April 02/15

Thursday of the Mysteries

Bible Quotation For Today/The Last Supper/Thursday Of The Mysteries
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 22/01-23: The festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, "The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ " He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’

Bible Quotation For Today/This is my body that is for you
First Letter to the Corinthians 11/23-32: "I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 01-02/15
Obama's virtual reality/Shaul Rosenfeld/Ynetnews/April 01/15
Saving Yemen/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/April 01/15
Limiting Losses in Yemen’s Conflict/Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat/ April 01/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 01-02/15
Lebanese Cabinet 'Renews Trust' in Salam in Wake of Debate over his Stance at Arab Summit
Aoun Describes Saudi Offensive against Yemen as 'Illegal'

Australian Convicted for Marrying Off 12-Year-Old Daughter to Lebanese
3 Syrians Abducted in Arsal in Retaliation to Kidnapping of Hussein Seifeddine
Jumblat Slams Nasrallah, Considers Latest Speech as Tense
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan Praises Saudi's 'Bold' Decision in Yemen
Derbas Says Lebanon's Share from Donors Pledges Yet to be Disclosed
12 Charged with Abducting Syrian Defectors, Handing Them to Regime

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 01-02/15
Ya'alon: Iran failed to establish terror base on Syrian border with Israel
Yemen FM Urges Ground Op, Says Raids to Eventually Become 'Ineffective'
Netanyahu: World should negotiate 'better deal'
Netanyahu: 'Unconscionable' that world talks with Iran as Tehran calls for destruction of Israel
Khamenei sends Iranian navy to Bab el-Mandeb Straits. Iran arms store for Hamas bombed in Libya
Coalition warships secure Yemen ports: Saudi Defense Ministry
Hamas chief: 'Israeli extremism' killed peace
Poll: US support for 2-states lowest in 20 years
Iran asks UN to press for end to Yemen strikes
Palestinians officially join ICC
David's Sling interceptor passes latest trial
Mashal: 'Israeli extremism' killed peace process
US says Iran nuclear talks to continue past
PLO: IS Seizes Most of Yarmuk Refugee Camp in Damascus

Jihad Watch Latest News
Pamela Geller to Lecture at Brooklyn College
UK: Father of teen jihadi has high post in Ministry of Defence
Nine UK Muslims, including four children, arrested by Turkish cops as they try to join the Islamic State
Robert Spencer, PJ Media: Fooled Again: Why Do So Many American Converts to Islam Learn to Hate Their Home?
Netanyahu: “Evidently giving Iran’s murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable”
Video: Robert Spencer at YAF on the Islamic State and how it can be fought
UK teachers fear students will join Islamic State, but won’t tell police
Islamic State levels entire cemetery to avoid “worship of the dead”

