February 10/15

Bible Quotation For Today/In The Kingdom of Peace, the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat
Isaiah 11/01-16: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;  but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.  The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will subdue Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them. The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 09-10/15
Criticizing Netanyahu, Obama says 'united' world presenting Iran with nuclear deal/J.Post/February 09-10/15
Netanyahu: Speech at congress not political, it's existential/J.Post/February 09/15
Does Iran signal 'End Time Prophecies? Christian apologist thinks so/J.Post/February 10/15

How making nice with Tehran boosts ISIS/Ahmad El Assaad/New York Post/February 09/15
We need Arab boots on the ground to defeat ISIS/Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 10/15
Obama's 'Secret Iran Strategy' Began in 2006 with Robert Gates/David P Goldman/PJ Media/February 09/15
Yemen’s chaos is a threat to the Arab world/Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat/February 09/15
Egypt is being targeted/Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 09/15
The GCC woke up late to the Yemen threat/Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor /Al Arabiya/February 09/15
Boycott ISIS’s Videos/Diana Moukalled/Asharq Al Awsat/February 10/15

Lebanese Related News published on February 09-10/15
Lebanon must distance self from regional conflicts: Maronite bishop
Boot Daher from March 14 over 'sectarian' remarks: Kataeb minister
EU grants Lebanon access to exclusive programs
Geagea Says Inter-Maronite Dialogue Leads to Openness to Other 'Partners'
Berri Backs Jumblat Proposal on 'National Aspect' of Presidential Polls
Lebanon shifted from tourism to resistance: Hezbollah MP
Army gets military boost from U.S.
U.S. military shipment to boost Army capabilities
Vanishing Lebanese-American Marine goes to trial
Nasrallah to Make Televised Speech Next Week
Report: U.S. Mulling Israeli Invitation to Terror Conference after Lebanon's Boycott
UNIFIL Spokesman Says Situation 'Under Control' after Latest Skirmish

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 09-10/15
Iran’s Khamenei says could accept fair nuclear compromise
Iran’s tiny concessions
Netanyahu considering changes to Congress speech after criticism
ISIS pulls some forces and hardware from Aleppo
Jordan: ISIS lost 20% of its military capabilities
Bahrain confirms suspension of critical news channel
Saudi king faces challenging fiscal climate
Iraq official appeals for more aid to fight ISIS
Jordan air war against ISIS begins to bite
US, partners launch 9 airstrikes in Iraq, Syria: US military
Syria rejects foreign ground troops to fight ISIS
Cairo football clashes kill 22 people
Gulf Leaders Reassure Egypt's Sisi after Audio Leak
Sisi reassures Gulf leaders after alleged derisive audio leaks
Putin Arrives in Egypt on Landmark 2-Day Visit
Mubarak-era tycoon Ahmed Ezz says he will run for parliamentary elections
King Salman hails strong Saudi, Egypt ties
Merkel, Obama try to bridge differences on arms to Ukraine
Senior Afghan militant with suspected IS links “killed in drone attack”
ISIS pulls forces and hardware from Syria’s Aleppo: rebels
Countdown to Tikrit offensive has already begun: Iraqi army official
Houthis preparing airstrikes against Yemen’s Ma’rib, Al-Bayda provinces: source
Houthi Yemen coup moves Iran’s Middle East hegemonic ambitions forward - upheld by Washington
U.N. to resume tense crisis talks in Yemen
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince hails King Salman, sees stable UAE energy future
Erdogan unhappy with Turkish spy chief’s resignation

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Toronto Imam: Canada’s PM Harper “an enemy of Islam”
Many in Jordanian pilot’s home town side with the Islamic State
Cameroon: Islamic jihadists of Boko Haram kidnap 30 people
Obama: Media overstates terror threat as opposed to “longer-term problem of climate change”
UK Muslim rape gang victims “sacrificed” so Labour wouldn’t lose Muslim votes
Montana State Senate to vote on “Primacy of Montana Law” bill
Sharia UK: Police sought names of people who bought Charlie Hebdo
UK now arresting jihad terror suspects every day; police call for extra funding to cope with Islamic State threat
Germany: Muslims distribute Qurans to show Islam is peaceful
UK: Muslim caught on street with knife on way to behead a soldier

We need Arab boots on the ground to defeat ISIS
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
10 Feb, 2015
After the burning alive of Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz Al-Kasasbeh by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a strong response—international in nature, but Arab at its core—is needed, not as retaliation for this abominable crime, but to finally defeat ISIS and rein in the other evil forces wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq, namely Bashar Al-Assad and Iran.
Months ago I wrote in this paper that the fight against ISIS was at heart a Sunni one, and I believe recent events now prove this to be true. There are a number of reasons as to why I conceive this as a Sunni battle. One is that the lack of a prominent Sunni presence fighting ISIS will leave the door open for Iran and sect-based militias to fill the vacuum in Syria and Iraq. This will seriously threaten the unity of these countries, helping Assad to turn Syria into a country of militias, or bringing about more Nuri Al-Maliki-style sectarian politics in Iraq—or a scenario in either country along the lines of the Houthi takeover of Yemen.
The international anti-ISIS coalition now needs to shift gear and put Arab boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, bolstering these forces with aerial bombardment. This is the only way to contain and eventually destroy ISIS. Today we have before us a US president who has adopted a policy of “strategic patience” in dealing with a phenomenon like ISIS, a policy he plans to practice until the end of his term in 2016. I’m not bringing this up just to lambast Obama; the man has had more than his fair share of criticism recently. The point of mentioning all this is that our region simply does not have the luxury of Obama’s indolence. For this reason, a full-scale but balanced Arab military mobilization is needed right now. This will include sending in a coalition of ground troops made up of Arab countries as well as funding and arming the Free Syrian Army (FSA), putting them in Jordan and unleashing them from there once ISIS is being elbowed out of the areas it currently controls in Syria and Iraq. Crucially, Assad must not be allowed to benefit from ISIS’s becoming weakened as a result of this offensive. After all, it was Assad who allowed, and directly helped, ISIS grow and become stronger until he could use the group as a crutch with which to hold the world ransom with two stark choices: me, or the deluge. In reality, ISIS and Assad are two sides of the same coin.
A military offensive of this kind would be the most appropriate response to the horrifying murder of Kasasbeh by ISIS. It would also help break this group once and for all and at the same time block, through the support of the FSA, any gains made by a resurgent Assad or ally Iran as a result. Most importantly, though, it would help lay the ground for serious political changes in the region, especially in Syria, and set the stage for a climate free of Obama’s “strategic cowardice.”
I say of all this now because it has become clear that airstrikes will not be enough to defeat ISIS. They will not bring about peace and security in the region either, or strengthen the FSA. Ultimately, everyone knows the international anti-ISIS coalition is just a cover for the Obama administration’s spineless reluctance to make any lasting decisions or take any real action in the Middle East. It is, then, our war, one that will at last truly take the battle to ISIS. But there is only one way to do this: Arab troops on the ground, full support for the FSA, and reining in Assad and Iran.

