September 13/14


Bible Quotation for today/No slave can serve two masters
Saint Luke 16,13-17: "No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’ The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God. ‘The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 12 and 13/14

Obama assembles non-coalition to fight not-war against ISIS/By: John Hayward /Human Events/September 13/14

Unsavory Bedfellows المرافقون البغيضون/By: Lee Smith/The Weekly Standard/September 13/14

A coalition of 40 countries to fight ISIS/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/September 13/14

Iran, the U.S. helped ISIS become a monster/By: Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/September 13/14


Lebanese Related News published on September 12 and 13/14

Prominent Delegation Travels to Doha ahead of PM Visit as Hujeiri Ends Negotiations with Gunmen

Ibrahim flies to Doha ahead of Salam’s visit

Support Group for Lebanon to Meet on Sidelines of U.N. Assembly, Says Permanent Representative
U.S. pledges $103.8M in aid to Lebanon

Asiri calls for swift election of president

Bringing burlesque to Beirut

Alkarssifi and the lost archive of Baalbek

A literary feast of disparate flavors

Judge to announce if STL can try media

Lebanese Forces MP Zahara, blasts Rai over presidential vacuum remarks

Alain Aoun: Importance of parliamentary elections

Mixture of fear and defiance emanates from Hermel
Surrogacy not an option in Lebanon

Alain Aoun: Parliamentary elections could solve impasse

Lebanon’s interest rates to rise in 2015

Inflation may be dormant, but it’s not dead

Army in Tripoli Raids as Local Group Denies Pledging Allegiance to IS
Man Held after Threatening 3 Children with 'Slaughter' in Video

Israel Sets up Reconnaissance Balloon near Mays al-Jabal

Jumblat Rejects Self-Security, Inquires about U.S. Campaign against Jihadists

Bulldozers Stolen by Jihadists in Arsal, Taken to Mountains

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 12 and 13/14

Meet the man leading America’s anti-ISIS push, Retired Marine Gen. John Allen

Kerry says Iran excluded from anti-ISIS fight

Australia raises threat level to ‘high’ on Iraq, Syria

French president in Iraq to support new government

U.S. warplanes to fly from Iraqi base: Pentagon
Iran questions ‘sincerity’ of anti-ISIS coalition

Al-Nusra frees kidnapped U.N. peacekeepers

Take the time out of homemade beef ragu and pasta
Syrian troops capture key central town

Scotland independence polls put ‘No’ camp ahead

Iran wants UN to condemn Israeli drone

Mortar from Syria explodes in Golan Heights

Report: IDF to discharge reservists from elite intel unit who refuse to serve in West Bank

Thousands of Israeli-Arabs rally against Islamic State

knife-wielding Beduin on army base in South

Sana’a-Houthi talks “unresolved”: source

US, Gulf and Arab allies agree strategy to counter ISIS


Alain Aoun: Parliamentary elections could solve impasse
Wassim Mroueh| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Holding parliamentary elections on time, even if that means their taking place before presidential polls, would break Lebanon’s political deadlock, according to MP Alain Aoun. Speaking to The Daily Star in an interview at his office in Beirut, Aoun dismissed as mere pretexts the security concerns some have pointed to as a reason for delaying the general elections. Instead, he said, going to the polls in November was vital. “Parliamentary elections could be the start of the solution. They will produce facts, particularly on the Christian level, which should be reflected in the presidential election,” said Aoun, who is part of Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc. By determining which Christian group enjoyed the strongest representation in the country, he said it would become clear who was eligible to have a strong say over who should be Lebanon’s new president, hopefully bringing to an end a nearly four-month power vacuum in one of the country’s top posts. “If all parties recognize these facts and acknowledge the result of parliamentary elections, then they will lead to a solution,” Aoun said, adding that once a new president was elected, a new government could be formed and the country’s state institutions could be revived. The Future Movement opposes the idea of holding parliamentary elections before a president has been elected, arguing that this could lead to total power vacuum. According to the Constitution, the current government would have to resign once a new Parliament is elected and Lebanon would have to wait for another Cabinet to be appointed. The current Cabinet took nearly 11 months to form, and without a president, there would be no one to hold consultations with MPs over the nomination of a new prime minister, as stipulated by the Constitution.
While Aoun admitted that “the situation will not be comfortable,” he said that total vacuum would not grip the country. “We will have a new Parliament and a caretaker government. Parliament will have the duty to elect a president.”
Above all, Aoun emphasized that the fragile security situation in Lebanon was not a valid excuse to delay parliamentary elections.
Last month, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said security services had warned against holding parliamentary elections due to instability in the country. “It is shocking not to have elections in the entire country just because there is a security problem in a limited geographical area, given that elections took place in countries like Syria and Iraq,” Aoun said, referring to the border town of Arsal. The northeastern town has been volatile ever since last month, when militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front occupied it for five days, and captured more than 30 Army soldiers and policemen. The Nusra Front has since released seven and ISIS has executed two, leaving at least 22 still in captivity. The perceived slowness of the government to solve the issue has ignited tensions across the country.
“If there is a sensitive situation in a certain district, this does not apply for other districts,” he said.
“I believe that the reasons [behind the proposed extension of Parliament’s term] are political rather than security-related. Some believe that the status quo in the country should not change until the picture in the region becomes clear.”
On the subject of the captured men, Aoun said that the latest meeting of a specially formed crisis cell working toward their release had been productive. At the meeting, top security officials were tasked with laying down a plan to bring back order and security to Lebanon, particularly in Arsal. “This came after a hesitant stance which unfortunately wasted time and raised losses,” Aoun said.
The Cabinet should be able to use a combination of indirect negotiations with the militants, mediation and military force in order to solve the problem, according to Aoun. But the situation in Arsal should not be used as a pretext to delay an election, he said, as this would involve extending the term of Parliament for a second time, which the Change and Reform bloc staunchly opposes. Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and then-President Michel Sleiman filed challenges to last May’s extension before the Constitutional Council, but the body could not meet to look into these challenges due to the lack of a quorum because Shiite and Druze members boycotted the session.
Asked whether he believed another extension of Parliament’s term was inevitable, Aoun said: “If there is a huge majority in favor of extension, I believe we will experience a scenario similar to the one of last year.” One of the biggest obstacles to the Parliament-presidential election conundrum is the lack of a consensus over a presidential candidate. March 8 party members have largely refused to attend voting sessions for a new president until a figure has been agreed on beforehand. March 8’s candidate is Michel Aoun – but he is controversial and divisive. Some have accused him of obstructing presidential elections by refusing to withdraw his candidacy, something MP Aoun vehemently denied. March 14 is supporting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in his bid for the top Christian role in the country.
Aoun also talked about a proposal made by the FPM’s leader in June, which would amend the Constitution to allow the president to be elected via a popular vote, as a way of ensuring proper Christian representation in the voting process.
“Get us a way in which Christians would have a strong say in the election of a president, whether General Aoun or anybody else, and then the problem will be solved,” MP Aoun said. “We are raising a fundamental problem. Are the Christians having a say in presidential election based on our sectarian system? The mechanism by which presidents have been elected since the [1989] Taif Agreement is marginalizing the will of Christians. We now want to regain this will. “But we got a negative response,” he said, referring to the March 14 coalition’s position on the proposal. He dismissed an initiative announced by the March 14 coalition earlier this month, in which it voiced its readiness to agree with March 8 rivals on a consensus president other than Aoun or Geagea, as not having provided a real solution.
“It is pushing those who represent Christians furthest away from the presidential election ... this marginalizes Christians rather than boosting their presence.”Aoun said an agreement on a president who truly represented Christians was another way to ensure that Christians would be properly represented by the final choice. For Aoun, the need to have such a president was not about placing Michel Aoun in the post, but rather was a necessary condition that should be fulfilled whoever the president was.Separately, Aoun reiterated his group’s opposition to establishing Syrian refugee camps inside Lebanon. “We do not want to encourage Syrians to stay ... Establishing camps inside Lebanon will gradually make the presence of Syrian refugees permanent.” However, he said that his bloc was not against the establishment of refugee camps in the no-man’s-land between Lebanon and Syria’s borders, something that is likely to soon become a reality.


