LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/‘Do not judge, so that you may not be
Matthew 07/01-12.: "‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your neighbour, "Let me take the speck out of your eye", while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."
Saint Peter's Letter to the Galatians 02/11-17/No one will be justified by the works of the law, But by faith in Christ
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February
Is this the beginning of the end for ISIS/Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews/February 23/15
The GCC, Egypt, and the Brotherhood Media Machine/Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Al Awsat/February 23/15
When Saudi-backed Terrorists Come Home to Roost/Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/February 23/15
Uneven Diplomacy: The U.S.-Qatar Relationship/Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/February 23/15
News published on
ISIS to declare Islamic emirate in Lebanon
Lebanese welcome sunshine, survey storm damages
DarkNet: A thriving marketplace for criminal transactions - from narcotics to terrorism
Abu Faour adamant on terminating Hotel Dieu contract
Unified prescription forms: Who benefits?
Hariri backs Salam on new mechanism
Geagea Says LF Working for 'Effective' Dialogue with FPM
Army Receives from Jordan 30 APCs, 12 Gun Motor Carriages
Kataeb Rejects 'Full Coping' with Vacuum, Vows No Leniency on Govt. Mechanism
Charbel Khalil in Hot Water over Claims he Defamed Islam
Relatives of Hostages Say Cabinet Ready to Tackle Demands of Abductors
Technical, Political Disputes Hindering Oil Exploration as Cabinet Set to Tackle Topic
Hariri Backing Civil State to Confront Extremism
Arms Shipments Under Saudi $1 Billion Grant Finalized
Israeli Force Opens Fire at Farmers in Maroun al-Ras
Breakthrough expected in hostage crisis
Hezbollah urges nations to honor pledges
U.K. ambassador decries presidential vacuum
Berri Says to Endorse Any Christian Agreement on Presidential Election
Amin Gemayel Slams Vacuum: Rivals Should Prioritize Election of New President
UK Says Equipping Army to Keep IS 'on Other Side of Border', Slams Leaders over Presidency
Salam Meets Hariri amid No Signs of Breakthrough in Cabinet Crisis
Hezbollah unperturbed by Rifi’s warnings on Syria
Jobran Bassil's On Goining Tours/Detached from reality
Iran offers assistance in building Lebanese dam
'Unprecedented' Attempt to Smuggle 2 Tons of Cannabis to Libya Foiled
Lebanese-born U.S. Marine guilty of desertion
And News published on February 23-24/15
Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iran nukes, says report
Iran coordinating with Al-Qaeda since 2007 to target US interests in Kingdom, Dubai: sources
Russia ups ante in missile sale to Iran, reports say
US, Iran resume nuclear talks as deadline looms
Despite 2-hour meet, Kerry and Iran's Zarif fail to find common ground
Europe cracks down on would-be ISIS jihadis
Leaked intelligence document shows Mossad didn't think Iran sought nuclear weapon
No Cabinet session as decisions rift widens
Hostage negotiations move forward
Kerry, Zarif hold nuclear talks as deadline loom
Turkish forces enter Syria, evacuate troops
New ISIS video shows Kurdish fighters in cages
Turkey informed ISIS of plan to evacuate tomb, soldiers: official source
Hadi to form new government, declare Aden as capital of Yemen: sources
Jihad Watch Site Latest
Jerusalem’s mayor wrestles “Palestinian” jihadist attacker in street
Thirty jihadis return to Australia after waging jihad in Iraq and Syria
Roman Catholic priest in Salon: The Qur’an isn’t the problem
Robert Spencer in PJM: My Heart-to-Heart with Obama
Al-Azhar Sheikh who justifies Qur’anic anti-Semitism calls for Islamic reform
Australia: PM announces he will strip returning jihadis of citizenship
Amin Gemayel Slams Vacuum: Rivals Should Prioritize
Election of New President
Naharnet/Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel considered on Monday the ongoing presidential vacuum unacceptable, calling on rivals to prioritize the election of a new head of state. “We are surprised by all the measures taken... which aim at ridiculing the presidential vacuum,” Gemayel said after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki. He expressed fear on the fate of the Christians' top state post, considering the presidential stalemate aims at depicting that the state can go on without its head. Lebanon has been living in a presidential vacuum since May when the tenure of Michel Suleiman ended. The conflict between the March 8 and March 14 camps has thwarted all efforts to reach a quorum at parliament to hold elections and end the vacuum. “We are only concerned with urging politicians to prioritize the presidency and rivals to include the matter on the agenda of their dialogue,” Gemayel told reporters. Political disputes between the various political factions on the government's mechanism led to the suspension of sessions in light of the vacuum at the top presidential post.
Gemayel warned that he will block the way on those who are trying to “portray the presidential vacuum as an acceptable matter.”“We should elect a new head of state to fortify the state institutions.”The Christian leader continued: “We are discussing the pointless issues when we should be electing a new head of state.”“If we don't elect a new president, then we will lose track of what is important,” he added. Gemayel later headed to the Center House where he met with al-Mustaqbal chief and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
UK Says Equipping Army to Keep IS 'on Other Side of
Border', Slams Leaders over Presidency
Naharnet /British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher revealed Monday that the United Kingdom is assisting the Lebanese army's land border regiments in order to fend off the threat of Islamic State militants deployed in the border region between Syria and Lebanon. Fletcher voiced his remarks after talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail. “We have a substantive package of support to the land border regiments, training and equipping them to keep Daesh on the other side of the border,” the UK ambassador said, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group. “I salute their courage under fire,” added Fletcher, hailing the soldiers of the Lebanese army who are deployed on the eastern border with Syria. Jihadists from the IS and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front are entrenched on the outskirts of Lebanese towns on the porous Syrian-Lebanese border. They invaded the border town of Arsal in August 2014 and engaged in deadly battles with the Lebanese army before they retreated under a ceasefire mediated by Lebanese Muslim clerics.
