LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation for Today/Whenever you pray, do not be
like the hypocrites
Matthew 06/05-15/"Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ‘Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Letter to the Romans 15/01-13.
"We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up the neighbour. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name’; and again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’; and again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him’; and again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.’"
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February
To defeat our foe, we must first define him/Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa/Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain/ February 17/15
Occupied Sanaa and the besieged president/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/February 17/15
Assessing the Strategic Threat from ISIS/James F. Jeffrey/Washington Institute/February 17/15
Israel's Chief Of Staff, Eisenkot's first war will be against politicians/Yoaz Hendel/Ynetnews/February 18/15
Lebanese Related News published on
Thousands of Afghan, Pakistani Shiites in Hizballah’s advance on Golan
Israeli Soldiers Cross Technical Fence on Southern Border
Russian Ambassador Hails Dialogue among Rivals, Describes it as 'Necessity'
Hariri Underlines Importance of Dialogue, Moderation in Battle against Extremism
Rifi Confirms Officials Thwarted Plot to Kill Samaha
Abdullah Azzam Brigades Warn Security Agencies, Call on Sunnis to Defect Army
Fadel Shaker Charged with Sectarian Incitement, Defamation of Army
Aoun Withdraws Confidence from Defense Minister for 'Exceeding his Privileges'
Moqbel Says Has 'Exclusive Jurisdiction' to Extend Officers Service amid 'Political' Withdrawal of Confidence
Entrance, Road Leading to Daycare in Hadath Collapse
Bekaa Valley security crackdown expanded.
Sleiman prepares initiative to break impasse.
March 14 marks 10 years and plans ahead.
Miserable weather persists with storm ‘Windy’.
Panel formed to solve mobile revenues row.
Hezbollah role in Syria 'legitimate': Russian envoy.
New storm to hit Lebanon Wednesday.
Man wounded in Baalbek shootout during Army raid.
Nasrallah puts the region before Lebanon: Fatfat.
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Danish Intelligence Knew Gunman 'at Risk of Radicalization'
Egypt Pushes for U.N.-backed Intervention against Libya Jihadists
U.N. Rights Chief Condemns 'Vile' Beheadings of Christians in Libya
Syrian army makes rapid advance north of Aleppo: monitor
Argentina urges US add AMIA attack to Iran talks.
Egypt embarks on ambitious anti-terror campaign.
Hollande: Anti-religious acts threaten France.
Hamas and Iran said to be renewing ties.
Lieberman to seek death penalty for terrorists.
Likud: There's an attempt to unseat Netanyahu.
Syria regime forces launch Aleppo attack,100 dead.
HRW: Iraq’s pro-govt militias abusing Sunnis, civilians
King Salman, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi meet in Riyadh
Arab firms should break Iranian and Turkish “monopoly” in Iraq: PM’s spokesman
Erdogan: ‘I’m alone, other leaders envy me’
France signs deal with Egypt for export of jets
Saudi cleric rejects that Earth revolves around the Sun
Egypt’s Al-Azhar prohibits watching ISIS execution videos
Japan unveils $15.5 mln Mideast anti-terror aid
Obama, Danish leader vow to fight terrorism
Strong quake hits northern Japan, tsunami and evacuation warnings issued
Japan unveils $15.5 mln Mideast anti-terror aid
Yemen: Houthis reject UN calls for movement’s withdrawal
Boko Haram Destroys Northeast Nigeria Town
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Islamic State cites “grievances” in slaughter of 21 Copts.
Pope says Copts in Libya were murdered “for sole reason of being Christian,” blames arms traffickers.
Texas Islamic Center fire reported as a hate crime wasn’t one.
State Department’s Harf: “We cannot kill our way out of this war,” we need to give the jihadis job opportunities.
Minneapolis: Muslims demand anti-terror program be separate from FBI.
Exchange with Hate Preacher Kashif Chaudhry.
Raymond Ibrahim: The True History of Christendom and Islam.
Charlie Hebdo cartoons banned at Dutch train stations: too dangerous.
Michigan: Muslim asks people if they’re Muslim, stabs those who say no.
Islamic supremacist groups including Hamas-linked CAIR say Obama terror summit wrongly singles out Muslims.
Term “Islamic extremism” off limits at White House terrorism summit.
All Are Evil & Cut From The Same Fabri
Elias Bejjani/In reality when we list horrible terrorists like Hezbollah, Bako Haram, ISIS, Nosra, Assad, Al Qaeda & its offshoots, and Iranian rulers, the only difference between them lies only in their names styles of killing.