Support Group for Lebanon to Meet on Sidelines of U.N. Assembly, Says Permanent Representative
Naharnet/Nawaf Salam, Lebanon's Permanent Representative to the U.N., that a meeting will be held for the International Support Group for Lebanon on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, which will be opening its sessions in New York on September 16. Salam said, in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper on Friday, that the meeting will be held to extend further support to Lebanon and its stability and to fortify the capabilities of the army. “U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon had called for the meeting that will focus on the Syrian refugees crisis, beefing up support to the Lebanese army and strengthening its economy,” he pointed out.
The support group was set up in New York in September 2013 on the sidelines of the 68th session of the General Assembly to help Beirut deal with the implications of the brutal war in Syria that began in March 2011.
It is intended to provide financial, political and security support to the country. Paris hosted in March the last meeting for the Support Group in the presence of former President Michel Suleiman. Salam expressed regret that the Lebanese president will not give a speech during the General Assembly meeting due to the ongoing presidential deadlock. He considered that the deep rift between Lebanese parties prevented the election a new head of state. Prime Minister Tammam Salam will head the Lebanese delegation to New York if the political arch-foes failed to elect a new president by the time of the meeting.
The premier will head a small delegation that will include Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and a limited number of advisers. The delegation, according to the Lebanese diplomat, will hold high-level meetings with various heads of state and officials. The 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly will kick off on September 16 and the general debate will open on September 24. Lebanon plunged in a vacuum on May 25 when Suleiman's six-year term ended with MPs unable to find a successor over differences on a compromise candidate.

Army in Tripoli Raids as Local Group Denies Pledging Allegiance to IS
Naharnet /The army on Friday carried out raids in Tripoli and arrested a Syrian man accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, as a prominent militant group in the northern city denied pledging allegiance to the Islamic State or al-Nusra Front.“The army is carrying out raids in Tripoli following reports of alleged movements by Nusra-linked armed groups,” Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported in the evening. It said troops arrested Syrian national Adham Hajj Hamidi in Tripoli's Abi Samra on charges of belonging to a “terrorist group.”
Meanwhile a local militant group led by young Tripoli resident Osama Mansour denied reports that it had pledged allegiance to IS or Nusra. Mansour, 27, had been wanted on dozens of arrest warrants and he was recently apprehended in the Bekaa before being eventually released, LBCI television said.
“We're closer to al-Nusra Front's policy, ideology … and behavior on the ground. We admire al-Nusra Front and we're closer to it, but we have not pledged allegiance to the IS or the Front,” Mansour, who some locals refer to as “the emir”, said in an interview on LBCI.
Citing security reports, the TV network said Mansour's 20-member group has recently “occupied” the Omar bin Massoud Mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh and that the militant started “playing a bigger role” in the city with the beginning of the Arsal battle in the Bekaa in early August. Mansour and his group have however denied “occupying” the mosque, noting that they are present there because they are residents of the neighborhood, LBCI added.
Shadi al-Mawlawi, a fugitive Islamist militant and a member of Mansour's group, also appeared in LBCI's report.
The TV network said the interview was filmed in Bab al-Tabbaneh's al-Ahram area. “We contributed to the recent release of the five Sunni troops” who had been kidnapped by Nusra during Arsal's battle, Mawlawi told LBCI. “As for the Rafida (Shiite) troops, they have showed hostility and fought our people in (Syria's) Qusayr and Yabrud and (Sidon's) Abra. We wish they would be killed,” Mawlawi added. “We honestly wish for their death but we prefer a (prisoner) exchange … because we have people in Roumieh's prison,” Mawlawi went on to say.
The Islamic State group controls thousands of square kilometers of territory in Iraq and Syria. It has also engaged alongside Nusra in deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in Arsal before pulling back to the Syrian side of the border. IS militants have beheaded two Lebanese soldiers who were taken captive along with several others from the army and security forces. The militants are reportedly seeking the release of Islamist prisoners from Lebanon's Roumieh prison in return for the rest of the troops they have in their custody.

Man Held after Threatening 3 Children with 'Slaughter' in Video
Naharnet/A 30-year-old man was arrested Friday after he appeared in a video in which he terrorizes three young boys and threatens to slaughter them with a knife. “The Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces has managed to arrest 30-year-old Lebanese suspect M. F. in the Nabatiyeh town of Ebba, after he threatened three toddlers with slaughter in a video circulated on social networking websites,” LBCI television reported.
“Who shall we slaughter first?” the man asks in the video, in which only his knife-wielding hand appears.
“Put your hand here or else I will sever your head,” he tells one of the terrified boys, who cry their lungs out throughout the video.
“You, come here … Do you belong to Daesh?” the man says, using an acronym for the full Arabic name of the extremist Islamic State group, which has recently beheaded two Lebanese soldiers.
The kidnap and murder of Lebanese troops and policemen by IS and al-Nusra Front jihadists have sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings. The captive soldiers and policemen were kidnapped during fierce clashes in the Bekaa border town of Arsal last month.
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. In recent days, tents belonging to Syrian refugees have been set alight and hundreds of Syrians sheltered in the Bekaa valley have fled for fear of attack. Several beatings of Syrian citizens were also reported in Beirut's southern suburbs.
In July, a video of a Lebanese child beating up a Syrian minor sparked uproar in the country. The video showed the Lebanese child holding a stick and beating up the minor at the instructions of one of his relatives.