Last Supper: Sacraments, Humility and Temptation
By: Elias Bejjani
On the Thursday that comes before the "Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified, Catholics all over the world, including our Maronite Eastern Church celebrates with prayers and intercessions the "Thursday of the Holy Mysteries", which is also known as the "Washing Thursday ", the "Covenant Thursday", and the "Great & Holy Thursday". It is the holy day feast that falls on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with His 12 Apostles as described in the gospel. It is the fifth day of the last Lenten Holy Week, that is followed by the, "Good Friday", "Saturday Of The Light and "Easter Sunday".
Christianity in its essence and core is Love, Sacrifice, honesty, transparency, devotion, hard work and Humility. Jesus during the last supper with His 12 Apostles reiterated and stressed all these Godly values and principles. In this holy and message proclaiming context He executed the following acts :
He, ordained His Apostles as priests, and asked them to proclaim God's message. “You have stayed with me all through my trials; 29 and just as my Father has given me the right to rule, so I will give you the same right. 30 You will eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22/28 and 29)
He, taught His Apostles and every body else, that evil temptation and betrayal can hit all those who detach and dissociate themselves from God, do not fear Him, lack faith, lose hope and worship earthly treasures. He showed them by example that even a disciple that He personally had picked and choose (Judas, the Iscariot) has fell a prey to Satan's temptation. “But, look! The one who betrays me is here at the table with me! The Son of Man will die as God has decided, but how terrible for that man who betrays him!" Luke 22/21)
He, washed His Apostles' feet to teach them by example modesty, devotion and humility. “So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13/12-16).
Modesty was stressed and explained by Jesus after His Apostles were arguing among themselves who is the greatest: "
"An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them should be thought of as the greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the pagans have power over their people, and the rulers claim the title ‘Friends of the People.’ But this is not the way it is with you; rather, the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant. Who is greater, the one who sits down to eat or the one who serves? The one who sits down, of course. But I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22/24 till 27)
Thursday of the "Holy Mysteries", is called so because in His Last Supper with the 12 disciples, Jesus Christ established the Eucharist and Priesthood Sacraments when "He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” "He took bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying: This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me. And when He Likewise, took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you".
Thursday of the Holy Mysteries (Secrets-Sacraments) is the heart of the last Lenten holy week, in which the Maronite Catholic Church lives with reverence and devotion the Lord's Last Supper spirit and contemplation through prayers and deeply rooted religious rituals and traditions:
The Patriarch prays over and blesses the chrism (Al-Myroun), as well as the oil of baptism and anointing that are to are distributed on all parishes and churches.
During the mass that is held on this Holy Day, the priest washes the feet of twelve worshipers, mainly children (symbolizing the apostles numbers). Jesus washed His disciples feet and commanded them to love each other and follow his example in serving each other.
Worshipers visit and pray in seven Churches. This ritual denotes to the completion of the Church's Seven sacraments (Secrets) : Priesthood, Eucharist, Holy Oil, Baptism, Confirmations, anointing and Service.
This tradition also denotes to the seven locations that Virgin Mary's went to look for Her Son, Jesus, after she learned about His arrest. The detention place, The Council of the Priests, twice the Pilate's headquarters, twice the Herod Headquarters, till She got to the Calvary.
Some Christian scholars believe that this tradition was originated in Rome where early pilgrims visited the seven pilgrim churches as an act of penance. They are Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross-in-Jerusalem, and traditionally Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls. Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love for the jubilee year of 2000.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper is accompanied by the ringing of bells, which are then silent until the Easter Vigil. Worshipers used to kneel and pray the rosary in front of the Eucharist (Blessed Sacrament) all Thursday night. The Blessed Sacrament remains exposed all night, while worshipers are encouraged to stay in the church as much as they can praying, meditating upon the Mystery of Salvation, and participating in the “agony of Gethsemane” (Garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives) in Jerusalem where Jesus spent his night in prayer before His crucifixion on Good Friday.
After the homily washing of feet the service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Eucharist (Sacrament) to the place of reposition. The altar is later stripped bare, as are all other altars in the church except the Altar of Repose.
Thursday of the "Holy Mysteries", is called so because in His Last Supper with the 12 disciples, Jesus Christ established the Eucharist and Priesthood Sacraments when "He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” "He took bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying: This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me. And when He Likewise, took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you".
Jesus ordained His disciples as priests of the New Testament when he said to them during the Last Supper: "But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Before Celebrating the Resurrection Day (Easter) worshipers live the "Paschal Mystery" through the Thursday Of the Sacraments, Good Friday and Saturday Of The Light.
Because He loves us and wants us to dwell in His Eternal Heaven, Jesus Christ for our sake willingly suffered all kinds of torture, pain, humiliation and died on the Cross to pave our way for repentance and salvation.
Let us pray on this Holy Day that we always remember Jesus' love and sacrifices and live our life in this context of genuine, faith, love, meekness and forgiveness.

Jumblat Slams Nasrallah, Considers Latest Speech as Tense
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat criticized on Wednesday Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's latest speech, describing it as “tense and biased.”“I noticed that the Islamic Republic of Iran didn't comment (on the developments in Yemen) like Nasrallah did,” Jumblat said in comments published in As Safir newspaper. He considered that the Hizbullah chief was “biased and tense.”“I don't understand why Hizbullah would go beyond Iran,” Jumblat wondered, stressing that he “will not use the word Persian anymore and replace it with the Islamic Iran as it might provoke the resistance.” The Hizbullah chief unleashed a tirade against Saudi Arabia after the offensive over its intervention in Yemen, calling it "surprising and painful," and suggesting Riyadh would suffer a "humiliating defeat" if it didn't resolve the conflict through negotiations. A Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen last week, saying it was targeting the Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies. The March 14 alliance backed the Saudi campaign. Jumblat told the daily that “Hizbullah's objection to (Prime Minister Tammam) Salam's speech at the Arab Summit is not justified,” describing it as “balanced,” wondering what is required from the premier to do other than that. Jumblat played down in remarks to An Nahar daily the impact of the developments on the government, saying: “Things are heading towards a settlement.”The Druze chief described Salam as a “wise man.” On Monday, Hizbullah Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan slammed Salam's stances at the Arab summit, pointing out that the PM's remarks do not reflect the viewpoint of all Lebanese. “We will raise this issue in the next cabinet session,” the minister announced. Addressing the Arab League summit held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday night, Salam said Lebanon supported any decision to preserve the territorial integrity of Yemen, reiterating the country's commitment to the dissociation policy and called for distancing Lebanon from the region's conflicts. The two-day summit ended Sunday with a vow to defeat Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen and the formal unveiling of plans to form a joint Arab intervention force.

