LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Hating even
the clothing stained by the flesh
The Letter from Jude Chapter 01/17-25/But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. On some have compassion, making a distinction, and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh. 4 Now to him who is able to keep them‡ from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 21 and 22/14
Iran is much more dangerous than ISIS/By: Shoula Romano Horing/Ynetnews/September 22/14
Brief Mental Analysis of a destructive person/Dr Jihad OBEID/September 22/14
Obama's dysfunctional coalition of the unwilling/By: BOB RIGG/NYT/September 22/14
U.S. Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS/By MARK MAZZETTI, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and BEN HUBBARDSEPT/ NYT/September 22/14
The Case for a Unified Kurdistan/By: Daniel Pipes/National Review Online/September 22/14
Suspicions Run Deep in Iraq That C.I.A. and the Islamic State Are United/By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK// NYT/September 22/14
Embers of Khomeini’s fire/Mshari
Al-Zaydi /Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 21 and 22/14
Lebanese captives being held in caves: report
Qatar warned Lebanon of Nusra execution: report
Bassil: We receive, not provide, help in ISIS fight
Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad
Nusra Front claims attack on Hezbollah checkpoint
Terrorists seek Sunni-Shiite strife: Hariri
Wildfire near Aley points at firefighting lag
Car accident kills five, injures six
Huge wildfire near Aley points at firefighting deficiency
Abducted al-Fleiti Family Members Released
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 21 and 22/14
Pope: Religion can't be used to justify violence
Islamic State's terror video game
Which group poses a bigger threat to US and Europe than ISIS?
Afghan election body names ex-Finance Minister Ghani president-elect
Iranian official: Ready to join anti-IS coalition, but with nuclear flexibility
US to Iran: Cut, don't destory centrifuges
French mostly favor military involvement in Iraq: poll
Syria refugee flood to Turkey hits 100,000
Iraq air strikes could push ISIS into Iran: experts
Fighting rages in Yemeni capital despite accord
Questions remain over freeing of Turkish hostages in Iraq
Bomb kills two policemen near Egypt’s Foreign Ministry
Afghanistan names Ghani president-elect
Car accident kills five, injures six
Israel Says to Join Cairo Truce Talks Tuesday
Israel Launches Cyber Defense Authority
Iran Judiciary Calls for Ban on Messaging Applications
Syria Says All Chemical Weapons Handed Over
Pope says religion cannot be used to justify violence
AFP /Published: 09.21./ Israel News /Ynetnews/In reference to bloodshed unleashed by Islamic State, Pope urges during Albania visit against "use of religion as prext for actions against human dignity'. Pope Francis warned during a visit to Albania on Sunday that religion can never be used to justify violence, making apparent reference to the bloodshed wreaked by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. "Let no one consider themselves to be the 'armour' of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression," the pontiff said in speech at the presidential palace in Tirana in front of Albania's leaders. "May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against fundamental rights," he said. The 77-year-old spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics made the declaration at the start of a packed one-day visit to majority-Muslim Albania, which he held up as an "inspiring example" of religious harmony. Authorities in the country stepped up security to its highest level after warnings from Iraq that the IS jihadists could be planning an attack on the pope. His reception by the general public was enthusiastic, however, with hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims thronging the Albanian capital to greet him.
Francis in his speech praised the "respect and mutual trust between Catholics, Orthodox (Christians) and Muslims" in Albania, which he called "a precious gift to the country".He stressed that such coexistence was especially important "in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and instrumentalized". In a seeming reference to the Islamic State organisation, which espouses a radical and brutal interpretation of Islam to pursue a dream of reviving a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, the pope said the twisting of faith "created dangerous circumstances which led to conflict and violence".
His packed 11-hour trip to Albania comes at a sensitive time amid turmoil in the Middle East and rising intolerance in Europe. The Vatican has voiced unusual support for US air strikes in Iraq to defend persecuted Christians there.
At the same time, though, the pope is spreading his message of interfaith tolerance around the world -- and doing what he can to attract more devotees to his church. The Holy See hopes Albania – a country with one of the youngest populations in Europe – will be a vibrant source for converts in a continent gripped by secularism. It is the second papal visit to Albania in modern times. Pope John Paul II travelled there the year after the collapse of its communist regime in 1992. Yellow-and-white Vatican flags flew alongside Albanian ones in the main streets of the capital while vast portraits of Catholic priests and nuns persecuted under communism – when Albania became the world's first atheist state – were strung across roads.Huge crowds of Albanians gathered along Tirana's main boulevard and the central Mother Teresa Square where the pope was to later celebrate Mass. Some waved welcome banners while others chanted: "Papa Francesco! Papa Francesco!"The Argentine pontiff, who loves to mingle with the crowds, travelled in the same open-topped vehicle he uses in Saint Peter's Square. He stopped on several occasions along the boulevard to shake hands with believers or to take children in his arms. Hysen Doli, an 85-year-old Muslim who had come to the square with 10 members of his family, told AFP: "We belong to another religion but have come here out of respect to get the pope's blessing."
Iran is much more dangerous than ISIS
Op-ed: Obama must be careful not to 'degrade and destroy' jihadist organization in Iraq and Syria to the point of helping axis of evil step into vacuum and establish its own Islamic Shiite caliphate.
Shoula Romano Horing/Ynetnews
Published: 09.21.14, 00:24 / Israel Opinion
US President Barack Obama must be careful not to "degrade and destroy" ISIS in Iraq and Syria to the point of helping Iran and its axis of evil step into the vacuum that would be created and establish its own Islamic Shiite caliphate spreading from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran itself. This would be a serious threat to the moderate Sunni countries like Jordan, and the Persian Gulf states, and eventually to Israel and the West. Replacing the threat of a radical Islamic Sunni caliphate with the threat of a radical Islamic Shiite caliphate is shortsighted and could be a catastrophic strategic mistake to be regretted for generations to come. Iran and its axis of evil, which includes the Syrian regime and Hezbollah militias, are as brutal as ISIS. Both are Islamic totalitarian regimes which sponsor terrorism and wish to dominate the region. They both state their intention to defeat those they perceive as infidels, starting with other Muslim states and eventually moving on to Israel and the West. While ISIS is beheading Shiites, Yazidis and Christians, the Syrian government, with the help of the Shiite Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah terrorists, has been using air attacks, tanks, and chemical weapons to kill thousands of its own Syrian people, mostly Sunni civilians, in the last three years of the civil war.
