April 25/15

Bible Quotation For Today/‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.
Luke 10/01-07: "After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!" And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.

Bible Quotation For Today/Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone
Letter to the Colossians 04/05-10: "Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts; he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here. Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions if he comes to you, welcome him". 

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 24-25/15
Ticking time bombs: Hezbollah in Gaza and Palestinians in Syria/Yaron Friedman/Ynetnews/April 24/15
Nasrallah’s speech reveals Iran’s shock over the Yemen crisis/Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/April 24/15
How does sanctions-ridden Iran find a multibillion war chest to fund 6 armies fighting in 4 Mid East wars/DEBKAfile/April 24/15
Why is Rouhani coddling the military/
Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat/April 24/15
War-torn and poor, Yemen must be given a chance for salvation/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/April 24/15
Death Boats and the Missing Solution for Libya/
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat/April 24/15
Politics of genocide/The Daily Star/April 25/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 24-25/15
Ex-Syria spy chief in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh has died 
Family member confirms Rustom Ghazaleh’s deat
Lebanese-Armenians mark genocide centennial 
Armenians mark genocide centennial
Armenian elders tell tales of survival 
'Hezbollah built airstrip for Iranian-made drones in Lebanon'
Italy: Terror suspects planned Vatican attack

Private jet in Beirut ‘to transport prisoners’
MP: Armenians united in demand for reparations 
Young Lebanese Armenians fervent about heritage 
Suspect testifies on car bombs sent to Lebanon 
Moderation key to fighting extremism: Hariri
Teachers strike to demand long-awaited wage hike 
Machnouk rushes Roumieh riots probe 
Hajj Hasan: Buy Lebanese-made drugs 
Army arrests prominent terrorists 
Burj Hammoud: Lebanon’s Little Armenia 
World Bank urges Lebanon to make reforms

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 24-25/15
Turkish-Armenian relations shouldn’t be shaped by the ‘g-word’
Armenia marks centennial of genocide
Obama avoids calling Armenian massacre 'genocide'
AIPAC pushes Republicans to foster bi-partisan support for bill that would challenge Iran deal
Iranian ships turn back from Yemen: U.S. officials

U.S. tells Iran: Stop fanning flames in Yemen
Saleh cannot leave Yemen without Saudi approval: GCC official
Saudi Arabia foils ISIS-affiliated attack
UN invites Syrian parties to peace talks in Geneva in May
Qaeda, allies advance on regime in northwest Syria: monitor
Macabre images show ISIS militants hugging men before deadly stoning
Iraq forces recapture a bridge in Ramadi from ISIS
Guantanamo ex-inmate granted bail in Canada, release likely in May
Jordan prince youngest person to chair U.N. meet
Nusra Front, allies advance in Idlib

Jihad Watch Latest News
Raymond Ibrahim: Obama Breaks Promise on 100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide
New video: Islamic State desecrating churches and smashing crosses
Islamic State: Christians must accept Islam or dhimmitude, or will die like the Ethiopian Christians in video
Italy: Islamic jihadists plotted to murder Pope Benedict
US cities increase security over Islamic State “kill list”
Somalia: Islamic jihadists murder man for “insulting Muhammad”
Boko Haram renames itself Islamic State in West Africa
NYC MTA may change rules to block AFDI ad criticizing Hamas
HURRY! GET LAST TICKETS AVAILABLE for Muhammad Art Exhibit, May 3
obert Spencer in FP: Why would anyone expect Tsarnaev to be repentant?

Armenians mark genocide centennial
The Daily Star/Apr. 25, 2015
BEIRUT: Tens of thousands of Lebanese of Armenian origins marched in the suburbs of Beirut Friday, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and vowing never to forget the atrocities committed against their ancestors by the Ottoman Empire. Carrying Armenian flags and pictures of the violet forget-me-not flower, the symbol of the centennial, marchers of all ages trekked south from the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate in Antelias to national football stadium in Burj Hammoud.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman Turks during World War I, carnage described by Pope Francis last week as “the first genocide of the 20st century.”
Turkey, however, has rejected the genocide label, saying the casualties were caused by civil unrest in the Ottoman Empire.
Speaking before the march, the head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I Keshishian, said Armenians did not need condolences from Turkey, but “recognition and justice.”
“We tell the world that we emerged victorious from the genocide because our people lived.”
Prominent members of the Armenian community also spoke, highlighting the need for the countries of the world to recognize the genocide and pressure Turkey to do the same.
Tashnag Party leader MP Hagop Pakradounian said Armenians and other states in the Arab world have suffered from atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire.
“Arab people have lived [under] oppression and injustice,” he added. “Four centuries of occupation and the killing of Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq ... make the cause of genocide an Arab-Armenian one,” Pakradounian said, calling on Turkey to recognize the genocide and compensate the victims.
In separate remarks, Lebanese officials expressed their solidarity with Armenians.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam spoke with the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Lebanon by phone to express his sympathy for the world’s Armenians.
“Lebanese people highly appreciate the positive and significant role the Armenian sects are playing at the national level ... to boost national harmony and unity,” Salam said, according to a statement released by his office. “Lebanon takes pride in all its components, and shares their causes and the sufferings they have endured throughout history.”
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil reiterated Lebanon’s solidarity to Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan whom he met in Yerevan, saying the world is still threatened by terrorism. “Escaping punishment is a repetition of the crime,” said Bassil, who is accompanied on his trip by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian. “Repetition of the crime doesn’t happen in one place only ... but against all people.”
Information Minister Ramzi Joreige also marked the anniversary, saying the cause should be adopted by all Lebanese. “Expressing solidarity, after 100 years of ignoring this case on the international level, is a national cause for Lebanese, as the Armenians are an integral part of Lebanese [society].”
Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said Turkey has not even morally confessed that the genocide took place. “All that’s wanted is [for them] to recognize this genocide,” he said, speaking to Future TV. “Moral recognition of the genocide is the [starting point] for reconciliation.”
But Sidon residents expressed solidarity with families of Turkish origin and opposed a decision by Bou Saab to order the closure of schools Friday to mark the genocide.
Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya swathed the mosques it manages with Turkish flags and pictures of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Bassam Hammoud, the Jamaa politburo chief in south Lebanon, told The Daily Star that the move was made to show opposition to Bou Saab’s decision, alleging the minister had political and religious motives.
Turkish flags were also on display in Tripoli.

'Hezbollah built airstrip for Iranian-made drones in Lebanon'
By JPOST.COM STAFF/J.Post/04/24/2015/Fresh satellite images reveal that the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah has constructed an airstrip designed for its fleet of unmanned aerial vehicle. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the runway was built in the northern Bekaa Valley, just 10 kilometers south of the Lebanese village of Hermel. “The short length of the runway suggests the facility is not intended to smuggle in weapons shipments from Syria or Iran as it is too short for nearly all the transport aircraft used by the air forces of those countries,” according to Jane’s. “An alternative explanation is that the runway was built for Iranian-made UAVs, including the Ababil-3, which has been employed over Syria by forces allied to the Syrian regime, and possibly the newer and larger Shahed-129.” Earlier this month, a US Army report said that Iran is building an explosive fleet of so-called “suicide kamikaze drones” while also providing know-how on assembling these new weapons to its terrorist allies Hamas and Hezbollah. The report, which was cited by the American daily newspaper The Washington Times and published by the Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, states that “no aspect of Iran’s overt military program has seen as much development over the past decade as Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).” “Whereas a decade ago Iran’s UAVs and drones were largely for show, a platform with little if any capability, the Iranian military today boasts widespread use of drones, employed not only by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), but also by the regular army, both regular and IRGC navy, and the regular and IRGC air forces.” This development is significant for Israel because both Hamas and Hezbollah have sought to deploy drones which have penetrated Israeli airspace. Thus far, they have not managed to cause damage, though drones outfitted with explosives could inflict casualties against soldiers and civilians. “In a mid-February speech, regular army General Abdolrahim Moussavi outlined the army’s growing use of drones, with emphasis on suicide or kamikaze drones,” according to the US Army report. “While it is easy to dismiss the idea of a suicide drone as more symbolic than real in an age of cruise missiles and precise Predators, utilizing suicide drones is an asymmetric strategy which both allows Iran to compete on an uneven playing field and poses a risk by allowing operators to pick and choose targets of opportunity over a drone’s multi-hour flight duration.”

