February 08/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.
Isaiah09/01-21: "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.  For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.  For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. The Lord’s Anger Against Israel  The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel.  All the people will know it—Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—who say with pride and arrogance of heart, “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on. Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. But the people have not returned to him who struck them,
nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.  Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke. By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; they will not spare one another.
20 On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied. Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring: Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh; together they will turn against Judah. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised."

Question: "What does it mean that God is love?"

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 07-08/15
Qatar Published Fatwa In 2006 Permitting Burning People — Removes It After IS Burns Pilot/
Raymond Ibrahim/February 07/15
Iran warns West: Failure in nuclear talks would lead to pragmatist Rouhani's downfall/Agencies/February 07/15
A chorus of Israeli politicians urge Netanyahu to cancel US Congress Iran speech/JPOST.COM/ February 07/15
ISIS reaches a decisive turning point/Michael Young/The Daily Star/February 07/15

Lebanese Related News published on February 07-08/15
Lebanese Security Forces Searching for 5 Suicide Bombers in Arsal, Ain el-Hilweh
Lebanon Boycotts Washington Terrorism Conference over Israeli Participation
Lebanon: ISIS running Shariah court in Arsal in bid to win hearts and minds
Lebanon on alert for 5 potential suicide bombers
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim: Lebanon will respect 1701
Salam meets with Lavrov, Zarif, Abadi in Munich
Salam from Munich: Large Number of Syrian Refugees Led to Spike in Crime in Lebanon
Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad: Lebanese political factions no longer bid on ISIS
Machnouk backs amending smoking ban: restaurants
Lebanese factions no longer bid on ISIS: Hezbollah MP
Ministry shuts sweets shop, food warehouse
Attack on a Zahle transformer cuts power to district
Pharaon: Expand or build second airport
Beirut-style diplomacy
ISIS running Shariah court in Lebanon’s Arsal
Report: Hariri to Tackle Issues Absent from Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Talks during Feb. 14 Speech
Report: Jumblat Postpones Resignation at Berri's Insistence
Three Soldiers Wounded while Pursuing Robbery Gang in Akkar

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 07-08/15
Jordan army planes bomb ISIS targets for third day
Jordan’s strength is also its weakness
Men of Raqqa watched Jordanian pilot burn
GCC denounces 'coup' in Yemen
Thousands protest Yemen rebel takeover
Yemen Houthi leader says 'hand extended' for partnership after takeover
Hundreds die in relentless Syrian regime strikes
'Don't tell us, show us, President Putin': Biden on Ukraine
Putin says will not wage war on anyone
Europe and US clash over arming Ukraine
3 Egyptian police killed, 2 wounded during raid
Official says Netanyahu misled over U.S. speech
Abbas orders body to lead Palestinian ICC cases

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Quebec: Muslim quoted Qur’an as he beat his children
Baghdad: Islamic jihadists murder 37 people, wound 86
Six U.S.-based Muslims charged with supporting the Islamic State
11 of Canada’s highest-profile jihad terrorists tied to Muslim Students Association
We’re leaving Britain – Jews aren’t safe here any more”
Islamic State supporters cheer as pilot’s murder shown on big screen
Purple Heart finally to be awarded to Fort Hood jihad massacre victims

Question: "What does it mean that God is love?"
Answer: Let’s look at how the Bible describes love, and then we will see a few ways in which God is the essence of love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). This is God's description of love, and because God is love (1 John 4:8), this is what He is like.Love (God) does not force Himself on anyone. Those who come to Him do so in response to His love. Love (God) shows kindness to all. Love (Jesus) went about doing good to everyone without partiality. Love (Jesus) did not covet what others had, living a humble life without complaining. Love (Jesus) did not brag about who He was in the flesh, although He could have overpowered anyone He ever came in contact with. Love (God) does not demand obedience. God did not demand obedience from His Son, but rather, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father in heaven. “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). Love (Jesus) was/is always looking out for the interests of others.
The greatest expression of God's love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We can see from these verses that it is God's greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal home, heaven. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24).Recommended Resources: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson and Logos Bible Software.