Turning to the issue of the presidential crisis, the ambassador pointed out that “some Lebanese leaders seem to have concluded that a presidential vacuum is in their interests.” “Maybe it is in their interests. But it is not in the interests of the Lebanese people. It is not in the interests of parents working so hard to bring up their children in security. It is not in the interests of businesses trying to build the economy and provide jobs,” Fletcher added. “It is not in the interests of the brave soldiers who are protecting the borders. It is not in the interests of young people seeking hope and a future. It is not in the interests of all of us who believe in Lebanon’s ability to battle the odds and come through,” he went on to say. Addressing the Lebanese parties, Fletcher underlined that “there is no magical international fix” to the presidential deadlock. “We could not have spoken louder about the danger of this irresponsible failure of duty,” the envoy added, speaking in the name of the international community. “Lebanon’s leaders don’t need to make progress for the sake of the international community, and they clearly won’t. But they should do so for the sake of the Lebanese people they claim to represent. The Lebanese people deserve better,” Fletcher stated. The Baabda Palace has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year. Political disputes and electoral rivalry have prevented parliamentary quorum in 19 electoral sessions. “We also discussed the humanitarian challenges. I know that Lebanon will continue to show generosity to all those in need. We understand our obligation to help -- we are spending more per square kilometer in Lebanon than anywhere else in the world,” Fletcher added. He also noted that London is working with the Lebanese government to “significantly increase the numbers of children in school, and getting textbooks to over 300,000 children.”
Salam Meets Hariri amid No Signs of Breakthrough in Cabinet Crisis
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam met Monday with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri as part of his endeavor to find a solution to the crisis crippling the work of his cabinet. Media outlets said Hariri did not make any statement after leaving the Grand Serail meeting. “So far, it seems that there will be no cabinet session this Thursday and contacts are still ongoing at several levels over the issue of changing the mechanism of cabinet's work,” LBCI television reported in the afternoon. Al-Manar TV also said that “there are no signs of a possible solution to the cabinet crisis and it likely won't convene Thursday because, contrary to the norm, the agenda was not distributed on Saturday.”Salam was expected to hold further contacts Monday with the parties represented in his cabinet to agree on a new formula to regulate the government's work after the rift between them prevented a session for the second week in a row. Salam told As Safir daily upon his return from a private visit to Rome that he “will continue his consultations with the political parties to settle the discussion on the possibility to change the current mechanism.” He refused to comment on the stances made by some cabinet ministers but informed sources told the newspaper that Salam has expressed frustration at the criticism directed at his proposal to change the mechanism, which requires the unanimous support from all the ministers on the cabinet decisions. This formula was adopted after the government assumed the authorities of the head of state in accordance with the constitution following the end of President Michel Suleiman's tenure in May last year. But Salam wants to amend the mechanism after several cabinet members began to exercise veto power, stalling several projects. According to al-Joumhouria daily, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon is expected to visit Salam to brief him on the result of a meeting that was held among eight ministers at Suleiman's residence in Yarze last week. The ministers -- Kataeb party representatives, those backed by Suleiman, Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb and Pharaon -- oppose the changes called for by Salam. But al-Joumhouria expected Pharaon to tell Salam that they don't intend to form a front that opposes him. The eight ministers will meet again at Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel's residence in Sin el-Fil in the coming 48 hours. Cabinet ministers expressed optimism on Monday despite fears that the vacuum at Baabda Palace would reach the executive authority. In remarks to al-Joumhouria, Public Works Minister Ghazi Zoaiter did not expect the problem to grow. Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas also said: “It doesn't mean we are heading towards a government crisis if a new session was not held this week.” “There is a deep study on how to avoid the problems that had been hindering the (cabinet's) work,” he added. Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, who is among the eight ministers who met at Suleiman's residence, also told An Nahar daily that the Kataeb Party has reservations on the amendment to the current mechanism because it holds onto the proposal made by Salam when Suleiman's term ended. He stressed, however, that the upcoming meeting at Gemayel's residence is aimed at backing Salam and supporting the cabinet's constitutionality.
coordinating with Al-Qaeda since 2007 to target US interests in Kingdom, Dubai:
Nasser Al-Haqbani/Monday, 23 Feb, 2015
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran has been coordinating with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates since 2007 with the aim of carrying out terror attacks against US targets in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, informed sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, the sources said coordination between Iran and the global terrorist organization was mainly taking place through Saudi citizen Saleh Al-Qarawi, a senior member of the organization who is on the Kingdom’s most-wanted lists and is the founder of Al-Qaeda affiliate the Abdullah Al-Azzam Brigades.
The sources contend Qarawi is the main Al-Qaeda figure coordinating operations from inside Iran, where they say he has been moving freely for a number of years and from where he has been recruiting other Saudi citizens for the organization and coordinating their movement into Iran from the Kingdom.
Along with Abdul Mohsen Al-Sharikh, another senior Saudi member of the organization—and also on the Kingdom’s most-wanted lists—the sources accuse Qarawi of planning a terror attack in Saudi Arabia aiming to abduct US citizens residing in the country.
The plan eventually failed but the sources say Qarawi and Iran have been coordinating on several other operations, including a planned attack in 2007 against a US army base in Jordan which was foiled by the Jordanian authorities.