Cabinet 'Renews Trust' in Salam in Wake of Debate over his Stance at Arab Summit
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam stressed on Wednesday that his position at the recent Arab League summit stemmed from his keenness on Lebanon and its role in the Arab community. Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said: “Salam emphasized that his stance reflected Lebanon's interest to remain within the Arab fold.” He made his remarks at the end of a cabinet session held at the Grand Serail and chaired by the premier. “The stance also stemmed from his keenness to keep Lebanon neutral from regional axes and conflicts,” added the minister. Salam had declared on Tuesday that Lebanon's stance at the Arab summit comes in harmony with the ministerial policy statement. On Monday, Hizbullah Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan slammed Salam's stances at the Arab summit, pointing out that the PM's remarks do not reflect the viewpoint of all Lebanese. Jreij said that the premier's stance was discussed at the cabinet session, adding that the ministers renewed at the end of the talks “their trust in the premier.”Addressing the Arab League summit held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday night, Salam said Lebanon supported any decision to preserve the territorial integrity of Yemen, reiterating the country's commitment to the dissociation policy and called for distancing Lebanon from the region's conflicts.
The two-day summit ended Sunday with a vow to defeat Iranian-backed Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen and the formal unveiling of plans to form a joint Arab intervention force. A Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen last week, saying it was targeting the rebels and their allies. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah unleashed a tirade against Saudi Arabia after the offensive over its intervention in Yemen, calling it "surprising and painful," and suggesting Riyadh would suffer a "humiliating defeat" if it didn't resolve the conflict through negotiations.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan Praises Saudi's 'Bold' Decision in Yemen
Naharnet/Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan lauded on Wednesday the “bold” decision taken by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to maintain stability in Yemen. “We back the stability of the Arab world,” Daryan said. He pointed out that the Arab leaders eased fears, voicing relief that the Arab unity and solidarity still exists. “We should all remain united to face the big challenges confronting our communities,” Daryan stressed, calling on foreigners to “stop meddling with the Arab national security.” An Arab summit in Egypt decided the Saudi-led air strikes against the Huthi rebels should continue until they surrender. The two-day summit ended Sunday with a vow to defeat Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen and the formal unveiling of plans to form a joint Arab intervention force. Further more, Daryan slammed efforts to tarnish the image of Islam, lashing out at “those who are committing crimes against humanity and the exodus under the name of Islam.”Concerning the ongoing vacuum at the Baabda Palace, the Grand Mufti called for the election of a new president, warning of its repercussions. “We want a safe and stable country along with active institutions,” Daryan added. MPs failed on several occasions to elect a new head of state over lack of quorum. President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May without the election of a successor. Hizbullah and Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate.

Aoun Describes Saudi Offensive against Yemen as 'Illegal'
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun deemed as “illegal” the military offensive led by Saudi Arabia against Yemen's Huthi rebels, reported As Safir newspaper on Wednesday. The charters of the United Nations and Arab League prohibit the foreign intervention of one country in the affairs of the other, he remarked during Tuesday's weekly Change and Reform bloc meeting. The Saudi war on Yemen is therefore illegal according to international law, explained the MP. Furthermore, Aoun criticized the Arab “confusion” over Yemen, as well as the double standards adopted by some of these countries in addressing the developments in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. He noted that based on his military experience, the airstrikes on Yemen will not yield results on the ground, citing Israel's war against Hizbullah in 2006 as an example of this. Saudi Arabia launched last week airstrikes against Yemen's Huthi rebels in an attempt to restore the country's sovereignty. An Arab League summit over the weekend endorsed the operation, saying that they will continue until legitimacy is restored in the country.

Yemen FM Urges Ground Op, Says Raids to Eventually Become 'Ineffective'
Naharnet/Yemen's foreign minister called Wednesday for a Saudi-led military coalition targeting Shiite rebels in his country to send ground troops. "Yes I'm calling for this (ground forces) because I think at some stage air strikes will be ineffective," Riyadh Yassin told AFP during an interview in the Saudi capital where he has taken refuge along with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. His appeal coincided with warnings from aid groups about a brewing humanitarian crisis and civilian casualties in Yemen, where the coalition began air strikes a week ago. Yassin said ground forces would cause "less civilian casualties" but added the main reason he proposes a land operation is to enable aid deliveries. "I am suggesting to start as soon as possible," he added. "We don't have a safe place from where they can operate," he said of the aid groups. On Tuesday the Saudi-led coalition's spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri, said that "so far there is no need for land intervention" in Yemen but the need might arise "at any time."A Western diplomatic source on Wednesday said that a land offensive would be "very, very complicated and difficult", partly because it would have to pass mountainous terrain in the country's north, with which the Huthi rebels are highly familiar. The source ruled out a seaborne landing because the coalition lacks amphibious forces. But the foreign minister said troops could come in from the south, around the port city of Aden, which would be relatively easy to secure and could become a safe haven for humanitarian operations. Aid agencies said on Tuesday they could not get assistance into Yemen. The closure of the country's international airports, and restrictions on seaports, are hampering delivery, Doctors Without Borders said. Assiri said all kinds of assistance for Yemen's needy are welcome but it has to go through "diplomatic channels." He said the movement of aid needs to be coordinated with the military "to make sure that we don't have any mistakes or any misunderstandings concerning the movement in the ports or airports or through the Saudi border."Since Friday at least 93 civilians have been killed and 364 wounded in the conflict, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday."I'm very, very concerned" about the civilian impact, Yassin said. SourceAgence France Presse