Lebanon Boycotts Washington Terrorism Conference over Israeli Participation
Naharnet/Washington received an official apology from Lebanon on its participation in the “White House conference on efforts to counter violent extremism,” because it cannot be a “partner with Israel in confronting terrorism,” media reports said. More than 60 countries, including 14 Arab nations and Israel, are expected to take part in the summit slated on February 18 at the White House and presided by U.S. President Barack Obama. The White House planned the conference in light of the recent shootings in France and earlier attacks in Canada and Australia. The meetings are expected to continue the next day where the foreign ministers will meet at the headquarters of the U.S. State Department, headed by Secretary of State John Kerry. The third day is devoted to meetings of experts and specialized committees in Washington. Related sources said on condition of anonymity that the invitation was addressed to Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouq, but the latter clarified that he only received an official invitation from the U.S. government to “visit Washington in March and that he was not invited to the said conference,” they told As Safir daily on Saturday. Mashnouq also said: “Lebanon, represented by its Foreign Minister, apologized for the participation in the conference after consultations with the PM because Lebanon cannot be a partner with Israel in confronting terrorism.” “Everybody in Lebanon knows that the Israeli policy is at the basis of the terrorist ideology and its growth in the region,” added Mashnouq. “Lebanon has informed some Arab delegations that it does not participate in meetings involving Israel unless it is under the United Nations and affiliated international institutions' umbrella,” As Safir quoted diplomatic sources as saying. The sources added that the Lebanese delegation in Washington, which participated in the preparatory meetings with the U.S. administration and the Arab missions, pointed out that Israel practices “violence of extremists when it occupies Arab land, killing and displacing people in Lebanon and Palestine. How can we make it our partner in the face of terrorism that resembles it?”
The sources did not rule out that “Lebanon could set some criteria for its participation, asking for the engagement of experts and members of the mission in Washington in the meetings held at the sidelines of the summit on condition that Israel does not participate.
The sources added that the “discussions should have a clear goal away from any confusion aiming at fighting terrorism posed by the IS and al-Nusra Front against all humanity.” The IS state controls several regions in Syria and Iraq and aims to spread to the country as its fighters position in the outskirts of Bekaa towns bordering Syria and the Lebanese army is in adamant efforts to stop their efforts to infiltrate Lebanon.

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim: Lebanon will respect 1701
Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star
NAQOURA, Lebanon: Lebanon will continue to adhere to U.N Resolution 1701, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said Friday during a visit to the U.N. peacekeeping force’s headquarters in the southern border town of Naqoura.
“I represent the Lebanese government, which is committed to Resolution 1701,” Ibrahim told U.N. force commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano, offering his condolences over the killing of a Spanish peacekeeper in the latest round of border violence between Israel and Hezbollah. Ibrahim, who hailed UNIFIL’s peacekeeping role in Lebanon, stressed the need to continue ongoing coordination between the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL, Andrea Tenenti, the spokesperson for the peacekeeping force, told reporters.
Ibrahim also emphasized the importance of maintaining stability in UNIFIL areas of operation. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 ended Israel’s summer 2006 war against Lebanon and permitted UNIFIL peacekeepers to expand their presence along Lebanon’s southern border. Ibrahim also visited his officers stationed at the southern Ras Naqoura border crossing post. The Ras Naqoura crossing was established to control the movement of U.N. peacekeepers between Lebanon and Israel and members of the International Committee of the Red Cross who are responsible for the repatriation of Lebanese civilians and deceased Lebanese from Israel. Ibrahim’s visit came after the recent flare-up of violence last week between Hezbollah and Israel in the occupied Shebaa Farms on Lebanon’s southeastern border that killed two Israeli soldiers. The Hezbollah attack on an Israeli convoy came in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike against a Hezbollah convoy in Syria’s Golan Heights town of Qunaitra 10 days earlier. The airstrike killed an Iranian general and six Hezbollah fighters, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the party’s late top commander Imad Mughniyeh. A Spanish peacekeeper was also killed by Israeli shelling in the exchange of fire. The Security Council Wednesday condemned “in the strongest terms” the killing of the peacekeeper. Spain’s U.N. ambassador blamed Israel for the death of 36-year-old Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo. A U.N. diplomat has said Israel apologized for the incident through several channels, including its ambassador in Madrid who formally extended his condolences to Spain’s foreign minister. The Lebanese government condemned the Jan. 18 Israeli airstrike and Primer Minister Tammam Salam underlined that Lebanon would continue to respect Security Council Resolution 1701.