Lebanon must distance self from regional conflicts: Maronite bishop
The Daily Star/Feb. 09, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon must adopt a strategy to distance itself from regional conflicts, said Maronite bishop Boulos Matar Monday as the country celebrated Mar Maroun holiday amid a presidential vacuum. “How can Lebanon’s fate be tied to other fates in the Middle East, whatever the reason?” Matar said in his Mar Maroun sermon at St. Maroun Church in Gemmayzeh. “How can they put Lebanon’s interest in the refrigerator until the storms in other countries calm down?” “Wouldn’t it be better if Lebanon had encouraged the establishment of democratic, peaceful communities?” he asked, adding it was a “mistake” linking the presidential election with resolving other countries’ conflicts. “It is not in the benefit of the region and the world to link the fate of Lebanon with others,” Matar stressed. “But the opposite is true. We are concerned about the danger of war, because it would eventually undermine global civilization." Matar said Lebanon will remain a Muslim-Christian country.” “If we urge [world] states to let Lebanon live, then Lebanese must consider and take responsibility for electing a Lebanon-made president,” he added. Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Sleiman’s ended in May with lawmakers failing to elect a successor due to lack of consensus. Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who normally presides over the Mar Maroun Mass, is in the Vatican for a series of religious meetings.

Lebanon shifted from tourism to resistance: Hezbollah MP
The Daily Star/Feb. 09, 2015/BEIRUT: Hezbollah has helped transform Lebanon from a country which took pride in its tourism and business sectors, to one whose citizens celebrate dignity in resistance, party MP Nawwaf Musawi said Monday. “If it wasn't for the resistance, its society and its people, then belonging to Lebanon would not have the same value that it does today,” Musawi said during a Hezbollah ceremony in south Lebanon. “At one time, belonging to Lebanon meant belonging to a touristic state that offers services, but we have changed this understanding.”According to Musawi, the resistance has allowed Lebanese to associate with a state that has surpassed “vulnerability” and reclaimed its “dignity” after liberating its land and people. “This is why whoever is looking for sources that determine who belongs to the nation and who doesn't should use the resistance as a reference.”Lebanon’s tourism sector, which accounts for around 20 percent of the country’s GDP, has been hit hard since the outbreak of the neighboring Syria crisis, especially after a spate of Syria-related car bombings and suicide attacks targeting areas seen as sympathetic to Hezbollah over the past year and a half. Border clashes, cross-border rocket attacks and internal political deadlocks also affected tourism.

Geagea Says Inter-Maronite Dialogue Leads to Openness to Other 'Partners'
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said Monday that openness to the country's other confessions can only come through talks among Maronite leaders. “The historic Maronite principles impose on us the right stance, which is openness to our partners from all sects and factions in the nation,” said Geagea in a statement. “This can only happen through dialogue within the Maronite house,” he said. Officials from the LF and their rivals from Free Patriotic Movement have been holding talks to set a meeting between Geagea and FPM chief MP Michel Aoun. Both are presidential candidates and their rivalry is partly to be blamed for the failure to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman whose term ended in May last year. In his statement, Geagea called for “holding onto the Maronite church's civilized policies by preserving the spirituality of Saint Maroun.” “This church, which maintained the presence of Christians in the Orient, cannot but back moderation and dialogue to confront the wave of takfiris, terrorism and extremism that is invading the region,” he said. The LF chief sent his greetings to the Lebanese in general and Maronites in particular on Saint Maroun Day which was an official holiday in Lebanon on Monday.

Berri Backs Jumblat Proposal on 'National Aspect' of Presidential Polls
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he backed a proposal made by Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat to give Lebanon's presidential elections a wider patriotic aspect rather than limiting its discussion to Christians. But in remarks published in several local newspapers on Monday, Berri stressed that no solution was looming in the horizon on the presidential deadlock. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May last year when President Michel Suleiman's term ended. The rival MPs have been unable to elect a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate. The country's top Christian post is reserved for Christian Maronites in accordance with the National Pact of 1943. Jumblat made his proposal in his weekly editorial in the PSP's al-Anbaa electronic magazine on Sunday. He reiterated on Monday that the election of a president is not just a Christian responsibility. “It is the responsibility of the country’s all factions and we should not continue to neglect it,” the PSP chief told An Nahar daily. He denied however that he was referring to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who are both presidential candidates. In the remarks, which Berri made to his visitors and were published in the newspapers on Monday, the speaker said the campaign to remove party banners, flags and portraits was “more successful than we expected.” The campaign was the result of the dialogue held between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement under Berri's sponsorship in Ain el-Tineh. Berri also said that a security plan for the eastern Bekaa Valley is ready and is awaiting the right time for the Lebanese army and security forces to implement it. The issue was discussed in the latest round of talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal, he said. The date of the next session hasn't been set yet, Berri added.

EU grants Lebanon access to exclusive programs
The Daily Star/Feb. 09, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon will be allowed to participate in European Union programs originally intended exclusively for member states following an agreement signed in Brussels Monday, the Foreign Ministry announced. “Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini signed a special protocol that allows Lebanon to participate in EU programs restricted to member states,” said a statement released by Bassil's media office. The protocol, which allows Lebanon to participate in 12 programs, was signed at the European Council’s headquarters in Brussels following an EU-Lebanon Association Council meeting Monday. The statement did not specify what the 12 programs were or what they would entail. But the general theme of the meeting revolved around security, political and economic ties between Lebanon and the EU. "We had a day of fruitful talks between Lebanon and the European Union," Bassil said in a joint news conference with Mogherini after the meeting. “We discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, which witnessed a remarkable development recently.” Bassil noted that the meeting took stock of achievements of the EU-Lebanon partnership and defined joint priorities for future cooperation. The future prospects for cooperation, according to the Lebanese foreign minister, will commensurate between the capabilities of Lebanon and the EU. Mogherini said the EU was willing to increase its support to Lebanon amid its security threats. “We are aware of the severity of security challenges Lebanon is facing because of the Syrian crisis,” she said, adding that the protocol agreement for the 12 programs contributes to achieving reform. Economy Minister Alain Hakim and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian attended Monday’s meeting alongside Bassil. In October 2014, Hakim and former European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule inked a memorandum of understanding setting the priorities and financial allocations for EU-Lebanon cooperation for 2014-2016. At the time, officials said the focus of EU-Lebanese cooperation for 2014-16 would center on three priority sectors: justice and security system reform; social cohesion, sustainable economic development and vulnerable groups; and sustainable and transparent management of energy and natural resources. At the news conference, Mogherini said the EU Neighborhood Policy seeks to turn Lebanon into a "safe humanitarian zone."During the Lebanese-EU association meeting, Hakim called for increasing support to the Army through military aid, and distinguishing between aid pledged to Syrian refugees and host communities.
He also urged the EU to involve the Lebanese government in the management of aid given to refugees.

