September 23/14

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 22 and 23/14

The secret of Islamic State’s success/By RUTHIE BLUM/J.Post/September 23/14

Saleh, the Houthis and taking over Sanaa/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/September 23/14

The Brotherhood keeps repeating the same mistakes/By: Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/September 23/14

Iran walks a U.N. tightrope as the nuclear deadline looms/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/September  23/14

The World's First Christian Imams/By Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/September 23/14

Lebanese Related News published on September 22 and 23/14

Captive Soldier's Wife Meets Nusra, Manages to 'Postpone Execution'
Arsal Captive Relatives Vent their Anger at Lebanese Authorities
Salam to Appeal for International Support, to Pressure Erdogan over Captives
Geagea: A Number of Strategic Errors Led Lebanon to Current Situation

Report: Al-Nusra Front Holding Captives in 2-Story House

Draft law for $1.6B plan to boost Lebanese Army
Hariri lauds King Abdullah on National Day

Wanted murderer arrested in north Lebanon

Saudi Arabia appeals for Lebanon unity

Lebanon's foreign minister: Can overcome dangers with unity

Hezbollah uses UAV to attack al-Qaeda backed rebels

Kataeb Urges 'Alternative Plans' in Troops Case, Says Priority is Presidential Vote

Army Distances Itself from Abused Syrians Video

Food Poisoning Cases Suspected in Baalbek

Berri Appeals for Swift Election of President

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 22 and 23/14

Rowhani: Iran a bulwark against ‘terrorists’ in the Mideast
Netanyahu warns of easing sanctions on Iran

AINA/Timeline of ISIS in Iraq

Saudi, Iran foreign ministers meet in New York

Kerry raises ISIS threat with Iranian counterpart

Australian ex-PM Howard ‘embarrassed’ by 2003 Iraq war dossier

ISIS calls for more attacks on Egyptian security forces

Yemen: Houthis and government sign peace agreement
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

EU boosts security after jihadist threat report

France says 'not afraid' of ISIS call to kill citizens
Palestinian reconciliation talks begin in Egypt

Qatar will not host World Cup: FIFA's Zwanziger

Islamic State urges attacks on US, calls Obama 'mule of the Jews'

Turkey claims over 130,000 Syrian refugees; Pentagon says country must support coalition

'We will operate off any enemy coast to protect Israel,' navy chief says


Hezbollah uses UAV to attack al-Qaeda backed rebels
Ynetnews /Published: 09.21.14, / Israel News
For first time, Hezbollah employs drone to attack rebel forces in Syria, in possible retaliation for attack on forces. For the first time, Hezbollah employed UAVs to bomb an enemy position, Iranian news agency FARS reported on Sunday. The Lebanon-based terror organization struck the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) positions on the outskirts of Arsal, in Syria. The Iranian report claims at least 23 terrorists were killed, with dozens injured. While Hezbollah had previously deployed unmanned aerial vehicles on reconnaissance missions, this incident marks their first aggressive use of UAVs. The attack is a possible retribution for a suicide attack in which three Nusra forces were killed. On Saturday Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV network reported that an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed over the Marjayoun area in Lebanon, close to the border. Israel has yet to address the report. In 2013, Israeli F-16 fighter jets downed a drone off of Haifa's coastline. The unmanned aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), when it was downed, apparently entered Israel's airspace from the north and was heading south. Explosions were heard in the area. Half a year beforehand, the IAF intercepted an unmanned and unidentified aircraft that entered Israel's airspace early Saturday morning.
The aircraft was shot down by two F-16I jets in an open area in the northern Negev region, and its remains were scattered in an open area in the south Mount Hebron region.


Arsal Captive Relatives Vent their Anger at Lebanese Authorities
Naharnet /The angry families of the soldiers and policemen taken captive by jihadists blocked on Monday the Qalamoun highway and the Dahr al-Baidar road to demand their release, while the Muslim Scholars Committee accused some government powers of obstructing negotiations in their case. The soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces were kidnapped when militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.
Three have been killed by their captors. Two have been beheaded by IS militants and on Saturday al-Nusra Front shot dead the third. The IS, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq, has also beheaded two Americans and a British citizen in recent weeks.
The relatives of the rest of the captives blocked the two roads with burning tires. They came from across Lebanon to make their voice heard. The protesters accused the Lebanese authorities of failing to secure the release of the abductees.
They urged the authorities and all politicians to meet the demands of the jihadists and release Islamist prisoners held in Roumieh. Reports have said that the militants have said they would swap the captives with Roumieh prison Islamist inmates, who are being held at the facility for their involvement in the battles with the Lebanese army at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in 2007. A delegation from the Muslim Scholars Committee had at one point been tasked with negotiating the captives' release.
“The blood of our loved ones are not cheap,” one protester said. Another elderly shouted: “I want my only son. We won't leave from here unless an official meets us and promises us that the captives will be released.” But they later reopened the Dahr al-Baidar road.
The protest caused bumper-to-bumper traffic at Dahr al-Baidar, which links Beirut and Mount Lebanon with the eastern Bekaa Valley, and the Qalamoun highway, a vital road in the North. Later on Monday, the Muslim Scholars Committee held a press conference, saying: “The committee had exerted all possible efforts to release the soldiers, but its attempts were obstructed by certain sides.”“The solution to the crisis does not land in the hands of the government or Qatar,” it added. “Those obstructing the negotiations are within the cabinet,” it stressed without naming which side it was accusing. “Arsal has revealed the truth on the ground, demonstrating that a political camp is luring the army into a confrontation with the people,” it stated. “We hope that the government will resolve the case of Islamists in Roumieh jail or issue a general amnesty for the prisoners,” continued the Committee. Moreover, it warned of Syrian regime attempts to drag Syrians in Lebanon into a confrontation with the Lebanese people.
The kidnapping of the soldiers and policemen has prompted a backlash against Syrian refugees in parts of Lebanon, with tents in informal camps being set alight and hundreds of Syrians sheltered in the eastern Bekaa valley fleeing for fear of attack.

Captive Soldier's Wife Meets Nusra, Manages to 'Postpone Execution'
Naharnet/The wife of captive soldier Ali al-Bazzal announced Monday that she was able to meet his kidnappers who belong to al-Nusra Front and that she received a list of their demands. The meeting took place in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal, according to media reports. “For the sake of his safety, I will not be able to reveal the identity of those who accompanied me to meet with al-Nusra Front,” the wife told MTV. “I was not able to meet my husband and they said he is present in another region,” she added.
The wife said al-Nusra accepted to “postpone his execution for a week, pending indications that the negotiations will be resumed.” The group is demanding “a humanitarian corridor, an end to the persecution of Syrians and the release of all detainees who were arrested after the Arsal battles,” the woman added. “They did not demand Hizbullah's withdrawal from Syria nor the release of prisoners from Roumieh” prison, she noted. This is not the first time that al-Nusra meets relatives of captive troops. On September 9, abducted soldier George Khoury was able to see his family in Arsal's outskirts after a mediation by Islamist cleric Mustafa al-Hujeiri, aka Abou Taqiyeh. According to media reports, al-Nusra has 18 troops and policemen in its custody. The security personnel were abducted during deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in and around Arsal in early August, which the extremist Islamic State group also took part in. The IS has beheaded two captive soldiers, Ali al-Sayyed and Abbas Medlej, while al-Nusra has shot dead the soldier Mohammed Hamiyeh.
Bazzal himself appeared Saturday in a video of Hamiyeh's execution which was released by al-Nusra. He appealed to his family to act before he also gets executed at the hands of the group. Both extremist groups have warned that more captives will be executed if the Lebanese authorities did not meet their demands. Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday that al-Nusra is holding the captives at a two-story house on Arsal's outskirts. The house lies near the so-called al-Nour encampment for Syrian refugees, the daily said.
The report came a day after al-Mustaqbal newspaper said that the soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces abducted by the IS are being held in a cave in Wadi al-Rahwa while the ones taken captive by al-Nusra are present in Wadi Mira.
"The negotiations are ongoing" to secure the release of the captives, Prime Minister Tammam Salam told reporters earlier on Monday before traveling to New York. He revealed that he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for a bigger Turkish role in securing the release of the security personnel. Turkey has recently managed to secure the release of 46 Turkish hostages who had been kidnapped by IS militants in Iraq.