Lebanon on alert for 5 potential suicide bombers: report
The Daily Star/Feb. 07, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s security forces have been on alert over the past few days after receiving news about five potential suicide bombers, a media report said Saturday. Quoting security sources, daily Al-Akhbar said four Lebanese and one Moroccan are suspected of having the intention to carry out suicide attacks in Lebanon. The report said two youngsters from the entourage of fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir disappeared recently in Sidon, which raised suspicion among security agencies. As a result, the Army boosted its presence and its monitoring of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilwe, it added. Al-Akhbar also said security forces believe that one of the suspects is from the northeastern town of Arsal.

Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad: Lebanese political factions no longer bid on ISIS
The Daily Star BEIRUT: Certain political factions in Lebanon have recently stopped believing that ISIS could serve their political interests, Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad said Saturday. The party has in the past accused its political rivals of supporting Syrian opposition groups including jihadi ones like ISIS and the Nusra Front to score political gains in Lebanon. “There is a change in the opinion of some Lebanese who were bidding on these terrorists and believing that they serve their internal political interests,” Raad said during a Hezbollah memorial service in the Nabatieh village of Doueir. “We are witnessing this [change] in our political life and in our dialogues.” Hezbollah has been engaging in dialogue with its rival Future Movement since late-December. The two parties have so far discussed matters related to defusing sectarian tensions in the country, and made a collective decision to remove all political and sectarian banners in parts of Lebanon, including Beirut. Many areas were cleaned up Wednesday and Thursday. Raad also touched on the issue of presidential elections, which is one of the subjects that the dialogue. “This [presidential] void will not be filled before the Lebanese agree on one logic and approach that Lebanon’s authority should commit too, especially concerning the Zionist enemy and takfiri terrorism,” he said. He said that electing the wrong person as the head of state could push the country into chaos. Lebanon has been without president since May 2014, when former President Michel Sleiman left office at the end of his term -

Salam meets with Lavrov, Zarif, Abadi in Munich
The Daily Star/Feb. 07, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam met with his Iraqi counterpart and the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran in Munich Saturday, statements from the premier's office said. According to a statement released early Saturday, Salam discussed with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif "developments in Lebanon and the region."Lebanon's ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib-Abdul-Wahed and Iran's ambassador to Germany Ali Majdi also took part in the discussion.
Later in the day, Salam met with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi, in the presence of Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammad al-Ghaban, Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Planning Minister Salaman al-Jumaili, another statement said. The two premiers discussed the recent events in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as the relations between the two countries. Afterwards, he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a statement said, without elaboraing.Salam also met with UAE Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani. Salam is in Munich for a security conference that has drawn heads of states and ranking officials from across the world to debate solutions to regional conflicts.

Jordan army planes bomb ISIS targets for third day
Reuters/Feb. 07, 2015/AMMAN: Jordan carried out a third straight day of air strikes on ISIS targets on Saturday, it said, in response to the group's killing of a captive Jordanian pilot. "Sorties of air force fighters today bombed bases of the ISIS terror gang," state television said in a bulletin. It gave no details. Jordan began on Thursday what it called an "earthshaking" response to the death of the pilot.

