LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/
Isaiah Chapter 03/04 I will give boys to be their princes,
and children shall rule over them. 12 As for my people, children are their
oppressors, and women rule over them. My people, those who lead you cause you to
err, and destroy the way of your paths.
Chapter 05/20-23: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to those who are mighty to drink wine, and champions at mixing strong drink; who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice for the
Pope Francis,tweet For today
God’s faithfulness is stronger than our unfaithfulness and our infidelities.
La fidélité de Dieu est plus forte que nos infidélités et que nos trahisons.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 09 and 10/14
Magdi Khalil exposes the of fallacies by Toufic Baaklini about Presidential envoy to minorities/September 10/14
Who really won the Gaza war/By:
Efraim Halevy /Ynetnews/September 10/14
Why is the Muslim world rife with conspiracy theories/By: Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya /September 10/14
Fighting ISIS means suffocating it without mercy/Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya/September 10/14
Saudi Arabia, facing tough and tougher choices/Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/September 10/14
Giving Iraq a Stay of Execution/By:
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 10/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 09 and 10/14
Families of captured servicemen met MPs
Salam meets EU, Saudi ambassadors
Salam Appeals for Calm to Fend Off Deteriorating Security Situation
STL Status Conference in Case against Amin, Al-Akhbar Set for September 12
Nasrallah, Aoun Urge Political Powers to Safeguard Lebanon against Strife
Nasrallah, Aoun stress unity in face of threats
Hariri: Sunnis, Shiites can ward off strife
Clashes Erupt as Army Raids Brital Outskirts in Search of Hostage
Hariri Warns of Sedition, Calls on Lebanese to Calm Down
Ex-President Suleiman Urges International Community for Further Assistance to Lebanon
Discrepancy between Foreign Ministry, UNHCR over Govt. Decision on Syria Refugees
Report: Indirect Contacts between Hizbullah, Nusra Front to Exchange Hostages
Qassem Urges Dialogue to Resolve Crisis: March 14 Must Not Justify Takfiris' Actions
Hezbollah slams Islamic State for seeking to ignite
sectarian strife in Lebanon
Military Delegation in Washington to Discuss Security, Intelligence Coordination
Backlash against Syria Refugees after Jihadists Kill Two Soldiers
Syrians face reprisals, some forced to leave
Hezbollah downplays ISIS threat, says Army and Resistance will prevail
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 09 and 10/14
Israeli intel available only to US dangled as bait for Arabs to join Obama’s anti-IS coalition
Abbas wants UN to replace US as leading negotiator in peace talks, aide says
Israel fires missile in test of defense system
Report Slams Israel on African Migrant Rights
Report: US-Israeli misunderstanding led to breakdown of Gaza truce
Israel Urges Global Spies to Pool Resources on IS
Kerry to Hold Arab Anti-IS Talks Wednesday
Cameroon Army 'Kills More than 100 Boko Haram Fighters'
Syria Media Slams Arab 'Green Light' for U.S. Attacks
Saudi, Pakistani Beheaded in Kingdom's latest Executions
Poland Suspends Baghdad Embassy over Security Concerns
Oxfam Urges Rich Nations to Take 5 Percent of Syria Refugees
Arab League urges support for new Iraq government
Iraq Govt. Wins Confidence Vote, Key Security Posts Unfilled
France Urges Action on Crisis in Libya, a 'Hub for Terrorists'
Iran Hopes New Iraq Government Can Restore Calm
U.N. Chief Calls for Iraq Security Ministers to be Named
Friends Search in Vain for Iraqi Kidnapped by Jihadists
Free Syrian Army rebels attack ISIS near Aleppo
New UN Syria envoy arrives in Syria on first visit
Saudi Arabia to host regional counter-terror conference
Yemen: More Houthis killed in Sana’a protests as fighting intensifies in north
STL Status Conference in Case against
Amin, Al-Akhbar Set for September 12
Naharnet/Special Tribunal for Lebanon Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued on Tuesday an order scheduling a status conference in the case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Ibrahim Mohamed Ali al-Amin for September 12. In his order, Lettieri invited Amin to participate in the status conference, which will start at 3 PM (CET), announced the STL in a statement. The hearing will cover issues related to counsel's representation of the Accused, the state of the pre-trial proceedings, and any other matter of relevance that the Parties wish to discuss. The scheduling order follows a decision by a panel of judges dismissing Amin’s request to disqualify Lettieri from hearing the case. Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Amin are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. Case.” New TV S.A.L. and deputy head of news at al-Jadeed television Karma Tahsin al-Khayat have been also accused of the same charges. An initial hearing for the two journalists and their media organizations was held on May 13 at the STL headquarters in The Hague. Al-Jadeed Director General Dmitry Khodr and Khayat entered pleas of not guilty. Amin did not attend the session. In April last year, a list of 167 names of so-called witnesses for the former Premier Rafik Hariri trial was published by a previously unknown group identified as "Journalists for the Truth."The group said it wanted to "unveil the corruption" of the STL. Both al-Akhbar and al-Jadeed published the list.
Salam discusses security with EU, Saudi ambassadors
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Security developments in Lebanon were the topic of discussion at meetings between the prime minister and the health minister, the telecommunications minister, and the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the European Union Tuesday.
“What happened yesterday was extremely dangerous,” Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said after the meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. “All the political parties and leaders should be responsible enough to limit the actions and the reactions in the streets.”
Faour said the kidnapped soldiers and policeman’s case should be a reason for all the Lebanese to unite, and not “a source of civil strife among [them].”One day after the kidnappings and road blocks in the Bekaa Valley, Salam was also visited by the outgoing Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri and the EU Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst. State Minister Nabil de Freij attended the meeting with Eichhorst, in which the partnership in development between Lebanon and Europe was also discussed.
Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb also visited Salam Tuesday, and criticized his political rivals Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, whose leaders had met earlier in the day. “The statement should have included a voice of support to the Cabinet and the Army, however it was empty,” Harb said, referring to the statement released after MP Michel Aoun’s visit to Hezbollah’s General Secretary Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. The Bekaa Valley witnessed chaos Monday, after three residents of Arsal and another from Saadnayel were kidnapped by armed groups. The Army performed wide raids and searches Tuesday in an attempt to find the kidnappers, some of whom demanded ransoms, while others acted in response to the kidnapping of servicemen by ISIS in Arsal last month.