Israeli Soldiers Cross Technical Fence on Southern Border
Naharnet/An Israeli military unit on Tuesday crossed the technical fence off al-Wazzani in southern Lebanon and inspected the eastern bank of the river, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said the troops used sniffer dogs and Merkava tanks monitored them closely. An Israeli drone also flew over the area of al-Wazzani and Abbasiyeh reaching Ghajar, the agency added. According to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3), around 15 Israeli soldiers searched the area as the Lebanese army and U.N. peacekeepers went on alert. Both NNA and VDL did not say that the unit crossed the U.N.-drawn Blue Line. Israeli troops regularly cross the technical fence and sometimes enter Lebanese territories through the Blue Line, which was drawn up following Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000. The fence runs parallel to the Blue Line.
Fadel Shaker Charged with Sectarian
Incitement, Defamation of Army
Naharnet /State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Tuesday singer-turned Salafist Fadel Shaker with sectarian incitement through Facebook, reported the National News Agency.
It added that he was also charged with defaming the army and “tarnishing the ties of Lebanon with another country.”Saqr referred the case to First Military Examining Magistrate Riyad Abou Ghida. Shaker had fled justice more than a year ago following bloody clashes that erupted in June 2013 in the area of Abra, between the army and supporters of Salafist fugitive cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir. Now in his mid-forties, Shaker was born to a Palestinian mother and Lebanese father in the country's biggest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el-Hilweh. Shaker became the best-known face of Asir's small movement of openly sectarian Sunni radicals and praised the cleric as "the lion of the Sunnis".Judicial authorities have issued a detention order for Asir and 123 of his supporters, including Shaker, whose brother was killed in clashes with the army in Sidon in 2013.
Hezbollah intervention in Syria 'legitimate': Russian ambassador to Lebanon
The Daily Star/Feb. 17, 2015 /BEIRUT: Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian conflict where it is fighting alongside government forces is legitimate, as long as foreign fighters are swelling the ranks of the opposition, Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said in comments published Tuesday. Separately, Zasypkin affirmed that a Russian arms deal for Lebanon is on the right track, according to a statement released by the office of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri after a meeting between the two. “The party (Hezbollah) will remain engaged in the fight to aid the legitimate regime as long as fighters from dozens of countries are streaming into [Syria] to fight against the regime...,” Zasypkin said in an interview with daily newspaper An-Nahar. “In such emergencies, the need is to focus on combating terrorism and fundamentalist, not stir strife,” Zasypkin added. Asked about prospects of a political solution to the Syrian conflict in the near future, Zasypkin argued that chances have dimmed due to the situations in the region and internationally. “The U.S. is taking advantage of the Ukrainian crisis to undermine Russia and this has reflected negatively on global issues and disrupted any settlements,” Zasypkin added. The Russian envoy lauded Lebanese rival factions for their engagement to conduct dialogue which he said “is strongly requested” to deal with “existing challenges and dangers.”“Foreign countries support this dialogue, especially that it touches on not only Lebanese, but also regional issues, and I mean primarily combating terrorism and extremism,” An-Nahar quoted him as saying. Hezbollah and the Future Movement launched talks in December aimed at easing sectarian tensions exacerbated by the Syrian conflict, while preparations are underway to have a similar dialogue between Christian rivals, the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement. “We want the most suitable president for Lebanon,” Zasypkin said, noting that settling the presidential stalemate is linked to all Lebanese factions, not only Christians. A statement released by Hariri's media office said Zasypkin commended the ex-premier and Future Movement leader for engaging in dialogue with Hezbollah, and reassured him that a Russian arms deal for Lebanon was on track. “We are in continuous contact with Mr. Hariri on political dialogue as well as reinforcing the capacities of the Lebanese Army and security agencies,” the statement quoted Zasypkin as saying.
He said the meeting with Hariri focused on the implementation of bilateral contracts for supplying Lebanon with Russian weapons, refuting allegations that Hariri was seeking to disrupt or delay the delivery of the arms. “Work is underway to complete the arms deal for Lebanon and we expect tangible results that would benefit the Lebanese state (soon),” Zasypkin said. Lebanon is seeking to buy Russian weapons from a $1 billion Saudi grant to Lebanon.
Egypt Pushes for U.N.-backed Intervention against Libya
Naharnet /Egypt called Tuesday for a U.N.-backed international intervention in Libya after launching air strikes on Islamic State group targets in the country following the jihadists' beheadings of Egyptian Christians. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said "there is no choice" but to create a global coalition to confront the extremists in Libya, in an interview aired by France's Europe 1 radio. Egypt's top diplomat was in New York to secure backing for military intervention from U.N. Security Council members and to demand "full support" against the jihadists, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The diplomatic push comes a day after Egyptian F-16 jets bombed militant bases in Derna and on the February 17 anniversary of the beginning of the 2011 NATO-backed Libyan revolt that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The air raids were ordered hours after IS militants in Libya released a gruesome video showing the beheadings 21 Egyptian Christians who had traveled there seeking work. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians remain in Libya and their government was encouraging them to leave the country, foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told reporters. Libya has been gripped by turmoil since the revolt and Egyptian officials have long said that the NATO intervention to help the anti-Kadhafi rebels left Egypt to contend with chaos on its western border.