The only difference is that while ISIS uses social media, including YouTube and Twitter, to record and publicize their murderous and barbaric acts, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah hide and deny their brutality and try to deceive the gullible world into believing that they are civilized.
However, if one looks objectively at their military capacity and capability, Iran constitutes a much bigger existential threat to the Middle East and West, while ISIS is just another terrorist organization, like al-Qaeda, with a lot of money, territories and imitators across the world. The CIA just reported that ISIS has mustered between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters across Syria and Iraq. While they have captured lots of US made conventional equipment from the Iraqi army, they still mainly engage in low tech Third World warfare by relying overwhelmingly on civilian pickup trucks which are rigged to carry machine guns.
It seems that they have few tanks, armored personal carriers, Humvees, anti- aircraft guns, mortars, or machine guns. But mostly, it has been using medieval, barbaric tools such as gruesome beheadings and kidnappings to spread through modern technology panic and fear among primitive local populations and incompetent Arab fighters. This has also served as great recruiting tool to increase their ranks.
In contrast, the Iranian military consists of 525,000 active personnel and 1,800,000 reserve personnel, including an air force and a navy. They have thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, hundreds of fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, dozens of submarines, and are in possession of hundreds of ballistic and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons which could reach Israel, Europe, and US regional bases. In addition to chemical and biological weapons, they are on the brink of acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The Sunni Persian Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan should be very wary of helping to destroy ISIS while Iran is allowed to enrich uranium and sell their oil because of Obama’s misperception that Iran is different and less dangerous than ISIS and can be successfully negotiated and reasoned with. ISIS must be contained through US air attacks and not be allowed to expand its territorial boundaries to Jordan and Lebanon. But Iran must be contained too by adding crippling economic sanctions to suffocate it economically till they dismantle their nuclear weapons program and curtail their military presence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The new US campaign runs the risk of helping Assad and therefore Iran which has thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah terrorists fighting alongside pro-Assad forces.
The Kurdish army, the Iraqi army and moderate Syrian rebel groups must be equipped with advanced weapons to give them a chance to defend themselves against ISIS. Likely their ground forces will still be too weak, impotent, and dysfunctional to be able to defeat ISIS, even after it is weakened by American air strikes. The probable failure of these ground forces to defeat ISIS could eventually tempt the West and the Obama Administration, which are against using their own ground forces, to agree to let. Assad stays in power and to cooperate with him, Iran and Hezbollah. If ISIS were to be destroyed by this strategic cooperation, only Iran with its axis will be standing to fill the vacuum which will be left.
More important, the emergence of ISIS provides a strategic opportunity to gain what was lost after the defeat of Saddam Hussein by the US. When the Islamic Republic of Iran came to power in 1979 there was a balance of terror and power between Iran and Iraq. They fought a brutal war from 1980-89 against each other. During those years, Iran did not have the resources to intensively develop their nuclear program and their military might was degraded. The defeat of Saddam Hussein in 2003 was good for Iran. After the Iraqi collapse, Iran stepped in and increased their influence in an Iraq under the control of the Shiite government. Now there is another chance for the world to create another balance of terror in which both the Iranians and ISIS will degrade each other’s military power, influence, and ability to spread terror. Most importantly, President Obama and the world must not take their eyes off the goals of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power or reestablishing the ancient Persian Empire.
***Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her blog: www.shoularomanohoring.com .
Qatar warned Lebanon of Nusra execution: report
The Daily Star/Sep. 21, 2014
BEIRUT: Qatar had warned Lebanon Friday that the Nusra Front was about to start executing Lebanese captives, a newspaper report said Sunday. Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday that a Qatari delegation that had been expected in Lebanon Friday did not come, with Qatar instead informing the Lebanese government that the Nusra Front would execute one soldier after another if its demands weren’t met. According to Al-Hayat, the Nusra Front is demanding the release of Islamist prisoners in Lebanon and the opening of roads linking Arsal to its outskirts in exchange for releasing the hostages it captured during battles with the Lebanese Army in August. Nusra and ISIS are thought to be holding at least 21 soldiers, after capturing more than 30 when they withdrew from the border town.
The report also mentioned that sources from Arsal had stressed that the negotiations had been stopped in the last couple of days due to the blocking of the road toward the outskirts. The Nusra Front announced last Tuesday that the negotiations were stopped by the Lebanese side. The Lebanese Army announced Saturday, after the execution of Mohammad Hammieh and the blast that killed two soldiers in Arsal the day before, that it has begun pounding militants’ locations near the town with medium and heavy weapons. The Army said it was able to kill and wound “a large number” of militants, pledging to continue the fight against terrorism all over the Lebanese territory “whatever the sacrifices might be.”
In response, the Nusra Front threatened to execute another captive, policeman Ali Bazzal.Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad
Huge wildfire near Aley points at firefighting deficiency
Sep. 21, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A wildfire erupted Sunday between the Aley villages of Deir Qoubel and Bshamoun, with the Deir Quobel mayor blaming a mechanical problem for an extreme delay in firefighters’ response to the blaze. “It burned the whole valley from Deir Qoubel to the edge of Bshamoun,” Mayor Waddah Nassereddine told The Daily Star by phone. “And now an Army helicopter has arrived to help put the fire out.” “The Civil Defense and firefighting teams arrived extremely late,” he said. “It has been three hours since the fire erupted, but they didn’t arrive until half an hour ago.” The mayor aid both firefighting trucks in nearby Shoueifat were out of order. “I was shocked to know that they just have not repaired the vehicles and that other trucks were sent from Beirut,” Nassereddine said. “If not for the residents, it would have taken over the houses.”Although pushed back from the side of Deir Qoubel, the fire has spread to Bshamoun, where the Army’s helicopter and firefighting teams are working to prevent damage to properties or residences. Nassereddine said that due to its size, the fire could take several hours to be entirely extinguished.
Which group poses a bigger threat to US and Europe than
By JPOST.COM STAFF \
While the attention of the world is focused on the threat of the Islamic State, some American intelligence and law enforcement officials fear a Syrian group led by a former member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle poses a more direct threat to both the US and its allies in Europe.
The New York Times on Sunday cited US officials as saying a group called Khorasan may in fact be the most likely to target America and its overseas interests with a terrorist attack.