Magdi Khalil exposes the of fallacies by Toufic Baaklini about Presidential envoy to minorities
"Baaklini and his group have nothing to do with the initiative, they pirating it"
9th of Sept 2014
Mr Magdi Khalil, spokesperson of Coptic Solidarity and Co-Secretary General of the Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC said "the idea of a Presidential envoy to the Middle east minorities is not one that came from Mr Toufic Baaklini or from his group, and the initiative that went to Congress has nothing to do with the newly formed group IDC." Khalil was responding to Baaklini's interview with Radio Lubnan Hur and Markazia agency in Lebanon on 5th of September 2014 where the IDC spokesperson claimed he and his group were the authors of the idea and bill establishing a new Presidential envoy to address the Christian and other minorities in the Middle East. Khalil said "the idea was first advanced by Dr Walid Phares years ago, and the first time in the US Senate in 2000 at a meeting sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback. In 2010 we decided to re-launch the initiative and immediately after the bombings of the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria in January 2011, we took it to the Tom Lantos committee in Congress and Congressman Frank Wolfe adopted the idea during a hearing on the massacres in Egypt. The bill was blocked at the US Senate. And for two years Coptic Solidarity, the members of MECHRIC and their NGO and foundation allies left no effort to pressure the Senate until the Congress has fully agreed." Khalil added that Coptic Solidarity and MECHRIC used all channels and developed all programs to convince the US Congress and the European Parliament to move forward in the defense of Middle East minorities. "We were behind hearing sessions in Congress and the European Parliament, we organized six international conferences in Washington and Brussels and more than 20 demonstrations in front of the White House in the last three years, in addition to press conferences and meetings on both sides of the Atlantic. We have participated in the popular mobilization against ISIS and were among the first NGOs to take to the streets against the Jihadists. And we continue to work with our Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian, Turkish, Armenian and Coptic partners to issue a UN Security Council resolution to create the mechanisms to protect these native populations on their ancestral lands." Khalil said the coalition of NGOs behind this tremendous work for years includes Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Maronites, Copts and Arab Christians as well. "We gratify those who have worked hard and condemn those who are in the business of stealing the work of these courageous NGOs"
captured Lebanese servicemen meet ministerial committee
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The families of the military and security hostages held by ISIS and the Nusra Front met with the ministerial committee tasked with overseeing the hostage crisis in the Grand Serail Tuesday. The delegation, which was comprised of over thirty family members, was set to deliver a message to Prime Minister Tammam Salam on behalf of the father of slain Army soldier Abbas Medlej, who was beheaded by ISIS militants last week. Medlej was captured along with at least 28 of his 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 last month. Carrying her own message, the wife of abducted ISF officer Pierre Geagea asked the prime minister “why the Sunna hostages were freed and not the Christians?”Before the meeting, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stressed the need to be “realistic with regards to the hostage crisis," arguing that the issue “won’t be solved overnight.”The justice minister also welcomed local mediator Mustafa Hujeiri’s efforts that allowed the family of abducted Lebanese soldier George Khoury to visit him in his place of detention, saying “whoever can ease the pain of the family is welcomed.”In line with a media blackout over ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the military hostages, the Grand Serail security barred the families from talking to the media before the meeting.
Shiites can ward off strife
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Sunnis and Shiites can ward off sectarian strife, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Tuesday, a day after tit-for-tat kidnappings swept the Bekaa Valley. “Protecting our country from sliding into strife is in our hands and in the willpower of all of us; from all sects and regions. Primarily it is in the willpower of Muslims in Lebanon – Sunnis and Shiites – to decide to stop strife and reject a scenario similar to Iraq and Syria,” Hariri said in a statement. He urged Lebanese to rally behind security forces.
“These days should be in solidarity with the Lebanese Army and the legitimate security forces, and not days of lawlessness and the creation of private armies,” Hariri said. The head of the Future Movement also urged Lebanese in the Bekaa, Tripoli and Akkar to exercise patience and endure the suffering for the sake of Lebanon and the fraternal bonds between citizens. Hariri threw his weight behind the government and Prime Minister Tammam Salam for taking full responsibility “at this critical juncture of the history of the country.”
He said the return to tit-for-tat kidnappings and sectarian incitement “is the worst trap.” Rival gunmen engaged in tit-for-tat kidnappings in the Bekaa Valley Monday, heightening sectarian tension in the region already tense over kidnapping of Lebanese soldiers and policemen by Islamist militants. Hariri slammed what called was a “campaign” against the northeastern border town of Arsal and its mainly Sunni residents, and condemned media reports provoking sectarianism in Tripoli and Akkar, also predominantly Sunni.
The Lebanese Army fought five days of deadly gunbattles with ISIS and Nusra Front radical militants in Arsal early last month. Hariri said he cannot find a better way of feeling the pain of the families of the kidnapped servicemen than to stand in support of the government and its decisions.
Nasrallah, Aoun Urge Political Powers
to Safeguard Lebanon against Strife
Naharnet/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah held talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on the latest developments in Lebanon, reported various media outlets on Tuesday. The two officials, who met on Monday, agreed that the 2006 memorandum of understanding between Hizbullah and the FPM should serve as a blueprint for all the parties in Lebanon. This blueprint will in turn help avert strife in the country. The meeting was attended by FPM official, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, and Nasrallah's aide Hussein Khalil and party liaison officer Wafiq Safa. In addition, the gatherers were in agreement over their stances on terrorism and “the inevitability of confronting it with all possible means, especially national unity.” Lebanon has been faced with the possibility of the spread of extremists to the country in light of the clashes in August between the army and Islamists from Syria in the northeastern border town of Arsal. Tensions have also been high between the Lebanese people and Syrian refugees given the Islamists' kidnapping and beheading of a number of soldiers and policemen they had abducted from Arsal at the end of the clashes.
Clashes Erupt as Army Raids Brital
Outskirts in Search of Hostage
Naharnet /Clashes broke out on Tuesday between the army and wanted suspects on the outskirts of the Bekaa town of Brital, reported MTV. LBCI television said that the clashes erupted as the army was searching for a hostage kidnapped from the nearby town of Saadnayel. It identified the captive as Ayman Sawwan, who was kidnapped on Monday afternoon in the Bekaa city of Baalbek for unknown motives. The army arrested a number of members from the Masri and Tleis families during the raid. The abduction sparked unrest in Sawwan's hometown of Saadnayel and prompted its residents to kidnap seven public van drivers in retaliation. The army had raided Brital on Monday in search of the captive. The seven drivers were released on Monday as goodwill gesture towards the Sawwan's kidnappers. Later on Tuesday, Sawwan's brother Khaled held a press conference to push the government to take efforts to release his loved one. He stressed: “The residents of Saadnayel do not seek to create trouble. We will stage peaceful rallies to show that no one can meddle with its residents.”“Everyone seeks the release of Ayman Sawwan. He has nothing to do with the sides that kidnapped him,” he added. A cleric at the conference warned of the eruption of strife over the abduction, urging the state to take action "immediately before the situation gets out of hand." “We have long sought for the authority of the state, but it seems that it does not have the power to meet our demands,” he lamented. He asserted the residents' rights to stage peaceful rallies to pressure the government to take action and resolve the case. “We would not have reached this stage had the government taken a firm stand against the outlaws,” he stated.