Boot Daher from March 14 over 'sectarian' remarks: Kataeb minister
The Daily Star/Feb. 09, 2015
BEIRUT: Deputy Kataeb Party leader and Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi Monday called for the ousting of north Lebanon MP Khaled Daher from the March 14 bloc after controversial remarks over the removal of religious banners, as the lawmaker claimed that his comments were misinterpreted.  Angry over the removal of Islamic banners in the northern city of Tripoli, the Salafist-inspired Daher told followers Sunday that Christians should be the first to remove their religious emblems from public spaces. “How can a deputy who attends Future Movement meetings, and even March 14 meetings, make such sectarian and offensive remarks against Christians?” Azzi, who is also a part of the March 14 coalition, said in comments published by local newspaper Ad-Diyar. “The least we can ask for is a decision to remove this MP from all cadres of the Future Movement and the March 14 coalition,” he stressed, adding that Daher does not resemble March 14 or the Future Movement in any way.
Daher strongly condemned the removal Sunday of religious banners from Tripoli, saying the measure was offensive against Islamic symbols that have decorated the city since the 1980s.
“If they want to remove [religious banners] let them start with the Christ the King statue and posters of [Christian] saints,” Daher said from Tripoli’s Nour Square Sunday.
In a news conference Monday, Daher said that he was willing to apologize to anyone who was offended by his comments, while claiming that his remarks were purposely “abridged.”
The controversial MP denied requesting the removal of Christian symbols. “What I meant was that if religious symbols were to be taken down then that applies to both Christian and Muslim symbols, and this is something we reject."
Daher said that his objection to the removal of religious banners from Tripoli stems from the Lebanese constitution's reverence for the word "Allah," which according to the MP is sacred to both Muslims and Christians.
He also said that the objection came from the fact that Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk had not ordered the removal of religious banners from the Al-Nour square.
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, a member of the Future Movement, was not convinced by the MP’s apology.
“I reject Daher’s comments, and we should not address issues that are this sensitive during this critical phase,” he said in a televised interview.
Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat also tried to distance his party from the Daher, saying that the lawmaker “is a member of the March 14 coalition, but not a member of the Future Movement.”
“There is always a problem when Daher makes remarks,” Fatfat told a radio station Monday morning, noting that Sunday’s comments were partly an emotional reaction to the removal of banners, and partly a political response to what Daher considers to be an imbalanced implementation of the security plan.
Fatfat fell short of supporting Daher’s logic, but said that banners and posters should be removed as long as the measure is implemented across the country without exception.
The removal of religious banners and political posters in Tripoli as in line with an agreement reached during dialogue sessions between the Future Movement and Hezbollah to defuse sectarian tensions in the country.
The Muslims Scholars Committee, a gathering of Salafist sheikhs, and Tripoli’s Dar al-Fatwa also contacted Sunday Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, demanding the preservation of religious banners in the Al-Nour Square.
In response, Machnouk vowed that no religious banner would be removed from the area.



How making nice with Tehran boosts ISIS
By Ahmad El Assaad/New York Post
February 8, 2015
Take it from me, a leader of a Lebanese political party and a Shia Muslim: The supposedly Shiite regime in Iran is a bully, and repeated failures to stand up to it play into the hands of Sunni extremists. Sunnis across the Middle East feel bullied by Tehran’s increasingly dominant role in the region, and angry as the world remains on the sidelines. This unfortunate reality is playing into the hands of radical groups like ISIS.
From Lebanon to Iraq to Syria and now Yemen, more countries are falling under the overwhelming influence, if not outright control, of the regime in Iran. Meanwhile, fanatical groups like ISIS point to the “Persian” and “Shia” expansion across the Middle East to win sympathy and to recruit more and more young fighters. The double standard of current US foreign policy is making things worse. The Obama administration wrongly thinks that there are “radicals to talk to,” like the regime in Iran, and “radicals that are a threat to the world” like ISIS. This naive distinction benefits all Sunni extremists.
One main reason ISIS has grown so powerful is that it represents a way for Sunni Arabs to regain their pride in response to the ever-increasing Shia dominance led by the regime in Iran.
The double standard of current US foreign policy is making things worse. And because Sunnis are the majority, you can’t wage effective war on ISIS while, at the same time, desperately trying to become friends with Tehran. Iran backs proxies from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Sadrists in Iraq to the Houthiyoun in Yemen.
These Shia radicals and ISIS are merely two sides of the same coin. As US forces saw after ousting Saddam Hussein in Iraq, extremism on one side feeds extremism on the other — a cycle of violence that extremists on both sides gladly feed. The Obama administration’s present schizophrenic policy only increases the popularity of ISIS among Sunnis. For every ISIS fighter killed by an air strike, there are at least 10 others ready to join. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to first weaken the Iranian regime in every way possible.
What’s needed is a consistent US policy toward both the Shia and the Sunni radicals. Groups like ISIS will continue to grow in popularity and power as long as the Sunnis in the region feel that the Iranian regime isn’t being held to the same standard as Sunni extremists. ***Ahmad El Assaad is the founder of Saving the Next Generation and the Lebanese Option Party, the opposition political party to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Houthi Yemen coup moves Iran’s Middle East hegemonic ambitions forward - upheld by Washington
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis February 09, 2015,
The strings of the pro-Iranian Houthi rebels’ coup which toppled the Yemeni government in Sanaa were pulled from Tehran and Washington. US intelligence and shared US-Iranian support helped the Houthis reach their goal, which is confined for now to parts of central Yemen and all of the North.
Friday, Feb. 6, the rebels dissolved parliament and seized power in the country of 24 million. They propose to rule by a revolutionary council. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his cabinet who were forced to resign last month are under house arrest.
debkafile’s Saudi intelligence sources reveal that the dominant figure of the uprising was none other than Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen from 1990 until he was ousted in 2012.
A member of the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam like the Houthis, he led them to power with the same enthusiasm with which he fought their insurgency during his years in power. By rallying his supporters in the army, intelligence and security services, he enabled the rebels to take over these departments of government and overpower the Hadi regime with only minimal resistance.
They were also able to commandeer $400 million worth of modern American munitions.
The Houthis secretly call themselves “Ansar Allah” and have adopted the “Death to America, Death to Israel” slogans routinely heard in government-sponsored parades and demonstrations on the streets and squares of revolutionary Tehran.
Amid the political turmoil in Sanaa, the US Sunday resumed drone strikes against AQAP.
The six Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, issued a statement Saturday, Feb. 7, calling for the UN Security Council to "put an end to this coup, an escalation that cannot be accepted under any circumstances.”
The Iranian-US gambit has resulted in different parts of Yemen falling under the sway of two anti-American radical forces – the pro-Tehran Houthis and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The new Saudi King Salman starts his reign with a double-barreled threat facing the kingdom from its southern neighbor, Yemen - posed by an Iranian pawn and a proactive branch of Al Qaeda.
Ten days ago, when US President Barack Obama visited Riyadh, the Saudi monarch voiced his concern about the alarming situation developing Yemen. However, Obama replied noncommittally with general remarks.
In Washington, administration spokesmen Saturday tried pouring oil on the troubled waters roiled by US support for the Iranian maneuver in Sanaa and the return of Abdullah Saleh to the Yemeni scene.
“We’re talking with everybody,” one US official said, explaining that the United States was ready to talk to any Yemeni factions willing to fight Al Qaeda.
His colleagues tried to downplay Tehran’s hand in the Houthi coup. “The Houthis get support from Iran, but they’re not controlled by Iran,” said another official in Washington.
Our military and intelligence sources report that Yemen is not the only Middle East platform of the joint US-Iranian military, intelligence and strategic performance. The second act is unfolding in Iraq.
Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, Jordan and Israel are therefore watching the evolving US-Iranian cooperation in fighting al Qaeda’s various affiliates in the region with deep forebodings, lest it is merely a façade for the Obama administration’s espousal of Tehran’s regional ambitions. It is hard for those governments to make up their minds where to look for the most acute menace to their national security - the US-Iranian nuclear deal taking shape, or the give-and-take between Washington and Tehran in Yemen and Iraq.