Lebanon: ISIS running Shariah court in Arsal in bid to win hearts and minds
Samya KullabEdy Semaan/The Daily Star/Feb. 07, 2015
BEIRUT: It was a brisk January day when Rawad Ezzedine was kidnapped, beaten by a dozen militants, and left standing face-to-face with an elderly sheikh who asked him how often he prayed. The previous day the 21-year-old Ezzedine had engaged in a verbal exchange with a Syrian adolescent in which he lost his temper and used God’s name in vain. At noon the next day, a car pulled up next to his uncle’s sawmill in the Arsal area of Shbib where he worked. A group of men took him forcibly, put a bag over his head and hit him with sticks, asking him again and again why he had sworn. The Syrian adolescent had filed a complaint in ISIS’ religious court, and Ezzedine was about to be tried.
His trial was held on Jan. 30 in a bungalow-turned courthouse just 4 kilometers from the last Army checkpoint in Wadi Hmayyed. When taken to the courtroom, Ezzedine was instructed to greet the sheikh, his judge, in formal Arabic. Their conversation lasted six minutes, and a scribe recorded every word. The presence of a rudimentary court system run by ISIS in Arsal’s outskirts was corroborated by half a dozen quarry workers who claim to have seen it, as well as two witnesses who were summoned to hearings, including Ezzedine. While ISIS in Qalamoun have maintained a low-profile since August, the operations of the court are a sign that the militant group is attempting to consolidate power by giving Arsalis the one thing they need most – order. In addition to the court, quarry workers told The Daily Star the group had set up mobile checkpoints in certain areas of Arsal’s barren range, asking for identification and on occasion, confiscating food stuffs and mobile phones. Workers, who are predominately male, said they were instructed to grow beards and were told smoking was forbidden beyond the Army checkpoint.
Ezzedine was released less than 24 hours after his capture. The sheikh listened to his account and compared it to that of the Syrian adolescent. He then turned to Ezzedine and asked him if he knew how to pray. “I said I didn’t frequently, so he said he would teach me how before letting me go,” he told The Daily Star.
He slept in the room next door, and in the morning was given bread, yogurt and cheese. A militant then demonstrated how a “good Muslim” ought to pray. “This is in line with what ISIS does when it comes to an area and starts to build its influence there,” said Hasan Hasan, an analyst at the Delma Institute and co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.” “That’s how they always start: They try to establish a court system, and they start getting complaints and make connections with the community,” Hasan said.
In a July report, the Institute for the Study of War highlighted how the establishment of religious courts, which adhere to an austere interpretation of the Shariah, even in areas it does not fully control, is a core part of ISIS’ mode of governance.
According to Hasan, the militant group typically rents a small home, where a rudimentary courthouse is established to hear civil complaints. In Syria and Iraq, amid widespread anarchy and war, ISIS succeeded in maintaining a semblance of law and order in areas under its influence. “That has been their strategy of winning hearts and minds,” Hasan said.
But ISIS in Qalamoun has behaved differently from its units in Iraq and Syria, cooperating with its rival the Nusra Front, which occupies the area east of Wadi Hmayyed, and keeping a low profile. The majority of Arsal’s 35,000 residents work on the outskirts of the town, in some 300 stone quarries, sawmills and factories, according to the municipality. Some believe industry in Arsal might benefit from the semblance of order promised by ISIS in an area long neglected by the government and prone to petty crime. Quarry worker Bilal Hujeiri, who filed a complaint with the religious court on Dec. 12, is of this persuasion. “When the refugees came there was a lot of chaos, but now things are more controlled because everyone fears the Islamic State,” he said, using the group’s latest name.
Hujeiri was summoned to the court after an Arsal resident, another quarry worker, alleged he was collaborating with the Army. On Dec. 2, two of Hujeiri’s bulldozers were stolen by gangs that he believes were not affiliated with ISIS.
According to the worker, ISIS carried out its own investigation, recovered his bulldozers, and found him innocent after hearing his version of events. After clearing him, the sheikh handed Hujeiri a slip of paper entitling him to retrieve his bulldozers. He was directed to a warehouse 500 meters away. There, Hujeiri handed a guard the slip and was reunited with his machinery. “Anyone would do what I did to get their stuff back,” Hujeiri said. “Because after the Army checkpoint [in Wadi Hmayyed] they are the only authority there.”
Since its inception, only one death sentence was reportedly handed down by the court. The name Kayed Ghadadah, a quarry worker who was found guilty of collaborating with Hezbollah on Sept. 3 and promptly executed, was mentioned to The Daily Star by nearly every Arsali worker interviewed. Ghadadah’s death has succeeded in instilling Arsalis with fear of crossing the militants. His cousin, Khaled, believes ISIS informants in the town tipped off the militants about Ghadadah’s alleged activities.
The night Ghadadah was taken, 10 days before his execution, Khaled said he was with his cousin when a car pulled up outside their home. Three men knocked on the door and asked for Ghadadah, who stepped outside with them. Khaled claimed his cousin was then driven away. “They kidnapped him,” he said. Ten days later his body was found dumped near Arsal’s outskirts. “People like me are scared by how it’s become possible for these people to apply laws in a place that is not theirs and judge us,” said Suham Ezzedine, a school teacher. “Most people are terrified of ISIS and wonder how they can be so brutal.”
“But I also have colleagues who are happy with their deeds, and they believe ISIS is punishing the right people,” she added. Ezzedine, and countless other Arsalis said their fears would abate somewhat if the Army established a permanent presence in the town.
An Army source who acknowledged ISIS was holding court in Wadi Hmayyed said troops did not maintain a fixed position within the town because it would not be “militarily useful.” But another security source said the task was better suited to the Internal Security Forces, which operates west of Arsal. But unlike Syria and Iraq, where a frenetic environment permitted ISIS to flourish, Lebanon is relatively stable. Hasan recognized the scenario in Qalamoun was substantially different. “If you have a functioning government it will be hard for ISIS to gain the trust of the local population.”“As long as the government remains effective and the Army can face down any attack, Arsal and other areas should be fine.”