- Libya mission 'not finished' -
"The mission was not finished," Abdelatty said.
France, which on Monday agreed to sell Egypt advanced Rafale fighter jets, has called with Cairo on the United Nations to adopt "measures" to confront the jihadists in Libya. Italy, the former colonial power in Libya and lying across the Mediterranean, ruled out an intervention without UN backing and suggested a political solution remained the best option. "What is happening is very complicated. We are following events closely and with concern but there is no need to jump from total indifference to hysteria and an unreasonable reaction," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in an interview with TG5 television. The European Union said it will meet with the Egyptian and US governments this week to discuss joint action on Libya, but that it saw no role in any military intervention for now. Chaos in Libya has seen rival governments and powerful militias battling for control of key cities and the country's oil riches, providing fertile ground for IS. Several Libyan jihadists groups have pledged allegiance to IS, which last year seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities. Delegates from Libya's rival parliaments held U.N.-mediated indirect talks earlier this month that were described by the U.N. as "positive." But Egypt says it would be naive to hope for a political settlement in the near term, insisting that militants must be confronted with force. "There are terrorist organisations in Libya that are not abiding by their commitments, they are not serious about dialogue," said Abdelatty, the foreign ministry spokesman. Monday's air strikes were the first time Egypt announced military action against jihadist targets in Libya. Last year Cairo reportedly allowed the United Arab Emirates to use its bases to bomb militants there. Experts say Sisi wants to be seen as a key ally of the West against Islamist extremism, deflecting international criticism of his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood of former president Mohamed Morsi, who Sisi ousted in 2013. As well as Libya to the west, Egypt is dealing with an insurgency to the east in its Sinai Peninsula, where jihadists have also joined IS and scores of troops have been killed. Abdelatty said it was time for the international effort against IS -- which has been hammered by U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria -- to focus on its presence elsewhere. "Just as there is movement against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, we want the world to turn its attention to Libya," he said, using an Arabic acronym for group. Agence France Presse
Aoun Withdraws Confidence from Defense Minister for 'Exceeding his Privileges'
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun announced on Tuesday that he is withdrawing confidence from Defense Minister Samir Moqbel after the extension of the term of Higher Defense Council chief Mohammed Khair.
He said: “We withdraw confidence from the defense minister because he has exceeded his privileges and overlooked violations at the military institution.”He made his remarks after the Change and Reform bloc's weekly meeting at Rabieh. Moqbel signed a decree to extend the term of Khair, who will reach the retirement age at the end of February, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Monday. For his part, Khair denied knowledge of such information, saying: “I can serve my country wherever I am.”Aoun continued: “No legislative or executive authority or any power in the world has the right to harm the army hierarchy in order to extend the term of a security officer.”He said that once an officer reaches the retirement age, his replacement should be made from the reserves. Such a measure should be taken by the defense minister and his decree would then be approved by cabinet, explained the FPM chief. Moreover, he condemned the various extensions of terms that have taken place in Lebanon, notably at the army “whose commander's tenure was illegally extended.”
“We fear that extensions would reach all aspects of the state and government. We have recently heard of discussions to extend the term of the Constitutional Council,” he added before reporters. Commenting on the functioning of the cabinet, Aoun said: “It would not work properly if ministers are not granted veto power.” The military posts in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman whose tenure ended in May. The vacuum also threatens the Internal Security Forces as chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous is set to retire in June. The tenure of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji was extended in 2013. It is set to end in September later this year.
Moqbel Says Has 'Exclusive Jurisdiction' to Extend Officers Service amid 'Political' Withdrawal of Confidence
Naharnet/Defense Minister Samir Moqbel hit back Tuesday at a call by Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun to withdraw confidence from him, stressing that he has “exclusive jurisdiction” to extend the service of army officers. “The issue of Maj. Gen. (Mohammed) Khair is 100% clear and I have the jurisdiction to sign or refrain from signing” decrees extending the service of officers “according to the Legislative Decree 102 and the powers exclusively vested in me by the defense law,” Moqbel said in an interview with LBCI television. “I used my powers,” he added. Moqbel had recently inked a decree delaying the retirement of Kheir, the secretary general of the Higher Defense Council, whose service as an army officer will expire on February 22. The minister's move infuriated Aoun, who called Tuesday for “withdrawing confidence” from Moqbel, accusing him of “exceeding his privileges and overlooking violations at the military institution.”Aoun cited articles of the national defense law. But Moqbel noted that his step was based on a suggestion from the army commander and Article 55 of the defense law, which stipulates the postponement of retirement in cases of war, state of emergency or the government's tasking of the army to preserve domestic security. LBCI said Moqbel has also decided to extend by six months the service of military intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel, who reaches the age of retirement on March 20. “This is exclusively the jurisdiction of the defense minister,” Moqbel noted. Moreover, the minister said it is possible to extend the service of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji, whose already extended term will expire on October 1, or even that of Commando Regiment commander Chamel Roukoz – Aoun's son-in-law – whose term expires on November 15. “Should we need the services of Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz or other officers, we will act according to the law,” said Moqbel. Meanwhile, former labor minister Salim Jreissati, who is close to Aoun, pointed out that “the request to withdraw confidence is a right for every MP.”He noted, however, that “Aoun's stance today was political par excellence .”Aoun's call “will not reach the extent of withdrawing confidence from the government, because it is a government of national necessity, but it has to abide by the Constitution and the laws,” Jreissati added. The developments come amid a suspension of the sessions of Prime Minister Tammam Salam's cabinet due to a dispute over the signatures needed for decrees.