PLO: IS Seizes Most of Yarmuk Refugee Camp in Damascus
Naharnet/Militants from the Islamic State jihadist group seized control of most of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus Wednesday, a local Palestinian official told AFP. "Fighters from IS launched an assault this morning on Yarmuk and they took over the majority of the camp," said Anwar Abdel Hadi, director of political affairs for the Palestine Liberation Organization in Damascus. Fighting was continuing inside the camp, he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said IS was in control of a "large part" of the camp after fighting with Palestinian groups also opposed to President Bashar Assad's regime. Yarmuk was once a thriving neighborhood home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians but has been caught up in the country's fighting and besieged by regime forces for more than a year. Only about 18,000 residents are estimated to remain in the camp after many fled the fighting. Syrian rebels had withdrawn from the camp in February 2014 under a deal that left only Palestinian anti-regime groups inside.
The siege has caused significant shortages of food, water and drugs inside the camp. IS, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, has fought not only against the Assad regime but also against other rebel groups as it seeks to expand the territory under its control.
SourceAgence France Presse

Khamenei sends Iranian navy to Bab el-Mandeb Straits. Iran arms store for Hamas bombed in Libya
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 31, 2015
Control of the Red Sea Bab el-Mandeb Straits passed Tuesday, March 31 to pro-Iranian Yemeni forces when the Yemeni Army’s 117th Brigade loyal to the former Yemeni President Ali Saleh handed positions guarding the waterway to two Houthi commando battalions trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. This is revealed by debkafile’s military and intelligence sources. In another development Tuesday involving Iran’s spreading tentacles, debkafile’s military sources reveal that unidentified aircraft bombed Burak, a small military base in the Fezzan province of southwestern Libya, which serves Iran as a transit store for arms purchased in Sudan for the Palestinian Hamas. The weapons, which recently reached the Libyan base through Chad, were destroyed. They were scheduled to be smuggled through Egypt and Sinai and onto Gaza. Western military sources attributed responsibility for the bombardment to the Egyptian or Israeli air forces. Both Israel and Egypt have declined to comment on the report. To strengthen Iran’s grip on the key Red Sea gateway, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered two naval task forces to sail to the Red Sea. They are to fend off a Saudi-Egyptian offensive to dislodge the Houthi battalions now holding a point linking the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The naval task forces are being sent to draw a sea shield around the Houthi forces to defend them against Saudi-Egyptian assaults. This maneuver was orchestrated by the Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Our sources report that the 33rd task force set out on its mission Tuesday night from the Gulf port of Bandar Abbas.