The group's leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was believed to be a senior member of al-Qaida and close associate of Osama bin Laden that actually knew about the group's September 11 terror attacks before they happened.
The Times quoted intelligence officials as saying that the shadowy Khorasan group is made up of al-Qaida operatives from across the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.
Atop their agenda is using concealed explosives to carry out terror attacks, according to the report.
The Times quoted Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as saying that "in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State."
Fahdli had previously served as al-Qaida's leader in Iran, in charge of "the movement of funds and operatives" through the country. He is a native Kuwaiti, who has worked to raise money from "jihadist donors" in his country of birth for al-Qaida-linked Syrian Islamist rebels, according to the report.
Khorasan is an offshoot of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in Syria, part of what some say is emblematic of the conflicts within the jihadist movement.
US intelligence officials fear that some of the approximately 15,000 foreigners in Syria, 100 of whom are Americans, will be able to move back into their home countries undetected to carry out terror attacks.
Afghanistan’s next first lady, a Christian
Afghan presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani has shared he spotlight with his Lebanese-American wife Rula.
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 5 April 2014
They say that behind every great man there is a woman and Afghan presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani seems to be taking the phrase seriously, sharing the spotlight with his Lebanese-American, Christian, wife at rallies and political events.
Afghanistan will hold a presidential election on April 5 to elect a successor to Hamid Karzai and Ghani has been touted as one of the leading contenders. The American-trained anthropologist has been reported to be gathering female support, with some women professing their backing because he is a Western-educated, former World Bank official.
“Four years ago, I studied a couple of his books, and I prefer him as a candidate because of his knowledge,” Take Khatera Tajamyar, 24, told news outlet NPR.
In March, the election runner held a rally in Kabul attended by several thousand women on International Women’s Day. In a rare sight in Afghanistan’s political scene, his wife addressed the crowd.
Ghani returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted and held various government posts, including finance minister. Known in Afghanistan as Doctor Ashraf Ghani, he won about four percent of the vote in the last presidential election in 2009.One of Afghanistan’s best-known intellectuals, Ghani spent almost a quarter of century abroad during the tumultuous decades of Soviet rule, civil war and the Taliban regime.
During that period he worked as an academic in the United States and Denmark, and with the World Bank and the United Nations across East and South Asia.
Within months of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Ghani resigned from his international posts and returned to Afghanistan to become a senior adviser to Karzai.
Ghani is among the strongest backers of a crucial bilateral security deal to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 that Karzai has refused to endorse. He has said he would sign it swiftly if elected.
A Pashtun belonging to Afghanistan’s biggest ethnic group, Ghani has defended his decision to pick ethnic Uzbek former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum as a running mate.
“The ticket is a realistic balance between forces that have been produced in the last 30 years and have a base in this society,” Ghani told Reuters.
For the full list of Afghanistan's presidential hopefuls, click here.
Last Update: Saturday, 5 April 2014 KSA 13:39 - GMT 10:39
Brief Mental Analysis of a destructive person.
Dr Jihad OBEID, M.D., M.P.H./Department of Psychiatry/Columbia
Note: This medical analysis is not related to any political issue. Any resemblance to a living person is of pure imagination.
I will explain in details the whole situation. I will use the simplest medical terms possible. In medical terms the words “Crazy” or “Psycho” do not exist. For each mental disorder there is a name.
Let us explain.
There are two types of mental disorders: “Neurosis” and “Psychosis”. In each of the two types there are several categories and diseases. The disease of which He suffers is of “Psychosis” type, which consists of:
1. Paranoid disorder: This disorder consists in expectations that others are trying to demean, harm or threaten him. This pathology makes Him jealous of others, and results in thinking that all people are His enemies and want to kill Him or hurt Him… He is quick to anger and unforgiving of perceived insults or slights. (Ex: Batrak, all deputies in 1989, American & French ambassadors, FL, all of March 14, and many more). In 1988, He became mad against envoy R. Murphy when the latter showed him a study of his psychological personality.
2. Narcissistic disorder: A most pervasive personality disorder that results in grandiosity, lack of empathy, and hypersensitivity to the opinion of others. He is preoccupied by fantasies of success, power, imaginary achievements and expects from others recognition whether deserved or not. He reacts to any negative criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation and needs a constant supply of compliments from others. He thinks of Himself as Napoleon, Charles de Gaulle, the Liberator… So He doesn’t accept to be number two. He wants to always be the president, the king, and will do anything to destroy everything around him to reach his goal… (there are several examples through history: Neron, Hitler…)
Wasn’t Him who clearly said in 1989: “Beirut was destroyed 6 times so why not be 7?”, and lately “I will not allow all the governmental institutions to work” and “Me or nobody”?
He will often take advantage of others to achieve His own ends. He doesn’t care if the economy will be destroyed and all Lebanese people will be heading towards poverty and emigrating in mass.
The combination of these two dangerous diseases requires great and urgent need of treatment. It is a must that he is interned in a psychiatric clinic where he can receive help from mental health professionals. The past incidents that occurred between 1983 and 1988 will regularly be repeated and all the disturbances prove that He is a danger to Himself and the community.
The problem with medication is that He is forced to change drugs every couple of years, because with time they lose their efficiency. Hence, after the “Zoloft”, and “Largactil” he is now on “Leponex” (all serious Anti-depressor for Psychosis). The counter-indication for these drugs is that the eye pupil will get enlarged and starts shaking. If you are watching Him on TV, put the volume to MUTE and watch Him carefully.
He also takes six tablets of Xanax against delirium tremens. At this maximum dosage the Xanax can lead to troubles in thinking, depression, amnesia, black holes and Alzheimer. It is likely that He can lose equilibrium, fall and break an arm.
His past psychiatrist, Dr Assad Al Ramy describes Him as fearful, chicken and coward with low IQ. He never accepted to recognize that he has failed his exams at the Military School and begged Col. Sieed to be accepted. His dentist Dr. Merhi has also confirmed that He is “not normal”.
Why do his supporters accept to be abused by someone who is proven insane? HISTORY will surely give the right answer as it did in the past for all mentally ill leaders.
Examples of dangerous behaviors:
•The drugs He takes make him forget what he said or promised. As an example: when he met the Saudi Ambassador he told him “we always were friends with Saudi Arabia (sic)” while his partisans have never ceased – until this day – to systematically insult the “Hariri” and the “Wahhabi”.
