February 25/15

Bible Quotation For Today/An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Matthew 12,38-45/"Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! ‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none. Then it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.’".

God put forward Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood,
Letter to the Romans 03/19-27/""Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith."

Elias Bejjani/I received today this question?
Do you got any proof that Jesus is the son of God
My Response
Dear,do believe in God? If you do, have you ever seem him? and if you don't, can you prove that He does not exist? Dear, if you are wise, open minded, civilized, respect and accept the other who is different, you are ought to never argue or question any thing that is related to any religion that you are not affiliated to. Proves my dear are tools used in science and material issues, but not in religions.Religions are mere faith and in faith you believe and never question or request proves. This principle applies to all religions.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 24-25/15
Election give spotlight to increasingly vocal Israeli Christian community/By JNS.ORG/J.Post/February 24/15
Yemen with two governments and two capitals/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/February 24/15
ISIS, the United States, and the GCC/Dr. John Duke Anthony/Al Arabiya/February 24/15

Lebanese Related News published on February 24-25/15
No Cabinet Session Looms on Horizon as Parties Mull 2 Options on Mechanism.

FPM Says 'There's a Will' to Reach Solutions with LF despite 'Difficulties'.
U.S. marine who vanished in Iraq guilty of deserting .
Controversial MP Sami Gemayel to Become Head of Kataeb in July despite Uproar.
Mustaqbal: Those Hindering Presidential Polls Indirectly Contributing to Growth of Extremists.
Beirut Fish Market Reopens after Renovation.
Deqmaq Released from Detention after Brief Arrest.
Three Syrians Detained in Akkar for Committing Offenses.
Shehayeb Agrees to Reduce Price of 1L of Milk to LL1,000.
Daryan Wraps up Tour to Saudi Arabia, Says Prolonged Vacuum Worsens Crises.
Report: Hizbullah, AMAL Back Extending Term of High-Ranking Security Officials.
Rifaat Eid Sentenced to Life in Prison.
Report: Ibrahim Expected to Visit Turkey to Push Forward Case of Hostages.
U.S.-Lebanese Marine who Vanished in Iraq Gets 2 Years in Prison. 
Lebanon needs unmet by record $2.2B eurobond issue.
ISIS, Nusra Front gearing up for Lebanon push.

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 24-25/15
Kerry Says U.S. Will 'Know Soon' if Iran Willing to Make Nuclear Deal.
Iran Opposition Unveils 'Secret' Tehran Nuclear Site.
ISIS militants kidnap dozens of Christians in Syria: Activists.
Sisi calls on Arabs to field united force against ISIS .
U.S. verdict orders Palestinians to pay $218 million for Israel attacks.
Two men sentenced to 25 years in plot to attack Americans in Afghanistan.
French Muslim group boycotts Jewish event over ‘criminals’ quip.
New Zealand to join anti-ISIS mission.
Libya parliament withdrew from UN talks to sideline Muslim Brotherhood: official.
Human Rights Watch Denounces Syria Barrel Bomb Attacks.
Obama Hails Qatar as 'Strong Partner' against Islamic State.
Netanyahu Vows to Do 'Everything' to Stop Iran Deal.
Tunisia Court to Rule on Blogger's Appeal March.
Mexico Protests Pope's 'Mexicanization' Comments.
Forced from Syria, Hamas establishing itself in Istanbul

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Islamic State kidnaps at least 90 people from Christian villages in Syria.
Jordan furious over Pentagon leak on secret anti-Islamic State training camp.
Spain breaks up Islamic State recruiting network targeting young Muslimas.
Daily Caller: “The U.S. Constitution is in fact the most Shariah compliant constitution on Earth”.
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: Why Obama Won’t Call the Jihadis Islamic.
Nigeria: Jihad-martyrdom suicide bombers murder 24 at two bus stations.
Lebanon: Top Sunni authority files judicial complaint against satirist for defaming Islam.
Boko Haram jihadis caught: disguised themselves as women but forgot their beards.
Sweden’s “Islamophobia” expert joins the Islamic State.