Danish Intelligence Knew Gunman 'at Risk of Radicalization'
Naharnet/Denmark's intelligence agency acknowledged Tuesday that the suspected gunman in the deadly Copenhagen shootings had been flagged up by prison authorities as being at risk of radicalization. But it said there was no evidence that the suspect, identified as a 22-year-old Danish-born man with a history of criminal violence, had been planning attacks. The revelations surfaced as politicians called for an investigation into whether police and the intelligence services could have done more to prevent the killings that stunned the normally peaceful nation. Police were out in the streets in Copenhagen on Tuesday, with a brief security alert over a suspicious letter found in the area of one of the weekend attacks. Tens of thousands of people had turned out on Monday night for a torchlit vigil to commemorate the two people killed in the shootings at a cultural center and Copenhagen's main synagogue. The attacks -- coming just weeks after the Islamist shootings in Paris in January -- stoked fears of a new surge in anti-Semitic violence and sent European nations scrambling to reassure their Jewish communities. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said the prison service had reported in September that the gunman was at "risk of radicalization" while he was serving time in jail for assault.
PET said however it had "no reason to believe that the now deceased 22-year-old offender was planning attacks". The gunman, identified by his friends and the media as Omar El-Hussein, a Dane born of Palestinian parents, was shot dead by police in a pre-dawn shootout on Sunday after his rampage in the city of one million. Local media say El-Hussein, who had a history of assault and weapons offenses, was released from jail just two weeks before the attacks. The country's main opposition party Venstre called for a probe into the intelligence report. "I assume the government will review this information. Have mistakes been made on the part of the police or PET? That has to be made clear," Venstre's spokesman on justice issues, Karsten Lauritzen, told the Berlingske newspaper. Two men were on Monday charged with helping the assailant dispose of his weapon and giving him somewhere to hide, but the lawyer for one of suspects said they denied the allegations "completely".
Berlingske quoted unnamed friends of the gunman as saying he was "a changed person" after he emerged from jail.
"He had grown a beard, and he no longer talked about cars and girls, but loudly about religion, the victims in Gaza and about ending up in paradise," it quoted them as saying. The attacks, the worst in Denmark since World War II, claimed the lives of a 37-year-old Jewish man who was guarding the synagogue and a 55-year-old film-maker attending a debate on Islam and press freedom at the cultural center. U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his solidarity with Denmark in a phone call with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Monday.
The two leaders "agreed on the need to work together to confront attacks on freedom of expression as well as against anti-Semitic violence," the White House said in a statement. The FBI is also helping Danish authorities probe the attacks, a senior U.S. official said, without elaborating. An estimated 30,000 people joined a somber night-time vigil in Copenhagen on Monday attended the prime minister. "Tonight I want to tell all Danish Jews: you are not alone. An attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark, on all of us," she told the crowds.
The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center said it feared a "pan-European epidemic" after the Paris and Copenhagen attacks. But European nations including France and Germany sought to assure Jews that they would be protected, rebuffing calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for them to emigrate to Israel. In a sign of the security jitters in Copenhagen, police imposed a cordon around the cultural center early Tuesday after the discovery of a "suspicious" letter carrying an undisclosed message linked to the attacks.
The cordon was lifted after demolition experts determined the letter contained no explosives, Danish police reported. A man was also arrested in Mjoelnerparken, the same area El-Hussein was from, but police decline to comment on reports it was linked to the attacks.