Salam to Appeal for International Support, to Pressure Erdogan over Captives
Naharnet /Prime Minister Tammam Salam traveled on Monday to New York where he will urge the international community to provide more support to Lebanon before it “drowns” under the burden of the Syrian refugees and the repercussions of the war in the neighboring country. “I will ask in New York for support for Lebanon before it drowns. I will also stress the importance of helping the state in carrying the burden of the Syrian refugees,” Salam told al-Mustaqbal newspaper in an interview published on Monday. The PM, who is representing Lebanon at the U.N. General Assembly session over the failure of the parliament to elect a new president, warned the rival parties that Lebanon would face a bigger problem if they don't unite. The politicians “should be aware of the dangers that we are facing and unite in confronting them rather than settling political scores,” said Salam. “No one will be able to make the situation better if things went out of control because the objective of terrorism … is to disintegrate the state and sow strife,” he warned. Salam urged the rival parties to “make sacrifices and overcome their narrow interests.”He revealed that he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for a bigger Turkish role in securing the release of Lebanese soldiers and policemen taken captives by jihadists last month.
The militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August engaging in heavy battles with the Lebanese army. They took with them the hostages and killed three of them, warning that more captives will die if the Lebanese authorities did not meet their demands. "The negotiations are ongoing" to secure the release of the captives, Salam told reporters at the Grand Serail before traveling to New York on Monday.
He "expressed understanding" for the anger expressed by their families, who blocked two main highways and accused the authorities of failing to bring their loved ones back home. Salam is expected to meet in New York with French President Francois Hollande, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Arab and Western officials. He will also participate in the meeting for the International Support Group for Lebanon that will be attended by the representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and officials from more than 40 states.

Draft law for $1.6B plan to boost Lebanese Army
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A $1.6 billion plan to boost the capabilities of the Lebanese Army has been drafted by the Parliament's Finance and Budget Committee Monday, with the draft law scheduled to be discussed in the next legislative session. The committee met Monday at its Parliament office to agree on the draft law, publishing two recommendations for the Lebanese government. One of the two was placing the draft law on the agenda of the ‘necessity legislation’ session, which the Parliament was expected to conduct soon.
“Nothing is more important that arming the Army and approving the ranks and salary scale,” the committee’s statement said. Parliament has rarely held legislative sessions since the renewal of its term in May 2013, and political parties have announced that a session would take place soon to resolve urgent matters, at the head of which was the Union Coordination Committee’s wage hike. The more technical recommendation in the committee’s statement said that the provision of heavy weapons and fighting vehicles should be prioritized over the other, non-lethal equipment, like buildings and transport automobiles.If approved, the plan would be implemented over the next five years, and is independent of any foreign donations to the Army, the committee explained. Saudi Arabia announced $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese Army earlier this year, which would be provided in form of a weapons purchase from France. The kingdom later added another $1 billion in aid, specifically intended to boost Lebanon’s counter-terrorism force. However, the Lebanese Parliament’s law will be independently processed, and when the Saudi military aid arrives, it will be adding to, not replacing, the official Lebanese plan. In addition to the members of the committee, which is headed by MP Ibrahim Kanaan, the meeting was attended by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel and the director general of the Finance Ministry.

Hariri lauds King Abdullah on National Day
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday praised Saudi King Abdullah for his long-standing support for counterterrorism and for his deeds toward Lebanon.
“Saudi National Day comes this year amid tragic developments threatening the Arab world and the unity of many sister countries, which puts the kingdom and its leadership before critical challenges and great responsibilities that require confrontation for the sake of joint Arab interests to halt the factors that cause collapse or strife,” Hariri said in a statement.  He said Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Abdullah was “still a source of confidence and reassurance for many sisterly peoples who are suffering the hardships of wars, conflicts and displacement affecting millions of Arabs.”Hariri also lauded Abdullah’s “historic stances” on counterterrorism “which painted the road to sound Arab options, guided by spiritual and political groups that currently uphold moderation and reject poisonous calls that threatens the unity of nations and the safety of coexistence among its components.”He said Abdullah’s initiative to support the Lebanese Army and security institutions against terrorism threats “pour in the same direction.”

Wanted murderer arrested in north Lebanon
The Daily Star/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A Tripoli man wanted on multiple charges of murder and attempted murder was arrested Monday, a security source said. The source, speaking to The Daily Star, said detectives arrested Ali Ahmad al-Homsi from the Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The source dismissed several media reports that described Homsi as a field commander in Jabal Mohsen, a predominantly Alawite neighborhood whose residents are seen as widely sympathetic to the Syrian government.
Assad supporters in Jabal Mohsen and rival gunmen in nearby Bab al-Tabbaneh, who sympathize with the Syrian opposition, have been engaged in on-again, off-again clashes that killed hundreds before a Lebanese Army crackdown in April halted the fighting.

Saudi Arabia appeals for Lebanon unity
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia appealed to Lebanon to unite and elect a new president to protect the country against looming dangers and avert civil strife. In a statement Monday marking Saudi National Day, Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri said that the oil-rich kingdom’s celebration of the national occasion was shrouded by concern over the troubled Middle East region and the situation in Lebanon. “The occasion is Saudi, but the concern is Arab and Lebanese. Once again, we appeal to our brothers to preserve Lebanon and deploy utmost efforts for the sake of protecting it,” Asiri said. The ambassador said that Lebanon could only be protected through national unity and the election of a new president “who would launch national dialogue and prevent the country from slipping into sectarian strife.”He also urged rival political factions to avoid fueling public tensions and instead, let tolerance, reason and moderation prevail. “This is Saudi Arabia’s message to Lebanon’s people on the occasion of Saudi National Day,” Asiri, said, adding that Lebanon has a special place in the heart of the Saudi king and the Saudi people.

Lebanon's foreign minister: Can overcome dangers with unity
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon will overcome the dangers it is facing through unity and support for the Lebanese Army in its fight against extremist militants seeking to destabilize the country, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil told Lebanese expatriates in the U.S.
“We cannot but live in unity. Lebanon should always remain the carrier of this message and as Lebanese we have no right to give up our unity (at home) and abroad,” Bassil to the Lebanese community during a Sunday mass in Las Vegas.
Bassil, who arrived in the U.S. a few days ago to participate in meetings at the U.N. General Assembly, visited major cities on the West Coast and met with members of the Lebanese community.
“ Lebanon is presently making the sacrifice on behalf of humanity, in the battle in which the Lebanese are standing with the Army as it confronts the powers of evil on our land,” Bassil said, in reference to attacks by extremist militant groups from Syria on the Lebanese Army in the border area of Arsal. Speaking on the need to ranks to confront rampant terrorism and the spillover of the Syrian civil war, Bassil said, “we have the right to disagree politically, but we have no right to lose our nation for small, petit goals.”
Militants from Syria’s Nusra Front and ISIS overran Arsal in August, clashing with the Army for five straight days in the most serious spillover of the violence raging in Syria.
At least 19 soldiers were killed and over 30 captured in the clashes. The militants have executed three captive soldiers and released seven. At least 21 remain captive and face threats of execution unless the authorities meet the captors' conditions to release them, including releasing Islamist detainees held in Roumieh Prison.