Obama's 'Secret Iran Strategy' Began in 2006 with Robert Gates
David P Goldman/PJ Media
February 8, 2015
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others in the Bush administration led the way toward American appeasement of Iran.
Over at Mosaic Magazine, former Bush aide Michael Doran claims that the Obama administration has had a secret strategy to engage Iran from the time it took office.
He's right, but he neglects to mention that George W. Bush and his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, adopted the same strategy from the same source in November 2006, after the Republicans got crushed in congressional elections. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got a pink slip, Vice President Dick Cheney got benched, and "realist" Robert Gates–the co-chairman of the 2004 Council on Foreign Relations task force that advocated a deal with Iran–took over at Defense. Michael Doran reports all of this, all, that is, except Gates' central role in the plan. That would place a good deal of the blame at Bush's doorstep.
Writes Doran:
When he arrived in Washington in 2006, [Obama] absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy.
The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli "peace process"; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria.
All correct, except that the 2006 congressional report was a carbon copy of the Council on Foreign Relations report of 2004, written under the supervision of Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's national security advisor. When Gates replaced Rumsfeld in 2006, I lamented:
Like King Saul conjuring the spirit of the prophet Samuel, President George W Bush has conjured the undead of his father's administration, namely the Baker-Hamilton "Iraq Study Group". Samuel's ghost told Saul in effect (I Samuel 28), "You're toast," and the unfortunate president will hear the same message from his new defense secretary, Robert M Gates, and the rest of his fellow spooks.
Doran admonishes Obama for believing that the United States, not Iran, is responsible for emnity between the two countries. That was the central thesis of the 2004 Gates-Brzezinski document, which I quote:
The elimination of Saddam Hussein's regime has unequivocally mitigated one of Iran's most serious security concerns. Yet regime change in Iraq has left Tehran with potential chaos along its vulnerable western borders, as well as with an ever more proximate US capability for projecting power in the region. By contributing to heightened tensions between the Bush administration and Iran, the elimination of Saddam's rule has not yet generated substantial strategic dividends for Tehran. In fact, together with US statements on regime change, rogue states, and preemptive action, recent changes in the regional balance of power have only enhanced the potential deterrent value of a "strategic weapon".
The 2006 Iraqi elections had put the Shi'ite majority in power, and Iran loomed in the background as an ally and sponsor of the Baghdad regime. To take on Iran (as Vice President Cheney advocated) would have endangered American occupation troops in Iraq, as Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Michael Mullen told interviewer Charlie Rose on March 16, 2009:
What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is, in addition to the immediate effect, the effect of the attack, it's the unintended consequences. It's the further destabilization in the region. It's how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now [because of the] capability that Iran has across the Gulf. So, I worry about their responses and I worry about it escalating in ways that we couldn't predict.
After the 2006 congressional elections, the main concern of the White House was to make Iraq look like a success. That meant placating Iran on one hand, and putting the rancorous Sunnis on the American payroll on the other. The Petraeus surge created the Sunni insurgency in its present form.
Obama justifies his policy towards Iran on the basis of the same "realist" approach that Gates brought to the last two years of the Bush administration.
In 2010 I warned of "Gen. Petraeus' Thirty Years War";" now ISIS is commanded by Sunni leaders that Petraeus trained through the Sons of Iraq movement. It was America's misguided effort to force majority rule upon Iraq that left the region in a perpetual state of instability. That is the thesis of Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger (ret.) in his compelling book Why We Lost, which I reviewed here.
The best one can say about the Bush administration is that it never would have conceded so much to Iran, despite its 2006 embrace of the Gates strategy. At some point, no doubt, the Republicans would have given the mullahs an ultimatum, while Obama (as Doran documents) conceded everything at every step of the way. Obama justifies his policy towards Iran on the basis of the same "realist" approach that Robert Gates brought to the last two years of the Bush administration, but there is a difference. McBama and the Weird Sisters–Iran-born Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power–harbor a deep emotional antipathy to the United States, and a deep sympathy for anti-imperialist movements. They believe that the United States is a main instigator of the world's evil.
The trouble is that American policy in the Persian Gulf was FUBAR before Obama arrived–indeed, that is a large part of the reason that Obama arrived in the first place. Perhaps we Republicans can do without an honest accounting of our own blunders, but this would reduce the likelihood of blunders in the future.
**David P. Goldman is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Wax Family Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Yemen’s chaos is a threat to the Arab world
Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 9 Feb, 2015
The Houthi movement succeeded in misleading the entire Yemeni political establishment for about 141 days. They misled outgoing president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi (who is currently still under house arrest). They misled the UN assistant secretary-general and special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar. They also signed a pact with Hadi, the inappropriately named “peace and partnership agreement.” And with that, everyone thought this “partnership” with the upper echelons of power in the country represented the upper limit of Houthi ambition. But these dupes would all soon discover the true extent of the Houthi deception—that this agreement with Hadi was but the first nail in the coffin of the Yemeni state. But then of course came the final reveal, with the Houthis openly pursuing a coup in the country and eventually making a unilateral constitutional declaration that effectively gave them, and them alone, complete political control of the country.
The danger posed by the current situation in Yemen is not the responsibility of Saudi Arabia or the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alone; it is the responsibility of the international community as a whole, which will sooner or later get burned by the fires spreading outwards from Sana’a. Now that alarm bells are ringing in the capitals of the world’s major political powers, we need a definitive, unified Arab stance on the Houthi takeover. This is certainly not the time for internal bickering, as some Arab countries are doing right now; once the international community sees a clear Arab response it will step up its own efforts to ostracize the Houthis internationally, and upend their heavy-handed approach to politics.
In any case the foreign ministers of the GCC’s member states are due to meet next Saturday to discuss the latest developments in the crisis. Based on available information, the ministers will likely explore future responses to the crisis, whether these take the form of political, economic, or even security measures. They will also be working out a timetable to be presented to the Arab League which will deal with deciding on a clear stance toward the coup and a strong response that will support the legitimate political powers in the country and further increase the Houthis’ isolation—instead of the usual inappropriate and spineless methods adopted by some Arab countries when dealing with major developments.
Now, if the worst happens and extremist groups start fighting for the scraps from a decimated Libyan table, the countries of the Gulf should not think themselves safe due to their geographical location, nicely tucked away in the Arabian Peninsula and away from the Arab Maghreb, for whom the situation is the same when it comes to Yemen. Conversely, the Arabs of the Maghreb should not be lulled into a false sense of security, and think of themselves as far away from this country which has provided such fertile ground for terrorists and terrorism. Indeed, it is this very point that has made the current crisis in Yemen such a pressing issue for the UN Security Council: many of the major terrorist operations that have recently taken place have their origins in Yemen. And so it would be the height of naïveté to believe that being thousands of miles away from the country will help anyone avoid the scourge of terrorism and those who practice it. Have they not learned the lessons from Iraq and Syria, where terrorism incubated for years and is now spreading like wildfire across the globe?
Here it is perhaps worth noting how the Saudi and wider Gulf response to the crisis is not, as some contend, tinged with a sectarian bent. After all, Sunni Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries dealt for years with the ruling Shi’ite Zaydis during the Mutawakkilite Kingdom—from the Imamate all the way up to the modern Yemeni republic. Moreover, half of the Yemeni budget is bankrolled by Gulf countries. As for Gulf opposition to the Houthi coup, it is a purely political, and inescapable, position. After all, Iran is clearly now attempting to impose its own political agenda onto the region, among its more general attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states.
We have a saying in the Arab world, “the worst disaster is the one that brings laughter.” In light of this let us remind ourselves of some of the recent comments made by UN special envoy Benomar, who came all the way from one end of the Arab world (the Maghreb) to solve a problem in the other (the Mashreq). He told journalists on Sunday he was “happy to announce to you that all political parties have agreed to return to table for talks” in order to solve Yemen’s crisis. Can you imagine? The UN’s special envoy, “happy” that the Houthis have agreed to resume dialogue when they are the ones who have, since the beginning, carried out acts of violence, looted, raided, and forced their own reality on the ground by force of arms, only then agreeing to talk, and subsequently reneging on every agreed-upon issue while attempting once again to force the reality on the ground using violence. This process was basically repeated until, eventually, the Houthis spread their influence throughout the country and forced a coup d’état—all the while taking part in “talks” and engaging in “dialogue.”
As for the UN envoy, he is of course “very happy” and still believes in this latest round of “talks” with the Houthis—which he has labeled “a positive step.”

