LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/On
the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene
Mark 16/09-14: "After he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."
Bible Quotation For Today/I would remind you of the good news that I proclaimed to you
First Letter to the Corinthians 15/01-11: "I would remind you of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe."
Question: "What is Easter Monday?"
Answer: Easter Monday, also known as Bright Monday, Renewal Monday, Wet Monday, and Dyngus Day, is the Monday immediately after Easter Sunday. It is observed by many Christian groups, but primarily by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. It marks the beginning of Easter Week (Roman Catholic) / Bright Week (Eastern Orthodox). Different cultures observe Easter Monday very differently. For some, Easter Monday is a solemn remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection marked by an outdoor procession. For others, there are Easter egg-rolling competitions. For still others, siblings and/or spouses wake each other up by pouring buckets of water on each other (hence the name “Wet Monday”). And others celebrate with a large gathering and a polka festival (Dingus Day).
Some of these observances have more Christian symbolism in them than others, but none of them are explicitly biblical. The Bible does not say anything about what happened on Easter Monday, the day after Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible does not instruct followers of Jesus Christ to observe Easter Monday, so there is no obligation to celebrate it. As with many holidays, there is nothing wrong with observing some cultural traditions, but it is important to not allow traditions to detract from the message of the gospel.
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Easter-Monday.html#ixzz3WOWpzyCf
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April
Netanyahu tells U.S. TV networks he's 'trying to kill a bad Iran deal'/By Haaretz and Reuters/April 05/15
Iran, the Beast Unchained/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/April 05/15
The calm that preceded the ‘Decisive Storm’/Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/April 05/15
How can an unshackled Iran be confronted/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/April 05/15
Lebanese Related News published on April
Lebanese Hezbollah MP, Nawar Sahili praises U.S.-Iran nuclear deal
Rai: Lebanon has reached the ‘peak’ of suffering
Saudi Arabia seeking a 'media slave market': Hezbollah
Lebanese man found shot dead in Ain al-Hilweh
Stranded truck drivers cross into Lebanon
One militant dead in Army clashes near border
Israel deliberately targeted UNIFIL: Spanish report
Berri Says Ready to Host Dialogue between Yemen Rivals
Baalbek Resident Seifeddine Freed after Arsal Abduction
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Israeli PM on Iran agreement: ‘I’m trying to kill a bad deal’
Netanyahu presses U.S. to seek better deal on Iran
Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Lashes Out at Hizbullah, Accuses it of Supporting Huthis
Pope praises Iran nuclear deal in Easter message
Iran military chief hails nuclear success
Humanitarian efforts by coalition partners active since first day of Yemen conflict: experts
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Easter
Coalition partners form committee to evacuate civilians in Yemen
Saudi King holds talks with Azerbaijan’s president
Skepticism surrounds Houthi calls for dialogue
Houthis say ready for talks if airstrikes stop
Yemen militias attack Aden TV station loyal to Hadi
Iraq: Attacks kill at least 9 in Baghdad
Four dead in Libya suicide bombing claimed by ISIS
How ‘Decisive Storm’ impacted Iran nuclear negotiations
2,000 evacuated from Yarmouk after ISIS advance
UK police arrest 16-year-old girl on terrorism charges
Jihad Watch Latest News
Islamic State used sledgehammers & rifles to destroy priceless artifacts
Today is Your Last Chance to Submit Your Entry to $10,000 Muhammad Cartoon Contest
Islamic jihadists say Kenyan cities will run “red with blood”
Iran’s Persian statement on ‘deal’ contradicts Obama’s claims
UK: Two teens arrested for something
Norway town produces many jihadis, authorities baffled
Pope condemns “complicit silence” on jihad attacks on Christians
UK police will have to record “Islamophobic” attacks
Kenya: Jihad mass murderer is son of government official
Bangladesh: Muslim mob attacks Christian couple for leaving Islam
Egypt’s Islamic State branch claims Sinai jihad attack that killed 18
Rai: Lebanon has reached the ‘peak’ of
The Daily Star/Apr. 05, 2015/BEIRUT: The lack of a president and the sharp divide across the political spectrum has caused Lebanon to reach the peak of suffering, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Sunday.Distress in Lebanon has reached its higgest point as a result of the 11-month long presidential vacuum, the sharp rifts that have divided the country into two political camps and the breakdown of the civil society sector, Rai said in his sixth Easter message Sunday. In a sermon delivered during Easter Sunday mass in Bkirki, the patriarch decried the economic condition in the country, noting that "one-third of the Lebanese people are currently living under the poverty line.” He added that the people of Syria, Palestine and Iraq should not be forgotten as he called on states to cease from providing financial and military support to mercenaries. Rai also urged “peaceful solutions that lead to just and comprehensive peace,” ahead of efforts to repatriate refugees who have fled wars from all three countries. Sunday's mass was attended by former President Michel Suleiman, Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi and other notable figures. Earlier Saturday, Rai described the deadlock in Lebanese institutions as a form of “political death,” saying that Lebanon’s politicians had no excuse for further delaying the election of a Lebanese president. Accusing political parties of relying on external powers for directions, Rai addressed the “consciences of the political blocs,” calling on lawmakers to fulfill their duties by electing a president as soon as possible.