Hariri Warns of Sedition, Calls on
Lebanese to Calm Down
Naharnet /Head of al-Mustaqbal Movement Saad Hariri appealed on Tuesday to the Lebanese for calm, warning of slipping into sedition. all on all the Lebanese, in particular the residents of (the eastern) Bekaa valley, (the northern portal city of) Tripoli and the town of Akkar, to be calm, have patience and wisdom,” Hariri said in a statement issued by his press office. He renewed his trust in Prime Minister Tammam Salam's government and its decisions amid the “critical” situation in the country's history. “We should safeguard our country from slipping into sedition... The Sunnis and Shiites have the decision to fend off strife and prevent the Syrian and Iraqi developments from” igniting the country, Hariri said. Tit-for-tat kidnappings on Monday sparked unrest in the Bekaa towns of Saadnayel and Arsal. The alarming developments prompted the army to raid the houses of suspected kidnappers in the Bekaa town of Brital. Lebanon has been faced with the possibility of the spread of extremists to the country in light of the clashes in August between the army and Islamists from Syria in the northeastern border town of Arsal. Tensions have also been high between the Lebanese people and Syrian refugees given the Islamists' kidnapping and beheading of a number of soldiers and policemen they had abducted from Arsal at the end of the clashes. Hariri considered that the “dark political, ethical and humanitarian” developments are far from the principles of coexistence between countrymen. “The return to the kidnapping and counter-kidnapping and incitement is a negative development amid the rise in sectarian tension,” the Mustaqbal chief warned. He pointed out that the crisis of the abducted soldiers and policemen, who are from different sects and areas, should compel the Lebanese to support the state and prevent terrorists from achieving their goals.
Ex-President Suleiman Urges
International Community for Further Assistance to Lebanon
Naharnet/Former President Michel Suleiman called on the international community on Tuesday to support the Lebanese government and army in the fight against terrorism. “Further facilities should be offered and establish an air bridge to deliver the technology and the equipment necessary for assisting the army,” Suleiman said in a televised speech. His speech comes in light of the recent developments in Lebanon, urging the army command and the Internal Security Forces to start calling up reservists in order to maintain stability and participate in confronting terrorist. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia had recently pledged to bolster the army. Suleiman's tenure ended in May with rival MPs unable to find a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate. He stressed the importance of abiding by the Baabda Declaration and controlling the northern border with the neighboring country Syria to prevent its use as a conduit for arms and gunmen. The Baabda Declaration was unanimously adopted during a national dialogue session in June 2012. It calls for Lebanon to disassociate itself from regional crises, most notably the one in Syria. Arsal, lies 12 kilometers from the border with Syria, has been reportedly used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict.
Concerning the case of abducted Lebanese soldiers and policemen by Islamist fighters in Arsal, Suleiman urged political parties to support the government's efforts and fortifying its stances. The murder of two Lebanese army soldiers by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings. There has been growing resentment by the Lebanese people against the refugees given the recent developments in the country, most notably the abduction of a number of soldiers and policemen by Islamists from the northeastern town of Arsal in August. The hostage crisis and beheadings have inflamed tensions in Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and where tensions were already soaring over the four-year conflict in Syria. Amid the rise in tensions, the authorities have appealed for calm, calling on the Lebanese to refrain from revenge attacks.
Kerry to Hold Arab Anti-IS Talks Wednesday
Naharnet /U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Arab foreign ministers in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as he bids for a broad coalition against the Islamic State, a senior Egyptian foreign ministry official said. The talks in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which will continue into Thursday, will be attended by ministers from Egypt, Jordan and the six Gulf Arab states as well as Iraq, the official told Agence France Presse. The ministers "are going to meet Kerry on Wednesday and Thursday in Jeddah as part of efforts to tackle terrorism," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil will also take part in the talks, a government official in Beirut told AFP. The Egyptian official said Cairo supports "all international efforts to fight terrorism" and would "support U.S. efforts politically." "But as for any possible Egyptian participation in concrete security measures, this must be done under a U.N. mandate and in the framework of a Security Council resolution." Kerry was headed to the region on Tuesday in a bid to build an enduring coalition against the jihadists, who have seized swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria. The U.S. top diplomat pledged to build "the broadest possible coalition of partners around the globe to confront, degrade and ultimately defeat (IS).""Almost every single country has a role to play in eliminating the (IS) threat and the evil that it represents," Kerry said. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi called Tuesday for international backing of Iraq's new government in its fight against the Islamic State, as Washington drummed up support for a coalition to defeat the militants. The Arab League has stopped short of explicitly backing ongoing U.S. air strikes on the IS militants. Iraq's new Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi formed a government on Monday that Washington said could unite the divided country and potentially undercut Sunni support for the Islamic State militants who oppose the Shiite-dominated government. Arabi in a statement "expressed his support for the new government in Baghdad, and support for its efforts to counter terrorism by (IS)."
He "affirmed the necessity of rallying regional and international efforts to bolster Iraq in this critical phase," the statement added. Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Sunday agreed to take the "necessary measures" and cooperate internationally to confront the militants, who have also overrun parts of Syria and effectively erased part of its border with Iraq
Discrepancy between Foreign Ministry,
UNHCR over Govt. Decision on Syria Refugees
Naharnet /A dispute has started to emerge between the Foreign Ministry and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees over the interpretation of the government's decision to relieve Syrian refugees in Lebanon of residency fees should they choose to return to their homeland, reported An Nahar daily on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil sent a memo to cabinet and the Interior and Social Affairs Ministries regarding the development, explaining that the UNHCR sent text messages to refugees soon after the government adopted the measure. The message said that the cabinet decided on August 21, 2014 that Syrian refugees residing illegally in Lebanon have the choice to amend their status or legally return to their country without paying any fees. This measure is valid until December 31, 2014, added the message. Any refugee who leaves Lebanon during this time is prohibited from returning for a period of six months, it explained. Bassil said in his memo to cabinet: “This text message demonstrates once again how some organizations are working against the goals of the government, which is seeking to encourage and speed up the return of Syrians to this country.” “Such actions require us to take the necessary response, starting with placing blame,” stressed the minister. He then sent a memo to the UNHCR, saying that it had sent the text message to the refugees upon the government's approval of the new measure. “We received complaints from several concerned ministries, starting with the Social Affairs Ministry, over your actions and we stress the need for you to adhere to the policy of the Lebanese government regarding the Syrian refugees,” he stated in his memo to the U.N. agency. Later on Tuesday, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas denied to Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) that a rift exists between the government and UNHCR over the Syrian refugees. “No one should forget that the state is responsible for its sovereignty,” he added. The government announced in August that it would “relieve Syrians seeking to leave Lebanon of residency taxes,” allowing them to leave the country through legal means. This decree will be effective for three months. The cabinet took such a measure given the rise in the number of unregistered refugees, which is nearing that of registered ones. According to the United Nations, there are about 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The recent clashes in the northeastern border town of Arsal has prompted the government to take measures to control and limit the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, whose presence is burdening the country on several levels.
