LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Quotation for today/Don’t
lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth
Matthew 06/19-23: "19 “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 29 and 30/14
How Turkey Plans to "Combat Anti-Semitism"/By Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/September 29 and 30/14
Jobran Bassil: Diplomatic disgrace/The Daily Star/September 30/14
The one video that prompted the anti-ISIS war/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/September 30/14
Can pragmatic Rowhani assure West on
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya/September 30/14
Erdogan’s behaviour must not be tolerated/By: Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya/September 30/14
Why the U.S. could fail again in Iraq/By: Dr. Naser al-Tamimi /Al Arabiya/September 30/14
Israeli PM tells UN: Israel’s fight is the
HERB KEINON/J.Post/September 30/14
Analysis of Netanyahu's Speech: Vintage Netanyahu/ By HERB KEINON/09/30/2014/J.Post/September 30/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 29 and 30/14
Officials express optimism over hostage negotiations
Siniora: Parliament set to pass wage hike bill
Officials express optimism over hostage talks
Military-grade explosives killed Hariri: expert
Hezbollah official says Shiite-Sunni unity key
Syrian war reshapes agriculture in Lebanon
New control room to observe natural resources
Lebanon no academic haven for Syrians
Lebanon to cut industrial export tax by 50 pct
Al-Jazeera journalist faces charges over Lebanese Army slander
Landmark control room to monitor natural resources
Kataeb Says 'Necessary Legislation' a 'Suspicious' Move, Slams Syrian Opposition Remarks
Syrian Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges
Operator of Fake Terrorist Group Account Faces Trial at Military Court
Adwan Seeks to Appease Angry Relatives of Arsal Hostages
Army Repels Jihadist Infiltration Attempt as Gunmen Try to Spread Chaos in Lebanon
Nusra Front Leader Calls on Lebanese Sunnis to Defect from Army
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 29 and 30/14
Obama says US intelligence underestimated ISIS
ISIS militants within 5km of Kobane: monitor
Syria backs fight against ISIS, Moallem tells UN
Syrian government forces driven back from Damascus outskirts: sources
U.S.-led raids hit grain facility in northern Syria
|Syrian regime closes the door on peace talks
Sana’a completely occupied by Houthis, Ansar Allah: UN Special Envoy
Bahrain court revokes citizenship of nine over arms smuggling
Kuwait revokes citizenship of opposition figure, 17 others
Record 3,072 killed crossing Mediterranean
Hong Kong police methods swell protests
Israeli PM tells UN: Israel’s fight is the world’s fight
Analysis of the Israeli PM's Speech: Vintage Netanyahu
Israel police arrest suspected ISIS supporter
Rafah crossing opening closer: sources
Blocked Israeli cargo ship to dock in Los Angeles following protests
Poll shows fewer Palestinians support Hamas, new intifada against Israel
Mrs. Clooney shows fashion force in Valli creation
Cameron Silver’s fashion bible on sale in Beirut
Jobran Bassil: Diplomatic disgrace
The Daily Star/Since the creation of the U.N. in the 1940s, Lebanese foreign ministers have always done an admirable job of representing their country, from Charles Malik, who in 1948 helped co-write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to Camille Chamoun. But today the post seems to have become one not gained through skill or merit but through connections, granted almost as a commercial prize, and has consequently resulted in the appointment of Gebran Bassil as foreign minister. Bassil is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly at perhaps the most precarious non-war period of Lebanon’s history, with security threats inside the country and all along its borders, a presidential vacuum and a whole host of social problems. But the son-in-law of Michel Aoun is making headlines not for articulately publicizing the crises Lebanon faces or for winning this small country international support, but for crudely objectifying a senior member of his staff. In a video released Monday Bassil is seen being introduced to the Emirati foreign minister. Immediately Bassil inquires about the whereabouts of Caroline Ziadeh, the U.N. deputy permanent representative of Lebanon, while simultaneously implying through hand gestures that he admires her figure. This vile objectification of a colleague of his, reducing a woman to little more than her appearance, reveals his total lack of respect for human decency and morals. That Bassil has yet to release an apology, despite the widespread attention the video has received, shows he thinks of the matter as little more than a meaningless joke that he can ignore, just some adolescent humor to be brushed off. But someone who believes adolescent, and sexist, humor has a place at the U.N., among meetings of foreign dignitaries, is not fit to represent this country on an international stage.
Officials express optimism over
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Negotiations to secure the release of Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by Islamist militants are on the right track and the threat of any more captives being beheaded is diminishing, a Cabinet member said Monday.
The remarks by Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk were the most optimistic about the nearly two-month-old hostage crisis that has threatened to destabilize the country as it struggles to shield itself from the repercussions of the civil war in Syria.
“Negotiations over the hostage crisis are on the right track. There is a new dynamic negotiation and a new phase that wards off the threat of killing more soldiers,” Machnouk told The Daily Star.
Without elaborating, Machnouk said he expected “positive results” to emerge from the hostage crisis soon. “The negotiations are becoming more dynamic and might lead to positive results in the foreseeable future,” he said, adding: “Something is cooking.”
ISIS and Nusra Front militants kidnapped 30 servicemen during their brief takeover of the northeastern town of Arsal last month. The captors, who have released seven hostages, are still holding at least 21 soldiers and policemen. To date, they have beheaded two soldiers and shot another dead. The militants have threatened to kill more soldiers if their demands for the release of Islamist detainees held in Roumieh Prison were not met.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam and his Cabinet have staunchly rejected any swap deal with the militants. The government is indirectly negotiating with the militants through a Qatari-sponsored mediation effort.
Asked whether the Cabinet would adopt the principle of negotiations with the militants, including a swap, during its weekly session Thursday, Machnouk said: “The Cabinet supports all kinds of negotiation through intermediaries. The negotiations are currently being held through Qatari and Turkish officials and Lebanese intermediaries [the Muslim Scholars Committee].”
He said General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim was directing the issue through his contacts with Qatari and Turkish officials.
Salam is reported to have said he would support a negotiated deal with the militants to find a solution for the hostage crisis and to have called on Turkey and Qatar to join efforts to secure the release of the captives.
Salam said he had asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step up his efforts regarding the hostage crisis. Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, who discussed the hostage crisis with Salam Monday in the presence of Ibrahim, also sounded optimistic about resolving the crisis.“Matters [over the hostage crisis] have begun taking a positive path,” he said. He added that he hoped matters were going to reach a happy ending that would end the soldiers’ families’ ordeal, bring back their sons and solve this problem.
Earlier Monday, Ibrahim said negotiations to secure the release of Lebanese hostages were on the right track, as the captives’ relatives continued to block a main artery linking Beirut and the Bekaa Valley for the fifth straight day.
Ibrahim told NBN TV that the hostage issue was being handled discreetly and with complete secrecy, as the government was seeking to prevent any confusion or misinterpretation of its movements.
“The issue of the hostages is moving on the right track and there is a light [of hope]. But we will not reveal anything about what we are doing,” said Ibrahim.
Separately, General Security released a statement Monday denying rumors of an assassination attempt against Ibrahim in the northern city Tripoli, as well as reports that the security agency had deported 10 Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
Meanwhile, families and supporters of the captured soldiers and policemen have vowed to continue their street protests and are blocking the Dahr al-Baidar highway that links Beirut with the Bekaa region until their loved ones are released safely.