Geagea: A Number of Strategic Errors Led Lebanon to Current Situation
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea lamented on Monday the current situation in Lebanon, criticizing how some major files are being tackled. He said via Twitter: “A number of strategic errors have led Lebanon to this current state.”These errors include “the existence of a statelet outside of the authority of the state,” he added in reference to Hizbullah. Geagea also blamed the fighting of some Lebanese groups in Syria alongside the country's regime for the poor situation in Lebanon.
The LF leader listed the failure to control the border in accordance to United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 and the manner in which the case of abducted soldiers and policemen as other issues that led to the deterioration of the situation in the country. The army battled in August Islamist militants in the northeastern town of Arsal, which ended with the gunmen abducting a number of soldiers and policemen. The captives are still being held by the militants, but three have since been executed. The battle was seen as a repercussion of the spread of the Syrian conflict to Lebanon. Some March 14 alliance officials have blamed Hizbullah's fighting in Syria for the spillover of the war to Lebanon.


Kerry raises ISIS threat with Iranian counterpart
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Monday, 22 September 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday raised the threat of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria directly with his Iranian counterpart in high-level talks in New York, a U.S. official said, according to Agence France Presse.  Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for more than an hour at a hotel, during which they discussed progress in nuclear negotiations and “also discussed the threat posed by ISIL,” a senior State Department official said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  “They discussed both the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done,” the official said. “They spent time reviewing the status of the EU-led P5+1 negotiations on Iran's nuclear program,” the official added, referring to the nuclear talks being led by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Iran -- normally seen as Washington's arch-foe -- has a role to play as the United States seeks to build a coalition to combat the militants, the top U.S. diplomat said. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the Islamic Republic had rejected a request from the U.S. to join the coalition. Zarif and Kerry met one-on-one first, before being joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns and Under Secretary Wendy Sherman on the U.S. side and Zarif's deputies Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi on the Iranian side, the State Department official said. The U.S. and Iran do not have official diplomatic relations.
Also on Sunday, Kerry discussed his coalition-building efforts with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Sunday during a phone call. Kerry and Lavrov talked “about how to broaden the conversation we've started on whatever role Russia may choose to play in the ISIL coalition,” a second State Department official said. The official refused to be drawn further however on what role Moscow could take. “We've been pretty clear about the menu of ways to contribute... so I think we're looking to hear from the Russians what their intentions are.” Lavrov and Kerry are due to meet in New York later in the week on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly.


Rowhani: Iran a bulwark against ‘terrorists’ in the Mideast
Tehran has been providing support to both the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting ISIS.
AFP, Tehran
Monday, 22 September 2014
Iran is a cornerstone of stability in the Middle East in the face of the "terrorists" rocking the region, President Hassan Rowhani said Monday before leaving for the United Nations. "The peoples of the region are defending themselves, and will continue to defend themselves, against the terrorists," Rowhani said in a speech marking the anniversary of the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. "The government and armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran will help them everywhere," he pledged. "Iran is a cornerstone of stability in this sensitive Middle East region... today dominated by unrest, security problems, massacres and fear."Rowhani's comments came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Iran had a role to play in tackling Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants who have overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Kerry "discussed the threat posed by (ISIS)" with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in a meeting in New York lasting more than an hour on Sunday, a U.S. official said. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he rejected a U.S. offer to join the international coalition it has been building against the jihadists. Like Washington, Tehran has been providing support to both the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting ISIS. But unlike Washington, Tehran is a strong backer of the Syrian government, not only against ISIS but also against other rebel groups, some of them U.S.-backed, all of which it regards as "terrorists."Rowhani, who is to address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, last week criticized the United States for its refusal to send troops into combat in the battle against ISIS. "Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?" he asked in an interview with NBC television.


Netanyahu warns of easing sanctions on Iran
Noam (Dabul) Dvir, AFP/Ynetnews
Published: 09.21.14, 22:43 / Israel News
Kerry, Zarif meet for talks on nuclear program, also possibly discuss Islamic State group, as Netanyahu warns not to appease Iran to fight Islamic threat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned the West against easing sanctions on Iran to win its support in the fight against jihadists in Syria and Iraq. He made the comments US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif for talks expected to focus on the prospects of reaching an agreement on reducing Tehran's atomic activities in exchange for an end to nuclear-related sanctions on the Tehran. Their meeting Sunday comes on the third day of the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.  As the Islamic republic and six world powers started a new round of talks in New York, Netanyahu said "respected commentators in the West" were counseling a softer approach on Iran to enlist Tehran in an alliance against Islamic State militants. "I know what Begin would have said…They are fighting the IS out of their own interest," he told an audience in Jerusalem's Begin Center, which was marking ten years of activites.  "They are struggling over who will be leader of the Islamist world which they seek to impose on the whole world," he said, referring to Iran.
Israel bitterly opposed an interim deal which world powers struck with Tehran last November, paving the way for talks on a comprehensive agreement on Iran's future nuclear activities. Iran and the six powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - are meeting at United Nations headquarters on the sidelines of the General Assembly. Israel has refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent any possibility of it developing the technology for an atomic bomb.

Saudi, Iran foreign ministers meet in New York
The meeting between Prince Saud al-Faisal, left, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, was the first between the top diplomats of Saudi Arabia and Iran since Iranian President Hassan Rowhani came to power in August 2013. (Al Arabiya)

Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News/Monday, 22 September 2014
Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers held a meeting on Sunday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. “This is a new page in relations between the two countries,” Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif said, quoted on the government’s website.
“We hope this will have a positive impact on restoring peace and security in the region and the world, and for the interests of all Muslim nations,” he said after the talks. Ties between the two rival Gulf powers have long been strained on a wide variety of issues. A picture published by Iran’s IRNA news agency shows Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Prince Saud al-Faisal hold a meeting in New York. (IRNA) His Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) onslaught in Iraq and Syria, was quoted as saying: “We believe we must avoid the errors of the past to successfully confront the current crisis.” Iran and Saudi Arabia are “influential in the region and common cooperation will undeniably have an effect on restoring peace.”
The encounter in New York, where the foreign ministers were to attend the U.N. General Assembly, was the first between the top diplomats of Saudi Arabia and Iran since Iranian President Hassan Rowhani came to power in August 2013.
[With AFP]