Qarawi and Iran have also coordinated on another failed operation, the sources said, which planned to attack the US embassy in Dubai using either a drone aircraft loaded with missiles and bombs or by having a pilot fly a small aircraft used for flight instruction into the embassy building. The sources said Qarawi was behind other failed operations including one to bomb a Japanese oil tanker crossing the Strait of Hormuz in 2010 and planned attacks on London’s Heathrow Airport. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks on the Kingdom in recent years including a 2003 suicide bomb attack targeting residential compounds—mainly housing foreigners—in the capital Riyadh which killed 17 people and injured over 100.
Jobran Bassil's On Goining Tours/Detached from reality
The Daily Star/Feb. 23, 2015
The BRICS states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have in recent years put themselves forward as a counterweight to the political and economic clout of the U.S. and Europe. But the “LC,” a new, developing world grouping of countries, namely Lebanon and Cuba, might just upset this balance. What else are the Lebanese to make of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil’s recent visit to Cuba, where he signed an “agreement of cooperation and political consultation” with his counterparts? After all, the pact practically establishes a hotline between the two states’ foreign ministries, so that they can “unify their efforts for international security, understanding and peace.” Bassil also found time to deliver a lecture on how the “Lebanese model” plays a central role in current international affairs, stressing his country’s stellar record on conducting dialogue at all levels. Perhaps Bassil was able to inform his hosts about Lebanon’s achievements in dialogue and understanding with its closest neighbors and, for example, the states of the Gulf. Lebanon has obviously made such strides because domestically, it has overcome all of its chronic domestic tension and division, and is only burdened by terrorist groups and the problem of Syrian refugees, which, Bassil said, now make up “half of the number of Lebanese citizens,” although it was unclear if he was counting those in the diaspora. To be fair, other ministers have taken such trips abroad, inking historic deals and boosting bilateral ties, all at a time when problems at home have apparently shrunk to merely terror and Syrian refugees – because nothing else could possibly be amiss in Lebanon.
ISIS preparing to
declare Islamic emirate in Lebanon: sources
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star/Feb. 23, 2015
ISIS is preparing military plans to declare an Islamic emirate in Lebanon very soon to serve as a geographical extension of the so-called “Islamic State” announced by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq last year, security sources said.
ISIS fighters have demanded support from the militant group in northern Syria to achieve this goal, the sources said. They added that the ISIS command has begun preparations to set up a military organizational committee tasked with running Lebanese affairs and considering Lebanon as part of its state. However, ISIS is facing difficulties in choosing a Lebanese commander for this mission. The reported appointment of the fugitive preacher Ahmad al-Assir for this post was merely a trial balloon, the sources said.
They added that arrangements to form an ISIS command for the Lebanon emirate were taking place under the supervision of the group commander Khalaf al-Zeyabi Halous, codenamed “Abu Musaab Halous,” a Syrian who had played a key role in the ISIS offensive to capture the Raqqa province in 2013. Abu Musaab Halous, accompanied by a number of ISIS military commanders, recently visited the Qalamoun region on the Lebanese-Syrian border, where he met with field commanders with whom he discussed the creation of security and military formations between Qalamoun and Lebanon, the sources said. In addition to the fact that the adventure of setting up an Islamic emirate in Lebanon has not received the green light from the powers backing ISIS, the group’s attempt expand into Lebanon might be doomed to failure, the sources added. In the meantime, an influential party in Lebanon has received important information indicating that ISIS is bent on recruiting more suicide bombers equipped with explosives belts to target Shiite gatherings in Beirut and the southern suburbs as well as French and Western interests, while the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, which was targeted with a deadly twin suicide attack in November 2013, is still vulnerable to another assault. As Lebanon faces growing security threats, military assistance to the Lebanese Army is expected to be stepped up to help the country stand on its feet. The United States will provide the Lebanese Army with six Super Cobra fighter aircraft as part of the U.S. military aid to the Army, reports said. The aircraft are manufactured by the Bell military helicopter company. Also, sources close to the military establishment said that America had agreed to sell some F-5 fighter jets to the Lebanese Army in the next five months. This coincided with official and party security reports that terrorist organizations, at the forefront of which are ISIS and the Nusra Front, are preparing to launch attacks deep into Lebanese territory, not only from the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, but also from along the eastern frontier. Manufactured by the Northrop company, the F-5 jets, first designed in 1950s and put into operation in 1960s, are used by some Arab armies. The aircraft has a range of 1,400 km with maximum speed of 1,700 km. The U.S. has already provided aid to the Lebanese Army including armored vehicles, machine guns and ammunition warehouses, which the military needs in its battle against militant groups on various fronts along the common border with Syria.
preparing to declare Islamic emirate in Lebanon: sources
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star/Feb. 23, 2015
ISIS is preparing military plans to declare an Islamic emirate in Lebanon very soon to serve as a geographical extension of the so-called “Islamic State” announced by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq last year, security sources said. ISIS fighters have demanded support from the militant group in northern Syria to achieve this goal, the sources said. They added that the ISIS command has begun preparations to set up a military organizational committee tasked with running Lebanese affairs and considering Lebanon as part of its state.
However, ISIS is facing difficulties in choosing a Lebanese commander for this mission. The reported appointment of the fugitive preacher Ahmad al-Assir for this post was merely a trial balloon, the sources said. They added that arrangements to form an ISIS command for the Lebanon emirate were taking place under the supervision of the group commander Khalaf al-Zeyabi Halous, codenamed “Abu Musaab Halous,” a Syrian who had played a key role in the ISIS offensive to capture the Raqqa province in 2013.