Prominent Delegation Travels to Doha ahead of PM Visit as Hujeiri Ends Negotiations with Gunmen
Naharnet /Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri a.k.a. Abu Taqiyeh, who has been mediating with Islamist gunmen the release of abducted Lebanese security personnel, withdrew from negotiations as a high-ranking security delegation is expected to head to Qatar on Friday.
“I have withdrawn from the negotiations,” Sheikh Hujeiri told An Nahar newspaper. The Sheikh pointed out that he decided to end his intervention in the case after his convoy came under fire as he was escorting back the family of soldier George Khoury following their meeting. “I am under the threat of assassination by a known group,” Hujeiri revealed. On Monday night, Hujeiri escorted the mother, brother and sister of Khoury to the outskirts of Arsal to visit him, but they came under fire at Arsal's edge on their way back home.
“No one contacted me to check if I am well, including the family of Khoury,” Hujeiri said.
Khoury is one of a number of soldiers and policemen who were abducted by Islamist militants from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August in light of clashes in the area between the army and the gunmen from Syria.
A few of them have since been released, while two others were beheaded, prompting a backlash against Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Ministerial sources told al-Liwaa newspaper that a progress in the negotiation between a Qatari delegation and the Islamist gunmen prompted Prime Minister Tammam Salam to decide to travel to Doha. The premier will head a delegation to Qatar on Sunday.
According to the sources, a breakthrough is expected to be achieved by Salam's visit. Qatar has reportedly dispatched a delegation to negotiate with Islamist gunmen from ISIL and the al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front the release of the soldiers and policemen.
The delegation, according to reports, tasked a Syrian national to meet with the extremists to relay their demands to the Lebanese state, which rejects direct talks with the jihadists.
Al-Joumhouria newspaper said that a high-ranking security and administrative delegation was tasked with carrying out the necessary preparations for Salam's visit. The delegation reportedly includes Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashouq, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas, Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Zoaiter, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour and Justice Minster Ashraf Rifi. General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the Secretary-General of the Higher Relief Council Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir and an administrative and diplomatic delegation will accompany Salam in his one-day visit where extensive meetings will be held.

Lebanese Forces MP Zahara, blasts Rai over presidential vacuum remarks
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A Lebanese Forces MP Friday launched a scathing attack against Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai for comments he made about the presidential stalemate, saying the March 8 group was to blame for the continued vacuum. “How could you, Patriarch Rai, generalize, and say that all of us are responsible for the paralysis? How could you allow yourself, given what you represent, not differentiate between those disrupting the Constitution and others who are committed to it?” MP Antoine Zahra said in a statement. “The March 14 coalition has a candidate who has a clear agenda and is committed to applying the Constitution. He has also said that he would abandon his nomination to discuss the possibility of a consensus candidate.” “How then could you equate us with the other group whose candidate is still unknown? They're the ones boycotting parliamentary sessions and refusing any consensus or agreement.”The Maronite patriarch said late Thursday in Washington that the political class as a whole was to blame for the inability of Parliament to elect a new president, saying that the March 8 and the March 14 coalitions could no longer continue "on two separate paths." Zahra said Rai should refrain from making such remarks if he had no intention of supporting or opposing one group over the other.
“As for him saying that March 8 and March 14 should not continue on different paths, I will allow myself to ask you this: What do you want us to do? To carry arms and join the Resistance Brigades? You want us to fight in Syria? You want us to boycott parliamentary sessions to elect a president?”"You want us to attack you and call you a traitor for vising the Holy Land? You want us to disrupt the work of institutions, block roads and kidnap people?” The lawmaker defended the March 14 coalition, saying the group, particularly LF Leader Samir Geagea, had proposed several solutions to end the presidential crisis. “The issue is not personal ... it is a matter of political choices,” Zahra said. “Your remarks confuse people and contradict the truth. Lebanon is facing two political agendas, and you implicitly support one of these agendas.” “If you could convince March 8 to abandon their agenda, then we would welcome such a move. Until then, we hope you can convince them to attend parliamentary sessions.”Some March 8 MPs have boycotted 10 parliamentary sessions to elect a new president, arguing that the meetings were futile unless rival parties agreed on a consensus candidate.

Meet the man leading America’s anti-ISIS push, Retired Marine Gen. John Allen
The Associated Press, Washington
Friday, 12 September 2014
Retired Marine Gen. John Allen will coordinate the broad international effort to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants, as the campaign against the extremist group ramps up and nations begin to determine what role each will play, U.S. officials said Thursday. Allen, who has been serving as a security adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, is expected to work with the nearly 40 nations around the world who have agreed to join the fight and help them coordinate what each will contribute, several officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke about Allen's expected appointment on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an announcement. Allen comes to the job with vast experience coordinating international allies on the warfront. He served as deputy commander in Iraq's Anbar province from 2006 to 2008, working with Arab partners on organizing the Sunni uprising against al-Qaeda. He moved from there to serve for two years as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military troops and operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Allen next became the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, where he worked with international allies who sent troops to the battlefield.
As a result of his experience, Allen is very familiar many of the Middle East nations and leaders considered crucial to the latest effort to degrade and destroy the Islamic State group militants who have seized control of portions of Iraq and Syria in a ruthless reign of terror. He also has worked closely with most of the key military and diplomatic leaders, including Gen. Lloyd Austin, the current head of U.S. Central Command, who will oversee America's military campaign.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that the U.S. will be expanding airstrikes in Iraq and into Syria, in an aggressive move to root out the Islamic State group extremists where ever they are. Obama, Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have spent the last week meeting with international leaders overseas in an effort to build a broad coalition of nations - particularly Arab countries in the region - to aid the fight.
Officials are looking for partners to help train moderate Syrian rebels, work with the Iraqi security forces, contribute equipment, ammunition, intelligence, logistics and funding, as well as possibly also launch airstrikes.

Iran, the U.S. helped ISIS become a monster
Friday, 12 September 2014
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently accused the United States of not taking seriously the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “There is still no serious understanding about the threat and they [the United States] have as yet taken no serious action,” Zarif said, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported. In addition, Washington has not invited Tehran to join the core coalition - comprising Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey and the United States - aimed at defeating ISIS. Washington and Tehran share a common objective in Iraq: defeating the group and empowering the central government in Baghdad. “Tehran’s involvement, and that of its proxy Hezbollah, in the Syrian conflict ratcheted up sectarianism”Instead of pointing fingers and having Iran attempt to hide its underlying strategic and geopolitical intentions, it would be more effective if both governments examine their recent regional activities. They should observe how they are the major contributors in growing ISIS into a monster, and how its rise still serves Tehran’s regional interests.
Iran and ISIS
Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad has been instrumental in keeping the Alawites in power in Syria. However, this assistance also caused the uprising to spiral into a full-fledged sectarian civil war. In other words, the Iranian and Syrian governments’ use of brute force further radicalized and militarized the conflict. Tehran’s involvement, and that of its proxy Hezbollah, in the Syrian conflict ratcheted up sectarianism as well, pitting Sunnis, Shiites and Alawites against each other. This enabled al-Qaeda affiliates and groups such as ISIS to develop, organize, recruit and coordinate more efficiently. From the start, Iran’s line has been that Assad was attacked by terrorists and radical Sunni Islamist groups. Damascus employed the same argument to legitimize its use of force and prevent foreign intervention.
The Syrian government, with help from Iranian advisors, released several ISIS members and Salafists from prison in late 2011 and early 2012, in order to strengthen the argument that Assad was a target of radicals and terrorists rather than a popular uprising. ISIS recruitment significantly intensified during this time. From the start, the rise of such radical groups served the interests of Tehran and Damascus. Both succeeded in sending the West, particularly the United States, a robust message that there is no alternative to Assad, and that any foreign military intervention would exacerbate the conflict. The elite Quds Forces, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has gained significant power in Iraq and Syria since the rise of ISIS. Tehran no longer sees a need to hide the involvement of its troops in these countries. The growing role of the IRGC and Quds Forces is being justified by Iran’s claim that it is fighting ISIS. Washington sees no other option than to turn a blind eye to the increasing role of Iranian troops.
Exploiting the rise of ISIS
Tehran and the IRGC have been carrying out effective foreign policies to serve their own interests since the rise of ISIS. Firstly, Iran has managed to project itself as pivotal in defeating ISIS. Secondly, the security threat posed by the group has shifted attention from Tehran’s nuclear program. The strategic catastrophe of invading Iraq in 2003 gave birth to al-Qaeda affiliates and other radical groups such as ISIS. The post-invasion instability and involvement of U.S. troops in Iraq provided a suitable environment and excuse for such groups to grow and recruit to fight what they call American imperialism and occupation. Iran’s support for the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government gave ISIS the tools to exploit the growing disaffection of Iraqi Sunnis, who were left out of the political process. Without Iranian support for its close ally Syria, as well as U.S. involvement in Iraq, it is hard to imagine that ISIS would have found the right landscape in Syria (and later Iraq) to become a monster and a powerful non-state actor.