Yemen: Houthis and government sign peace agreement
Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Yemeni government and Houthi rebels signed an agreement to form a new government on Sunday, following the resignation of the prime minister, and days of fighting between the rebels and government forces in the capital, Sana’a.
Houthi rebels seized control of government buildings and the country’s main military complex on Sunday after earlier fighting between them and government forces in the capital, later brokering an agreement to end the hostilities and appoint a new government.
The new UN-brokered deal was signed in the presence of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, UN Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar, and representatives of the country’s main political factions. Under the terms of the agreement, a new, independent prime minister will be appointed to head an interim government of technocrats within three days, until a new government can be formed in a month’s time. In addition, two advisers to President Hadi will be appointed from among the ranks of the Houthis and the southern separatist Al-Hirak movement. The Houthis also agreed to dismantle their protest camps in the capital. Prime Minister Mohamed Basindawa resigned shortly before the signing of the agreement, saying he hoped his departure from office would make it easier for President Hadi to find a solution to the crisis. Ali Al-Qahoum, a member of the Houthis’ Political Bureau, hailed the agreement, and said it would see the formation of a new government representative of all the major political forces in the country. However, presidential sources said the Houthis refused to sign an annex to the agreement, which stipulates that the movement vacate the government buildings it has taken over. Despite their refusal, President Hadi declared a ceasefire after the signing of the agreement. Followers of the Shi’ite movement have been staging month-long protests outside government buildings in the capital, calling for the reinstatement of fuel subsidies and the appointment of a new government. The protests have been accompanied by fierce fighting in Sana’a which saw armed members of the group take over the airport last week, and the main armed forces building, parliament, the central bank, state television building, and the ministries of interior, defense and finance on Sunday. Military sources said the Houthis now had effective control of more than half of the capital. Interior Minister Hussein Al-Tarb called on Sunday for the country’s security apparatus and government employees to cooperate with the Houthi rebels in control of government buildings, urging that no-one in any of the buildings “clash with [the Houthis] or enter into any kind of conflict.” In a statement released by the Interior Ministry, he said: “Cooperation with [the Houthi rebels] will help restore security and stability and help protect public property and government buildings . . . Consider [the Houthis] friends of the police.”Sources said armed forces personnel had handed over the state television building to the group. The Houthis have since said, however, that they will return control of the state television building to military police.Despite these developments, the situation on the ground remained tense, with a number of Sana’a residents speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat saying that the Houthis had warned them to leave their homes. Additional reporting from Sana’a by Hamdan Al-Rabhi.

ISIS calls for more attacks on Egyptian security forces
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 22 September 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) called on insurgents in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday to press ahead with attacks against Egyptian security forces and continue beheadings, an announcement likely to deepen concerns over ties between the militant groups.
"Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure," ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a statement released online. Adnani also called on supporters to kill citizens of countries taking part in the U.S.-led anti-militant coalition by any available means. "If you can kill a disbelieving American or European -- especially the spiteful and filthy French -- or an Australian, or a Canadian... including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him," he said in a message released in multiple languages. The United States and France are carrying out air strikes against IS targets across Iraq and are seeking to build an international coalition against a group increasingly perceived as a global threat.
Ajnad Misr
Also on Monday, an Egyptian militant group claimed responsibility for Sunday's bomb blast in a busy downtown Cairo street near the Foreign Ministry that killed two senior police officers and wounded several other policemen. Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, which claimed previous attacks on police, said in a statement posted late Sunday on its Twitter account and on a militant website.The group said it used an explosive device on "officers of the criminal apparatus" as part of its campaign against security forces.
It said the attacks will not stop until "the ruling tyrants fall and God's Shariah is established."Last Update: Monday, 22 September 2014 KSA 10:38 - GMT 07:38


Obama ‘ready for Syria ground war’ as Kurds flee
By Staff Writer | Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 21 September 2014
The United States will have to resort to sending “some troops on the ground” in Syria should President Barack Obama aim to destroy the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, a senior U.S. Congressman told this week’s Sunday Times. The west is facing a “long, hard war” against ISIS, Republican Peter King said, adding that Obama was reviewing his refusal to send ground troops after military advisers said they would be needed. These remarks come after 70,000 Syrian Kurds poured into Turkey since Friday fleeing an offensive by ISIS militants in northeastern Syria, the U.N.'s refugee agency said Sunday. By ruling out sending troops to Syria, King said Obama is sounding an “uncertain trumpet.” Following General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address to Congress in which he said that ground intervention may be necessary; King said the “military message is getting through” to Obama. “The president is going further than he ever thought he would,” he told the Sunday Times, praising Obama’s decision to deploy 2,000 troops to Iraq.
King, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and chairman of its counterterrorism and intelligence group, also said CIA officers and Special Forces would need to be a part of a ground invasion. “We should basically be putting as much fear into [ISIS] as possible, using every weapon at our disposal,” King is quoted by British newspaper as saying. King disagrees with the White House’s stance that ISIS’ threat is contained within the Middle East, citing the threat posed by Europeans, who do not require an entry visa into the U.S., who have travelled to join the militant group.“That’s thousands of Europeans who can come right into America. It’s very difficult, whether it’s the British, the French or anyone, to be monitoring all of their people who are going back and forth [to the Middle East],” he explained.In a rare-show of agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans, the U.S. Senate had approved a bill that would allow funding to arm and train moderate opposition groups in Syria to enable them to fight against ISIS. King voted for the bill, requested by Obama. (With AFP)

Iran walks a U.N. tightrope as the nuclear deadline looms

Monday, 22 September 2014
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
While the nuclear talks continue between Iranian and Western negotiators in New York City, sparse details have been released to the press. Keeping the talks behind closed doors gives a sense that they are highly sensitive at this stage.
On Thursday, a very short briefing was made by Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, after an emergency session at the U.N. Security Council in which the foreign ministers addressed the current security crisis in Iraq. Rather than Iran’s foreign minister taking the podium to address his counterparts, Araghchi spoke on behalf of Mohammad Javad Zarif:
“I can say that in general, a very good atmosphere rules the negotiations,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has not been very publically visible at the U.N., but is popular in the U.S. media.
At this crucial time in the negotiating process, with the interim deal set to expire on November 24, there is no time to lose for Zarif and his negotiating team.
The New York talks are a landmark, face-saving diplomacy push
Last November, the world reeled from the announcement of the groundbreaking interim nuclear deal, hammered out under the new presidency of Hassan Rowhani. A 15-minute phone call between Rowhani and his American counterpart made international headlines and ushered in a more positive atmosphere .
A year has passed since then and a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear talks still has not been reached. It seems that the relationship between the two countries is souring, but not ruined.
Precarious talks
Despite some success so far, all would be ruined if Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei reached the conclusion that the U.S. is not being sincere and honest at the talks.
The supreme leader is disappointed with the coalition formed against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and this makes the nuclear talks a little fragile. This may be why U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week: “There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.”
Kerry’s remarks seem to have pleased Tehran as Rowhani makes a stop in New York this week. He arrived to back up his negotiating team. As the former nuclear chief negotiator, Rowhani is aware of the importance of the opportunity Iran now faces.
There is now a little over seven weeks for a final deal to be reached. If significant progress is not made, the deal will not be reached by the deadline. Rowhani’s trip to the U.S. can therefore be seen as a smart attempt to boost the talks and inject energy into the process.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told PBS broadcasting network on Friday that bIran would accept Obama bypassing Congress to get sanctions lifted:
“If President Obama promises us to do something, we will accept and respect his promise.” Zarif told PBS.
As for whether the U.S. would hold out for the lifting of permanent sanctions against Iran, which requires congressional action, Zarif appeared amenable to President Barack Obama lifting less restrictive sanctions instead.
The New York talks are a landmark, face-saving diplomacy push to demonstrate that Iran intends to move towards a responsible and mature foreign policy.

