April 24/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
John 06/48-59: "I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. ’The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum."

Bible Quotation For Today/But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed
First Letter of Peter 04/12-19: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?’ Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 23-24/15
Kurdish-Iraqi Writer, Mehdi Majid 'Abdallah: The Palestinians Should Extend A Friendly Hand To Israel/MEMRI/April 23/15
Understanding Iran’s tactics/Eyad Abu Shakra/April 23/15
The Saudi Defense/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat/April 23/15

The war in Yemen is NOT sectarian/Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/April 23/15
Obama’s nightmares are converging in Yemen/Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/April 23/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 23-24/15
Speaker Nabih Berri  Seeking Consensus over Parliamentary Session
Berri Cancels AIPU Meeting after Saudi Snub
Armed Forces Carry Out Raids across Lebanon, Arrest Several Suspects
Hariri Urges U.S. Solution for Syrian Wave of Refugees
Hariri Meets Kerry, Says Trying to Spare Lebanon Impact of Dispute with Hizbullah

Armenian Church Makes Saints of 1.5 Million Genocide Victims
Foreign Ministry urges apology for Armenian genocide 
Germany expected to call Armenian killings genocide
Al-Rahi Urges from Yerevan for World Recognition of Armenian Genocide
Mahfoud Warns: SCC to Paralyze School Year
Berri Cancels AIPU Meeting after Saudi Snub
Jumblatt files two new lawsuits against former aide 
Cabinet grants General Security 500 new officers 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 23-24/15
Obama’s grandma arrives In Saudi Arabia for Umrah
Saudi-led coalition still vigilant in face of Houthi aggression in Yemen: official
Pakistan leaders in Saudi Arabia to press Yemen negotiations
U.N. Chief Set to Appoint Mauritanian Diplomat as Yemen Envoy
WHO: Yemen Violence Death Toll Tops 1,000
A step closer to a political solution in Yemen
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly leaves Yemen, location unknown
U.S. worried Iran ships may carry arms for Houthis
Diplomatic push for final Iran nuclear deal in Vienna
Egypt national security linked to Gulf and the wider region
Somali PM sees risk to his country in Yemen strife
U.N. says EU must do more to save migrants, admit refugees
U.S.-led strikes have killed 2,079 people in Syria: monitor
PM: Five terror attacks ‘foiled’ in France in recent months
Erdogan: ISIS seeks to destroy Muslim world  
Russia won't supply S-300 missile to Iran soon, minister says
Syrian opposition group to Israel: Next year we celebrate Independence Day in Damascus
Obama-Netanyahu meeting not likely until after Iran negotiations deadline'
Diplomatic push for Iran nuclear deal in Vienna
US admits counterterrorism efforts claimed American lives
Saudi Beheads Two of Its Citizens
Anti-IS Raids on Syria Kill 2,000 since September
Rocket hits Israel as Independence Day ends
Israel Army strikes targets in northern Gaza

Jihad Watch Latest News
Denmark: Muslims who whipped woman in face with iron chains laugh in court
GET TICKETS for Muhammad Art Exhibit, May 3
US kills American al-Qaeda propagandist, accidentally kills American hostage in drone strikes
Losing my religion?
Bin Laden protege reportedly leading Islamic State after injury to caliph al-Baghdadi that Pentagon denies happened
Brooklyn College student thanks Allah for the growth of the Islamic State
Buddhist converts to Islam, calls on Muslims to murder Australians
UK: Muslim claims Islam justifies his killing love rival

Hariri Urges U.S. Solution for Syrian Wave of Refugees
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal Movement leader and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that the main objective of his visit to the United States is to safeguard Lebanon from the regional repercussions, urging for a quick solution for the Syrian crisis and the burden of refugees flocking into Lebanon. “The objective of my visit to the United States is related to protecting Lebanon from the regional crises and their repercussions,” said Hariri after meeting members of the Foreign Relations Committee in the House of Representatives led by State Senator Ed Royce.Hariri noted “The issue of Syrian refugees can have immense consequences if a solution to the Syrian crisis was not found, which requires the U.S. administration's attention and priority in order to evade the immense harm it could reflect on Lebanon and the region.”Moreover, members of the committee discussed the Iranian intervention in the Arab countries' affairs and the negative effects it has on the region in general. Al-Mustaqbal leader also met with House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Senator John McCain, and Senator Mike Pompeo. Hariri kicked off his visit to Washington on Wednesday where he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and congressmen of Lebanese origin. Lebanon is hosting around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, an enormous strain for a country with a population of just four million. The UNHCR has regularly urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the influx.