Limiting Losses in Yemen’s Conflict
Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 1 Apr, 2015
No war in the world can be without its losses. Even when the police want to preserve the security of the people, damages can be inflicted. Like all wars, Operation Decisive Storm unfortunately will cause losses. Of course this is not to justify the shortcomings of what is expected to be a campaign of smart airstrikes. Tools of modern warfare have improved exponentially; Targets are determined in a precise manner and in advance as is the case with Operation Decisive Storm where strikes are aimed at the military positions and facilities of the Houthi militia and forces loyal to the toppled president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Apart from the lies about airstrikes targeting civilians made by the Iranian media (the mouthpiece of the Houthis), if Yemen was left at the mercy of the Houthi militia, losses would be expected to greatly exceed those the war may produce. Had Yemen been left exposed to the dangers of a sectarian civil war—the signs of which began to emerge in Sana’a, Aden, Ma’rib, Hadhramaut, Al-Hudaydah and Taiz—the country would undoubtedly have witnessed a repeat of the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, a country that, due to an illegitimate regime backed by Iran, has suffered massive humanitarian and economic losses. The Syrian people started a popular uprising in 2011. But thanks to the oppression of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and the hesitance of the international community to intervene militarily, the vortex of the conflict gradually expanded across the country, turning into an open war fought by several parties. This has led to economic and humanitarian losses so massive that it earned the war in Syria a place among history’s bloodiest and most financially-damaging wars. The number of those killed in Syria is estimated at 300,000, while almost half of the population has been forced to flee their homes, of whom four million have sought refuge in neighboring countries and seven million are internally displaced. Who would take responsibility if Yemen were to follow the Syrian course, or suffer to a similar degree, or even part of Syria’s losses? Should the current crisis in Yemen continue, the economic losses would be so massive that it may produce as dire a humanitarian catastrophe as the one in Syria. Half of Yemen’s budget depends on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and half the population there live on less than one US dollar per day. Unemployment rates increased from 25 percent before the revolution to 44 percent in 2013 amid predictions that it may hit 60 percent this year. If we add to this the potential decline in the remittances sent by hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the Gulf, Yemenis will not be able to cope with the difficult living conditions that have deteriorated further after the Houthis’ coup. Nor can humanitarian aid agencies predict the scale of the tragedy Yemen would witness. The countries participating in Operation Decisive Storm have done a good job launching a necessary war to avoid repeating the Syrian tragedy. Yemen was heading towards a dark tunnel from which it would not have emerged without paying a hefty price. The members of the coalition took responsibility to rescue this country, which is suffering both politically and economically. Any damages the raging war on Houthis may cause will be no match to those that would be incurred had the Shi’ite militia been allowed to control Yemen and destroy its political and economic infrastructure.

Saving Yemen
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 1 Apr, 2015
Only firm action works with those who understand nothing but the language of force, respect no agreements and treat dialogue as a maneuver to gain time.
The outcomes of the Yemen National Dialogue Conference have been turned into a travesty in the eyes of most Yemenis and those interested in the affairs of Yemen throughout the Arab world by the Houthis, their masters and inciters outside the country as well as their tacit allies and collaborators within it. Still, despite the passing of time, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states were willing to give peace every chance possible.
However, emboldened by Arab divisions and an inability to end Syria’s debacle, the Houthis and Tehran—their regional masters—became too arrogant. This was reflected in preposterous pronouncements and actions made by senior Iranian officials. Examples of these included openly boasting that Iran now controls four Arab capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a). This is not to mention the unscrupulous visits made by General Qassem Suleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force to the Iraqi Sunni fronts of Anbar, Nineveh and Salah Al-Din, as well as the Syrian war front, as if he were on his home turf. Then, there was the declaration made by presidential adviser Ayatollah Ali Younesi that Baghdad is the “capital” of the Iranian Empire.
Consequently, it was only natural that such arrogance trickled down to influence the actions and speeches of Tehran’s subordinates, whether in Arab countries already dominated by Iran or those about to be.
In Iraq, not only is the true identity and role of the Badr Organization, led by Hadi Al-Ameri, now well known but so is the truth about the Popular Mobilization forces. These are both predominately “sectarian militia,” unsuitable to become the nucleus of any putative “National Guard” that would help reestablish much hoped for national unity in Iraq. Reestablishing national unity is a must if Iraq is ever going to rise again as a genuine homeland for all its constituent communities, and subsequently, Iraq must win the war against terrorism after cleansing the bitterness of injustice and marginalization on one side, and eliminating arrogance and foreign clientelism on the opposite side.
As for Yemen, the media appearances of Abdul Malik Al-Houthi have become carbon copies of those of Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. It has become clear how the two followers of the one and same religious authority have applied the same “scenario” in their respective countries. The most important aspect of this is how they both preach dialogue and coexistence while they build up their arsenals under the pretext of fighting either “Takfirists” as Hezbollah claims, or Al-Qaeda as in the case of the Houthis. This pretext—i.e. fighting Sunni extremism—is the centerpiece of Iran’s regional strategy for normalizing its relations with the US, and it is also being exploited in the Syrian and Iraqi arenas.
However, the urgency that necessitated “Operation Decisive Storm” in Yemen has been the uncovering of the dangerous role being played by deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who threatens through his duplicity and tactical horse-trading to devastate Yemen and cause its disintegration. In this respect, the Houthi attack on the city of Taiz, their shelling of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s residence in Aden, and their move to occupy the provinces of Lahj, including Al-Anad air base, and Al-Dhale, required a rapid and proportionate reaction.
Indeed, Saleh’s virtual coup d’etat was made even more dangerous, albeit indirectly, by its convergence with Iran’s old political “investments” in both traditional clan loyalties and radical partisan links. This provided the tactical Saleh–Houthi alliance a useful presence, or rather a “time bomb” in the former South Yemen, which could have been rewarding had the alliance achieved its occupation of Aden and the province of Shabwah.
Given such a delicate situation, the consequences of the overthrow of President Hadi—the legitimate president and guarantor of the UN–GCC peace plan—allowing the emergence of an Iran-dominated Yemen that controls Aden, the Strait of Bab El-Mandeb and the Island of Socotra would have created a huge strategic change in southern Arabia with unprecedented and untold repercussions.
Thus, the coming together of Saleh’s military and Iran’s expansionist ambitions manned and represented by the Houthis under the pretext of fighting Al-Qaeda, left neither the GCC nor the Arab world with any option but to take firm and decisive action in order to save what could be saved.
Iran’s immediate reaction was its criticism of foreign “intervention”, support for Yemen “sovereignty” and calls for “dialogue” and “combating terrorism.” This was not surprising given that these are the same slogans Tehran is peddling to justify its blatant intervention in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, as well as Yemen, and even in Bahrain and anywhere else its tentacles can reach. It is strange that Iran does not regard its direct military intervention—as symbolized by General Suleimani’s in-your-face appearances and the active participation of his subordinate militias on the Iraqi and Syrian fronts—as making a mockery of this lamented “sovereignty.” As for Tehran’s call for “dialogue” and “combating terrorism” the people of the region know only too well which groups in Iraq and Syria, and also in Lebanon and Yemen, have continually rejected dialogue. They also know whose sectarian, discriminatory, and marginalizing policies have created frustrated and desperate environments that are easy prey to creeping extremism, and who encouraged and even helped and nourished this extremism in order to blackmail the world with their atrocities in the future. To learn the answer look no further than Nuri Al-Maliki’s former government and Bashar Al-Assad’s intelligence-based regime.
A few days ago a brave decision was taken to save Yemen from the bleak future it was being driven toward. “Operation Decisive Storm” was the only way a proper political dialogue, rather than meaningless talks with guns pointed at the heads of participants, could take place.
It deserves the strong support of the international community in order to put an end to regional sectarian and ethnic hegemony which is breeding extremism and provoking terrorism.
The Middle East has already paid a heavy price, endangering its security and domestic and regional dignity, as a result of the appeasement of Iran, which includes convincing its leaders to reach a nuclear agreement, while Iran continues to exploit this appeasement to create new realities of “occupation” and “turmoil” on the ground at the expense of co-existence, tolerance, and mutual understanding.
It is high time we appreciate the importance of a new approach, bearing in mind that terrorism and extremism, which preoccupies the international community, can only be effectively dealt with through a comprehensive political-military strategy.
“Operation Decisive Storm” is a good start.