One militant dead in Army clashes near
The Daily Star/Apr. 05, 2015
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army killed one Islamist militant and arrested another overnight Sunday during a foiled infiltration attempt into Lebanese territory. One Syrian gunman, Khalil Ahmad, was gunned down by soldiers while another Syrian, Ahmad Hasan, was taken in to custody after a "militant group" attempted to cross into Lebanese territory via the northeastern border, the Army said in a statement Sunday. The militants encountered the Lebanese Army after entering Lebanon from the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal.
The statement did not mention the number of militants in the group. The suspect in custody confessed to belonging to one of the terrorist groups stationed across the Lebanese-Syrian border, the statement added. But the Army did not disclose weather he was a member of ISIS or the Nusra Front. The Lebanese Army has stepped up security measures along the northern border with Syria in efforts to reduce spillover from the crisis in neighboring Syria. The Army had maintained a near-daily pattern of pounding militant positions on the outskirts of the border town of Arsal and the town of Ras Baalbek for about 10-15 minutes every few hours in a bid to repulse possible jihadi attacks.
Saudi Arabia seeking a 'media slave market': Hezbollah
The Daily Star/Apr. 05, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of running a "media slave market" and attempting to threaten freedom of press in Lebanon after the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon said that the Al-Akhbar newspaper belonged to the "Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis."
Saudi Arabia, who dominates Arabic media outlets, is attempting to threaten and insult “the Lebanese free voice,” Hezbollah MP Nawaf al-Moussawi said Sunday. “It is threating it with prosecution, closure or elimination,” he added, after Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri accused the Al-Akhbar newspaper of spreading lies and rumors about Saudi Arabia and hinted that Riyadh might sue in response. Moussawi distinguished Al-Akhbar, which he described as an “honorable free media outlet,” from other media outlets that “scavenge” for funds from the Saudi Arabian treasury. “Al-Akhbar is a voice that represents free people and not a...media slave market purchased with oil money,” he added. The Hezbollah MP said it was unacceptable for the kingdom’s ambassador to “insult” any Lebanese newspaper and added that Asiri was overstepping his boundaries. He called on the Saudi envoy to apologize to the Lebanese people and revoke his threats, while also urging citizens to commit to their “deep seated tradition of freedom.” Al-Akhbar has been one of the most prominent voices against the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen launched last week. Moussawi’s comments serve as the second response made by Hezbollah over the ambassador's comments. In a statement issued by the party's media office Saturday, spokesperson Mohammad Afif accused Asiri of endangering the lives of the newspaper staff. "[Asiri's remarks] represent a blatant and direct threat to the newspaper and the life and safety of its employees, a direct assault on the dignity and freedom of the press in Lebanon, as well as a gross interference ... in Lebanese internal affairs," Afif said.
