January 15/15

Bible Quotation for today/Woe to you, destroyer, When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed
Isaiah 33/01-24: " Woe to you, destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe to you, betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.  Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.
Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. At the uproar of your army, the peoples flee; when you rise up, the nations scatter. Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts; like a swarm of locusts people pounce on it. The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads. The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected. The land dries up and wastes away, Lebanon is ashamed and withers; Sharon is like the Arabah, and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.  “Now will I arise,” says the Lord. “Now will I be exalted;  now will I be lifted up. You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw; your breath is a fire that consumes you. The peoples will be burned to ashes; like cut thorn bushes they will be set ablaze.”  You who are far away, hear what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my power!  The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”  Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil— they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.  Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: “Where is that chief officer? Where is the one who took the revenue? Where is the officer in charge of the towers?” You will see those arrogant people no more, people whose speech is obscure, whose language is strange and incomprehensible. Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken. There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us. Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread. Then an abundance of spoils will be divided and even the lame will carry off plunder. No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 14-15/15
Muslims Shouldn't Pray to Defeat Non-Muslims/Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/January 14/15
How Turkey Fights Extremism: Do Not Keep Pet Dogs at Home/Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/January 14/15

Christians are a Litmus Test of Libya's Decline/Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine/January 14/15
Iraq could become a quagmire for Iran/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/January 14/15
A Seismic Shift in Egyptian Public Opinion/Ali Ibrahim /Asharq Al Awsat/January 14/15

Lebanese Related News published on January 14-15/15
Future-Hezbollah talks to tackle presidency
Clemenceau Talks Fail to Stop Planned Protest as Naameh Landfill Campaign Urges Mashnouq to Resign
nterior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq Says Early to Talk about Progress in Dialogue with Hizbullah
Geagea Says 'Hand Extended' for 'Honorable' Dialogue with FPM
Man Accused of Killing Yves Naufal Arrested in Brital
Army Defuses 10-Kg Bomb Found on Zgharta Road
Nasrallah to Israel: We Have All Types of Arms
Report: Hizbullah to Facilitate Implementation of Security Plan in North Bekaa
State Mulling to Fix Fuel Prices as Oil Tumbles World Wide
Berri Says Roumieh Operation Result of Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Talks
UAE Summons Lebanese Ambassador over Nasrallah's 'Hostile' Remarks
Judge Issues Search Warrant against Jazeera Journalist Faysal al-Qassem
March 14 Lauds 'Brave Decision' to End Roumieh 'Chaos'
Qahwaji Says Army Determined To 'Eliminate Terrorism from its Roots'
Abou Faour Orders Probe after Woman Denied Hospital Admission Dies
Hizbullah Slams New Charlie Cartoon as 'Provocation' against All Muslims
Man involved in weekend murder arrested in Brital
Youth at risk: From idleness to terrorism
Yaacoub slams committee tasked with Sadr case
ICRC ready to help with Lebanon hostage talks

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 14-15/15
Hollande Condemns Slow Global Reaction to Syria Conflict
Case of U.S. Journalist Goes to Iran Revolutionary Court
France cracks down on hate speech
Syria Tolerated Opposition Undecided on Moscow Talks
Charlie Hebdo Flies off Shelves as Qaida Claims Attack
Charlie Hebdo Will Live on Says Hollande
Syria's Assad Says West to Blame for France Attacks
U.S.: Qaida Sent Video Claiming Charlie Hebdo Attacks
Netanyahu Returns Fire Over Erdogan Jibe on Paris Rally
IS Claims Beheading of Iraqi Soldier
Lawmakers finalize food safety law
 U.N.: Two-Thirds of Jordan's Syria Refugees in Poverty
'Last Chance' Libya Peace Talks Start in Geneva
Hamas MPs Meet, Slam Abbas in Sign of Palestinian Rifts
U.S., Iran hopeful on speeding up nuclear talks
Kerry in Geneva for nuclear talks with his Iranian counterpart
Shifting priorities
House votes to undo Obama’s immigration actions
Iraq’s president and parliamentary speaker discuss national unity plan

Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
Huge lines to get new edition of Charlie Hebdo; sells out within minutes
Ohio Muslim arrested for Islamic State-inspired plot to bomb U.S. Capitol
Jihad Jane says she became a jihad terrorist “for love” of Muhammad and the worldwide Muslim community
Washington, DC: Jewish-owned business repeatedly threatened by self-described Islamic State jihadis
Eagle-eyed observer spots “extremist Islamophobe” Robert Spencer at head of Paris anti-terror march
Nancy Pelosi to name Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Congressman to House intelligence committee
Oxford University Press bans mention of pigs in books to avoid offending Muslims
Video: Robert Spencer on Newsmax TV on Obama’s response to the Charlie Hebdo jihad attack
Steve Emerson, Reza Aslan, and the mainstream media: some errors are more erroneous than others
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on Obama’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit

Future-Hezbollah talks to tackle presidency
Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/an. 15, 2015
BEIRUT: The next round of talks between the Future Movement and Hezbollah will address the issue of the presidential election, Future MPs said Wednesday, as ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri underlined the importance of talks among rival factions.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem ruled out the possibility of electing a new president soon, citing “complications” in the crisis that has left Lebanon without a head of state for nearly eight months.
However, Speaker Nabih Berri expressed hope that the launching of dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement last month would help facilitate the election of a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year tenure ended on May 25.
“This relatively positive climate in Lebanon is the result of dialogue,” Berri was quoted by MPs during his weekly meeting with lawmakers at his residence in Ain al-Tineh. Berri, according to the MPs, hoped the Future-Hezbollah talks would make “more achievements and steps at all levels, at the forefront of which is the presidential election issue.” For his part, Hariri, in a message to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, underscored the need for the feuding parties to engage in dialogue, in a clear allusion to the talks between his Future Movement and Hezbollah and attempts to arrange a meeting between Aoun and his arch Christian rival, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea. The message was delivered to Aoun by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, a leading member of the Future Movement. “We agreed dialogue is useful for all the Lebanese and is a safety base for them provided there is no stubbornness by any party,” Machnouk said after meeting Aoun at the latter’s residence in Rabieh, north of Beirut. “Gen. Michel Aoun is a main pillar for guaranteeing any dialogue, be it between Lebanese Muslim parties or Lebanese Christian parties.”
Machnouk said he had briefed Aoun on the outcome of two dialogue sessions held by senior officials from the Future Movement and Hezbollah in the past few weeks. A third round of talks between the two rival parties is scheduled to take place at Ain al-Tineh Friday. Machnouk is one of three Future officials representing his party in the talks with Hezbollah.The interior minister also briefed the FPM leader Monday’s security operation that dismantled Islamist militants’ operations room at Roumieh Prison and transferred them to a tightly controlled jail block.
Describing Future’s dialogue with Hezbollah as “an irreversible strategic option,” Machnouk said: “It is too early to talk about progress ... But we have a firm desire to make it successful. We are behaving on this basis and we hope the other parties will do the same.”
Machnouk said Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria and the party’s arsenal were not on the dialogue agenda after being put off until the election of a president.Future MP Samir Jisr said the third dialogue session with Hezbollah would discuss the presidential election. “The Future-Hezbollah dialogue will shift next Friday from generalities to the political chapter, the most important of which is the election of a president,” Jisr told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.
Referring to last week’s twin suicide bombing that targeted a crowed café in the northern city of Tripoli, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 30 others, he said: “What happened will make us more determined on dialogue.”
Jisr added that the first item discussed by Future and Hezbollah officials was defusing sectarian tensions. Future MP Atef Majdalani said the talks with Hezbollah would continue until sectarian tensions were reduced and a president was elected. “The dialogue sessions between the Future Movement and Hezbollah will continue to reach a solution to the two main problems raised by [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri: defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions and finding a mechanism to facilitate the election of a new president,” Majdalani told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. Following a second round of talks last week, the Future Movement and Hezbollah said they had made “serious progress” to defuse sectarian tensions exacerbated by the conflict in Syria. The two sides also agreed to support the continued implementation of a government security plan in all Lebanese territories following the successful restoration of state authority in Tripoli. Defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions is the main item on the dialogue agenda which, according to officials from both sides, also includes finding a mechanism to allow the election of a president, boosting efforts to combat terrorism, promoting a new electoral law and energizing stagnant state institutions.
The Future-Hezbollah dialogue has won support from rival politicians, as well as from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the U.S. and the European Union. Efforts are also underway to launch a similar dialogue between Aoun and Geagea in a bid to break the presidential deadlock.
EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst reiterated the EU’s support for intra-Lebanese talks and called for the quick election of a president.
Eichorst, who met Prime Minister Tammam Salam along with a delegation of EU ambassadors, also voiced support for the raid on Roumieh Prison and condemned the Tripoli bombings.“We consider that dialogue among various political parties will reconcile viewpoints and help in defusing the tense situation at all levels,” she told reporters at the Grand Serail. “We, as the European Union, hope for Lebanon to have a president as soon as possible and for institutions to function and Parliament to be able to approve necessary draft laws.”
Meanwhile, Qassem ruled out an imminent presidential election.“I don’t think the presidential election will take place soon due to complications in the presidency issue, even though Hezbollah has a clear stance in supporting Gen. Aoun,” he said in an interview with Al-Joumhouria newspaper. He said Lebanon had entered a new phase of stability as a result of the ongoing Future-Hezbollah talks. “Certainly, any step that brings the Lebanese together will lead to further stability. Therefore, when the dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement was launched, we considered that we have entered a new phase of further stability in Lebanon,” Qassem said. “The climate of tensions is being eased and the circumstances for trouble-makers are no longer conducive as they were before.”