GCC denounces 'coup' in Yemen
Agence France Presse/Feb. 07, 2015
RIYADH: The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Saturday condemned a "coup" in Yemen where the rebel Houthi militia has dissolved parliament and installed a "presidential council" to run the country. "The Houthi coup marks a grave and inacceptable escalation... and endangers the security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen," said a statement issued at GCC headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The Sunni-dominated GCC, which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, had urged the Houthis to pull out of Sanaa, which the militia overran in September.

ISIS reaches a decisive turning point
Michael Young| The Daily Star/07.02.15
The burning alive of a Jordanian pilot reminds us how a few months ago many people, while acknowledging the savagery of ISIS, were also praising the cleverness of its leadership. Today that conclusion appears less persuasive.
The strength of groups such as ISIS is that when they are expanding, they generate momentum that draws in the undecided in countries that the group seeks to affect or take over. This was the message in the rapid ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq last summer. The group’s successes built on, and profited from, the alienation felt by Iraq’s Sunnis toward a state led by a man openly favoring the Shiite community.
The success of insurgent movements is often based on their ability to exploit existing social contradictions and cleavages. However, ISIS soon forgot how central this had to be to its strategy, and instead highlighted its sheer brutality. Violence can be a valuable tactic to sow fear among foes; but there is a stage at which it has a contrary effect. It unites previously divided adversaries; it provokes outrage and dread that makes resistance much more bitter; and it may define a group at the expense of the more important image it seeks to project.
All this has been visible in recent months. By conquering territory in Iraq and decapitating American hostages, ISIS precipitated a tacit alliance between the United States, Iran, Iraq’s government and the Gulf states, whose divisions and rivalries had allowed ISIS and other jihadi groups to grow in the first place. This coalition has turned the tide, spearheading the recapture of Diyala province in Iraq as well as large swathes of northern Iraq, making ISIS-controlled Mosul vulnerable.
The inhumaneness of ISIS has also made its enemies more determined to fight back, as we apparently saw when the group tried to take control of the Deir al-Zor military base last December. Whereas the group had seemed unstoppable in eastern Syria, it was unable to triumph this time around.
Much the same can be said of the ISIS offensive against Ain al-Arab, or Kobani, which proved to be the group’s great blunder. While the town’s strategic significance was limited, its symbolic importance was immense: it was a battle that the U.S., ISIS and the Kurds could not afford to lose. Ultimately, coalition aircraft were able to inflict far heavier losses on ISIS than was sustainable and the group was obliged to withdraw.
Moreover, Turkey emerged from the confrontation bruised, as its implicit collaboration with ISIS came under international scrutiny. Worse, the U.S. formed an alliance with Syrian Kurds close to the Kurdistan Workers Party opposed to Ankara.
The third error of ISIS was to allow itself to be characterized by its violence, when the ultimate aim of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is to set up a caliphate that will draw Sunnis toward him. Yet aside from psychopathic terror groups, who really wants to rally to such a repulsive, pathological entity whose sustainability is in greater doubt by the day, and whose only attribute is an ability to concoct barbaric ways to kill people?
If ISIS were ever to have appeal as a state project, it would have to incorporate elements of “soft power” into its agenda. Ironically, the Nusra Front, otherwise little better than ISIS, has attempted to do so, showing itself to be more merciful, which has shielded it in certain parts of Syria.
Baghdadi’s state has been an illusion. Hubristically, it announced some months ago that it intended to print a new currency. Yet its economic backbone is collapsing; those living in its areas appear to be less and less satisfied with their predicament; and there are even senior figures within ISIS who now regret having joined the group, as Martin Chulov reported in a recent piece for the Guardian on the formation of ISIS.
To those who might have followed ISIS once, the appeal is largely gone. The group has been so vicious, while offering no recompenses, that few see benefits in joining it. As Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahri wrote to Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, in July 2005: “In the absence of ... popular support, the Islamic mujahed movement would be crushed in the shadows, far from the masses who are distracted or fearful ... Therefore, our planning must strive to involve the Muslim masses in the battle, and to bring the mujahed movement to the masses and not conduct the struggle far from them.”While there will always be marginalized individuals who answer the call of ISIS, Zawahri was making a larger point that a jihadi movement must anchor itself in a population to thrive and survive. ISIS has done the contrary, terrorizing societies under its rule, and even senior members of its leadership who dare not challenge its policies for fear of retribution. ISIS will remain with us, but it’s fair to say it has created a perfect storm of animosity and opposition, which means its ability to extend its authority has been decisively curtailed. Rather than pick its battles carefully, the group roused myriad enemies simultaneously. Opening new fronts can be useful when on the upswing, but ISIS has done so lately mainly to limit its losses. Baghdadi’s ambitions may have gotten the better of him and now the shortcomings are visible.**Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR. He tweets @BeirutCalling.