Unsavory Bedfellows المرافقون البغيضون
Following an “alleged offense,” which Lee Smith understood as a natural practice of free expression, Chaghoury intervened, leading to Lee’s detention for an hour by DC Metropolitan police.
Read below.

It’s not easy protecting the Christians of the Middle East.
The Weekly Standard
Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02
Last week, Senator Ted Cruz helped unmask an organization ostensibly founded to protect a Middle East minority. When the Texas legislator, the keynote speaker, asked the gala dinner audience comprising mostly Middle Eastern Christians at the In Defense of Christians conference in Washington to stand with Israel, many hooted and booed him off the stage. The hostility came as no surprise to me: When I found myself the night before in the same bar as a group of IDC speakers and organizers—at the Four Seasons in Georgetown—I ordered a bottle of champagne and had it sent to their table. Not long after, the D.C. Metropolitan Police detained me and a friend for an hour.
IDC’s proclaimed purpose—to protect Christians in the face of a jihadist onslaught led at present by ISIS—is of utmost importance. However, too many of the priests, prelates, and patriarchs from Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, as well as one of the organization’s key benefactors, Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, have also identified themselves as supporters of the Iranian axis in the Middle East. ISIS is a murderous group, but so is the regime in Tehran and so are its clients, chief among them Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
ISIS, as the world now knows all too well, has used beheadings, crucifixions, and all forms of murder and torture to terrorize its opponents, who include Christians, Yazidis, Alawites, Shiite Muslims, and Sunnis who don’t pledge fealty. But Assad’s record in Syria is no better. Besides the gas attacks and indiscriminate bombings that have killed tens of thousands of innocents, his security forces have specialized in acts of vindictive sadism. Early in the uprising, for instance, they mutilated the corpse of a 13-year-old boy before returning the body to his parents.
And yet many of the clerics invited to speak at the IDC conference are openly supportive of Assad. For instance, Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai calls Assad a reformer. Maybe he took that message to the White House when he met with Obama and Susan Rice Thursday afternoon to ask for continued American support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, even if its military intelligence unit is controlled by Hezbollah. But whatever is wrong with Hezbollah or Assad, many of the IDC clerics reason, at least they’re killing the Sunni extremists who would kill them.
I referenced this conception of Assad’s role in the note I sent along with the champagne: “Thanks IDC—and thanks Bashar al-Assad, ‘Protector of Christians’! XOXOXO.” I asked the waitress to deliver the bottle directly to Chagoury, who according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables has supported Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s key Christian ally in Lebanon. A 2007 cable also explains that Chagoury is close to Suleiman Franjieh Jr., another pillar of Lebanon’s pro-Damascus, pro-Hezbollah March 8 political coalition and a man who calls Assad his friend and brother. Former prime minister of Lebanon Fouad Siniora suggested to then U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman “that the U.S. deliver to Chagoury a stern message about the possibility of financial sanctions and travel bans against those who undermine Lebanon’s legitimate institutions.”
My friend noticed that the bottle was returned to the bar unopened. So there would be no thanks, sarcastic or otherwise, or insults. We left, disappointed, and got into a taxi. A policeman stopped the cab and told us to get out. His partner pulled out the note and asked if I’d written it. Of course, I said. The recipient, she explained, perceived it as a threat.
This was now getting interesting. A man who was a confidant of Sani Abacha, head of one of the bloodiest and most corrupt regimes in modern African history, and friends with Lebanese warlords like Nabih Berri thought that a note accompanying a bottle of champagne was threatening.
They can’t take a joke at their expense because usually they don’t have to, my friend said. With them it’s always the principle of “Do you know who I am?” This is what happens when you mess with a powerful man, one of the richest men in the world. However, my friend continued, this is not Nigeria or Lebanon—there are no thugs and militias waiting in the wings. This is the United States of America.
The police asked us to wait while they talked with Chagoury and his party. He’s a big Clinton donor. Who knows? Maybe he had lawyers calling in to the police. After about half an hour, someone with the Chagoury gang walked out from the hotel lobby and circled around to get a look at us. The guy looked just like Samir Kassir, a Lebanese journalist I met once when I lived in Beirut. But then I remembered it couldn’t be him: Kassir was on the other side. For opposing the Assad/Hezbollah condominium over Lebanon supported by the likes of Chagoury, Kassir was killed with a car bomb in 2005.
What happens under the hoods of Lebanese cars, what goes on in Nigerian prisons, is the province of men like Chagoury and their political patrons. This is the capital of the free world. After an hour, too long by any reckoning, the cops sent us on our way, happy to be reminded on the eve of 9/11 that as Americans we stand with our friends around the region of all faiths, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, who believe in what we believe in and fight for what we too often take for granted—the right to express oneself freely, the obligation to mock those who stand with murderers.
Lee Smith is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.