Man Accused of Killing Yves Naufal Arrested in Brital
Naharnet/Charbel George Khalil, who is accused of killing the young man Yves Naufal in Faraya last Friday, was arrested Wednesday in the northern Bekaa town of Brital. Many TV stations reported that “the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch arrested in Brital Charbel George Khalil, who is accused of killing Yves Naufal.”The ISF confirmed through its official twitter account that “after the Intelligence Branch arrested C. G. K. in Brital, the Jounieh investigation department seized in Buqaatat Ashqout the Wrangler SUV that was used by the gunmen who killed Yves Naufal.”On Saturday, state-run National News Agency had reported that Yves and “his friend, Saba Nader, were having a night out in one of Faraya's Oyoun al-Siman restaurants where a dispute between him and two other men took place over a girl who was in the same restaurant.” “The dispute ended quickly and Naufal left the place,” it added. But the two other men followed Naufal and his friend to a “Total” gas station on Oyoun al-Siman’s road, shooting at them from a pistol and a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the agency said. LBCI television broadcast Sunday a video showing individuals carrying machineguns near the gas station, where they appeared to be waiting for the targeted car. The moment the car passes by, the gunmen open fire. Recent media reports had said that Charbel Khalil and two others accused of involvement in the crime were enjoying the cover of political leaders in Keserwan region. Many politicians condemned the crime, calling for lifting the political cover off the perpetrators.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq Says Early to Talk about Progress in Dialogue with Hizbullah
Naharnet/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq hailed on Wednesday the bilateral talks between the political arch-foes, stressing the necessity of dialogue to safeguard the country.
“Dialogue between (al-Mustaqbal Movement) and Hizbullah is a strategic option,” Mashnouq told reporters after talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun at his residence in Rabieh. The minister, who is affiliated to al-Mustaqbal movement, stressed that there's no backing down on dialogue with Hizbullah, however, he said: “It's still too early to talk about any progress in the talks.” Mashnouq said that he discussed with Aoun the recent developments in the country and highlighted the importance of electing a new head of state. “We agreed that dialogue is important and gives us hope as long as it doesn't include stubbornness from any side,” he told reporters. Dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal had kicked off on December 23 between the two parties and officials from both sides have said it is making progress on several topics. Preparatory meetings are also underway between the FPM and the Lebanese Forces to pave the way for launching a similar dialogue between Aoun and LF chief Samir Geagea. Mashnouq revealed that he conveyed a message to Aoun from head of al-Mustaqbal Movement ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri, underlining the necessity of dialogue.

Geagea Says 'Hand Extended' for 'Honorable' Dialogue with FPM
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Wednesday said his party's hand is extended for an “honorable” dialogue with the Free Patriotic Movement, as he reminded that he is still a “presidential candidate.”
“We did not fight during the war to surrender during peace times. We are people who fight honorably and engage in dialogue honorably,” said Geagea at a Maarab ceremony for handing membership cards to LF members. “As much as our hand was strong in pulling the trigger, it is now extended for shaking hands and creating a better tomorrow for the country,” Geagea added. Before he began his speech, Geagea addressed a "special salutation" to Elie Khoury, the representative of the FPM at the ceremony.
Preparatory meetings are underway between LF and FPM officials to set the stage for dialogue between Geagea and FPM chief MP Michel Aoun. Several meetings have been held between MP Ibrahim Kanaan of the FPM and the LF's media officer Melhem Riachi. Kanaan has also visited Geagea in Maarab while Riachi has met with Aoun in Rabieh. In his speech, Geagea did not forget to remind that he is still in the presidential race.
“You belong to an institution whose leader was a president for the republic (Bashir Gemayel) and whose current leader is a presidential candidate,” Geagea said, addressing his party's members.
The country has been without a president since the end of Michel Suleiman's term on May 25, 2014. Electoral competition between Geagea and Aoun and political differences between the March 14 and March 8 camps have prevented the election of a successor.
“We must shun corruption and clientelism for the sake of the people,” added Geagea. “The LF is not and will never be a traditional party. It is the story of a people's struggle,” he said.
“Our current struggle is aimed at securing the rise of an actual state in Lebanon. This can only be achieved through collecting illegitimate arms in Lebanon as a necessary prelude to returning the military decision to the Lebanese state exclusively,” the LF leader added.