•He is abiding to a foreign agenda that aims at reducing the Christian representation to one-third in return of His arrival as head of state. This is highly destructive for the future of the Christians in Lebanon.
Obama's dysfunctional coalition of the unwilling
By: BOB RIGG
September 20/ 2014
The US' call for "the broadest coalition of nations" to
fight ISIS is simply an invocation of past moral crusades. But other states'
willingness to commit to war is much different than 2003.
Initial statements by President Barack Obama, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel revealed that they saw a great need for a US-led military intervention in Iraq that would go beyond weapons supplies, advisers and airstrikes, and would hopefully include other people’s boots on the ground, as well as supplies, intelligence, and humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced persons.
Although they carefully avoided the poisoned phrase ‘coalition of the willing’, they spoke of needing “the broadest coalition of nations” to prevent the “cancer of ISIS” from spreading to other countries. A new war on terror has been unleashed, this time against the ‘Islamic State’ (IS).
Recent US-led interventions in Central Asia and the Middle East have blown up in the face of these regions, arguably triggering the seismic political shifts now paving the way for the rise of IS and other militant Islamic organisations.
The first critical test of international willingness to support Obama’s initial vision of an international coalition, led by the US with non-US boots on the ground, came at the NATO summit in early September. John Kerry is now following up on this with a whistle-stop tour of Middle Eastern allies.
Just eight of NATO’s 28 members were willing to support the coalition, on the explicit understanding that there would be no boots on the ground. So far, although Saudi Arabia has agreed to host training facilities, with other Arab states offering to assist in other ways, not one of the 22 members of the Arab League has agreed to commit troops. This has been a source of great dissatisfaction to the US.
The next test will be the UN Security Council. Although the US is chairing the UN Security Council in September, the fraught option of inviting the council, including Russia and China, to legitimize a military intervention by the coalition has not yet been specifically mentioned. John Kerry announced that Obama will, during the September session of the UN General Assembly, lead a summit meeting of the UN Security Council to “put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat”.
Obama’s strategy: a moral crusade
Obama has seized on this new war on terror to enhance his popularity in the US. Although he strove to inspire with the soaring rhetoric of Martin Luther King, his words were instead sadly reminiscent of former President George W. Bush: the mission of the US is defined as erasing evil and vanquishing “hate and destruction” from the world through war and destruction. The aim is not simply to defeat this new enemy, but to eliminate it. The US has embarked, not simply on a global war on terror, but on a moral crusade: “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.” The “highest priority” is not to bring peace and stability to the Middle East, but to protect “the security of the American people.”
Tellingly, Obama cites Somalia and Yemen as two examples of the success of US counter-terrorism efforts, seemingly unaware that militant Islamic groups are still alive and kicking in these two failing states. Just days after Obama’s strategy statement the CIA estimated that IS has, not 15,000, but 30,000 fighters. A key assumption on which Obama’s strategy was based has been shown to be incorrect. Other much higher estimates have materialized in the meantime.
Confusion and disunity
The new Iraqi government of national unity initially collapsed like a house of cards, only to be patched up just as hastily in a cosmetic reshuffle, with two key ministerial posts still being fought over. But military and state institutions are still completely dominated by Shia. Decades of distrust will not be disentangled overnight.
It is widely known that, in IS‑controlled areas of Iraq, IS can still reckon with significant support from disaffected Sunnis. The ability of the government to single‑mindedly support coalition activities on its territory is accordingly limited. The US is saying that it will provide advisers and funds to prepare Iraqi armed forces to take the battle to IS. This overlooks the unfortunate truth that, before the abject collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of IS, with much of its US equipment being handed over intact, the US had spent the colossal sum of $25 billion on training and equipping the same army.
At this early stage, cracks are already appearing in the coalition’s chain of command: for example, although Iraq recently instructed its own aircraft to stop bombing Sunni civilian areas occupied by IS to avoid driving Sunnis into the arms of IS, US aircraft persisted with their bombing.
Some US advisers have hinted that a degree of collaboration with Syria’s government may be unavoidable, while another stated: “Part of the broader strategy…is a political transition in Syria”. Syria has indicated that it is willing to accept US air strikes on IS forces on its territory, provided that it is consulted in advance. Yet certain US experts have claimed that, as with Pakistan in the case of bin Laden, the US may attack targets in Syria without the consent of Syria’s government. This alarmed the Russians, who stated forcefully that US airstrikes outside Iraq require the prior approval of the UN Security Council.
Need for inclusive regional security forum
Whereas the US insisted on an inclusive government within Iraq, it is arbitrarily excluding key regional players from its coalition, even though this will undoubtedly undercut a cohesive political and military response.
What this conflict-ridden region lacks most is an open-ended security forum of all states, including Iran and Turkey, to confront a shared existential threat. It could be modelled, not on NATO, but on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has played a little-noticed role in building bridges between the EU and Russia over Ukraine. Major international players like the US and Russia could participate as observers. All Middle Eastern states now have in common the same deadly enemy, creating a unique opportunity for regional cooperation.
It has also escaped Obama that Russia and China have already experienced significant problems with Islamic extremists. Russia’s Chechnya has been a major recruiting ground for battle-hardened IS warriors, while China’s Xinjiang province has recently experienced an upsurge of well-organised and violent Islamic extremism.
Russia has actively supported international moves to take on IS. Obama could have reached out to overcome post-Ukraine hostility by finding common ground on this single issue, with the UN Security Council in mind. He has neglected to do so, even though the stakes are high. Russia has long been a major geopolitical player with a core strategic interest in the Middle East. The US behaves as though this is of no consequence.
Arab neighbours such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are internally divided, frequently along Sunni/Shia lines. These divisions have been heightened by the admixture of large numbers of refugees, themselves often split along sectarian lines, whose presence is destabilising those countries that have taken them in.
The confused and chaotic refugee situation also plays into the hands of IS by providing an ideal opportunity for its activists to move and work throughout the region, establishing cells and identifying future “lone wolves”. Lebanon is a powder keg, internally divided, and overshadowed by the formidable military/political reality of Shia Hezbollah.
“The fight against terrorism requires collective determination and joint regional and international cooperation". This pertinent statement is from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, attending the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Arab states must begin to work together with Iran and Turkey to fulfil these words. Can the Middle East overcome its own divisiveness?