Young Lebanese Armenians fervent about history and heritage
Ghinwa Obeid/The Daily Star/Apr. 24, 2015
BEIRUT: “The Turks killed our people,” was the refrain repeated by Lebanese-Armenian students this week. Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the American Genocide, and the young students discussed with The Daily Star how the event shaped their history.“In 1915, when World War I began, when people where busy with the war, the Turks benefited from the situation so that they attacked us,” 14-year-old student Vartan Nechanian explained. At the Ecole Sainte Agnes in the heart of Beirut’s northeastern suburb of Burj Hammoud, Nechanian explained that the Turks wanted Armenians to belong to the museums only. “But they didn’t succeed,” he said proudly. “Now, we proliferated. We are everywhere. Everyone knows us and they’re recognizing the genocide.”When Nechanian spoke, using the first-person plural, he reflected the sense of nationalism shared by Lebanese Armenians. On April 24, Armenians around the world will commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide. Turkish authorities killed 1.5 million people between 1915 and 1917, Armenians say, to eradicate Armenians from then-Anatolia. Those who survived fled and sought refuge in neighboring countries. With a couple of prompts from his academic adviser, the grade 8 Nechanian continued saying that the Turks were targeting Armenians “because they had lands and because they are smart.” “They took the smart ones first ... they killed them, smashed their heads ... they took the elite because they didn’t want them to direct people,” he said. “Then the youth were asked to join the war [World War I], but it was a trick and a similar fate awaited them,” Nechanian explained.
The children recount how ordinary citizens such as women, children and elderly people were asked to leave their homes and told they would be joining their husbands and other family members. They left and didn’t return as they were sent on marches without food or water. Many died along the way. “If the Turks saw that someone was carrying with them gold or money they used to take it,” Hagop Apanian, 10, said. “The Turks also used to tell beautiful [Armenian] women that they would marry them. But women refused and threw themselves in the sea,” he said from his grade 4 classroom at the Ecole Sainte Agnes. Armenians are a minority in Lebanon. Their relative closeness and historical struggles have kept the memory of the genocide alive among younger generations, many of whom were born in Lebanon and have gathered information about the genocide from what has been taught to them by families and schools.
“During the war my grandmother was with her father and siblings,” said Mario Saboudjian, a student at the Lebanese National School in Burj Hammoud. “The Turks, she used to tell me, massacred her father in front of her. My grandmother along with her siblings hid for a week before Arabs, most probably Syrians, then saved them,” the 15-year-old added. Up until now Turkey vehemently refuses to recognize the genocide, an issue that left strong feelings of resentment among Armenians across the world, including the young students. “Our lands are in the hands of the Turks,” said Johnny Torossian, 14, also an LNS student. “There’s the right of our ancestors that were massacred. There’s a people that was mascaraed. This is a crime that they [Turks] should pay the price for,” Torossian said emotionally. “I want them to give us back our country, our homes,” said Nechanian, the Ecole Sainte Agnes student. “I want them to give the 1.5 million martyrs that died during the war their right, and that’s recognition [of the genocide].”

MP: Armenians united in their demand for reparations
Ned Whalley/The Daily Star/Apr. 24, 2015
BEIRUT: Tashnag leader MP Hagop Pakradounian characterized the centenary of the Armenian genocide as both a memorial service and a call for justice, saying Armenians would never surrender to the ongoing assault on their presence in the region. “The mere fact that the Armenians are [still] present, that we are still talking about the Armenian question, that we are exerting pressure, that we are remembering and demanding, it means that the Turks couldn’t succeed in their plans.” Pakradounian said remembrance is particularly important to the Armenians in Lebanon, “because the diaspora is constituted of those who were subject to the genocide. My grandfather was killed in 1915. It’s very logical that I will have this grievance more, and this ‘fight against Turkey’ more, so I can take back my rights.”He said there would be a new emphasis this year on the universality of the tragedy, and a focus on how to prevent its repetition. “We are talking about collective remembrance, not only for the Armenians, but also for our Lebanese compatriots [who died in] the famine.”Under Ottoman rule, nearly a third of the Mount Lebanon’s population perished from starvation and disease during World War I. Lebanon’s Armenian parties are split between the March 14 and March 8 alliances, but Pakradounian said they are united in gaining recognition of the genocide. “We had a united delegation to meet Prime Minister Tammam Salam and demanded that the 24th of April should be declared an official holiday.”He said one the largest issues facing the Armenian community is the influx of refugees from Syria. The community needs more assistance from the government and international organizations, he added. “We now have now around 12,000 Armenian refugees from Syria living here in Lebanon ... hosted by Armenian families. The Armenian parties, the church, we take the [responsibility] of helping them.”Pakradounian sees the destruction of Armenian communities in Syria as part of a continued attack by Turkey, which he claims is trying to rid the Middle East of Armenians by supporting “terrorist” groups. “In March last year, they opened their borders to [the] Nusra [Front] and Daesh [ISIS], and they helped them logistically when they entered the Armenian town of Kassab ... all the Armenians were deported from the town,” he added. But Pakradounian expressed optimism that Armenians would one day receive recognition, reparations and territorial concessions from Turkey, and pointed to Pope Francis’ recent recognition of the genocide as a sign of hope. “I am sure that after the pope’s declaration that most of the Catholic states will take further steps to recognize the genocide, and put pressure on Turkey to recognize it.” Talk of reparations is controversial in Turkey, and the restoration of ‘Western Armenia’ remains a dream, but one that Pakradounian insists Armenians have not given up on. “It’s true that politics is the art of possible, but there is nothing impossible in politics.”

Armenian elders tell tales of survival
Ned Whalley/The Daily Star/ Apr. 24, 2015
BEIRUT: As Burj Hammoud commemorates the centenary of the Armenian genocide, some of the neighborhood’s older residents recall the tragic stories from their parents and grandparents who were forced to flee in 1915. Vahram Karagouzian, an 83-year-old who runs a clothing shop just off the main street in Burj Hammoud, told a harrowing story of the death of his mother’s father at the hands of Ottoman soldiers. “One day he got married, and after getting married his wife was pregnant. The Turks came in the massacre of Adana at that time, and they cut [off] his arm. My grandmother [put her arms around him], and told them, ‘Leave him alone, you cut [off] his arm but don’t kill him.’ When she told them to not [kill him], they cut off the other arm. At that moment he died, his body couldn’t take it anymore.” Around 20,000 to 30,000 Armenians were killed in the 1909 Adana massacre, a harbinger of the even larger disaster to come. Both of Karagouzian’s grandfathers were killed. “When my father’s mother was pregnant with him, they killed my grandfather. When they [deported] them to Jordan, he lost his mother [on the march]. So he didn’t know either his mother or his father.”He said his father spent time in orphanages in Jordan and Greece before traveling to his uncle’s family in Iskenderoun, in French mandate Syria. When the French soldiers left in 1939, the city reverted to Turkish rule. Fearing further persecution, his parents left with them. “When the French left they were obliged to leave. They left and came here. My mother, she used not to talk about [any of] this, but when she got old, in her last years, she began to talk about it and would cry.” Hripsime Der Bedrossian Balion, 70, owns an Armenian arts and crafts shop just around the corner. “My grandfather, my father’s father, died in deportation. They [were deported] to Syria and they suffered on the road ... In the desert, he died,” she recalled. “[He had left with] his wife and two boys and one girl, the smallest one was 3 years old. In that region they had money, so they put the money in their clothes so no one could steal it. When she [arrived] in Syria, she used the [money] to educate and feed them.” The stories of the Armenian diaspora are all marked with tragedy, but by virtue of being told by the families of survivors, they are sometimes also stories of resilience and escape. In a cafeteria on the second floor of his clothing shop, 67-year-old Haygazoun Zeytlian recounts the dramatic tale of his parents’ village of Musa Dagh, and their resistance to the Ottoman army. “My grandmother’s father, they took him [for the] Turkish army and when ... they got to the army and saw what was happening, they fled, and came back to say that there is a genocide that is going to happen, there is something that is getting organized,” Zeytlian recalled. “So they all decided to get to the top of the village where there is a mountain, so they can be there and don’t get massacred, and they tried to [fend] off the army of Turkish army,” Zeytlian said. “On the top of that mountain they put a cross, and as they were trying to protect themselves ... the French armies came with a ship, and they told them we are getting massacred. And the [French] told them give us one week so that we can manage to take you off this place and, after a week they came.”More than 4,000 people were evacuated from Musa Dagh by French and British ships. The villagers reportedly held out on Musa Mountain for 53 days. Zeytlian said the French transported them to Iskanderoun. Like the Karagouzians, his family left with the French forces in 1939 rather than come under Turkish rule. “Now all the Musa Degh people live in [the Bekaa Valley village of] Anjar. It’s an Armenian village.”“That’s how they survived. My father was 10 years old. They all told me the story: my mother, my father, my grandmother. The people who ran and came to tell them – if it wasn’t for those people, all of them would have been massacred.”