The Brotherhood keeps repeating the same mistakes
Monday, 22 September 2014
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya
In mid-December 1992, Mohammad Ali Ibrahim, a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Somalia, visited me in my Jeddah office of al-Hayat newspaper because he had a statement he desired to publish. In the statement, the Brotherhood warned of American intervention in their war-torn country. At the time, Somalia was about to enter its third year of a grinding civil war which did not only destroy the country but also led to a famine which claimed some 300,000 lives with no hope on the horizon that warlords would sit and negotiate to end the crisis.
This synchronized with former American President George Bush’s (senior) desire to improve the U.S.’s reputation following the war of liberating Kuwait, which Bush won alongside his Gulf allies but which angered other Arab and Muslim people. Somalia seemed like an easy task for him. Perhaps he thought if he restored security there, it would count as proof that the Americans do act for humanitarian causes and not simply to profit from oil windfalls. However, the logic of conspiracy theories reigns and trust in the U.S. counts for little. Therefore, the Somalian Brotherhood leader was not enthusiastic about this American campaign. Truth be told, such behavior by the Brotherhood did not surprise anyone as it is a typical Brotherhood stance. Two years before this incident took place, the Brotherhood’s political miscalculations revealed themselves during the phase of building an international alliance to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The Brotherhood’s stance was doubtful and it served Saddam to a higher degree than it served their traditional allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. It was a fateful phase of which they are still paying the price.
The Brotherhood’s confusion regarding the international alliance against ISIS is a simple example of their political crisis
I asked Ibrahim why his party was against American intervention in Somalia although the country was torn apart and there was little hope that they could end the war on their own. He brought up conspiracy theories which were popular at the time and said the Americans were either coming to besiege the Islamic tide in Sudan (the national salvation revolution was in its infancy and was under pressure after it made the mistake of siding with Saddam Hussein) or coming out of greed for Somalian uranium and not out of love for the miserable people of Somalia. On Sudan, I told him it was none of their business and that they should let the Sudanese people handle their own affairs. I told him Somalia should work on itself and that the Brotherhood are weak but educated so they should cooperate with the Americans to stop the civil war and establish a national government and then they can participate in building a new Somalia. I also told him that a donors’ conference could be held at a later date to help Somalia. He angrily interrupted me and said: “I already said the Americans are not coming for our sake! They are coming out of their greed for uranium.” I coldly said: “And in this case, work on the Somalia nuclear reactor will stop!?” He didn’t like my answer and said I was mocking him so he took the statement and decided to leave. However, I soothed him and sent the statement for publication and a summary of it was published. I admit, I was not accurate as I chose statements (from the written statement and from my conversation with Ibrahim) that implied they are ready to cooperate with American forces. Of course, he reprimanded me the day after. But we didn’t change history as they neither cooperated with the Americans nor did the Americans succeeded at their task. The latter withdrew six months later. Twenty years on and until this very day, Somalia still suffers from a hideous civil war which turned from tribal fighting into terrorism and extremism led by al-Qaeda.
Nothing has changed
I recalled this story as I looked at a statement for Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi – who I think should maintain his prestige by quitting politics. In the statement, Qaradawi rejected the planned military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He said: “I totally disagree with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s ideology and methods but I will never accept that the party to fight them be the United States.” He justified his stance saying that America “is not motivated (to act) by Islamic values but by its own interests (which it seeks to serve) even if blood is shed.”
It is much the same stance as that held by the Somali leader I met in 1992. This opinion, however, is not exclusive to Qaradawi as the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Egypt agree with him. What’s even more surprising is that Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood – which is also in dire need of foreign intervention to topple the Assad regime - have announced that they reject foreign intervention in their country and said they prefer to lift the ban on importing arms to Syrian rebels capable of toppling the regime on their own!
Jordan’s Brotherhood addressed an additional fear in their statement, which is no less eloquent and enthusiastic than other similar statements. They said intervention is an attempt to sew new divisions in the Middle East and murder its people. It’s as if the Middle East is not currently being divided by its own people who are killing one another! The statement by Egypt’s Brotherhood implies that there is a bigger conspiracy that goes beyond the war on ISIS. To back its allegations, the Muslim Brotherhood said the West raised the slogan of fighting terrorism as an excuse to attack the Islamic world, tear it apart and occupy its countries. It also referred to America’s injustice against the natives and its usage of the nuclear bomb against Japan. It went on and on with its usual rhetoric which is more suited to an enthusiastic beginner journalist and not a political party which once made it to power and dealt with the U.S. on both the official and unofficial levels. This pattern of political intellect and analysis makes the Brotherhood stumble; however they keep resorting to this intellect as if they’ve learnt nothing from their past experiences. Why so? It is because it’s a rhetoric that aims to gain applause and chants of “Allahu Akbar.” Thus, it is not a rhetoric of policies which requires action on the ground.
Is the Brotherhood as such because its leaders are raised in an environment full of lecturing, preaching and ideals? Or is it due to spending such a long time outside real political governance that they have not gained political skills and wit or even the logic of giving priority to their interests?
The Brotherhood’s confusion regarding the international alliance against ISIS is a simple example of their political crisis - in comparison with their disastrous mistake in Egypt. But to address all these mistakes requires a revolution from within the Brotherhood, which requires eliminating their old leaders to replace them with politically aware youths. Or even better, the Brotherhood’s role must be limited to dawa, preaching and guiding, and they must thus leave politics to those who are good at it.

Saleh, the Houthis and taking over Sanaa
Monday, 22 September 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Yemen’s capital Sanaa was attacked from the outside and backstabbed by insiders. The prime minister and the interior minister staged a coup against the state in favor of the assailants while Houthis shelled it from all sides. Sanaa went through a sad and difficult night, signifying a dangerous beginning that places the entire country on the verge of danger. As to why and how such a situation is taking place, there are many details which led to this siege and collapse.
First of all, let’s keep in mind that overthrowing Yemen’s long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh was not going to easily pass. Two years on, he has succeeded in disrupting the country’s domestic situation via remote control. Among his allies are the Houthis and the Ansar Allah organization, which share some traits with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which rejected reconciliation and insisted on declaring its leader a caliph. The objective of ousted President Saleh’s supporters is to sabotage any alternative to their rule in the hope that they will return to power. The Houthis’ plan is to control the northern strip of Yemen with Iranian support. They have thus triggered the crisis by attacking cities and resorting to protests and confrontations to obstruct government services in the capital.
Keeping silent over the Houthis’ takeover of Sanaa is similar to accepting the ISIS takeover of Iraq’s Mosul
Although evil powers have their marks everywhere, we must note that in Yemen there are rivals – northern, southern, tribal and civil parties - who cannot easily come together in one government. It seems that Ali Saleh and the Houthis - the new Yemeni regime’s biggest enemies –succeeded in taking over most of the capital yesterday. They may later succeed in controlling the rest of Yemen. However, their success will only be temporary as those parties which accepted reconciliation will later reject any Saleh-Houthi-ISIS domination.
Sabotaging change
Former President Saleh was removed from power upon massive popular demand and following a semi-consensus by most political parties and tribes in the country. Ever since his removal, he hasn’t stopped trying to sabotage the Gulf initiative which united different parties within the context of reconciliation and under a transitional phase. This may not be perfect but is only temporary, until the transition is completed and crises are overcome.
United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar has sought a political exit from current disputes and managed to attain many concessions to satisfy the Houthis and those who stand behind them. He can now see that their aim was not to reach a solution as much as it was to pave the way toward forcefully taking over governance. The question here is directed to the United Nations which sponsored the transition and reconciliation. It reassured the southerners and prevented the division of the country and urged regional countries and superpowers to help protect the state from collapsing to prevent a political and humanitarian crisis. The question is: What will U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar do after the Houthis and their supporters betray him?
Keeping silent over the Houthis’ takeover of Sanaa is similar to accepting the ISIS takeover of Iraq’s Mosul. The Houthi Ansar Allah is a religious extremist group which wants to impose its control and doctrine and eliminate most Yemenis. Its presence in Yemen will inevitably mean that disturbances will last for many years. This is the aim of Iran, the Houthis’ foremost funder. The same goes for Saleh’s supporters who spread chaos and benefit from the naivety of the Gulf initiative which left the door open for him to leave with all his money and men even though he is well-known as the fox who slyly ruled Yemen for three decades and kept the state’s funds stored outside the country. One of the Gulf initiative’s mistakes is that it accepted one of Saleh’s men to succeed him - Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a man with no character, skills or political knowledge that could qualify him to manage a country with complex disputes..