 Mahfoud Warns: SCC to Paralyze School Year
Naharnet /Head of the syndicate of private schools teachers in Lebanon Nehme Mahfoud warned on Thursday that the Syndicate Coordination Committee will paralyze the academic year if politicians didn't wrap up the crisis of the new wage scale soon. He stressed during a protest held in Beirut's Riad al-Solh square and in comments to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that after a four-year suffering, the SCC will not back down on its demands. Mahfoud revealed that the SCC will hold a wide rally on May 6, expecting it to include all state institutions. He also called on the parliament to meet and abide by the urgent legislation to endorse important draft-laws. “We are righteous,” Mahfoud said. He also urged Speaker Nabih Berri to put the wage scale on the agenda of the parliamentary session while taking into consideration the reservations of the SCC. The SCC called two days ago for a strike on Thursday, considering it the start of a series of steps that will be announced consecutively. The syndicate said in its statement that a central demonstration will be held on May 6 in the capital Beirut, blaming politicians for the delay in resolving the crisis. In March, the SCC, which is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, staged a rally near the Ministry of Education in Beirut's UNESCO area over the ongoing procrastination by officials to resolve the wage hike dispute. Parliament failed to discuss in October the wage hike draft-law, prompting Berri to return the bill to the joint parliamentary committees, which agreed to unify the new wage scale for public and private school teachers. The salary hike has been at the center of controversy since it was approved by the government of ex-Prime Minister Najib Miqati in 2012. Several parliamentary blocs had refused to approve the draft-law over fears that it would have devastating effects on the economy. The SCC had been holding demonstrations over the past few years to ask for the wage hike.

Speaker Nabih Berri  Seeking Consensus over Parliamentary Session
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri is exerting efforts to convince the rival parliamentary blocs to attend an upcoming parliamentary session that mainly Christian lawmakers oppose amid the absence of a head of state. The agenda of the session was distributed to lawmakers, An Nahar newspaper reported on Thursday. It reportedly includes eight articles that will be placed to voting. However, the date of the session hasn't been set yet, the daily said. Sources told the newspaper that the stance of the Christian parties over the controversial session varies. The Lebanese Forces and its old-time rival the Free Patriotic Movement leader will boycott the session over the agenda, the sources said. The LF is calling for the adoption of a new electoral law, while the FPM wants the amendment of the defense law.
On the other hand, the Kataeb party rejects to attend the session as the “parliament should be only considered as an electoral body and not a legislature” in the absence of a president. Berri reiterated threats on Wednesday during his weekly meeting with MPs that he will dissolve the parliament to press lawmakers to carry out their Constitutional duties during the assembly's ordinary session, despite his knowledge that such a move is impossible amid the presidential vacuum. Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-March until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December. A meeting was held on Wednesday between March 14 lawmakers, including head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora, LF MP Georges Adwan, Ghazi Yooussef and Marwan Hamadeh. The gatherers, according to al-Joumhouria newspaper discussed several issues, including the state-budget for 2015. Saniora described Berri after the meeting as a “pool player,” who can manage the crisis.
“The presidency is hijacked, the cabinet is paralyzed, and now we're only left with the parliament which should give a civilized image that it is active.”Vacuum striking the presidential post is having a tough impact on the cabinet and the parliament as the state is threatened with further crises over ongoing rows between the rival parties. Berri is seeking to call for a session to approve urgent issues, including the wage scale for the public sector and the food safety draft-law. On Monday, deputy Speaker Farid Makari said that the majority of the representatives of the parliamentary blocs agreed to attend the upcoming legislative session.

Berri Cancels AIPU Meeting after Saudi Snub
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has canceled the meeting of the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union (AIPU) that was set to be held in Beirut end of April after he was informed by Saudi Arabia that it would not attend the talks, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. Berri informed Arab parliaments that “the conference has been canceled for non-Lebanese reasons,” said al-Joumhouria. No new date was set by the speaker, it added. An Arab diplomat told the newspaper that the Saudi stance would have been followed by a similar announcement by other Gulf countries, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.Fears of a weak Gulf presence in the meeting prompted Berri to cancel it, said the diplomat, who was not identified. The Saudi decision not to attend the meeting had security reasons, the source added. But the diplomat did not confirm whether it came against the backdrop of the barrage of criticism directed at Saudi Arabia by Hizbullah. Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been pounding the rebels known as Huthis and allied fighters loyal to Yemen's ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.The Saudi campaign has turned Yemen into a new proxy war between the kingdom and Iran, which has backed the Huthis, though Tehran denies aiding the rebels militarily. Hizbullah is a close Iran ally.