Ya'alon: Iran failed to establish terror base on Syrian border with Israel
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that Iran is continuing in its efforts to arm terrorist organizations in Syria but had failed in recent attempts to do so, according to statements he made Wednesday while briefing journalists on the overall security situation in the Middle East.
"Iran attempted to open a terrorist front in Syria ," said Ya'alon, " and repel rebels forces in the Golan Heights but was driven out - now we are seeing the rebels come back to retake Syria... It is important to the Iranians to defend Damascus and to be close to our border. Overall they did not challenge us."
In reference to the emerging agreement between Tehran and six world powers in Switzerland, Ya'alon said that he believes the motive behind any agreement for Iran is economic: "The economic pressure has brought Khamenei to these negotiations... Iran has an interest in a permanent agreement to relieve the pressure. I do not know how the agreement will end, but I don't believe that there will be a breakdown in the negotiations."
Yaalon reiterated that it is in Israel's best interest not to see any agreement at all. Ya'alon revealed that the gaps between the coalition and the Iranians were stemming from Iranian demands for further development and research for its nuclear program. In addition, the issue of whether if, and how much, they can continue to develop centrifuges and how much of their inventory they will be allowed to hold was also an issue. The minister stressed that according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has a core military dimension in developing its nuclear capability. "The situation is that Iran could reach a nuclear bomb within a year."
Ya'alon discussed the northern front, not denying the Home Front Command's estimate released Tuesday that Hezbollah has tens of thousands of rockets at its disposal and will be able to fire up to a thousand rockets a day during its next conflict with Israel.
Despite this estimate, the defense minister said that "Hezbollah does not desire an escalation. In any conflict situation we will be forced to deal with a massive rocket threat."
Addressing the southern front, Ya'alon said "our assumption is that Hamas is digging tunnels. We don't see anything that is entering our territory and we are investing technologically to discover if [tunnels] have come out in our territory as they did during Operation Protective Edge."Ya'alon added that it was clear who the active players were in Gaza. "Hamas is not in power, but it is in charge and it is implementing the cease-fire, but at the same time is trying to rearm and is struggling in doing so."
The defense minister expalined that amid changes in the area, including the closing off of previously available borders and passages, Hamas is prevented from obtaining quality weapons, which is spurring the organization to manufacture its own low-quality weapons. "They are doing a lot of experiments with different formulas and they are trying to renew their tunneling efforts. We are not closing our eyes."