"It's a very big investigation, very tough. There's a lot of surveillance material and internet data to go through. It's a huge and complicated investigation," police spokesman Steen Hansen told AFP. Agence France Presse
Sanaa and the besieged president
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
The U.N. Security Council has come to a rare consensus on rejecting the Houthi militias’ seizure of power in Yemen. But there’s no real appetite for military action or for dropping the quest for reconciliation - which U.N. envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar is holding on to and trying to achieve. There is actually more than one reason to avoid a military confrontation and just settle with a political solution. The first reason is that foreign military intervention could weaken Houthi militias in the areas they have seized and this will neither be enough to restore the legitimacy of the transitional authority nor usher in an alternative authority. Rather, a military action could strengthen the party of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been conspiring with the Houthis to return to power and has been playing a destructive role in the post-revolution Yemen. Ironically, Saleh has recently expressed rejection to the Houthis that he helped occupy Sanaa so they could later propel him to power. What if the Houthis are able to buy time and consolidate their powers and tighten their grip on state institutions?
A military option could thus expel the Houthis but it will not liberate the capital. The second reason is that no one wants to see Yemen turn into another Afghanistan by relying on foreign powers to sort out tribal and partisan struggles. This is a long and rough road and success is not guaranteed. Another reason is the option of a political solution is still viable despite the U.N. envoy’s failure and despite the Houthis’ failure to stick to their promises.
What if the Houthis are able to buy time and consolidate their powers and tighten their grip on state institutions? In this case, will it be possible to defeat them, especially after ruling out the international military solution?
I think the people of Sanaa will rise against the Houthis, the invaders who came from the north. There’s a clear pattern of tribes turning against Houthis in North Yemen. In addition, people from the South Yemen openly reject the Houthis and are preparing to confront them and deprive them of oil resources. These three parties will weaken the militias of Abdulmalik al-Houthi who showed he’s incapable of presenting a political project that enables Yemenis to form an all-inclusive government. This man thinks he’s a leader and that what’s happening is a revolution. Truth be told, he’s a militia leader and what’s happening is an armed robbery resulting from a power vacuum. This vacuum emerged after the ouster of former president Saleh. Even with the help from Iran and from Saleh, the Houthis will not be able to provide for the simplest needs of the Yemeni people whose living conditions have deteriorated since the revolution erupted against Saleh’s regime at the beginning of 2011.
To defeat our foe, we must first
Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa/Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Almost 15 years since the current “War on Terror” began, we seem little closer to understanding and defeating a common enemy, which remains primarily defined by its tactics of terror and the underlying subversion of Islam. But terrorism is merely a tool of twisted ideologues, whose recent atrocities include the murdering and kidnapping of journalists, and the grotesque immolation of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. The weekend’s attacks in Copenhagen are a further reminder that if we’re meaningfully to address this spiraling global threat, we need to widen our understanding and define our foe, in order to refocus our efforts accordingly. Terrorism is not an ideology; we are not merely fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats. I use the term “theocrats” as the current war is not against Islam any more than it could be against Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, or any religion. It is against those who commandeer religion for their own ends and, in the process, sully the name of great traditions and beliefs that many of us hold divine.
If we start to define ourselves as in a war with theocrats, however, then I believe we can begin the process of delivering the military, political, economic – and maybe even the social – policies to counter this threat together, as we have in the past. In the last century, the world faced a series of overwhelming threats: fascism, totalitarianism, cold-war communism. They were studied, however, as concepts, understood and clearly defined. We addressed them, clinically, as ideologies.
They spread their ideological message through a multitude of channels, old and new, from word of mouth, to proclamations from self-anointed pulpits, through to the wholesale embrace of the digital age
Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa
So what do we call this new form of ideology, how do we identify it and how do we define it? We must agree the specific terminology and identified characteristics to take us to the very root of the problem we face. For one group alone, we already struggle with an absurdity of titles including ISIS, ISIL, IS and Da’ish. We see the likes of al-Qaeda and its various offshoots. We have al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and that’s before contemplating yet unformed groups of their type that may develop in the future. In each case, however, we continue to hop blindly and haphazardly from one tactical threat to the other, without strategically understanding or categorizing our foe.
We can begin this process by more fully analyzing their characteristics. We know these are people who attempt to govern us here on Earth as well as in the hereafter. They isolate themselves and place no value on the social contract established among ourselves as societies of human beings. They oppress women and slaughter those who do not condone, approve of or subscribe to their own twisted ideology. They also govern by religious edict, constraining the use of reason itself among would-be believers. Their methodology combines the tactics of religious ideology alongside lawless paramilitary rule. It is fuelled by the gains of criminal enterprise in order to establish the fiction of governance, through which continues the desperate fight for geographic territory to claim, protect and rule.
Social upheaval and political turmoil
We know they are opportunistic, thriving in the midst of social upheaval and political turmoil, giving purpose and leadership to the disillusioned, disaffected and forgotten. While history will judge whether the Middle East’s own turbulent events of 2011 were the equivalent of a Berlin of 1989 or the Petrograd of 1917, one thing is clear – where state paradigms collapse, into the vacuum extremist ideology is more likely to come.
