedom he has yet to experience.
In his case, he has achieved certain strength. Officials in Israel have reached the conclusion that he is no longer afraid – not from the Palestinian street, not from Hamas, not from the US administration, and not from Israel.
He has less of an interest in satisfying others. Like Frank Sinatra in that classic tune, he's going his way.
After the abduction of the three teens in Gush Etzion, he publicly condemned the incident, promised the PA's assistance in helping locate them, and fulfilled his promise. During the fighting in Gaza, he spoke out against Hamas and praised the security cooperation with Israel; the PA security forces prevented mass rallies of Hamas supporters in the West bank. While Khaled Mashal received a kiss on the cheek in Qatar, the transcript of the conversation showed Abbas severely rebuked the Hamas political leader.
And even now, after the ceasefire agreement, he has refused to transfer the salaries of more than 40,000 civil servants of the Hamas government in Gaza. Abbas is insisting they are vetted, one by one.
There are 70,000 PA civil servants that I already pay wages, he said. Let them replace the Hamas personnel.
When Abbas heard that his rival, former prime minister Salam Fayyad, received $10 million from the United Arab Emirates that he was distributing to people in return for their political backing, including Fatah members – he sent financial investigators after him.
Abbas has been funneling all the political funds through his office.
However, wounded Gazans, who were evacuated to the West bank during the operation, receive envelopes of cash from another political rival Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan's wife chairs a large charity fund, based in the UAE. Dahlan knows that if he arrived in the West Bank, he would be immediately imprisoned.
But the lack of constraint Abbas has felt does not stop with Hamas or his political opponents. The Palestinian leader intends to submit a proposal to the UN Security Council to renew the negotiations with Israel. The resolution will be based on promises made by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his time in office: nine-month period of negotiations, with a complete construction freeze in the settlement for the duration of the talks, and the release of security detainees.
Abbas, in direct opposition to Israel, wants to start the negotiations with the toughest topic – the map. Israel would be asked to submit a map based on the 1967 lines, that includes territory swaps.
Abbas knows the Israeli government will not respond, but at this stage of his life, the Israeli opinion no longer interests him. He knows the endless blabber between Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molocho – Netanyahu's surrogate in the talks – will lead him nowhere.
Instead, Abbas is looking to the US administration. Will Obama order his subordinates to veto the resolution? On one hand, the Security Council request is unacceptable to the Americans, especially now, with the upcoming congressional elections in the fall.
During the operation, one American reporter spoke to a senior White House source, a man familiar with the special relationship. The reporter asked the source what the Israeli government would do, the other responded with a ringing curse, four letters long.
Abbas is hoping that the US would resist the urge this time. If the US backs away from its veto threat, Abbas faces a new world in the international arena. But if the US does veto, he will turn to the UN's General Assembly and the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
One road leads through Washington while the other does not – but both end at the same destination, international sanctions on Israel.
The Israelis, which have gotten used to seeing Abbas as a partner for peace, will need to internalize the thought that he is also an opponent – and not a simple one.
To preempt the inevitable blow-for-blow match, Netanyahu declared last week that he would no longer authorize the release of detainees. The message was intended, almost certainly, for the ears of the US administration. The Israeli government will not play ball. It has no intention of entering negotiations with Abbas. The talk of a new political horizon was just lip service. The operation is over, and Israel is returning to its position from the evening before Protective Edge.
Israel wants Hamas rule over Gaza, as long as it is weak and cut off from the world. Israel wants Fatah rule over the West bank, as long as it is weak and cooperative.
The same mistakes which dragged Israel into a confrontation in Gaza will drag it into the next conflict, in the Golan, in the West bank, in Lebanon, or in the Strip; meanwhile, Israel continues to lose its standing in the eyes of the world.
Israel won Gaza war after all
Isaac Ben-Israel / Ynetnews
Published: 09.07.14, 00:28 / Israel Opinion
Op-ed: There is not a single parameter in which Hamas is better off today than it was before Operation Protective Edge.
Large parts of the Israeli public accepted the ceasefire, after 50 days of fighting, with a feeling of bitterness. Where does this feeling originate? According to public opinion polls, it seems that the majority of the Israeli public believes we did not defeat Hamas.
Those on the left side of the map believed, even before the operation, that it's impossible to "win" these days. In the postmodern world they live in, the question of victory is a matter of subjective interpretation. They replaced the "reality" with "the reality story" (a "narrative"), which depends on the person telling it.
In general, according to them, we should be making peace rather than war, and for that purpose we must not "humiliate" the other side. So not only can we not win (in the objective sense), but we shouldn't even do it. Those on the right side of the map, on the other hand, believe that our victory was "insufficient." According to them, we should have concluded this war by "defeating" Hamas, bringing it down or wiping it off the face of the earth. And because we failed to do so, we didn't win.
One of the government ministers went as far as claiming that Hamas had won because it managed to stand up to us. A review of his comment reveals an almost accurate repetition of Iran's "victory" congratulations to Hamas.