A chorus of Israeli politicians urge Netanyahu to cancel US Congress Iran speech
By JPOST.COM STAFF \ 02/07/2015 15:02
Israeli politicians urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday to cancel his upcoming speech to the US Congress, repeating a message that they have delivered in the past few weeks on a number of occasions: the speech will negatively impact on US-Israeli relations.
Netanyahu was invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address a special joint session of Congress and is expected to advocate for a different policy on Iran that US President Barack Obama has pursued. The prime minister has been criticized for accepting the invitation to speak and breaching the protocol of the White House extending invitations to foreign leaders. Netanyahu has also been accused of using the appearance to influence the Israeli electorate because the speech is scheduled just two weeks before the Israeli elections on March 17. US Vice President Joe Biden said he would not attend Netanyahu's speech on March 3 because he would be traveling abroad. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, who was at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, said many European and American leaders were angry that Netanyahu was "inciting the debate" on the Iranian nuclear issue for political reasons, turning the issue into a point of friction with Obama.
"The time has come when Bibi [Netanyahu] must announce that he is canceling his speech before Congress," Herzog said.
"This speech which was born in sin, as part of an election campaign endangers the security of the citizens of Israel and the special relations it has with the US." "With all due respect to his campaign, Bibi must lead as a patriot of Israel and not throw Israel's security under the bus of the election," he added. Strategic Affairs Minister Minister Yuval Steinitz slammed Herzog for bringing the Israeli election campaign into the Munich Security Conference. Steinitz said what Herzog crossed a red line and harmed the accepted practice of not criticizing the government outside of Israel. Steinitz, who was also in Munich as the head of Israel's delegation to the conference, said Netanyahu was obligated to do everything he could to prevent the world powers from reaching a bad deal with Iran.
Other political leaders also criticized Netanyahu's decision to accept Boehner's invitation. Zionist Union candidate and former justice minister Tzipi Livni said in Tel Aviv on Saturday, that Biden's absence at Netanyahu's upcoming speech shows the extent to which the prime minister thinks the speech will benefit him personally instead of thinking of the good of the state.
At the same event where Livni spoke, Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said Netanyahu was "sticking his finger" in US President Barack Obama's eye in deciding to speak before Congress. "I call on Netanyahu to cancel the speech. . . If he is worried that he will be mocked for doing so, I undertake that if he does the right thing, we will not take part in such a reaction in our political campaign." Meretz chief Zehava Gal-On also also called on Netanyahu to cancel his planned Washington visit.
Speaking at a cultural event in Kfar Saba on Saturday, Gal-On said that Netanyahu's speech not only harms US-Israeli relations, it also hinders Israel's ability to influence the Iranian nuclear issue. "The prime minister who speaks from morning until night about the Iranian threat, is prepared to sacrifice Israel's position in exchange for an election campaign photo-op," she said. Following Biden's decision not to attend Netanyahu's speech, Gal-On said she spoke with senior US officials who said that if the prime minister chose to defer his speech until after the Israeli election, the winning candidate would be invited to speak to Congress in a respectful manner without the accompanying diplomatic storm and boycotts. Yesh Atid leader and former finance minister Yair Lapid, who was speaking in Kiryat Bialik, also said Netanyahu's visit was causing serious damage to Israel's strategic relations with the US and all in the name of a political act meant to garner a few votes in the election.