Netanyahu: 'Unconscionable' that world talks with Iran as Tehran calls for destruction of Israel
By HERB KEINON/04/01/2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued on Wednesday to rail against the Iranian nuclear deal being negotiated in Lausanne, saying it was outrageous that the world negotiates with Tehran as one of its military leaders says Israel's destruction is “non-negotiable.”
"Yesterday an Iranian general brazenly declared and I quote: 'Israel's destruction is non-negotiable', but evidently giving Iran's murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable,” he said. “This is unconscionable.”
Israel Radio on Tuesday quoted Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Iranian revolutionary Guard's Basij (volunteer) militia, as saying on the anniversary of the Islamic Republic Day in Tehran that “wiping Israel off the map is not up for negotiation.”
Iran's Fars News Agency reported on Naqdi's speech, but left out in its English story any reference to Israel, instead highlighting threats he made toward the Saudis for their intervention against the Iranian-supported Houthis in Yemen.
Netanyahu said that the concessions offered to Iran in the talks in Switzerland “would ensure a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and the peace of the world.”
He said that the international community needed to insist on a better deal that would significantly roll back Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
Then, picking up on a theme that he introduced during his speech to Congress last month, Netanyahu said that a better deal “would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to a change in Iran's behavior.”
As the talks continue, he said, “Iran is accelerating its campaign of terror, subjugation and conquest throughout the region, most recently in Yemen.”
Iran, the prime minister said, “must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be non-negotiable and that's the deal that the world powers must insist upon.
Harking back to comments US President Barack Obama made in December 2013, Netanyahu said he agreed with those who said “that Iran's claim that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes doesn't square with Iran's insistence on keeping underground nuclear facilities, advanced centrifuges and a heavy water reactor.”
Netanyahu said Iran's claims of a peaceful nuclear program is also incompatible with its insistence on developing ICBM's and refusal to “come clean with the IAEA on its past weaponization efforts.”

High-Stakes Iran Nuclear Talks in Nail-Biting Extension amid Bilateral Kerry-Zarif Meet
Naharnet/Rollercoaster talks aimed at stopping Iran getting a nuclear bomb went into extra time Wednesday with Tehran insisting it won't be rushed into a bad deal that falls short of meeting its key demands. Speaking after Iran and major powers missed a midnight deadline to agree the outlines of a potentially historic accord at talks that stretched into the small hours, Iran's chief negotiator said the Iranians "won't let time bind us in the talks." "Time is important to us but the content of the negotiations and our demands are more important," Abbas Araghchi said in a live interview with state television from Lausanne.The U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany want Iran to scale down its nuclear program in order to extend the "breakout" time needed for Iran to assemble a bomb's worth of nuclear material.
Iran denies wanting the bomb and its negotiators are under strict orders from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to refuse any curtailing of its program without relief from painful sanctions. Araghchi said Wednesday a deal was impossible without a "framework for the removal of all sanctions," but global powers want any sanctions relief to be phased and easily reversible if Iran violates the deal. The stakes are high, with fears that failure may set the United States and Israel on a road to military action to thwart Iran's nuclear drive.
The White House warned again Tuesday that the military option to deprive the Islamic republic of nuclear arms remained "on the table."
- Contradictory signals -
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif had raised hopes in the early hours of Wednesday morning that the framework deal might be in sight.Lavrov told Russian media that they had reached "an agreement in principle on all key aspects of the final settlement," while Zarif said he hoped negotiators could "finalize" the framework on Wednesday. But Western countries poured cold water on such expectations, with a senior U.S. State Department official saying tersely: "All issues have not been agreed." An "optimistic" British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday a "broad framework of understanding" had been reached, but he also said there were "some key issues that have to be worked through." Coming away from Lausanne with a deal meant "the Iranians being willing to meet us where there are still issues to deal with," Hammond told British media. Hawkish French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who along with Lavrov and China's Wang Yi have now left the talks, said progress so far was "not enough."
A German diplomat said the talks had got "stuck on several important issues... Nothing is decided but with goodwill an agreement (is possible)." Wang issued a four-point written statement to journalists saying "all parties must be prepared to meet each other halfway in order to reach an agreement."-
Obama briefed -
Kerry, who on Wednesday went into his first bilateral meeting with Zarif in several days, overnight briefed U.S. President Barack Obama and his national security team on the negotiations by secure video conference.The question is how much detail will be in the framework under negotiation. If it falls short of firm commitments by Iran, Obama could find it hard to fend off attempts by his Republican opponents to pass fresh sanctions on Tehran. Iran's negotiators are also under pressure from domestic hardliners not to give too much away while also delivering on President Hassan Rouhani's promise to win the lifting of sanctions. U.S. Republicans fear that Iran will still be able to get the bomb -- a concern shared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons itself.
Netanyahu, in his fourth broadside in as many days, warned Wednesday against a bad deal that would endanger Israel, and the Middle East. Some areas of the mooted deal, including the future size of Iran's uranium enrichment capacity, appear to have been tentatively sewn up.
But the two sides still appear to be discussing other areas, including sanctions relief, what to do with Iran's stockpiles of nuclear material, and how long the deal should last. Agence France Presse