Ex-Syria spy chief in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh has died
The Daily Star/ Apr. 24, 2015 /BEIRUT: News emerged Friday that the powerful former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh has passed away. But reports conflicted over his cause of death, and when and where he died. The news comes nearly two months after he was reported to have been badly beaten by Syrian security forces. "He died at 7:00 a.m. today (Friday) in a Damascus hospital and will be buried tomorrow in the capital," AFP cited a family member as saying. The family source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ghazaleh suffered from hypertension. The source said that Ghazaleh had been fired after getting into a fight with another Syrian official in early March. The source did not elaborate. The Associated Press said Ghazaleh died in a hospital in the Syrian capital, citing the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdul Rahman. He did not say when Ghazaleh passed away, but that medical sources told him the ex-spy chief had been clinically dead for weeks, following a severe head injury suffered about two months ago. Ghazaleh was reportedly severely beaten in early March upon orders from Syrian military intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Rafik Shehadeh. He was moved to the Shami Hospital in Damascus after the beating, which occurred at Shehadeh’s office, sources had told The Daily Star at the time. The sources said the incident resulted from anger at Ghazaleh over a simmering dispute believed to involve the role of non-Syrian forces such as Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in directing the war effort. Lebanese news site Elnashra said Ghazali’s death resulted from the beating and electric shocks he received from Shehadeh’s bodyguards, which caused “atrophies in his chest muscles.” The report said the man left hospital shortly after the incident and was then brought back in after he suddenly fainted. Doctors had to open a hole in Ghazaleh’s throat to help him breath, Elnashra said. Ghazaleh succeeded Ghazi Kanaan as head of military intelligence in Lebanon in 2002 during Syria's tutelage over Lebanon, which lasted until Damascus pulled its troops from the country in 2005. It is widely speculated that he was one of the men who orchestrated the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Damascus denies any involvement in the 2005 killing.
In 2012, Ghazaleh was appointed the chief of Syria's infamous political security branch.

Death Boats and the Missing Solution for Libya
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 23 Apr, 2015
While the EU is actively responding to the “death boats” tragedy that has seen thousands of bodies washed ashore in Europe, the Arab world seems to be unconcerned about the victims or the issue that concerns us more than anyone else. Almost all of those boats set sail with their human cargo from Arab Mediterranean countries, with Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Sudanese, Moroccans and Somalis accounting for a considerable proportion of the victims. The issue sheds light once again on the tragic situation in Libya which, due the chaos there, has turned into a hub of human-trafficking networks.
Over the past few days, the humanitarian and political dimensions of the crisis have received wide news coverage. After the drowning of more than 1,000 asylum seekers on board a boat within 24 hours, EU leaders have rushed to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has cut short his election campaign to discuss the humanitarian crisis that has shaken the public conscience and raised many tough questions. Meanwhile, the Arab world seems to be completely removed from the crisis.
No one knows exactly the number of the victims of the “death boats.” There are bodies that are not recovered and boats that sink without a trace. More than 20,000 people have died since 2000, mostly in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Those were among hundreds of thousands of mostly young migrants driven by frustration to risk their lives in an attempt to reach European shores in search of safety, job opportunities, or a dream of a better life. Last year alone, more than 125,000 people managed to reach Europe on board these boats, with the Italian coast alone receiving 100,000 of them. Those are among the lucky ones who escaped being swallowed by sea or killed by smuggling cartels. According to aid agencies, boat migrants are exposed to many threats including looting, physical and sexual assaults, being thrown off crowded boats or left stranded in the middle of the sea by the fleeing crews of those worn out boats.
EU leaders will not only be discussing the humanitarian dimension of the crisis, but will also aim to tackle the political, economic and security issues associated with it. Immigration has become a thorny and extremely controversial issue in Europe, particularly after the recent economic crises and unemployment problems on the continent, as well as the upsurge of extremist far-right parties and racist groups who capitalize on such issues. In France and Britain, for example, the growing support received by far-right movements has made them aspire to play a larger political role in their respective countries, not only with regard to immigration issues but also in determining the future of the entire EU. The leader of France’s National Front, Marine Le Pen, who is also a presidential hopeful, is playing the economic crisis and anti-immigration cards in a bid to win the elections. Nigel Farage of Britain’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) is doing the same. According to polls, UKIP is heading in the general elections in May to gain its highest number of votes since it was established.
The security dimension of the discussion is related to fears that terrorist groups will use these waves of migrants washing on European shores as a way to get its cadres into Europe. Ever since the situation in Libya deteriorated and the North African country got sucked into a seemingly endless vortex of war and chaos, Western political circles have warned of the consequences this may have on Europe amid fears that terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), will utilize this influx of people as a means to smuggle its fighters into Europe. Following the slaughter of Egyptian and Ethiopian workers in Libya by ISIS and the threats the extremist group has made towards Europe, the EU has started to think seriously about taking measures to counter the threats and restrict the waves of migrants coming through the Mediterranean.
The EU has introduced a 10-point plan to counter the migration crisis. It includes cracking down on human trafficking networks and destroying their boats, expanding naval monitoring operations, collecting information and checking newcomers’ IDs and scanning finger prints. Those measures may limit the flow of refugees but will only achieve the required effect through achieving larger cooperation with the concerned countries, including Arab ones, as well as exerting larger efforts to address the chaos in Libya.
The migrants crisis may open a window for greater attention to the situation in Libya. With Europe talking about the need to address the crisis politically, Arab players, if they were to take action, have an opportunity to push towards saving Libya before it turns into a completely failed state, a development that would prove costly for everyone, particularly Arabs.