Abu Musaab Halous, accompanied by a number of ISIS military commanders, recently visited the Qalamoun region on the Lebanese-Syrian border, where he met with field commanders with whom he discussed the creation of security and military formations between Qalamoun and Lebanon, the sources said. In addition to the fact that the adventure of setting up an Islamic emirate in Lebanon has not received the green light from the powers backing ISIS, the group’s attempt expand into Lebanon might be doomed to failure, the sources added. In the meantime, an influential party in Lebanon has received important information indicating that ISIS is bent on recruiting more suicide bombers equipped with explosives belts to target Shiite gatherings in Beirut and the southern suburbs as well as French and Western interests, while the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, which was targeted with a deadly twin suicide attack in November 2013, is still vulnerable to another assault.
As Lebanon faces growing security threats, military assistance to the Lebanese Army is expected to be stepped up to help the country stand on its feet.
The United States will provide the Lebanese Army with six Super Cobra fighter aircraft as part of the U.S. military aid to the Army, reports said. The aircraft are manufactured by the Bell military helicopter company.
Also, sources close to the military establishment said that America had agreed to sell some F-5 fighter jets to the Lebanese Army in the next five months.
This coincided with official and party security reports that terrorist organizations, at the forefront of which are ISIS and the Nusra Front, are preparing to launch attacks deep into Lebanese territory, not only from the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, but also from along the eastern frontier.
Manufactured by the Northrop company, the F-5 jets, first designed in 1950s and put into operation in 1960s, are used by some Arab armies. The aircraft has a range of 1,400 km with maximum speed of 1,700 km.
The U.S. has already provided aid to the Lebanese Army including armored vehicles, machine guns and ammunition warehouses, which the military needs in its battle against militant groups on various fronts along the common border with Syria.
Hezbollah unperturbed by Rifi’s warnings on Syria
The Daily Star/Feb. 23, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah looked unperturbed Sunday after Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi condemned the party’s continued involvement in Syria’s 4-year-old civil war, saying Hezbollah was “on the road to suicide” and will “regret their decision to fight.” “Hezbollah has committed a strategic mistake with its military involvement in Syria,” Rifi said in comments published Sunday by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai. Rifi argued that Hezbollah is paying a huge price for its involvement, and increasing numbers of its fighters are being killed. The minister also revealed that he intends to propose a clause forbidding foreign involvement into the national anti-terror strategy being discussed in talks between the Future Movement and Hezbollah. The rival parties are currently holding dialogue sessions aimed at easing tensions.
“Hezbollah should know that this is a primary issue in the national anti-terror strategy, that we will criminalize any fighting by Lebanese outside of Lebanon,” Rifi said.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced on May 25, 2013, that his party had joined the Syrian regime in their fight against rebels. The group has been widely criticized for the move, particularly as it has exacerbated the spillover of rebel groups into Lebanon, including ISIS and the Nusra Front, who pose a serious threat to the country’s security. Speaking at a commemoration of the anniversary of his father’s assassination earlier this month, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri also called on Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria. Hariri said he refused to allow Lebanon to be dragged into regional conflict.
Rifi’s criticism comes following a speech by Nasrallah on Feb. 16.
“If Sayyed Nasrallah harbors the delusion that he will win, then he doesn’t know how to read history,” Rifi said when asked about the Hezbollah chief’s invitation for his rivals to join the fight in Syria and Iraq. “In my opinion, Hezbollah is on the road to suicide.”
Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council, seemed unperturbed by the comments. “We have decided not to be dragged into political bickering or provocative and sectarian disputes,” he said, in an indirect response to Rifi.
Qaouk explained the decision was a result of the party’s commitment to the Future Movement-Hezbollah dialogue. “We understand those targeting Hezbollah,” Qaouk said, speaking at a ceremony for party member Hussein Qaoun, who was killed in Syria. “They’re expressing disappointment at the failure of [their] bets in Syria and the continuation of the dialogue.” Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad said that combating extremism is combating Israel, which he claimed was promoting extremist takfiri groups.
“Takrifi terrorism doesn’t have a clear-cut project that it’s trying to achieve, in Syria or anywhere else,” he said, speaking at a memorial ceremony for the late journalist Arafat Hijazi in Hussaineyet Aita al-Jabal in south Lebanon.
“It’s a criminal and aggressive predisposition that defies human logic.”Raad added that foreign powers use extremist groups and assaults by Israel to pursue their own interests. Mohammad Fneish, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Hezbollah member, explained that it was impossible for his party to remain disassociated given the current situation in the region. Speaking at a Hezbollah political meeting in the southern town of Ramadieh, Fneish said that the Jan. 18 airstrike in Qunaitra that killed six Hezbollah members and an Iranian general unveiled Israel’s deep role in the Syrian conflict. “Lebanon’ security is threatened by the presence of these takrifi groups along the border, but it’s less affected by them for several reasons,” Fneish noted, referring to Hezbollah fighters. “On the ground there’s a resistance force exerting every effort.”
Despite 2-hour meet, Kerry and Iran's
Zarif fail to find common ground
GENEVA - US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif met for two hours in Geneva on Sunday in another round of nuclear talks to try to narrow gaps as they pressed against a March 31 deadline to reach a political agreement.
The meeting included for the first time US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, who spent most of the day separately negotiating technical details of curbing Iran's nuclear program.
The talks are set to resume on Monday before Kerry returns to Washington in time to testify before the Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday on the State Department's 2016 budget request.
Zarif told Iranian state media that mid-level bilateral talks had produced "good discussions but no agreements", and some differences remained.
"The fundamental gap, in my view, is psychological. Some Western countries, the United States in particular, see sanctions as an asset, a lever to exert pressure on Iran. As long as this thinking persists it will be very hard, difficult to reach a settlement."
Zarif said the inclusion of Moniz and Salehi reflected a need "for higher level people with all-embracing command over all issues."
The presence of a close aide and the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Hossein Fereydoon, meant better "coordination with the president," he added.