ISIS militants kidnap dozens of Christians in Syria: Activists
Beirut, AP—Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, two activist groups said Tuesday. The extremist fighters swept through the Assyrian villages nestled along the banks of Khabur River near the town of Tal Tamr in Al-Hasakah province around dawn on Monday. In the assault, the militants took between 70 and 100 Assyrians captive, said Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action that focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East. Kino said his organization based its information on conversations with villagers who fled the onslaught and their relatives. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the abductions, but put the number of Assyrians held by ISIS at 90. The Observatory relies on a network of activists inside Syria. Both activist groups said that most of the captives come from the village of Tal Shamiram, located some 50 miles (85 kilometers) southwest of the provincial capital of Qamishli. It was not immediately clear what ISIS planned to do with the Assyrians. The militants have a long history of killing captives, including foreign journalists, Syrian soldiers and Kurdish militiamen. Most recently, militants in Libya affiliated with ISIS released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians. But ISIS also could use its Assyrian captives to try to arrange a prisoner swap with the Kurdish and Christian militias that it faced off against in northeastern Syria. There is a precedent: the extremists have released Kurdish school children as well as Turkish truck drivers and diplomats after holding them for months.

Mustaqbal: Those Hindering Presidential Polls Indirectly Contributing to Growth of Extremists
Naharnet/The Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc condemned on Tuesday the ongoing vacuum in the presidency, saying that political factions should prioritize overcoming obstacles that are thwarting the presidential elections. It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “Those hindering the election are indirectly contributing to the growth of extremist and terrorist groups.”“The blocs that have repeatedly boycotted electoral sessions are responsible for weakening the state and its authority, which will lead to its gradual erosion,” it noted. Moreover, it added that exposing Lebanon to the dangers of the region “indirectly serves the goals of Israel in weakening the Lebanese will and creating division among its people, which will facilitate the enemy's mission to expand and seize control of Lebanon.” The Mustaqbal bloc therefore demanded that until a president is elected, officials should adhere to the constitution “without creating precedents that will complicate the government mechanism and constitutional institutions.”The bloc also voiced its commitment to continuing dialogue with Hizbullah on the basis of achieving progress in electing a president and reaching practical measures on the ground that would ease sectarian tensions. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor.
Disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have so far thwarted the polls. The Change and Reform and Loyalty to the Resistance blocs have been boycotting electoral sessions, demanding that political forces agree on a compromise candidate ahead of the polls.

Rifaat Eid Sentenced to Life in Prison
Naharnet/A leading member of the Arab Democratic Party, Rifaat Eid, has been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment over incitement of violence in the northern city of Tripoli. The Permanent Military Court headed by Brig. Khalil Ibrahim issued on Monday the sentence against him, which included hard labor, after he was convicted of provoking strife between the rival Tripoli districts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh. He was also convicted of distributing arms and inciting murder. Four detainees linked to the case also received prison sentences of one to two years. Eid has had several arrest warrants issued against him over the fighting between the two neighborhoods. His father Ali, who heads the Arab Democratic Party, is also accused of helping fugitives behind suicide bombings that targeted Tripoli mosques in August 2013. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said in April last year that Rifaat Eid had escaped to Orange County, California, and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq noted Ali Eid had taken refuge in Syria.

Controversial MP Sami Gemayel to Become Head of Kataeb in July despite Uproar
Naharnet/Kataeb chief Amin Gemayel will reportedly step down as head of his party, clearing the way for his son MP Sami Gemayel to succeed him despite objections by some members. According to al-Akhbar newspaper published on Tuesday, some members warned that Sami's leadership of the Kataeb puts the party at enormous risks. The daily said that Sami, who was the coordinator of the Kataeb Party's Central Committee, resigned from his post as a first step to lead the party. Amin Gemayel is expected to announce his decision during the party's upcoming conference in July, which Kataeb is compelled to hold every four years in accordance to its by-laws.  However, several members of the party's poltiburo reject Amin's decision. MP Nadim Gemayel, the son of former president-elect Bachir Gemayel (Amin's brother), told al-Akhbar newspaper, that they “will hold onto their stance in order to postpone the matter or avert it.” Sami is known for his controversial stances and fiery statements that caused some trouble among the ranks of the Kataeb party. Nadim pointed out that a “large number of the Kataeb members reject such a step as those who support Amin have fears over their positions in the future and others deem that the circumstances don't allow such move.” “Every person knows his capabilities. It's not a battle between Sami and Nadim,” the young MP added. Nadim expressed belief that “Sami's leadership to the party wouldn't safeguard the institution.”However, Nadim told al-Akhbar that he is ready to cooperate with Sami “if he was positive and didn't exclude us from decision-making.”
“I am not against Sami,” he stressed. Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, who is loyal to the Kataeb party, said that he supports Sami to head the party. “He has the necessary requirements to lead the party,” the minister remarked. Qazzi, however, noted that Amin didn't tackle the matter with the party members, pointing out it's a democratic process. “If several reject Sami, then no one can impose him.”