The Assyrian Genocide: 100 Years of Denial
By Hermiz Shahen
(AINA) -- The World War I genocide of Assyrians of all Christian denominations has become an integral part of the life and collective consciousness of the Assyrian nation until the present day. The extermination took many forms and methods within the conditions and political realities of different conflicts experienced by the Middle Eastern countries and the world. The factors that surrounded them locally and globally affected the entity of the Assyrian nation adversely and catastrophically. In recent years, history is repeating itself for the Assyrian nation. They are systematically driven out from their ancestral lands in Iraq and Syria. They have been subjected to gross violations of human and legal rights. Murder, rape, assault, and forced conversions to Islam have become commonplace as armed death-squads attempt to force Assyrians out of their time immemorial habitats; exactly 100 years after the Ottoman Empire's Caliphate government started its campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1914 against its Christian population. Nearly half-a-generation later, on August 7, 1933 over 6000 defenseless Assyrians were massacred by the Iraqi army because they demanded their rights.
Today, about one hundred and fifty thousand of Syria and Iraq's dwindling Assyrian population has been forcefully displaced over a very short period of time. The jihadists have moved in swiftly and forcefully to claim several Assyrian towns, forcing their inhabitants to flee. They have destroyed homes ancient churches, Assyrian artifacts and the Assyrian archaeological sites. The major goal for committing these massacres has always been ending the national entity of the Assyrians as the original owners of the land and inheritors of history and civilization. It also aimed at the elimination of the Christian presence in the region, which according to the definition of genocide endorsed by the United Nations, is defined as "crimes against humanity" that pursue the persecution and physical extermination of national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities.
On the centenary of the genocide, the recognition by the international community of the last century's genocide against the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek peoples is overdue. The modern Turkish Republic has continued its denial and its refusal to acknowledge its Ottoman predecessor's involvement in these crimes against humanity. Recognition is an essential step towards saving humanity from the threat of future destruction. A defilement of the concept of human dignity is today the result of humanitarian disasters in many parts of the world including Africa and the Middle East. As a consequence of the 1915 genocide against the three nations, the link with eternity was lost when the symbol of that eternity, which is the Assyrian civilization, was killed in the massacre of 750,000 Assyrians. The most ancient human civilizations come from the region of Mesopotamia. The Ottoman Empire destroyed the last remnants of this civilization in that region. At the same time the Armenian civilization was substantially destroyed and half of that nation was exterminated. Those Armenians who survived lost almost all their historical territories .The depopulation of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks from their ancestral homelands was part and parcel of Turkey's policy of eliminating the Christian minorities.
The Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks have been crying out for justice following the atrocities committed against them a century ago. Our voices had fallen on deaf ears in Australia for the longest time. Until recently that is, when on 1 and 8 May 2013, a motion recognising the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek genocide was passed unanimously in the New South Wales Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly in Australia. This great justice would not have been possible without the courageous stand of two great individuals who moved this motion in both houses, namely; Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile MLC, President of the Christian Democratic Party and The Hon. Barry O'Farrell, former Premier of New South Wales as well as with the contribution and support of all the esteemed parties in the New South Wales State Parliament. To date the Swedish, Dutch, Armenian and Austrian parliaments have recognised the Assyrian Genocide along with the European Parliaments and His Holiness Pope Francis. We hope that other countries including Australia will follow suit. The three nations that suffered this horrific genocide will always remember with pride and honour the Australian & New Zealander heroes who were eyewitnesses to the inhumane acts perpetrated against them. ANZACs had rescued survivors of the massacres and deportations across the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918, making the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides a part of the Australian story.
Recognition of the genocide will guarantee that Turkey understands its contemporary obligations to protect both the human and collective national rights of its minority populations and to prevent any future genocide. It will also help to strengthen our Assyrian national existence in the homeland as well as in the Diaspora, and will initiate international awareness of the Assyrian nation's rights to existence among the nations of the world. Let justice be done, souls consoled, broken hearts mended, nations reconciled, and honor given to all those who perished so needlessly during a dark hour in mankind's recent history.
**Hermiz Shahen is the Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance.
© 2015, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

Turkey's Denial of Genocide is Shameful
By David Tolbert
Daily Star, Lebanon
Posted 2015-04-24
The centenary of the genocide carried out by the Ottoman government against its minority Armenian population in their historic homeland, which lies in present-day Turkey, will be observed today, on April 24. The commemorations present an opportunity not only to remember the 1.5 million victims, but also to recognize -- and challenge -- the Turkish government's continued denial of the atrocities that took place.
Denial, which is the last bastion of those who commit genocide, disrespects the victims and their communities and lays a foundation of lies for a future that is likely to be characterized by even more conflict and repression. Given this, one must ask: Is acknowledging the Armenian genocide in Turkey's long-term interest?
Scholars have identified a "template of denial" that perpetrators of such crimes use to maintain the status quo. First and foremost, they do not acknowledge that genocide took place. Instead, they invert the story to portray the victims as perpetrators. They then insist that a larger number of victims came from the perpetrator's group and downplay the total number of victims. Official documents that might challenge this version of events are destroyed.
Based on this new story, deniers then argue that the crime does not fit the legal definition of genocide in international conventions. Other states are then pressured to accept the revised account and, in that way, not to call the crime a genocide. The crime is to be relativized in whatever way possible.
The Turkish government has been following this template for the past century. But there is another path that Turkey can follow, one that has been traveled by countries with historical burdens that are at least as heavy: ending the politics of denial and embracing acknowledgement, thereby opening the way for reconciliation and progress.
For Turkey, the first step would be for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize to the Armenian community for the genocide. The apology would have to be straightforward and credible, unlike his recent statement, in which he effectively denied the genocide by referring vaguely to "the events of 1915" and then trivialized the Armenians' suffering by equating it with that of "every other citizen of the Ottoman Empire" at the time. Erdogan would have to acknowledge publicly that genocide was committed, recognize the state's failure to protect its citizens, and offer a promise that such atrocities will not happen again.
Another crucial measure would be to establish a truthful and accurate historical record of what happened to the Armenians. To this end, an independent commission -- composed of a mixture of national and international experts -- should be established to build on the work of the unofficial Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission. Pertinent recent examples of such official commissions can be found in countries that have addressed their conflicts, such as El Salvador and Guatemala.
Turkey should also provide reparations for Armenians, whose plundered property has enriched the modern Turkish state. Initiatives should aim to address the material needs and, at least symbolically, compensate the losses suffered by Armenians inside and outside Turkey. Monuments and memorials can also serve an important purpose in providing an enduring reminder not only of the victims, but also of the state's promise never to allow such atrocities to happen again.
In a country where perpetrators of genocide have been placed in the pantheon of national heroes, all of this would not only help to alleviate Armenians' frustration and grief; it would also send a message to Turkey's citizens, especially the country's many minorities, that the state takes the issues of human rights and the rule of law seriously. This is no trivial matter: Turkey currently bears the dubious distinction of having the highest number of judgments for human-rights violations rendered against it by the European Court of Human Rights.
But symbolic measures, while important, are not enough to bring about real progress. Turkey's government must demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that its laws and institutions effectively protect the human rights of all of its citizens. In doing so, it would improve its standing in Europe and beyond.
Turkey has an important role to play in its region and the world -- one that is undermined by its continued denial of its genocide against the Armenians. Its disingenuous approach to the genocide is inconsistent with its efforts to cultivate a reputation as an honest, reliable partner. By acknowledging the Armenian genocide, Turkey would establish itself as a mature democracy and reinforce its standing as a legitimate regional power. This would enhance geopolitical stability by strengthening Turkey's capacity to mediate and support initiatives in regional contexts where impunity reigns, such as in Israel, Palestine, Syria and Sudan.
Clearly, the benefits of acknowledging the Armenian genocide are far-reaching. But perhaps most compelling are the dangers of maintaining the status quo. As the psychologist Israel Charny has put it, the denial of genocide enables "the emergence of new forms of genocidal violence to peoples in the future."
Erdogan need not emulate Willy Brandt's famous Kniefall von Warschau, when Germany's then-chancellor genuflected before the monument to the Jewish victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. But, in his own way, he needs to apologize sincerely on behalf of the Turkish state and declare convincingly, "never again."