Qassem Urges Dialogue to Resolve
Crisis: March 14 Must Not Justify Takfiris' Actions
Naharnet/Deputy Hizbullah Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem criticized the kidnappings of Lebanese nationals in an attempt to pressure the release of soldiers held by Islamists, saying that the people should not adopt the path followed by terrorists, reported As Safir newspaper on Tuesday. He stressed that dialogue and resolving pending disputes will ease the tensions, calling on the March 14 alliance “to stop justifying the actions of the takfiris, who do not recognize anyone and even betray those protecting them.”The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the al-Nusra Front groups pose a major threat to Lebanon, he warned. “This danger does not mean that the takfiris can achieve their goals, especially if they are confronted in the proper manner,” Qassem added. He called for a “brave” approach to resolve the situation in the northeastern town of Arsal, “which should end with the release of the security personnel.”The right choice lies in having the political powers tackle issues objectively and without spite, he stated.
The Hizbullah official demanded a halt to media tensions that “will not yield any results.”“The only option lies in acknowledging that Lebanon is a diverse country that can only be governed through understanding among its sons,” Qassem remarked.
“No force in Lebanon has the power to isolate the other,” he stressed. Meanwhile, a security source told As Safir that security agencies have recently intensified their measures in various Lebanese regions. “Some security accomplishments have been achieved and a number of suspects linked to terrorist groups have been arrested,” he revealed. “This therefore does not justify the assaults against Syrian refugees or treating them as terrorists,” he added. The case of Syrian refugees has become a major burden on Lebanon and the political powers must tackle it responsibly and immediately, said the source. This problem should be solved through coordination between Lebanon and Syria, he stressed. The kidnap and murder of Lebanese security forces by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings. The hostage crisis and beheadings have inflamed tensions in Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and where tensions were already soaring over the four-year conflict in Syria. There has been growing resentment by the Lebanese people against the refugees given the recent developments in the country, most notably the abduction of a number of soldiers and policemen by Islamists from the northeastern town of Arsal in August.
Amid the rise in tensions, the authorities have appealed for calm, calling on the Lebanese to refrain from revenge attacks.
Hezbollah downplays ISIS threat, says
Army and Resistance will prevail
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah officials downplayed threats posed by ISIS on Lebanon’s security Tuesday, arguing that the Lebanese Army and the party's armed resistance were capable of crushing the militants. MP Mohammad Raad, who heads Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc in Parliament, said that ISIS was seeking to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon by manipulating the issue of the captive security personnel. “There is no need for fear at all. The Lebanese Army and the Resistance are very well capable of using the appropriate antidote with the monsters,” Raad said at a memorial ceremony for a Hezbollah member in south Lebanon’s village of Harouf. Raad scorned any possible swap of Islamist prisoners for the Army and Internal Security Forces personnel held by ISIS and Nusra Front militants, arguing that “there should be no exchange involving detainees who have committed crimes, and detonated car bombs in our areas and neighborhoods, killing innocent women and children.”"If ISIS is conspiring to sow strife and chaos between the components of the country, we should prevent it from achieving its goals by rejecting sedition," Raad said, stressing that Lebanon should be allowed to live safe and proud "without humiliation or making concessions to others."At least 29 personnel went missing during last month’s clashes in Arsal between the Army and militants from ISIS and Nusra Front who have demanded that the government release Islamist detainees held in Roumieh Prison in exchange. The militants are believed to be still holding 22 captives after five were freed and two were decapitated at the hands of ISIS militants. Speaking on ISIS, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said that the militant group has reached its maximum and was already beginning to recede. “Takfiri militants are a danger for humanity and Islam. The important thing is that we unite against them. All parties, regardless of their affiliations or interests, will have to confront this danger,” Qassem said at the conference of Muslim scholars in support of the Palestinian resistance, which convened in Tehran Tuesday. Hezbollah’s number two blasted parties which seek to justify the action of takfiri militants, accusing them of complicity. “Those who find justification for the takfiri activists are their partners in a losing venture and enemies of Islam,” Qassem said in obvious allusion to Hezbollah’s political opponents, notably the Future Movement.
Military Delegation in Washington to
Discuss Security, Intelligence Coordination
Naharnet/A Lebanese military delegation recently arrived in Washington to discuss with senior officials security and intelligence coordination between the two countries. Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Tuesday that the delegation arrived in the U.S. last week and kicked off its meeting with senior security meetings on Monday. The daily reported that talks are focusing on security and intelligence coordination between the two countries amid the various threats confronting Lebanon, in particular the growing fears of terrorist groups.
The security situation in Lebanon has been steadily worsening, inflamed by the Syrian civil war, in particular after deadly clashes that broke out between the army and Islamist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal on August 2 over the arrest of a member of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. The fighting ended with a ceasefire on August 7 but the militants kidnapped several troops and policemen. The development prompted the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to pledge to bolster the army.
Report: Indirect Contacts between
Hizbullah, Nusra Front to Exchange Hostages
Naharnet/Indirect contacts are reportedly ongoing between Hizbullah and al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front to exchange hostages and the bodies of fighters, who were captured and killed in clashes Syria's al-Qalamun region. The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat said on Tuesday that contacts are being carried out via mediators. According to the report, Hizbullah is seeking to exchange the bodies and hostages of Nusra Front fighters with those of the party. The Syrian forces alongside the Shiite group have seized control of al-Qalamun in April. Meanwhile, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported that a heated debate has emerged between the March 8 and 14 alliances over the possibility of reviving security coordination with the neighboring country Syria. The newspaper said that the March 8 alliance justifies its stance by stressing the “importance of controlling the country's eastern border to repel gunmen.” However, the March 14 coalition rejects such coordination as “several countries no longer recognize the Syrian regime and coordination with it would be like coordinating with an armed terrorist group.”The daily said that head of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council Nasri Khoury delivered a message to Lebanese leaders from Syrian President Bashar Assad, urging them to coordinate with his regime. The cabinet reportedly didn't discuss the message in order to prevent any rift between its members. The March 14 coalition considered that Hizbullah's deployment in the area to confront Syrian opposition gunmen violates Lebanon's sovereignty, “embarrasses” the cabinet and lures extremists to target the country. Lebanese parties are sharply divided over the crisis in Syria as the March 8 alliance continuously expresses its support to Assad, while the March 14 camp backs the popular revolt.
