LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Trials
James 01/01-18: " Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 24 and 25/14
Erdoğan's Flying Carpet Unravels/By David P. Goldman/Asia Times/September 25/14
Address by Canada's FM, John Baird at the Global Counterterrorism Forum Ministerial Meeting/September 25/14
Yemen: Treason or War/By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 25/14
Yemen: An Inside Job/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 25/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 24 and 25/14
Geagea to Nasrallah: Would You Have Opposed U.S. Strikes against IS Had Iran Been Part of Coalition?
Arsal Captives' Families Block Roads, Say Willing to Risk Their Lives in New Protests
Berri Says Wage Scale 'Key' to Holding Parliamentary Sessions
Sources: Egypt Ready to Train Lebanese Army in Battle against Terrorists
UK boosts Lebanon education system
Judiciary decided to treat militants in Beirut
Nasrallah: Lebanon must not join U.S-led coalition
Bank Audi increases capital by $300M
Future MP slams Nasrallah over negotiation remarks
Frangieh: Coalition strike on ISIS coordinated with Syria
Interpol flags Asala over alleged terror support
UK boosts Lebanon education system
VAT hike part of Preliminary formula to resolve public sector salaries
Gunmen Fire at Army Checkpoint in Tripoli, Troops Respond
Lebanon Confiscates Asala Nasri's Passport over Syrian Arrest Warrant
Police Thwart Migrant Smuggling Attempt in Northern Lebanon
Passenger Van Attacked in Akkar, One Wounded
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 24 and 25/14
Security Council Adopts Resolution on Stopping
Jihadists Flow to Syria, Iraq
USA Attorney General Eric Holder: Al-Qaida offshoot hit by airstrikes was close to attack on U.S., allies
Source: US told Iran it would strike in Syria, vowed not to hit Assad's forces
France to continue raids until Iraq has upper hand
Air strikes in Syria hit Islamic State at Iraqi border
UN chief urges hope in world seeming to fall apart
Syrian minister: US-led strikes going in 'right direction'
Britain, Belgium and Netherlands to debate joining airstrikes on Iraq
Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law sentenced to life in US prison
Obama Urges World to Fight IS 'Network of Death'
Kurdish Militants Cast Doubt on Truce with Turkey
U.S. conducts five more airstrikes in Syria, Iraq against
Nusra Front evacuates bases in northwest Syria
Yemen cuts fuel prices under deal between Shiite rebels, government
brands Houthi takeover of Sana’a as “foreign plot”
Vatican prepares for landmark sex abuse trial of ex-envoy
EU plans for Iran gas imports if sanctions go
US slams 'harsh' China life sentence for Uighur scholar
Vatican prepares for landmark sex abuse trial of ex-envoy
Iraqi prime minister shakes up military high-command
Opinion: United States attack in Syria parallels Israel’s in Gaza
Fatah, Hamas meet in Cairo amid rift clouding future of Gaza truce
IS-linked Jihadists Claim Beheading of Frenchman Captured in Algeria
Canada Deplores Destruction of Armenian Church and Genocide Memorial by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Security Council Adopts Resolution on Stopping Jihadists
Flow to Syria, Iraq
Naharnet /U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday led the U.N. Security Council in unanimously approving a binding resolution on stemming the flow of foreign jihadists to Iraq and Syria. The resolution requires all countries to adopt laws that would make it a serious crime for their nationals to join jihadist groups such as Islamic State and al-Nusra Front. Obama described the resolution as "historic" at the special session of the Council, only the sixth time in U.N. history that the council was convening at the level of heads of state.
The U.S. president opened the session by voicing solidarity with France after one of its citizens was kidnapped and beheaded by jihadists in Algeria linked to the Islamic State group. "We stand with you and the French people as you grieve this terrible loss and as you stand up against terror in defense of liberty," Obama said, turning his gaze towards French President Francois Hollande. The resolution states that "nations must prevent the movement of terrorist or terrorist groups through their territory and ensure that domestic laws allow for prosecution of those who attempt to do so," he said. About 15,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries have joined the ranks of jihadists in Syria, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. The call for action to stem the flow of foreign fighters is fueled by fears that new terror networks will emerge from the Syria-Iraq front, much in the same way that the September 11, 2001 attacks were linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. The resolution falls under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which means the measures could be enforced by economic sanctions or military force. Obama appealed to countries to join the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State during an address a few hours earlier to the U.N. General Assembly. Agence France Presse.
Canada Deplores Destruction of Armenian Church and Genocide
Memorial by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
September 24, 2014 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:
“Canada deplores ISIL’s destruction of the Armenian Holy Martyrs church in Dayr az-Za, Syria, and the adjacent Museum of the Holy Martyrs, a memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide that housed the remains of many of those killed in 1915. “The deliberate and barbarous destruction of another holy site again reveals the true nature of ISIL and its agenda, which is driven by hate and intolerance. ISIL’s actions continue to demonstrate a gross contempt for human dignity and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion.
“ISIL attacks are indiscriminate, targeting Christians, Yazidis, Shia and Sunni Muslims and their places of worship.
“Canada continues to condemn this terrorist group, which has distorted and warped the message of Islam and murdered thousands of innocents.”
Arsal Captives' Families Block Roads, Say Willing to Risk Their Lives in New
Naharnet/The families of the soldiers and policemen taken captive by militants in the northeastern border town of Arsal blocked on Wednesday several roads to pressure the authorities on meeting the demands of the abductors. The Dahr al-Baidar and Maaser al-Shouf roads that link Beirut and Mount Lebanon with the eastern Bekaa valley were blocked. The Tarshish-Zahle road was also closed for a short time. The families gathered in the area joined the protesters at the Falougha junction of the Dahr al-Baidar road.
They pledged not to allow vehicles to cross to the other side unless Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who is currently in New York, confirms that the captives will be released. "The Dahr al-Baidar road is still blocked and the protests are expected to escalate. There might be a move towards Adliyeh (Justice Palace) or Roumieh (prison) tomorrow, but nothing is final," MTV reported in the afternoon. "Since the state has not given us any attention despite all our escalation, we have decided to continue blocking the Dahr al-Baidar road and we might step up our acts in a manner that could jeopardize our lives," the families in Dahr al-Baidar warned in a joint statement. "We hold the officials responsible due to their slow response," they said. Asked whether they would meet the captors in Arsal's outskirts like the wife of one of the soldiers did, a spokesman for the families said "the wife of the soldier Ali al-Bazzal was more honorable than the state in her move." "We might head to the government's headquarters, Roumieh or Arsal, and everything is possible," he noted.