Yemen is going backwards

Salman Aldossary /Asharq Alawsat
 Monday, 22 Sep, 2014
The Houthis will have no need to fight bloody battles to take over Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. The dangerous developments unfolding in the country suggest the Houthis have the upper hand over the government to such an extent that it gives one pause. No army and no state institutions will be able to resist. Even one of the largest and most prominent tribes in the country, the Hashid, were not able to confront the Houthis. Meanwhile, all the other powers in the country have retreated from the scene, leaving the Houthis to fill the resultant vacuum. They benefit as individual factions and groups, but the country as a whole loses out.
It is clear that Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi has forged an alliance with one of the major power brokers from the regime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, which has helped him and his movement take over the capital in such a short space of time. What is even clearer is that Houthi has exploited all the flaws in the country’s institutions and political system, flaws which are due to Saleh and his regime. Houthi intends to widen his demands, including independence for the Houthis in decision-making, his movement being allowed to retain its arms, and their being consulted on all decisions coming from the country’s ministries. Even if the course of events is such that tensions escalate dramatically, Houthi will still be able to negotiate to form a Shi’ite, Houthi nation with ease. If he does attempt to do so, it is difficult to think of anyone who would stand against him. Has Yemen, as a result of Houthi’s actions, become like a haunted house taken over by a malign, evil spirit?
The effects of the legacy left by President Abd Rabbuh Manur Hadi’s predecessor Saleh have put Yemen on a road that seems to lead inevitably to the disintegration of the country. One of the worst of these effects is the quickly diminishing power of the Yemeni state, which has led a number of political groups to seek to overthrow it. One could even say that the Houthi leader’s power, the avenues open to him, his alliances, and his ability to impose his will on the ground, are greater than those possessed by the Yemeni state itself. As for Al-Qaeda, it is waiting for the final whistle in order to begin playing its own game, by forging links with the eventual winner of the current struggle, who by then will be exhausted from the battle and therefore helpless. Let us for a moment imagine a possible future scenario: the Houthis holding power on one side, Al-Qaeda on another, with a third group, the secessionists in the north, also in the picture—the Yemeni state, on the other hand, is completely absent from this scenario.
As for the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, despite taking up the post three years ago, he has no real achievements to his name. While Yemen’s president sees the Houthis as rebels plotting an armed overthrow of the state, Benomar sees things differently. He has never succeeded in getting them to make one political concession, and yet how many has the Yemeni state made as a result of his efforts? Even that last mysterious ceasefire agreement, which he brokered, was tailor-made for the Houthis. The latest fighting taking place in Sana’a right now suggests the Houthi rebels are unable to keep to any agreement, not to mention continuing their armed efforts against the state, despite the ceasefire agreement which has been announced. Who knows . . . today Benomar is negotiating with the Houthis; tomorrow, maybe Al-Qaeda. “United Nations,” indeed.
In their attempts to take over the state, the Houthis are using three main weapons to win over hearts and minds: first, calling for the reinstatement of fuel subsidies, a populist move par excellence; second, using “peaceful demonstrations,” true means to a false end, and which were peaceful at first but then transformed into something else, with attacks on the state television and radio building, and invasions of parliament and various universities; and, third—and this is strongest card in the Houthi hand—“reform,” a popular concept to say the least, and one which many groups compete to claim as their own cause, even if this so-called reform constitutes, in reality, taking over the state—something, of course, whose announcement will be delayed until the green light is obtained from the group’s main sponsor, Tehran.
Unfortunately, though, those who are truly betraying Yemen in this critical and dangerous period are Yemenis themselves. The country’s tribes, who have long held the nation together and fought the Houthis, have all of a sudden formed alliances with the Shi’ite group. These people are Yemenis, and so are those army officers who have also betrayed their country and made the Houthis’ task easier, also forging secret agreements with the group. Even those unwittingly misled by the Houthis’ flashy slogans, who marched with the group on their demonstrations, they too are Yemenis.
Yes, there is a foreign enemy that has helped make Yemen a tool in the hands of the Houthis, but it is the Yemenis themselves who have really done this. What awaits you, Yemen, you who used to be so happy?