 Armenian Church Makes Saints of 1.5 Million Genocide Victims
Naharnet/The Armenian Church began Thursday a ceremony making saints of up to 1.5 million Armenians massacred by Ottoman forces as tensions over Turkey's refusal to recognize the killings as genocide reached boiling point. The ceremony, which is believed to become the biggest canonization service in history, came ahead of commemorations expected to see millions of people including heads of state on Friday mark 100 years since the start of the killings. The service was being held in Armenia's main church, Echmiadzin, an austere fourth-century edifice said to be the Christian world's oldest cathedral, an AFP correspondent reported. The ceremony outside the Armenian capital Yerevan was set to end at 7:15 pm (1515 GMT) to symbolize the year when the massacres started during World War I.
"Today's canonization unites all Armenians living around the globe," Huri Avetikian, an ethnic Armenian librarian from Lebanon who arrived in her ancestral homeland to attend the service, told AFP. "Souls of the victims of the genocide will finally find eternal repose today," said 68-years-old social worker Varduhi Shanakian. "Supreme justice will triumph," he said ahead of the ceremony. After the ceremony led by Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, bells will chime in Armenian churches across the world and a minute of silence will be observed.
- 'Collective martyrdom' -
In canonizing the victims, "the Church only recognizes what happened: that is, the genocide", Karekin II said ahead of the event which Christian Today, an online publication covering religious news, said could become "the biggest saint-making service in history."
"The Armenian Church will proclaim the collective martyrdom of those who were killed over their faith and their homeland," church spokesman Father Ter Vahran told AFP. Ex-Soviet Armenia and the huge Armenian diaspora worldwide have battled for decades to get the World War I massacres at the hands of the Ottoman forces between 1915 and 1917 recognized as a targeted genocide. But modern Turkey -- the successor to the Ottoman Empire -- has refused to do so, and relations remain frozen to this day. Ankara says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil -- rather than religious -- strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops. In a rare interview with Turkish television broadcast Thursday, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian expressed hope that the two countries could mend fences. "It is obvious that a reconciliation between the two peoples will have to come about through Turkey recognizing the genocide," he told CNN-Turk. On Friday, hundreds of thousands are expected to join a procession to a hilltop memorial in the Armenian capital Yerevan carrying candles and flowers to lay at the eternal flame at the center of the monument commemorating the mass murder. In Paris, Los Angeles and other cities, members of the Armenian diaspora that came into existence as a result of the slaughter will also hold commemorations. Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Francois Hollande are expected to be among a handful of world leaders to travel to Armenia for the commemorations, but others are shying away for fear of upsetting Ankara. "Russia's position was and remains consistent and objective: mass extermination on ethnic grounds cannot be justified," Putin said. "The international community must do everything to prevent such heinous crimes from ever happening again."
- Anger in Turkey -
In the run-up to the ceremonies, Turkey kicked up a diplomatic storm, condemning growing "racism" in Europe. On Wednesday Turkey recalled its ambassador to Vienna in protest at the Austrian parliament's decision to call the massacre "genocide."
Earlier this month Ankara also recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the killings as "the first genocide of the 20th century." More than 20 nations -- including France and Russia -- have so far recognized the Armenian genocide, a definition supported by numerous historians.But the White House conspicuously avoids using the term. Turkey on Friday will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gallipoli, a day earlier than the actual start of fighting. Sarkisian has accused Ankara of deliberately "trying to divert world attention" from the Yerevan commemorations. Agence France Presse

Jumblatt files two new lawsuits against former aide
The Daily Star/Apr. 23, 2015/BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt filed two new lawsuits against his former aide, Bahij Abu Hamzeh Thursday, judicial sources said. The new lawsuits accuse Abu Hamzeh of fraud and money embezzlement. Jumblatt’s lawyers called on State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud to interrogate the suspect and issue an arrest warrant. Once a close aide to Jumblatt, Abu Hamzeh managed the Druze leader’s real estate ventures and private property for more than two decades. After his arrest in December 2013, four lawsuits were filed against him by Jumblatt and a fifth by the Safa Football team, which Jumblatt sponsors. Abu Hamzeh was accused of breach of trust, embezzling funds and money laundering. Last November, Abu Hamzeh was sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to pay $3.45 million in the lawsuit filed by the Safa Football team. He had previously acted as head of the team’s Board of Trustees. Earlier this month, the judiciary moved Abu Hamzeh from the hospital to prison, following an assessment by doctors who said his condition was stable. Due to his poor health, Abu Hamzeh had been held in a hospital room under strict security for the majority of his sentence. Also this month, Abu Hamzeh’s wife, TV personality Mona Abu Hamzeh warned that authorities were trying to kill her husband by denying him adequate treatment, saying he was in critical condition and innocent of the charges against him.

Obama’s grandma arrives In Saudi Arabia for Umrah
JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS/Wednesday 22 April 2015
Sara Omar, grandma of US President Barack Obama, has emphasized the significance of the Prophet Muhammad exhibition in Makkah and said it reflects the moderate teachings of Islam that calls for tolerance and rejects violence. Sara has come to Makkah with her son Saeed Obama, uncle of President Obama and her grandson Mousa Obama to perform Umrah. She commended the Saudi government’s efforts to expand the two holy mosques. Sara and her family members visited the Prophet’s show, which is located in the Naseem district of Makkah, for two hours. “I am very happy to visit this exhibition, which is a good example for the propagation of Islam in a modern way, supported by scientific and authentic documents.”Obama’s grandma also expressed hope that the exhibition would visit other countries with the support of the Saudi government in order to remove the misunderstandings about the divine religion.

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly leaves Yemen, location unknown
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News/Thursday, 23 April 2015/Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left Yemen early Wednesday and an official announcement over the deposed leader’s departure from the conflict-torn country is expected shortly, the local Yemen 24 website cited high-level sources in Riyadh as saying. The sources added that it was agreed for Saleh and his family to leave Yemen but the destination is still unknown. After Saudi-led coalition forces pounded southern Yemen with a fresh series of airstrikes Wednesday, Houthi rebels called for peace talks. “We call for… the resumption of political dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam, wrote on his Facebook page. The statement appeared after the Arab alliance announced on Tuesday it was stopping its campaign but would continue to target Iran-allied Houthi rebel movements inside Yemen as needed, and enforce an air and sea blockade to prevent weapons shipments. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he is concerned that Iranian ships heading toward Yemen may be carrying advanced weapons for the Houthi rebels, and moving a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region gives the president options. (With Reuters)