"We will reopen the roads when our sons are released and we have nothing to lose from now on," the man cautioned. The soldiers and policemen were kidnapped when jihadists from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran Arsal last month. They killed three of them and vowed to execute more captives if the authorities failed to meet their demands, which are so far unclear. A Qatar envoy, a Syrian national who has not been identified, has so far failed to arrive in Beirut, a sign that the negotiations with the captors are not making any progress. But Salam hopes he would convince Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during talks in New York to play a bigger role in freeing the captives. “Lebanon will not yield to extortion,” Salam said Tuesday. He reiterated that the Lebanese government had conditioned at the start of the negotiations to receive pledges from the jihadists that they would not kill more soldiers.
Geagea to Nasrallah: Would You Have Opposed U.S. Strikes against IS Had Iran Been Part of Coalition?
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea questioned on Wednesday Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's opposition to the United States-led strikes against jihadist Islamic State positions in the region. He asked Nasrallah: “Would you have maintained your initial rejection of the international coalition against the IS had Iran been part of it?” “We know that Iran wanted to be part of the coalition, but complications in the negotiations over its nuclear program hindered it,” he added after holding talks with National Liberal Party leader Dory Shamoun. “We know that the U.S. is seeking its interests, but what if Lebanon and the U.S. have common interests? Would you still oppose the strikes?” Geagea wondered. “If Islamists staged a new attack against the army in the northeastern town of Arsal, shouldn't the army request the international coalition for aerial help?” he asked. “Wouldn't the failure to request for this assistance be considered as a form of complicity with the Islamists?” continued the LF chief. Moreover, he addressed Nasrallah's remark that Lebanon would be faced with dangers should it join the international coalition, asking: “Doesn't the intervention in the fighting in Syria pose a threat to Lebanon?” “Shouldn't you have ordered your MPs to head to parliament and elect a new president had you really wanted to build a strong state?” he said. He then turned to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and his bloc's ongoing boycott of the presidential elections, asking: “What are you waiting for? Why are you continuing the boycott?”
“We could have joined your boycott had you given us a single convincing reason,” he stressed. “We see no legitimate excuse to maintain the boycott as Lebanon drowns deeper and deeper in chaos, negligence, irresponsibility, and darkness,” Geagea added.
Nasrallah had said during a speech on Tuesday: “We are against American military intervention and against the international coalition, whether the target is the (Syrian) regime or the IS.” “We are against the coalition because America is the mother and source of terrorism and because it is the ultimate supporter of Zionist state terrorism,” he added. Nasrallah noted that U.S. President Barack Obama himself has announced that the coalition is aimed at “defending American interests.” “This is not our business. All peoples in the region have the right to question America's motives,” he added. The secretary general also pointed out that it is not in Lebanon's interest to be in the U.S.-led international coalition, “not in line with the dissociation policy but because that poses threats to Lebanon.”
“Lebanon can fight terror and it has succeeded in doing so through the army, security forces and perseverance,” Nasrallah said. The U.S.-led coalition had started carrying out strikes against the IS and against al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria on Tuesday morning.
Berri Says Wage Scale 'Key' to Holding Parliamentary Sessions
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri revealed that rival MPs had made progress in agreeing on the public sector wage scale, which he described as the “key” to holding legislative sessions. Berri spoke to his visitors about the efforts exerted by his aide Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan to approve the raise. There has been an initial agreement to raise the Value Added Tax by 1 percent and make the payment in installments over the span of two years. Berri said the controversial raise is “the key to holding parliamentary sessions.”The MPs have been unable to agree on the wage scale over their differences on ways to fund it. News about the activation of the National Assembly's role began appearing last week after Adwan led political efforts to hold legislative sessions on important issues. The March 14 alliance's MPs in addition to the March 8's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting the sessions, claiming that parliament should not legislate in the absence of a president. Berri denied that the failure to elect a head of state was the result of foreign intervention. “The main obstacle to the election of a president is Lebanese. But I am afraid that it now needs foreign intervention,” he told his visitors. Baabda Palace has been vacant since May 25 when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended over the failure of the rival MPs to agree on a compromise candidate. Berri told MPs on Wednesday that the extension of parliament's term is not linked to the legislative session. He reiterated his call on holding the parliamentary elections rather than extending the legislature's term for the second time.
Obama Urges Iran to Seize 'Historic Opportunity' of Nuclear Deal
Naharnet/U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Iran to seize the "historic opportunity" of reaching a deal with world powers on its contested nuclear program in a speech at the United Nations. "America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as part of our commitment to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them," he told the General Assembly. "This can only happen if Iran takes this historic opportunity," Obama added. "My message to Iran's leaders and people is simple: do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful." Western powers fear that Tehran is using its nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions. Talks between Iran and six powers, known as the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- are currently at a critical juncture.The negotiations have only two months left to overcome hurdles in the way of a deal on curbing Tehran's nuclear program. Agence France Presse
decided to treat militants in Beirut hospital
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Six militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS, who were wounded in clashes with the Army in Arsal, have been treated at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut after a judicial ruling, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said. “The decision to transfer the gunmen to Hariri Hospital was a decision taken by the judiciary,” Abu Faour said during a press conference at the hospital. “Employees should abide by the rules of discretion governing medical practice, no matter who the patients are,” Abu Faour added. The patients were involved in the five days of intensive clashes between militants and the Lebanese Army in the northeastern town of Arsal last month, and were reported to have suffered from "critical wounds."Militants from Nusra and ISIS are still holding at least 21 soldiers and policemen hostage, after taking them captive while retreating from Arsal last month.
Coalition strike on ISIS coordinated with Syria
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on jihadists in Syria were coordinated with Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh. “The strikes were coordinated with the Syrian regime,” Frangieh said in an interview with Reuters Wednesday. “Talk about direct or indirect coordination doesn’t matter. Most important is that coordination did take place with the Syrian regime,” he said. Frangieh said Syria was not alone in facing danger. “The danger has been removed from Syria and has spread to the entire region,” he said. “They did everything they could against the Syrian state and failed,” Frangieh said, speaking about the Western powers. He said Syria was one of the countries most immune from terrorist threats.