They spread their ideological message through a multitude of channels, old and new, from word of mouth, to proclamations from self-anointed pulpits, through to the wholesale embrace of the digital age. And in the Middle East itself, satellite channels unseen by Western audiences and free of either its restrictions or regulation, broadcast, with far greater impact than the internet, an almost continuous message of intolerance and venom to the ignorant and the susceptible.
So, while we grapple with the conceptual, practical and legal protections of media regulation and online freedom, they ruthlessly exploit these platforms to sow hatred and showcase evil.
Ultimately, we face a new-world foe, one that while demonstrating many of the practices of the 17th century also pursues a strategy of the 21st. We will not be able to address them through old world solutions alone, but through a newly thought series of interventions, both modern and traditional. It is only through a concerted, collective and fundamental review of the nature of our threat that we will help refine the focus of our challenge and thereby bring us closer to achieving our shared goal. We can then strategically use our combined resources to hold accountable these criminal ideologues who place themselves above other ordinary human beings and claim divine authority for misrule.
While in all probability we will sadly be fighting them for a long time to come, barbaric and primitive though they are, it is naming and understanding of the ideology itself that should next be our target. These individuals and groups will of course ebb and flow, but it is the ideology that must be combated and defeated. In the process, we can replace the term “war on terror” and focus on the real threat, which is the rise of these evil fascist theocracies.
This article was first published in The Telegraph on February 16, 2015.
HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa is Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Thousands of Afghan, Pakistani Shiites
in Hizballah’s advance on Golan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 17, 2015
The Iranian-backed “Operation Quneitra Martyrs named for Gen. Ali Allah Dadi” to capture the Golan brings Afghan and Pakistani Shiite fighters to an Israeli border for the first time, debkafile's military and intelligence sources reveal that 2,000 of these fighters have joined an equal number of Hizballah troops, who are spearheading a march on the Golan from southern Syria, directly behind the Syrian tanks. They are acting on an order from the Iranian high command in Syria to integrate Shiite fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan in combat for the Golan sector of the Syrian-Israeli border.
These fighters were recruited from two Shiite militias which the Revolutionary Guards Al Qods Brigades have established among Iran’s minority communities, notably the Hazara and Zaynubian Militias.
Hazara has been drawn from the two million Afghan Shiite refugees who escaped to Iran in flight from persecution by Taliban and al Qaeda. Zaynubian Militia is made up of Pakistani Shiites brought to Iran for military training.
From the Israeli viewpoint, the arrival of these fighters to boost Hizballah’s push in southern Syria attests to Iran’s intention to expanding the Hizballah war effort against Israel - both from Syria and from Lebanon. The injection of this new strength is designed to consolidate Israel’s besiegement from the east and the north by a strong, continuous Lebanese-Afghan-Shiite Shiite military belt under Iranian command, and teach them to fight Israel as an integrated force
Still, not everyone in top IDF and security top circles rates the combat capabilities of the Afghan-Pakistani contingents too highly. Some account for the slowdown of the Iranian-Syrian offensive at the beginning of this week by the disappointing performance of those Shiite forces and their failure to fully pull their weight as expected.
debkafile’s military sources say that the truth of the matter is irrelevant, considering Tehran’s firm determination to win a foothold on the Golan willy-nilly – even if to attain this objective, it becomes necessary to import more manpower, be they Afghans or Pakistanis, as well as adding more heavy arms. Interestingly, a small group of Hazaras had their first Syrian experience two years ago when they were thrown into the Syrian army's battle for the town of Aleppo. They took a severe beating from Syrian rebel forces, against whom their unfamiliarity with urban guerrilla warfare and local conditions placed them at a serious disadvantage. They were pulled out and sent to Iran for extra training and reorganization and brought back to Syria at the beginning of the year.
Each of these Shiite militiamen is paid $500 per month, a sum which they may transfer to their needy families in Iran and Afghanistan.
Assessing the Strategic Threat from ISIS
James F. Jeffrey/Washington Insitute
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
A serious alliance against ISIS built on Sunni Arab states and Turkey cannot hold together over the long term without a more forceful U.S. policy toward the Syrian regime.
The following is prepared testimony submitted for the hearing "The Growing Strategic Threat of ISIS"; watch video of the full hearing.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Engel, it is a privilege to be here again before this committee, particularly to discuss a subject of such great importance to American interests and security as the strategic threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
The president's goal to degrade and eventually destroy ISIS is the correct mission. The campaign that the United States and a coalition of some sixty countries is implementing is basically sound, with direct military action, training and equipping local forces, building up political capacity with our partners in Iraq and Syria, cutting the flow of foreign fighters and funds to ISIS, combating the violent extremist ideology that fuels ISIS, and managing the human costs of the conflict. This campaign has had considerable success of late, from the pushback of ISIS in some areas, and its containment in others, to the redoubled commitment of our partners following the terrible ISIS execution of the Jordanian pilot.