The talks took place behind closed doors with no customary photo opportunity for journalists covering the meetings.
Kerry on Saturday cautioned against reading too much into the presence of Moniz in Geneva, which US officials aid was decided after Iran announced Salahi would attend. "There is still a distance to travel," he told a news conference in London.
The negotiations between Iran and "P5+1" powers - the United States, Britain, Germany, Russia and China - have reached a sensitive stage with divisions remaining, mainly over Iranian uranium enrichment and the pace of removing sanctions.
A recent UN report said Iran had refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a machine used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with the six world powers. Development of advanced centrifuges is feared to lead to material potentially suitable for manufacture of nuclear bombs.
Iran says it does not intend to develop atomic bombs.
Kerry said US President Barack Obama was not inclined to extend the talks again. The parties already missed a November 2014 target date.
Obama believed it was "imperative to be able to come to a fundamental political outline and agreement within the time space that we have left," the secretary of state said.
Zarif said Rouhani would not accept a small, short-term agreement, nor a broad accord that left room for interpretation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, increasingly critical of US policy, said it was "astonishing" that the talks, which could end by allowing Iran "to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence", were proceeding.
Any agreement would be "dangerous for Israel, the region and the entire world," Netanyahu said on Sunday.
When Saudi-backed Terrorists Come Home
Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media
February 16, 2015
Originally published under the title, "Secure the Border! Saudi Arabia Building 600-Mile 'Great Wall' to Keep Out ISIS."
Saudi Arabia began building a wall along its border with Iraq in September to prevent Islamic State fighters from infiltrating the kingdom.
In a move reminiscent of ancient history, Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long "Great Wall"—a combined fence and ditch—to separate itself from the Islamic State to the north in Iraq.
The irony here is that those Muslims that Saudi Arabia is trying to keep out are the very same Muslims most nurtured and influenced by a Saudi — or "Wahhabi," or "Salafi" — worldview.
Put differently, Saudi Arabia is again appreciating how jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who support it. "Holy war" is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating "infidels" — whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam — but also justifies fighting "apostates," that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.
Indeed, the first grand jihad was against Muslim "apostates" — the Ridda ["apostasy"] Wars. After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were willing to remain Muslim but without paying zakat ("charity" or extortion) money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr. That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.
Accordingly, the Islamic State justifies burning people alive, such as the Jordanian pilot, precisely because the first caliph and his Muslim lieutenants burned apostates alive, and is even on record saying that "false Muslims" are its first target, then Israel.
Saudi Arabia is the chief disseminator of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad.
This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one — not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders — are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad. If non-Muslims are, as "infidels," de facto enemies, any Muslim can be accused of "apostasy," instantly becoming an enemy of Allah and his prophet.
A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad validates this perspective: "This umma [Islamic nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell." When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, "al-jama'a," that is, the group which most literally follows the example or "sunna" of Muhammad.
This saying perfectly sums up the history of Islam: to be deemed legitimate, authorities must uphold the teachings of Islam — including jihad; but it is never long before another claimant accuses existing leadership of not being "Islamic enough."
Enter the Saudi/Islamic State relationship. Initially, the Arabian kingdom (or powerful individuals within it) was a supporter of the Islamic State. It was not long, however, before IS made clear that Saudi Arabia was one of its primary targets, calling on its allies and supporters in the kingdom to kill and drive out the Saud tribe.
The funeral for Saudi border guards killed last month in an Islamic State attack
Nor is this the first time the Saudis see those whom they nurtured — ideologically and logistically — turn on them. Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
But once the "distant" infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but the Arabian kingdom itself was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th and 20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).
The Saudi argument then was the very same argument being made by the Islamic State now — that the rulers of Islam's holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina (then, the Ottoman Turks) were not "Islamic" enough.
Such is the double-edged sword of jihad. All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets — preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.). For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.
This also explains why Saudi Arabia is a chief funder and supporter of external jihads: better to send its own zealots out of its borders to fight distant infidels than have them stick around (a "better them than me" mentality). It also explains why nations like Saudi Arabia, which were forged by the jihad, continually find themselves threatened by the jihad — or, to paraphrase a young Jewish rabbi: "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword."
**Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).
The GCC, Egypt, and the Brotherhood
Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 23 Feb, 2015
During this critical stage there are many who are angered by any closeness or cooperation between Egypt and the Gulf states. There are also those who stand by the Muslim Brotherhood and its “accessories after the fact,” the “revolutionary set” among Egypt’s youth. They would all do well to follow closely the Brotherhood’s media campaign against Egypt that seeks to mislead people around the world regarding the real events happening in the country.
Those behind this campaign are currently doing all they can to destabilize the relationship between Egypt and the Gulf states, and to fan the flames of sectarianism in the region, whether via alleged leaked recordings or through outright, brazen lies. The most recent example of this came last week when it was said that Saudi Arabia, along with the “bulk” of the Gulf states, had abandoned Egypt on its mission to implement the political road map drafted following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi in 2013.
However, Saudi Arabia has through the latest comments offered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and the Kingdom’s own ambassador to Egypt, reiterated its support for Cairo in the most unequivocal way. Despite this, however, the Brotherhood’s seductive media machine continues to wage its smear campaign against Egypt.
During this time when Egypt is fighting a war against terror—on two fronts, no less: in Libya to its east, and in Sinai in the west (along with everything in between)—it is incumbent upon us who care about Egypt to tread carefully, for one misstep here or there could inadvertently aid the Brotherhood’s agenda, giving this or that story or rumor or piece of disinformation more weight than it actually deserves, and leading those with less than discerning minds to fall prey to this pro-Brotherhood propaganda.