Future MP slams
Nasrallah over negotiation remarks
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Future MP Jamal Jarrah has criticized Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Wednesday for backing government negotiations with Islamist hostage takers after claims that Hezbollah had attempted to kill the jihadists. “I didn’t get what Sayyed Nasrallah meant by negotiating with the kidnappers, particularly after targeting them with a rocket in an attempt to kill them,” Jarrah told a local radio station. Jarrah also expressed his dismay at failure of the Lebanese authorities to clarify Tuesday’s incident. The Nusra Front said a rocket crashed into the location used by the Islamist group as a detention center where the captured Lebanese servicemen were being held. It did not say where the attack took place. A source acquainted with the militants confirmed the nighttime attack, but said the hostages were fine. A military source, speaking to the local newspaper Al-Mustaqbal, dismissed reports the Lebanese Army had shelled the location. In a speech late Tuesday, Nasrallah said the government should negotiate with Islamist militants holding at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage from a position of strength, warning that negotiating from a weak position would lead to a catastrophe. He rejected accusations that Hezbollah opposed negotiations with the militants to secure the release of the hostages. Nasrallah also called on rival factions to keep the hostage ordeal away from their political bickering and rivalry, adding that the kidnappers were playing with Lebanon’s fate in view of the confusion within the government over how to approach the hostage crisis.
Lebanon education system
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The UK announced Wednesday the allocation of additional funds to support the Lebanese education system and increase access to education for Syrian refugee children, as part of a £100 million assistance scheme aimed at Syria and neighboring countries. The announcement made by British International Development Secretary Justine Greening at the U.N. General Assembly in New York allocated £30 million to Lebanon, a British embassy statement said. “The education funding for Lebanon includes new support for the Lebanese government’s ‘Reaching All Children with Education' and contributes to NGOs supporting non-formal education for refugees in Lebanon who are not able to attend school,” the statement said. The statement quoted Greening as telling world leaders that the international community “must make a major investment in the next generation of Syrians to provide them with better opportunities and a viable alternative to extremism.” The new funding raised the total of UK assistance to Syria to £700 million, described as the largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.
VAT hike part of Preliminary formula to resolve public sector salaries
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Signs of a breakthrough emerged Tuesday regarding the problematic issue of the public sector finances after Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil held five-hour marathon talks on the wage hike with Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, a parliamentary source said. Speaking to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, the source said that based on a formula agreed upon by the two officials, the wage hike would be paid in installments over two years depending on the capabilities of the Finance Ministry.
The raise would be financed by a 1 percentage point increase in VAT and there would be no retroactive payments. The source said Adwan was also negotiating on behalf of the Future Movement, adding that he was showing flexibility. The source said Wednesday would be decisive, as Khalil would relay to Adwan the final stance of the March 8 coalition on the preliminary deal. In the event the group’s position is positive, Parliament’s secretariat will meet next week to set an agenda for a legislative session expected to convene during the same week. The visitors of Speaker Nabih Berri quoted him as saying he expected Union Coordination Committee to accept the solution reached during the Khalil and Adwan deliberations. “This is because the burden of the wage hike falls on all the Lebanese and not only on those whom the Union Coordination Committee represents,” Berri was quoted as saying. The UCC has spearheaded demands for the salary raise over the past three years. Berri said all efforts were now concentrated on endorsing the salary raise because this was the key to resuming legislative sessions. The speaker also noted that there were no disagreements between political parties over other draft laws.
Lebanon must not join U.S. anti-terror coalition
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanon should not be part of the U.S.-led international coalition fighting terrorism because “America is the mother of terrorism,” the leader of Hezbollah said in a televised speech Tuesday night.
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah also said his group opposed U.S. military intervention in Syria, including airstrikes on ISIS targets. Declaring that Lebanon was capable to confront terrorism alone, he said the government should negotiate with Islamist militants holding at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage from a position of strength, warning that negotiating from a weak position would lead to a catastrophe. “We are against Lebanon’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition. The U.S. isn’t qualified morally to lead an anti-terrorism coalition,” Nasrallah said in the speech aired on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station. “In our view, America is the mother of terrorism and the cause of terrorism in this world. It is the absolute supporter of the Zionist state of terrorism.”
He added that America had created or helped create terrorist groups which the global coalition was now seeking to fight in Iraq and Syria. “We reject that Lebanon be part of the international coalition. It is not in Lebanon’s interest to be part of this coalition. There are risks for Lebanon if it joins this coalition,” Nasrallah said. “Everyone knows that Hezbollah is against ISIS and takfiri groups and is fighting them. The groups that kill and slaughter pose a threat to all the peoples of this region,” he said. “However, that doesn’t mean we support U.S. military intervention in the region. Hezbollah is against any U.S.-led international coalition that uses terrorism as an excuse for a military intervention in Syria and Iraq.”
“We are against American military intervention and an international coalition in Syria, whether that [action] is against the Syrian regime or Daesh,” Nasrallah said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“Under the false pretext of fighting terrorism the U.S. seeks to take control of the region,” he said. Nasrallah’s speech came hours after the United States and its Arab allies bombed Syria for the first time, killing scores of ISIS fighters and members of a separate Al-Qaeda-linked group, opening a new front against militants by joining Syria’s three-year-old civil war. The formation of the global coalition to fight ISIS militants who have seized large swaths in Iraq and Syria was endorsed during a meeting of the coalition’s foreign ministers in the Saudi city of Jeddah earlier this month. The U.S won backing for the coalition from 10 Arab countries, including Lebanon. Nasrallah argued that some countries in the coalition were still supporting, funding and arming terrorist groups, including ISIS.
He urged the coalition’s member states to stop the financing and arming of “terrorist groups that are targeting Lebanon” and to accelerate the delivery of weapons to the Lebanese Army to help in the battle against terrorism.
Despite deep political differences and polarization between the March 8 and March 14 parties, Nasrallah said Lebanon was strong and capable of confronting terrorist groups. “The Lebanese people, through their Army, are able to defend and protect their country from terrorist threats,” he said. Responding to a statement by Sheikh Sirajuddine Zureiqat, a spokesman of Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, who threatened to come to Beirut in a few days after ISIS captured large swaths in Iraq and Syria, Nasrallah said: “You cannot come to Beirut or any other place because the Lebanese are capable of confronting any terrorist threat. No one can threaten to invade [Beirut]. We will shoulder our responsibility.”
Referring to the thorny issue of Lebanese soldiers and policemen captured by ISIS and Nusra Front militants during last month’s fierce clashes with the Lebanese Army in the northeastern town of Arsal, Nasrallah rejected accusations that Hezbollah opposed negotiations with the militants to secure the release of the hostages. He urged the government to negotiate with the militants through intermediaries from a position of strength. He also called on rival factions to keep the hostage ordeal away from their political bickering and rivalry. Nasrallah said the soldiers’ kidnappers were playing with the country’s fate in view of the confusion within the government over how to approach the hostage crisis. “ Lebanon has been experiencing real humiliation for weeks because of the political performance of several political parties. The continued political one-upmanship will not lead to a solution to this problem,” he said. “For the sake of the Army, the country and the people, we hope that this [hostage] issue be kept away from political one-upmanship and settlement of scores.”