Nevertheless, for reasons I will describe below, ISIS is a resilient and uniquely dangerous foe. Our campaign will be placed under stress when the coalition begins major ground-offensive operations. Military questions related to Syria, and political questions including "the day after" scenarios in both Syria and Iraq, are as yet unanswered, and the campaign runs some risk of settling into a containment mission that would eventually crater the coalition and lead to new ISIS threats. I therefore urge the administration to move faster, take more risks, apply more resources, and not assume "time is on our side." In the Middle East -- and world -- of today, it is not.
THE NATURE OF THE ISIS THREAT
ISIS is so dangerous because of its unique characteristics and its reflection of longer-term trends and dangers in the broader Middle East, from Pakistan to the Atlantic. Starting with the latter, we see a state system, as Henry Kissinger recently described, under extraordinary stress, with its legitimacy questioned by the region's populations. Their loyalty to any given state competes with both particularistic local and tribal ties, and pan-regional Islamic and, in the case of the Arab population, nationalistic impulses. ISIS, as the latest of a long series of pan-regional Islamic movements that espouse violence, like al-Qaeda and to some degree political Islamic movements such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, is embedded in various ways in the fabric of Middle Eastern society. It will require time and great effort by the governments and peoples of the region to free themselves of ISIS and its radical appeal, which can manifest itself in ever new ways, just as ISIS arose as a spinoff of the al-Qaeda movement.
But ISIS is not simply another manifestation of violent Islamic extremism. Its appeal to Muslims around the world, nihilist worship of violence, control over much territory and six or more million people, conventional as well as nonconventional military capabilities, and appeal as a caliphate all render it unique, and very difficult to combat. Its specific nature not only gives it significant resilience, but also an inevitable drive to inflict harm on the United States and other Western nations, either directly or by inspiring local jihadists.
Given its nature, the weaknesses of the Middle East state system which we are pushing to the forefront to deal with ISIS, and other threats to international security that the United States must simultaneously confront, I do not think a campaign of "strategic patience" is appropriate. ISIS may not have been successful in splitting the coalition with its horrific execution of the Jordanian officer, but it will continue its asymmetrical operations against the coalition, seek to expand its support among a small minority of Muslims, and exploit the Sunni-Shiite divide as the so-called champion of the Sunni side.
Under these circumstances, we should take more risks to accelerate offensive operations against ISIS. It is important, when these operations commence, that they succeed, to maintain the momentum of victory against ISIS begun at Mosul Dam and seen elsewhere, from Bayji refinery to Haditha Dam and Kobani. But we should accept more risk in terms of our own involvement to ensure our allies win on the ground in Mosul and elsewhere. The administration has, to its credit, done much since June to respond to and now contain ISIS. But it appears often to be applying the "strategic patience" doctrine to this conflict, limiting or closely monitoring military resources we are committing, and in particular treating the avoidance of any U.S. casualties as a strategic priority.
No one, including me, a former infantry officer, wants to see any American casualties. But while there are risks in a more robust policy, there are extraordinary risks in this campaign going forward at a simmer. Certain steps, if deemed wise by our military commanders, could make this campaign move forward faster and more effectively. It's their, not my, job to know which make sense in the specific situation, but the administration should not limit the use of those steps our commanders think useful. These could include a higher tempo of airstrikes, the deployment of Joint Terminal Attack Coordination teams, as well as advisory teams, down to the battalion level of units going on the offensive, using other weapons systems, such as U.S. army artillery and attack helicopter fires, given their role directly supporting ground operations, and providing heavier weapons to the Kurds.
THE POLITICAL CONTEXT
Just as the long-term response to the messages of ISIS and other Islamic extremist movements will depend primarily on political developments throughout the broader Middle East, so will the defeat of ISIS depend on political developments in Iraq and Syria.
In Iraq, the reconquest of Sunni Arab areas cannot be primarily the job of Kurdish Peshmerga units and certainly not Shiite militias. That effort has to combine local Sunni Arab levees, similar to the "awakening" movement of 2006-2008, and disciplined Iraqi regular army forces free of sectarian impulses, complemented by political outreach by Baghdad's largely Shiite Arab government to the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds. With much behind-the-scenes U.S. support, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has made progress, sealing an oil deal with the Kurds, appointing and having confirmed a defense and interior minister, passing a budget for 2015 that incorporates the Kurdish oil deal, and gaining cabinet approval of new de-Baathification legislation and a national guard package, both requiring parliamentary approval but aimed at political reconciliation with Sunni Arabs. These efforts, while commendable, are not sufficient. Abadi faces threats from the Shiite political ranks, pressure from Iran, and the impact of dramatically falling oil revenues. Sunni Arab states must redouble the significant steps they have already taken to embrace this regime and work with their friends in the Iraqi Sunni community to win their support.