Salam Appeals for Calm to Fend Off Deteriorating Security Situation
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam carried out contacts with the ambassadors of several countries and political and religious leaders to avert the deteriorating situation in Lebanon. According to An Nahar newspaper published on Tuesday, Salam contacted the ambassadors of the countries “concerned” with the ongoing developments to urge them to pressure their local allies to prevent the situation from worsening. The daily reported that the ambassadors of major countries in Lebanon expressed concern over the security situation in Lebanon, calling on prominent political leaders to contain the developments. The ambassadors reportedly will not intervene more in the Lebanese developments as their countries have priorities. On Monday, French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli revealed after talks with Salam that preparations are underway to kickstart a meeting for the International Support Group for Lebanon on September 26 in New York. The meeting will be chaired by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The support group was inaugurated in New York in September 2013,on the sidelines of the 68th session of the General Assembly. It undertook to work together to mobilize support for the sovereignty and state institutions of Lebanon and to highlight and promote efforts to assist the country where it was most affected by the Syrian crisis, including in respect of strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces, assistance to refugees, and structural and financial support to the government. Al-Joumhouria newspaper also reported that Salam, who is tremendously concerned over the developments, called on political and religious leaders to help calm down the situation. The kidnap and murder of two Lebanese army soldiers by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings. The hostage crisis and beheadings have inflamed tensions in Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and where tensions were already soaring over the four-year conflict in Syria. There has been growing resentment by the Lebanese people against the refugees given the recent developments in the country, most notably the abduction of a number of soldiers and policemen by Islamists from the northeastern town of Arsal in August. Amid the rise in tensions, the authorities have appealed for calm, calling on the Lebanese to refrain from revenge attacks.
Backlash against Syria Refugees after
Jihadists Kill Two Soldiers
Naharnet/The kidnap and murder of Lebanese security forces by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings. Relatives of the missing soldiers and policemen, who were kidnapped during fierce clashes in the Lebanese border town of Arsal last month, have blocked roads in protest and even carried out counter-kidnaps. On Monday, a security source said two people from majority Sunni Arsal had been kidnapped by the family of soldier Ali al-Masri. One of the negotiators involved in the talks aimed at solving the hostage crisis confirmed the report: "The family is asking the people of Arsal to pressure the (jihadist) kidnappers to release their son, and it insists it will not release its hostages until (the soldiers) are free."Elsewhere in the majority Shiite Bekaa valley, tit-for-tat kidnappings took place on Monday, according to security sources, who said the army is trying to resolve the spiraling crisis. The incidents follow confirmation that a second Lebanese soldier being held by jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) has been beheaded. The hostage crisis and beheadings have inflamed tensions in Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and where tensions were already soaring over the four-year conflict in Syria.
The crisis has prompted a backlash against Syrian refugees in parts of Lebanon, with tents in informal camps being set alight and hundreds of Syrians sheltered in the Bekaa valley fleeing for fear of attack. The Syrian conflict has exacerbated existing sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where most Sunni residents back the Syrian uprising and Shiites generally support Syria's President Bashar Assad. The August fighting in Arsal was the most serious border incident in Lebanon since the Syrian war began next door in March 2011.
With the ensuing hostage crisis unresolved to date despite ongoing Qatari mediation, reports of the soldier's beheading first emerged on Saturday, prompting angry Lebanese to cut roads with burning tyres in protest. The official National News Agency meanwhile reported that refugees in several camps across the country -- especially those in areas whose residents support Assad ally Hizbullah -- had been told to evacuate their tents. An Agence France Presse journalist in the eastern Bekaa valley saw Syrian refugees dismantle their tents and leave in their thousands for northern Lebanon, the west of the Bekaa and Beirut.
- Beatings -
Incidents of violence targeting Syrians have also been reported.
George Ghattas, a farmer from the village of Taybeh in the Bekaa valley, told AFP he saw a group of men attacking the Syrian guard of an unfinished construction site. "The man then fled," Ghattas said.In southern Lebanon, Syrian refugees hosted in some 100 tents near the city of Tyre were given 48 hours to evacuate their camp."We don't want to have terror cells developing in big camps," Burj al-Shimali mayor Ali Deeb told AFP on Monday. "We have given the Syrians living in the camp 48 hours to leave."And in Beirut, a witness who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said he saw a group of some five young men surround and beat a Syrian man in his early twenties, after they discovered where he was from."They started shouting: 'Are you Syrian or not?'" the witness said, adding that "five or six of the guys started beating him, taking turns to hit him." Amid the rise in tensions, the authorities have appealed for calm, calling on the Lebanese to refrain from revenge attacks."The Syrian refugees are our family, they asked for our help, so we assisted them," said Prime Minister Tammam Salam in a televised speech.Expressing "feelings of sadness and grief" for the suffering of the families of the kidnapped soldiers, Salam said that "what has been happening on the streets in the past few days damages the memory of the martyrs... while plunging the country into deep danger."But in spite of the appeal, there was little sign the tensions could be immediately dispelled. Speaking to AFP, Human Rights Watch researcher Lama Fakih confirmed the spike in violence: "We have seen a string of retaliatory measures against Syrian refugees in Lebanon taken by individuals and municipalities.""This is happening countrywide," Fakih said. Agence France Presse
Cameroon Army 'Kills More than 100
Boko Haram Fighters'
Naharnet/Cameroon said on Monday its soldiers had killed "more than 100" Boko Haram fighters during an attempted incursion by the Nigeria-based Islamist insurgents, while across the border thousands continued to flee the group's advances. The Cameroonian army dealt "a severe setback" to Boko Haram during clashes in the north of the country on Saturday, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement read out on state radio. The statement, which could not be immediately verified, said Boko Haram militants fired two shells on the town of Fotokol in Cameroon's northern tip, on the border with Nigeria. "There were no casualties reported on the Cameroonian side," the statement said. "Our defence forces responded vigorously with mortar fire aimed at the positions held by units of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The Cameroonian response resulted in over 100 deaths among the aggressors."The Boko Haram militants were pushed back towards the Nigerian border town of Gamboru Ngala, separated only by a footbridge from Cameroon, which they seized over a week ago.
- Exodus -
Meanwhile, panicked residents continued to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria on Monday in fear of Islamist attacks. The exodus from Mubi, the commercial hub of Adamawa state, began on Sunday after the insurgents seized the town of Michika around 40 kilometers (25 miles) away the day before. Boko Haram has seized control of a number of towns in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states in recent weeks, prompting fears the government could soon lose control of the entire region. "With the fall of Michika into the hands of Boko Haram, Mubi is seen as their next destination," Mubi resident Habu Bala told Agence France Presse. The fear of attack grew on Monday after the families of police officers were ordered to evacuate, said resident Muhammad Maishanu. The Nigerian military has appeared largely powerless to stop the militants' advance. Residents in Michika said airforce jets were circling above the town but were unable to strike because the insurgents had taken cover in civilian houses. In Mubi, where thousands have taken refuge in recent weeks, locals were thronging the main bus depot on Monday. "The increasing large number of passengers far exceeds available vehicles, which has resulted in commotion as people jostle and struggle to secure seats on available buses and taxis. They just want to get out," said Samaila Ado, who works at the coach station.