Nasrallah stressed that negotiating from a position of strength would help secure the release of the soldiers and policemen, warning that negotiating from a weak position would lead to a catastrophe. “We call for negotiation from a position of strength. The Lebanese government is aware of the positions of strength it has,” he said. Nusra Front and ISIS militants are still holding at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen. The government has been involved in indirect negotiations with the militant groups through Qatari-sponsored mediation, but has recently announced the suspension of these efforts in response to last week’s execution of Mohammad Maarouf Hammieh by Nusra Front militants and threats to execute more servicemen. Nasrallah confirmed that Hezbollah was open to negotiations with militants over the release of the captives, underlining that the party “has never rejected the principle of negotiations.”Nasrallah condemned the wave of sectarian kidnappings that swept the Bekaa region following the execution of three captive soldiers by ISIS and Nusra Front militants. He warned that the kidnappings served the goals of the militants who were seeking to incite sectarian strife.“Kidnappings serve the goals of the terrorists who aim to spark sectarian strife in in Lebanon. They want to move the battle to Lebanon,” he said.
Asala over alleged terror support
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Prominent Syrian singer-celebrity Assala Nasri has had her Syrian passport revoked Wednesday, after being referred to the prosecutor’s office in Lebanon over accusations leveled by the Syrian government that she was supporting terrorist groups, a judicial source told The Daily Star.The singer, who is scheduled to perform in an upcoming event in Lebanon, was flagged by Interpol after an arrest warrant was issued against her by the Syrian government. Nasri, who is renowned for being a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad, was accused of supporting terrorist organizations. According to the warrant, Nasri must be sent back to Syria to be tried. However, despite the warrant calling for her arrest, the Lebanese prosecutor's office granted her special permission to leave Beirut's International Airport after confiscating her passport. A trial hearing is scheduled for Monday. The decision to deport Nasri rests with the Lebanese prosecutor’s office, the judicial source said. The accusations issued against Nasri must be reviewed by the prosecutor’s office before a decision can be made.
Address by Canada's FM, John Baird at the Global Counterterrorism Forum Ministerial Meeting
September 23, 2014 – New York City, United States
I’d like to begin by thanking Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Çavuolu for the continued efforts of the United States and Turkey in leading this forum.
This week was the one-year anniversary of the attack by Al-Shabaab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Two Canadians were among the victims, including a diplomat based at our High Commission in Kenya.
This act of senseless violence served as just one reminder that we are all vulnerable to terrorist threats, both at home and abroad.
Over the summer we all watched with horror as a human tragedy unfolded in Iraq. ISIL is effectively a terrorist army, and its campaign of terror has been brutal.
We all have an interest in stopping this scourge because it is threatening not just Iraq and its citizens, but freedom-loving people around the world.
I visited Iraq earlier this month to demonstrate visibly that Canada stands with the government and people of Iraq at this challenging time.
Talk and diplomacy during these times are important. But actions speak louder than words.
That’s why Canada is supporting those on the front line against ISIL, with the deployment of advisers and the delivery of equipment.
We are also funding regional efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters.
In the past year, there has been a lot of attention on individuals who have travelled to this and other areas of conflict to participate in terrorism-related activities.
Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan are other common destinations.
Addressing this threat is a global challenge. Indeed, Canada has not escaped this phenomenon.
So it demands effective international cooperation.
That’s why while in Southeast Asia last month, I also committed $1.65 million to support ASEAN efforts to identify and detect foreign fighters.
Canada and its international partners will continue to work together to impede recruitment and fundraising networks, interrupt travel routes and pursue those who seek to radicalize others to violence.
Since its launch three years ago, the GCTF [Global Counterterrorism Forum] has been successful in mobilizing resources to provide counterterrorism capacity building in the most vulnerable areas of the world.
Canada is active in the Countering Violent Extremism [CVE] working group, where we lead a project on “measuring effectiveness”.
Canada is pleased to have co-chaired the Sahel Working Group with Algeria since 2011.
As co-chair, Canada has focused on counterterrorism training and workshops that are action-oriented and outcome-driven.
I would like to personally thank the members of the Forum who have supported these efforts—including the United States, Denmark, France and Switzerland.
And we look forward to the next Sahel Working Group in early 2015.
Another region of focus is Nigeria, where Boko Haram continues to unleash unspeakable violence and terror.
In support of regional efforts to combat these terrorists, Canada has supported several counterterrorism projects in West Africa, including work by Interpol to prevent human smuggling in the region.
We have also trained officials from the Nigerian Police Force and we have formally listing Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.
As I conclude, I’d also like to address an issue that knows no borders: kidnapping.
Kidnapping for ransom is increasingly being used by terrorists to fund their activities.
Canada’s approach to kidnapping respects firm principles: no policy changes, no prisoner exchanges, no immunity from prosecution and no ransom payments.
Canada remains committed to the GCTF’s coordinated, action-oriented and results-based approach to countering terrorism.
Canada will work with Australia and other GCTF members to support efforts to strengthen criminal justice responses to foreign terrorist fighters in the Middle East and North Africa.
And I am pleased to announce today that we will provide $1.5 million to support GCTF-endorsed initiatives to counter violent extremism, including through the U.A.E.-based Hedayah Centre and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.
I believe that terrorism is one of the greatest challenges of our generation.
It is a fierce contest of wills—of freedom versus fear, democracy and dignity against a tyranny that takes form in new ways in every generation.
The international community must unite to destroy this scourge.
And we must defend the principles that have made our nations great, prosperous and free.
Unless we work together, we are all vulnerable to threats, at home and abroad.
Erdoğan's Flying Carpet Unravels
by David P. Goldman/Asia Times
September 23, 2014
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a growing list of enemies. "Among his targets" at a recent address to a Turkish business group "were The New York Times, the Gezi events of 2013, credit rating agencies, the Hizmet movement, the Koc family and high interest rates," Zaman reported September 18. Erdoğan earlier had threatened to expel rating agencies Moody's and Fitch from Turkey if they persisted in making negative comments about Turkey's credit. Turkey's financial position is one of the world's great financial mysteries, in fact, a uniquely opaque puzzle: the country has by far the biggest foreign financing requirement relative to GDP among all the world's large economies, yet the sources of its financing are impossible to trace. I have analyzed sovereign debt risk for three decades - including stints as head of credit strategy at Credit Suisse and head of debt research at Bank of America - and have never seen anything quite like this.