In Armenia ISIS Atrocities Seen As Modern-day Crimes Against Humanity
By Gohar Abrahamyan
Posted 2015-04-24
The violence and vandalism unleashed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East in recent years is seen from Yerevan as a logical continuation of the world's failure to properly recognize and condemn the past genocides, including the Ottoman-era massacres of 1.5 million Armenians.
The latest crimes committed by ISIS operatives included the execution of two groups of prisoners, believed to be Ethiopian Christians, in Libya. The Ethiopian government confirmed on Monday that 30 of its citizens were among the two groups.
The chilling video released by the terror network's media arm again reminded the world that genocides committed on ethnic or religious grounds are crimes against the entire humanity and not just a particular chosen group.
His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on April 20 sent a letter of condolence to His Holiness Abuna Mathias, the Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, in connection with the murders of Ethiopian Christians by extremists.
On behalf of the members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Supreme Spiritual Council, His Holiness conveyed his deepest sympathies and condolences to His Holiness Abuna Mathias and the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
"During these days, when our nation commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and calls upon the international community to stand firm in defending human rights and dignity throughout the world, we strongly condemn the mass killing of our Christian brethren and invite all people of good will to take the necessary measures to prevent such crimes and atrocities against humanity," HH Karekin II said.
Killings of people on the grounds of their ethnic or religious affiliation, including mass executions, have become a "trademark" for ISIS in recent months. But besides cutting people's heads off, the terrorist network's operatives also seek to erase traces of civilizations. Thus, a video released in late February showed ISIS militants destroying ancient Assyrian artifacts in Mosul, Iraq.
An Armenian church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, built in 1991 and bearing the name of Holy Martyrs in memory of the victims of the Ottoman-era genocide of Armenians sent to death marches across the Syrian desert, was blown up by ISIS in September last year.
Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian then issued a statement, condemning the crime and calling on the international community to strongly condemn that act of vandalism.
Yerevan issued more statements condemning ISIS and its activities in the subsequent months.
Speaking at a major forum called "At the Foot of Mount Ararat" in Yerevan in March, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, in particular, said: "Today, the so called Islamic State based in the territories of Syria and Iraq poses a real threat to both regional and international security. In the Middle East, the cradle of ancient civilizations, those very civilizations risk being destroyed. Armenian communities in Syria and Iraq are also affected by that situation. The Armenian Genocide survivors, who had found shelter in Syria and Iraq, now have to face the mentioned challenges. Armenia has already accepted more than ten thousand refugees from Syria.
"Armenia condemns the crimes and atrocities committed by the Islamic State, the Al Nusra Front and by other terrorist groups, and calls on the international community to take decisive steps against this newly-emerged calamity. In this context, Armenia expresses its full support to the complete implementation of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council."
And on April 12, during a landmark Holy Mass in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica Pope Francis also made references to people suffering because of their Christian faith as he characterized the killings and deportations of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as "the first genocide of the twentieth century".
Arsen Mikhailov, the head of Armenia's Atur Assyrian association, also believes that ISIS's condemnable actions take place against the background of historical genocides that mankind has failed to properly recognize and condemn to date.
"A hundred years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, but it has not been properly condemned by the entire world yet. All genocides must be condemned so that we no longer witness new such crimes today. Unfortunately, I have to say that the world is very indifferent to these concerns, so we urge the whole world to pay attention to these matters. This is the same handwriting that was used a hundred years ago," Mikhailov told ArmeniaNow.
And specialist in Arabic studies Arax Pashayan says that while ISIS's crimes have no direct effect on Armenia, the actions of this terrorist network directly affect the Armenian communities in the Middle East.
Recent conflicts in the Middle East, including civil wars in Syria and Iraq, have already displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians, many of whom took refuge in Armenia in recent years.


How does sanctions-ridden Iran find a multibillion war chest to fund 6 armies fighting in 4 Mid East wars?
DEBKAfile Special Expose April 24, 2015
According to figures reaching debkafile in March, Iran is spending a vast fortune - up to an estimated $6-8 billion per year - to keep six armed forces fighting in four Middle East war campaigns for expanding its sphere of influence. Month after month, Tehran forks out close to half a billion dollars - and sometimes more - to keep those conflicts on the boil. How Iran manages to keep this war chest flowing so abundantly from an economy crippled by international sanctions has never been explained.
As the Syrian war enters its fifth year, Iranian Revolutionary Guards are found to be running it from four command and control centers, our military and intelligence sources report:
1. In Damascus, the IRGC operates as a part of the Syrian General Staff, with two imported pro-Iranian militias at its independent disposal. This command center has three tasks: To oversee the Syrian general staff and monitor its operational planning; to guard President Bashar Assad’s regime and his family; defend key locations such as the military airport and Shiite shrines, and keep the highways to Lebanon open.
2. In the Aleppo region of the north, IRGC officers were engaged in drawing up plans for a general offensive to rout rebel forces from positions they have captured in the city. Tehran attaches prime importance to a peak effort for the recapture of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The IRGC command has transferred large-scale Hizballah forces from Lebanon to this arena, along with Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militias. Thousands of these combatants underwent training at specialist IRGC bases. Our military sources disclose that those militias recently took so many casualties that Iranian officers decided to hold off the Aleppo offensive.
3. In the Qalamoun Mts., which are situated athwart the Syrian-Lebanese frontier, Tehran has given high priority to flushing rebel forces, including the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, out of the pockets they have seized on the mountain slopes, so as to clear the mountain roads for the passage of Hizballah units. This offensive has also been delayed.
4. In South Syria, Iranian officers led a large-scale month-long drive to drive rebel forces out of the area they hold between Deraa and Damascus, in order to position Iranian-led Hizballah and pro-Iranian militia forces face to face with the Israeli army on the Golan. This drive has so far been stalled.
Tehran establishes – and pays for - new Syrian army
Iranian officers have established, trained and equipped a new 70,000-strong fighting force called the Syrian National Defense Force. Its operations, including the soldiers’ wages, are financed from Tehran’s pocket.
Iran runs airlifts day by day to re-supply the Syrian army with weapons systems and ammunition, and the Syrian Air Force with bombs and ordnance for attacks against rebel forces – of late, mostly barrel bombs. Intelligence sources estimate that Iran’s expenditure in the Syrian conflict now hits $200 million per month – around $2.5 billion a year.
Iran bankrolls Hizballah from top to bottom
The 25,000-strong Lebanese Shiite Hizballah operates under the direct command of IRGC officers. All its military equipment comes from Tehran, which also draws up its annual budget. Each month, Iran transfers to Beirut $150-200 million, as well as paying for all the Lebanese militias’ expenses for maintaining an expeditionary force in Syria. Hizballah costs Tehran an approximate $2 billion per annum.
An all-Shiite “people’s national army” for Iraq, re-supplies for Yemen
Iran’s deep military intervention in Iraq includes the creation of an all-Shiite “people’s national army.” It follows the same template as the Syrian National Defense Force and consists of the same number of fighters – 70,000 troops.
Tehran has also invested in barricades to fortify Baghdad against invasion from the north and the west.
The offensive to retake the Sunni town of Tikrit from the Islamic State was led by Iranian officers, and fed constantly with high-quality weapons systems, including missiles and tanks.
All the war materiel required by the Iraqi army and Shiite militias fighting the Islamic State is airlifted to Baghdad, some directly from Iran.
There is no reliable estimate of the Islamic Republic’s current contribution to Iraq’s war budget (estimated at a quarter of a billion dollars per month) because part of the cost is carried by the Iraqi government from oil revenues.
In Yemen, until Saudi Arabia and Egypt imposed an air and sea blockade a month ago, Iran ran supplies by air and sea to the Shiite Zaydi Houthis and their Yemeni army allies whom Tehran championed, sponsored and funded directly. The deployment of US warships in the Gulf of Aden this week put a stop to this traffic. But by then, Iran had sunk an estimated half a billion dollars in a Houthi victory.
Sanctions are no bar to Iran’s ambitions
This arithmetic is testimony to Iran’s mysteriously deep pockets. The sanctions the US, Europe and the United Nations clamped down on Tehran clearly had no effect on its willingness and ability to lay out fabulous sums to promote its ambitions as Middle East top dog.