Lebanese Hezbollah MP, Nawar Sahili
praises U.S.-Iran nuclear deal
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Sunday, 5 April 2015/A Lebanese Hezbollah MP has praised the Iran nuclear deal struck last week as a “victory” for the Islamic Republic. The Hezbollah lawmaker said the deal gives Iran "global recognition,” in comments to local news site Daily Star Lebanon. “There is a global recognition of Iran as a member of the nuclear club,” Hezbollah MP Nawar Sahli said. “We hope the agreement will have positive repercussions on security and stability in the region, even though Iran had said the nuclear issue was separate from regional conflicts,” Sahli added, praising the deal as a “victory.” Meanwhile, Lebanese factions opposed to Hezbollah and critical of Iranian interference in the country's internal affairs expressed apprehension over the agreement. "So far, we don’t have details of the framework agreement. But we hope it will help stability in the region and curb Iran’s emperor tendencies to dominate the region,” Future MP Ammar Houri also told The Daily Star. The Future Movement is predominantly Sunni and pro-Western. Western countries suspect that Iran’s nuclear program has a military dimension. The framework nuclear deal announced by Iran and six world powers Thursday in Switzerland is not binding until a final agreement is worked out by a June 30 deadline. If finalized, the agreement would cut significantly into Iran’s bomb-capable nuclear technology while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and other financial assets blocked by international sanctions.[With AFP]
drivers cross into Lebanon
The Daily Star/Apr. 05, 2015/BEIRUT: A number of Lebanese truck drivers crossed into Lebanon Sunday after at least 30 drivers were stranded on the Syrian-Jordanian border for four days, the head of Lebanon’s Truck Union told The Daily Star. Naim Sawaya said that six truck drivers entered Lebanon through the Masnaa border crossing after being stranded in a no man’s land between the Syrian Nasib crossing and Jordan’s Jaber crossing. Sawaya said that authorities have “lost contact” with two truck drivers while several others are set to make their way in to Lebanon within the next two days. Ahmad Alam, the mayor of Seer al-Dinnieh and owner of eight of the trucks that were prevented from crossing the border, confirmed that six truck drivers have entered Lebanon and confirmed that authorities have lost contact with two truck drivers whose whereabouts are currently unknown. Syrian rebels took control of the major southern crossing Wednesday night, a day after Jordanian authorities had announced the shutting of the borders. Not mentioning that the area fell into the hands of the rebels, the Syrian government announced through its media agency SANA Thursday that the Nasib crossing was now closed and that any attempt to cross the borders would be considered “illegal trespassing.” Dozens of truckers were stuck as a result between the two borders, and gunmen took the opportunity to loot the trucks as well as the transit area. Omar al-Ali, head of the Lebanese refrigerated truck union, was cited by AFP as saying that between 30 and 35 Lebanese drivers and their trucks and refrigerated vehicles had been trapped in the border’s free zone. Suspected Nusra Front militants were reportedly holding several Lebanese truck drivers hostage at a major border crossing with Jordan. Media outlets Saturday posted a video allegedly showing a member of the Free Syrian Army with the Lebanese truckers, who said that they were “free from the abduction of [Syrian] regime forces.” Contradicting statements have thrown the fate of Lebanese truck drivers on the Syrian-Jordanian border into confusion, with the number of drivers still being held in dispute.
Ready to Host Dialogue between Yemen Rivals
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri expressed readiness on Sunday to sponsor dialogue between the sides involved in the conflict in Yemen, hailing Iran's wit during the nuclear deal with world powers. “All sides expressed readiness to engage in dialogue, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Huthis and all involved sides... then what are we waiting for,” Berri's visitors quoted him as saying in comments published in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. He called on Oman to host the dialogue, pointing out that he is “ready to organize the talks in Beirut similarly to the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement.”Saudi Arabia aims to defeat the Huthi rebels who seized power in the capital Sanaa in February, as Riyadh feared they would take over the entire country and shift it into the orbit of Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi's regional rival. Riyadh has formed the largest-ever coalition of Sunni Arab countries to fight the Huthis, bringing together most of the Gulf monarchies, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt. The speaker also expressed relief over the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal, stressing that the talks only focus on the importance of defusing tension between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon and the presidential elections. Dialogue between the two parties had kicked off on December 23, 2014. The head of the AMAL Movement pointed out that he favors the appointment of new top civil servants in state posts instead of extending the term of current personnel. However, Berri told his visitors that he “rejects more vacuum at state posts if the rivals couldn't agree on consensual candidates.”
The tenure of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji is set to end in September. His term was extended for two years in September 2013. The military positions in Lebanon are suffering as a result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June.
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Easter
Ottawa, Ontario/5 April 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement marking Easter: “Today, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all Christians in Canada and those around the world who are celebrating Easter. “The most important feast of the Christian year, Easter, also known as Pascha, is the culmination of Holy Week, when Christians mark Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross and celebrate his resurrection on the third day. “For Christians, the celebration of Easter represents God's redemption of humanity and the triumph of life over death. “On behalf of our entire family, Laureen and I wish all those celebrating a very happy and joyful Easter.”