U.S. worried Iran ships may carry arms for Houthis
Associated Press, Moffett Field/Thursday, 23 April 2015
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday he is concerned that Iranian ships heading toward Yemen may be carrying advanced weapons for the Houthi rebels, and moving a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region gives the president options.
Making his first public remarks on the Iranian cargo ships, Carter told reporters traveling with him that he is not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.
“We have options,” he said when asked about the boardings. “We’re not at that point. We’re at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table.’Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that “obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us.”The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is moving into the waters off Yemen, joining eight other U.S. warships, including some carrying teams capable of boarding and searching other vessels. The move comes amid reports that nine Iranian ships are heading that way, possibly carrying arms for the Shiite Houthi rebels. Such shipments would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution. U.S. officials have repeatedly said the carrier’s deployment this week was in response to the deteriorating situation in Yemen, and its primary mission will be to insure freedom of navigation and commerce. The move, however, came just as Saudi Arabia declared an end to the first phase of its campaign of airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis and their allies in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been concerned about the possibility that more arms could be flowing to the Houthis, and the presence of the carrier and other U.S. warships provide added deterrence for weapons deliveries. Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes continued Wednesday, signaling that while the military action may be scaled back, it would not be halted. Carter said the U.S. “would like to see the parties get back to a political settlement and get the country back to a decent level of governance.” He spoke en route to California, where he is scheduled to give a speech at Stanford University and woo high-tech Silicon Valley companies to work with the Pentagon on securing emerging technologies that the military could use. The Roosevelt also brings a strong command and control function that could help coordinate any efforts by the other U.S. Navy ships off Yemen. Carriers don’t routinely carry search and seizure teams, and generally would play no role in any interdiction, other than to be a strong show of U.S. military might. “Right now, their ships are in international waters,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an MSNBC interview. “What we’ve said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem. And we’re not sending them obscure messages - we send them very direct messages about it.”Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, have been trying to drive back the rebels, who seized the capital of Sanaa in September and have overrun many other northern provinces with the help of security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The U.S. supported the Saudi airstrike campaign, which will evolve into a new drive to push the rebels out. Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get their arms from Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.

Understanding Iran’s tactics
Eyad Abu Shakra
Thursday 23 April 2015
In the early days of my postgraduate university studies in London, I had a decent and frank Bahraini friend and colleague; he was a cultured and diligent researcher. This was during the time of the Iran–Iraq War, which naturally formed one of our main concerns.
One day, while discussing the war with my Bahraini friend in the college coffee bar, I expressed my surprise that Syria’s President Hafez Assad was siding with Iran against Iraq. My friend smiled and replied: “Actually, I find your ‘surprise’ surprising,” adding that “Hafez Assad is an Alawite, i.e. Shiite, and so is the Iranian regime, while Iraq’s political and security leadership is Sunni; thus it is obvious that Assad should back Iran.” Naïvely I interjected, “but what about the ties of blood, language, history, and geographical proximity, let alone the common Baath party affiliation?”To this, his reply was more decisive and came with a wider smile: “No, brother, the true political identity (in our part of the world) is decided by one’s religious sect, and anything else is just talk. Assad knows this is true and behaves accordingly.” He then said that “Iran’s revolution is a ‘decisive junction’ in our region, it is to our benefit and thus we must back it!”That discussion opened my eyes and mind to the fact that there were several political trends and currents that blabber and lecture about Arabism, nationalist struggle, and common destiny day and night, without really meaning what they utter.
With regard to Lebanon, the reality of the country’s Shiites was essentially quite far from the image drawn for them by Khomeini’s Iran, and later imposed on them by it through Hezbollah. Lebanon’s Shiites lived in different socioeconomic environments at least until the 1950s and early 1960s. South Lebanon was basically a land of village-based agricultural feudalism, while Northern Beqaa was dominated by a clan/tribal structure. As for the Shiites of Mount Lebanon, most of those primarily living in the Byblos district and Southern Metn coastal areas are very much part of the local socioeconomic scene. Ideologically, the Shiites of present-day Lebanon produced formidable nationalist figures on both the Lebanese and Arab levels.What we need to underline is that Iran launched its plan for regional hegemony through founding subservient sectarian militias, whose only allegiance was for the velayat-e-faqih and which is openly at odds with other constituent communities in each respective country. The first task entrusted to each of these militias was to impose full control over its own local Shiite community; the second, to mobilize the community, incite sectarian friction, and sow the seeds of confrontation; and third, to invite either foreign intervention or start an open-ended civil war.In Lebanon, Tehran founded Hezbollah. In Syria it supported the security-based Alawite establishment and later used some Alawites like Jamil Al-Assad (Hafez’s brother and Bashar’s uncle) to help enhance the Ja’afari Shiite presence in the country under the Assad regime’s blessing. In Iraq it founded the Da’wah party and other similar organizations. Last but not the least, in Yemen, Tehran sponsored and exploited the Houthi movement.
However, the irony in the above is that while the Da’wah party and other pro-Tehran Iraqi Shiite organizations have never hesitated in building close relations with Washington and its “neocons,” Hezbollah virtually monopolized the “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” slogans, claiming to be obsessed with the “Liberation of Palestine.” Today, the Hezbollah-backed Houthis are pleading with Washington to subcontract them in the fight against Al-Qaeda in in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while what remains of the former “rejectionist” Assad regime in Syria has been busy alerting the West that it is its trusted agent in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Yes, Iran through its subservient armed henchmen subjugated and “occupied” the Shiite communities in their respective Arab countries. Then, only after making sure its “occupation” grip was firm enough, it moved forward to subjugate other communities and occupy whole countries by force, as part of its strategy of regional hegemony. The aim of Tehran’s leaders is to use this “on the ground” reality as a bargaining chip in the “grand bargain” with Israel and the international community led by the US. This is what I remember vividly in Lebanon when Hezbollah imposed itself on the Lebanese Shiites, sequestrating their patriotism, silencing their voices, eliminating their leaders, and breaking the backs and wills of their free dissenters. After finishing with the Shiites it occupied and controlled the whole of Lebanon in 2008. Last week, when Hassan Nasrallah, yet again spoke to his partisans under the motto of “loyalty to Yemen’s brave and honorable people,” he did just one thing: He uncovered the last mask being worn to bluff the Lebanese, the Arabs and Muslims all over the world. He revealed that he was nothing but a tiny detail in a full-fledged regional master plan. His role there is simply to follow orders, just like any other soldier in the army of the velayat-e-faqih.