Qahwaji Says Army Determined To 'Eliminate Terrorism from its Roots'
Naharnet /Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji on Wednesday declared that the army is determined to fight terrorism until it is eliminated, stressing that the army will not exclude “any method” to liberate the servicemen kidnapped by jihadist groups.
"We renew today what we had already confirmed before -- our determination to continue combating terrorism with power and firmness until we eliminate it from it roots,” Qahwaji said in a speech while meeting a delegation from the Association of Foreign and Arab Military Attaches.
The army had engaged in skirmishes throughout last year with extremist groups on Syria's border, which culminated in August in a fierce battle in and around the Bekaa border town of Arsal.
Sixteen civilians and 20 soldiers were killed in the August battle while over 30 members from the army and Interior Security Forces were taken hostage. Seven have been released to date while four were executed.
The army also fought unprecedented, fierce clashes with Islamist militants in Tripoli's old souks and the nearby northern regions of Bhannine and al-Mhammara.
Qahwaji noted the army “foiled through the blood of its martyrs and the courage of the soldiers the scheme of the terrorists who had planned to establish an obscurantist emirate from the east border till the sea, as their arrested leaders confessed.”
"The kidnapped servicemen's issue remains our priority, and will will not spare an effort or a way in order to liberate them and bring them back to their institutions and families,” he added.
He stressed that foreign aid, “especially the Saudi donation, will have a huge impact on enhancing the ability of the army to win the battle.”
Qahwaji also confirmed “commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.”The General did not forget to remind of the importance of “coordination with the UNIFIL to address the Israeli violations and infringements on Lebanon's soil and preserving the national and regional stability.”

UAE Summons Lebanese Ambassador over Nasrallah's 'Hostile' Remarks
Naharnet /The United Arab Emirates summoned on Wednesday the Lebanese ambassador to the Gulf country and handed him an official letter of objection on Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's recent remarks against Bahrain.
The Foreign Ministry “strongly denounces the hostile, provocative and rejected remarks, which clearly violate the affairs of Bahrain, incite violence and terrorism and destabilize the country,” Tariq Ahmed al-Hidan, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organizations, said in a statement. He held the Lebanese government “fully” responsible for Nasrallah's statements, demanding it to clarify its stance and condemn the “hostile” remarks. “The Lebanese government should take the necessary legal measures to guarantee that such incidents will not happen again.”The Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday criticized Nasrallah's stance as well, accusing him of “inciting violence and discord.”On Friday, Nasrallah noted that top Bahraini dissident Sheikh Ali Salman, who was jailed recently by authorities, “has never called for toppling the regime and he did not incite to violence.”“The authorities in Bahrain will realize that they are acting in a foolish way. They can imprison most of the Bahraini people but that will only stop the protests on the streets and they will not be able to stop the protests in prisons,” said Nasrallah. “The reason behind the peaceful approach is not the inability to send weapons or fighters to Bahrain, but rather the fact that the clerics, political leaders and people in Bahrain are preventing that and seeking a peaceful solution,” Hizbullah’s leader added.

Judge Issues Search Warrant against Jazeera Journalist Faysal al-Qassem
Naharnet/Judge Charbel Abou Samra issued a search and investigation warrant against al-Jazeera TV journalist Faysal al-Qassem for insulting the Lebanese army, the state-run National News Agency reported on Wednesday. In September, al-Qassem had insulted the Lebanese soldiers through a tweet he shared on his Twitter account, which provoked the anger of many people online. The tweet angered a group of youths under the title Omega Team who stormed the al-Jazeera television office in Beirut and denounced what was issued by it about the army. They demanded an apology to be pretested by the TV. The protesters carried placards with slogans against al-Jazeera television and al-Qassem and carried the flag of the Lebanese army.