Obama assembles non-coalition to fight not-war against ISIS
By: John Hayward
9/12/2014 09:00 AM
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will not be intimidated by Islamic State militants after the beheading of a second American journalist and will build a coalition to "degrade and destroy" the group....
Can we agree that President Obama’s Wednesday night “war speech” against ISIS, far from being the foreign-policy grand slam his sycophants rushed to portray it as, was one of the greatest failures of his presidency? What an astonishing embarrassment, not just for Obama but for the nation he’s led into ruin. The weakness of American influence after six years of this man’s arrogance and incompetence is plain for all to see. If the ISIS head-choppers have a sense of humor that responds to anything other than decapitation, they must be rolling on the floor with laughter.
First we had the United Kingdom and Turkey bail on Obama within hours of his speech. Then it was Germany’s turn to say no dice, expressly because they haven’t heard anything that sounds like a real strategy yet from Obama. International Business Times has the faceplant round-up:
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier questioned whether Obama’s plan of airstrikes and equipping moderate Syrian rebels was adequate. “We haven’t been asked, nor will we do it,” he said of the airstrikes. “We need to be honest with ourselves in the current situation, we don’t yet have a final, blanket strategy which guarantees that we’ll be successful against ISIS and similar groups.“
Turkey, a crucial U.S. ally in the Middle East that borders Syria, said it won’t allow the U.S.-led coalition to launch strikes in Syria from its air bases. It also won’t participate in any combat operations. “Turkey will not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations,” an unnamed Turkish government official told Agence France-Press.
There was initial confusion after British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond saidearlier on Thursday the U.K. “will not be taking part of any airstrikes in Syria,” according to AFP. A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said Hammond meant to say that the U.K. would not be bombing Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Guardian reported. Obama’s plan does not include any strikes against the Syrian leader.
I don’t think there was any “initial confusion” in London. No one ever thought the American plan would involve bombing Bashar Assad. They said no, then watched in horror as the rest of the world’s leaders gave Obama the backs of their hands, and realized they had to soften their stance to preserve a smidgen of American credibility. The Brits were unwilling to stand by and watch Obama lead the civilized world to defeat inside of 48 hours.
Guess where the most robust support for Obama is coming from? That’s right: the folks Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is currently taking heat for describing as a strong ally of Christians and other persecuted minorities in the Middle East. “All civilized countries should stand together in the fight against radical terrorism that sweeps across the Middle East, that sweeps across the world,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, endorsing action against ISIS in a speech to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism that dealt primarily with the threat of nuclear Iran. “And we are playing our part in this continued effort. Some of the things are known, some things are less known.”
If Obama can’t put a coalition together against a pack of slave-taking, woman-raping, prisoner-torturing lunatics with about 30,000 men under arms (which is about twice what the intelligence community previously estimated – whoops!) then he’s not going to be leading any global efforts to take out the Iranian nuclear weapons programs. By the way, the same intelligence community that can’t get anything about ISIS right, and which Obama blames for all of his foreign policy failures, is the team he confidently assured us would know the microsecond Iran was close to deploying atomic weapons, during the same presidential campaign where he assured America that Iraq was secure and the Russians were our harmless comrades now.
Not only did Turkey tell Obama to pound sand, but as the New York Times notes, other Arab governments that “grumbled quietly in 2011 as the United States left Iraq, fearful it might fall deeper into chaos or Iranian influence” are giving Obama “tepid support” for his non-strategy to wage non-war with a non-coalition against the non-Islamic Islamic State, with the most enthusiastic support for an American bombing campaign coming from – gulp – the Assad regime in Syria:
While Arab nations allied with the United States vowed on Thursday to “do their share” to fight ISIS and issued a joint communiqué supporting a broad strategy, the underlying tone was one of reluctance. The government perhaps most eager to join a coalition against ISIS was that of Syria, which Mr. Obama had already ruled out as a partner for what he described as terrorizing its citizens.
Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, told NBC News that Syria and the United States were “fighting the same enemy,” terrorism, and that his government had “no reservations” about airstrikes as long as the United States coordinated with it. He added, “We are ready to talk.”
Others were less than forthcoming. The foreign minister of Egypt — already at odds with Mr. Obama over the American decision to withhold some aid after the Egyptian military’s ouster last year of the elected president — complained that Egypt’s hands were full with its own fight against “terrorism,” referring to the Islamist opposition.
In Jordan, the state news agency reported that in a meeting about the extremists on Wednesday, King Abdullah II had told Secretary of State John Kerry “that the Palestinian cause remains the core of the conflict in the region” and that Jordan was focusing on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
Jordan could very well be the Islamic State’s next target, and not even they will give two cheers to Operation Degrade and Ultimately Destroy But War HUH What Is It Good For Absolutely Nothing Say It Again? Wow. Also notably short of excitement for Obama’s war plans: Iraq, the country ISIS actually invaded.
Even in Baghdad and across Syria, where the threat from ISIS is immediate, reactions were mixed. Members of Iraq’s Shiite majority cheered the prospect of American help. But many Sunni Muslims were cynical about battling an organization that evolved from jihadist groups fighting American occupation.
“This is all a play,” said Abu Amer, 38, a government employee, who withheld his family name for his safety. “It is applying American political plans.”
Mr. Amer is a more perceptive critic of Obama’s theatrics than much of the American mainstream media. CNN should dump hapless former Obama spokesman Jay Carney – last seen getting destroyed during his big debut by Senator John McCain – and hire Abu Amer as a commentator.
It’s not that ISIS has any shortage of enemies in the region, including vigorous competition from marginally less evil terrorist groups. It’s that nobody wants to waste their prestige and political capital signing on to a vague Obama plan that everyone knows was hastily cooked up over the brief span of days since the President blurted out that he doesn’t have a strategy, and he spent over half of that “planning” time golfing and holding fundraisers. Obama’s only priority is salvaging his poll numbers, and there’s not much appetite among international leaders to help him do it.
What’s amazing about all this is how absolutely amateurish it is. You don’t give a big speech announcing a broad international coalition unless you actually have the coalition lined up. It’s increasingly clear Obama and his buffoonish Secretary of State, John Kerry, didn’t actually talk to anyone outside the Administration before throwing the Wednesday night speech together. They just assumed everyone would give them immediate public support, and maybe get in touch behind the scenes to invoice them for whatever pot-sweeteners it would take to secure minimal practical cooperation, such as using Turkey’s air bases. It would be tacitly understood that America did all the heavy lifting on the actual air campaign, which Obama sees as a politically cost-free way to drag the ISIS story out until the news cycle rolls along to something else. Why wouldn’t all those interesting foreign leaders Obama loves to dine with step forward and give him just wee little bit of rhetorical support in his hour of crisis?
No doubt one of the reasons for this tepid global response is that it’s got all the makings of a classic Obama cut-and-run disaster. The Administration is still spending a ridiculous amount of time arguing over the very semantics of what they’re doing. When you can’t even bring yourself to use the word “war,” don’t be surprised when no one is eager to rally to your banner. From The Hill:
The United States is not at war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.
Kerry said the administration’s plan to combat ISIS includes “many different things that one doesn’t think of normally in context of war” during an interview with CNN.
“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation,” Kerry said. “It’s going to go on for some period of time. If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts.”
In a separate interview with CBS News, Kerry also rejected the word “war” to describe the U.S. effort and encouraged the public not to “get into war fever” over the conflict.
“We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity,” Kerry told the network.
“I don’t think people need to get into war fever on this. I think they have to view it as a heightened level of counterterrorist activity … but it’s not dissimilar similar to what we’ve been doing the last few years with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Yemen and elsewhere,” he added.
This dolt is giving interviews where he describes the citizens of his own country as bloodthirsty knuckleheads quivering with war fever. Meanwhile, State Department spokes-teenager Marie Harf explained why this is, like, totally not a war, no matter how many bombs we drop, and don’t you dare harsh the Administration’s mellow by bringing up that Bush doctrine of pre-emption, dudes: “When we talk about how you degrade and defeat terrorist organizations, it’s not exactly I think how you’re probably using the term. And it’s not one that I’m using. Our goal is to prevent terrorist organizations from being able to attack the United States or our interests, to degrade their capabilities to do so. Obviously those are the kinds of terms I would use when it comes to this current effort.”
She also whined “Why do you always focus on what people say they won’t do?” when asked about Germany backing out of the Coalition to Save Obama’s Poll Numbers. And when Jay Carney’s successor as White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, was asked what “destroying” ISIS means or what “victory” would look like, he sneered that he doesn’t know the meaning of such words: “I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary.”
Normally when you’re trying to rally your allies to a serious effort, you say that you don’t know the meaning of the word defeat, not the meaning of victory. Can you blame world leaders for being reluctant to climb aboard such an obvious train wreck? Is it any surprise they find no inspirational leadership in a bumbling White House that’s obviously spending 99 percent of its efforts on political spin and rhetorical positioning? The task at hand is defeating a savage enemy that’s been given enough time to establish itself and train with an impressive arsenal of captured weapons – an enemy that has already routed one of the main American proxies, the Iraqi military. Opening up the second front involves finding the very precise combination of Syrian rebels that are willing to fight ISIS, inclined to serve as reliable and respectable American allies, and won’t hand victory in the Syrian civil war to Bashar Assad by turning their guns against the rest of his enemies.. Absolutely nothing about the history or current behavior of the Obama Administration should give anyone confidence that they’re up to the task, especially since they stubbornly refuse to define the parameters of the mission or establish victory conditions.
Maybe I can be of service by offering a suggestion for the branding effort, so this combination of wheezy political hacks and clueless mall rats can turn their attention to devising an actual strategy. I suggest adding some seasonal flair by calling the battle against ISIS a “pumpkin spice containment and degradation.” Or maybe they could brand the operation as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not War!” – great taste with a lighter emotional burden, available from fine grocery stores everywhere in 3-year