Kurdish-Iraqi Writer: The Palestinians Should Extend A Friendly Hand To Israel
In his column on the liberal website, Kurdish-Iraqi writer Mehdi Majid 'Abdallah called on the Palestinians and the Arabs in general to renounce the terrorism of Hamas and to extend a friendly hand to Israel. He wrote that, since its founding, Israel has been facing terrorism labeled as "resistance," and that today it is defending itself against Hamas, which is firing rockets on its civilian population. He added that Hamas, rather than Israel, was responsible for the death of innocent Palestinians, whereas Israel extended medical treatment to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
The following are excerpts from his column:[1]
"Ever since its founding in the late 1940s, the young state of Israel has been facing constant terror labeled as 'resistance.' I do not mean to say that all Palestinians are terrorists, for some of them love life and prefer the culture of peace and to live in peace and security alongside Israel. I do not know if Hamas, when it fires its rockets randomly into Israeli cities, thinks of the fact that they will hit women and children who have done nothing wrong other than choose to live in the land that was stolen from them thousands of years ago and has now been restored to them. [Today] they wish to build this land, but Palestinian terrorism constantly sabotages their livelihood, their development [efforts] and their prosperity. Whether we like it or not, the land on which the Palestinians live belongs to the Jews, and there is historic and religious evidence of this, both Islamic and non-Islamic. I shall not present it here, but the reader is welcome to search the Internet and find plenty of proof for what I say.
"Today the Palestinians have begun to understand that Hamas is a serious liability and a terrorist movement. That is why we saw no significant Palestinian opposition to the international and Arab decisions to designate Hamas a terror organization. The glamour of so-called 'resistance' faded after the deeds of its leaders and perpetrators were exposed, and [now] they no longer convince any intelligent person.
"Hamas leader Isma'il Haniya is always calling to boycott Israel, eliminate it and destroy it, and is always urging the Palestinians not to maintain any ties with it, in any domain. He has even sent thousands of young Palestinians to die [for this cause]. But when his sister, his daughter and some other members of his family fell ill, one after the other, we immediately saw him send them to the best hospitals in Tel Aviv, where they received treatment before being sent back to Gaza unharmed. Why [were they sent back unharmed]? If Israel was [really] a murderer of Palestinian women and children, as the Arab media falsely maintains, it would have regarded Haniya's relatives as choice prey. If Israel [really] wanted to exterminate the Palestinians, as the Arabs and Muslims falsely maintain, why didn't it have Haniya's sister and daughter killed or raped?
"Instead of [taking] the funds that are given to the Palestinian people and investing them in the poor and the needy, Hamas and other Gazan movements rush [to invest them in] the building of secret tunnels and passages for purposes of terror...
"According to a UN report, in 2008 Israel, which the Palestinians claim murders innocent children, took in 144,838 Palestinians for purposes of medical treatment. In 2009 this figure grew by 20%, reaching 172, 863, in 2010 it reached 175,151, in 2011 it grew by 13%, reaching 197,713, and in 2012 it reached 210,469. I wonder if any Arab country would do the same for Israelis?
"The Palestinian women and children who are killed in the Israeli army's defensive war against Hamas are not killed deliberately. They are collateral damage, for any war has innocent victims. Israel knows this well, as evidenced by the fact that, after every defensive military operation, it apologizes for the [death of] innocent victims and compensates their families morally and financially. Were it not for the reckless actions of Hamas, which constantly fires rockets into extensive parts of Israel [where] peaceful [people live], there would have been no innocent victims, because Israel's actions are directed against the terrorists.
"It is time that the Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, who are deceived and drugged by false and baseless slogans, wake up and extend a friendly hand to Israel, so that peace and security can prevail and everyone can live in peace. Every decent Palestine should oppose Hamas and its terrorism against Israel. If the Palestinians want to avoid being harmed by Israeli fire, they should prevent Hamas from using their homes, mosques and schools [as bases from which] to launch its terrorist rockets at Israel."
[1], December 4, 2014.