The protesters, who have set up a tent in the middle of the Beirut-Damascus highway, have rejected calls by government officials and politicians to reopen the vital artery, warning security forces against using force to move them.
The families also pleaded with the kidnappers to stop threatening the lives of the captives to give them more leeway to increase their pressure on the government to revive the negotiations.
Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan visited the protesters at their campsite in Dahr al-Baidar. “I promise you that I will exert every effort to see to it that the government gives top priority to the hostage issue,” Adwan said after meeting families of the hostages.
But when Adwan suggested that road closures was not the solution, he was shouted down by the protesters.
“The captors have put their knives at our sons’ necks. You [politicians] don’t feel our pain. It’s been 60 days now,” said one protester, identifying himself as the brother of the one of the captives.
“Yesterday, I received a cell call from my brother. He urged us to step up our protests as much as we could. He pleaded with us to keep the roads closed as a means of pressure to speed up their release,” he added.
Siniora: Parliament set to pass wage
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Parliament is set to approve the public sector’s long-awaited salary scale bill during its legislative session Wednesday, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Monday. “I expect the wage hike draft law for the public sector to be approved during Wednesday’s session,” Siniora told The Daily Star.
The head of the Future bloc described the latest formula over the controversial salary raise for civil servants and public school teachers, which was reached following intensive talks among the country’s major blocs in the past few days, as the “best possible arrangement.”Siniora said he and Future MPs would attend the Parliament session which Speaker Nabih Berri called for Wednesday to discuss and endorse the wage hike bill.
He had met with Berri over the weekend to put the final touches to the wage hike draft law. According to sources close to Berri, Siniora voiced his support for the salary raise formula agreed upon earlier by Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil and Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan during several earlier rounds of talks.
Khalil, from Berri’s bloc, had also met several times with Nader Hariri, chief of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s office, to remove obstacles blocking the approval of the bill.
Siniora’s remarks came shortly after Berri chaired a meeting of Parliament’s Secretariat to prepare the agenda for Wednesday’s session. In addition to the salary scale bill, the session will study draft laws pertaining to loan agreements between Lebanon and foreign banks, while discussion of Eurobonds and the 2014 draft state budget has been postponed to other sessions.
“We hope to approve during this session the ranks and salary scale within the criteria to balance revenues and expenses,” MP Marwan Hamadeh told reporters after the meeting held at Berri’s Ain al-Tineh residence.
Referring to the deal reached by rival blocs over the wage hike bill, he said: “Signs of broad understanding have emerged in the past few days.”
Hamadeh said the session would only be touching on “urgent” and “necessary” draft laws, which included approving a plan to receive six loans for crucial projects. He added that the meeting of Parliament’s Secretariat did not discuss the issue of extending Parliament’s term, which expires Nov. 20. Adwan, the LF MP, said the wage hike bill was on its way to Parliament’s General Assembly, adding he was contacting MPs from other blocs to seek their support for the bill. “We have two days left during which we will try to muster the broadest support for the salary scale [draft law] from all the parties in order to approve it as we have promised the people,” he said.
The passing of the salary scale bill has been stymied by differences between the March 8 and March 14 blocs over proposed taxes to fund the increases. The agreement by Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc to raise the VAT from 10 to 11 percent, as demanded by the Future Movement, has cleared the way for the bill’s approval.
The bloc, which met under Berri Monday, said in a statement it agreed to the endorsement of the salary scale bill according to the amendments agreed upon by various blocs. The four-month-old presidential deadlock has paralyzed legislation in Parliament, which has been unable to meet over a lack of quorum to choose a successor to former President Michel Sleiman. March 14 lawmakers have refused to attend legislative sessions in the absence of a president, arguing that Parliament should only convene to discuss urgent matters.
The Kataeb Party has said its lawmakers will boycott any legislative session so long as the presidency seat remains vacant. This stance was reaffirmed during the party’s weekly meeting chaired by party leader and former President Amine Gemayel Monday. The party reiterated that priority should be given to the election of a president.
“Legislation of necessary [draft laws] is merely a suspicious gateway to get used to the presidential vacuum, thus turning the presidency into a marginal position that can be dispensed with,” the party said in a statement. It called for combined efforts by the factions to regulate the work of constitutional institutions, beginning with the election of a president as soon as possible.
Al-Jazeera journalist faces charges
over Lebanese Army slander
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A lawsuit was filed against TV host Faisal al-Qassem by Lebanese lawyers Monday over anti-Army remarks he made over the weekend, while Information Minister Ramzi Joreige also threatened to follow suit.
An anti-regime Syrian journalist and host of the weekly Al-Itijah al-Muakis [The opposite direction] talk-show aired by Al-Jazeera, Qassem posted on his Twitter account that the only achievements the Lebanese Army had made since its establishment were shooting video clips with Lebanese singers Wael Kfoury, Najwa Karam, Elissa and Haifa Wehbe, along with setting fire to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. His remarks came days after the Army intensified its crackdown on Syrian refugee camps in the northeastern town of Arsal. Outraged by the comments, a delegation of Lebanese lawyers filed a lawsuit against Qassem for violating Articles 295 and 157 of the Lebanese Penal Code. According to a statement released by the lawyers Monday, the rationale behind the lawsuit was Qassem's remarks amounted to a “provocation of Lebanese public opinion through indirect incitement against the Army." Accordingly, the charges leveled against him have accused the TV host of “undermining the prestige of the state and weakening national sentiment.”
His tweets are a violation of Article 295 of the penal law, the statement added. By voicing contempt against the Army via a publicized medium mentioned in Article 209, Qassem has also violated Article 157, which can result in imprisonment for a period of three years. The state prosecutor has allegedly transferred the lawsuit to the government commissioner at the Military Court. Qassem’s remarks outraged many Lebanese who started a hashtag on Twitter insulting the journalist’s mother. The hashtag trended over the weekend with some Twitter users cursing Qassem and demanding he apologize for his remarks. Information Minister Ramzi Joreige joined the ranks of angered Lebanese as he threatened to take legal measures against the accused. “Incitement against the Army is a punishable crime in Lebanon” Joreige told OTV Monday. “I am studying the measures that could possibly be taken to punish the responsible [party]” he added, arguing that al-Qassem could be charged with the crime of weakening national sentiment and inciting sectarian strife.
The information minister said an official response must be released by Al Jazeera’s central office before measures could be considered. “I request a clarification over the issue” he said, stressing that the head of Al Jazeera’s Beirut office is not authorized to issue a public apology before referring to headquarters in Qatar. Seperately, Joreige defended a group of Lebanese activists who held a protest at the offices of Al-Jazeera television station in Beirut Sunday, saying that act was an “automatic and natural reaction.”
Lebanon no academic haven for Syrians
Mazin Sidahmed| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Syrian university students wishing to complete their studies in Lebanon face daunting tuition fees, language barriers and tensions with their peers on campus. A report completed earlier this year by the University of California, Davis, entitled The War Follows Them examined how Syrians in Lebanon engaged with higher education. The report estimated 70,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon were university age but fewer than 10,000 were currently enrolled. This is in stark contrast to the high enrollment rates in Syria prior to the conflict.
The report found a quarter of Syrians had benefitted from higher education prior to the war and enrollment rates had been very high for both sexes throughout the country.