Why is Rouhani coddling the military
Amir Taheri /Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 24 Apr, 2015
Even before they seized power in Tehran, Khomeini’s followers were known for their expertise in massaging the truth to suit their political aims.
In anti-Shah demonstrations they would carry empty coffins around while women clad all in black would shriek, tear their hair out and mourn non-existent “martyrs” in what was pure surrealistic theater. Khomeinist mullahs would use mosque sermons to spread lies about, or even call for the murder of, their opponents.
One Khomeinist trick is known as “mazlum-nama’i ” which means “posing as a victim.” The claim is that we are the victims of enemies who resent the fact that we are pious lovers of justice.
It was in the same theatrical style that President Hassan Rouhani the other day tried to blame the failures of his administration on the continuation of “American sanctions”. He claimed that Iran was not allowed to buy food and medicine because of sanctions. However, food and medicine have never been subject to sanctions against any country, let alone Iran.
Even with the strongest UN sanctions, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was allowed to buy all the food and medicine it wanted.
In any case, in 2013 Rouhani had already refuted his own claim by asserting that the Islamic Republic was forced to import 80 percent of its food during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
That claim was a lie designed to blacken Ahmadinejad.
The truth is that Iran routinely buys up to 40 percent of its food from abroad. In Rouhani’s first year in office, according to official statistics, Iran imported 6.8 million tons of wheat, mostly from the United States.
There is solid evidence that Iran suffers from shortages of certain categories of medical supplies. However, the reasons for this have little to do with sanctions.
One reason is that the government, which controls the banking sector, does not treat importing pharmaceuticals as a priority in terms of providing the required credit facilities. State-owned banks give priority to approving imports by the military-security establishment rather than those approved by the Ministry of Public Health.
Another reason is that the sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency has made many imported drugs too expensive for the average Iranian to afford, cutting profit margins and discouraging imports.
Since November 2014 when Tehran agreed the so-called Joint Plan of Action (JPA) in Geneva with the P5+1, almost 7 billion US dollars of frozen Iranian assets earned from oil exports have been released. This is more than enough to finance the import of all the food and medicine needed by Iran in that period.
However, much of the money was not spent on what Iran needed but rather on what the military-security establishment wanted.
Of the released money, almost 400 million US dollars was spent on Iranian students abroad in the form of school fees and monthly stipends.
The government also spent 250 million US dollars distributing food baskets among 20 million supposedly destitute people across the country, often to those who didn’t need it. The demagogic move was again designed to help Rouhani claim that he, and not Ahmadinejad, was the true friend of the “downtrodden” (Mustazafin).
The Rouhani administration has spent a further 2.3 billion US dollars helping Bashar Al-Assad continue massacring the Syrian people, as well as assisting Hezbollah to hold the Lebanese people hostage.
The Rouhani administration has also set aside 800 million US dollars to finance the purchase of S300 Russian-made missiles. (A down-payment of 250 million US dollars had previously been made in 2010).
A further 100 million US dollars was devoted to a contract with North Korea to develop a new generation of long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear and chemical warheads.
However, the lion’s share of the released cash has gone to the military-security forces in the form of a whopping 26 percent increase in their budgets, much of it spent on higher wages and salaries. (Interestingly, at the same time as all this the government is claiming difficulties paying the teachers, for example).
Sources close to Rouhani’s administration claim that he is confident that Obama is determined to “accommodate” Iran regardless of the outcome of the new round of nuclear talks started on Wednesday.
Even if no formal agreement is reached, Rouhani would be content with the extension of the Geneva arrangement under which Tehran would continue to access part of its frozen oil revenues now estimated at between 100 and 150 billion US dollars.
If something, virtually anything, is signed by June 30 Iran will immediately get upwards of 50 billion US dollars, more than enough to re-launch its economy on the eve of crucial elections for the Islamic Majlis and the Assembly of Experts.
The Rafsanjani faction, of which Rouhani is a member, believes that the nuclear accord can help it win both elections, thus gaining full control of power in Tehran and marginalizing Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei whom they regard as a troublemaker.
In a long message last week, someone close to Rouhani’s entourage tried to convince me that the president had no choice but to give the military the lion’s share in order to ensure their neutrality in the forthcoming power struggle against Khamenei and his faction.
“The military want money and arms,” he claimed. “We give them both. There is no reason why they should oppose our strategic change of course if they get what they want.”
Once again, what the Rafsanjani faction appears to be trying to do draws parallels with China in the final years of Mao Zedong when the faction led by Deng Xiaoping succeeded in wooing the military with money and prestige, thus isolating the “Helmsman” and transforming the People’s Republic from a vehicle for revolution into a nation-state in search of economic power and diplomatic prestige.
Over the past two weeks the military chiefs have lined up to express support, albeit still lukewarm, for the strategy of normalization with the “Great Satan.”
In an op-ed he published in the New York Times last week, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, hinted at that strategy by asserting: “The purview of our constructive engagement {with the United State} extends far beyond nuclear negotiations.”
Well, we shall see.

War-torn and poor, Yemen must be given a chance for salvation
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 24 April 2015
Yemen has been under the spotlight in the Arab region and the rest of the world for four weeks. Everyone has been talking about it with the beginning of the operation “decisive storm”. However, we do not know much about the old and ongoing tragedy of the Yemeni people that has been burdening Yemen for more than half a century. This historically booming country has a deprived population suffering from unprecedented starvation and lack of development, among most countries in the world. The Yemenis are suffering from a silent humanitarian crisis that has been kept off the scenes.
Yemen’s stability is not the problem as the country has witnessed throughout its history numerous consternations that were limited in the space and time. It hasn’t been a problem even after the emergence of Al Qaeda, American drone warfare that has been ongoing for years now, and the brief wars between government-allied forces and the Houthis. Nevertheless, most of the country is lacking civilization. Poverty long preceded Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. Yemen has witnessed decades without development. It is now languishing at the bottom of the world, and ranks among the countries that are the most affected by poverty and ignorance.
Haunting misery
Half of the Yemeni population earns just two dollars per month. It is one of the countries that are suffering from the lack of education, medication and other services. This misery has been haunting Yemenis for nearly five decades; it is a bigger and more dangerous issue than the crisis we are witnessing today. It is important to mention that Yemeni’s chance is unlikely to change with the lingering of the old regime and its heirs.
“All that we wish for is that the world deploys all possible efforts to save Yemen from its humanitarian plight through providing relief to all parts of the country”
The current war might be the only way out of the long Yemeni tunnel, in case the concerned countries in the Gulf and the West, care to provide a project that will save the country and not only save the rule of law. The international community, governments and international funds, have previously held conferences to help the Yemeni people, before and after the “Spring Revolution,” but Saleh’s regime was unsettling all deployed efforts to help the country get out of the long tunnels of ignorance, corruption or mere political interests. Saleh has purposely left Yemen outside the cycle of civilization; his government only managed major cities and left the rest of the country to the rule of the tribes.
During the 60s, Yemen has witnessed transitions like all other Arab states, the transition from colonialism, as is the case of Southern Yemen in 1968, or transition from an obscure tribal power into the modern state, as is the case of Northern Yemen in 1964.
Dictator dominance
Similarly to what happened in other Arab countries, the wave of independence veered towards military dictatorship or extremist ideology. Northern Yemen has witnessed conflicts over power between the different victorious authorities; five presidents have come to power in 15 years, and then, at the end, an unexperienced, uncultured, low-ranked military individual became president and dominated the country for more than 30 years.
As for Southern Yemen, it has fallen into the clutches of the Communists and extremist Marxists, loyal to the Soviet Union; they took control after the departure of the last British soldier in 1968. Yemenis were divided between two Yemens: South and North. They were ruled by two futile regimes that failed to build a modern state, and after the so-called unity, the country turned into a poor state.
No sign of hope arose before 2011, before the so-called wind of Arab Spring raged in Sanaa. The Yemenis marked the world as they were the most civilized rebels among all other Arabs. Things were peaceful for a year and a half, until the rebels forced Saleh to resign. Saleh only resigned to gain time and stay in power, but he was then injured in a blast and had to forcibly get out due to internal and external pressure.
Root cause
Views shared of Yemen are generally political and not economic. This is normal because the problem in Yemen lies in the governance and resources. Poor governance is the cause behind the poverty, ignorance and frustration of the Yemeni people.
Saleh is a big problem because he was even successful in corrupting the political transition, which was engineered by the United Nations with a close follow-up by major countries, in addition to the full care of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The political transition has been promising for Yemen. Saleh convinced the military and security forces, over which he presided, and spread the idea of rebellion. He established an alliance with his former enemies the Houthis and helped them control the city of Omran and then the capital Sanaa. He brought the country to a disastrous civil and regional war.
All that we wish for is that the world deploys all possible efforts to save Yemen from its humanitarian plight through providing relief to all parts of the country, and to develop a large economic rescue project that goes beyond the war and its temporary objectives. Yemen is rich in oil, gas and agriculture and needs to have its chance for salvation.