Tremulous support from the Middle East
Western and Israeli military strategists have been saying for weeks that, without boots on the ground, IS cannot be decisively defeated. Yet so far all coalition members have emphatically ruled out boots on the ground. Body bags would not go down well with their domestic constituencies, and Arab states are most reluctant to involve their armed forces, although John Kerry has been doing the rounds, prodding them to step up to the plate.
Most states in the region are riven with internal differences exacerbated by deep sectarian splits. Although they feel profoundly threatened by IS, they are also fearful of the consequences of committing boots on the ground. Their support for Obama’s coalition can best be described as tremulous. Money and military resources, yes, but boots on the ground, no, strangling the coherent, broadly-based military and financial commitment that is a necessary precondition for the success of Obama’s global coalition.
Just a few examples: Turkey has so far declined to support the coalition, partly because it sees Obama’s strategy as legitimizing Syria’s Assad government, and partly because it has consistently refused to describe IS as a terrorist organisation. At the same time Turkey permits IS to illegally export oil for sale within the country at prices undercutting the international market. One of the most effective Kurdish groups, the YPG, which has distinguished itself in combating IS, has been designated by NATO as a terrorist organisation. And Turkey, Iran and Syria fear that the recent military and political successes of Kurdish forces will encourage renewed calls for Kurdish independence.
Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist ideology overlaps to an uncomfortable extent with the ruthless IS creed; a majority of the 11 September terrorists were Saudi citizens, as was Osama bin Laden, and many wealthy Saudis are known to be supporting IS into the present. It can be contended that Saudi Arabia is the elephant in the room, in the sense that a link can be established between its Wahhabist creed and the core values of extremist Islamic organisations worldwide. No one dares to publicly raise this question. Without state‑sponsored Wahhabism, would there be an Al Qaeda or an IS?
NATO asserts its independence from the US
At the recent NATO summit in Wales EU states were unwilling to adopt formal NATO policy on Obama’s “broadest possible coalition of nations”. Before the NATO summit, Kerry wrote that US efforts had brought “dozens of nations to this cause”. In fact, only 8 of 28 NATO states were willing to provide conditional support for Obama’s resurrection of Bush’s now infamous coalition of the willing, which plunged Iraq and the Middle East into its present quagmire.
The eight NATO states were prepared to put their names forward only if boots on the ground were ruled out. The nature and financial extent of their commitment is still unknown.
Although Australia is not a NATO member, its hawkish government has just announced its readiness to send in about 600 armed forces personnel including black ops specialists, initially to the United Arab Emirates. The US is hoping that other wavering governments may follow Australia’s example.
In an entrepreneurial shift to a lean new paradigm of Pax Americana, Obama assumes that the US will lead the coalition, while others will come up with the lion’s share of its funding. All the assumptions on which the coalition is based are infused with the spirit of US exceptionalism.
The roles of Iran and Syria
The urgent need to combat IS in Syrian territory and the recent disintegration of moderate rebel groups as a cohesive military force increasingly leaves Obama with no alternative to some kind of cooperation with Syrian armed forces. For example, if US aircraft strike targets in Syria, will Syria activate its air defence systems? If US aircraft attack and disable Syrian air defence systems, will the US be at war with Syria? It should also be recalled that the Obama administration’s trust in so-called Syrian moderates was so limited that it refused to supply them with heavy weapons.
Although the US still seems committed to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue by November, with consequential warming of diplomatic relations on some levels, it is also imposing new sanctions on Iran while denying it recognition on the international stage. The US has even contended that Iran was violating the nuclear sanctions when it supplied Kurdish peshmerga forces with weapons to use against IS.
Although both sides deny that Iran and the US are cooperating in relation to IS, there is almost certainly quiet cooperation in some areas. Neither Iran nor Syria is comfortable with concentrations of non-Iraqi troops, black ops specialists, aircraft and drones in neighbouring countries, which could be used as springboards for strikes on their territory.
The speaker of Iran's parliament has just warned the US that it can “not attack Syria on the pretext of fighting against the Islamic State." He cautioned that, if the US attacks regional states, “no one will be able to control the region. The fuse will be lit." Although the governments of Iran and Syria are powerfully motivated to support the US-led coalition in opposing IS, they want to ensure that it is not abruptly transformed into a Trojan horse directed at them.
Has the horse already bolted?
In his New York Times article which was the first comprehensive exposition of US views on an international coalition, John Kerry wrote that “the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries” than Iraq and Syria.
This statement was remarkably ill‑informed. IS has already put down roots in South Asia, South-East Asia, and Africa. The concept of an Islamic state does not apply to Iraq and Syria alone, but is elastic enough to encompass the world.
In particular young unemployed Islamic men and women living in poor and corrupt political environments, with generations of poverty and hopelessness behind and ahead of them, see in IS a unique opportunity to make their mark on the world. They have nothing to lose. And IS has everything to gain from recruiting them.
IS has already begun to establish itself amongst Muslims in strategically important countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines. Kashmir, a no man’s land trapped between India and Pakistan, is also an obvious target. The IS message is already beginning to catch on. Given the pervasive poverty and alienation of young Muslims in these countries, IS is perceived as offering a unique perspective of hope and self-empowerment.
If the US fails to contain and defeat IS in the Middle East, as is likely, this will stimulate the rapid growth of IS worldwide. IS is known to be recruiting in virtually all states of North Africa, starting with Egypt, Libya, and Algeria and ending with Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, and Somalia. At the same time, perhaps inspired by IS, Boko Haram and al Shabaab are rapidly gaining control of ever more territory.
In western marketing terminology, since 11 September Al Qaeda has been the dominant brand in the marketplace of international terrorism. Now Al Qaeda sees itself marginalized by IS, and is rising to the challenge by seeking out new markets not yet dominated by IS, or by trying to consolidate its market share where it is already established.
One unsettling example will suffice here: Al Qaeda has just announced that it is setting up a new entity called Qaedat-al-Jihad for operations in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. One target for this group will be alienated young Muslims in India. The aim is to stimulate Muslim violence against Hindus, destabilizing India and leading it back into widespread communal antagonism and violence, and dramatically increasing hostility and paranoia between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. The same Al Qaeda branch has just launched its first major operation–the hijacking of a Pakistani naval frigate which was to be used to attack US vessels in the region. The daring and ambitious operation, which clearly enjoyed support from within Pakistan’s armed forces, narrowly failed. Qaedat-al-Jihad has instantly established itself as a force to be reckoned with.