After moving to Lebanon, the vast majority of these students have found it extremely difficult to continue this education.
Mohammad Alatiha, 25, was in his second year of university, studying computer science, before he left Damascus. He and his family are from a southern suburb of the Syrian capital and when the war began to approach, they decided to leave.
“When we left Damascus to stay in Lebanon, we thought we’d only be there for a week. That was two years ago,” Alatiha told The Daily Star.
Like most his age, Alatiha is eager to continue his education, but he cannot overcome the enormous financial barriers due to the high cost of tuition in Lebanon.
“The universities here are very expensive,” said Alatiha, who now works at a cell-phone store. “If you want to go to a good university, it’s gong to cost at least $6,000. As a Syrian, I can make $500 per month.”
The Lebanese University is the only public, state-funded, university in Lebanon, and fees may be as low as $700 per year. The remainder of universities are private and many charge high tuition fees. At the prestigious American University of Beirut or the Lebanese American University, tuition can reach up to $8,500 per term.
The report by UC Davis found that the number of Syrian students at the Lebanese University had actually declined from just over 6,000 before the war to approximately 2,644 in the 2013-14 academic year. This was largely put down to a loss of overall income in Syrian families, which caused students to have to find work instead of studying.
Many Syrians who wish to work their way through university struggle to do so as the wages available and the cost of living in Lebanon make it difficult to save anything.
Marianna Altabba was completing a master’s in economics and a second degree in political science at the University of Damascus up until February last year. She was volunteering with Red Crescent in the suburbs of Damascus during the war until the security situation led her to fear for her safety and she decided to relocate.
Having taken some time to settle, Altabba now works as a freelance researcher, and though she wants to complete her education, she doesn’t see it as a viable option right now.“[After getting] paid ... I could secure my living for two months in advance,” Altabba explained. “So, do you think about education? Definitely not.”
There are many institutions trying to assist Syrian refugees who wish to continue higher education.
The Syrian Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, set up by the International Institute for Education (IIE), was created to address the “academic emergency” that the war has created. The consortium offers scholarships for 35 universities around the world for Syrian students. Jusoor, an NGO run by Syrian expatriates, also works with the IIE and separately offers full-ride scholarships for Syrian students wishing to complete their studies in Lebanon.
Those are only a few of the many scholarships available to Syrian refugees, but attaining them comes with its own set of complexities
Dr. Keith David Watenpaugh, associate professor of Human Rights at UC Davis and one of the authors of The War Follows Them, found that Syrians in Lebanon were not accustomed to the process of seeking out and applying for scholarships.
“In prewar Syria there wasn’t a great deal of experience with applying for university or looking for financial aid,” he told The Daily Star.
Language also presents an obstacle, as most Syrians are only educated in Arabic while most scholarships from abroad require English.
Altabba is fluent in English, but even she would struggle, as most scholarships require students to take the TOFEL exam, an English-as-a-second-language test, which is both expensive and time-consuming.
In addition to all this, there is an underlying element of fear.
“There is tension between the Lebanese people and the Syrian people. ... This makes a Syrian student think a million times before going to university,” Alatiha said. She compared this tension to that between black and white students in America during the civil rights era.
Altabba also said she would not tell anyone if she attended a university on a scholarship out of fear of reprisal from Lebanese students, some of whom feel that Syrians are stealing places from Lebanese. Watenpaugh encountered such sentiments during his research.
“[An] administrator at a Lebanese university ... indicated that he would not be able to accept a scholarship program for Syrian students unless Lebanese students could also benefit.”Despite this, a recent report by several U.N. agencies and Save The Children entitled “Situation Analysis of Youth in Lebanon” found that over 90 percent of the 19- to 24-year-old Syrians who had previously been enrolled in Syria wished to continue their education in Lebanon.
Altabba ultimately wants to help translate bureaucratic government jargon into language that everybody can understand so that people know their rights and can challenge their government. Alatiha is hoping to leave Lebanon.
“If I put the next five years into Lebanon then I don’t think that I’ll get anything out of it. It’s best to leave,” Alatiha said. Alatiha would like to travel abroad, complete his education and hopefully get a foreign nationality, as he does not see the crisis ending soon.
If students such as Alatiha and Altabba do not manage to complete their education then Watenpaugh warns that the entire region could reap the consequences. “A concern I think I share with the Lebanese people [is that without] an effort to rebuild Syria’s human intellectual capital, the region will be left with a mass of uneducated, angry, disenfranchised, impoverished refugees that will be a terrible burden on resources and form a mass that is vulnerable to radicalization or falling into the hands of [ISIS].”
Kataeb Says 'Necessary Legislation' a 'Suspicious' Move, Slams Syrian Opposition Remarks
Naharnet /The Kataeb Party on Monday warned against approving draft laws under the slogan of “necessary legislation” amid the current presidential void, as it deplored a recent Syrian opposition statement accusing the Lebanese army of abuse against refugees.
The party “warns against any parliamentary course that might lead to legitimizing the presidential vacuum, which would violate the simplest rules of democracy, constitutional norms and the requirements of national coexistence,” Kataeb said in a statement issued after its politburo's weekly meeting. The so-called “necessary legislation” is “only a suspicious move aimed at coping with the presidential void, in a manner that would turn the presidency into a marginal, expendable post,” Kataeb added. It called on all political parties to unify efforts in order to “maintain the regular functioning of state institutions, starting by the election of a president as soon as possible.”
Rival parliamentary blocs have been unable to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman, whose six-year term ended in May, over their differences on a compromise candidate. The deadlock has also paralyzed parliament, which has failed to hold sessions over the boycott of several blocs that claimed the assembly should not legislate in the absence of a president. However, many lawmakers have recently announced their intention to participate in a session under the slogan of “necessary legislation” and the parliament's bureau on Monday set a Wednesday date for a legislative session, whose agenda will be topped by the controversial public sector wage scale.
Separately, Kataeb condemned a recent statement issued by the Syrian opposition National Coalition, describing it as an “unwarranted attack on national sovereignty and the Lebanese army.”It also warned that it could “sour the ties of solidarity and hospitality with the Syrian refugees,” urging “a clarification and a correction” from the SNC. The Syrian opposition group had on Thursday accused the Lebanese army of “arresting around 200 people in a brutal manner” during raids on refugee encampments in the Bekaa border town of Arsal.
The army arrested on Thursday suspected terrorists during raids in Arsal and the northern city of Tripoli. One assailant was killed and several others were injured when the army opened fire on them in Arsal for setting fire to tents in refugee encampments, said the army. Turning to the issue of the continued abduction of Lebanese troops and policemen at the hands of Syria-based jihadist groups, Kataeb voiced “grave concern” over the current approach towards the case, accusing some parties of attempting to polish the image of “the terrorist groups that are attacking the country and its people.” The party urged the Lebanese to show “utmost responsibility,” calling on the government to speed up the negotiations and contacts with local and foreign parties and to move to “restore normalcy and reopen roads” blocked by the families of the captive troops. It warned that road-blocking protests that have isolated many regions for several days “do not serve the cause at all.”Arsal has been the battlefront of the Lebanese army in its fight with jihadists since they crossed the border from Syria and overran the town in early August. The militants from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State kidnapped troops and policemen during their withdrawal. Several security personnel remain in captivity while three have been executed.