Those who hold this opinion realize that the only way to reach their long-awaited goal is an overall occupation of Gaza, but they are avoiding the question of the price and especially the question of "the day after." What will happen after we occupy the Strip? As long as we stay there, no rockets will be launched towards us, but who can guarantee that the rocket fire will not be resumed after we leave?
In any event, both the right and the left are united in the opinion that we did not win. This view is wrong.
The supporters of the view that we did not win mention the series of Hamas "achievements": Firing rockets up to the very last moment, the survival of the political leadership, etc. One can argue about the achievement concealed in attacks which claimed a relatively small number of casualties (one civilian killed by a rocket throughout the entire operation and four killed by mortar shells), but one cannot argue over the fact that Hamas is worse off after the operation.
In order to understand that, it's enough to look at all the measurable parameters which determine who won at the end of the day. Is there a single parameter in which Hamas is better off today than it was before Operation Protective Edge?
In terms of the military assets, it clearly isn't: Hamas lost most of its rockets, the tunnel system in which it invested a fortune, a long list of senior military wing members, about 1,000 fighters, headquarters, emergency supplies, etc. All of its attempts to surprise Israel with unusual actions (like launching a terror cell from the sea, using drones, kidnapping soldiers for bargaining purposes, etc) failed with no exception.
The same applies to the situation in the diplomatic arena: Hamas has lost the support it had left in the Arab world, and its rivals in the region (the Palestinian Authority and Egypt) have grown stronger.
Its political situation in the Strip has deteriorated as well: The gap between the organization and civilians who were badly damaged has grown, civilian infrastructure has been destroyed at an unprecedented level, and its demands to open the crossings with supervision for a seaport and an airport have been rejected.
Hamas takes pride in two "achievements": First of all, resisting the "Zionist army" and shattering the myth of the undefeatable IDF. Second, opening the crossings for humanitarian aid, while ignoring the fact that they were closed because of the rocket fire.
Even if we agree that these are achievements "in Hamas' eyes," the following question remains unanswered: How did its situation improve compared to what it was before? As I said, a cautious examination will not reveal a single parameter pointing to that.
The source of the feeling of bitterness is not objective, therefore. It stems from unrealistic expectations in regards to reality, both on the right and on the left.
Despite Setbacks, Islamic State Faces no Danger to its Existence
By: Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post/September 4, 2014
An ISIS fighter surrendering to Kurdish forces last month
The Islamic State this week executed kidnapped American journalist Steven Sotloff – in 'retaliation', the group said, for US bombing of its area of control in Iraq. The murder of Sotloff once more indicated the savage brutality of this group.
But while the IS may be almost without rivals in terms of its capacity for cruelty, events on the ground in Iraq and to a lesser extent in Syria are indicating its limitations as a military force. IS tactical setbacks, however, do not yet cast a serious shadow over the future existence of the Islamic State.
In early August, IS reached far into Iraq in a lightning offensive that left it 45 km from the Kurdish capital of Erbil and in possession of the city of Mosul and the Mosul dam, which provides water and electricity to northern Iraq and to the capital, Iraq. The group's fighters humiliated the Iraqi army in the taking of Mosul and the Kurdish Pesh Merga forces in the capture of the Sinjar mountain area.
IS went on to carry out atrocities against the Yezidi population of the Sinjar area, and the Christians of the Mosul area, creating a large refugee population. It was only airstrikes by the United States Air Force commencing on August 8th which prevented the fall of Erbil.
The Islamic State remains deployed close to the Kurdish capital. This reporter last week visited one of the frontline positions of the Kurdish Pesh Merga, at Khazer north west of Erbil. The lines around the city are eerily quiet at the moment.
This is because IS knows that were it to attempt to roll across the bare, flat ground towards the city, the US air response would be swift and fierce., and would result in the obliteration of the jihadi force.
The halting of the jihadi advance toward Erbil is testimony to the might of US arms, when they are directed with will and a clear goal.
The US has also been engaged, in cooperation with the Pesh Merga, Shia militias and the Iraqi army, in beginning to turn back the IS advances in western Iraq.
This week, the siege on the city of Amerli was lifted by Iraqi and Shia militia forces, paving the way for the re-conquest of Salahuddin province. The advance was preceded by US airstrikes on IS positions in the town.
The Pesh Merga has also had a good few days. The strategic Mosul dam was recaptured in late August, in a joint operation with Iraqi forces. This week the town of Zumar was retaken.
Evidence is emerging that US Special Operations forces are also engaged in the Iraq battles. It is not clear what precise role these forces are playing, but their presence has no doubt contributed to the relatively strong showing of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces in recent days.
The evidence indicates that the tactics of the Islamic State which enabled the group to achieve its rapid gains in Iraq in the course of the summer are of less application when defending areas against a determined attacker. IS has fast moving, mobile light infantry forces and employs terror tactics to intimidate populations. It has limited manpower, however, and no particularly original tactical abilities in defense, beyond its fighters' willingness for self-sacrifice.