There Goes The Neighbourhood


Foreign Policy.

GOLAN HEIGHTS — While the world focuses on the Islamic State's advances in Iraq and Syria, the Syrian war is spilling over into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. On Aug. 28, Syrian rebel groups, led by al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, captured the old border city of Quneitra from the Syrian army and Iranian-backed National Defense Forces. Al-Nusra Front took 45 Fijian U.N. peacekeepers hostage and then assaulted two other U.N. outposts -- only to be repulsed after the Filipino commander ignored U.N. orders to surrender. The hostage situation was only resolved Thursday, Sept. 11, as all the peacekeepers were released safely after what appears to be Qatari mediation.

But though the latest crisis on the Golan frontier may be over, the larger threats facing Israel still remain. Across the border, more and more black jihadi flags are popping up, mere feet from Israel's Star of David. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the Hezbollah-inspired resistance groups that continue to operate under the regime's umbrella have also launched attacks against Israeli-controlled areas in the Golan. This chaotic situation is creating considerable unease in Jerusalem policy circles -- and upending decades of Israeli strategy for dealing with Syria.

Syrian rebels, including al-Nusra Front, have been on the Golan frontier for about a year. Their largest presence has been in the middle of the "zone of separation" between Israeli and Syrian forces -- which has been monitored by peacekeepers from the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) since 1974 -- near the frontier villages of Bir Ajam, ar-Ruwayhinah, and Buraykah. Over the past two weeks, however, al-Nusra Front and five other Syrian opposition groups have launched an offensive in the area, pushing back the regime and upsetting the status quo along the border that has persisted for four decades.

Israeli officials say the latest offensive has introduced two new and potentially game-changing aspects into Syria's southern front.

Israeli officials say the latest offensive has introduced two new and potentially game-changing aspects into Syria's southern front. First, al-Nusra Front has dramatically expanded its operations from the southern Syrian city of Deraa into the areas adjacent to the Golan frontier. Theories about the jihadi group's motivations vary: Israeli sources say the Islamic State chased the group out of eastern Syria, causing it to shift its men and firepower south to use against the Assad regime.

The offensive makes it harder for the regime to use its weapons of choice -- including artillery, Scud missiles, and rockets -- against opposition positions without risk of hitting Israeli-controlled areas and drawing an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) response. On Aug. 27, for example, two regime mortars seemingly intended for rebel forces in Quneitra landed in the vineyards of the border kibbutz of Ein Zivan, drawing an Israeli counterstrike hours later against a Syrian government command facility. The rebels' overall goal seems to be relieving a number of regime-encircled rebel positions southwest of Damascus, including Beit Jinn, Khan al-Sheikh, and areas west of al-Kiswah.

The second game-changer is UNDOF's crumbling presence on the Golan. Hostage-taking is nothing new in the Syrian war, but al-Nusra Front's attempt to ransom the 45 Fijian U.N. peacekeepers ups the ante both with Israel and the international community. Before it backed down Thursday, the group issued three demands that show how detached the jihadists are from diplomatic and military realities: It wanted al-Nusra Front's removal from the U.N. terrorist list, humanitarian aid deliveries to besieged areas of Damascus, and compensation for three al-Nusra Front fighters recently killed during action against UNDOF forces.

Qatar, which recently negotiated the release of an American hostage held by al-Nusra Front and which is believed to have some contacts with the group, reportedly played a role in the negotiations to resolve the crisis. A U.N. Security Council statement called upon "countries with influence to strongly convey to those responsible to immediately release the peacekeepers," an indirect reference to Doha.

The hostage situation easily could have been much worse, as al-Nusra Front attempted to capture two UNDOF posts manned by Filipino peacekeepers on Aug. 30 and 31. Disobeying a direct order from their Indian UNDOF commander, the Filipino forces fired back when an al-Nusra Front truck attempted to ram the front of their outpost. In the hours that followed, intervention by a nearby Irish UNDOF battalion, as well as help from Israeli forces and Assad regime mortars, allowed the peacekeepers to escape to safety. While the Indian commander has since scolded his Filipino colleague for jeopardizing the lives of the Fijian and other UNDOF forces, the action is being referred to in Manila as the "greatest escape."

Officials in Jerusalem say al-Nusra Front's advance and UNDOF's increasingly "tattered umbrella" of security are causing a tactical shift in Israeli thinking. Israel never relied on UNDOF to protect Israel from cross-border action -- but its forces are a symbol of international legitimacy of the Golan frontier. The U.N. peacekeepers' reduction to three or four bases is a reflection of the increasing instability along the border.

Another factor behind the shift has been the creation of a responsibility vacuum on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan. In other words, there is no longer one party that Israel or the United Nations can call to resolve disputes and deter from carrying out future attacks. Thus far, the party exploiting this vacuum has been the Assad regime and its allies. Following Assad's announcement this year that "resistance" along the Golan frontier would continue despite the war, a number of Hezbollah-inspired groups planted improvised explosive devices along the fence marking the Syrian side of the frontier that targeted Israeli patrols on the other side of the border. Israel has defused many of these devices but cannot find them all; so far, at least two have exploded. With these devices added to the regular dangers of cross-border shellfire from the war, Israelis are increasingly concerned about how to protect IDF soldiers and Golan residents from a war that seems set to escalate.