Before Obama’s not-so-grand coalition has advanced beyond the drawing boards, Al Qaeda and IS are already competing with each other to capitalize worldwide on the international unrest sown by IS successes in the Middle East.
Obama was first elected president on waves of public disaffection with US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, promoted by President George Bush Jr. and the neocon cabal. Embarrassingly enough, whereas John Kerry voted against the Senate resolution authorizing military force in Iraq in 1990, he is now praising it to the skies: “When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.”
In 2008 Obama and Kerry excoriated Bush for invading Iraq in defiance of the UN Security Council. Now they have both left open the possibility of once again sending armed forces into Iraq without Security Council approval. But whereas Bush could collect a significant number of unwilling coalition partners to boost numbers, Obama so far has only the conditional support of almost one third of NATO, and promises of finance, but no boots on the ground, from his Arab allies.
**About the author
Bob Rigg is former senior editor, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and former chair, NZ National Consultative Committee on Disarmament. He is a freelance researcher and writer specialising in nuclear issues, the Middle East, Central Asia, and US foreign policy.
U.S. Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS
By MARK MAZZETTI, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and BEN HUBBARDSEPT. 20, 2014
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — As the United States begins what could be a lengthy military campaign against the Islamic State, intelligence and law enforcement officials said another Syrian group, led by a shadowy figure who was once among Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, posed a more direct threat to America and Europe.
American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack. The officials said that the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaeda operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, center, in suit, welcomed freed hostages Saturday as they arrived at Esenboga Airport in Ankara on Saturday.Turkey Obtains Release of Hostages Held in IraqSEPT. 20, 2014
President Obama used a prime-time address on Wednesday evening to explain to Americans his strategy for confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. video Speech Excerpt: Obama on ISIS StrategySEPT. 10, 2014
There is almost no public information about the Khorasan group, which was described by several intelligence, law enforcement and military officials as being made up of Qaeda operatives from across the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Members of the cell are said to be particularly interested in devising terror plots using concealed explosives. It is unclear who, besides Mr. Fadhli, is part of the Khorasan group.
The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., said on Thursday that “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.”
Some American officials and national security experts said the intense focus on the Islamic State had distorted the picture of the terrorism threat that has emerged from the chaos of Syria’s civil war, and that the more immediate threats still come from traditional terror groups like Khorasan and the Nusra Front, which is Al Qaeda’s designated affiliate in Syria.
Mr. Fadhli, 33, has been tracked by American intelligence agencies for at least a decade. According to the State Department, before Mr. Fadhli arrived in Syria, he had been living in Iran as part of a small group of Qaeda operatives who had fled to the country from Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. Iran’s government said the group was living under house arrest, but the exact circumstances of the Qaeda operatives were disputed for years, and many members of the group ultimately left Iran for Pakistan, Syria and other countries.
In 2012, the State Department identified Mr. Fadhli as Al Qaeda’s leader in Iran, directing “the movement of funds and operatives” through the country. A $7 million reward was offered for information leading to his capture. The same State Department release said he was working with wealthy “jihadist donors” in Kuwait, his native country, to raise money for Qaeda-allied rebels in Syria.
In a speech in Brussels in 2005, President George W. Bush referred to Mr. Fadhli as he thanked European countries for their counterterrorism assistance, noting that Mr. Fadhli had assisted terrorists who bombed a French oil tanker in 2002 off the coast of Yemen. That attack killed one and spilled 50,000 barrels of oil that stretched across 45 miles of coastline.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is viewed as more focused on consolidating territory it has amassed in Syria and Iraq than on attacking the West. Some even caution that military strikes against the Islamic State could antagonize that group into planning attacks on Western targets, and even benefit other militant organizations if more moderate factions of the rebellion are not ready to take power on the ground.
The Islamic State’s recent statements, including a video using a British captive as a spokesman, have sought to deter American action against the group and threatened attacks only as revenge for American strikes.
At the same time, the rise of the Islamic State has blunted the momentum of its rival groups in Syria, including the Nusra Front, once considered to be among the most capable in the array of Syrian rebel groups. The Islamic State’s expansion across northern Iraq and in oil-rich regions of eastern Syria has sapped some of the Nusra Front’s resources and siphoned some of its fighters — who are drawn by the Islamic State’s battlefield successes and declaration of a caliphate, the longtime dream of many jihadists.
It is difficult to assess the seriousness and scope of any terror plots that Khorasan, the Nusra Front or other groups in Syria might be planning. In several instances in the past year, Nusra and the Islamic State have used Americans who have joined their ranks to carry out attacks inside Syria — including at least one suicide bombing — rather than returning them to the United States to strike there.
Beyond the militant groups fighting for control of territory, Syria has become a magnet for Islamic extremists from other nations who have used parts of the country as a sanctuary to plot attacks.
“What you have is a growing body of extremists from around the world who are coming in and taking advantage of the ungoverned areas and creating informal ad hoc groups that are not directly aligned with ISIS or Nusra,” a former senior law enforcement official said.
Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment for this article.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of Al Qaeda, anointed the Nusra Front as its official branch in Syria and cut ties with the Islamic State early this year after it refused to follow his orders to fight only in Iraq. Officials said that Khorasan was an offshoot of the Nusra Front. According to a new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, the rifts among these various groups “threaten to create a conflict throughout the jihadist movement that is no longer confined to Syria and Iraq.”
While Nusra has been weakened, it remains one of the few rebel organizations that has active branches throughout Syria. Analysts view the organization as well placed to benefit from American strikes that might weaken the Islamic State.
Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, said that American strikes could benefit the Nusra Front if the United States did not ensure that there was another force ready to take power on the ground.
“There is definitely a threat that, if not conducted as a component of a properly tailored strategy within Syria, the American strikes would allow the Nusra Front to fill a vacuum in eastern Syria,” she said.
She noted that the Nusra Front had been the primary force in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour before it was pushed out by the Islamic State earlier this year, and that the group had maintained better relationships with the local tribes than ISIS had. This could make it easier for the group to return if ISIS is chased out by American airstrikes.
While the Nusra Front does not openly call for attacks on the West, it remains loyal to Mr. Zawahiri, whose clout among jihadists has waned with the rise of the Islamic State.