Obama's virtual reality
Shaul Rosenfeld/Ynetnews
Published: 04.01.15/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: While the US president and his administration have failed in predicting, understanding and handling every single event in the Middle East, most of their criticism is still directed at the State of Israel led by Netanyahu.
In an article titled, "The Orwellian Obama presidency," Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote last week that in the spirit of George Orwell’s motto for Oceania in the book "1984," under US President Barack Obama "friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory."
And in light of the recent failure in the current American foreign policy in Yemen – which was marked by Obama only about half a year ago as a model of tremendous success of the war on terror – Stephens asked with some irony: "Who should Barack Obama be declaring war on in the Middle East other than the State of Israel?"
Nuclear Deal
The Americans are being naive about Iran / Alex Fishman
Op-ed: The US administration either believes that the supervision on Iran's nuclear program will be perfect, or that the Iranians have no intention of cheating. Either way, when the Americans talk about a historic deal, Israel and the Middle East react hysterically.
Full op-ed
Indeed, as his own work and vision in the Middle East are drowning in the sea, it is becoming clear that the horrible local element according to Obama, which his administration directs most of its criticism at, are not the Houthis in Yemen or the Islamic State or even Iran (which is becoming a nuclear threshold state thanks to his failure), but the State of Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who he believes is deteriorating Israeli democracy, excluding the Arabs, and impudently refusing to make peace with the Palestinians right now.
It's possible that the American president's current anger and tongue-lashing were designated to begin with against Netanyahu's attempt to thwart the agreement taking shape with Iran and accept the invitation to speak at the Congress, and now, after the elections, he simply has the opportunity to execute them.
It's also possible that the election results, by which he was annoyed of course, contributed quite a lot to his growing fury. It's also reasonable to assume that for Obama, walking all over Netanyahu's head could help divert the global attention from that nuclear agreement which is taking shape.
But all this is nothing more than one variation of the same well-known issue of appeasing stubborn and determined enemies on the one hand, while harassing friends and lashing out at their actions – which he began upon entering the White House and hasn't ceased for a moment – on the other hand.
The appeasing and flattering tone towards Hamas, "moderate" elements in the Taliban, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and Islam in general, which began immediately when Obama took office, hasn't subsided and hasn't lessened. Just like there has been no reduction in the firm criticism against Israel over each and every balcony it built in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood, every tender in Givat Shlomo, every internal conflict with its Arab citizens or its "insolent" attempt not to allow a duplication of the Gazan model in Judea and Samaria by withdrawing to the 1967 borders.
In April 2010, a bit more than year after he took office, he ordered his staff to stop using the term "radical and militant Islam." In late 2014, even when ISIS's acts of horror increased, there was no doubt that he would not deviate even a little from the line exempting Islam of any responsibility for and affinity to terror, extremism, oppression and stoning of women who have acted immorally, or persecution of minorities. The fact that almost all acts of terror on earth are committed by Muslim terrorists, who carry out their evil scheme in the name of Islam and who say it out loud, is not enough to undermine Obama's blind faith.
Because if "America and Islam share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," as he said in his Cairo speech, one can only conclude that Islam has nothing to do with all the terroristic calamities in the Middle East, and not just in the Middle East.
Obama's ideological figure in those liberal American habitats was shaped based on two great ideas: Reconciliation and pursuing peace over any use of force, even at the cost of ingratiating hooligan and crazy rulers, or at least avoiding any conflict with them at all costs; and on the other hand, expressing remorse for the sins of colonialism, which places all responsibility for the Levant's backwardness on the West, in the spirit of the groundless post-colonialist perceptions of Edward Said.
The devout internalization of these two ideas contributed quite a lot to the fact that there has not been a single event in the region which he and his administration succeeded in predicting, understanding and handling, while repeatedly erring with a motivational bias (a bias which makes people see a high likelihood for future events just because they strongly want them to happen).
That same bias, for example, made Obama and his administration see the Arab Spring as a sort of wonderful democratic renaissance, similar to the way the Israeli press and left-wing camp rushed to crown Isaac Herzog as the next prime minister on the eve of the elections. Reality, it seems, has a tendency of disregarding heart's desires, even those of American presidents.