The biggest issue weighing on Israeli thinking on Syria is how to deter al-Nusra Front and jihadists in general. Israel's experience with moderate forces in southern Syria -- as demonstrated recently, when al-Nusra Front forced a captured Syrian rebel to divulge his Israeli contacts and meetings in a YouTube video -- indicate they are qualitatively weaker than the jihadists. While online sources provide a good amount of information on jihadi leaders and their aspirations, far less is known about their military calculations. The constellation of military and Iranian-trained paramilitary groups that make up the Assad regime seem more predictable -- they at least have the trappings of a state, however crippled, that Israel has dealt with indirectly for decades. Or as Israeli officials always lament: "At least there's an address."

But Israeli officials recognize that dealing with Syria going forward will require having many more addresses than simply Assad's palace. While some Israelis still prefer to deal with Assad's forces in the areas adjacent to the Golan, Tehran's deep involvement in propping up the regime means his outright victory would hand a strategic victory to Israel's archfoe.

For now, Israeli officials will continue to deal with challenges from two Syrias -- Assad's rump state in the west and the varied forces, including al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State, in the chaotic "Sunnistan" in the center -- while carefully looking for opportunities with Kurdish-controlled areas in the northeast that declared their autonomy earlier this year. As one Israeli official put it: "We have to watch each area village by village and keep our expectations low."




US House Hearing Focuses on Christian Persecution in Iraq
(AINA) -- A hearing on the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria was convened yesterday at the U.S. House of Representatives. The hearing, titled Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in Syria and Iraq, was sponsored by Chris Smith, U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 4th congressional district, and was attended by other members of the House.
Congressman Smith began the hearing by saying "As images of beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are seared into our consciousness, we would do well to honor their memories by recalling that they saw it as their mission to alert the world to the horrors committed by the fanatical Islamist terrorist group ISIS in Syria and Iraq: Children forced to view crucifixions and beheadings, women bartered, sold and raped, prisoners lined up on their knees to be shot -- this is ISIS' legacy," Smith said. "Today Christians and other religious minorities, such as Yezidis, Shabaks, and Turkmen Shiites are not just facing a long winter without homes. They are not just hungry and thirsty and wandering from village to village in Northern Iraq and Kurdistan. They are facing annihilation--genocide--by fanatics who see anyone who does not subscribe to its draconian and violent interpretation of Islam as fair game for enslavement, forced conversion or death." (full statement).
Testifying at the hearing were:
•The Honorable Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
•The Honorable Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State
•The Honorable Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development
•The Honorable Peter Galbraith, (Former Advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government)
•Her Excellency Pascale Esho Warda, President, Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (Former Minister of Immigration and Refugees in the Iraqi Government)
•Thomas Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University
•Johnny Oram, President, Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce of California, in lieu of Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Bishop Emeritus, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle
Pascale Warda.In her testimony Pascale Warda, a Chaldean Assyrian, outlined the genocide directed against Assyrian Christians in Iraq and made the following recommendations:
Short term:
•Provide humanitarian aid to the refugees. Aid is inadequate. There is a lack of shelter, food, water, medicine and clothing.
•Clear ISIS from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain so that the displaced residents may return to their homes ahead of winter. They will not return if ISIS is still in Mosul.
•Designate the Nineveh Plain as a safe haven and provide an international force for protection to stabilize the region, regardless of whether Iraqi or Kurdish forces are there, so that residents may return to their homes. The Nineveh Plain has been neglected by both Kurds and Baghdad. This long term safe haven would be similar to the one provided for the Kurds in 1991.
•Financially compensate all displaced persons for their property and income losses.
Long term:
•Establish an autonomous region for each the Assyrian Christians and the Yazidis, to be administered by them.
•Create Assyrian Christian and Yazidi manned units within Iraqi police, military, security and other institutions and station these in Assyrian and Yazidi areas, so that they will defend themselves and their villages.
•Gain international recognition for the genocide against Assyrian Christians, which has been ongoing since 1915.
Johnny Oram (name tag is misplaced).In his testimony, Johnny Oram, speaking on behalf of Patriarch Louis Sako, said:
Senator Carl Levin visited Erbil on September 3 and had the opportunity to meet with Assyrian/Chaldean and Yazidi religious leaders in which they provided a summary which is consistent to the recent statement issued by Patriarch Sako of what their immediate requests and needs are. They are primarily:
1.The international community must immediately intervene to provide direct humanitarian aid to the displaced Christians and other minorities in the regions of Erbil and Dohuk.
2.Christian and other minority villages in the Nineveh Plains must immediately be liberated and the community must have safe passage to return.
3.The Christian and other minority villages in the Nineveh Plains must be protected by an international force under the supervision of the United Nations.
Peter Galbraith.In his testimony, Peter Galbraith said:
In the past perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity have tried to cover up their crimes. ISIS advertises its atrocities in slickly produced videos," Galbraith said. "We know what is happening. The question is what will the United States and its allies do about it." He urged that the West recognize that ISIS is committing genocide against Iraq's Christians and the Yazidis, and is killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting intolerable physical conditions "with the announced intent of destroying the Christian and Yazidi religious groups in their entirety.
In his testimony, Thomas Farr said:
Tomorrow we mark the 13th anniversary of the Islamist terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. What we are facing in Iraq and Syria today has deeply troubling similarities to 9/11, both in its origins and its threat to American national security. There is, of course, at least one major difference between now and then. While Christians in the Middle East were under mounting pressure in 2001, today their very existence is at risk. We are witnessing the disappearance of Christians and Christianity from Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East -- a religious/cultural genocide with terrible humanitarian, moral, and strategic consequences for Christians, for the region, and for us all.
In his testimony, Tom Malinowski said:
The U.S. government is very focused on ending ISIL's reign of terror and ensuring protection and access to humanitarian assistance for all its victims. We are particularly appalled by ISIL's targeted and systematic efforts to drive out and potentially eradicate entire religious communities from their historic homelands in the Ninewa plains area and Sinjar district. Among ISIL's clear ambitions is the destruction of Iraq's rich religious heritage and ethnic diversity and absolute subjugation of all people within its reach. The Iraqi people need and deserve a government that not only represents all of their voices but also provides basic government services and security.
In her testimony, Anne Richard said:
Now, most members of religious minority communities have fled Ninewa. In the Kurdish region, they joined hundreds of thousands other displaced Iraqis, including approximately 100,000 Christians, who escaped the brutal occupation of Mosul and nearby communities. UNHCR estimates that the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq now host more than one million people, a mix of displaced Iraqis (850,000) and Syrian refugees (215,000).
In his testimony, Thomas Staal said:
The daily atrocities committed by ISIL against the Iraqi people -- including the violence targeting ethnic minorities and religious groups -- is claiming and destroying countless lives, tearing at the fabric of society, and further enflaming sectarian violence. Furthermore, ISIL's abhorrent treatment of women and children is unconscionable. These circumstances demand--and are receiving--our focused attention and utmost effort.
© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