The Saudi Defense
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 23 Apr, 2015
Two days before the announcement of the end of Operation Decisive Storm, fires were still burning across Yemen and explosions could be heard in the mountainous areas around the Yemeni capital Sana’a. The coalition’s jets raced against time to destroy warehouses of heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles. The Houthis would, no doubt, have used these arms to shell cities in southern Saudi Arabia like Jizan, Abha and Najran. There were also fears that the Houthis were in possession of Scud missiles whose greater range would have allowed them to strike Jeddah. The Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes ended after all the major threats were eliminated, specifically the Houthis ballistic missile stores. However airstrikes may resume in order to pursue armed groups or support the Popular Committees backing legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. During the crisis, Iran sought to repeat its experience in southern Lebanon, namely by backing an armed group in Yemen whose mere presence represents a threat to southern Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis are nothing more than a clone of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and the Yemeni militia aims to dominate through the force of arms in precisely the same manner as its Lebanese sibling. When the Houthis took over the Yemeni capital, they seized its missile system. At this point, the militia became a direct threat to Saudi Arabia and it was incumbent on Riyadh to deal with it. By destroying the Houthis command and control centers, lines of communication, arms and military facilities, Operation Decisive Storm has completed its objectives. The UN Security Council’s recent resolution banning the arming of militias in Yemen resulted in an international naval siege on Yemeni ports across its 1,900 km coastline in order to prevent the Iranians from providing the Houthis with arms.
The other important development is US President Barack Obama’s statement warning the Iranians against any attempt to provide support to Yemen’s armed militias. In addition, the US navy has even begun to search ships entering Yemen suspected of bringing in arms from the Islamic Republic. Following all this, it is now possible to assist Yemen’s resistance forces to support the legitimate government to liberate the areas under control of the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Secondly, this also opens the door for talks leading to a peaceful solution. I believe that if Saleh can be eliminated from the new political formula then reconciliation will be possible based on the Gulf Initiative. After all, the Houthis initially accepted this, before later joining Saleh in rejecting the initiative.
The objective of the military intervention in Yemen is not to eliminate rivals but to push them towards accepting a compromise solution. By ending the air strikes early, abstaining from a ground invasion, supporting the forces of Yemen’s legitimate government and giving a political solution a chance, Saudi Arabia has shown true wisdom towards resolving the Yemeni crisis.

The war in Yemen is NOT sectarian!
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya
With Shiite-Iran backing the Houthi militias coup and Sunni-Saudi Arabia leading the military coalition in response to legitimate President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi’s plea to save the country, it is completely understandable why many people might believe the war in Yemen has sectarian motives. It is also understandable why many stake-holders - namely from the Iranian side - might want people to continue thinking this way. Iran, after all, would never admit that it is a rogue player and that it is deliberately meddling with the internal affairs of neighboring countries to serve its own expansionist interest. However, those who believe that the war in Yemen is indeed sectarian, probably also believe that Gulf countries oppose the Syrian regime simply because they (GCC countries) are Sunni and the Tehran-backed President, Bashar al-Assad, is Alawite. Such a narrow-minded view completely ignores crucial facts, such as the extremely good relationship that Assad enjoyed with Gulf countries (particularly, Saudi Arabia) for a long time PRIOR to 2011, when the regime undertook a bloody crackdown on its own people. Iran - alongside Russia - seems to be unique in its support of Assad, not just politically, but by providing the military, logistical and financial aid required for his regime to continue the mass-murder of its own people
Using bullets, barrel bombs and chemical weapons, Assad’s ongoing merciless campaign has left nearly 200,000 people (mostly civilians) killed, and millions of innocent men, women and children displaced in neighboring countries and across the world.
Despite this sparking the ire of every other country on the planet, Iran - alongside Russia - seems to be unique in its support of Assad, not just politically, but by providing the military, logistical and financial aid required for his regime to continue the mass-murder of its own people.
Same scenario in Lebanon
Of course, those who believe both the wars in Yemen and Syria are sectarian, probably also reject accusing the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, of killing the former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri (Despite all the damning evidence presented at the STL.)
Yes, Hariri was Sunni (as all Prime Ministers of Lebanon are) and yes, he was supported by Saudi Arabia, but he was renowned as one of the very few Lebanese politicians NOT to have a sectarian agenda and his legacy lives on as a man who tried to do good for Lebanon - all of Lebanon -and not just his sect. One simply has to compare the late PM’s record of nationalistic public statements to that of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah , where the later bluntly declares allegiance to Iran.
In fact, even Nasrallah himself can’t deny Hariri’s patriotism and ability to put differences aside when it came to what benefited Lebanon. Indeed, the late PM was among Hezbollah’s biggest supporters when they were legitimately resisting the Israeli occupation which ended in 2000. However, how could anyone (apart from Iran, of course!) continue to support Hezbollah when they turned the same weapons used to dislodge the Israeli occupiers against their own legitimate Lebanese government to seize control of Beirut in 2008?
The Saudi-Israeli ‘conspiracy’
Some people are also likely to believe myths such as the supposed Saudi-Israeli ‘conspiracy’ against any real attempt to liberate occupied Palestinian lands. Of course, these people are likely to deny that the infamous - and documented – ‘Iran-Contra’ affair (when the U.S. facilitated sales of weapons to Iran via ISRAEL in the 1980’s) never happened. These fact-deniers probably also hail Iran’s support to Islamist groups such as Hamas, neglecting that if there is anyone who is as guilty as Israel of continuously undermining any real hope of achieving peace, it is definitely the likes of Hamas. Just as the Israelis seem to continue to intimidate by building more settlements during negotiations, Hamas almost always fire missiles at Israel whenever an important peace milestone is nearly achieved.
Not only that, but by hijacking the resistance, Hamas is guilty - perhaps unintentionally - of allowing the just Palestinian cause, to be perceived as a religious one, and the conflict with Israel to be described as part of a long-standing war between Muslims and Jews; rather than the simple, straightforward fact of Israel being an occupying force in defiance of international law.
These fact-deniers probably also hail Iran’s support to Islamist groups such as Hamas, neglecting that if there is anyone who is as guilty as Israel of continuously undermining any real hope of achieving peace, it is definitely the likes of Hamas
In fact, if the late Saudi King Abdullah’s 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (which offered normalization of relations in return for a withdrawal from occupied Palestinian areas) proves anything, it shows that any existing official Arab hostility towards Israel is strictly a matter of territorial dispute and has nothing to do with religion; one only has to compare this with the official Iranian rhetoric relating to Israel to understand who really wants peace and who just wants to exploit the politics of hatred.
Iran Vs Saudi Arabia
Of course, in no way am I trying to imply that Saudi Arabia is ideal or flawless, on the contrary, the Saudis have their fair share of mistakes and mess-ups. However, when compared to Iran, what is evidently clear is as follows: Iran is trying to destabilize the region to serve its own interest; while, Saudi Arabia, at its own expense, is trying to counter these attempts and bring stability to the Middle East. Some will immediately jump in here and ask: what about the alleged Saudi support for ISIS and al-Qaeda?
Again, people will believe what they want in the end, but the reality is whilst it is true that there are many Saudis who have joined or contributed to terrorist groups; Saudi Arabia - as a country - is a major ally in the war against terrorism, while both ISIS and al-Qaeda have declared hatred for the Saudi government and have attacked within the kingdom several times. As such, the Saudi war on terror is ongoing, and many brave soldiers gave their lives to this fight as authorities continue to track, prosecute and punish citizens who are found guilty of supporting or financing the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS. On the other hand, Iran is a country which OFFICIALLY backs terrorist groups, be it Shiite ones such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAS) in Iraq (which is responsible for the murder of many Iraqis, Britons and Americans), or in serving as a safe haven for various extreme Sunni al-Qaeda plotters, according to U.S. State department and treasury findings. Of course, people will always believe what they want to believe, but the facts will continue to speak for themselves and when it comes to Iran, the facts can’t get any clearer!