A great deal remains uncertain about the Nusra Front’s ultimate aims inside Syria. Hamza al-Shimali, the head of the American-backed rebel group the Hazm Movement, said that he and his allies did not trust the Nusra Front. He said he feared that one day he would have to fight the Nusra Front in addition to the Syrian government and the Islamic State.
American intelligence officials estimate that since the Syrian conflict began, about 15,000 foreigners, including more than 100 Americans and 2,000 Europeans, have traveled to the country to fight alongside rebel groups. Syria’s porous borders make it relatively easy to get in and out of the country, raising concerns among Western officials that without markings on their passports they could slip back undetected into Europe or the United States.
**Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Ben Hubbard from Gaziantep, Turkey. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.
Suspicions Run Deep in Iraq That C.I.A. and the Islamic State Are United
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
SEPT. 20, 2014/The New York Times
BAGHDAD — The United States has conducted an escalating campaign of deadly airstrikes against the extremists of the Islamic State for more than a month. But that appears to have done little to tamp down the conspiracy theories still circulating from the streets of Baghdad to the highest levels of Iraqi government that the C.I.A. is secretly behind the same extremists that it is now attacking.
“We know about who made Daesh,” said Bahaa al-Araji, a deputy prime minister, using an Arabic shorthand for the Islamic State on Saturday at a demonstration called by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to warn against the possible deployment of American ground troops. Mr. Sadr publicly blamed the C.I.A. for creating the Islamic State in a speech last week, and interviews suggested that most of the few thousand people at the demonstration, including dozens of members of Parliament, subscribed to the same theory. (Mr. Sadr is considered close to Iran, and the theory is popular there as well.)
When an American journalist asked Mr. Araji to clarify if he blamed the C.I.A. for the Islamic State, he retreated: “I don’t know. I am one of the poor people,” he said, speaking fluent English and quickly stepping back toward the open door of a chauffeur-driven SUV. “But we fear very much. Thank you!”
The prevalence of the theory in the streets underscored the deep suspicions of the American military’s return to Iraq more than a decade after its invasion, in 2003. The casual endorsement by a senior official, though, was also a pointed reminder that the new Iraqi government may be an awkward partner for the American-led campaign to drive out the extremists.
The Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS, has conquered many of the predominantly Sunni Muslim provinces in Iraq’s northeast, aided by the alienation of many residents to the Shiite-dominated government of the former prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. President Obama has insisted repeatedly that American military action against the Islamic State depended on the installation of a more inclusive government in Baghdad, but he moved ahead before it was complete.
The Parliament has not yet confirmed nominees for the crucial posts of interior or defense minister, in part because of discord between Sunni and Shiite factions, and the Iraqi news media has reported that it may be more than a month before the posts are filled.
The demonstration on Saturday was the latest in a series of signals from Shiite leaders or militias, especially those considered close to Iran, warning the United States not to put its soldiers back on the ground. Mr. Obama has pledged not to send combat troops, but he seems to have convinced few Iraqis. “We don’t trust him,” said Raad Hatem, 40.
Haidar al-Assadi, 40, agreed. “The Islamic State is a clear creation of the United States, and the United States is trying to intervene again using the excuse of the Islamic State,” he said.
Shiite militias and volunteers, he said, were already answering the call from religious leaders to defend Iraq from the Islamic State without American help. “This is how we do it,” he said, adding that the same forces would keep American troops out. “The main reason Obama is saying he will not invade again is because he knows the Islamic resistance” of the Shiite militias “and he does not want to lose a single soldier.”
The leader of the Islamic State, for his part, declared on Saturday that he defied the world to stop him.
“The conspiracies of Jews, Christians, Shiites and all the tyrannical regimes in the Muslim countries have been powerless to make the Islamic State deviate from its path,” the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared in an audio recording released over the Internet, using derogatory terms from early Islamic history to refer to Christians and Shiites.
“The entire world saw the powerlessness of America and its allies before a group of believers,” he said. “People now realize that victory is from God, and it shall not be aborted by armies and their arsenals.”
Many at the rally in Baghdad said they welcomed airstrikes against Mr. Baghdadi’s Islamic State but not American ground forces, the position that Mr. Sadr has taken. Many of the 30 lawmakers backed by Mr. Sadr — out of a Parliament of 328 seats — attended the rally.
Mr. Sadr’s supporters opposed Mr. Maliki, the former prime minister, and many at the rally were quick to criticize the former government for mistakes like failing to build a more dependable army. “We had a good army, so where is this army now?” asked Waleed al-Hasnawi, 35. “Maliki gave them everything, but they just left the battlefield.”
But few if any blamed Mr. Maliki for alienating Sunnis, as American officials assert, by permitting sectarian abuses under the Shiite-dominated security forces.
Omar al-Jabouri, 31, a Sunni Muslim from a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad who attended the rally and said he volunteers with a Shiite brigade, argued that Mr. Maliki had alienated most Iraqis, regardless of their sect.
“He did not just exclude and marginalize the Sunni people; he ignored the Shiite people, too,” Mr. Jabouri said. “He gave special help to his family, his friends, people close to him. He did not really help the Shiite people, as many people think.”
But the Islamic State was a different story, Mr. Jabouri said. “It is obvious to everyone that the Islamic State is a creation of the United States and Israel.”
Ali Hamza contributed reporting.
The Case for a Unified Kurdistan
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
September 16, 2014
Map presented by the Kurdish League delegation to the San Francisco Conference in March 1945
Is a united and independent Kurdistan a prospect we should welcome, or a dangerous idea that would create more problems in the Middle East than it would solve?
Philip Jenkins, a distinguished professor of history at Baylor University, sees the prospect of a grand Kurdistan, with Iraqi, Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian components, as "actively terrifying." I'd like to assure him that it also has the potential to be benign.
Professor Jenkins expresses his fears in an article entitled "The Case Against a Unified Kurdistan," which happens to be a direct reply to a recent NRO article of mine, "Hello, Kurdistan."
As his title suggests, Jenkins does not reject independent Kurdish polities everywhere. Indeed, he admits that an "excellent case" exists for supporting the one already in Iraq and he seems resigned to its Syrian counterpart. He also acknowledges that, "By the standards of the region, the Kurds are undoubtedly the good guys, the closest thing we might have to an actively pro-Western state." So far, we are in accord.