No Cabinet Session Looms on Horizon as Parties Mull 2 Options on Mechanism
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has stressed that he would set a date for a new cabinet session when his contacts with the different parties represented in the cabinet reach solutions to the government paralysis. Officials close to Salam said the premier backs any initiative that would facilitate the government's work. They told al-Mustaqbal daily published on Tuesday that his proposal to change the decision-making mechanism, which was adopted after the end of President Michel Suleiman's tenure in May last year, was aimed at ending his “suffering.” The formula that was proposed by Salam and adopted by the cabinet due to the absence of a president requires the unanimous support from all the ministers on the cabinet decisions.But the PM now wants to amend the mechanism after several cabinet members began to exercise veto power, stalling several projects. According to An Nahar daily, the consultations carried out by Salam are focusing on two proposals – either keeping the same formula in return for receiving pledges from the ministers not to paralyze the cabinet or implementing article 65 of the constitution. The article's clause five says: “The legal quorum for a council meeting shall be a two-thirds majority of its members. It shall make its decisions by consensus. If that is not possible, it makes its decisions by vote of the majority of attending members. Basic issues shall require the approval of two thirds of the members of the government named in the decree of its formation.”In their remarks to al-Mustaqbal newspaper, the officials said all parties “should be aware of the importance of agreeing” on an amending the mechanism. According to the officials, Salam is currently seeking to manage the country's affairs and avoid a deterioration in the current situation. The paralysis prevented the cabinet from meeting for two consecutive weeks. The PM met on Monday with al-Mustaqbal movement leader former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who backed Salam's bid to change the mechanism. But several cabinet ministers are rejecting such a move, saying the cabinet should serve in a caretaker capacity until the election of a new head of state.

Deqmaq Released from Detention after Brief Arrest
Naharnet/Salafist cleric Sheikh Bilal Deqmaq was released from custody after being arrested a week ago, reported MTV. The cleric was detained on February 18 after being deported from Turkey. State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr ordered the cleric's release because no terrorist charges had been filed against him. Deqmaq was only charged with possessing weapons that are not licensed to him, media reports said. He was arrested at Rafik Hariri International Airport upon his return to Lebanon last week. According to the National News Agency, Deqmaq, who is based in the northern city of Tripoli, was briefly detained on November 15 by Turkish authorities on charges of smuggling cash. The military prosecutor issued an arrest warrant against Deqmaq after the Lebanese army raided an arms cache at his residence in late October. Another wanted Salafist cleric, Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, said at the time that the weapons belonged to him and demanded their return. The Lebanese soldiers have arrested scores of militants and seized arms caches in Tripoli after several days of battles in October in and around the coastal city.

Report: Hizbullah, AMAL Back Extending Term of High-Ranking Security Officials

Naharnet/Hizbullah and the head of AMAL, Speaker Nabih Berri, back the extension of more than 20 officers in different posts despite a steadfast rejection by their March 8 ally, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported on Tuesday. The daily said that several parties support such a decision amid the presidential vacuum and the delicate security situation that the country is passing through. Al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat also support the extension of the term of officers, the newspaper said. Sources said that rivals are discussing the matter away from media spotlight as several party leaders deem the extension inevitable, claiming that political differences shouldn't impact the military institution.
The tenure of Army chief General Jean Qahwaji is set to end in September. His term was extended for two years in September 2013. Last week, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel was at loggerheads with Aoun decided to withdraw confidence from him over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair. The FPM described Moqbel's extension decision as “illegal,” arguing that the defense minister's jurisdiction state that he can extend the terms under the authority of a president. The tenure of Khair expires on February 22. The military positions 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. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June.Media reports had said that Moqbel had abstained from including the name of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is Aoun's son-in-law, in the list of extension. Roukoz's tenure ends in October 2015.
However, Aoun lashed out at critics, denying that his objection is linked to his political aspirations.