Obama’s nightmares are converging in Yemen
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
Thursday, 23 April 2015
If counterterrorism, maintaining regional security and alleviating proxy wars are the pillars of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, then the unraveling of the Yemeni state - once a “success“ model - giving rise to Al Qaeda and proxy wars in Sanaa, are nothing short of a horror scenario for the Obama administration. By now, President Barack Obama would have hoped that his approach of engaging Iran, employing an unprecedented number of drone strikes against Al Qaeda and beefing up the GCC militaries would deal a blow to terrorist organizations and promote regional dialogue. But the exact opposite scenario is playing out in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, where Al Qaeda has been strengthened by the current chaos, and the level of distrust between Iran and its Sunni neighbors is at an all-time high.
An emboldened AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula)
In Yemen in particular, where a protracted conflict seems a more likely outcome in the clashes between pro and anti-government forces, the current fighting which started when the Houthis took over Sanaa last September has only emboldened the Al Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In the case of Yemen, a strengthened AQAP and a militarized proxy war lays to rest Obama’s model of success there After eight months of Houthi military advances in Yemen, AQAP is stronger than any time before 2011 in that region. Meanwhile, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy is in the gutter following the departure of U.S. personnel and special forces in the country. According to the New York Times, AQAP took control of a major airport and an oil export terminal in southern Yemen, after it “seized the nearby city of al-Mukalla and emptied its bank and prison.”AQAP’s resurgence in Yemen did not start with the Saudi-led military campaign, nor will it end with its eventual termination. Nadwa al-Dawsari, a conflict analysis expert with more than 15 years of experience in Yemen, speaks of a more complex political and tribal structure that has benefitted AQAP.
“Tribes consider the Houthis as outside aggressors” Dawsari said in a conference call organized by the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute. The expert adds that “some tribes have joined forces with Al Qaeda to fight Houthis,” in a battle that dates back to 2011 and is not exclusively limited to the Shiiite Houthis and tribal Sunni divisions in Yemen.
Following the ouster of leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, the Houthis were not satisfied with their share of resources and territory in the country, nor with the governing style of current President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi. While many of those grievances are legitimate, addressing them in a coup and military infringement on the tribal south has only aggravated the problem. The Houthis’ overreaching in their military push to the south was an opportune moment for Al Qaeda, extending a hand to the locals in fighting the “unwelcome aggressors.”Claiming that the Houthis and an ousted president are the force to fight Al Qaeda misses Yemen’s history and geography, and ignores the tribal realities on the ground.
Even without the Saud-led intervention, the situation between the tribes and the Houthis was heading towards confrontation and a battle of insurgencies. AQAP in Yemen can only be defeated through an inclusive political process and by a military structure that is supported by the majority in a stable Yemen. Absent of a political solution, the current dynamic spells a disaster for U.S. counterterrorism strategy against a group which harbored radical cleric Anwar Awlaki, trained the Charlie Hebdo perpetrators and tried to attack the U.S. in 2010 through toner cartridges.
Regional rift weakens Obama
Obama’s AQAP headache in Yemen is compounded by regional divisions and the high level of distrust between Iran and its Saudi-led neighbors that will only prolong the conflict. Accusations of Iranian military support to the Houthis, and Hezbollah’s public embrace of their struggle have put Yemen on the proxy war map - already in play in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon. Ironically - and for seven years - President Obama has sought to bring Iran closer to the regional fold by resolving its nuclear standoff and advocating direct engagement and dialogue with its leaders. But even as a nuclear deal seems in sight, troubles with Iran in the region are only coalescing. From Syria to Lebanon to Yemen and Iraq, and even with its former ally Turkey, distrust is building up in Iran’s regional behavior.
It is unclear how a nuclear deal could shape such behavior but regional countries are no longer waiting for such outcome to determine their actions. Lines are being drawn in the sand from Yemen to Syria in countering Iran’s role ahead of a potential deal end of June. In the process U.S. regional influence and messaging are on a downward spiral. Turkey for its part feels more emboldened today to act, even on a small scale, in Syria just as the UAE and Egypt have acted in Libya, and as the Saudi-led coalition has done in Yemen.
While a Middle East that is less dependent politically and militarily on the United States is a welcome outcome, matters become more complicated when such actions are a direct challenge to Washington or undermine U.S. goals in the region. In the case of Yemen, a strengthened AQAP and a militarized proxy war lays to rest Obama’s model of success there and limits the U.S. policy to directing drone attacks and dispatching aircraft carriers.