Egypt is being targeted
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 9 Feb, 2015
It has become abundantly clear in recent days that Egypt is being targeted, and on a number of different levels. What is also clear is that since the passing of Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and the assumption to the throne of his successor, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Saudi–Egyptian relations have also been the target of a deliberate media campaign seeking to sour these relations.
At the moment in Egypt numerous terrorist operations are attacking the country’s armed forces, its backbone and the only force in the country that was able to stand up to the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to seize control of the Egyptian state for its own ends. What is happening in Egypt right now, in terms of the terrorist attacks, is an attempt to both convince the world that Egypt is in a state of complete chaos, and an attempt to stymie progress in the country by showing that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is failing to bring order. Moreover, and this is even more dangerous, there is an ongoing attempt to provoke the Egyptian army into escalating its response to the attacks—which will no doubt raise tensions on the domestic front, and draw in the usual condemnations from the international community.
Another point of attack—and one which proves that Egypt is very much currently in somebody’s crosshairs—began right after the death of King Abdullah. This particular media campaign wants you to believe that the position taken by Saudi Arabia toward Egypt will now shift drastically, that there will even be rapprochement between the Kingdom and the Brotherhood, along with other outright lies. The truth here is that Saudi–Egyptian relations are not personal in nature, but have since the time of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, may God bless him, been based on mutual interests between one nation and another, also completely taking into account Egypt’s revered status in the Arab consciousness. This is completely in line with King Salman’s outlook, and this is confirmed by all those who have heard him speak on the subject.
For me, an even better illustration of the nature of Saudi–Egyptian relations can be shown by the famous story about Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, who asked King Abdulaziz if he could open a branch for the group inside the Kingdom. The King’s immortal response was of course to refuse this request with the eloquently curt: “We are all Muslim brothers.”
So, we can see once again that Saudi–Egyptian relations are not personal, and therefore not subject to any of the points of weakness which such relationships suffer from; moreover, they cannot be weakened by a mere newspaper column or television program. For years, decades even, there have been ruthless attempts to damage this relationship; but all have totally failed, unable to have any effect, whether negative or positive, on this strong, unshakable bond. What has become clear over decades is that the Kingdom’s Royal House is unique in terms of its political outlook. Moreover, its relationship with Egypt is not driven by even one molecule of emotion; it has always been one of mutual interests, with regional security and stability always at the top of the agenda. Here it is perhaps pertinent to remember the relationship between two late, great leaders of the Arab world: King Faisal Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and president Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, may God bless them both.
So, then, there is a clear, organized and deliberate military, security, political and media campaign under way right now against Egypt, with one of its aims being to shake the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But whoever is behind this scheme is simply dreaming; for the changes that have recently been made in Egypt can never be unmade again, as the true catalyst here was the Egyptian people themselves, not an external force or direction. It is enough to remember that Washington itself did not bless the latest political change in Egypt but could do nothing in response because the entire Egyptian population, and the Kingdom and the UAE, stood firmly behind it. Egypt is not just for the Egyptians; it is for all Arabs—though only for the rational among them; the fools can stay away.