FPM Says 'There's a Will' to Reach Solutions with LF despite 'Difficulties'
Naharnet /The Free Patriotic Movement announced Tuesday that it is determined with the Lebanese Forces to reach "common denominators" in their ongoing dialogue, despite “difficulties and obstacles” hindering the unprecedented talks between the two rivals.
“Everyone knows that the details of our talks with the LF are being kept confidential and dialogue aims to reach common solutions to pave the way for a breakthrough in the current crisis,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan announced after the weekly meeting of the FPM's Change and Reform bloc in Rabieh. “We hope we'll be able to reach common denominators and to avoid obstacles, so that we can achieve the aspirations of the Lebanese and the Christians,” Kanaan added. And as he admitted that there are “difficulties and obstacles” in the talks, the lawmakers stressed that the two parties “have the will to reach solutions that respect the will of the Lebanese, the Constitution and Lebanon's interest.”Kanaan and LF media officer Melhem Riachi had recently started meetings away from the media spotlight at the request of FPM chief MP Michel Aoun and LF leader Samir Geagea. Both Geagea and Aoun have announced their candidacies for the presidency. Their rivalry, in addition to other issues, have left Baabda Palace vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year. The two parties are currently embarked on preparing a so-called declaration of intent paper consisting reportedly of 17 sections. To this end, Kanaan visited Maarab on Friday and met with Geagea for two hours. Separately, Kaanan revealed Tuesday that the bloc has a proposal that will be discussed with Prime Minister Tammam Salam in the coming days in a bid to resolve the dispute over the mechanism of cabinet's work. "Our discussions with the prime minister will proceed in the coming days on the basis of preventing obstruction and the importance of the presence of a president," Kanaan said. "We want the government to carry on with its work because its paralysis is harmful for Lebanon, but at the same time we can't consider that things are the same with and without a president," he added.
Salam's 24-minister cabinet assumed presidential powers after Suleiman's departure but its meetings were suspended around two weeks ago due to a dispute over the signatures needed to issue decrees. Decrees were being passed with the signatures of all 24 ministers but some cabinet members complained that the mechanism allowed some colleagues to practice an arbitrary veto power.

Kerry Says U.S. Will 'Know Soon' if Iran Willing to Make Nuclear Deal
Naharnet/The United States will know soon if Iran is willing to seal a deal to assure the world it is not seeking to develop a nuclear bomb, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. But fresh from talks in Geneva with his Iranian counterpart, Kerry sounded a note of caution, telling U.S. lawmakers he was not sure yet whether a comprehensive agreement was within reach. World powers grouped under the so-called P5+1 "had made inroads" since reaching an interim deal with Iran in November 2013 on reining in its suspect nuclear program, Kerry said. "We've gained unprecedented insight into it," Kerry told the Senate appropriations committee at the start of two days of intense congressional foreign policy budget hearings. "And we expect to know soon whether or not Iran is willing to put together an acceptable, verifiable plan."He stressed again that US policy was that Tehran would not acquire a nuclear weapon. Taking aim at critics, such as Israel, that are opposed to the agreement, Kerry said they did not "know what the deal is." "I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce. Since 2013, we have been testing whether or we can achieve that goal diplomatically -- I don't know yet," Kerry insisted. The so-called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany are trying to strike an accord that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. In return, the West would ease punishing sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program, which Iran insists is purely civilian in nature. The next round of talks is due to be held at the political director level on Monday in Switzerland, but U.S. officials have said Kerry could join the negotiations again. Agence France Presse.