As I have said before in this newspaper, from the Gulf point of view the relationship with Cairo is based on mutual interests that benefit, first, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the other Gulf states—before benefiting the rest of the Arab states. The current region-wide war against terror as well as efforts to protect stability and promote peace in the region, and develop the region’s economies, are all goals shared by Egypt and most countries in the Gulf. But such goals will never be fulfilled if this international Qutbist organization, with its dream of reestablishing the Caliphate, held power anywhere in the region. When it did, in Egypt, it was unceremoniously booted out by the Egyptian people after only a year in power, in front of the whole world to see.
This is the truth. What, then, can change it?
At this point it is worth pausing briefly to consider what was published yesterday in this very newspaper regarding the statements made by the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani. A source with knowledge of the situation told Asharq Al-Awsat that the first statement—which castigated Egypt for accusations made by its Arab League delegate that Qatar supported extremist groups in the region—had been issued “unilaterally” and did “not represent the full view” of the GCC’s members. The source, who requested anonymity, added that the statement was likely issued “in haste,” and reiterated the GCC’s full support for Egypt and its people.
Of course upon the release of the first statement the Brotherhood’s media machine went into full overdrive. But the statement was quickly retracted by the GCC, which issued an additional one that was more in line with its well-known supportive stance toward Cairo.
Regardless of the truth of what actually happened here, in the end the furor surrounding this incident simply turned out to be yet another opportunity for the Gulf countries to deepen and strengthen their relationship with Egypt, with the efforts of those seeking to destabilize the relationship falling by the wayside yet again.
What these would-be saboteurs can’t seem to understand is that the alliance between the Gulf and Egypt is not a matter of choice; it is an unshakable necessity.
DarkNet: A thriving marketplace for
criminal transactions - from narcotics to terrorism
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 23, 2015
Ross Ulbricht, 30, the operator of the Silk Road online marketplace for illegal substances, was convicted on all seven counts brought against him before a Manhattan court earlier this month. They included every type of hard drugs, money laundering, criminal conspiracy, terrorism and hacking – all transacted in virtual bitcoin currency. The FBI dubbed Silk Road the e-Bay of dope.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 15, but meanwhile, US marshals will auction off Ulbricht’s 50,000 bitcoin hoard on March 5.
In a separate legal process, Ulbricht was accused of using the alias of “Dread Pirate Roberts” to solicit murder, with the help of an undercover police officer.
Our cyber expert notes that DarkNet operates as the hidden bottom floor of the legal, public world web. Widely used by sophisticated criminal organizations and spooks, it conducts a lively trade in stolen official data, false identities, fake credit cards, firearms and ammo, as well as biological and chemical weapons. Also found there are hard porno, including materials for pedophiles and snuff videos.
A substantial part of the illicit international drug traffic is routed through DarkNet, including the logistics of production, marketing, payment collection and money laundering. It is accessed through The Tor “routing onion,” the open sesame for surfers seeking prohibited services.
This subterranean site was originally developed by the US Navy for the safe, undetectable transfer of secret communications. Its main difference from ordinary web sites is that it is constructed like an onion and operates through many layers of computers which transfer encrypted messages from one layer to the next until they reach their destination. This method is designed to seal the message’s secrecy against interception or decryption en route.
The DarkNet system operates a number of marketplaces for its forbidden wares. One of the best known was Silk Road, which has now been shut down.
debkafile’s cyber experts report that American intelligence and law enforcement agencies make a point of deliberately parading their weaknesses in countering the ulterior levels of the Internet. The FBI repeatedly complains that doesn’t have the resources for tracing criminal and terrorist activity through the Internet.
Our experts suspect these agencies “protest too much” to cover up their real occupation, which is to steer the internet underworld into the waiting arms of National Security Agency (NSA) researchers and monitors.
Much of its software originated in the first place with US government agencies. It was they who created the algorithms for transferring data and designed the TOR protocol and the Topology network.
In the second place, various NSA programs are deeply entrenched in the nether regions of the Internet, reaching into the hubs carried by Internet servers and able to “see” almost every transaction, mail, surf or download taking place anywhere in the world.
These capabilities do not exactly confirm the claims by US agencies that their oversight is severely limited.
Neither does the manner in which “Pirate Roberts” was finally run to ground in a San Francisco public library.
Although Ross was a computer and programming genius, he needed help for solving a technical glitch on his servers. Through a questions-and-answers site, he accessed stackoverflow.com and made the mistake of using his real name. Two minutes later, he corrected his user name to frosty@frosty.
It was that which finally landed him in hot water, because it was identical to the last part of the servers’ encryption key found at his home.
Ross Ulbricht’s New York trial was widely reported and publicized – especially after the jury quickly reached a unanimous verdict of guilty. However, since then, the traffic on DarkNet traffic has not subsided. In fact the volume of illicit trade in dangerous drugs, trafficking in people and body parts, the supply of aberrant pornography, stolen financial data, and conventional and unconventional means of warfare, expands all the time.
Russia ups ante in missile sale to
Iran, reports say
Published: 02.23.15/ Israel News
Moscow dropped sale of S-300 missiles following US, Israel pressure, but now reportedly offering Tehran more advanced weaponry.
MOSCOW - Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missiles, the head of Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec said Monday according to media reports, after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was dropped under Western pressure.
Sergei Chemezov said Tehran was now considering the offer, TASS news agency reported.
Russia scrapped a contract to supply Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missiles under Western pressure in 2010, and Iran later filed a $4-billion international arbitration suit against Russia in Geneva, but the two countries remain allies.
The United States and Israel lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, saying it could be used to shield Iran's nuclear facilities from possible future air strikes.