- 'Capturing everywhere' -
The United States last week said it was alarmed by reports that Boko Haram had captured the Borno town of Bama and the possibility of an attack on the state capital, Maiduguri, 70 kilometers away. The spokesman of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, Gideon Obasogie, said he fled the town on Sunday. "Thousands of others have also left Mubi for Yola for fear of attack. The Boko Haram militants are just capturing everywhere," he told AFP. "The Catholic church in Maiduguri diocese is gradually crumbling. A priest in Michika had to scale a fence yesterday to avoid being killed. He had to pass through some bush and mountains before he finally made it to Yola."Security fears prompted the indefinite closure of the Adamawa State University in Mubi, according to a university statement.
In October 2012, Boko Haram fighters were blamed for shooting dead at least 40 polytechnic students at their off-campus hostels in the town. The military has claimed it recaptured Bama in ground and air offensives, killing 50 insurgents in a battle near the town at the weekend. Independent confirmation was not immediately available and in an audio message, a purported Boko Haram spokesman named Abu Zinnira refuted the claim. The insurgents threatened to add to their territorial gains, he said. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the recording but AFP received the message from the same channels as previous Boko Haram videos. Agence France Presse
Israeli intel available only to US dangled as bait for Arabs to join Obama’s anti-IS coalition
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis September 9, 2014/An anonymous Western diplomat’s reported to Reuters Monday, Sept. 8, that “Israel has provided satellite imagery and other intelligence in support of the US-led aerial campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq.” He added that after “being ‘scrubbed’ of evidence of its Israeli origin, the information has often been shared by Washington with Arab and Turkish allies.”debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources reports that this claptrap is part of a deep game. While willing to share intelligence on Al Qaeda with the US, Israel would certainly not hand over satellite imagery or any other intelligence, knowing it would reach the hands of Turkey and possibly also Iran. Satellite imagery is far too sensitive to part with and gives away far too many secrets, like the its path, its capabilities, sensors and the resolution and angles of its cameras. Such material, if passed to anyone, would only be handed to a friendly head of state, a defense minister or a spy chief in exceptional circumstances.
There is also the remote possibility that the report was intended as a warning signal to draw to Israel’s notice that its intelligence-sharing mechanism had sprung an unauthorized leak.The most far-fetched contention by the “Western diplomat” was that “Israeli spy satellites overflying Iraq at angles and frequencies unavailable to US satellites had provided images that allowed the Pentagon to fill out its information and get better battle damage assessments” after strikes on Islamic State targets.
This makes no sense at all. All spy satellite in the world fly at the same altitudes and angles. American satellites can perform any task Israel’s can – unless some interested party was deliberate hinting that Israel’s satellites were not only spying on IS in Iraq but also on Iran next door.The Western diplomat went onto to advance the view that Israel was also sharing information “gleaned from international travel databases about Western citizens suspected of joining the insurgents…”
He commented sagely: “The Israelis are very good with passenger data and with analyzing social media in Arabic to get a better idea of who these people are,” he said. Israel would no doubt be happy to dispense with this kind of “compliment.”The entire song and dance was staged by the “Western diplomat” just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to land in the Middle East for an urgent bid to get Arab partners aboard the US-led coalition for fighting IS, especially Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, as well as Egypt and Jordan. He knows he is in for a hard time. Only Sunday, Sept. 7, the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo decided against coordinating their actions to fight extremist groups, including al Qaeda, with the US, but rather pursue their own “national and regional strategies against terrorism.”Jordan, America’s closest Arab ally, announced flatly it would not join the US-led coalition. Kerry will find stepping over this hurdle a tall order, especially as time is short before Wednesday, when President Barack Obama promises to unveil his strategy for a coalition to battle the Islamic State. The Western diplomat may therefore have been dangling sensitive Israeli intelligence for fighting terrorism – that would be available only through Washington - as bait for reeling in reluctant Arab powers to support the Obama plan. Washington may find a second use for this tactic: breaking up the Saudi-Egyptian-UAR alliance which backed Israel in the Gaza war.
Who really won the Gaza war?
By: Former Mossad Head: Efraim Halevy /Ynetnews
Published: 09.09.14/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: In the Yom Kippur war, both sides' ability to claim victory paved the way to a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The outcome of Operation Protective Edge is different. Did Israel win Operation Protective Edge? Was Hamas beaten? The history of the conflict between Israel and its enemies shows that the answers to these two questions do not depend on one another. On the contrary, there is a possibility that both sides won or that both sides lost. We may only know the answer when the Cairo talks come to an end. In the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, both sides experienced ups and downs. In the first two weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu sought to end the violent conflict based on the "calm for calm" principle, but his appeals were rejected.
When the fire intensified and Hamas attempted to bring its attack tunnels into play, the Cabinet decided to "step up" its activities and launch a ground operation within the Gaza Strip, a move which Israel had preferred to avoid.
At the end of the fighting, Hamas was forced to give up on most of the demands it had presented as conditions for a ceasefire, including a seaport and an airport. The prime minister was right when he said that Hamas did not achieve a single one of its demands. But that is not the only criterion for determining who won the conflict. In the Yom Kippur War, which lasted less than half the time of Protective Edge, the first week of fighting ended with the Egyptian and Syrian armies breaking through to Sinai and the Golan Heights, inflicting hundreds of losses on the IDF, shooting down one-third of the Israel Air Force's fleet – 80 planes – and destroying about 800 tanks. At the end of the war, the IDF had positioned itself beyond the Suez Canal, on the main traffic artery on the way to Cairo, and our cannons were aimed at the suburbs of Damascus. The war ended with a clear Israeli victory, but that has not stopped Egypt from celebrating its victory in the "October War" every year. Despite the IDF's dramatic and overwhelming victory, the government which led to this victory was forced to resign under the pressure of public opinion, which interpreted the final outcome of the battle differently. Like in the Yom Kippur War, this time too each side was able to present its desirable narrative. There is no dispute that Hamas suffered a very serious military blow. About 1,000 of its fighters were killed, including its senior commanders. But in the eyes of the Gazan sitting at the foot of his destroyed home, the images of the battle also include what is described as the flight of Israel's citizens from their homes along the Strip's border and the 36-hour suspension of much international traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport, after one rocket hit the city of Yehud. Israel gave up in advance on its ultimate goal of destroying Hamas as a fighting body, although the war took place under excellent regional conditions and while the world was preoccupied with other conflicts. Both sides' ability to claim victory with a certain amount of justice paved the way after the Yom Kippur to the two leaderships – Israeli and Egyptian – to start a process that ended with a peace agreement. The outcome of Protective Edge is unlike the outcome of the Yom Kippur War: Hamas' failure is bigger than Egypt's failure in 1973, while Israel's abilities against Hamas are more significant than the abilities it had against Egypt and Syria in that war.
And there is another question, which is as important as the question who won: Had the prime minister known that the battle would last 50 days, and had he known its results – both the negative and positive – would he have behaved differently before the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge? No one can provide a reliable answer to this question. But it should be considered even as moves are underway for another round to come sometime in the future, like a conditioned reflex.