Iran warns West: Failure in nuclear talks would lead to pragmatist Rouhani's downfall
By REUTERS/ J.Post/02/07/2015 /ANKARA/NEW YORK - Iran's foreign minister has warned the United States that failure to agree a nuclear deal would likely herald the political demise of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian officials said, raising the stakes as the decade-old stand-off nears its end-game. Mohammad Javad Zarif pressed the concern with US Secretary of State John Kerry at several meetings in recent weeks, according to three senior Iranian officials, who said Iran had also raised the issue with other Western powers. Zarif's warning has not been previously reported. Western officials acknowledged that the move may be just a negotiating tactic to persuade them to give more ground, but said they shared the view that Rouhani's political clout would be heavily damaged by the failure of talks.
The warning that a breakdown in talks would empower Iran's conservative hardliners comes as the 12-year-old stand-off reaches a crucial phase, with a March deadline to reach a political agreement ahead of a final deal by June 30. The agreement aims to end sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program, though hard-to-bridge differences remain, particularly on the timing of the relief on economic sanctions and the duration of the deal. Both US President Barack Obama and Rouhani, who Iranian officials say has staked his career on the deal, are facing stiff domestic opposition to an agreement, narrowing the scope for compromise. A senior US official denied that any such warnings had been received from the Iranians. "We'll leave assessment of Iranian politics to the Iranians but this rumor is untrue," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. But the Iranian officials insisted that Zarif had raised the concern with Kerry. The two have met repeatedly in recent weeks in an attempt to break the impasse, most recently on Friday when they talked for over an hour on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
"As Rouhani is on the frontline, naturally he will be more harmed," said one of the officials, who has direct knowledge of Zarif's discussions with Kerry. Other Western officials said the Iranian delegation had raised the same concern in talks recently. If the talks fail, Rouhani would likely be sidelined and his influence dramatically reduced, giving hardliners like Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps an upper hand, Iranian officials and Western analysts say. A comprehensive nuclear deal is seen as crucial to reducing the risk of a wider Middle East war, at a time when Iran is deeply involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. After nearly a year of talks, negotiators failed for the second time in November to meet a self-imposed deadline for an agreement. Iran rejects allegations it is developing the capability to produce atomic weapons. But it has refused to halt uranium enrichment and other sensitive atomic work, leading to US, European Union and UN sanctions that have hobbled its economy. The key sticking point in the talks at the moment is Iran's demand that Western powers agree to the quick end of oil and banking sanctions, Western and Iranian officials say. One of the Iranian officials, who also had direct access to the talks, said the Americans were talking in terms of years for the sanctions relief while Iran wanted curbs on oil and banking to be lifted within six months.
Rouhani was elected in 2013 on promises of ending the crippling Western sanctions, improving the economy and reducing the country's diplomatic isolation. But he faces a worsening power struggle with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has said Iran should immunize itself against sanctions, suggesting that he is prepared to live with them. Khamenei has the final word on any deal. Rouhani has warned that the Islamic Republic needs to end its isolation to help its economy, which has also been hit hard by plunging oil prices. Just as Iranian negotiators say privately that their room for compromise is narrowing, so too is that of the United States and European delegations, Western officials say. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are suspicious of the U.S. decision to engage with Iran on the nuclear issue. Israel has threatened to use military force against Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to contain the threat it feels Tehran poses. The United States, officials familiar with the talks say, has already compromised on the issue of how many centrifuges Iran would be allowed to operate.
Obama could temporarily suspend many of the harshest unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran but permanent removal would have to be approved by the Republican-controlled Congress, where there is little appetite for sanctions relief.
The Senate is finalizing a bill for tougher sanctions if there is no final nuclear deal by June 30. Obama has vowed to veto any new Iran sanctions bill. Another Western official said Rouhani appeared to have underestimated the resolve of Washington and Europe to demand limitations on Iranian nuclear activities for a decade or more in exchange for sanctions relief. "Rouhani thought that by speaking nicely and not calling for Israel's destruction, Western powers would rush to sign a deal, any deal, with Iran," the official said. "He miscalculated. The Western powers may also want an agreement but they're also constrained by Congress, Israel and Saudi."