There was no immediate response to Chemezov's comments from Iran, Israel or the United States.
"As far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet," Chemezov was quoted as saying.
Rostec includes state-owned arms exporting monopoly Rosoboronexport, which has the sole right to export and import arms in Russia.
The Antey-2500 was developed from the 1980s-generation S-300V system (SA-12A Gladiator and SA-12B Giant). It can engage missiles travelling at 4,500 metres per second, with a range of 2,500 km (1,500 miles), according to the company that makes it, Almaz-Antey.
The S-300 missiles have a 125-mile range and Russia has stoked tensions with the West by trying to sell them to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
Chemezov told reporters conflicts in the Middle East had helped boost Russian arm sales, according to TASS.
"I don't conceal it, and everyone understands this, the more conflicts there are, the more they buy off weapon from us. Volumes are continuing to grow despite sanctions. Mainly, it's Latin America and the Middle East," he was quoted as saying.
Last year, Russian foreign arm sales totalled $13 billion, he added.
Chemezov was sanctioned by the US government in April over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.
Leaked intelligence document shows
Mossad didn't think Iran sought nuclear weapon
By JPOST.COM STAFF, YASSER OKBI/ MAARIV HASHAVUA
A new leak of secret intelligence documents obtained by Al Jazeera shows that the Mossad expressed the belief that Tehran was not pursuing a nuclear weapon just a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Islamic Republic was a year away from becoming nuclear-armed. The Qatari television network, in collaboration with Britain's Guardian will be publishing "The Spy Cables" in the coming days.
The documents, spanning the period of 2006-2014, were written by members of South Africa's State Security Agency (SSA). The documents, according to Al Jazeera, highlight the SSA's dealings with the intelligence services of its allies, including the Mossad and the CIA.
The documents also purportedly discuss CIA efforts to maintain contacts with Hamas, despite the group's designation as a terror organization by the US government.
The network did not give further details on the document detailing the Mossad's view on Iran's nuclear aspirations. To whom the Mossad made the comments and when the view was voiced were not included in the network's initial report.
Meir Dagan, the Mossad chief from 2002 until 2011, has often voiced a differing opinion from that of Netanyahu on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue, and how close Iran may be to the bomb.
Before leaving office in January 2011, Dagan broke away from earlier predictions and said that in his view, Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon only in 2015.
Jihadi blitz in Syria against Aramaic
Walid Phares/Latest reports from north eastern Syria reveals that Islamic State forces invaded the Khabour district, conquering sixteen Christian Assyrian villages, burning several churches, and took several Christian hostages. During the Jihadi blitzkrieg, the Caliphate forces also captured twenty YPJ Kurdish guardsmen. The latest report mentions says all areas between Tel Hermez and Tel Shmiram havr fallen but that one village, Tel Amr is still resisting. It is to note that the Obama Administration didn't include the Christian villages and the Kurdish towns in the Hasaka north eastern area in its programs to train and equip the "moderate opposition forces." Out of the half a billion dollars earmarked by the US Congress at the request of the Administration, none was earmarked to the minorities areas now
Is this the beginning of the end for
Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews/Published: 02.24.15/Israel Opinion
Analysis: Within quite a short period of time, the jihadist organization will likely disintegrate into smaller groups, which may still be dangerous but won't constitute a threat to world peace.
In the first speeches in which he addressed the al-Qaeda organization, former US President George W. Bush pronounced its name wrong. He then learned the right pronunciation and sent America on a worldwide war which it eventually won, although not by a knockout: Al-Qaeda withdrew from the West. Most of the organization's senior command and a big part of the field command was either arrested or killed. Its hardcore was inactivated. There has been an apparent change recently in the way American officials pronounce the name of what is perceived today as the most concrete threat to world peace. No more "The Islamic State" or ISIS, but Daesh, as it is pronounced in Arabic and in Israel. Some believe that the name change is aimed at clarifying that no one is trying to fight Islam. A source in the State Department told me that it was simply "a desire to be more accurate.
But it's not just the name change. A series of military, political and historic circumstances may lead to the conclusion that we are currently witnessing the beginning of Daesh's end.
Daesh came out suddenly, as if from out of nowhere, conquering wide, oil-dripping parts of the Middle East and positioning itself as the current Satan. Like the terrible Huns at the time, Daesh members also burn every piece of land they manage to get a foothold on with a repulsive mixture of fire and blood.
Daesh's barbarism can be likened to one of the "Game of Thrones" episodes in the sense of "anything goes," including the cruelest massacres, as long as they serve their great goal: Gaining more and more control and power (some studies say the similarity is not coincidental: The barbarity of the volunteers who come from the West is absorbed from the television shows they watched there)
For a while, they succeeded. But Daesh made two critical mistakes, turning itself into the West's main enemy. The first mistake was the Yazidi massacre. The shocking reports about it landed on the United Nations Security Council's desk, sparking a major row. The second mistake was, and still is, the public beheading. What the murder of 200,000 people by the Syrian army failed to do was done by "Jihadi John" and his knife. The West launched a military intervention.
It is the fact that Daesh is organized in regular forces, more or less, which makes it very vulnerable in a frontal confrontation with the American military power. The data presented by the American intelligence last week prove it: 2,000 airstrikes; retaking 7,000 square kilometers, about one-fifth of the populated area controlled by Daesh, including the heroic Kurdish battle over Kobani with the aerial assistance of the world's countries, which cost Daesh 1,000 jihadists; depriving Daesh of the use of at least 200 gas and oil facilities it had controlled; seriously disrupting the organization's command and control channels; killing half of the senior command; and hunting the organization's finances and seizing some of them.