Qahwaji Says Army Determined To 'Eliminate Terrorism from its Roots'
Naharnet /Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji on Wednesday declared that the army is determined to fight terrorism until it is eliminated, stressing that the army will not exclude “any method” to liberate the servicemen kidnapped by jihadist groups. "We renew today what we had already confirmed before -- our determination to continue combating terrorism with power and firmness until we eliminate it from it roots,” Qahwaji said in a speech while meeting a delegation from the Association of Foreign and Arab Military Attaches. The army had engaged in skirmishes throughout last year with extremist groups on Syria's border, which culminated in August in a fierce battle in and around the Bekaa border town of Arsal.
Sixteen civilians and 20 soldiers were killed in the August battle while over 30 members from the army and Interior Security Forces were taken hostage. Seven have been released to date while four were executed. The army also fought unprecedented, fierce clashes with Islamist militants in Tripoli's old souks and the nearby northern regions of Bhannine and al-Mhammara. Qahwaji noted the army “foiled through the blood of its martyrs and the courage of the soldiers the scheme of the terrorists who had planned to establish an obscurantist emirate from the east border till the sea, as their arrested leaders confessed.”"The kidnapped servicemen's issue remains our priority, and will will not spare an effort or a way in order to liberate them and bring them back to their institutions and families,” he added.
He stressed that foreign aid, “especially the Saudi donation, will have a huge impact on enhancing the ability of the army to win the battle.”
Qahwaji also confirmed “commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.”The General did not forget to remind of the importance of “coordination with the UNIFIL to address the Israeli violations and infringements on Lebanon's soil and preserving the national and regional stability.”

Abou Faour Orders Probe after Woman Denied Hospital Admission Dies
Naharnet /The death of a woman who was denied admission by several hospitals has prompted Health Minister Wael Abou Faour to order an immediate probe into the case. The health minister “has ordered an instant investigation in the case of Louisette Mansour's death -- inside the ministry and with the hospitals that denied her admission,” the ministry said in a statement. Abou Faour took his decision after he telephoned Father Badie al-Hajj, who had been following up on the woman's health condition. The father contacted several hospitals to persuade them to let her in to no avail, the statement said.Abou Faour has called a Thursday morning meeting with the directors of the hospitals involved. “The necessary measures will be taken in light of what the probe will find,” the statement said. “Nothing will compensate for the death of Mansour,” Abou Faour said, stressing his “commitment to securing the right of all citizens to hospitalization while preserving their dignity, without them having to wait for their fate at the doors of hospitals.”Since he assumed his duties at the ministry, Abou Faour has categorically rejected any hospital's attempt to deny patients admission under the excuse of their financial situations. He has since addressed several warnings to a number of hospitals violating his instructions.

Hizbullah Slams New Charlie Cartoon as 'Provocation' against All Muslims
Naharnet /Hizbullah on Wednesday condemned as a “dangerous insult” the publication of new Prophet Mohammed cartoons by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that was attacked by jihadists last week, describing the move as a “major provocation against the sentiments of more than 1.5 billion Muslims.”In a statement, the party said the cartoons carried “an insult to the Prophet Mohammed, Islam, religions and the sanctities of humanity in general.” The first issue of Charlie Hebdo to be published since the attack in Paris that decimated its staff and sent shockwaves around the world was sold out within minutes at kiosks across France. The issue features a cartoon of a tearful Prophet Mohammed on its cover, holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven."
“This act is certainly unacceptable and it cannot be justified under any consideration that the ones behind this heinous act might be hiding behind,” Hizbullah said. “What the French magazine has committed once again is a major provocation against the sentiments of more than 1.5 billion Muslims, and against all the followers of monotheistic religions and those who are keen on dialogue and unifying common values,” the party added.
It warned that the move “directly contributes to shoring up terrorism, extremism and extremists.”Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had on Friday said that Sunni jihadists have caused more offense to Muslims than any “book, cartoon or film.”"Through their shameful, heinous, inhumane and cruel words and acts, (these groups) have offended the prophet, religion... the holy book and the Muslim people more than any other enemy," said Nasrallah. He did not specifically mention Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, but said the "authors of offensive books and cartoons that were insulting to the prophet" are among Islam's enemies. Nasrallah was indirectly referring to "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie, against whom Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious order, to have him killed.
Nasrallah also alluded to a video entitled "The Innocence of Muslims," which was distributed online in 2012 and caused an uproar among Muslim communities all over the world. A series of cartoons showing Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper in 2005 and Charlie Hebdo was among the media that reprinted them. At the time, Hizbullah joined a string of other Islamist parties and movements and called for demonstrations against the cartoons.