At around 8% of GDP, Turkey's current account deficit is a standout among emerging markets. It is at the level of Greece before its near-bankruptcy in 2011. Where is the money coming from to cover it?
A great deal of it is financed by short-term debt, mainly through borrowings by banks.
Little of this appears on the Bank for International Settlements tables of Western banks' short-term lending to other banks, which means that the source of the bank loans lies elsewhere than in the developed world. Gulf State banks are almost certainly the lenders, by process of elimination.
Recently, as the above chart shows, the rate of growth of bank borrowing has tapered off. What has replaced bank loans?
According to Turkey's central bank, the main source of new financing cannot be identified: It appears on the books of the central bank as "errors and omissions".
Analysts close to Turkey's ruling party claim that the unidentified flows represent a political endorsement from Turkey's friends in the Gulf States. Quoted in Al-Monitor, political scientist Mustafa Sahin boasted: "The secret of how Turkey avoided the 2008 global economic crisis is in these mystery funds. The West suspects that Middle East capital is entering Turkey without records, without being registered. Qatar and other Muslim countries have money in Turkey. These unrecorded funds came to Turkey because of their confidence in Erdoğan and the Muslim features of the AKP and the signs of Turkey restoring its historic missions."
It seems clear from the data that short-term bank lending and mystery inflows have been interchangeable means of covering Turkey's deficit. When the growth of bank lending slowed, errors and omissions rose during the past eight years, and vice versa.
This continuing trade-off suggests that bank lending and mystery inflows have a common origin, presumably in the Gulf States. But it seems unlikely that Qatar is the main source of funds for Turkey, simply because its resources are too small to cover the gap. Qatar shares Turkey's enthusiasm for political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, but there are alternative explanations. Despite its historical dislike for its former Ottoman overlord and strong disagreement about the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia may want to influence Turkey as a Sunni counterweight to Iran's influence in the region.
If mystery attends Turkey's past economic performance, the future is all the cloudier. Erdoğan's power rests on his capacity to deliver jobs. The country's economic performance has depended in turn on extremely rapid credit growth, as I showed in a 2012 analysis for The Middle East Quarterly.
According to Moody's, 80% Turkish corporate loans are denominated in foreign currency, which bears far lower interest rates than local-currency loans, but entails foreign exchange risk: a devaluation of Turkey's currency would increase the debt-service costs of over-levered Turkish borrowers. Credit to Turkey's private sector is still growing at more than 20% year-on-year, down from a peak of 45% in 2010, but remains extremely fast.
Despite the extremely rapid rate of credit growth, Turkey's economy has stalled. Turkey reported 2% annualized growth in real GDP during the second quarter, but a detailed look at the economy shows a far direr picture. Manufacturing and construction are falling while inflation is surging.
New housing permits, meanwhile, are down by almost 40% year-on-year for single-family homes, and negative for all categories of construction (measured by square meter of planned new space).
The biggest contribution to reported GDP growth during the second quarter came from the finance sector. In short, the central bank is counting the banks' contribution to the lending bubble as a contribution to growth. That is absurd, considering that most of the increase in lending to the private sector is to help debtors pay their interest on previous loans. A fairer accounting would show zero growth or even a decline in Turkey's GDP.
Erdoğan's popularity among Turkish voters is not hard to understand: He has levered the Turkish economy to provide jobs, especially in construction, a traditional recourse of Third World populists who want to create jobs for semi-skilled workers.
During the run-up to the 2014 elections, construction employment increased sharply even while employment in other branches of the economy declined.
Judging from the plunge in building permits, though, this source of support for Turkey's economy disappeared during the first half of 2014.
That leaves the mystery investors in Turkey holding an enormous amount of risk in the Turkish currency. Turkey's currency has fallen by half against the US dollar, cheapening the cost of Turkish assets to foreign investors. The Turkish lira nearly collapsed in January, but the country's central bank stopped its decline by raising interest rates. The lira has been slipping again, and the central bank has let rates rise to try to break the fall.
Despite the largesse of the Gulf States, Turkey is locked into a vicious cycle of currency depreciation, higher interest rates, and declining economic activity. Turkish voters stood by Erdoğan in last March's national elections, believing that he was the politician most likely to deliver jobs and growth. But his ability to do so is slipping. If the Turkish lira drops sharply, the cost of debt service to Turkish companies will become prohibitive, while the cost of imports and ensuing inflation will depress Turkish incomes. By some measures Turkey already is in a recession, and it is at risk of economic free-fall. That explains Erdoğan's propensity to shoot the messengers: the rating agencies, the central bank, and even the New York Times. For the past dozen years he has made himself useful enough to his neighbors to stay in business. His magic carpet is unraveling, though, and his triumph in the March elections may turn out to be illusory much sooner than most analysts expect. ***David P Goldman is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.
USA Attorney General Eric Holder: Al-Qaida offshoot hit by airstrikes was close
to attack on U.S., allies
A.G. links Khorasan Group plotting to summertime aviation restrictions
By Katie Couric, Michael Isikoff, and Olivier Knox | Yahoo News /24/09/14
Attorney General Eric Holder revealed Tuesday that President Barack Obama ordered American airstrikes against the Khorasan Group in Syria because the shadowy al-Qaida offshoot was close to launching attacks on the United States or its allies. The group's plotting led to a tightening of air travel restrictions this past summer, Holder said.
While most Americans had never heard of that band of Islamist extremists prior to the sustained overnight bombing campaign, “this is a group that has been known to us for two years,” Holder told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric.