After three indecisive rounds, it would be preferable to put some thought into searching for other alternatives rather than focusing only on the need to guarantee a better result next time. This is the difference between "the sword will devour forever" as a predestination and voluntarily choosing it.
Efraim Halevy is a former head of the Mossad.
Fighting ISIS means suffocating it without mercy
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiya
In his many diatribes, Terrorist-in-Chief Osama bin Laden
had a recurring theme: A deeply rooted desire to “bring America to its knees” by
dragging it out or luring it into conflict and letting it “bleed to death.”
One of George W. Bush’s unforgivable mistakes involved stepping right into the trap:
1. In Afghanistan, the U.S. did not commit ground troops in December 2001 in Tora Bora where intelligence located without a doubt the cave where Osama bin Laden was hiding with his key al-Qaeda terrorists. Imagine how different things would have been had the U.S. nabbed Bin Laden then. Instead, Bin Laden lived to tell in an audio message the tale of his “unbelievable” survival.
2. To distract from the failure against Taliban and the al-Qaeda, Bush launched his war on Saddam Hussein, even fabricating information to justify an attack on Iraq. Without an exit strategy and without a clear plan for transition and rehabilitation of the Iraqi army, Bush allowed the insurgency to be born, the Sunni-Shiite rift to surface, and a civil war to ensue. Refugees and violence spilled over to Kurdistan and Syria. They affected Iran, Turkey and Jordan.
“Obama’s policies following the Arab uprisings and his flagrant hesitant stance in Syria added salt to the already gushing wound”
3. Iraq’s disarray provided terror groups and fundamentalist organizations a fertile ground for the genesis of the “Islamic State” project under several banners all the way to ISIS. Many regional players benefitting from this strife fueled it. The United States with its inaction or delayed reaction fanned the flames of sedition.
Obama’s policies following the Arab uprisings and his flagrant hesitant stance in Syria added salt to the already gushing wound. ISIS was born, a robust terror group, in the midst of disintegrating regimes, corrupt dictatorships and weakened governments:
In contrast to Arab regimes, ISIS has:
a. Clear political agenda: Spreading their version of Islam and establishing a “Caliphate.”
b. Sophisticated infrastructure to finance, train, propagate, recruit and grow.
c. Successful communication system that is hard to infiltrate.
d. Message that targets - and seems to work - on disenfranchised youth especially those living in the west.
If it is not dealt with decisively now, ISIS will soon become a credible force to be reckoned with and will be able to drag the U.S. into more quagmires.
If the U.S. is serious about fighting ISIS, it should do so simultaneously at several levels: Politically and militarily through alliances and focused, relentless boots on the ground crackdown and strategically, through driving its regional allies towards real reform. All powers must commit to a strategy of absolutely no mercy in dealing with extremism no matter what banner it hides behind even if the banner is that of religion.
It is a tall order but it’s doable; it beats the alternative of a long, bloody war that looms in the horizon.
Why is the Muslim world rife with conspiracy theories?
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya
In the West there is a saying: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” But stupidity, ignorance, incompetence and corruption in ourselves are much more difficult to accept than the evil of others who we regard, for whatever reason, as enemies. And when all is said and done, in the game of Us vs. Them, evidence counts for little. We already know that we are good and virtuous and deserve good lives. And we already know that our enemies are evil, and would like nothing better than to deprive us of what we deserve. That is why they are our enemies, after all.
And so, here we are: in the Muslim world, the cultures are rife with conspiracy theories. We are good, decent people and yet our lives are not often as fulfilled as we think they should be. We are often politically dominated by our governments, as they are by foreign powers. Economic opportunity is often something mythical, from far-away Western lands. And we often feel that we do not have much control over our destinies at all.
“Is it not possible that we have our fair share of responsibility for not standing up and defending the Islam of peace more vigorously in the last few decades?”
And just like primitive peoples who saw evil spirits in thunder, sandstorms and drought, everything that is wrong in our countries must surely be animated by some evil spirit behind the illusory veil of politics and the media. These evil spirits bear many frightful names: the West / the CIA / MI6/ Israel / Mossad, or just old Hindu India. But we seem to think that what they want is clear; they want to steal our resources and undermine our way of life.
Imaginative interpretation of the facts
Now this is not to say that Western powers do not have a huge historic responsibility for a lot of our current condition. Britain and France partitioned the Levant and Iraq after WW1 in a way that could only ever have ended in blood and tears. The only surprise is that it took so long for the region to erupt into a crisis like the one we now have with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Britain and America removed democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran and created a subsequent regime run by Fazlollah Zahedi that had the worst human rights track record in the world throughout the 1970s. And surely by now there should be no doubt that Iraqi oil was at least a major consideration in the U.S./British decision to invade Iraq in 2003 – what with all those tax concessions and billion-dollar contracts for U.S. firms to “aid the reconstruction.”
But to go from that to maintaining that 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. government so that they could launch a new crusade on the Middle East, or that the leader of ISIS is a Mossad agent and the “Caliphate’s” purpose is to further destabilise the region, requires quite an imaginative interpretation of the facts.
Still, this creative approach means that we do not have to face some rather difficult possibilities. One of these possibilities is that in much of the Muslim world, we have abided, if not outright encouraged, the spread of puritanical and divisive strands of Islam. Is it not possible that we have our fair share of responsibility for not standing up and defending the Islam of peace more vigorously in the last few decades?
And now, since it is “obvious” that our old enemies, Israel, the West and India are to blame for the turmoil, we are also conveniently absolved of making a stand for our Islam of peace. After all, what can we, the little people, do when all the world is against us? At least the Islamists are standing up for the Muslim world, no? And thus, with no actual conspiracy, and to everyone’s despair, hundreds of Muslims die every day at the hands of Muslims. But at least we can sleep well at night. We bear no responsibility for any of this.
Saudi Arabia, facing tough and tougher choices
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state, titled her memoirs “Hard Choices.” If Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was to consider authoring a book on developments in the region, he would likely have gone with the same title.
Everyone is facing tough choices. The real problem lies in the large number of these difficult choices. Everyone ends up choosing a hands-off approach while events deteriorate further. Forces acting on their own - disregarding the state - decide and implement what they want, while politicians who represent existing regimes face unending tough choices. In theory, it is in the interest of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the rest of the countries in the region to unite against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with the support of the United States and the international community. However, in reality they have divergent interests and conflicting priorities. They do not even trust each other. Therefore, all of them are facing tough choices that will hamper and delay decision-making when they meet to set up strategies to eliminate ISIS. “Tehran is concerned that its fight against ISIS might move to inside Iran, which is a matter of time”
Despite the old conflict between them, Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed that ISIS is threatening their national security. However, while Riyadh wants to eradicate the group, it does not want Iran to take advantage of this, since ISIS has succeeded in breaking the “Shiite crescent” from Tehran to Beirut, through Iraq and Syria. Iran has even become unable to supply its ally in Damascus with arms and oil across Iraqi territory.