Hezbollah official stresses need for
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah renewed its calls Monday for Shiite-Sunni unity in Lebanon and in the Arab world, as the region continues to fight extremist groups like ISIS and the Nusra Front. In a meeting with Lebanon’s new Grand Mufti Abdul-Latif Derian, Hezbollah official Sheikh Ibrahim Amin Sayyed emphasized that mutual understanding was essential for Muslim cooperation. “Incidents taking place in Lebanon and the region have highlighted the need for Lebanese, Arabs and Muslims to be more united,” Sayyed, who headed the Hezbollah delegation to Dar al-Fatwa, told reporters after holding talks with Derian. Sayyed said his visit was made on behalf of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah to congratulate Derian on his new post.
The Hezbollah official said Muslim and Arab societies were keen on seeing the region’s especially influential countries use dialogue instead of conflict to overcome their differences, independent of foreign assistance. “Our enemies have not achieved their goals so they are trying to destroy [Arab] nations from within, and this is a big problem that we face,” Sayyed said. Speaking to reporters at Dar al-Fatwa, Sayyed said that the enemies of Islam had created a host of problems for the region and the international area. “And that’s being done through some groups within our Muslim society. These groups are damaging the reputation of Islam, its image and prestige,” Sayyed said, referring to extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. The region is “paying the price of foreign intervention, invasion and war,” he said, which “created these takfiri groups among us.” The extremists groups, he added, are a direct threat to Lebanon. “As for the situation in Lebanon, the challenges and dangers the country is facing are connected to the threats posed by these terrorist groups,” he said. He said that religious leaders had agreed on the need for the government and the Lebanese Army to take necessary measures to combat terrorist groups. Sayyed said political factions in Lebanon, too, should put aside their political differences and unite to face the extremist threat. Touching on the issue of the servicemen being held hostage by ISIS and the Nusra Front, Sayyed expressed hopes that the government would resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner. Clashes broke out in early August between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants in Arsal. The militants captured at least 30 policemen and soldiers, at least 21 of whom remain captive. Sayyed underlined the importance of protecting Syrian refugees from reprisal attacks amid the ongoing crisis in their country and especially after the Arsal clashes. He condemned the retaliatory action that had been taken against refugees in some districts since the incident. “As Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah said in a recent speech, we are against any vengeful acts taken against innocents who had nothing to do with the [Arsal clashes], whether Lebanese or Syrian,” Sayyed said. Sayyed also praised Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s stance in defending the Army against accusations made by the Syrian opposition. The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces filed a complaint at the weekend to the U.N. Security Council accusing the Army of human rights abuses against Syrians in Arsal. “The condemnation [by Hariri] was good,” Sayyed said. “The coalition’s complaint was out of place.”
Landmark control room to monitor
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanon launched its first control room to better monitor the country’s natural resources with support from the National Council for Scientific Research, which described the venture as essential for the economy. “With the impact of climate change and the rise in incidents of drought, forest fire, land degradation, flooding and random construction proliferating, the need for a system to manage resources and monitor natural hazards has grown,” said a statement issued by the council Monday. The statement added that control room operators, who include members of the council, would meet at the Grand Serail Tuesday under the patronage of Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb. The council described the control room as a pioneering step for natural science in Lebanon, as apart from the room itself, additional infrastructure would be built to assess the possibility of natural disasters occurring in the country. It would also provide the government’s disaster management unit with much needed support, the statement said. Information gleaned from the control room will be compiled into seasonal reports about snow coverage on Lebanon’s peaks, key as snow is a major water source for the country. Operators will also monitor the weather for early signs of drought, by measuring data from direct sensors and satellites that will evaluate various vegetation indicators, including humidity and the surface temperature in dry areas. In time the equipment will be able to predict drought spells and other installations will work to minimize damage in vulnerable areas. The statement said the council’s team would cooperate with Italian professionals and the Civil Defense to issue frequent reports about the real risk of forest fire and floods, with predictions earmarked for 72 hours at a time. Operators will use 3-D modeling to analyze data, as well as maps provided by the council and climate-related information collected through stations run by the Agricultural Research Institute and the Meteorological Department at Rafik Hariri International Airport. Establishing the control room was the aim of the Regional Coordination on Improved Water Resources Management and Capacity Building Program, known as CAPWATER, which aimed to establish sustainable water resources in the interest of water and food security. CAPWATER was launched by the World Bank and the Global Facility Environment organization in 2012, according to the statement, to meet resource needs of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
Record 3,072 killed crossing
Agence France Presse/GENEVA: Over 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, more than double the previous peak in 2011, the International Organization for Migration said Monday. Europe is by far the most dangerous destination for “irregular” migrants, the organization found in a report, with 3,072, or 75 percent, of the 4,077 registered migrant deaths worldwide since January happening in the Mediterranean. In the 216-page report titled “Fatal Journeys: migrant fatalities across land and sea,” IOM said more than 40,000 people had perished since 2000 while migrating – 22,000 of them while trying to reach Europe. “It’s time to do more than count the number of victims,” IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in a statement. “It’s time to engage the world to stop this violence against desperate migrants,” added Swing, whose agency is not part of the U.N. but works closely with the world body. The IOM report comes just weeks after one of the deadliest wrecks on record, when a ship carrying some 500 migrants, including Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and an estimated 100 children, sank. The 11 known survivors have said the traffickers organizing their dangerous crossing from North Africa deliberately sank the vessel off Malta. The tally of Mediterranean deaths during the first nine months of 2014 is already more than double the previous peak of 1,500 during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and nearly five times the prior peak of 630 in 2007, the Geneva-based organization said. “Many are fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty,” the report said, with people trying to escape Syria’s bloody civil war and Eritreans fleeing their repressive regime and forced, decades-long conscription accounting for the largest groups arriving in Italy this year. The deteriorating security situation in Libya, a transit country for many migrants, is also pushing up the numbers of people trying to make it to Europe by any means possible, it said.
How Turkey Plans to "Combat Anti-Semitism"
By Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
September 25, 2014
At the beginning of September, President Barack Obama met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Wales. After the meeting, the White House said in a statement : "They exchanged views on how best to cooperate in the struggle against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/Syria] and violent extremism in Iraq and Syria, and on the need for strengthened measures against foreign fighters transiting to and from the battlefield." What could be more normal if the U.S. president discussed measures against extremism with the president of a country that now borders ISIS?
But it was bizarre that Obama and Erdogan also discussed one topic that was neither NATO- nor ISIS-related. The White House said: "The President and President Erdogan also discussed the importance of building tolerant and inclusive societies and combating the scourge of anti-Semitism."
Apparently, the White House wanted to tell American Jews that the president had finally wanted to be tough with Erdogan on the new heights of anti-Semitism in Turkey. In return, Erdogan may have replied: "What anti-Semitism in Turkey? That's unheard of!" To which Obama may have replied: "Ah, thank you president, I feel relieved!"
More or less on the same day as "the President and President Erdogan discussed the importance of building tolerant and inclusive societies and combating the scourge of anti-Semitism," a shop in central Istanbul put up a sign, featuring a photo of an Israeli tank, and saying: "Jew dogs are not permitted entry." Not really creative. The sign was an echo of a 2009 wall poster elsewhere in Turkey that read: "Jews and Armenians are not allowed, but dogs are." (Of course, none of the explicit hate crimes has ever been indicted; in Turkey hate speech is a crime only if committed against Muslim Turks).