Further west, in Syria, when IS fighters have faced the well motivated and determined Kurdish YPG militia, they have failed to gain ground. In Hasakeh province, and further west in the beleaguered Kobani enclave, the lightly armed but highly motivated and well-trained YPG fighters have succeeded in holding off the jihadis (albeit with heavy losses on the Kurdish side). This was so even when IS began to deploy US weapons systems captured in Mosul against the Kurds in Kobani. The enclave remains intact.
So the Islamic State is not invulnerable. Nevertheless, its continued existence is under no immediate threat. This is because of strategic, not tactical issues.
The forces that would like to destroy the Islamic State cannot, and those that could do not wish to.
Airstrikes can be useful in enabling the Iraqi forces and the Pesh Merga to eat away at the eastern edges of the Islamic State territory in Iraq. But air power alone cannot root out the jihadis from their heartlands in Syria, or indeed from their Iraqi conquests as a whole. This could only be achieved by ground forces.
Assad's army would certainly like to reunite eastern Syria with the rest of the country. But Assad's forces have been losing ground to IS in Raqqa province – the latest defeat being the loss of the Tabqa air base and the subsequent massacre of the garrison.
The Iraqi Army and its allied Shia militias would also like to win back the areas lost to IS, but there is no reason to believe that these forces at present have the offensive capacity to do so. The Iranians are probably in the process of seeking to transform these forces, in a similar way to that achieved with regard to Assad's fighters in late 2012/early 2013. Again, the Iraqi Shia are relevant only with regard to Iraq. But the IS heartland remains in Syria.
The United States lacks a clear strategy for how to deal with IS other than placing clear red lines before Erbil and Baghdad , and assisting the Iraqi army and the Kurds. And Syria remains largely off-limits, it would appear, despite the increasingly fictional nature of the border between Iraq and the country to its west.
There is no political will for the kind of commitment of western forces which could obliterate the Islamic State. And the Kurdish forces – both YPG and Pesh Merga – are interested in defending and maintaining Kurdish areas of control, not in offensive operations.
This means that despite the setbacks it has been suffering over the previous week, the survival of the Islamic State does not appear presently in question. The Islamic State will exist until someone has the ability and the will to destroy it. This time does not appear to be imminent.
**Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
The End of Globalization?
Hussein Shobokshi /Sunday, 7 Sep, 2014 /Asharq Al Awsat
Has the rising globalization that we witnessed over the past decades come to an end? There is no doubt that this seems to be the case on the political level. The US seems to have completely lost its appetite to deal with international affairs, concentrating instead on domestic concerns and devoting itself to the issues of immigration, gay marriage, taxes and unemployment. This policy shift has come at the expense of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and the remarkable rise of Russian influence.
Europe is excluding itself from anything new, rejecting immigrant workers from Third World countries and becoming more racially discriminate on the pretext of safeguarding nationalism despite its economy’s dire need for fresh manpower. The long life expectancy rates and the negative population growth rates in Europe are threatening the success of any future economic and development plans.
Many believe that the emergence of new barriers and the fall of globalization is due to the lack of a shared and unified conviction within the EU on how to deal with the US as a unified entity in the face of expanding Russian influence and Chinese incursions into Asia, Africa and elsewhere. The US had been the strongest promoter of this idea of globalization, particularly following the Bill Clinton era. However Washington today has neither the desire nor interest in guaranteeing the continuation of this policy.
At one point in time, the global financial market and the internet were the greatest icons of globalization. They accurately depicted the promises of globalization in terms of offering the world simple and easy solutions that went beyond sovereign laws and geographical borders.
But these icons were ultimately abused. Major mistakes were made, leading to the global financial crisis of 2008. No sooner did the crisis begin in the US than it moved to the old continent, harming one country after another. Gradually the dream of globalization—at least in terms of the financial markets—turned into a painful and extremely expensive nightmare.
The global financial crisis created a massive backlash, with countries seeking to secure their own national economies. US President Barack Obama stepped in to rescue America’s banking and insurance sectors by pumping millions of dollars into them to avert a financial meltdown which would have led to a complete breakdown in the US financial infrastructure. Obama did the same thing with the auto industry by providing aid, loans and exemptions in order to rescue the sector from complete destruction. Later, Germany led European efforts to provide financial support to debt-stricken countries, such as Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal.
The main idea behind globalization is that the entire world will benefit from a closer exchange of ideas and views, including sovereign states. But ultimately, this swing towards globalization resulted in a back-swing away from his phenomenon. The West’s reaction to the financial crisis was that it turned inwards, erecting barriers and imposing restrictions in order to “protect” national economies. Furthermore, countries gave priority to national industries. As a result of this, the idea of globalization being a uniting and unifying force that does away with borders has proven false.
There is also increasing examples of racist views and incidents sweeping across the West today on the pretext of protecting the homeland against extremist ideology, whether in the name of the war on terror or preserving national “identity”. In reality, of course, this is based on a fear of global openness.
Russia’s policy towards Ukraine shows it has failed this test, too. According to globalization, disputes between states cannot be solved through war but by means of dialogue, law and arbitration. However, globalization is dying and there are those who believe that it should stay dead. Others, however, believe that we need to resuscitate this phenomenon and bring it back to life.