Netanyahu tells U.S. TV networks he's 'trying to kill a bad Iran deal'
By Haaretz and Reuters | Apr. 5, 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his campaign against the nuclear agreement with Iran to the American networks on Sunday, saying that he was "trying to kill a bad deal" and arguing that there was still time to "ratchet up the sanctions.”
However, the prime minister did not repeat his assertion on Friday that any final agreement should include a commitment by Iran recognizing Israel's right to exist.
The United States and five other world powers announced a preliminary deal with Iran last Thursday, which they said would curb Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and give international inspectors unfettered access to nuclear sites in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions.
In interviews on Sunday with three U.S. talk shows – NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This week and CNN's State of the Union – Netanyahu argued that the deal reached last week "is a dream deal for Iran and a nightmare deal for the world.”
"I'm not trying to kill any deal. I'm trying to kill a bad deal," Netanyahu told NBC, adding that the current plan "leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure."
But the network called out the prime minister on his contention that "not one centrifuge is destroyed" in the framework agreement.
"According to the parameters for the deal released by the U.S. State Department," NBC wrote on its website, "Iran has agreed to reduce installed centrifuges by two-thirds and place the excess in internationally monitored storage."
Netanyahu also argued that lifting some of the sanctions on Iran and leaving them with some nuclear capability could result in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Sunni arms race
"It would spark an arms race among the Sunni states, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," the prime minister warned. "And the Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world. I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran and it's a nightmare deal for the world."
Asked whether it wouldn't be preferable for no Middle Easter country to have nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said: "In an ideal situation, you wouldn't have countries seeking to annihilate the state of Israel and openly saying that.
"I think the real problem in the Middle East is … countries like Iran that pursue nuclear weapons with the explicit goal first of annihilating us, but also ultimately of conquering the Middle East and threatening [the U.S.]"
Questioned by ABC whether he thought U.S. President Barak Obama and the other world leaders would sign an agreement if they thought the survival of Israel was at stake, Netanyahu said that Israel and the powers "have a legitimate difference of view."
He added that other countries in the region share his concerns, though they don't always say so publicly.
"If Iran is given this free path to the tomb, a deal that doesn't block Iran's path to nuclear weapons, but actually paves it, what will happen is that this will spark a nuclear arms race among the Sunni countries in the Middle East. And that would have -- a nuclear-armed Middle East, I think that's a global danger. I think it's very, very bad.
The prime minister declined to say whether Israel would consider unilateral air strikes against Iran. "We prefer a peaceful solution," he said. "I never talk about our military option or anyone else's. The United States says that it has a military option on the table."
Continuing - and intensifying - the sanctions on Iran would do the job," Netanyahu argued. "No less effective have been the crippling sanctions that have only been applied since 2012; crippling financial and economic sanctions, especially on the oil sector," he said.
"And with the drop in oil, those sanctions have become even more effective. That's what got Iran to the table in the first place."
"This is not a partisan issue. This is not solely an Israeli issue," Netanyahu said of the interim nuclear agreement, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" program.
"This is a world issue because everyone is going to be threatened by the pre-eminent terrorist state of our time, keeping the infrastructure to produce not one nuclear bomb but many, many nuclear bombs down the line."
Appearing on CNN, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a leading Democratic voice on foreign affairs, said she did not believe the agreement threatened Israel, and had harsh words for Netanyahu.
"I don't think it's helpful for Israel to come out and oppose this one opportunity to change a major dynamic which is downhill, a downhill dynamic in this part of the world," said Feinstein.
Netanyahu angered the White House and alienated some of President Barack Obama's Democrats when he accepted a Republican invitation to address Congress on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli elections that returned him to office.
Netanyahu denied he was coordinating with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who visited Israel last week, and with other Republicans to block the Iran deal.
Israel, which is believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, says it believes Iran is committed to its destruction.
The Israeli leader denounced the framework agreement between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, saying of Tehran, "They're getting a free path to the bomb."
"There's still time to get a better deal and apply pressure to Iran to roll back its nuclear program," he said on CNN.
Legislation in the works
Obama called the agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, a "historic understanding" and told Netanyahu in a telephone call soon afterward that the deal represented progress toward a lasting solution that cuts off Iran's path to a nuclear weapon. Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.