A few days after Presidents Obama and Erdogan discussed "combating the scourge of anti-Semitism," an Islamist columnist called for Turkey's dwindling Jewish community to pay for reconstructing buildings in Gaza damaged during Operation Protective Edge, an idea reminiscent of a wealth tax Turkey had imposed on its non-Muslim minorities in 1942.
Faruk Kose, a columnist for the daily Yeni Akit, wrote that the "Gaza Fund Contribution Tax" should apply to Turkish Jews as well as foreign Jews doing business in Turkey and any Turkish nationals with commercial ties to the Jewish state. He even suggested that the tax should apply to any company or business that maintains a partnership with a Turkish Jew. The penalty for failing to pay the tax should be the revocation of the Jew's business license and the seizure of his property, Mr. Kose proposed.
It would have been easy to shrug off the man with a "he is just nuts" wave of the hand. In reality, Yeni Akit has a permanent seat aboard Erdogan's private jet, an honor that shows how much Erdogan admires the newspaper's editorial policy -- and most likely the columnist Kose, too.
Most ironically, a journalist from Yeni Akit was among Erdogan's select group of journalists accompanying him to Wales aboard his jet -- the same jet taking Erdogan to a meeting with Obama to discuss "combating the scourge of anti-Semitism." Did Obama know? Not easy to know. But if he knew, he could tell Erdogan that a good start to combating the scourge of anti-Semitism could be not to honor newspapers that propose taxing Turkish Jews to reconstruct Gaza by inviting them on his private jet.
And around the same time as Obama and Erdogan discussed combating the scourge of anti-Semitism, Turkey's broadcasting watchdog, a body controlled by the government, fined a private channel for airing the Academy Award-winning film, "The Pianist." The 2002 drama directed by Roman Polanski is based on an autobiographical Holocaust-era memoir of the same name, by Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman.
The watchdog claimed that its ruling was based on "scenes of violence depicted in the film which might adversely affect the psychological and mental development of minors."
"This is simply ridiculous," said an opposition member of parliament, Ali Oztunc, from the social democrat Republican People's Party. He was right. "The Pianist" had been aired several times by different Turkish channels before, with no fine or warning from the broadcasting watchdog. Since the scenes it contains have not been re-filmed since it was made in 2002, what could have changed to make the film qualify for a fine? The film has not changed, but Turkey has.
When combined, all of these otherwise independent events best exhibit how Erdogan's Turkey responded to Obama's call for "combating the scourge of anti-Semitism," with Erdogan most probably smiling in the background.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
The one video that prompted the
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Monday, 29 September 2014
If late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden hadn't attacked New York and Washington and if the entire world hadn't seen the footage of the second jet as it crashed into the World Trade Center, history would have changed. If the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) hadn't slaughtered journalist James Foley and recorded a video in which it executed him, the current war against the ISIS wouldn't have been launched and the anti-ISIS alliance of fifty countries wouldn't have been formed.
Does this mean that a video can provoke the international community into action or that a war can be unleashed after one act of terror? Of course not. But al-Qaeda could have continued to wreak havoc in the Middle East and ISIS could have continued to slaughter thousands of people without all these fighter jets and battleships leaping from their bases.
This is nothing strange as there have been many similar events throughout history. The U.S. for example was against the Axis powers but it did not take part in World War II until two years after it erupted. The U.S. only participated in this war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the world has changed ever since. If Japan hadn't attacked the American naval base, Hitler would've been able to take over Europe and he would've become a power equivalent to the U.S., like the Soviet Union was later.
“It is true that ISIS can be described merely as a gang of militants, but there are no easy wars no matter how small the enemy is”
This was the case with al-Qaeda. Although it operated in the Middle East and West Africa, attacking embassies and an American battleship, it was not a major military target for the West. The situation changed however after Bin Laden attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.
ISIS is a group cloned from al-Qaeda and its leadership. Its understanding of power and its limits is shallow and it thus dragged the U.S. into the war prompting the latter to attack it and shell it. Before all this, Barack Obama had decided not to intervene and turned a blind eye to what was happening, vowing to spend his second presidential term without fighting any new wars, just like he promised those who voted for him. But this was evidently no longer an option after the Foley’s execution video was released.
It is true that ISIS can be described merely as a gang of militants, but there are no easy wars no matter how small the enemy is. Even the wisest and the most knowledgeable of people cannot guarantee how such battles will ensue and how they will come to an end. This is a fact. Therefore the Americans are trying to mobilize as many countries as possible in order to double their chances of success and grant international legitimacy to this war against the ISIS. Another reason could be that the U.S. does not desire to be the only party shedding the enemy's blood.
Failure to estimate
The U.S. administration failed at estimating the threats posed by ISIS and the Syrian war. It also failed to read into the biggest threat resulting from the growth of terrorist cells in Syria and Iraq.
All what was needed was another Sept. 11, hijacking a plane or broadcasting a brutal video of the execution of an American citizen. At this point, the president, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces, cannot evade responsibility and not intervene no matter how loud the objections against the war are.
I reckon President Obama hopes to eliminate ISIS and go back to bed. These are of course confused dreams as the region is infected with terrorist intellect and the war won't easily end like he thinks. It will actually prolong because it began far too late.
Can pragmatic Rowhani assure West on nuke deal?
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya
Monday, 29 September 2014
While the nuclear talks have been taking place between Iran and the P5+1 group in New York for almost five days, not many details have been provided to the media about the discussions. The talks have been kept behind closed doors and at unspecified locations at the U.N. or elsewhere, giving reporters a sense that the talks are at a highly important and sensitive stage. In a very short briefing by Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday after the emergency session on Iraq at the Security Council, rather than Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif taking the podium and addressing his counterparts, Araghchi said: “I can say that in general, a very good atmosphere rules the negotiations.”At this most important time of the talks while the interim deal and the timeline to reaching a permanent agreement expires on Nov. 24, it seems which there is no time to lose or waste for Zarif and his team of negotiators.
Last year, during the time of the United Nations General Assembly, the world expected a historic meeting President Hassan Rowhani first visit and President Barack Obama that would put behind the 35-year enmity between their countries.
While the two presidents didn’t meet in person, a fifteen-minute phone conversation made the atmosphere of the nuclear talks more positive and constructive – and in Iran’s favor.
“The New York talks are a landmark and face-saving diplomatic way to demonstrate if pragmatic Rowhani can assure the West that Iran intends to move towards a responsible and mature foreign policy”
A year has passed since then and the comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear talks hasn’t been reached yet. And with two months left until the expiry date of the interim deal, the relations between these two countries are a bit sour, even if we can’t call them ruined.
However, the talks would be ruined if Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei reaches the conclusion that the U.S. is not being sincere and honest at the discussions.
The supreme leader is quite disappointed that Iran didn’t get invited to the conference in France where the coalition formed against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq was formed, and this makes the nuclear talks a little fragile.
For sure Khamenei’s sentiment has to be expressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said to the Security Council on Friday that Iran can participate in confronting ISIS. “There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran,” John Kerry said.Kerry’s remarks definitely pleased Tehran, especially upon Rowhani’s arrival to New York on Monday.