Nasrallah’s speech reveals Iran’s shock over the Yemen crisis
Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya
Friday, 24 April 2015
What are Hezbollah’s relations with Yemen and what’s the secret behind its interest in it? Is Iran being upset of Saudi policy in Yemen enough for Hezbollah to attack this policy following the Decisive Storm campaign? And it is enough for Hezbollah to just overlook the historical relation which connects Lebanon and the Lebanese people with the Saudi kingdom?
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah’s recent speech about Yemen did not include anything more than escalated rhetoric against Saudi Arabia. In brief, the speech attacked the Saudi kingdom more than previous speeches as Nasrallah focused on King Abdulaziz, who established the kingdom. He also emphasized attacking the Wahhabi sect on the basis that it’s in the core of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ideology.
This is not true at all, especially if we consider the hostility which the kingdom has towards all extremist organizations, mainly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Saudi Arabia is a partner in the war against ISIS and that’s how it’s always been – ever since the days of King Abdulaziz when it confronted all movements distinguished with extremism.
There’s one beneficial side to Nasrallah’s speech. The speech’s rhetoric reveals the extent of how upset Iran is. It rather exposes the Iranian shock as a result of the Decisive Storm which is led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and in which there’s Arab, Muslim and international participation for a clear aim which is to once again resort to the political solution and to adopt dialogue amidst ordinary circumstances.
When I say ordinary circumstances, I mean circumstances in which no party linked to Iran imposes its conditions on others by resorting to the power of arms under the excuse of “revolutionary legitimacy.” The Saudi-led Decisive Storm campaign played the major role which the Yemeni government had requested of it: to curb Iranian activity in Yemen. This activity reached Aden and it could have reached the entire of the south after the Houthis gained the support of military powers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Willing to make an initiative
What may have upset Iran a lot more is that Operation Decisive Storm, which is also the storm of Arab determination, showed that there’s an power which is willing to make an initiative instead of just observing Iran expand in all directions. It’s no longer possible to underestimate this power which is capable of carrying out 100 airstrikes a day.
Before Hezbollah voices its concern over Yemen and the Yemenis via its secretary general, why doesn’t it facilitate the process of electing a president in Lebanon?
Hassan Nasrallah expresses Iran’s discontent on two issues: the presence of such a power and the Arab awakening. Arabs were supposed to stay asleep for Nasrallah to feel satisfied and for the Iranian regime to impose its conditions on its Arab neighbors, from Bahrain to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The Decisive Storm campaign showed that Arabs have the capability to resist and the desire to confront the Iranian expansion project. This is what made Nasrallah go really far in the campaign he launched against the Saudi kingdom in particular and against the Arab countries participating in the Decisive Storm campaign in general.
In the end and despite the relationship between his party and the Houthis - which is more than 15 years old - Hezbollah’s secretary general does not know much about Yemen and its complications. It’s no secret that the pro-Houthi satellite television channel al-Maseera broadcasts from a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut. This is one thing and engaging in Yemeni details is another.
The Yemeni affair is still in the beginning but what Nasrallah and Iran fear is that Yemen may be the beginning of a certain phase and not at the end of a specific phase, as Tehran had hoped. They’re afraid it may be the beginning of a new Arab approach on how to deal with current crises in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In clearer words, Iran is afraid that the Arab stance may become different in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
What’s interesting is that while he was in Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi talked about Iraqi sovereignty and voiced criticism - though shyly - regarding the appearance of Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani in photos revealing he was leading the battle in Tikrit. It’s true that time will reveal that Abadi is not any different than his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki but it’s also true that while he’s in the American capital, Abadi has to give the impression that he seeks the minimal amount of dependence with Iran and from its expansionist project based on sectarian instincts.
Daily slaughter
What’s also interesting is that the situation in Syria is changing on the ground in favor of the Syrian people whom Hezbollah, and its backer Iran, are slaughtering on a daily basis. Is the speech on Yemen an expression of the depth of the crisis which Hezbollah has found itself in, as a result of ignoring the Lebanese-Syrian borders and of getting involved in the war which the Syrian regime has launched against its people?
Last but not least, what’s interesting is that just as Nasrallah was finishing his speech, Lebanese Future Movement leader Saad Hariri was refuting all of its points and thus confirming that Lebanon refuses to be an Iranian colony and a tail of the “resistance axis.”
Hezbollah is trying to focus on more than Yemen. Yes, Yemen is important. One of the reasons it’s important is that Iran can use it to resume besieging the Saudi kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to controlling navigation in the Red Sea.
What’s more than Yemen is the Arab decision not to surrender to Iran. This is what mainly explains the provocative rhetoric of Nasrallah who suddenly became concerned with minorities in the region!
Since when is Hezbollah concerned with minorities and Christians in Lebanon? Those who know what Christians have been through in west Beirut – displacement and harassment – in the phase after Hezbollah became involved in reviving the part of the city, will no longer wonder about the difference between the practices of these sectarian militias and the practices of ISIS and Sunni and Shiite militias targeting Christians in Iraq.
Some modesty is necessary now and then. Before Hezbollah voices its concern over Yemen and the Yemenis via its secretary general, why doesn’t it facilitate the process of electing a president in Lebanon? Is it because the president in Lebanon is a Christian and because he is the only Christian president in this region which extends from the Atlantic Ocean to beyond the Arabian Gulf - which Iran insists is Persian?

AIPAC pushes Republicans to foster bi-partisan support for bill that would challenge Iran deal
By REUTERS/04/25/2015/An influential pro-Israel lobbying group is pressuring US lawmakers not to support amendments to toughen a bill that lets Congress review a nuclear agreement with Iran, hoping to avoid a partisan battle that could doom the legislation.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been urging Republicans not to back amendments that might turn many Senate Democrats against the "Iran Nuclear Review Act," or prompt Democratic President Barack Obama to renew his threat to veto the legislation.
"Our priority is to make sure the bill gets passed with the strongest possible bipartisan majority so that Congress is guaranteed the opportunity to pass judgment on the final agreement," an AIPAC source said. "To achieve that goal we are supporting the leadership of Senator [Bob] Corker and Senator [Ben] Cardin on the bill." AIPAC is considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and its support makes it less likely an amendment seen as a "poison pill" that would kill the bill would attract the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Cardin, the panel's top Democrat, introduced the bill in the full Senate on Thursday. They urged lawmakers to support the legislation with the largest bipartisan majority possible.
Republicans and Democrats on the committee agreed last week to soften the bill by removing provisions that prompted Obama to threaten a veto, such as a requirement that he certify Iran does not support terrorism anywhere in the world.
Senators have been filing amendments seeking to change the legislation before it comes up for a vote in the full chamber. Some are seen as "poison pills" that would alienate too many Democrats to pass or prompt a veto if they did somehow get through the Senate and House of Representatives.For example, Republican Senator Ron Johnson offered an amendment that would require any Iran nuclear deal to be considered a treaty, which would require the approval of two-thirds of the 100-member Senate to go into effect.