Qatar Published Fatwa In 2006 Permitting Burning People — Removes It After IS Burns Pilot
By Raymond Ibrahim on February 7, 2015
It appears that Islam Web, a popular website owned by Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, may have been responsible for the rationale used by the Islamic State to burn alive a Jordanian pilot captive.
On February 7, 2006, the widely accessed Arabic website issued Fatwa No. 71480, titled “The Burning of Ias bin Abdul Yalil by Abu Bakr.” The fatwa, or Islamic decree, concluded that burning people as a form of punishment is permissible.
Ironically, hours after the Islamic State burned the pilot alive, Fatwa No. 71480 was removed from Islam Web.
What is interesting to note is that the more recent fatwa issued by the Islamic State to justify the burning of the pilot makes the very same arguments as this 2006 Islam web fatwa did — citing the same sources, hadiths, tafsirs, even the logic of “humility” — implying that IS may well have relied on this fatwa from the Qatari website when writing their own to burn the pilot alive — hence, why the fatwa has now “mysteriously” disappeared from Islam Web.
Incidentally, Islam Web won the World Summit Award of 2007, because it is “the best interactive edutainment website for Arabic-speaking children by the consensus of the Jury which met in Croatia, in evaluating the productions nominated from 160 countries.”
Thanks to Rachid, a translation of the fatwa and image of the original Arabic before it was removed from Islam Web follow.
The Burning of Ias bin Abdul Yalil by Abu Bakr
Fatwa No. 71480
Tuesday 2- 7- 2006
[Question]: How do we reconcile between the prohibition of burning [enemies] by fire made by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the burning of Ias Abdul Yalil by Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, during the war of apostasy ?
[Answer]: Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of God and his family and companions. Now:
The fact that the prophet – peace be upon him – forbade burning by fire is documented and stated in his holy hadith – peace and blessings be upon him – where he said: “No one punishes with fire except the Lord of fire,” Narrated by Abu Dawood and Ahmad in his Musnad .
The scholars differ as to whether this prohibition is for interdiction or just for humility; Ibn Hajar said in [his book] Fath Albari: “..Al Muhallab said: This prohibition is not for interdiction but just for humility, and the proof that burning is allowed is in the acts of the prophet’s companions, the prophet – peace be upon him – burned the eyes of the Oranyeen [from Orayna] with heated iron [nails]. And Abu Bakr burned the aggressors in the presence of the companions, Khalid Bin Alwalid [Muslim Army commander] some apostates, and most of the scholars of Medina [the prophet’s city] permit burning castles and ships, upon its people, this was stated by Althawri and Al-Awzaai. Ibn Mounir and others said: there is not a proof for permission, because the Oranyeen story was revenge, and the case of castles and ships is allowed with the necessity as a condition, if it was a way to achieve victory upon the enemy.
As for the story of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) burning Ias Abdul Yalil with fire is documented in the books of history. In the book (Alkamel): “Ias Abdul Yalil came to Abu Bakr and said to him: help me fight the apostates by giving me arms. He gave him arms and ordered him to follow orders; he came to Muslims and even went down to Aljoa, and sent Nokhba bin Abi Almithae of Bani Sharid and appointed him an Emir on Muslims, then he raided every Muslim in the tribe of Salim, Amer, and Hawazen. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) heard about that then he sent somebody to arrest him [Ias] and bring him back. Abu Bakr ordered a fire to be set in the prayer court then he threw him [Ias] in it with his hands tied.
If scholars have different opinions on the prohibition of burning by fire, as we have said, those who objected to burning allowed it in some exceptional cases, but there is no doubt that what Ias Abdul Yalil did was worth burning him [alive]. May Allah reward the Caliph of the Messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – for his zeal for Islam.
And Allah knows.
Snapshot of original fatwa before being removed from Islam Web