Sisi calls on Arabs to field united force against ISIS
By JPOST.COM STAFF/02/24/2015
Addressing his country in a televised speech on Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared that the time has come for a united Arab effort against the Islamic State group, CNN reported Monday. "The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day", said Sisi, citing supposed offers by both Jordan and UAE to help in such an endeavor. Egypt, which has been fighting against an insurgency waged by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an Islamic State affiliated group which has recently changed its name to the "Province of Sinai," has recently begun aerially striking Islamic State targets in Libya, a maneuver that marked Cairo's first military operation outside its borders in decades. Sisi's declaration was lauded by some, including one military analyst who highlighted the speech's significance.
"Strategically and politically for the region, this is a big deal, and it's absolutely the right first step," said the analyst, retired Maj. General James "Spider" Marks.
Although Sisi introduced the idea, he did not provide any details of what such a pan-Arab force might look like.
Currently US aircraft are leading the airborne fight against the Islamic State, carrying out 80% of the airstrikes against targets on the ground, according to a figure released by US Central Command.
Arab states have been party to coalition bombing runs. Following the filmed immolation-execution of a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State, Jordan took a more aggressive stance against the jihadist organization, increasing the frequency of sorties aimed at targets in Syria and Iraq. Critics of this strategy have asserted that air strikes can weaken the Islamic State group but not ultimately eliminate it, adding that the forces that are currently fighting on the ground, such as the various Kurdish groups, or the Iraqi army, are not necessarily willing or able to completely wipe the self-imposed caliphate out.
This sentiment was echoed by another analyst, who spoke to CNN's "New Day" program.
"The airstrikes aren't going to get the job done. We need the Arab states to be the ones to eventually put the boots on the ground. Whether they actually end up doing it and being dedicated to this, we'll have to see."

Yemen with two governments and two capitals
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
The exit of the late Kuwaiti emir and crown prince in August 1990 is considered the most important step which killed invader Saddam Hussein’s dream of eliminating the legitimacy of the Kuwaiti state. After invading Kuwait, the then-Iraqi president tried with all possible means to impose his legitimacy. He declared the Gulf state an Iraqi governorate but failed, then tried to assign a Kuwaiti as a ruler but he was not recognized by any party.
The same is happening in Yemen with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s escape from his Houthi captors, who imprisoned him in the presidential palace to force him to either be their employee or to sign a deal giving up the presidency. His escape to Aden maintained his legitimacy.
Of course, Yemen is not exactly Kuwait, and the Houthis are not Saddam. The Houthis are part of Yemeni forces, although they are linked to the Iranian regime, and Aden is a second capital of Yemen. Hadi’s escape is a major blow to the rebels as they lost the game of compromise.
This struggle may divide the country into at least two Yemens
The president’s move to the city of Aden will mean a Yemen contested by two governments and two capitals. Hadi has been recognized by all Yemeni political forces, including Houthi ones, and the United Nations recognizes him to this day.
This struggle may divide the country into at least two Yemens, unless the Houthis and their ally, conspirator and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, realize that the game has become more difficult and dangerous, and that they should thus back down.
In Aden, there will be a government recognized by the United Nations and the international community. Even major powers were prepared for Hadi’s escape from house arrest by closing their embassies days earlier.
There will be a semi-government representing the Houthis and their allies in Sanaa, but with no one recognizing it domestically or internationally. Most probably, the Houthis and Saleh will disagree because this semi-government will not have enough resources to confront the growing popular uprising against it. Hinting at besieging those who staged the coup has helped U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar in strengthening his stance. He will try to convince the Houthis and Saleh supporters to be part of a legitimate government instead of challenging it.