Clemenceau Talks Fail to Stop Planned Protest as Naameh Landfill Campaign Urges Mashnouq to Resign
Naharnet /A meeting held at MP Walid Jumblat's residence in Clemenceau failed Wednesday to convince activists to call off planned protests aimed at securing the closure of the controversial Naameh landfill on January 17, as organizers called on Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq to step down. During a rally for the Campaign for the Closure of the Naameh Landfill, a spokesman called on al-Mashnouq to “resign immediately after his failure to find an alternative solution for the landfill,” urging “a popular rally at the landfill's entrance on January 17.” He also called on the government to “declare an environmental state of emergency, form a working group, and endorsing a permanent solution for the problem of solid waste that is based on waste segregation at the source.” Earlier on Wednesday, al-Mashnouq said that he agreed with several officials, including PSP leader Jumblat, that the planned protest against the Naameh landfill would be adjourned. “We agreed to adjourn any plan for a protest about the Naameh landfill,” which lies in the Shouf district south of Beirut, al-Mashnouq told reporters following the meeting at Jumblat's residence. In addition to al-Mashnouq and Jumblat, the meeting was attended by Ministers Wael Abou Faour, Ali Hassan Khalil and Akram Shehayyeb, MP Talal Arslan and the head of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, Nabil al-Jisr.
“The plan that was approved by the cabinet abides by high environmental standards,” al-Mashnouq said. “We expressed commitment to the deadlines set by the plan … which gives Lebanon and PM Tammam Salam a true opportunity to resolve the waste crisis,” he said.
“We also agreed to adjourn any plan for a move against the Naameh landfill,” the minister added. However, when asked whether he had guarantees that the protests will be called off, Mashnouq said: “There is no guarantee.” The head of the municipality of Naameh had said on Tuesday that the residents of the town were planning to hold a demonstration near the landfill whose closure was extended by the government. Cabinet members approved the plan to extend the closing of the landfill for three months and for another three months if the waste treatment project was not implemented by then. The deadline for the end of the dump's operations expires on Saturday. Jumblat had previously said that the road to Naameh would be closed as a protest. The government also agreed to extend for the same period two other contracts that also expire on Saturday. One contract is with Sukleen, which is responsible for collecting and transporting the garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The other is with Sukomi company that treats the waste transferred to the Burj Hammoud dump by Sukleen and takes them to Naameh. The new plan, which decentralizes the management of solid waste, divides Lebanon into six blocks and limits the licensing of garbage collection to one contractor in maximum two blocks. The government also agreed that contractors who win tenders would find the locations of landfills. If they fail to do so within a month, then the environment ministry and the CDR would secure them on condition that the contractors bear the cost. “We hope the areas where the landfills will be created would be environmentally friendly,” said al-Mashnouq. “There will be transparency in issuing the tenders,” he added. Jumblat made a brief statement after him, saying: “We are facing a test” on the environment file.