A coalition of 40 countries to fight ISIS
Friday, 12 September 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed ?Al Arabiya
It seems that the entire world has teamed up to wage war against one of the smallest terrorist organizations: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But is ISIS really worth a broad international coalition of 40 countries?
In my opinion, ISIS itself does not require but a few local forces on the ground, working in tandem with the United States to hunt down the organization and eradicate it. Such a force will succeed in destroying ISIS. But terrorism, in general, requires the collaboration of a hundred countries to encircle it and rid the world of it. This includes ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Boko Haram in Mali, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, al-Qaeda in Yemen and other extremist organizations in the Sinai Peninsula, sub-Saharan Africa and even the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines.
“The international community could benefit from the understanding and cooperation of Arab and Islamic countries for the sake of fighting terrorist organizations”
At this point, the world can claim that its cooperation has led to a distinct job that will find support from Muslims everywhere. The crimes committed by ISIS sparked Muslim anger towards terrorist organizations more so than we’ve ever seen before. In the past, al-Qaeda succeeded in splitting Muslim opinion and lured some support by raising the issue of confronting the Israeli occupation and defending oppressed Muslims. ISIS has forced Muslim public opinion to gang up against it. Muslims are stunned by the scale of the crimes it has committed against civilians in both Syria and Iraq.
Understanding and cooperation
The international community could benefit from the understanding and cooperation of Arab and Islamic countries for the sake of fighting terrorist organizations. This support could help achieve optimal results in eradicating terrorism everywhere, not just in Iraq and Syria.
Broadening the war against ISIS will set the standard for the next ten years regarding how the international community deals with such groups. ISIS is not the only target, however. There should be no place in our world for Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia, Egypt’s al-Tahweed and al-Jihad, and others of their kind. They should be besieged with laws that deny their funding and military aid should be provided to fund their eradication. Previously, we called it al-Qaeda, but today such organizations are operating under different labels. The truth is that ISIS is nothing but al-Qaeda, the same goes for the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. If the world is eager to fight terrorism, it is better to combat the organization as a whole, not just the ISIS branch of it. Limiting the international coalition to fighting ISIS alone will achieve a smaller target. It will definitely succeed in ridding the world of one evil group, but the issue will raise its head at a later date. For example, when terrorist organizations in Mali or Nigeria dare to behead Western citizens, what will the world do to them or the dozens of remaining terrorist groups?

Kerry says Iran excluded from anti-ISIS fight
Agencies/ANKARA: Even as he discouraged Iran from joining talks on how to defeat ISIS, the top U.S. diplomat could not outline Friday what other nations will contribute to battling a group that has overtaken a third of Iraq and Syria and threatens to upend the Mideast.
Secretary of State John Kerry, in Turkey to press its leaders on hardening its borders against extremist traffic and funding, said it was not appropriate for Iran to be at the discussions, given its support for the very government in Syria whose brutality helped fuel the rise of ISIS. But after more than a week of meetings with top NATO and Mideast officials, Kerry refused to say precisely how an international campaign being pieced together by the U.S. would succeed in destroying the extremist group that some believe is even more dangerous than Al-Qaeda. France has said it wants Iran to participate. Kerry said “no one has called me and asked me” whether France should invite Iran to the diplomatic talks set for Monday in Paris on helping Iraq fight off ISIS.
“Under the circumstances, at this moment in time, it would not be right for number of reasons,” Kerry said. “It would not be appropriate, given the many other issues that are on the table with respect to their engagement in Syria and elsewhere.”
He said Iranian forces have fought rebels in Syria, and accused Tehran of being “a state sponsor of terror” in some areas of the world. Kerry also refused to clarify how nations are willing to participate in President Barack Obama’s strategy to obliterate ISIS’ vision of creating a caliphate that could encroach on much of the Mideast. “There are other countries that are currently making up their minds, making decisions,” Kerry told reporters after a meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan and other top officials. “It’s just not appropriate to start laying out as we are in the process of talking to all these countries, which country is doing what.” He described himself as “very pleased” with the talks so far.
“I am comfortable this will be a broad-based coalition with Arab nations, European nations, the United States, others contributing to every single different facet to what President Obama laid out as a strategy, and fully embracing the need to degrade and destroy ISIL,” Kerry said, using an alternative name for ISIS. The only detail that surfaced Friday was that retired U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, was appointed coordinator of the international effort against ISIS, the State Department announced. “In this role General Allen will help continue to build, coordinate and sustain a global coalition across the multiple lines of efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” said State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf. Allen’s deputy will be Brett McGurk, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. Allen directed U.S. troops as well as the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013. He also served a key U.S. military role in the Iraq war. The CIA Thursday put the number of fighters in ISIS ranks at 20,000 to 31,500 in Iraq and Syria, up to three times the previous estimate.
Earlier, at the start of his meeting with Kerry, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cited “challenges and threats” in Iraq and Syria. He did not mention ISIS by name and did not respond to a shouted question about why Turkey refused, a day earlier in Saudi Arabia, to join the U.S. and a coalition of Arab countries against ISIS. Turkey has resisted publicly endorsing a new global strategy to defeat ISIS, which kidnapped 49 Turkish citizens, including some diplomats, in the Iraqi city of Mosul in June.
Senior U.S. officials who briefed reporters traveling with Kerry said Ankara already has been working against ISIS, including by recently stopping about 6,000 people from entering Turkey and deporting 1,000 more who were deemed suspicious. But one of the U.S. officials said Turkey’s borders remain extremely porous. Because of its location, Turkey could be an ideal staging place for allied fighter jets and drones that would launch airstrikes against ISIS locations, but the U.S. officials said there currently are no plans to do so. In Baghdad, French President Francois Hollande said during a visit his country was ready to step up military assistance for Iraq. It was the highest-profile visit to Iraq since the ISIS-led offensive in June and sparked international concern over an expanding jihadist threat. France has said it is prepared to take part in airstrikes against the militants in Iraq “if necessary.”“I came here to Baghdad to state France’s availability in providing even more military assistance to Iraq,” Hollande said at a news conference with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose Cabinet was approved by parliament this week but with key security posts unfilled. Hollande later traveled to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region for meetings with officials, and also visited a church sheltering displaced Iraqi Christians.

Thousands of Israeli-Arabs rally against Islamic State
Thousands of Israeli Arabs convened in Umm el-Fahm Friday for a rally organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel's northern branch in opposition to the radical Islamic State group. Israel Radio cited the leader of the Islamic Movement's hardline northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, as stating that his position was set against the extremist Islamist group that has conquered parts of Syria and Iraq and aims to remap the Middle East. However, Salah noted that he also opposed the coalition led by US President Barack Obama pledging to take military action against Islamic State fighters, saying the initiative threatened the Arab world. Also speaking at the march held under the banner "Al-Aqsa is in Danger," a senior Israeli Arab official blamed the US and Israel as the creators of Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Mohamed Zidan, the head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, pointed toward Washington as funding the terrorist organization on which the US has declared war. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said on Friday the US was at war with Islamic State terrorists in the same way it is with al-Qaida, but he stresses this is very different from the last time the US went to war in Iraq. "In the same way that we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIS. But make no mistake when I say we, I'm not talking just about the United States. I'm talking about this broader international coalition that includes Sunni-led governments in the region and our allies around the world who are united in confronting this threat," Earnest said using an alternate name for Islamic State. The statement came after US President Barack Obama told Americans in a prime time addresses earlier in the week that he planed to build an alliance to root out Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, plunging the United States into two conflicts in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. On Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared Israel's support for the United States' plan for united action against Islamic State