ISIS, the United States, and the GCC
Dr. John Duke Anthony/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
It is no ordinary event for 26 countries' representatives to be meeting to discuss how best to confront the challenge of ISIS. What the so-called "Islamic State," or ISIS, or ISIL represents differs from one person to the next. To people immediately adjacent to lands in Iraq and Syria that ISIS has not yet conquered, the militant movement is a mortal threat. Whether Shiite, Sunni, Christian, Arab, Kurdish, or other in nature and orientation, polities that neighbor ISIS-controlled areas have seen their national sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity threatened. Indeed, ISIS today may arguably be the greatest challenge facing the modern day nation state system in the Middle East.
The attributes of national sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity are no ordinary phenomena. Together they have been and remain the most important criteria for admission into and membership in good standing within the United Nations.
Unfortunately, the United States in the course of its invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003 had already smashed to smithereens each of these criteria. Simultaneously, the United States also blasted into nonexistence what exists in the American Constitution and was previously enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution as well, namely: provisions for domestic safety, external defense, enhancement of people's material wellbeing, and the effective administration of a civil system of justice.
In so doing, the United States contributed mightily to the formation and focus of ISIS. The poignancy of this reality must not be lost. It is but one among other inconvenient truths that plague America's predicament in seeking to navigate the shoals of the storm its shortsighted actions created.
ISIS' ideology and praxis also menaces others. To the peoples it has conquered and others that lie in wait within its crosshairs it portends ill towards everything they hold dear. Beyond worldly possessions, ISIS threatens the existential credibility of internal security and external defense.
Further, ISIS endangers people's material wellbeing – in the form of ransoms, hostage taking, and the physical confiscation of property. It also threatens the continued administration of what little remains of an effective system of civil justice. And in many instances, ISIS targets people's very lives. In the eyes of many among ISIS' actual and would-be victims to date, each of these threats also carries a "Made in America" label.
The Bush administration's decision to wage war against Iraq opened these floodgates, fueled further by the invasion and occupation occurring despite Iraq not having attacked the United States or posed any grave danger to American interests. Again, perspective is paramount. In the eyes of America's would-be friends, allies, and strategic partners in the fight against ISIS, Washington officialdom would do well to acknowledge the difficulty of achieving its objective given America's position among many Arabs and Muslims as the pariah of the Western world in light of what it did to Iraq, once the zenith of Arab and Islamic civilization.
No cost-free solution
America's perceived inability to counter and halt the spread of such U.S.-induced horrors – indeed, to stop them in their tracks – has consequences for friend and foe alike. These include the regimes, bureaucratic personnel, and popular support bases in Baghdad and Damascus, the two nearest polities that have yet to succumb to ISIS' militant onslaught. Also in ISIS' sights are the governments and peoples of its near neighbors once removed – Jordan and Turkey, and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon and Israel.
Insufficient numbers of American analysts have recognized how the GCC role in fighting ISIS gives regional and local legitimacy to the battle
Dr. John Duke Anthony
Importantly, and notwithstanding what in varying degrees are their relatively safer physical distances, the GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – have much to fear, too. While Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, adjoining Iraq, are the most threatened, few doubt that ISIS is having an intimidating effect upon all six GCC members.
The reason is clear: ISIS stands at one end of the political, security, governance, and ideological extreme. At the other end stand the GCC countries with their overwhelmingly Western-oriented foreign policies, international relations, economic orientations, and defense as well as higher education systems, together with the nature, scope, and focus of their overall modernization and development. It is in these contexts that the murder by burning of the American-trained Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, skilled in flying a U.S.-manufactured aircraft – two Western symbols additionally facilitative of ISIS followers' recruitment, retention, and inspiration – has further galvanized Arab and GCC opinion regarding the moral necessity of defeating ISIS, its alternative system of governance, and practically everything else that it represents.
American grandstanding run amok