“We hit them last night out of a concern that they were getting close to an execution date of some of the plans that we have seen,” he said. “And the hitting that we did last night, I think, will probably continue until we are at a stage where we think we have degraded their ability to get at our allies or to the homeland.” U.S. officials told Yahoo News that the Khorasan terror plot involved American and European aircraft. Holder did not confirm that but linked the group directly to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s decision in early July to forbid uncharged cellphones, laptops, and other electronic devices on some U.S.-bound flights originating overseas. "I can say that the enhanced security measures that we took [in] the aviation sector some months ago," Holder told Couric, "[were] based on concerns we had about what the Khorasan Group was planning to do." The Khorasan Group comprises “seasoned” or “veteran” al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, according to U.S. officials. It is thought to be led by a man so close to Osama bin Laden that he was told about the terrorist strikes of Sept. 11, 2001, before they happened. Members of the group converged on Syria, forged links with militant rebel groups, and worked to enlist Westerners, including Americans, for “external operations” — attacks made possible by the new recruits’ European or U.S. passports. Its members were “constructing and testing improvised explosive devices,” one official said. “We were monitoring active plotting that posed an imminent threat to the U.S. and potentially our allies,” one senior official told reporters at a background briefing. “That was the united view of our intelligence community.” “It was a threefold perfect storm,” added one U.S. counterterrorism official, describing the intelligence that prompted Obama to order the airstrikes that pounded Khorasan Group facilities in Syria overnight. U.S. officials had picked up intelligence that the plot to attack Western aircraft had reached advanced stages and “there were timetables on it,” one official told Yahoo News.
It was this intelligence that led to Monday night’s strike — using Tomahawk missiles and precision bombs — on Khorasan training camps, munitions facilities, and command and control centers west of Aleppo. The strikes also targeted Khorasan’s leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, a 5-foot-5 Kuwaiti-born militant who formerly led al-Qaida in Iran. But while U.S. officials told reporters that the strikes had been effective in hitting their targets, they could not confirm whether they had gotten al-Fadhli. U.S. officials have offered a $7 million reward for any information that led to his capture. The comments today about a possibly imminent attack by Khorasan were especially striking since they appeared to contradict repeated assurances from senior U.S. government officials in recent weeks denying there was any specific or credible information about any plots against the U.S. homeland.
Until last week, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper first referred to Khorasan as a “potential” threat, there had been few public references to it. Obama had never said the group’s name in public before his brief remarks Tuesday about the overnight U.S.-led onslaught against Islamic State targets in Syria. “We also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al-Qaida operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan Group,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House. “And once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”
U.S. officials told Yahoo News that they first picked up intelligence two years ago about Khorasan Group operatives moving into Syria and forging links with the al-Nusra Front, another Syrian rebel group that was aligned with al-Qaida. As first reported by Yahoo News, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen alluded to the group — but not by name — last July when he told the Aspen Security Forum that veteran al-Qaida operatives had moved into Syria for the purpose of taking advantage of the country’s civil war to mount attacks against the U.S. “In some cases this is essentially the same cast of characters that we’ve had our eye on for many years. These are known operatives to us rather than a new group appearing out of whole cloth,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call arranged by the White House. The United States had been contemplating striking the extremist cell “separate and apart from the growing threat from ISIL,” as the militant group Islamic State is also known, the official said. “Clearly the fact of the United States launching a military action in Syria provided an opportunity to take that action.” A senior U.S. official also confirmed to Yahoo News Tuesday that there were “communications” between the Khorasan operatives and members in Yemen of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group that has most alarmed U.S. officials because of its advanced bomb-making capabilities. Al-Fadhli was first designated as a global terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2005. At the time, U.S. officials linked him to terror plots dating back to October 2002 involving attacks to blow up the French ship MV Limburg against U.S. Marines based on Failaka Island in Kuwait. But he was also described as a key terrorist financier, providing financial and material support to both al-Qaida and the network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the original leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, the group that has since morphed into the Islamic State. Al-Fadhli was again designated by the Treasury Department in December 2012. This time, officials described him as a top member of al-Qaida’s network operating in Iran, helping to facilitate the flow of fighters and money through that country. Although al-Fadhli was at one point arrested by the Iranians, he was later released. In one of the early hints of his involvement in the Syria conflict, Treasury officials said then that his network was “working to move fighters and money through Turkey to support” al-Qaida elements in Syria. He also was “leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.” Amid concern in Washington that the group could recruit Americans, Holder told Yahoo News that the United States and its allies would soon unveil a new approach to tagging potential terrorist threats among citizens returning home after fighting alongside jihadis overseas. ”It will be focused on people who have terrorist connections and come up with new ways in which information is shared between INTERPOL members that, frankly, don’t exist now,” he said. “We have red notices that we use for people who are charged with crimes. But we’re gonna come up with a new kind of notice that deals with people who are suspected of engaging in terrorist activities.”
evacuates bases in northwest Syria
Reuters/BEIRUT: Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, has evacuated its bases in populated areas of the Idlib region in northwest Syria after U.S.-led forces carried out air strikes on the group, its fighters said on Wednesday. Another Syrian Islamist group, Ahrar al-Sham, has also ordered its followers to evacuate bases, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group. "Heavy weapons have been moved out of the bases. We do not want civilians to be harmed because of us," one Nusra fighter said in an online message posted on the Internet. The Observatory also reported the Nusra withdrawal. At least 50 fighters from the Nusra Front and eight civilians were killed in strikes by a U.S.-led coalition in Syria on Tuesday, the Observatory said. The U.S. military said it had launched strikes on al Qaeda veterans it referred to as the "Khorasan group". Militants in Syria said the term was not widely used but may refer to fighters who came to Syria and joined the Nusra Front after fighting in Afghanistan. The other Islamist group evacuating its bases, Ahrar al-Sham, is part of the Islamic Front alliance that has been in armed conflict with ISIS militants, who have been the main targets of the U.S.-led air strikes. The Observatory quoted a statement from Ahrar al-Sham as ordering followers to "evacuate bases, workshops and camps" except for what was needed to protect them. The group also ordered followers to remove satellite and wireless communications devices from bases and refrain from using them unless "absolutely necessary", the Observatory said. The statement called for heavy weapons to be hidden and warned civilians to stay away from the group's bases, the Observatory said. This month an explosion killed the leader of Ahrar al-Sham and at least 28 of its commanders. On Wednesday, the United States military said it had launched five more air strikes targeting ISIS in Syria and Iraq in a latest round of attacks on the militant group which has seized swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
U.S. conducts five more airstrikes in Syria, Iraq against
Reuters/WASHINGTON: The United States military on Wednesday confirmed it had launched fivemore airstrikes targeting ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the latest round of attacks on the militant group. One strike hit Syria northwest of Al Qa'im along the border, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Two strikes hit were west of Baghdad and two southeast of Irbil in Iraq. The latest strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday destroyed two ISIS armed vehicles, eight other vehicles, a weapons cache and fighting positions, the statement said.