Rowhani is coming to back up his team of nuclear negotiators who prepared the path a week in advance of his arrival, and to meet with world leaders as an opportunity to gain more support ahead of the expiration of the interim deal.
As the former nuclear chief negotiator, Rowhani is quite aware of the importance of the time and the opportunity for reaching the comprehensive deal despite of all the disappointment that has risen between the two countries.
After the general assembly at the United Nations, there will only be a little over seven weeks remaining for Iran to reach a deal with the West. If there is not significant progress made, or if it seems like Iran and the P5+1 are still apart on the terms of the deal, it is clear for both sides that an agreement is off and unreachable by the deadline.
Rowhani’s trip to New York may boost the talks and inject energy and support, as Iran understands clearly of their importance and its unique negotiating opportunity ahead of Nov. 24.
Foreign Minister Zarif told PBS broadcasting network on Friday that Iran 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 on the lifting of permanent sanctions against Iran, which requires congressional action, Zarif appeared amenable to Obama lifting less restrictive sanctions instead. Can the U.S. also be amenable with Iran over the number of centrifuges and its advanced nuclear industry?
The New York talks are a landmark and face-saving diplomatic way to demonstrate if pragmatic Rowhani can assure the West that Iran intends to move towards a responsible and mature foreign policy.
Erdogan’s behaviour must not be
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya
Monday, 29 September 2014
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to New York to speak before the United Nations General Assembly was not only what I believe to be a PR coup, he and his team did some furious networking with heads of state, politicians, and the American business community. During his stay, he met with the Clintons, foreign policy veterans Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He also received a last minute invitation from President Obama to talk about regional security issues and the future of U.S.-Egyptian relations. If he was on a charm-offensive, then judging by the smiles and body-language of all the prominent people he was pictured with - even that of several of his earlier critics - it worked like charm. Indeed, he flew home with a fistful of invitations to visit a host of countries, including Germany and South Korea.
But if confirmation was needed that the Egyptian president has finally emerged from the cold, it came when it was his turn to speak to U.N. delegations. He was visibly taken aback and humbled by the warm applause he received as he stepped up to podium and was clearly gratified to receive a standing ovation following his speech when almost everyone in attendance echoed his parting words “Tahya Misr...Tahya Misr” (Long Live Egypt!)
Outside, thousands of Egyptians waved flags, raised posters of the president and sang patriotic songs to show their gratitude to the former military man who they believed saved Egypt from Muslim Brotherhood rule and a potential civil war. In short, Egypt took Manhattan by storm. Spectacular advertisements showing photographs of the country’s iconic landmarks with the message “peace, prosperity and growth” loomed over Times Square and were plastered on many of the city’s buses.
Sisi’s speech was positive throughout. He spoke of the need to combat extremist ideologies and the “crisis of terrorism facing the region.” He championed a Palestinian State on 1967 borders, and announced that the Egyptian government seeks to build a new Egypt on the foundations of a free-market and an investor-friendly economy; a state that upholds “rights and freedoms” and “ensures the coexistence of its citizens without exclusion or discrimination”.
However, the delegates of one NATO member country weren’t in their seats to hear the Egyptian President’s message to the world. Turkey boycotted his speech and, worse, hours later, President Recip Tayyip Erdogan devoted part of his own speech to condemn the United Nations for “legitimizing” Sisi who overthrew “the elected president in Egypt” referring, of course, to his cohort Mohammad Mursi who’s currently on trial for treachery and collusion with foreign terrorist groups, amongst other charges. Sisi does not need the U.N. to confer legitimacy on his presidency; that was received following last May’s elections which he won by 96.91 percent and, more recently, when ordinary Egyptians raised LE 64 billion in just eleven days to fund his mega Suez Canal project.
“Erdogan spoke to a largely deserted chamber, indicating his growing lack of popularity among the international community ”
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Erdogan spoke to a largely deserted chamber, indicating his growing lack of popularity among the international community due to his burgeoning authoritarianism, but his insults certainly reverberated in Cairo to the extent that Egypt swiftly cancelled a meeting scheduled to take place in New York between the two countries’ foreign ministers. Erdogan’s insults didn’t end there. According to the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman, he “refused to attend a luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon after learning that he was assigned to the same table” as President Sisi along with President Obama, and South African President Jacob Zuma. Doesn’t he realize that petulance is more appropriate to kindergarten than the world stage? Most of us have children or grandchildren who’ve said at one time or another after falling out with one of their friends: “I’m not going to the party because so-and-so will be there.”
Word has it that the Turkish president is out of sync with his own foreign ministry and advisors who have signaled in the past their eagerness to mend fences with Cairo. He has continually undermined their efforts indicting that he’s bent on some kind of venomous personal vendetta regardless of any negative reaction, particularly from the Arab World, his country might incur as a response.
It goes without saying that the official Egyptian reaction was scathing. “There is no doubt that the fabrication of such lies and fabrications are not something strange that comes from the Turkish President who is keen to provoke chaos to sow divisions in the Middle East region through its support for groups and terrorist organisations,” read a statement from Egypt’s Foreign Ministry. The United Arab Emirates was similarly outraged slamming Erdogan’s speech as “a direct and blatant intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs while accusing him of exploiting the U.N.’s platform to launch an “unacceptable” attack on legitimacy in Egypt.
No Arab state should accept the Turkish leader’s attempts to embarrass and undermine the progress of the most populated Arab country we Arabs call “Umm al-Donya” (Mother of the World), that represents one of the oldest and richest cultures on the planet. Erdogan’s toxic speech and petty behaviours in New York are an affront to all Arabs everywhere and let’s not forget that Sisi was representing the Arab League at the U.N. on this occasion. We stood silent as the Turkish President (then Prime Minister) hosted Muslim Brotherhood conferences and flashed its ugly hand signs. But this time he’s overstepped the mark. As far as I’m concerned, insults hurled at one of our leaders is akin to slandering all of them. He pretends that his stance is moral. In that case, why didn’t he rail against the governments of Thailand and Ukraine, which were brought to power on the back of a coup?
In truth, he’s nothing but a terrorist supporter who hugs the Muslim Brotherhood and, as was stated in the UK Parliament on Friday, purchases oil from the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq. Curiously enough, he’s not declined to partner the U.S.-coalition against those killers but he’s barred the coalition from using Turkish airspace to launch strikes.Let’s not forget, too, that Turkey is the transit destination for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters. There’s a report in the Washington Post suggesting “Wounded jihadists from ISIS and al-Nusra Front...were treated at Turkish Hospitals,” adding, “Most important, the Turks winked as Reyhanli and other Turkish towns became way stations for moving foreign fighters and arms across the border.” This was denied by Turkey but Bloomberg reporters say ISIS has “already established itself firmly in Turkish Society.” Apparently, they use Reyhanli as their shopping mall, where they purchase uniforms and mobile phones. In this case, it must be asked why western powers are turning a blind eye to the dubious machinations of their loudmouthed NATO partner, who’s been embroiled in corruption scandals and was recorded discussing the best ways of hiding money with his son. He is certainly no ‘Mr. Clean’ and I would appeal to the Turkish people to see him for what he truly is, not only an embarrassment, but a threat to their future wellbeing, now that he’s shown his true colours.