Ill-informed commentary by grandstanding Members of the U.S. Congress and television talk show pundits has largely missed these crucial contexts and prisms for perspective. In so doing, they have not only ignored causative factors that shed light on ISIS' rise and the roots of its anti-Western/anti-American ferocity. They have also downplayed the extent to which the GCC countries and Jordan have emerged as the strongest, most important, and most reliable local partners in the American-led coalition against ISIS. Jordan and fully half of the anti-ISIS coalition's GCC allies – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – are military partners, committing their state-of-the-art American weapons to the mission of degrading the militant movement's assets. Others are making logistical and operational contributions that are no less important.
What insufficient numbers of American analysts have recognized to date is how the GCC role in fighting ISIS gives regional and local legitimacy to the battle. In their positions and roles among the world's most prominent defenders and leaders of Sunni Islam, the GCC states perceive their forms of rule, representation, and responsiveness to citizens' justifiable needs, concerns, and interests as the time-honored Muslim antitheses to ISIS. As such, they have an obligation and interest in ridding Islam of the radical extremist movement.
Among other features of the GCC countries having risen to their responsibility in this instance is a matter of no small moment. They have shorn Tehran of any potential legitimacy from claiming that the Islamic Republic of Iran, and not the GCC, representing half a dozen countries, is the "hero" of Islam.
Forgotten among the attention on ISIS
Additionally, the alliance's zeroing-in on ISIS helps the non-radical Syrian opposition fight the armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Two GCC countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, together with Turkey, are also training Syrian opposition fighters that could arguably form the nucleus of a future Syrian national force. In so doing, GCC military efforts enhance the joint objective of the GCC countries and the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition alike.
A continuing GCC goal receiving little play in the American media is for the Obama Administration to be clear in its intentions regarding Assad. In the GCC country heads of state and ministerial-level meetings with their U.S. counterparts, there has been a constant reminder of the GCC position on Syria. It underlines where GCC leaders are coming from with regard to what for the member-states is one of their most frequently stated interests and key foreign policy objectives. Further, at the GCC Foreign Ministers' meeting with Secretary Kerry on February 6 to discuss ISIS, the ministers added to their reminders regarding Syria a list of parallel concerns about Iraq, Yemen, and the Iranian nuclear issue.
What therefore needs greater emphasis by U.S. officials anxious to strengthen and expand the GCC countries' essential assistance in fighting ISIS is clear. It is that the White House's anxiety regarding its Arab allies must not obviate the need for vigilance by the GCC and the United States alike regarding these additional issues. To be sure, the fight against ISIS is central to the U.S. strategic posture in the Arab countries, the Middle East, and the Islamic worlds. But so, too, is the simultaneous imperative of the American-led coalition's need to address these concerns of immense strategic significance to the GCC countries. After all, between friends and allies foreign policy objectives are not accomplished automatically or by accident or coincidence. They are usually achievable only if respect for the partners' valid requirements are acknowledged, implemented, and safeguarded.
GCC-U.S. cooperation moving forward
With the 2016 American elections heating up, it is tempting for Western Congressional and media commentators, together with would-be policy formulators, to search for catchy sound bites pertaining to what they contend ought to be done regarding ISIS. However, what is unhelpful is the cacophony of shrill statements – ranging from calls for "boots on the ground" to condemning the Obama Administration for refusing to "declare war on radical Islam" to unfairly and inaccurately criticizing Arab allies for their lack of participation in the anti-ISIS coalition – and other sensationalist rhetoric. They do little to illuminate the issues, interests, and involvement for the parties involved. And they contribute nothing to one's insight into and awareness as well as appreciation of GCC concerns regarding ISIS, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran's nuclear program.
Such insights, awareness, and appreciation are not only essential to an interested public's knowledge of what is in play. They are vital to an understanding of what is and is not possible regarding the anti-ISIS coalition's quest for regional security and stability, without which the goal of ultimate success in the campaign against violent extremism will remain in doubt.
At the end of the day, reality brooks no illusion. The prospects for eventual effectiveness in this campaign are twofold. They lie, on one hand, in addressing the Western- and especially American-centric regional roots of ISIS's emergence, inspiration, and staying power. On the other, they lie in greater coordination of U.S.-GCC efforts to do more than just unleash their military might in a bid to counter the threat posed by ISIS.