Ticking time bombs: Hezbollah in Gaza and Palestinians in Syria
Yaron Friedman/Ynetnews
Published: 04.25.15/Israel Opinion
Analysis: Hamas betrayed Iran over Syria and then Yemen, finding a new patron in Qatar, but Iran will not give up control so easily, and has now anointed who it hopes will be Gaza's new rulers, and they are even more violent and dangerous. Hamas shifting alliance between Iran and Qatar has undoubtedly harmed the terror group. Hamas's declining power is good news in and of itself, but it is also dangerous, as it creates two ticking time bombs as far as Israel is concerned. First, in Israel's north – in the form of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria – and the second in Gaza, where Iran's new Hezbollah-like proxy is setting up shop. How did this happen and what are the ramifications for Israel?
New catastrophe
Many Palestinians have begun to use the phrase "second nakba" to describe the recent events in Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus that has recently sufferede an Islamic State offensive. It was a "catastrophe" equal to Israel's establishment in 1948.Yarmouk is the largest such refugee camp in Syria, and until four years ago was home to more than 150,000 people, living in poverty in its densely populated narrow and winding streets. The population now numbers around 20,000. When the Syrian civil war started more than four years ago, the Palestinians adopted a policy of neutrality, at least until opposition forces descended on the strategically located camp in 2012, and it quickly deteriorated into a battlefield between rebels and regime forces.
In the collective Palestinian memory, Black September is a massacre that took place during a 1970 attempt to topple the king of Jordan. Many now call September 2013 "Black September 2", when the Syrian army retreated from the camp, all ties with the regime were lost, along with Yarmouk's waer and electricty connections. Within two months, the camp had denegrated into ruins, a hell on earth, with bodies in the streets and almost no local government, not even enough to clear the bodies.
Local Palestinians witnessed daily battles between Assad's forces and different rebel factions, themselves mired in violent infighting. Regime shelling and barrel bomb attacks became routine. The ongoing siege created a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions, with food and medicine scarce. Refugees who fled the camp attested to the dire situation, describing widespread hunger and illness among those who remained. They said residents had been forced to slaughter dogs, cats and donkeys, and boil grass for food. Who is to blame for this situation?
Hamas' flip-flop
In December 2012, while on a visit to Gaza, Hamas' political leader, Khalad Mashaal, announced that the group was supporting Syrian rebels in their fight to oust President Bashar Assad. His announcement created a schism between Hamas and its main economic and military supporters in recent years – Syria and Hezbollah. At the time, turning their back on their biggest allies seemed like a smart bet and the right thing to do. Assad was losing control over Syria and his fate seemed sealed; and in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' sister organization, had taken control. A year later things looked very different: Assad suddenly seemed to have regained the upper hand and the Brotherhood was violently ousted from power by Egypt's now president and then military chief Fatteh Abed al-Sisi.
Hamas suddenly found itself without a patron. It has since been dealt a further blow in the shape of the heavy losses it suffered during the conflict with Israel in Operation Protective Edge. The "mukama" axis – the axis of "resistance" comprising Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – fell apart, and with it went the money and the weapons. In retribution for its betrayal, Mashaal was thrown out of Damascus and he moved Hamas' political bureau to Qatar.
When the war in Yemen broke out, with a coalition led by Saudi Arabia fighting against the Iran-supported Shiite Houthi rebels, Mashaal said Hamas supported the Saudi fight against the rebels. After all, the coalition includes Qatar - a major donor of funds to rebuild Gaza after the war with Israel.
The statement by Mashaal was yet another slap in the face to Iran, which has thrown its might behind the rebels. The move further strained ties and buried any chance for reconciliation between Iran and Hamas in the near future, leaving Hamas still hungry for money and arms. The decision also strained relations within Hamas. Some of the Gaza leadership, headed by Mahmoud Zahar, recently said Mashaal's statements do not represent those of the entire organization. Mashaal's flip-flop has further entangled the group in the Syrian conflict – and the price will be paid, both in Gaza and in Yarmouk.
Hezbollah in Gaza
Hamas' betrayal further widened the distrust and schism between Iran and Hamas, especially the part led by Mashaal. According to Arab media, Iran is fuming at Mashaal's statement on Yemen, and has vowed to cut funding for Gaza's rehabilitation. Hamas is still the strongest of all terror factions in the Strip, but the current crisis has already begun to take its toll on Gaza's de facto sovereigns. There is unrest fomenting in the south and north of the Strip, with rise of new factions other than Islamic Jihad and its ilk. In Rafah in the south, salafists supporting al-Qaeda are helping terrorists cross from Sinai via tunnels. In the north, a group call "Hezbollah in Gaza" has reappeared. The group, Harakat as-Sabeereen Natzran Le-Palastin (“The Patient Ones' Movement for the Liberation of Palestine”), which sometimes goes by the acronym of Hesn (“fortification”). Their flag is almost a mirror image of the Hezbollah banner, with the small addition of a map of greater Palestine.
Despite its attempt to deny it, the group is affialted with a radical sect of Shiite Islam, unlike the majority of Gaza which is predominantly Sunni. Thus, it seems Iran has already selected its choice to replace Hamas. As much as Hesn grows, the pro-Shiite forces in northern Gaza will grow accordingly. Politically, the new Hezbollah branch is opposed to any type of hudna (interim ceasefire) with Israel, and has been pressuring Hamas to renew its rocket fire on Israel. It has begun to amass arms, and its operatives claim to have fired a rocket at Israel during Operation Protective Edge. On its Facebook page, the group claimed a terror attack in the West Bank some two weeks ago, in which two soldiers IDF were stabbed.
The "Patient Ones" is claiming to be a popular movement, but is still significantly smaller than Hamas. But we would be wise to remember that 30 years ago, Hamas was also a small and almost completely unknown entity.
**Dr. Yaron Friedman, Ynet's commentator on the Arab world, is a graduate of the Sorbonne. He teaches Arabic and lectures about Islam at the Technion, at Beit Hagefen and at the Galilee Academic College.

Politics of genocide
The Daily Star/Apr. 25, 2015
As Armenians around the world commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide against their people, in which over 1 million were killed, and as similar acts of violence continue to occur across the region, and the wider world, it is urgent that the causes behind such violence be studied, in order to prevent more of the same. On this moment of commemoration it is not merely enough to reflect on the past, but it is vital to also look at the present, and contemplate why such acts of horrific violence and oppression continue across the Middle East, whether it is state-sponsored, as in Syria, or whether it is carried out by terrorist groups. It is also important to think about the future, and to tackle the difficult questions which must be answered, of how and why people and institutions are driven to such violence, and how certain systems, or failures within systems, allow them to get away with it. The stress on semantics – whether what happened to the Armenians was a genocide or mass killings – is important to some, but in a way this debate has detracted from the larger picture of what we can learn from the past to avoid future situations which are similar. The Armenian community in Lebanon is so widely respected and valued, by all. But in the week leading up to the anniversary has witnessed the ugly and unfortunate phenomenon of Lebanese politicians jumping on the political bandwagon, with little more interest than some votes at the end of day. To allow the massacre of over a million people to stir up sectarian tension in Lebanon and elsewhere today is to completely fail to learn a lesson from history.