Republicans, who control both chambers in Congress, and some Democrats are preparing legislation which would entail a vote in Congress on any Iran deal. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was waiting to learn more details about the framework agreement.
"I don't know how someone can ascertain whether this is something good or bad," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
Obama has said he would veto legislation demanding an up-or-down vote in Congress on any final deal worked out with Iran by the deadline of the end of June that has been agreed by Iran and the six powers.
Corker said it was unclear whether opponents of the deal would be able to muster the votes needed to override such a veto.
Netanyahu said he had had an hourlong conversation with Obama, with whom he has had strained relations.
Asked on CNN if he trusted Obama, Netanyahu said he was sure the American president was doing what he thought was good for his country, but they disagreed about the best policy on Iran.
"It's not a question of personal trust," Netanyahu said.
The White House has grown used to Netanyahu's opposition. Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, said on CNN, "I don't think we're going to convince Prime Minister Netanyahu."
How can an unshackled Iran be
Sunday, 5 April 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
In my article yesterday about the initial nuclear deal between the West and Tehran, I wrote an analysis of the topic’s previous chapter and sought to understand why Iran accepted the agreement and at what possible price. But what’s more important than the past is looking at the new Iran as a regime no longer subjected to the sanctions and pursuits which had restricted it in past 30 years.
I believe we are facing an agreement like that of the Camp David between Egypt and Israel. The nuclear agreement is strategic and it ends the chapter of Iran’s struggle with the West and marks the end of threats against the Jewish state.
This implies an end to the Islamic Republic’s struggle with the Israelis. This is most probably included in the agreement’s main conditions, regardless of what the propaganda machines say in Tehran. And so, Iran has now exited its struggle with the West and Israel, meaning it will now have time to preoccupy itself with the Arab-Iranian struggle and the region’s Sunni-Shiite sectarian disputes.
What’s crucial for us in the Arab world in general, and the Gulf states in particular, is to consider our options. What options do countries in close proximity to Iran, like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors, have? They have lived through decades of tension and have in the past faced direct military confrontations and many proxy wars in Lebanon and Bahrain in the past, and most recently in Yemen and Iraq.
Reconciliation or confrontation
I think there are only two options: reconciliation or confrontation, where the status quo, as we know it, will change. We are all aware that Gulf countries have always been ready to reconcile with Iran by nature of their passive regimes. However, Iran was mostly always on the offensive amid its desires to modify the region according to its own political and intellectual interpretations.
The aim is to convince Iran that the nuclear agreement must be a comprehensive peace deal and not just a deal exclusively linked to Israel and the West
I previously wrote in detail about an important initiative led by former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani in the early 1990s – an initiative which led to reconciliation with Saudi Arabia and an end to the hostile propaganda and hostile moves from opposition groups and hostile propaganda on both sides. The initiative also led to establishing consulates and allowing both countries’ flights to use each other’s airspace and engage in commercial trade. This lasted for a few years, then relations relapsed after the Saudis discovered there were sabotage operations being carried out sponsored by an Iranian apparatus. The situation became more tense as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad assumed power.
Iran may now want to politically transform into a peaceful country and thus abandon the idea of exporting revolutions and changing the region seeing as it is giving up its nuclear bomb plans. But we can’t know if this is true unless Gulf countries try to communicate with the Iranians to understand their orientations and figure out whether they are really willing to commit to what serves regional peace and security. It’s a difficult idea to imagine – it’s like having faith in achieving peace between the lambs and a wolf. But who knows? Iran may want to change and it deserves that we listen to it and test its credibility.
Achieve regional superiority
The second option is that Iran wants to compensate for its nuclear project - which aims to achieve regional superiority – by expanding and increasing its gains on the ground. We’ve seen how, despite its peaceful negotiations with the West, Iran dared to send fighters and arms to directly engage in internal Arab wars for the first time. It fought alongside the Assad regime in Syria and Iran’s forces also currently fight in Iraq and Yemen – this is in addition to its role in the struggle in Lebanon. All this hints that Iran has grown more ruthless, not the opposite.
In both cases, Gulf countries have to reconsider their defensive policies which for decades have been based on the Eisenhower Doctrine which is committed to the security of the Gulf. However, with the Obama administration in power, the U.S. is no longer committed to this despite the president stating that his country “is committed to defending the borders of the Saudi kingdom.”