These figures shouldn't surprise us. We are talking, after all, about a gang of vagabonds with limited military skills, whose ability to activate sophisticated arms or a weapon of mass destruction, even if they get hold of it, is slim to null. Daesh is much bigger than its ability – in controlling resources, in attempting to manage manpower, in holding on to a very large territory.
It is my assessment that within quite a short period of time, Daesh will disintegrate into smaller groups, which will also be dangerous but will not constitute a threat to world peace.
This doesn’t mean there is no cause for concern. The West's intelligence services are extremely troubled by the issue of the "returning fighting volunteers," as they are called professionally. They will be much harder to defeat.
They will return to their countries of origin with a surging fighting spirit, much more radical than they were when they traveled to Iraq or Syria, with an extensive infrastructure in the social media. They see the world as flat, a convenient leeway for hostile activity.
Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iran nukes, says report
Ynetnews/Published: 02.23.15/ Israel News
Leaked cable reveals that Israeli intelligence thought Iran was much further from building nuclear weapons in 2012 than prime minister claimed in address to Congress.
Israel's intelligence agency said in a 2012 secret report that Iran was not quickly progressing towards building nuclear bombs, according to a Guardian article published on Sunday.
According to the report, two weeks after Benjamin Netanyahu's 2012 claim in Congress that Iran was a year away from a bomb, Mossad shared with South Africa that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”.
The Guardian said the reports was one of hundreds of documents and cables leaked from the world's intelligence services, dating from as far back as 2006 to as recently December 2014.
The alleged Mossad report from October 2012 said Iran “does not appear to be ready” to enrich uranium at a high enough level to produce nuclear weapons, but that it was moving towards technology "which will reduce the time required to produce weapons ".
The report would, if authenticated, reveal a gap between public statements by Israel's top leaders and intelligence assessments.
The Guardian noted that Mossad and Netanyahu have had disagreements before; Meir Dagan, who ended his tenure as Mossad chief in 2010, said he had opposed an order by Netanyahu to prepare an attack on Iran.
The report in question is part of a large trove of secret communications leaked to Al Jazeera, which claimed to also possess documents showing that Mossad stole blueprints for anti-tank missiles from South Africa in 2010 and that this led to a cover-up.
The revelations come at a politically sensitive moment as the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany face a March 31 deadline to reach a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions.
Iran denies seeking an atomic bomb, insisting that its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful energy purposes.
An Israeli government official told the Guardian that there was no contradiction between Netanyahu's statements and the report, claiming both state Iran was enriching uranium to produce weapons.
The leaked documents dating from 2006 to late 2014 consist mainly of communications between South Africa's intelligence agency and other agencies around the world, such as Britain's MI6, Russian intelligence and the CIA.
AFP contributed to this report.
Uneven Diplomacy: The U.S.-Qatar Relationship
Simon Henderson/Washington Institute
February 23, 2015
The president should use tomorrow's visit to channel Qatar's diplomatic energies in directions more in line with U.S. regional policy.
When Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visits the White House on February 24, President Obama will have to contend with a Qatari diplomatic scorecard that has significant marks on both sides of the ledger. Given its historically awkward relations with neighboring Saudi Arabia and its shared ownership with Iran of the world's largest offshore natural gas field, Qatar looks to the United States as its main security guarantor. That has suited the U.S. military, which has used the giant al-Udeid Air Base outside Doha for operations over Iraq and Afghanistan. But Qatar, with a population of around two million, of which only some 10 percent are citizens, has an often quirky tendency to demonstrate its independence. Past sins include parading Stinger missiles illegally acquired from Afghanistan mujahedin, allowing its Aljazeera satellite television channel to broadcast inflammatory and false reports that led to American deaths, and financing terrorism.
Indeed, as deputy CIA chief David Cohen told a Washington audience last March while serving as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, "Distressingly, Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations. Most notably, Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner."
One assumes that Doha has at least partly assuaged Washington's concerns on this issue as part of the price for Tamim gaining entry to the Oval Office. Yet the new emir, a thirty-four year-old who took over from his father in 2013, likely does not regard the trip as an occasion for humility. For one thing, he is arriving from Japan, which rivals the United States as Qatar's most important commercial partner. Japan buys more liquefied natural gas from Doha, the world's largest exporter of LNG, than any other country; it is also a significant purchaser of Qatari crude oil and refined products. Notably, Tamim will head to Houston after his White House meeting to attend a dinner hosted by Exxon Mobil.
The emir's diplomatic philosophy seems to include deliberately involving Qatar in issues where it can depict itself as a useful intermediary. He will likely expect endorsement of this role in tomorrow's summit, his first meeting with Obama as emir.
For the president's part, his talking points with Tamim will likely include Syria, where Qatar and Turkey had until recently been supporting more extremist opponents of the Assad regime than Washington is prepared to contemplate. The administration also wants to maintain indefinite use of the al-Udeid base, and it hopes that Doha can continue serving as a point of diplomatic contact with the Afghan Taliban in order to facilitate possible peace talks. In addition, the president will want to gauge the state of Qatar's relations with Gulf Arab neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which last year were plagued by a diplomatic squabble. Past claims that these differences had been patched up were undermined last week when Qatar withdrew its ambassador from Cairo to protest Egyptian airstrikes on "Islamic State"/ISIS fighters in Libya, prompting an Egyptian official to accuse Doha of supporting terrorism -- remarks that won swift Gulf condemnation which was then rapidly amended.
From the U.S. point of view, Qatar's financial and hydrocarbon wealth and accessible military facilities make it a major player in the Middle East despite its small size and sometimes infuriating actions. President Obama has to convince Emir Tamim of the value of working together, and the dangers of not doing so.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.