AINA/Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
The Arabic letter "n" (inside red circle), signifying "Nasrani" (Christian), on a Christian home in Mosul.(AINA) -- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured the city of Mosul, Iraq on June 10. Almost immediately thereafter it began to drive Assyrians out of Mosul and destroy Christian and non-Sunni institutions.
•There are no Assyrians/Christians remaining in Mosul, all have fled to the north, to Alqosh, Dohuk and other Assyrian villages.
•All Christian institutions in Mosul (churches, monasteries and cemeteries), numbering 45, have been destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered (story).
•All non-Sunni Muslim groups in Mosul -- Shabaks, Yazidis and Turkmen -- have been targeted by ISIS. Most have fled.
•Water and electricity to the Nineveh Plain have been cut off by ISIS.
•Mosul is now governed under Sharia law.
•200,000 Assyrian have fled from Baghdede (Qaraqosh), Bartella, Karamles and dozens of Assyrian villages and towns in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul.
•150,000 Yazidis have fled from Sinjar and Zumar. 40,000 trapped on Shingal mountain. Thousands have died from exposure. Thousands have been killed by ISIS.
The following is a summary of the events that have unfolded in North Iraq.
•September 16, 2014: ISIS erases Assyrian culture, Christian teachings from schools (story).
• September 16, 2014: Kurdish Peshmerga kill top ISIS military commander (story).
• September 16, 2014: Kurds retake Christian villages from ISIS (story).
• September 16, 2014: Iraq frces, Peshmerga inflict heavy losses on ISIS (story).
• September 16, 2014: U.S. airstrikes against ISIS (story).
• September 16, 2014: 75% of Assyrians return to their town in North Iraq (story).
• September 16, 2014: ISIS orders all Christian, Shiite business assets to be delivered to the Islamic State (story).
• September 16, 2014: ISIS using Christian homes in Mosul as factories for explosive devices (story).
• September 16, 2014: ISIS using using Yazidis as human shields Against U.S. airstrikes (story).
• September 15, 2014: Assyrian delegate calls for safe haven, UN protection for Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq (story).
• September 15, 2014: 12 Assyrians who were held by ISIS escape by faking conversion (story).
• September 15, 2014: Yazidi member of Iraq's Parliament calls for arming Yazidis and Assyrians (story).
• September 15, 2014: ISIS issues new curriculum in Iraq (story).
• September 14, 2014: Some Assyrians who fled their town say they wish to leave Iraq (story).
• September 14, 2014: Tens of thousands of Assyrian and Yazidi children rt risk in North Iraq (story).
• September 13, 2014: Assyrian Bishop yestifies on ISIS threat at Senate Human Rights Caucus (story).
• September 11, 2014: Five Christian Patriarchs meet with President Obama at the White House (story).
• September 11, 2014: US House Hearing focuses on Christian persecution in Iraq (story).
• September 10, 2014: Defense of Christians Summit, dedicated to aiding the Christians in north Iraq, was held in Washington (story).
• September 8, 2014: U.S. air strikes wipe out Islamic State patrol (story).
• September 8, 2014: Kurds pushing ISIS back (story).
• September 8, 2014: ISIS forbids the use of Kurdish language in Mosul (story).
• September 8, 2014: U.S. launches new airstrikes in Iraq (story).
• September 8, 2014: ISIS takes hostage 100 children in Iraq's Nineveh Province (story).
• September 6, 2014: ISIS beats, kills Assyrian man for refusing to convert (story).
• September 6, 2014: ISIS detaining large number of residents in Mosul; looting of homes continues; ISIS holding Yazidi women; 25 Christians held by ISIS; Hundreds of Yazidi families held by ISIS; ISIS forcing Yazidi girls to marry its fighters (story).
• September 5, 2014: ISIS sexually assaults new recruits (story).
• September 4, 2014: Mass executions by ISIS (story).
• September 3, 2014: ISIS exuections in Tikrit, Iraq (story).
• September 1, 2014: Thousands of Refugees Apply for New Passports in North Iraq (story).
• August 31, 2014: Iraq breaks Islamic State siege of Amerli (story).
• August 30: 850,000 people displaced in 1 Month by ISIS (story).
• August 30: Iraq Sunni rebels ready to fight Islamic State (story).
• August 29: ISIS beheads Kurdish fighter (story).
• August 29: Kurdish fighters recapture 7 villages in North Iraq (story).
• August 27: Syriac Patriarch calls Islamic State actions 'attempted genocide' (story).
• August 27: Iraqi Christians weigh taking up arms against the Islamic State (story).
• August 26: UN Commission urges UN peacekeeping force for Nineveh Plain in North Iraq (story).
• August 25: U.N. human rights chief condemns Islamic State crimes in Iraq (story).
• August 25: Kurds advance on ISIS in Iraq (story).
• August 25: ISIS abduct 3 year-old Assyrian girl from fleeing family; 3 starve to death (story).
• August 22: Iraq voids real estate sales in ISIS controlled areas (story).
• August 21: ISIS loots Assyrian homes, vandalizes churches in Mosul (story).
• August 20: Helicopters drop leaflets over Mosul urging residents to fight ISIS (story).
• August 20: Five Middle Eastern Patriarchs visit North Iraq in Solidarity with Christians (story).
• August 20: Pictures show aftermath of ISIS looting, plundering Assyrian town (story).
•August 20: ISIS halt Iraqi offensive to recapture Saddam's home town (story).
•August 19: UN launches new aid effort in north Iraq; Mosul dam recaptured (story).
•August 18: ISIS forcefully circumcises Assyrian Christian men in Mosul, sells 700 Yazidi women (story).
•August 18: ISIS kills more than 200 Yazidi men in the village of Kojo (story).
•August 17: Kurdish militants train hundreds of Yazidis to fight ISIS (story).
•August 17: Kurdish forces capture Telsqof, advance towards Mosul Dam (story).
•August 14: ISIS orders all former Assyrian church guards to surrender their weapons (story).
•August 13: ISIS forces child patients at the cancer hospital in Mosul to hold ISIS flags and then photographed them for propaganda purposes. ISIS completely loots and plunders all homes in the the Assyrian Christian towns of Telsqof and Bashiqa. 100,000 Yazidi refugees are now in the town of Khanak without food, water or shelter (story).
•August 11: ISIS orders all families in Mosul to obtain approval before burying their dead. ISIS provides gasoline to Assyrians in Nineveh Plain to facilitate their departure. ISIS continues kidnapping women, with female ISIS members helping (story). Iraqi general says 70% of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar are dead (story).
•August 9: ISIS forces all women in Mosul to wear the veil, including the full head cover. ISIS establishes black markets for goods to raise funds. (story).
•August 8: Iraqi Parliament passes resolution accusing ISIS of genocide (story).
•August 8: ISIS captures Baghdede Bartella and Karamlis and moves north into the Nineveh Plain, causing 200,000 Assyrians to flee their towns and villages (story).
•August 7: Assyrian Patriarch Pleads to the United Nations on Crisis in Iraq (story).
•August 6: Kurds and ISIS clash outside Baghdede; ISIS begins using Yazidis as human shields; All the Assyrians from the villages of Bartella, Bashiqa, Bahzany, Tel Kepe, Batnaya and Telsqof flee (story).
•August 5: ISIS shells assyrian town, 1 killed; Yazidis in desperate state (story).
•August 4: Leader of Iraq's Yazidis issues distress call, appeals for help against ISIS (story).
•August 4: Assyrians flee as ISIS approaches Assyrian villages in the Nineveh Plain (story).
•August 2: ISIS Captures Yazidi towns, kills 2,000 Yazidis, causes 200,000 to flee (story).
•August 2: ISIS loots 8 million dollars from Assyrian farms (story).
•July 29: ISIS destroys or occupies all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul (story).
•July 25: ISIS destroys the tomb of the Prophet Jonah (story).
•July 22: ISIS and Kurds clash near Assyrian town, 2000 Assyrian families driven from Mosul (story).
•July 19: ISIS plunders Assyrians as they Flee Mosul; families march 42 miles (story).
•July 18: ISIS in Mosul marks Christian homes with the Arabic letter "N" (for the word Nasrani, which means Christian) (story).
•July 17: ISIS issues statement ordering Christians to convert or die (story).
•July 15: ISIS Stops Rations for Christians and Shiites in Mosul (story).
•July 10: ISIS bars women from walking the streets unless accompanied by a male. Nearly all barber shops and womens' salons are closed (story).
•July 8: ISIS Removes Cross From Church in Mosul (story).
•July 3: ISIS seizes the house of the Chaldean Patriarchate and the house of Dr. Tobia, a member of Hammurabi Human Rights Organization and an Advisor to the Governor of Nineveh on Minority Affairs and General Coordinator with International Organizations (story).
•June 28: ISIS kidnaps two nuns and three Assyrian orphans. They are eventually released (story).
•ISIS begins confiscating the homes of Christians and non-Sunni Muslims. ISIS rounds up many of the security agency members of the police and army in Sabrine Mosque and asks them to declare "repentance" and surrender their weapons and other military equipment. After doing so, all of the prisoners are tried and sentenced according to Sharia law and executed. ISIS has prevented delivery of government food rations to Tel Kepe and other areas not under their control (story).
•June 26: Kurds Clash With ISIS Near Assyrian Town East of Mosul, forcing nearly 50,000 Assyrians to flee (story).
•June 25: ISIS limits water from the plants in Mosul to one hour per day. Residents in surrounding areas are forced to dig wells (story).
•June 23: ISIS Rape Christian Mother and Daughter, Kill 4 Christian Women for Not Wearing Veil (story).
•June 21: ISIS begins imposing a poll tax (jizya) on Assyrians in Mosul (story), orders unmarried women to 'Jihad by sex' (story), destroys the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Church of the Highest in the neighborhood of AlShafa in Mosul, as well as the statue of Mullah Osman Al-Musali. Shiite Turkmen in the villages of AlKibba and Shraikhan flee after receiving threats from ISIS. ISIS arrests 25 village elders and young men who are Turkmen in the village of AlShamsiyat; their whereabouts is still unknown. (story) ISIS orders Christian, Yazidis and Shiite government employees not to report for work in Mosul (story).
•June 19: ISIS destroys statue of the famous Arab poet Abu Tammam (story).
•June 18: ISIS Cuts Off Water, Electricity, Destroys Churches (story).
•June 15: Kurds attempt to remove an Assyrian council leader in Alqosh and replace him with a Kurd (story).
•June 14: Assyrian, Yezidi and Shabak Villages come under Kurdish Control (story).
•June 12: ISIS issues Islamic rules for Mosul (story).
•June 10: ISIS captures Mosul, occupies the Assyrian village of Qaraqosh, enters the St. Behnam Monastery (story).
© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