But he severely draws the line against a Unified Kurdistan, "a fiendishly difficult project" that could "spread massacre and ethnic cleansing" to places now free of them. In Iran, he expects Kurdish secession to generate a "bloody civil war" and "escalating carnage for decades to come." In Turkey, a Kurdish secessionist movement "would be catastrophic" because it would "cripple one of the region's most successful societies" and even spread Turkish-Kurdish violence in Europe.
In response, I would counter that Iran today constitutes an arch-aggressive mini-empire: good-riddance to it. Should the Islamic Republic of Iran's apocalyptically minded leadership get its grubby hands on a nuclear weapon, it will endanger not only the Middle East but also the West, through the threat of electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, a horrifying prospect that must at all costs be prevented. Given America's feckless leadership under Barack "The One" Obama, the Kurds may have to carry this heavy burden.
Iran is indeed a mini-empire, as its demography demonstrates. Its 81 million people divide, according to the CIA World Factbook, into the following ethnicities: Persian, 61 percent; Azeri, 16 percent; Kurd, 10 percent; Lur, 6 percent; Baloch, 2 percent; Arab, 2 percent; Turkmen and Turkic tribes, 2 percent; other, 1 percent. Linguistically, it is even more fractured: Persian, 53 percent; Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects, 18 percent; Kurdish, 10 percent; Gilaki and Mazandarani, 7 percent; Luri, 6 percent; Balochi, 2 percent; Arabic, 2 percent; other 2, percent. As in any empire, one ethnicity (the Persians) dominates while restive minorities, especially the Azeris, seethe with secessionist yearnings.
Kurdish forces rely more on female soldiers than is usual in the Muslim Middle East.
All empires eventually come to an end, sometimes in surprisingly peaceful ways – think of the British withdrawal and the Soviet implosion. The Iranian empire will more likely end with a whimper than with the decades of carnage Professor Jenkins fears. We on the outside should guide it to this end – and quickly, so as to distract the malign supreme leader and his supporting cast from attaining nuclear capacity.
As for Turkey, its central government long ago dropped the fiction that Kurds are but "mountain Turks," permitting Kurdish cultural self-expression and presently engaging in negotiations for a political accommodation with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK (yes, the same PKK that has been on the U.S. terrorist list since 1997.) Meanwhile, Turkey's Kurds are finding their political voice and becoming increasingly assertive in the country's life. As their robust birth rate looms over the feeble one of ethnic Turks – to the point that they might become a majority in one or two generations – the idea of separation gains in appeal for ethnic Turks.
I foresee a referendum in Turkey analogous to the imminent one in Scotland, in which those living in the majority-Kurdish regions vote whether to remain part of the Republic of Turkey or to secede. Such a vote would undoubtedly endorse secession.
One of the happy side-effects of Kurdish secession would be to impede the ambitions of Turkey's rogue autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is no small matter, inasmuch as Turkey under his leadership represents the greatest long-term threat to Western interests in the Middle East. (In contrast, once the mullahs are safely disposed of, Iran could well return to its role of ally.)
So, I thank Philip Jenkins for his respectful dissent (something rare these days) and I acknowledge the validity of his fears even as I assure him that the real "actively terrifying" scenario is not a Unified Kurdistan but a nuclear Iran and a Erdoğan-dominated Turkey. Fortunately, Western states can simultaneously obstruct those disasters even as they help the "good-guy" Kurds to build their state.
**Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Embers of Khomeini’s fire
Mshari Al-Zaydi /Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 21 Sep, 2014
What is happening in Yemen represents as great a threat, if
not more so, than what is happening in Iraq and Syria, at least in the eyes of
the Gulf states and particularly Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis represent a greater strategic threat to Saudi Arabia and Arabs, particularly if we view them as part of a larger Iranian project that is threatening the region.
There is no hidden backer behind Al-Qaeda and its various franchises or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); there is no foreign state—with a state’s capabilities and strengths—backing either of these two groups. As for the Houthis, they are embers of the Persian Khomeinist fire.
Today, Houthis are fighting in the capital Sana’a and spreading chaos across Yemen, seeking to extort the Yemeni government and President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The Houthis’ objective is clear, namely to impose their demands on the state. The Houthis are trying to hijack Yemen’s fate on the pretext of protesting the government’s fuel subsidy cut, but this is nothing more than opportunism.
UN Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, recently left Saada, the Houthi stronghold, to return to Sana’a without reaching an agreement with the Houthis, who are now threatening the residents of the capital. According to media reports, the Houthis have a number of demands to end the violence, including full control of the port of Midi. This has been a longstanding target for the Houthis, and the reason behind this is clear, namely to create a statelet within Yemen, in the same manner that Hezbollah has sought to create a mini-state in Lebanon.
This Shi’ite emirate on the southern borders of Saudi Arabia represents an Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia, particularly after Tehran has lost its influence in Iraq, Syria and the Gaza Strip.
When we say that a Houthi gunman is akin to a solider in Khomeini’s army, we are saying this backed up by evidence. As for Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, he accused Saudi Arabia—in comments on June 12, 2008 to Yemen’s Al-Nida newspaper—of carrying out violence against Yemenis on American orders.
Zaydism, the form of Shi’ism practiced by the Houthis, has always been a subject of controversy. A Zaydi himself, scholar Mohamed Bin Ismail Al-Sanani said that Zaydism does not have a coherent doctrine that is committed to a specific ideology or its own history. He described Zaydism as a doctrine that is open to development and enrichment. Zaydism has been able to encompass Salafist scholar Imam Al-Shawkani, as well as Imam Abdullah Bin Hamzah (d. 1236 CE), who committed a massacre of some of his own followers simply because they said it was not required that the Imam of the group be a descendant of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn, the Prophet’s grandsons.
Hussein Al-Houthi, the founder of the modern Houthi movement—an almost sacred figure to his followers, who was killed in 2004—went through a number of transformations, from the ruling General People’s Congress to the peripheries of the Khomeinist trend. His Khomeinist tendencies were brought to the fore in a book he wrote on Qur’anic exegesis. In the book, Houthi talks about Sunni defeats throughout history, which he traces to their refusal to pledge allegiance to the Prophet’s son-in-law and cousin, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, adding that it would be “foolish for us [the Houthis] to follow them.” In the same section he devotes whole passages to the figure of Khomeini, extolling his “divine character and standards.”
Yemen doesn’t need eulogies; it needs us to call a spade a spade