After Saudi Arabia defeats ISIS...
Moreover, after Saudi Arabia defeats ISIS, it does not want Iran to return to its domination of Iraq, where its sectarian parties prevail. Actually, it would not back all Shiite parties, only ones which share its fundamentalism dreams. It was difficult for Iran to accept the increased pressure to abandon its ally, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, despite all the offers of international and Saudi support for the government in Baghdad to face ISIS.
These offers were in exchange for abandoning Maliki and forming a government of national unity with the approval of the Sunnis and Kurds. Iran accepted the first condition with difficulty, but was unable to accept the second.
Maliki’s successor Haider al-Abadi, a candidate from Al-Dawa party who is also a fundamentalist and friend of Iran, has not yet succeeded in forming a national unity government because he has rejected Sunni demands. It has also failed so far due to the insistence of its allies to control the security apparatus. Iran can change all that, but getting rid of old habits is very difficult, especially when they are mixed with fundamentalist illusions.
It is difficult for Saudi Arabia to intervene directly in the war on ISIS in Iraq, even if it is within the framework of an international coalition. However, it is easy for Iran as it is already present in the Iraqi security apparatuses in relation to arms, training and intelligence. There is even the participation of its own forces, despite its denials. Tehran is concerned that its fight against ISIS might move to inside Iran, which is a matter of time. ISIS terrorism is threatening Iran as much as it threatens Saudi Arabia, which means there is a need for exchanging security information between the two countries. However, they both need to trust each other. If the aforementioned option is Saudi Arabia’s tough choices, Riyadh’s position regarding the Syrian regime is a tougher choice. There are signs of two conflicting approaches in Saudi policy. The first approach is to keep rejecting the regime and its restoration for ethical reasons expressed by King Abdullah in his historic speech to the Syrians in Aug. 2011, five months after the outbreak of the peaceful revolution against Bashar al-Assad, in addition to the Saudis patience and silence about Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
Unable to stay silent
Saudi Arabia was unable to stay silent regarding the daily images of killings, so it declared its historical responsibility toward the Syrian people, and urged Syria to stop the killing machine and undertake real reforms, which has not happened. Therefore, there is no justification for the kingdom to change its stance toward Assad. The view of two Saudi strategic experts underline that even if Riyadh disregarded its ethical commitment and stopped supporting the armed opposition, Assad would not be able to control the whole country and restore stability. This would lead to the continuation of the civil war that is serving ISIS. The second approach is expressed by the kingdom’s “new and ancient” ally Egypt, which believes that it is crucial to stop supporting the armed opposition and help Assad face extremism in the region. This approach is partially welcomed by Riyadh, but it collides with the moral commitment expressed by the Saudi king in the aforementioned speech.
The United States and France, which are both allied to the kingdom, have clearly said Assad has lost his legitimacy. They believe that any action against ISIS must be arranged in a way that does not benefit his regime.
Direct intervention in the war on ISIS, including airstrikes and a ground war, is the toughest choice. Riyadh resisted the temptation of direct intervention in Syria in the hope that the opposition could overthrow the regime, or that the international community would repeat what it did in Libya. However, the stability of ISIS as a state along the kingdom’s northern borders, with a growing Saudi presence in the pillars of that state, has pushed Riyadh to have a different reaction this time.
However, the conflicting interests and lack of trust between countries in the region are making it impossible to take any decision today. This is what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was asked to head to the Middle East “to build a coalition” against ISIS, seeks to remedy or at least discuss. I believe that the kingdom will not rush to choose one of the available tough choices. It is interested first in protecting the internal front, which is now threatened after al-Qaeda and ISIS (for I believe there is no difference between them) became active to victories in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, Riyadh should wait for the formation of a national unity government in Iraq, and then for the Paris conference to support Baghdad. Afterwards, Kerry will discuss the formation of a coalition against ISIS. The project to eradicate the group is still in its early stages, and for now it is important to protect the internal front.
Giving Iraq a Stay of Execution
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Tuesday, 9 Sep, 2014
In 2007, TIME magazine reported how Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al-Ta’i, the defense minister during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s era, escaped execution just five hours before he was scheduled to be hanged. Ta’i’s life was spared after his American jailor refused to hand him over to Iraqi executioners due to “incomplete paperwork.” Hashim’s controversial case—he is still in jail—continues to demonstrate the state of political and sectarian tensions in Iraq.
Recently there have been reports about Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi’s intent to release Ta’i along with foreign affairs minister and deputy prime minister during Saddam’s rule, Tariq Aziz, within the context of comprehensive political reconciliation in the country. This amnesty would mark the end of the era of former prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who is blamed for the fallout which almost destroyed the state and sparked a civil war.
TIME reported that former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani and his deputy Tareq Al-Hashemi were against executing public figures and leaders and warned the US against submitting to Maliki’s demands. Unfortunately when the Americans left Iraq, they handed the country to Maliki without any restraints whatsoever. As a result, Maliki exploited his powers. This is definitely part of the reason for the growing anger against presidential, security and judicial state institutions. During his eight years in power, Maliki targeted his rivals on sectarian, ethnic and partisan grounds without taking into consideration the country’s sensitivities and without respect for the the rule of law.
One of Maliki’s acquaintances told me that the outgoing prime minister thought it would be easy to adopt the approach of former Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution in Iran. Khomeini had one project, which was to eradicate all parties who disagreed with him from the political scene. Tehran’s revolutionaries killed thousands of people through kangaroo courts—not only the Shah’s followers, but also their leftist and nationalist partners.
However, Iraq has been a country with a complex ethnic and confessional mix for centuries. Even when Britain colonized Iraq, it did not ignore the country’s tribal, sectarian and regional differences. This is what enabled Britain to control Iraq between the two world wars.
Ta’i was a military figure who received orders during Saddam’s dictatorship. Other than that, many, including his enemies, testified in his favor, saying he was a respected figure. This is what US general David Petraeus, who detained him in 2003, wrote about him when he called for his execution not to go ahead, saying that Ta’i voluntarily handed himself over. More than one source confirmed that Ta’i chose not to confront the invasion when it first began in 2003 because he thought it was a lost war. This decision was against the orders of Saddam, and was why losses on both sides during the invasion were less than the preliminary estimates of experts.
As for Aziz, Maliki received plenty of letters from across the world calling for mercy to be shown him and for his release, especially as he was sick. However, Maliki chose to keep him in jail, realizing that executing him would spark global condemnation and protest.
If the Sunni Ta’i and the Christian Aziz were to be released, there would be a real chance to begin the work of political reconciliation. It would send significant messages—for instance, that Abadi’s government was serious about moving to a new phase, exiting Maliki’s era. There is a list of demands that though many, are reasonable, just and achievable. Some of these demands are aimed at ending acts of vendetta and entering a new phase which would preserve the country’s unity and power