Election give spotlight to increasingly vocal Israeli Christian community
By JNS.ORG/J.Post/02/24/2015
As Israel’s March 17 election nears, some Israeli Christians are using the race as an opportunity to draw more attention to their community. Bolstered by a recent change in Israeli law that allows Christians to self-identity as a distinct ethnic group in the Jewish state, members of that faith are seeking to let their voices be heard.
“We as Christians want to live here together with the Jews, and we have own our issues and needs without any connections to the Arab [political] parties,” Shadi Khalloul, who is a candidate for the Knesset with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, told
In the run-up to the Israeli election, the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land— the leading group of Catholic clergy members in Israel, and part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem— called on Israeli Christians “to go out and vote in the upcoming elections.”
“We say to the voters and to the elected: we are deeply concerned about justice, peace and equality in this country. We care about the human being, whoever he or she is. We promote the mutual acceptance of one and all, facilitating life in justice, peace and tranquility, prosperity and solidarity,” the group of Catholic clergy members said.
Israel is home to one of the few remaining growing Christian communities in the Middle East. Yet the Israeli Christian population of 161,000, with most living in Jerusalem or the Galilee region, is still relatively small compared with its Jewish and Muslim counterparts in the country.
For many years, most Christians in Israel identified with Arab culture and played a role in the promotion of pan-Arab nationalism as a way to forge closer bonds with Israel’s Arab Muslim community. But in recent years, a growing and vocal group of Israeli Christians have sought to separate themselves from the Arab community by promoting their own unique religious and cultural heritage, while also seeking closer integration with Israeli life—including volunteering for military service.
“Of course, we have some struggles here. The Arabs do not accept us as equals, and the Jews don’t understand our real identity and they consider us as Arabs, which is not true,” Khalloul, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and founder of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, which encourages Christian participation in the IDF, told
Israel is the birthplace of Christianity. The Christian connection to the land pre-dates the Arab-Islamic invasions of the 7th century CE. Today, as a result of this longtime heritage, modern Israeli Christians generally have a cosmopolitan and global outlook, with higher levels of education and economic standing than many of their Arab Muslim and even Jewish counterparts. Many Israeli Christians maintain close ties with their co-religionists abroad, including through the Catholic or Orthodox churches.
“That’s why we have decided to say ‘enough is enough,’ and we need our own identity in politics and to increase public awareness about us,” Khalloul said.
But Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank who researches Israeli politics, downplayed the movement among some Israeli Christians, telling that “by and large Arab Christians see themselves as Palestinian and as part of the larger Arab-Israeli community. So I would take this with a big grain of salt.”
Many Christians have long participated in Arab parties, and in this election many may vote for the new United Arab List, an alliance of several smaller Arab parties. Some polls suggest that the joint Arab party may gain up to 14 Knesset seats, making it the third or fourth-largest party in the next Knesset.
“Christians are sometimes prominent in some of the parties that comprise the United Arab List. … For many years, the communist party (which is today called Hadash) was a natural place for Christians to join because it did not have any Muslim orientation,” Sachs said.
Khalloul, however, does not believe the majority of Israel’s Christians will vote for the United Arab List.
“They have nothing to do with Israeli Christians. This party is only for Arab Muslims and the majority of Christians will definitely not vote for this party,” Khalloul said.
Khalloul, who helped spearhead the recent recognition of Israeli Christians as a separate ethnicity called Arameans, noted that the United Arab List includes members of the Islamic Movement, an anti-Zionist movement that supports Palestinian nationalism.
“[The Islamic Movement] calls for Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state and for it to be part of the Caliphate like the Islamic State does. This is something we as Christians do not support,” he said.
“Voting for this party is like voting for the Islamic State,” Khalloul added. “Any Christian voting for this party is betraying his people’s needs in Israel.”
Last year, the Israeli government took a controversial step in recognizing Christians as their own minority group, independent from the larger Arab community, which is mostly Muslim. As part of this process, Israeli Christians can now register on their identity cards under the “Aramean” ethnicity, which draws on the distinct history of the region’s Christians and is rooted in the Aramaic language and culture.
“The Aramean nationality clearly exists, and has the conditions required to prove its existence, including historical heritage, religion, culture, origin, and common language,” wrote Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who spearheaded the Aramean recognition process, in a letter to Israeli Population Authority Chairman Amnon Ben-Ami last September.
Yisrael Beiteinu, for whom Khalloul is running for Knesset, is not the only Israeli political party to reach out to the country’s burgeoning Christian population. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud party, has met with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest who has been very vocal in his support for Christian integration and enlistment in the IDF. Members of other parties, such as Jewish Home’s MK Ayelet Shaked, have been outspoken in support of Christians. The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus is co-chaired by MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Gila Gamliel (Likud).
Christian enlistment in the IDF has grown significantly in the last few years, tripling in each of the last two years and currently standing at about 300 draftees. But many Arab leaders and even some Arab Christians have criticized the enlistment efforts, claiming that they undermine Arab unity.
Israeli Christians say there has been an uptick in attacks or threats against them by their Arab Muslim neighbors in recent years. Christians in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, last year documented a large billboard in the town that warned Christians against slandering Allah, as well as links to a website encouraging them to convert to Islam. Father Nadaf’s son, meanwhile, was attacked by an Arab due to his father’s support for IDF enlistment.
“I can tell you only one thing, that our destiny would be the same destiny as the Jews here. If the Jews will keep strong, we will be strong. If the Jews will not be strong, then we will not be strong as well,” Khalloul said.
He added, “As a Christian, I believe that the only way to strengthen Israel at the end of the day is to keep it a Jewish and democratic state that will defend every citizen regardless of their religion, identity, race, or sex.”