The GCC woke up late to the Yemen threat
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor /Al Arabiya
Monday, 9 February 2015
Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels have successfully achieved their goal while the Arab World was sleeping. Under the pretense of seeking a more inclusive government, they have taken control of the country, including its capital Sanaa. After pressurizing President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to resign on January 22 following protests, sit-ins and the takeover of government buildings from armed Houthis, the militia has dissolved parliament and replaced it with a five-member revolutionary council.
The move has been condemned by many Yemeni political parties and is likely to result in either an all-out civil war or the splitting up of the country. There exists a very real risk that political and sectarian volatility will open a wide window for al- Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia and other terrorist groups to gain an even greater foothold than they’ve enjoyed to date and, perhaps, a Shiite minority takeover will ramp up recruitment. Not only is Yemen’s future as a unified sovereign state in peril, there are wider implications for the entire region. For one thing, the regional geopolitical map has been re-drawn to further empower Iranian ambitions to the detriment of Sunni Gulf States and, moreover, a Houthi-led “government” poses a grave threat to Saudi national security.
Dark tunnel
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) member states are clearly rattled. Warning that the “coup” would plunge the country “into a dark tunnel” the GCC has announced that it will take all necessary steps to protect its interests without going into specifics. The Council has also appealed to the international community and the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to assist in resolving the crisis, which, sad to say, is like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. “If a businessman like me could decipher the writing on the wall, why did our governments’ political advisors and intelligence analysts fail to do so?”I’m shocked that the GCC’s secretary-general waited until the last minute to publically react to this menace and if he seriously believes that the UNSC or our so-called Western allies will heed his call in any meaningful fashion, he’s in for a disappointment. Especially during a moment in time when the West is more interested in rapprochement with Iran than cleansing the area of terrorist militias.
Easily predictable
To say that I am personally frustrated that no action was taken much earlier to prevent this easily predictable state of affairs is an understatement. For years, I’ve been discussing my worries with prominent decision-makers and writing columns outlining my fears that a Houthi power grab was on the cards while strongly urging Gulf States to take the matter with the seriousness it deserves. Unfortunately, my warnings weren’t heeded. If a businessman like me could decipher the writing on the wall, why did our governments’ political advisors and intelligence analysts fail to do so? Why do we always wait until the sword is poised to cut our necks before we think about taking preemptive measures? As long ago as April 1, 2010, I had published a column headed “Yemen needs help not criticism” arguing that poverty-stricken Yemen was in danger of becoming a failed state. I criticized then U.S. Secretary-of-State Hilary Clinton for depriving the country of international aid, suggesting that “her disparaging tone must have been music to the ears of opposition leaders, insurgents, extremists and would-be secessionists.” “Rather than watch passively, allowing Yemen to go the way of Iraq or an ungovernable pirates’ paradise like Somalia, the Arab world must stand with the Yemeni leadership before it’s too late,” I wrote.
I followed-up the above analysis on Nov. 29, 2011 with an article titled “Beware unintended consequences of Yemeni uprising!” In that, I warned that Houthis harbor an “expansionist agenda” and are endeavoring to open-up a Red Sea route to import heavy weapons with which to attack the Yemeni capital and to infiltrate Saudi Arabia. In that article, I wrote my view that the “Houthis’ hatred of Saudi Arabia is well-known and it is my belief that they have hatched a plan with the Iranian ayatollahs to sneak weapons and terrorists over the border into Saudi to launch terrorist acts aimed at destabilizing the Kingdom as soon as they get the green light from Tehran to attempt the destruction of our peaceful GCC societies.” Then on Sep. 25, last year, my op-ed “Iran’s agenda consolidates while the Arabs are distracted” showcased the boast of Iranian lawmaker Alireza Zakani to the effect that three Arab capitals (Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut) were now in Iran’s hands and affiliated to the Iranian Islamic Revolution with Sanaa well on its way to becoming the fourth.
“Yemen – a country considered the birthplace of the Arab nation – has fallen into the hands of Shiite Houthis, former separatists turned terrorists no longer content with striving for part of the cake, they now seek to consume all of it,” I penned, adding, “Due to our hesitance to stand alongside the Yemeni government against these terrorist Iranian puppets, we’ve enabled their aspirations,” I wrote. The last paragraph of that column illustrates my increasing despondence. “I can only cling to the hope that now some of our countries have been galvanized to act against [ISIS] and our armies and air forces will extend their operations to take back Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen before the Sunni Arab World is reduced to a shadow in a darkening Persian night.”
Last-ditch attempt
My last-ditch attempt to convince major world powers to take decisive action was my column dated Dec. 29, 2014 published under the headline “Global leadership lacking in 2014.” Among those I called to account was President Obama, who failed to thwart Yemen becoming an Iranian hub following the storming of the capital by Houthi rebels “just as he earlier failed to rescue the Syrian people from the missiles, the chemical attacks and the prisons of one of the most brutal dictators the world has ever known.”
The damage may already be done, but even so, we must not throw up our hands in despair allowing things to go from bad to worse or sit around drinking tea in hopes that a U.S. cavalry will appear out of nowhere to save the day. America and its friends are engaged in their own missions, which may well contradict with our interests. We have the intelligence, the forces, the weapons, the airpower and the maturity to cut the heads of the snakes in Yemen, Iraq and Syria – whether Assad’s gangs or ISIS terrorists – ourselves. The only element lacking is a decision; a joint decision by all GCC member states to do whatever it takes before those same multi-striped serpents begin hissing in our direction.