Syria's Assad Says West to Blame for France Attacks
Naharnet ظSyrian President Bashar Assad said Western "shortsightedness" and "support for terrorism" in the revolt against his rule were to blame for last week's attacks in Paris, state media reported Wednesday. In his first reaction to the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket which killed 17 people, Assad said he had repeatedly warned Western governments that their support for rebel groups in Syria risked a blowback of violence at home. "We need to remind many in the West that we have warned of such incidents since the beginning of the crisis in Syria," he told Czech newspaper Literarni Noviny in an interview to be published on Thursday. "We kept saying you must not support terrorists or give them political cover, or else this will impact your countries and your peoples," he said in excerpts carried by the Syrian Arab News Agency. Ever since a revolt broke out against Damascus in 2011, Assad has made no distinction between peaceful and armed opponents. He has also used the term "terrorist" to refer to all armed rebels, both the Western-backed Free Syrian Army and the jihadist groups that now dominate the revolt. Assad said that Western leaders, like those of Syria's former colonial ruler France, who had championed his removal had been "short-sighted and narrow-minded". "What happened in France has proven that everything we said was right," he said. Agence France Presse
Charlie Hebdo Flies off Shelves as Qaida Claims Attack
Naharnet/Charlie Hebdo made a defiant return on Wednesday with a new issue that sold out across France in record time, as al-Qaida posted a video claiming last week's deadly attack on its cartoonists.
The satirical magazine once again featured the Prophet Mohammed on its cover -- but with a tear in his eye, holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven".
Many Parisians joined long queues outside newspaper kiosks in the pre-dawn cold to get their hands on one of 700,000 copies released in a run that will eventually total five million.
"This issue is symbolic, it represents their persistence, they didn't yield in the face of terror," said Catherine Boniface, a 58-year-old doctor, disappointed to have come up empty-handed at one Paris newstand.
Al-Qaida's Yemen branch (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack by Islamist gunmen on the Paris offices of the weekly last Wednesday that left 12 people dead including the country's best-loved cartoonists.
"(AQAP) was the party that chose the target and plotted and financed the plan... It was following orders by our general chief Ayman al-Zawahiri," said one of its leaders in the video, adding it was "vengeance" for the weekly's cartoons of the prophet.
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi who carried out the attack are known to have trained with the group. Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and attacked a Jewish supermarket in attacks he said were coordinated with the Kouachi brothers, has claimed links to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
IS on Wednesday described Charlie Hebdo's decision to print another Mohammed cartoon as "extremely stupid". Under government orders to crackdown on hate crimes, French prosecutors have opened over 50 cases for condoning terrorism since the attacks that claimed 17 lives, including the arrest of controversial comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala. He is due to stand trial after writing "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" on Facebook -- mixing the popular "Je Suis Charlie" homage to the slain journalists with a reference to the supermarket gunman. Under France's ultra-fast-track court system, a 21-year-old in Toulouse was sent to prison for 10 months on Monday for expressing support for the jihadists while traveling on a tram. Some global Muslim leaders have criticized the new cartoon, with the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars saying "it is neither reasonable, nor logical, nor wise to publish drawings and films... attacking the prophet of Islam." The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein said the cover was an insult that "has hurt the feelings of nearly two billion Muslims all over the world". But many have taken a nuanced stance and tried to calm tensions, with French Muslim leaders urging their communities -- which have already been targeted -- to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions".
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Western "shortsightedness" and "support for terrorism" in the revolt against his rule were to blame for last week's attacks. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday the country was now engaged in a "war on terrorism", in remarks reminiscent of former US president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
France has deployed armed police to protect synagogues and Jewish schools and called up 10,000 troops to guard against other attacks. But Valls stressed that Muslims would always have a home in France. "I don't want Jews in this country to be scared, or Muslims to be ashamed" of their faith, he said. He admitted France's intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws needed to be strengthened and "clear failings" addressed. The three gunmen were known to French intelligence and on a US terror watch list "for years". Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that Coulibaly bought all their weapons -- including assault rifles and a rocket launcher -- near the Gare du Midi station in Brussels for less than 5,000 euros ($7,000). France bade farewell to one of its most beloved cartoonists on Wednesday. Cabu, 76, one of the eight journalists killed at the magazine, was buried in the Champagne region.  Charlie Hebdo's surviving staff moved into the offices of Liberation newspaper to compile the new issue, which they admitted had been an emotional experience. Cartoonist Renald "Luz" Luzier said he cried after drawing the front cover. "Our Mohammed is above all just a guy who is crying. He is much nicer than the one (worshipped) by the gunmen," he said. Distributors quickly boosted the print run from an initial three million after the sales rush on Wednesday -- dwarfing its normal run of around 60,000 copies, and the edition will also be available in English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Proceeds will go to victims' families.Charlie Hebdo, which last month did not have enough money to pay staff wages, could raise as much as 10 million euros in sales and donations since the attack. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet French President Francois Hollande on Friday to discuss the attacks. The United States did not send a senior official to the historic march against extremism on Sunday, which the White House has admitted was a mistake.
Agence France Presse