The World's First Christian Imams
by Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
September 19, 2014
It is more than relieving that we have a prime minister [in Turkey] who thinks he can end the half-century-long dispute over Cyprus just by having a spot of tea with his Greek counterpart on both sides of the divided island. Why did the whole world not think of this before?
Does Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also think that he can snatch the 49 Turkish hostages from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by having a cup of "mırra" with the jihadist leaders in Raqqa and a cup of Turkish coffee in Ankara? He does not, this columnist hopes. We journalists may criticize Mr. Davutoğlu, but we always want him alive and in good health.
Turkish optimism often comes in two flavors: mere naivety and a version that aims at propaganda/pretension/pragmatism. When politics is involved, it's often the latter. No matter how newspaper headlines or commentaries may try hard to play the 21st century reincarnation of Goebbels, Turkish optimism often conflicts with "real news" and makes amusing pages.
Just a month after a pro-government columnist portrayed three leading Turkish universities (including, proudly, mine) as "willing agents of other cultures" and argued that they should be "destroyed," the prestigious Quacquarelli Symonds listed the exact same three universities among the world's top 500.
But that was hardly good news for a country whose leaders boast that it is the world's 17th biggest economy and Europe's fastest growing. But that's just three universities in the world's top 500.
To borrow, once again, Shelby Foote's line with a minor revision, "A Turkish university, these days, is a group of buildings around a library and a small mosque."
The other optimist of the week was Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, whose remarks that "Turkey is working on a three-stage action plan to accelerate its accession process with the EU" conflicted – amusingly – with another piece of news that told readers that the European Court of Human Rights had concluded that the Turkish education system was "still inadequately equipped to ensure respect for parents' convictions" and violated the "right to education."
The court ruled: "Turkey has to remedy the situation without delay, in particular by introducing a system whereby pupils could be exempted from religion and ethics classes without their parents having to disclose their own religious or philosophical convictions."
Mr. Davutoğlu's response to the ruling was: "Even an atheist should have religious knowledge." Right? Right. What about forcing Muslims pupils to attend classes that teach the virtues of atheism? Does Mr. Davutoğlu think even Muslims should have knowledge on atheism? If not, why this asymmetry? Well, we all know. In 2001, Turkey had 71,000 students enrolled in religious imam schools. Now, there are 670,000.
Such de facto abuses are perfectly normal in a country where the entire education system is based on Islamic indoctrination – or on the idea of "raising devout generations," in the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was not a coincidence that Education Minister Nabi Avcı recently admitted that a total of 45 students who had taken the transition exam from primary to secondary school were "mistakenly" enrolled at the imam schools – although they had not chosen these schools.
Apparently Turkish computers used in the ministry's automation system have become Islamist devices. More amusingly, the 45 students who the ministry decided to make Turkey's future leaders by enrolling them at imam schools against their (parents') will included a few from Turkey's tiny Christian minority. Had the families not objected, Turkey would be the first country in the world to have recruited Christian imams!
Sadly, the Islamist indoctrination, despite all systematic government efforts, does not seem to be working. Last year, a report, released by the British Council's Education Intelligence research service, found that 95 percent of Turkish students would like to study at universities overseas. Apparently, younger Turks are not impressed by more than 175 groups of buildings around a library and a small mosque in their country.
The Turkish youth's preferred destinations to study do not match with Mr. Erdoğan's Islamic ideals either. The survey found that 80 percent of all Turkish students dream of having a university education in overwhelmingly Christian countries.
Funny, Turks force their students into imam schools and graduates wish to study in Christian countries.
**Burak Bekdil is a columnist for the Ankara-based daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The secret of Islamic State’s success
09/21/2014 21:44On Thursday, The US Senate voted in favor of President Barack Obama’s proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels to combat Islamic State. Combined with a lot of talk about creating an international coalition to fight this group of barbarians – and a lack of willingness to put American boots on the ground – this is part of Obama’s touted “leading from behind” Middle East policy.
Like every other move Obama has made since taking office, this one will fail to achieve its stated objective, and in the process strengthen one set of anti-Western forces or another. Furthermore, even if US and European troops did enter Syria, they would be hard pressed to distinguish friend from foe. This confusion presents a problem when striking from the air, as well.
This is the bad news.
The worse news is that IS is not only gaining huge swaths of territory (at this point larger than Great Britain), but has billions of dollars at its disposal. In addition, it runs a disciplined network inside and out of its territory in Iraq and Syria. It also employs Western methods to spread its message in a sophisticated way.
Take its latest video, released on Thursday. Called “Lend me Your Ears,” this clip shows British journalist John Cantlie (captured along with American reporter James Foley in Syria in November, 2012) making the case for IS and denouncing American-led military intervention in the Middle East.
Unlike the previous three pieces of YouTube “porn” produced by IS – the graphic beheadings of Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines by so-called Jihadi John – this broadcast has an intentionally different flavor.
Here Cantlie is filmed in a professional studio. His captors are neither seen nor heard. And though he acknowledges that he is being held against his will, he claims that his words are his own.
“Now, I know what you’re thinking,” he says, appearing like a newscaster, except for his attire, the same orange outfit worn by Foley, Sotloff and Haines. “You’re thinking, ‘He’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner.
He’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this.’ Right? Well, it’s true. I am a prisoner, that I cannot deny. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State, I have nothing to lose.”
What is clear from this clip, which Cantlie says is the first in a series to be aired in the near future, is that his captors had reached the conclusion that it would be wiser for them at this moment to exhibit a bit less brutality. Though their previous bloody displays went viral on the Internet, due to the widespread voyeurism in the West that makes Reality TV so popular, they understood that it wouldn’t be in their best interest to go too far. Americans and Europeans may have a perverse need to see what a severed head looks like; but they tend to respond by wanting to kill the savages capable of cutting it off.
The idea to have Cantlie appeal to the anti-war sensibilities of Western liberals is therefore a clever one, even if it doesn’t have the full desired effect.
But IS need not grow discouraged.
What has proved incredibly successful is its campaign to recruit Western-born Muslims to its ranks. Every day, new data emerges about young men and women from all over the world who are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join IS. Many of these then return to their countries of origin to spread its ideology and engage in violent tactics on behalf of the budding Islamic caliphate.
THE MOST recent example is Australia, where police announced on Thursday that they had uncovered a network of IS activists plotting to kill Prime Minister Tony Abbott and carry out random beheadings of Australian citizens.
Rather than serving as a deterrent, the arrests of terrorists in Sydney and Brisbane are likely to have as seductive a pull to Muslims born and raised in democratic societies as the gruesome videos. Like oppressive cults that draw educated people to forfeit their free will in exchange for some absolute “truth,” and the illusion of being loved for their undying loyalty and submission, IS has found the perfect formula for its purposes. Indeed, it has no qualms about enlisting foot soldiers to uphold the values of its state. That these happen to be connected to the strict adherence to the word of the Koran is of no concern to members of the Obama administration rushing to dissociate the phenomenon from Islam. They are too busy treating the American flag as an affront, rather than a positive symbol of “allegiance... to the United States of America, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
It is this error of multiculturalism and denial of human nature that will lead to the cropping up of black IS flags across the US. By themselves, no international air strikes, certainly not when assisted on the ground by other Islamic groups who hate the West, will be able to stave off the inevitable.
**The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’