Putin Arrives in Egypt on Landmark 2-Day Visit

Naharnet /Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived on Monday in Egypt, airport officials said, on a landmark two-day visit aimed at boosting Moscow's relations with Cairo. Putin was welcomed by his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on arrival at the capital's international airport where the two leaders held talks for half an hour, officials said. From the airport they proceeded to Cairo Opera House in the city's central district of Zamalek for a cultural show. Putin's first visit to Egypt in a decade comes after the 2011 uprising that ousted ex-strongman Hosni Mubarak, whom the Russian leader met on a previous trip in 2005. Agence France Presse.

Toronto Imam: Canada’s PM Harper “an enemy of Islam”

February 9, 2015  By Robert Spencer/Jihad watch
This is tantamount to a call for his murder. “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.” (Qur’an 5:33)
“Toronto imam: Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper ‘is the enemy of Islam,'” by Jonathan Halevi, Alternative Angle, February 7, 2015 (thanks to Blazing Cat Fur):
“Shaykh Said Rageah (الشيخ سعيد راجح) was born in Somalia and in the late 80sn moved to North America. Rageah has a Bachelor’s in Islamic studies and a Masters in Shari’ah and he has had several posts over the years, including: founder of Masjid Huda in Montreal and Masjid Aya in Maryland, advisor for Muslim Youth magazine, and member in the Aqsa Association.
He is also the founder of both Muslim Magazine and Al Aqsa Association, and served as the Chaplain at both the University of Calgary and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Currently, he serves as Imam at the Abu Hurairah Mosque in Toronto, the Chairman for the Journey of Faith Conference and as an instructor for the AlMaghrib Institute.
Rageah was invited in 2012 to give a speech on Islamic issues at Assalam Mosque in Ottawa. The following is an excerpt (25:20-26:59) of his speech (the video was uploaded to YouTube on September 12, 2012):
“If one of us was invited by the Prime Minister of this country [Stephen Harper] and he says: ‘I’ll give you a special invitation, exclusive invitation, come to my house, have dinner with me, chat with me, sit with me, talk to me, I’ll talk to you.’ I guarantee you, everyone of you will come out of that meeting raising his head with pride, so proud of himself, so pleased, you know, twitting every second: O I’m sitting with the Prime Minister [Stephen Harper], you know, you know, putting on Facebook: This is my picture with the Prime Minister [Stephen Harper], you know, and you’ll brag on that day and night. Every single moment when someone says: Peace be upon you, (السلام عليكم), O do you know I was just chatting with the Prime Minister [Stephen Harper]. When Someone says: ‘How are the children?’ ‘His house is excellent.’ Your life will be nothing but him, and he [Stephen Harper] is the enemy of Islam. He [Stephen Harper] is an enemy of Islam. I guarantee you, we go to him right now, and he is the man who said, you know, the threat of this country is Islamism. All of us would say: ‘Mister Prime Minister, can we take a picture with you?’ We are so proud of that, because it is the human nature, but Allah is telling you: ‘Stay with me every night.’ Seclusion (خلوة) with Allah we don’t care. We don’t care. The voluntary prayer during the night (قيام الليل) is a conversation (نجوة) between you and Allah, no one else.”
Rageah did not elaborate in his speech what is the Islamic ruling regarding an “enemy of Islam.” In previous speech (February 2012) at the University of Waterloo as part of the Islamic Awareness Week organized by the local Muslim Students Association (MSA) ans partially funded by the university, Rageah implicitly justified the death penalty for apostates and those who insult the prophets….

Boycott ISIS’s Videos
Diana Moukalled/Asharq Al Awsat
Tuesday, 10 Feb, 2015
So the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) scored another gory “cinematic hit” last week when it broadcast footage of its murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz Al-Kasasbeh. But the broadcasting of this video also engendered in us some strange, uncomfortable feelings: that the other recently filmed executions carried out by the group—being “mere” beheadings—were much more merciful than the tragic, abhorrent fate the group doled out to the Jordanian pilot. These disturbing thoughts show us how truly successful ISIS has been in shaking us up, and, sadly, in capturing our attention and focusing it on the group’s own larger narrative. Unfortunately, many on the Internet will find in these unprecedented and slickly produced visual odes to violence something that will draw them to the screen, even if only in condemnation.
What we are talking about here is a narrative, and how that narrative is presented to us. But those writing this narrative—among them those “scriptwriters,” “cinematographers” and “sound technicians” who bring you those despicable videos—don’t care if we support or condemn it; what they want is for us to watch in a state of fear, for the hairs on the backs of our necks to stand on end, and for our imaginations to writhe and suffer, much like Moaz Al-Kasasbeh did, while watching a man burn to death.
To watch or not to watch, to broadcast or not to broadcast? Between these two choices lies all the ambivalence we faced last week with this video: Is it morally justified for us to watch the precision and accuracy with which this video’s “director” was able to capture the shock in Kasasbeh’s eyes as he was being led out to meet his grisly end? Do we even have the ability to check our curiosity and resist the almost unbearable temptation to spy on methods of death we can perhaps only imagine in our worst nightmares? Even if we do succeed here, our imaginations, over which we have little to no control, will always be able to see what our eyes did not.
Whatever one’s choice in the end, there is no doubt that our viewing, sharing and talking about these videos gives ISIS exactly what it desires. Whoever watches them finds themselves gripped by a perverse kind of curiosity, one that compels them to seek out the true extent of the horrors this group is actually capable of. Mixed in with this, though, will also be feelings of awe—and this is where the true danger of watching these videos lies. The fact here is that the hesitation experienced when faced with the prospect of having to watch one of these videos does not excuse the conscious choice that is then made to actually do so. When one watches, one becomes complicit in the crime documented, also inadvertently becoming part of ISIS’s wider narrative. And now we are all facing this choice; not just the media, but also ordinary individuals.
A decision not to watch or broadcast ISIS’s videos and those like them is a practical one, especially since they are providing us with what can certainly be described as newsworthy content (no matter how abhorrent it is). The opposite decision, however, brings one to a dangerous precipice in the world of journalism and media, and teetering on this edge cannot be excused through the prefacing of any broadcast material of this sort with the usual “Warning: graphic images” or “Not suitable for those of a sensitive disposition”—after all, the strange lure of these Hollywood-style “graphic images” is the main weapon used by ISIS to spread them.
Some, however, see this matter as being somewhat less innocuous and contend that watching and spreading these videos is simply a matter of “viewing for educational purposes only”—in the sense that the broadcast material helps us learn about the true diabolical nature of this group. But are we truly in need of these videos now to know this? Haven’t we learned enough already about what this group can do? What more do we need?
ISIS’s crime begins with an instrument of death and a camera; ours begins the moment we watch, broadcast, share, comment on, or become affected by the videos the group produces. Thousands have been killed all around us in the region, but their memories and images have not been singed into our minds, nor present in our consciousness at all because they have not appeared as “stars” in a new ISIS video. These videos have now turned our news websites and social media timelines into dark, ugly places where we meet briefly to watch these horrors, mechanically and unwittingly taking part in ISIS’s bloody theater, and the wider macabre dance of reaction and counter-reaction to which these videos belong.
We don’t need ISIS’s videos to be aware of how truly violent and bloody this group can be. Giving them more attention than they deserve, or even being awed by them—even if this comes spiked with heavy doses of condemnation and horror—can have the effect of sidelining from our minds the deaths of countless others who have been spared a close-up in an original ISIS production.
Broadcasting ISIS’s videos only makes them stronger. The only solution is a boycott.