US admits counterterrorism efforts claimed American lives
By MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/04/23/2015
WASHINGTON -- ​The United States has declassified details of a counterterrorism mission that resulted in the deaths of two American recruits of al-Qaida, as well as the killing of two of their Western captives. Dr. Warren Weinstein, a Jewish American aid worker held captive by al-Qaida since 2011, as well as Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian, were killed in January in a US drone strike, President Barack Obama told the press on Thursday. Warren Weinstein (left in video still released by terrorists) and Giovanni Lo Porto (right).
With "grief and condolences," the president justified declassifying the fate of the two men "because the Weinstein and the Lo Porto families deserve to know the truth." "The United States is a democracy, devoted to openness, in good times and in bad," Obama said. "As president, and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility." Two American operatives of al-Qaida, Adam Gadahn and Ahmed Farouq, were also killed in the January operations. Farouq died in the same operation that resulted in the deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto, while Gadahn was killed "likely" in a separate operation, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "Neither was specifically targeted," Earnest said.
Senior administration officials said that the operation to save Weinstein and Lo Porto was airborne and involved ground troops. In his remarks, Obama noted Weinstein's Jewish faith, which al-Qaida was aware of and repeated in its threats against Weinstein's life. "There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and their al-Qaida captors," Obama said. "Warren’s work benefited people across faiths. Meanwhile, al-Qaida boasted to the world that it held Warren, citing his Jewish faith. Al-Qaida held both men for years, even as Warren’s health deteriorated. They deprived these men of precious, irreplaceable years with family who missed them terribly."The president said he has ordered a full review of the events that unfolded in Pakistan. The government in Islamabad declined to comment on the news, which amounts to a rare admission by the United States of an operation within Pakistan itself. In a prepared statement, the Weinstein family and his wife Elaine said it was "devastated by this news" and there were "no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through." The family also expressed "disappointment" with the "inconsistent" treatment they received from the Obama administration during Weinstein's three-year captivity. "We do not yet fully understand all of the facts surrounding Warren's death," the statement reads," but we do understand that the US government will be conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances." They look forward to the outcome of that investigation, the family added.

Israel Army strikes targets in northern Gaza
Yoav Zitun/Ynetnews/Latest Update: 04.24.15/Israel News /In retaliation for first rocket attack of 2015, Israeli military attacks Hamas position in After four months of quiet, a rocket was fired on Thursday evening from Gaza towards communities in southern Israel. The rocket exploded in an open field in the Sha'ar Ha Negev Regional Council. There were no injuries or damages reported. Close to midnight on Thursday, the IDF tanks attacked a Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation for the rocket that landed in southern Israel a few hours earlier. The IDF said in a statement that it "will not condone any effort to harm the security of the people of Israel." Palestinian sources reported that the artillery shelling hit an open area near Beit Hanoun, the site of the rocket which was launched on Israel. According to an initial IDF investigation, Hamas was not involved in the rocket fire, which was likely initiated by rebellious elements in the Strip. Due to the rocket fire, Israel will not allow passage for Gazan worshippers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The IDF sources believed that like in previous incidents since the end of Operation Protective Edge in August, the rocket fire was a one-time incident which does not signal an escalation. Hamas has shown restraint in recent months and actively worked to prevent elements within the Strip from approaching the barrier with Israel. In recent days Hamas has executed a wave of arrests of Salafists in the Strip, following a series of explosions across Gaza. Hamas' security forces have searched relentlessly for those responsible but the identity of the mastermind behind the attacks remains unclear. According to Salafi sources, 13 of their members were arrested, and it is possible the rocket fire on Israel tonight was intended to embarrass Hamas over the arrests. Alon Shuster, the head of the regional council, told Ynet: "This is an aberration and its consequences are unclear. There is no panic among the residents, even among those who heard the explosion. This is the reality you deal with when you live in a hotspot which is not handled and occasionally explodes." *Matan Tzuri and Elior Levy contributed to this report.