Various attack, bomber and fighter aircraft were used in the airstrikes and all aircraft were able to leave the area safely, according to the statement. While the United States has launched nearly 200 strikes in Iraq in recent weeks, this week's campaign opens a new front in Syria and thrusts Washington into the country's 3-year-old civil war. The first strikes in Syria were carried out with help of five Arab nations. So far, 20 airstrikes have been launched across Syria targeting ISIS, Central Command said. U.S. officials on Tuesday had said the strikes were effective and on Wednesday Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said it was still completing its overnight assessment. "Everything we said yesterday is bearing out today," he said in a CNN interview. "We do believe that the battle damage assessment that we've conducted shows that these strikes were extremely successful in terms of hitting what we were aiming at and causing the damage that we wanted to cause."
US-led strikes going in 'right direction'
Kinda Makieh| Reuters
DAMASCUS: A Syrian government minister said U.S.-led air strikes against militants are going in the "right direction" because the government had been informed before they started and they were not hitting civilians or Syrian military targets.
Syria is still watching all developments with caution, Ali Haidar, minister for national reconciliation, told Reuters on Wednesday after U.S. warplanes pounded ISIS positions in a second day of attacks.
"As for the raids in Syria, I say that what has happened so far is proceeding in the right direction in terms of informing the Syrian government and by not targeting Syrian military installations and not targeting civilians," he said.
"Notification of the Syrian government happened," he said. "Confirmation that they would not target Syrian military installations, and confirmation they would not target civilians happened."The United States said on Tuesday that Washington's envoy to the United Nations had told her Syrian counterpart air strikes would take place, but it has ruled out coordinating with Assad, whom Washington sees as part of the problem.
The Syrian foreign minister said last month that Damascus was ready to cooperate in any international effort to fight ISIS.
Despite welcoming the strikes, Haidar said fighting militants would take more than such military action."The war on terror does not only come through air strikes, which are not the only means to fight terrorism," he said, adding that military action could go on for some time. The Syrian government has described all insurgent groups in Syria as "terrorists", from the Western-backed rebel opposition to ISIS fighters who have seized tracts of territory in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.
Vatican prepares for landmark sex abuse trial of ex-envoy
Agence France Presse/VATICAN CITY: The Vatican has begun preparing for a landmark trial of a disgraced former archbishop at the center of one of the Church's most damaging child sex abuse cases. In an unprecedented move personally sanctioned by Pope Francis, Polish cleric Jozef Wesolowski was placed under house arrest on Wednesday pending the outcome of criminal proceedings launched by the Vatican authorities. Wesolowski, 65, was defrocked in June after a Church tribunal found that he had abused minors during his 2008-13 stint as the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. If the secular criminal proceedings against him result in a trial it will be the first for sex abuse to take place within the walls of the Holy See. "There will probably be a trial," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP on Wednesday. He declined to offer an estimate of when it might take place but stressed that legal action against Vatican officials has a recent precedent in the case of Paolo Gabriele, the former butler to now-retired Benedict XVI who was convicted in October 2012 of stealing papal documents in what was known as the Vatileaks scandal. Gabriele was detained under house arrest prior to the trial and for two months after it before being released under a papal pardon issued by Benedict just before Christmas 2012. Critics of that trial suggested the Vatican had stage-managed it to produce a verdict which conveniently suggested that Gabriele acted alone, thereby stifling any further revelations about corruption, nepotism and bitter infighting. In the Wesolowski case, the Vatican had come under fire for withdrawing him to Rome when the allegations first surfaced and for subsequently declining to go along with an extradition request from the Dominican authorities. Extradition moves by Wesolowski's native Poland were also rebuffed. Earlier this year, the UN children's rights watchdog cited the lack of action over Wesolowski in a damning indictment of the Church failure to address the issue of clerical pedophilia that has become a global issue in recent years.
- 'Highly symbolic' -
Lombardi insisted that the decision to take action against the former archbishop was a sign of how seriously the Vatican and Francis took the issue. "This is the result of the pope's express wish for a case this serious and sensitive to be dealt with without delay, with the necessary scrupulousness and full undertaking of responsibility on the part of the institutions which head up the Holy See," Lombardi said. Francesco Clementi, an expert in the complex legal and constitutional structures surrounding the micro-state, also interpreted the move as a sign the Vatican was facing up to its responsibilities to the victims of abuse. "It is a very strong and powerful change of direction that is also highly symbolic," he told La Stampa. "Francis has made a clear choice: in the state where he is sovereign and pontiff there is no place for clergy or lay people suspected of sexual abuse, particularly of minors." Wesolowski was ordained in 1972 by the then-archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became pope John Paul II and was elevated to sainthood this year.
In his time at the Vatican, John Paul named Wesolowski as envoy to Bolivia and he also served in several Asian countries before his stint in the Dominican Republic. Francis has promised a crackdown on paedophile priests. Last year, he overhauled Vatican law in the area with a special decree declaring that sexual violence and sexual acts with children, child prostitution and child pornography were punishable by up to 12 years in prison. In May he warned there were "no privileges" for bishops when it came to child sex crimes and likened sexual abuse to a "Satanic Mass".Church prosecutors have dealt with nearly 3,500 abuse cases in the last decade, defrocking 848 and ordering more than 2,500 to live a life of prayer and penance.
Yemen: Treason or War?
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 24 Sep, 2014
The fall of Yemen’s state institutions into the hands of the Houthis without any significant resistance is a remarkable development. More interestingly, Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Monday that a verbal altercation had occurred between the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Gen. Ali Mohsin Al-Ahmar.
Reportedly, the argument erupted after President Hadi criticized Ahmar for retreating ahead of the Houthi advance. The newspaper reported that Ahmar responded by walking out of the meeting. But this is not the full story. Yemen’s Minister of Interior Hussein Al-Tarb called on the security forces to cooperate with the Houthis after they occupied many official buildings in Sana’a, instead of confronting them. In a statement published on the Ministry’s website, Tarb called on “all Ministry staff to avoid engaging with the Houthis or be involved in any kind of disputes with them.” The statement urged Ministry employees to rather “cooperate with the Houthis in consolidating security and stability, preserving public property, safeguarding state facilities, which are the property of the people, and considering them as the friends of police.”
What exactly is going on in Yemen? Are the Houthis an occupying force or friends of the Yemeni police? To put it bluntly, is what happened in Sana’a the outcome of an act of treason or conflict? Surely, what is happening is a betrayal of the Yemeni state with all its components and institutions, rather than the international community, Arab Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Yemenis, including politicians and tribesmen, being to blame for not realizing the seriousness of what is happening in Yemen, a country falling apart after being hit by waves of instability. Following instability stirred up by Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and tribal conflicts, it is now the Houthis—under the auspices of Iran—who are seeking to dominate Yemen’s fragile domestic political scene. How absurd! How can it be said that the Houthis are friends of the police and partners in state institutions while they continue shelling and laying siege to Sana’a?