The expression actually conveys less “commitment” and it’s not clear-cut, allowing Washington to dodge the topic whenever it wants. The Americans have previously suggested what they called a missile defense system to protect the Gulf from any Iranian attack but this is not enough. Gulf countries must therefore significantly develop their military capabilities, especially aerial skills, and establish their regional alliances. The aim is to convince Iran that the nuclear agreement must be a comprehensive peace deal and not just a deal exclusively linked to Israel and the West.
The calm that preceded the ‘Decisive Storm’
Sunday, 5 April 2015
Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya
As Operation Decisive Storm continues to successfully degrade the military capabilities of the Houthi militias and emasculate their illegitimate power grab campaign in Yemen, it is worth reflecting a bit on the quiet period that preceded the swift and sudden Saudi-led intervention.
In fact, it would be fair to argue that Operation Decisive Storm came as an absolute surprise to most observers as it portrayed a Saudi ability and willingness – when required - to implement a rapid military ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy.
As columnist Nawaf Obeid puts it in a recent Washington Post article, the sudden launch of the recent operation in Yemen ‘Should serve notice to the world that a major generational shift underway in the kingdom is sure to have far-reaching geopolitical ramifications’.
According to Obeid, who is a visiting fellow and associate instructor at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the new Saudi leadership — centered on a cadre of youthful, dynamic royals and technocrats — is developing a foreign policy doctrine to address long-standing regional tensions. This doctrine is based on the legitimacy of the Saudi monarchy and the centrality of the kingdom to the Muslim world.
Evidently, the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis and militias loyal to the deposed former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh garnered massive Arab, Muslim (apart from Iran which continues to back the Houthi coup) and international support – and perhaps deserves recognition for being one of the very few topics to get bipartisan support at the U.S. Congress as well as from the White House.
Operation Decisive Storm came as an absolute surprise to most observers as it portrayed a Saudi ability and willingness – when required - to implement a rapid military ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy
However, despite Saudi Arabia’s strategic position and its incredible religious, political and economic importance, obtaining such global support and forging such a solid alliance is not a coincidental matter nor could it be achieved overnight.
Nevertheless, the coalition was still brought together in record time, namely within the few weeks that fell in between King Salman’s ascension to the Saudi throne late January and preceded the inauguration of Operation Decisive Storm on 25 March. (Record time is note-worthy, given that for years, Saudi Arabia wasn’t known for its ability to make rapid decisions or take quick action).
In the weeks that followed his inauguration, King Salman met – almost on a daily basis – with tens of world leaders and delegates. Evidently, the meetings – particularly with the likes of Egypt’s Sisi, Turkey’s Erdogan and Sudan’s Bashir, were about much more than the official statements he had announced at the time.
Saudi King Salman held meetings with (From L clockwise) Turkey’s Erdogan, Sudan’s Bashir and Egypt’s Sisi in the run up to 'Decisive Storm'. (SPA)
During these rapid, back-to-back meetings, the Saudi leadership managed to successfully convince traditional rivals such as Turkey and Egypt to put aside their differences and get them both to commit to a common cause. It also managed to bring Sudan back into the Arab fold after years of warming up to Tehran. (Sudan – with its vital geographic proximity to Yemen – is fully backing the coalition and has contributed three fighter jets).
Furthermore, following a casual get-together where GCC leaders over a weekend gathering with King Salman at the Auja traditional palace; it seems the infamous Gulf rift has been – at least for now – resolved, with Qatar contributing 10 fighter jets and seemingly being in full-support of Operation Decisive Storm (Oman, typically, didn’t contribute militarily but it didn’t oppose the air campaign. Its non-interference has been reportedly agreed on with other Gulf countries.)
Gathering of officials at the Auja palace: Saudi King Salman (L) greets Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R), Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (2nd L), Qatari Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani (3rd L) and Kuwait’s Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. (Al Arabiya)
Let us not forget the Saudi-backed announcement of the formation of a joint Arab military force at the recent Arab League summit in Sharm El-Sheikh and the fact that within hours of announcing the commencement of military strikes, Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) pilots managed – almost instantly – to take control of Yemeni airspace and target and eliminate a number of senior Houthi leaders (apart from the courage and excellent training of RSAF pilots, this is also a very good sign of successful intelligence sharing which was coordinated and agreed prior to the attacks.)