Netanyahu: Speech at congress not political, it's existential
02/09/2015 20:55
Contrary to reports he is considering ways to get out of his controversial speech to Congress in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said publicly on Monday he is adamant about going to Washington and presenting Israel’s position on Iran to Congress and the American people.
“At a time when there are those who are dealing with protocol and politics, a bad deal is being put together in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence,” Netanyahu said at a campaign speech at Bar-Ilan University, in a reference to White House objections that his invitation by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, without consulting the White House, was a breach of protocol.
At about the same time that Netanyahu spoke, US President Barack Obama – at a press conference in Washington with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel – said he does not want to be “coy,” and acknowledged that there are very real differences regarding Iran sanctions with Netanyahu.
Obama said that it does not make sense “to sour” negotiations with Iran “a month or two before they’re to be completed” with new sanctions.
“What’s the rush?” he said.
“Unless your view is that it is not possible to get a deal with Iran, and it shouldn’t even be tested, and that I cannot agree with, because as president of the United States, I’m looking at what the options are if we don’t get a diplomatic resolution.”
But that was separate and apart from Netanyahu’s coming to Washington, Obama said, warning that the perception of a Likud-Republican alignment puts a “cloud of partisan politics” over the US-Israel relationship.
Regarding Netanyahu’s plans to come to Washington in early March, Obama said that “we have a practice of not meeting with leaders right before their elections, two weeks before their elections.”
Then, in an apparent jab, he added, “as much as I love Angela [Merkel], if she was two weeks before an election, she would probably not have received an invitation to the White House. And I suspect she would not have asked for one.”
“Some of this just has to do with how we do business,” he said.
“I think it’s important for us to maintain these protocols, because the US-Israeli relationship is not about a particular party. This isn’t a relationship founded on affinity between the Labor Party and the Democratic Party, or [the] Likud and the Republican Party. This is the US-Israeli relationship, that extends beyond parties, and has to do with that unbreakable bond we feel, and our commitment to Israel’s security, and the shared values we have.”
Netanyahu, in his speech, said that the question is not whether the relations with the United States will be strong despite disagreements on the Iranian nuclear issue.
“From the establishment of the state until today there have been disagreements on substantive issues with the US, and the relations remained strong, and that will be the case this time as well,” he said.
The “true question,” he added, is whether Iran will have nuclear bombs to “implement its intention to destroy the State of Israel. That is something we will not allow.”
This is not a political issue either in Israel or the US, Netanyahu said.
“This is an existential issue.”
Netanyahu’s comments came just a few hours after Reuters reported that Jerusalem was entertaining ideas to amend the format of Netanyahu’s planned address to Congress to try to calm some of the partisan furor the Iran-focused speech has provoked.
Among the options reportedly being considered, were to have Netanyahu speak to a closed-door session of Congress, rather than in a prime-time TV address, so as to drain some of the intensity from the event.
Another option reportedly discussed was for the prime minister to make his speech at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington the same week, rather than in Congress.
One official in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that in the last few days a number of different ideas were discussed regarding the speech, but that “currently there is no change in the plans.”
A poll on Army Radio on Monday said 47 percent of Israelis think Netanyahu should cancel the address, while 34% said he should go ahead with it.
*Reuters contributed to this report.

Criticizing Netanyahu, Obama says 'united' world presenting Iran with nuclear deal
By MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/02/09/2015
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama says that gaps in talks with Iran over its nuclear program have been “sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified” that world powers can now present the Islamic Republic with an agreement.
“We are presenting to them a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable they are not producing a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
“They have to make a decision.”
Obama said that a year’s worth of negotiations was “time well spent,” overcoming a “truth deficit” between Tehran and the West.
But after two extensions were announced throughout that year, the president joined US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif in rejecting prospects for further delays.
“I don’t see a further extension being useful,” he continued, unless a political framework agreement is reached by the March 31 deadline set by negotiators.
In a press conference from the East Room of the White House, hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president addressed concerns over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington, when he is expected to criticize the diplomatic effort.
“There are real differences substantively, but that’s separate and apart from Mr. Netanyahu coming to Washington,” Obama said, warning that the perception of a Likud-Republican alignment puts a “cloud” of “partisan politics” over the US-Israel relationship.
Angela Merkel did not address the matter, but smiled and nodded to laughter, as Obama noted the chancellor would not seek an invitation to the White House so close to her own elections.
“And I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one,” he said.

Does Iran signal 'End Time Prophecies? Christian apologist thinks so
02/10/2015 01:52
Christian apologist Don Stewart believes that the New Testament suggests that Iran, together with Russia, poses a major threat not only to Israel, but to the US as well.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not have been able to convince US President Barack Obama that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, he does have at least one person who shares his viewpoint.
Christian apologist Don Stewart believes that the New Testament suggests that Iran, together with Russia, poses a major threat not only to Israel, but to the United States as well.
The Christian Post quoted Stewart as saying that Ezekiel 38 contains a prophecy in which Persia (modern day Iran), and Rosh, apparently Russia, have a military alliance in "the last days."
Stewart argued that Iran, as Shi'ites, believe that they "are divinely ordained" to have nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu may not believe in "the Rapture" or the prophecies in the New Testament, but in Stewart, he has found a partner in his fears of Iran.
Stewart for his part, however, thinks that it is prophecy being fulfilled rather than something that can be stopped by further sanctions or the threat of military action.
"It's like we are seeing foreshocks of a powerful earthquake that is ready to happen. The prophetic events are like dominoes closely stacked together. When the first domino falls, the others will fall in short order."