Over the longer term, reconciling all Iraq's religious and ethnic communities sufficiently to defeat, and keep Iraq permanently free of, ISIS and likely follow-on movements will require: first, decentralization including in the financial and security sectors, analogous to the conditions the Kurdistan Regional Government now enjoys, in Sunni and probably Shiite provinces; second, credible U.S. commitments of long-term engagement, including at least a limited number of American troops for training and airpower as we had planned in 2011; third, clarity with Iran that any effort by Tehran to dominate Iraq and drive the United States completely out will generate the next version of ISIS and eventually the breakup of the country, and a possible Shiite-Sunni conflagration. Iran cannot hold Iraq together, but it can drive it apart, and its policies of 2012-2014 almost did so.
In Syria, the administration's plans are just getting under way for a local defense force, seemingly to fight ISIS, not the Bashar al-Assad government. The administration is correct in prioritizing the "Iraq fight" over the Syria one, but the Syrian situation must eventually be dealt with if we are serious about defeating ISIS. Even a victory within Iraq will not last if ISIS retains a sanctuary next door, as we saw in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, a serious alliance against ISIS built on Sunni Arab states and Turkey cannot hold together over the long term without a more forceful U.S. policy toward the Assad regime.
**James Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute and former ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.
Israel's Chief Of Staff, Eisenkot's first war will be against politicians
Yoaz Hendel/Ynetnews. 18.02.15
Op-ed: The chief of staff's current job is to fight on two fronts, Arab and Jewish. He can win on the Jewish front if he gets the cabinet to discuss reality and make decisions now; otherwise, after the next war, the fire will be directed at him. On Monday, during the IDF changing of the guard ceremony, a former Golani Brigade fighter sent me a warning note to outgoing Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. According to past experience, he wrote, when Golanchiks replace paratroopers it usually ends in a fight and in equipment stealing. So Gantz should quickly dispose of his equipment. A tip from graduates of the Paratroopers Brigade's 202nd Battalion.
In reality, Gantz completed a four-year term without fighting with Golanchiks inside the army, but with quite a few blows from the combat politicians above him.This has been happening to everyone since the days of Shaul Mofaz. Quiet and noisy, a blue or red beret. Moshe Ya'alon left after the Ariel Sharon trauma, Dan Halutz had the Second Lebanon War thrown on his shoulders, Gabi Ashkenazi engaged in a war against Ehud Barak, and Gantz had politicians who made sure to brief journalists against his performance during Operation Protective Edge.
Sixty-seven years after the State of Israel's establishment, the chief of staff's job is to fight on two fronts, the Arab front and the Jewish front. Surrounded by terror and Arab armies, and the politicians in Jerusalem. No one can avoid the Jewish front, no one finds shelter under the burning fire.
Gantz's uniqueness is in his calmness and a healthy dosage of ego. Without these two things, Protective Edge would have likely ended in a war of declarations like Operation Cast Lead ended. This is based on the insight that Israel's next wars are going to look exactly like the wars we have been through: Terror organizations with the rocket ability of a regular army, using a civil population as a human shield, international pressure, lack of legitimization and legal consequences of any decision made by a junior commander.
In these wars there are only two options: Victory or consciousness. The first option requires the entry of military forces for a long period of time, international support, a Clausewitz destruction of the enemy's center of gravity, public patience and mainly predecision. We did it in the past.
The second option is based on a short and painful blow. Burning the enemy's consciousness. When such wars are waged, cannons fire, tanks maneuver and planes bomb in order to shape the consciousness.
The problem with consciousness is that it cannot be controlled. It's inside people's minds. People here and people on the other side. In the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Israel decided to defeat terror. In Gaza, since the disengagement, Israel has been trying – unsuccessfully – to shape a consciousness. The decision which type of war to launch is made by the political echelon.
The new chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, is in for a similar trauma. Despite the results of Operation Protective Edge and the cabinet ministers' bragging – there are still no decisions on how to with Hamas. There are no discussions between the videos. There is no initiative for regional development or decisions to destroy Hamas.
In this reality, someone will have to take responsibility after the next war, and if it depends on some of our politicians, it will be the military echelon again – or, to be more exact, its leader.
And this is where the problematic criticism about Minister Naftali Bennett's meetings with soldiers and commanders during Protective Edge comes in. If I were the new chief of staff, I would encourage the cabinet members to visit the forces now in order to study the reality, get to know the problems, discuss the solutions. The spirit of prophecy will not come upon them the moment the next war breaks out.
If I were the new chief of staff, I would ask the chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to publish the open part of the report on Operation Protective Edge now, so that the public will be aware of what needs improvement, what requires a budget and what was stopped by the government, with all due respect to the elections.
Politicians only like to brag about successes. They are always the good