No verbal sniper
As a man and a human being, Erdogan pales in comparison to President Sisi, a true patriot who’s is struggling against all odds to get his beloved Egypt back on its feet. He’s no verbal sniper. When he was asked by the media for his response to the Turkish President’s remarks, he declined to dignify such personal slights with an answer. Egypt’s President and the 90 million people he’s sworn to serve deserve our support. But mere condemnatory statements are not sufficient.
Despite perceptions, the Turkish economy and currency are currently heading south, as reflected by ratings agencies and highlighted by the Asia Times which reveals that “Turkey’s current account deficit...is at the level of Greece before its near-bankruptcy in 2011” but is being propped-up by “Turkey’s friends in the Gulf States”. This funding must stop now! Furthermore, the Arab World should boycott all Turkish products and companies and governments should sever diplomatic and economic ties with the Erdogan government. Egypt’s president has pledged to stand by the Gulf states and so it’s our duty to defend him against a megalomaniacal Turk who I believe is plotting to bring him down.
Why the U.S. could fail again in Iraq
Dr. Naser al-Tamimi /Al Arabiya
Monday, 29 September 2014
With the expansion of U.S. strikes against ISIS targets, the Middle East is moving rapidly towards a new military campaign which could last for years and the people of the region are watching the developments very closely with great concerns. It is clear that the American strategy focused primarily on beating ISIS in Iraq, but the strategy also implicates an effort to cut the supply lines from Syria and expand the fighting fronts in an attempt to give the Iraqi forces the opportunity to progress and regain the initiative.
However, developments in Iraq do not bode well, and the U.S. military campaign may contribute to rising popularity of ISIS. Indeed, we can say that the American campaign may fail or suffer great setbacks which may embarrass the Obama administration.
There are many indicators that demonstrate this matter. The issue of Iraq’s political representation, which reflects the aspirations of millions of Sunni Arabs, and the allocation of economic resources for the reconstruction of their areas, is still unresolved. Despite repeated assertions to Obama's administration about the need for the formation of an Iraqi government that reflects the aspirations of all, the situation on the ground indicates all changes that have occurred were just cosmetic in the eyes of many Iraqis, the Sunnis in particular.
Or as Francis Fukuyama and Karl Eikenberry bluntly state in the Financial Times: "Washington lacks the tools to bring about a political settlement that would instill real democracy in Syria or good governance in Iraq."
Growing influence of Shiite militias
It seems that the United States has limited the political reform to the issue of replacing the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with some small concessions to the Sunni politicians whose political influence is confined within the Green Zone only. To make matters worse, with the floundering Iraqi army and its weak performance, the influence of these militias has begun to grow and affect all vital organs of the Iraqi state. Even more worrying, the rule of the militias will be further enhanced as it will take time for the Iraqi government to organize the army, consequently exacerbate the fears of the Sunni Arabs more than ever.
“From the standpoint of many Sunni Arabs, any American attempt to differentiate between the moderates and extremists is the epitome of political hypocrisy”
Dr. Naser al-Tamimi
The other puzzle in America's strategy is creating the so-called Iraqi National Guard. Many of Sunni Arabs leaders are skeptical of America's intentions and believe it is a prelude to the division of Iraq. Perhaps talk about the creation of a national guard of Sunni Arabs is easier said than done. Indeed, the devil is in the details: what is the timetable to establish this new force? Who will train, fund and oversee their leadership? Will it be independent or affiliated with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense? Above all, what are the weapons that will be owned by this guard?
Here we can say, if the new National Guard is to be established along the lines of the "Awakening" or Sahwat, there is no doubt it will be a failure from the start. However, if the intention is to set up new force with real power on the ground, the strong opposition may come from Shiite parties more than the Sunnis. Perhaps most importantly, the presence of the so-called National Guard under any form will without any doubts legitimizes the presence of armed Shiite militias. It's obvious that the Sunni Arabs do not trust the Americans or the Iraqi government alike, as the experience of the "Awakening" is still alive and fresh in the minds of most of them.
The other key issue worrying Sunnis Arab is the increasing activities of Shiite militias. While the United States is talking consistently about ISIS’s atrocities, Shiite militias are reportedly also carrying out violence against Sunni Arabs, especially in areas such as Diyala and Kirkuk provinces.
Additionally, the Sunnis accuse the Shiite militias of burning their shops, houses and farms as this was evident in places like Amerli (where the American planes gave air cover for Shiite militias and the Kurdish Peshmerga) and Ouja, the hometown of the late President Saddam Hussein in Tikrit. This situation is not a recipe for stability, but on the contrary, it will without any doubts rally the Sunni Arabs around the armed groups because the alternative is much worse.
The economic dimension
Another vital matter largely ignored by the Western media is the economic strangulation of many Sunnis areas, mass arrests and alleged torture by the Iraqi forces and Shiite militias. This situation is reportedly accompanied with Iraqi planes bombarding residential areas and daily shelling. These actions must be condemned and stopped, because it will complicate the situation and widen support for ISIS.
The economic side also has a great significance that cannot be ignored. ISIS currently provides many services for the poor and there are reportedly hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs who have become dependent on ISIS for their daily lives and jobs. All we hear is about is military escalations without providing any plans or details about the political and economic solutions, or how to provide reconstruction, homes and compensation for the millions of those vulnerable people. This is another recipe for increasing resentment and supporting the insurgency among the Sunni Arabs.
All this coincides with a general feeling among Sunnis Arab that they have become the targets of many around the world. Perhaps Obama's current policies towards Palestine, Syria and Yemen reinforce this feeling more strongly.
From the standpoint of many Sunni Arabs, any American attempt to differentiate between the moderates and extremists is the epitome of political hypocrisy. They recently witnessed moderate Sunni Islamist movements, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who came to power legally and through the ballot box, crushed without mercy or sympathy. On the other hand, they see the West move decisively to strike ISIS, without dealing with the roots of legitimate Sunni grievances.
Ultimately, Obama says that the war against ISIS will be long and may take several years. Of course the United States and most countries in the alliance have the luxury to wait, but for many of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq they have waited long enough and now have nothing to lose. Such sentiments are dangerous.
Israeli PM tells UN: Israel’s fight is
the world’s fight
By HERB KEINON/J.Post
In far-reaching speech to General Assembly, Netanyahu slams Abbas, indicating way to peace is no longer through direct talks, but via wider rapprochement with Arab world.
UNITED NATIONS – In a wide-ranging speech that touched on the scourge of radical Islam, the dangers of a nuclear Iran and a new paradigm for peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set out at the UN on Monday to convince the world that what Israel faces today, it will face in the near future.
“The fight against militant Islam is indivisible,” Netanyahu said on the last day of speeches at the UN General Assembly’s general debate to a hall about three-fourths full.
“When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it is emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it is set back in every place. That is why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight, it is your fight.
Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries might be facing tomorrow.”
Netanyahu also cautioned against focusing world efforts on battling Islamic State at the expense of ignoring Iran’s nuclear aspirations, saying that “to defeat ISIS [Islamic State] and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”
Netanyahu broke up his address into five main parts: The first dealt with the challenge of Islamic radicalism, as embodied by Islamic State.
The second part dealt with the danger of an already existing Islamic state – Iran – getting nuclear capabilities. The third dealt with the summer’s Gaza operation; the fourth with rising anti-Semitism; and the fifth with a comprehensive regional peace.