With the situation continuing to develop in Yemen, the Houthi militias will be well-advised to accept King Salman’s invitation to come back to the negotiating table without prior conditions, accept the legitimacy of President Hadi and work together with him and the global community to re-build Yemen. Indeed, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, his backers in Tehran and their fox ally, deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, must understand that they have entered a war they simply can’t win and that with such a coalition, they are literally surrounded and helpless in the face of a new, pro-active and determined Saudi Arabia.
Iran, the Beast Unchained?
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 5 Apr, 2015
In my Op-ed yesterday about the framework nuclear deal between the West and Iran, I wrote an analysis of this topic’s previous chapter and sought to understand why Iran accepted the agreement—and at what price. But what is much more important than dwelling on the past is to look at the “new Iran” as a regime no longer subjected to the sanctions and constraints which have restricted its efforts over the past three decades. I believe that with this deal we are facing an agreement as seismic as the Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979. The Iran nuclear agreement is a strategic one and finally turns the page on Iran’s struggle with the West, also marking the end of its continual threats against the Jewish state, Israel.
This implies an end to the Islamic Republic’s struggle with the Israelis. This is most likely included in the agreement’s main conditions, regardless of what the propaganda machines spin out in Tehran. But if Iran has now exited its struggle with the West and Israel, it will now have more time to preoccupy itself with the current Arab–Iranian struggle and the region’s myriad Sunni–Shi’ite sectarian disputes.
What is crucial for us now in the Arab world in general, and the Gulf states in particular, is to consider our options. So, what options do countries in close geographical proximity to Iran, like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors, now have? When attempting to answer this question we must bear in mind that these countries have lived through decades of tension and have in the past faced direct military confrontations with Tehran and several dangerous proxy wars it has engaged in—such as in Lebanon and Bahrain in the past, and more recently Yemen and Iraq.
I think there are only two options here: reconciliation or confrontation. In both cases the status quo as we know it will be drastically altered. We are all aware that Gulf countries have always been ready to reconcile with Iran, in light of their peace-loving regimes. However, Iran was usually always on the offensive amid its desires to modify the region according to its own political and ideological interpretations.
I previously wrote in detail about an important initiative led by former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the early 1990s—an initiative which led to reconciliation with Saudi Arabia and an end to the hostile propaganda on both sides. The initiative also led to establishing consulates and allowing both countries’ commercial jets to use each other’s airspace and engage in commercial trade. This lasted for a few years, then relations soured after the Saudis discovered Tehran was engaged in covert subterfuge in the Kingdom. The situation became even more tense after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed power in 2005.
Iran may now want to transform itself through political channels into a peaceful country and thus abandon the idea of exporting revolution and altering the region in its own image—seeing as it is giving up its ambitions to build a nuclear bomb. But we can’t know if this is true unless Gulf countries try to communicate with the Iranians to understand their orientations and figure out whether they really are willing to commit to what serves regional peace and security. This is a difficult idea to imagine (perhaps somewhat akin to holding faith that one day the lambs and the wolves will make peace!) But who knows? Iran may want to change and it deserves that we give it the benefit of the doubt—while also continually testing the credibility of its claims.
The second option is that Iran wants to compensate for its nuclear project—which aims to achieve regional superiority—by expanding and increasing its gains on the ground. We have seen how, despite its peaceful negotiations with the West, Iran dared to send fighters and arms to directly engage in internal Arab conflcits for the first time. It fought alongside the Assad regime in Syria and its forces also currently fight in Iraq and Yemen—this in addition to its role in the struggle in Lebanon. All this hints that Tehran has grown more ruthless, and not the opposite.
In both cases, Gulf countries have to reconsider their defensive policies, which for decades have been based on the Eisenhower Doctrine which is committed to the security of the Gulf. However, with the Obama administration currently in power, the US no longer seems pledged to this, despite the US president maintaining his country remains committed to defending Saudi Arabia’s borders. This last statement actually doesn’t convey much “commitment” at all and is not really clear-cut in any way, allowing Washington to dodge the topic whenever it wants. The Americans have previously suggested what they then referred to as a “missile defense system” to protect the Gulf from any Iranian attack, but even this is not enough.
Gulf countries must therefore significantly develop their military capabilities—especially their air combat capabilities—and establish and cement their regional alliances. The aim here would be to convince Iran that its nuclear agreement must be a comprehensive peace deal, and not just one exclusively linked to Israel and the West.