How can the Houthis be friends of the police while they are occupying and hoisting their flags atop the building of the General Command of the Armed Forces, seizing the buildings of the Shura Council and parliament, Sana’a radio station and the Iman University? Not to mention the conflicting reports about the Ministry of Defense falling into rebel hands and the taking of the headquarters of the Fourth Brigade. What kind of partners are they? It is puzzling, indeed.
Whatever the situation in Yemen truly is, whether it is betrayal or conflict, the security of our region, particularly in the Gulf, should not be subjected to the whims of warlords setting their country ablaze and threatening our security. The Gulf states must develop an effective plan to deal with Yemen and its latest dangerous crisis. The security of the Gulf is far too important to be left in the hands of adventurers.
Yemen: An Inside Job
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 24 Sep, 2014
Yemen’s capital Sana’a has been both attacked from the outside and stabbed in the back by insiders. The prime minister and the interior minister staged a coup against the state in favor of the assailants, while Houthis shelled the city from all sides. Sana’a suffered a sad and difficult night, opening a new era in which the whole country is now placed in danger. As to why and how such a situation arose, there are many factors that led to the siege and the collapse of state authority.
First of all, let’s keep in mind that the overthrow of Yemen’s longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh was not going to be quick and easy. Two years on, he has succeeded in disrupting the country’s domestic situation indirectly. Among his allies are the Houthis and the Houthi Ansar Allah organization, which share some traits with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and which rejected reconciliation and declared its leader a caliph.
The objective of former 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 therefore triggered the crisis by attacking cities and staging protests and confrontations to obstruct government services in the capital.
Although evil powers have left their mark everywhere, we must note that in Yemen there are rivals—Northern, Southern and tribal factions and political parties—who cannot come together in one government with ease. It seems that Saleh and the Houthis—the new Yemeni regime’s biggest enemies—succeeded in taking over most of the capital on Sunday, and they may succeed in taking control of the rest of Yemen. However, their success will only be temporary, as the parties that accepted the outcome of the reconciliation process will later reject any Saleh–Houthi–ISIS domination.
Saleh was removed from power due to massive popular protests and amid something approaching a consensus among most political parties and tribes in the country that he had to go. Ever since his removal, he has not stopped trying to sabotage the Gulf Initiative, the agreement that united Yemen’s different factions around a plan for a reconciliation process and a political transition. This may not have been a perfect solution, but it was only intended to be temporary, until such time as the transition is completed and crises are overcome.
During the current crisis, United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar has sought to broker a political agreement to end the 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 so much to find a solution as it was to pave the way to their taking power by force. This raises questions for the UN, which sponsored the transition and reconciliation process. The UN reassured Yemen’s pro-secessionists in the south, prevented the division of the country, and urged Yemen’s neighbors as well as global powers to help protect the state from collapsing in order to prevent a political and humanitarian crisis. The question is: what will Benomar do now, now that the Houthis and their supporters have betrayed him?
Keeping silent over the Houthis’ takeover of Sana’a is similar to accepting the ISIS takeover of Iraq’s Mosul. The Ansar Allah group is composed of religious extremists who want to impose their beliefs on other Yemenis. Their 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 naïveté of the Gulf Initiative which left the door open for him to leave with all his money and men, even though he was well-known as the fox who slyly ruled Yemen for three decades and kept state funds stored outside the country.
One of the Gulf Initiative’s mistakes was that it accepted one of Saleh’s men as his successor—Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a man with no character, skills or political knowledge that could qualify him to manage a country with problems as serious as Yemen’s.
Source: US told Iran it would strike in Syria, vowed not to hit Assad's forces
The communication, confirmed in part by a senior US State Department official,
may signal the estranged foes are inching toward a level of contacts rarely
Obama and Khamenei
UNITED NATIONS - The United States informed Iran in advance
of its intention to strike Islamic State militants in Syria and assured Tehran
that it would not target the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a senior
Iranian official told Reuters.
The communication, confirmed in part by a senior US State Department official, may signal the estranged foes are inching toward a level of contacts rarely seen in over three decades since the 1979 Islamic revolution when a hostage crisis prompted Washington to sever ties with Tehran.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior Iranian official said Tehran had voiced concern for Assad, its closest regional ally and the recipient of Iranian military support during a Syrian civil war now in its fourth year.
"Iran was concerned about Assad's position and his government being weakened in case of any action against IS (Islamic State) in Syria and brought this issue up in meetings with Americans," the senior Iranian official said.
"This issue was first discussed in Geneva and then was discussed thoroughly in New York where Iran was assured that Assad and his government will not be targeted in case of any military action against Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria."
The Iranian official said Iran was informed separately in advance of the airstrikes launched by Washington and Arab allies against Islamic State positions in Syria for the first time.
Asked about the assurance that Syrian government forces would not be targeted, the senior US State Department official told Reuters: "We communicated our intentions, but not specific timing or targets, to the Iranians. As we've said, we won't be coordinating military action with Iran. And of course we won't be sharing intelligence with Iran either."
The public communication has included some mixed signals.
Both Iran and the United States acknowledge having an interest in defeating Islamic State.
Tehran has called on the world to fight the militants, who stand accused of a wave of violence, beheadings and massacres of civilians while taking over swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking to senior editors in New York, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stopped short of endorsing or condemning the airstrikes by the United States and Arab allies, though he raised questions about its legality.
He described this week as an important one for his country's talks with world powers, including the United States, which are meant to forge a long-term accord by Nov. 24 that would end sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out cooperating with the United States to tackle the hardline Sunni militant group.
But other Iranian officials have told Reuters that Tehran would be ready to work with Western powers to stop the militants in return for concessions in the nuclear talks on Tehran's uranium enrichment program.
On Monday the White House said it would refuse to connect nuclear talks, under way on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, with the fight against the militant group.
Iranian officials told Reuters privately that Iran already was cooperating with Washington in the fight against the jihadist rebels.
"This is an intelligence matter and I can assure you geopolitical and intelligence matters will not be shared with Americans ... but military and security issues are being shared to fight against IS (Islamic State)," a senior Iran security official said.
Tehran's leadership has approved the "idea of cooperation with the Americans," he said, because it serves Iran's interests.
Iran has occasionally shared classified information with Washington, including during the US invasion of Afghanistan and the conflict in Iraq.