It was in the last section that Netanyahu signaled a new approach to the Palestinian issue, saying that while in the past the assumption was that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would lead to a rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world, now – perhaps – a partnership with the Arab world could led to an eventual peace agreement with the Palestinians.
“To achieve that peace, we must not look only at Jerusalem and Ramallah, but also to Cairo, Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere,” he said. “I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries, those who are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support.”
Though he never mentioned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by name, Netanyahu leveled a blistering attack on charges the PA leader made last week at the UN, charging that Israel was a racist state committing genocide.
Netanyahu said that while in the past the Jews were demonized with blood libel charges and accused of deicide, “today the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel, and charges of genocide.”
Then, referring to Israel’s actions in carrying out the Gaza operation in the summer, he asked, “In what moral universe does genocide include warnings to the enemy civilian population to get out of harm’s way, or ensuring that they receive tons of humanitarian aid each day, even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us, or setting up a field hospital to aid their wounded?” Referring to Abbas and the Holocaust denial paper he wrote for his doctorate at a Russian university, Netanyahu said, “I suppose it is the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust, and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews, judenrein, can stand on this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.”
Netanyahu began his address by saying that while the people of Israel pray for peace, “our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam is on the march.”
He defined the goal of militant Islam as world domination, and likened it to a cancer that if not checked immediately, will grow and attack “wider and wider areas.”
He hit out at countries who applauded US President Barack Obama for leading action against Islamic State, but condemned Israel for confronting Hamas. He quoted from both Hamas and Islamic State leaders to prove his point: That they share a fanatical creed that seeks world Islamic domination.
“Militant Islam’s vision to dominate the world seems mad, but so too did the goals of another fanatical ideology that swept into power eight decades ago,” the prime minister said. “The Nazis believed in a master race, the militant Islamists believe in a master faith.”
The only difference among the different Islamic radical groups – Sunni and Shi’ite – was over who would be “the master of the master faith,” he said.
“Therefore the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions,” Netanyahu said.
Then, in a subtle parallel between Islamic State – which the world fears – and Iran, he said, “there is one place where that could soon happen – the Islamic state of Iran.”
Netanyahu said that for the past 35 years Iran has been propelled by a philosophy of Islamic world domination, and pointed out the irony of President Hassan Rouhani standing at the UN podium last week and bewailing global terrorism.
Invoking the name of a baseball legend who played his last game on Sunday, Netanyahu said that saying that Iran does not practice terrorism is like saying “Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.”
He urged the world not to be taken in by Tehran’s charm offensive and lift sanctions, which was an effective obstacle to Iran’s path toward a bomb.
“The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanction it still faces, and leave it with capacity for thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power, and in a future time of its choosing, Iran – the world’s most dangerous regime in the world’s most dangerous region – will obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Netanyahu said.
It was one thing to confront Islamic radicals armed – like Islamic State – with Kalashnikov rifles on pick-up trucks, and another thing altogether to face Islamic radicals armed with nuclear weapons, he said.
Netanyahu slammed the UN Human Rights Council for setting up a team to investigate Israeli “war crimes,” not those of Hamas, and said this sent a message to all terrorists everywhere that they could use civilians as human shields.
The prime minister passionately rebuffed accusations that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, saying that while Israel was doing everything it could to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties, Hamas was doing its utmost to maximize both Israeli and Palestinian civilian casualties.
As he does often in major speeches, Netanyahu used a prop this time as well, holding up a photo of three children in Gaza playing next to two rocket launchers. This, he said, was the war crime that Abbas should have bewailed last week in his UN address.
“The profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer,” he said. “Israel was using its missiles to protect its children, Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles.”
Analysis of Netanyahu's Speech:
By HERB KEINON/09/30/2014/J.Post
Netanyahu always places the focus first and foremost on security; He sees his historic role as leader of Israel not necessarily as being the one who will bring peaceUNITED NATIONS – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood on the world’s grandest stage on Monday and delivered three key messages: Israel’s fight is your fight, the time has come to retire the 20-year-old template of direct negotiations with the Palestinians as the path to peace, and that his main historic role is to defend the Jewish state.
The speech was vintage Netanyahu. It had passion, it had soaring rhetorical flourishes, it had sarcasm. It even had a contemporary reference to retiring New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
And, finally, it had an appraisal of how Netanyahu views his role as a leader.
Toward the end of the speech, Netanyahu said that some in the world do not take Israel’s security concerns seriously.
“But I do, and I always will,” he said. “Because as prime minister of Israel I am entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility.”
That theme has been woven more than anything else through all of Netanyahu’s major addresses. Some leaders, like Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert, saw their ultimate role as being a peacemaker, and emphasized that in their keynote addresses.
Not Netanyahu. He always places the focus first and foremost on security. He sees his historic role as leader of Israel not necessarily as being the one who will bring peace, but rather the one who will ensure the country’s security, even if it means taking positions unpopular around the world to do so. One such position may be his signal Monday that he now prefers partnership with the Arab world as a way to reach some kind of accommodation with the Palestinians, rather than negotiations and peace with the Palestinians as the ticket to rapprochement with the Arab world.
In the role he envisions for himself as the defender of the Jewish people and the Jewish state, Netanyahu sees it as his responsibility to sound the warning loudly and clearly about the incoming storms.
He did that in his addresses to the UN in 2012 and 2013, focusing on Iran, and he did it again Monday.
This time the storm had two names: Iran and militant Islamic radicalism.
Knowing full well the world in which he lives, Netanyahu tried to draw parallels between Islamic State, which has the world up in arms, with the Islamic state of Iran, which he fears the world is willing to give a pass. Though there might be differences in their theological approach, he stressed, the aim is the same: world domination.
Netanyahu sees it as his role to shout from the mountain tops about the incoming storms. And he artfully shouted about them Monday at the UN. And if the world does not heed his warnings, he had another message as well – one that also always props up in his keynote addresses: Israel will always defend itself, by itself, against any threat.
PLO official says Netanyahu speech
full of 'hate language and slander'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF/09/29/2014
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi issued her statement to the media shortly after Netanyahu addressed the opening session of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of blatantly manipulating facts and misleading the United Nations by delivering a speech filled with “hate language, slander and argument of obfuscation.”
She issued her statement to the media shortly after Netanyahu addressed a session of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.
“Obviously Netanyahu has lost touch with reality, particularly in refusing to acknowledge the fact of the occupation itself or the actions of the Israeli army of occupation in committing massacres and war crimes,” Ashrawi said.
Instead of attacking Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the UN Human Rights Council, Netanyahu should have taken responsibility for those crimes, Ashrawi said.
“The UN podium would have been the most appropriate place for Netanyahu to announce his acceptance of all relevant UN resolutions and his adherence to international law and universal human rights,” Ashrawi said.
She charged that Netanyahu had turned to the Arab world instead of accepting at two-state solution on the pre-1967 lines to buy “more time to create facts that will destroy the chances of peace for the foreseeable future.”
“By creating false analogies between the Nazi concept of ‘master race’ and his view of militant Islam as upholding a ‘master faith,’ he is extending in effect the analogy to Israel as a ‘master state.’ Blaming the victim has always been the failed policy of the politically and morally bankrupt, and Netanyahu is no exception,” she said.