Christians are a Litmus Test of Libya's Decline
Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine
January 12, 2015
That jihadis and other ISIS-type militants gained the most from Western intervention in Libya four years ago cannot be denied. Simply looking at the treatment of Christian minorities—the litmus test of the radicalization of any Muslim society—proves this.
Thus, today, Monday, January 12, "A Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians and released pictures of the captives." It is not clear if these 21 are in addition to the 13 Christians kidnapped days earlier on January 3.
Then, around 2:30 a.m., masked men burst into a housing complex in Sirte, Libya. The militants went room to room checking ID cards to separate Muslims from Christians, handcuffed the latter and rode off with them.
(Segregating Christians from Muslims is a common procedure around the Islamic world. For example, last November, after members from the Islamic organization Al Shabaab hijacked a bus carrying 60 passengers in Kenya, they singled out and massacred the 28 non-Muslim passengers, the Christians. In October 2012 in Nigeria, Boko Haram jihadis stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, "separated the Christian students from the Muslim students … and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat," killing up to 30 Christians.)
According to Hanna Aziz, a Copt who was concealed in his room when the other Christians were seized in Libya, "While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed…. I heard my friends screaming but they were quickly shushed at gunpoint. After that, we heard nothing."
Three of those seized were related to Aziz, who mournfully adds, "I am still in my room waiting for them to take me. I want to die with them."
Such atrocities were unheard of under Moammar Gaddafi's "authoritarian" rule.
A few days earlier, also in Sirte, Libya, a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered reportedly by Ansar al-Sharia—the "Supporters of Islamic Law," or the Libyan version of ISIS that rose to power soon after the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi.
On December 23, members of the Islamic group raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother, a doctor and a pharmacist, respectively, and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine. Days later, the girl's body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back (graphic images here).
As for motive, nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were clearly visible. According to the girl's uncle, the reason this particular family was targeted is because "they are a Christian family—persecuted."
In short, as I wrote nearly a year ago, it continues to be "open season on Christians in Libya." In February, 2014, after Ansar al-Sharia offered a reward to any Benghazi resident who helped round up and execute the nation's Coptic Christian residents, seven Christians were forcibly seized from their homes by "unknown gunmen," marched out into the desert and shot execution style some 20 miles west of Benghazi (graphic pictures appear here).
Days later, another Coptic Christian, Salama Fawzi, 24, was shot in the head while unloading food in front of his grocery stand in Benghazi, again, by several "unknown gunmen." And the day after that, a corpse was found, believed to be that of another Copt—due to the small cross tattooed on his wrist traditionally worn by Egyptian Christians.
This is to say nothing of the churches attacked, of Christian cemeteries desecrated, and of 100 Christians—including Western ones—arrested, tortured (some dying) for possessing Christian "paraphernalia" (like Bibles and crosses) in the post "Arab Spring" Libya the Obama administration and its allies helped create.
Needless to say, such atrocities were unheard of under Gaddafi's "authoritarian" rule (just as they were unheard of in Saddam Hussein's Iraq).
As previously mentioned, Muslim persecution of Christians is the litmus test of how "radical" an Islamic society has become. Thus, in all those Mideast nations where the U.S. and its Western allies have interfered recently—Iraq, Egypt (under Morsi), Libya, and ongoing Syria—the increase of Christian persecution there is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to everything Western civilization once stood for.
**Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

How Turkey Fights Extremism: "Do Not Keep Pet Dogs at Home!"
by Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute
January 13, 2015
Turkish MP Ali Sahin claims the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was "staged like a movie scene."
Turkey cannot be serious about fighting Islamist extremism. In the first place, Turkey's leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, does not believe "Islamic terror" exists.
Recently, Erdogan fabricated a new acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or "Daesh" in Arabic, by taking out the word "Islamic," creating "Deas." Last week, the Turkish military HQ and Foreign Ministry started to refer to ISIL as "Deas" on their web pages.
The Paris attacks have, once again, unmasked the Turkish leaders' stubborn Islamist ideologies. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rushed to Paris to march with world leaders in protest of the attacks. But once again, his words left millions puzzled. Islam, Davutoglu said, is the "most fundamental element of the European continent." Furthermore, in a not-so-hidden euphemism for the Islamic lands, Davutoglu reminded us that the terrorists who attacked the satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris "did not grow up in Muslim countries; instead they grew up in Paris."
Turkish politicians are not shy about going as far as to claim that the Paris attack could be a non-Muslim conspiracy to fuel Islamophobia in the Western world. A member of parliament from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] has claimed that the attack was "staged like a movie scene." Ali Sahin sent a series of tweets saying the lack of traffic in the Paris street during the attack was "thought-provoking" and that it seemed "as if it was a movie scene." He also claimed that the "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is greater) rallying cry of the assailants was "a fabricated mise-en-page [layout]," apparently mixing up the French phrase "mise-en-scène."
Turkey's top Muslim cleric, Mehmet Gormez, thinks someone else carried out the Paris attacks and put the blame on Muslims.
Turkey's Islamic clergy is far from having a pro-democracy, liberal mindset, with apparently no interest in offering a less-Islamist, more liberal, alternative to the Turks. Take, for instance, Turkey's top Muslim cleric, Professor Mehmet Gormez. Speaking to a press conference in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Gormez said that the use of Islamic symbols by the perpetrators of the attack is a sign of "a perception manipulation." In other words, Professor Gormez thinks it was a "false flag" operation: someone else carried out the attacks and put the blame on Muslims.
In 2012, as part of efforts to fight Islamophobia and boost interfaith dialogue, Gormez visited Denmark, home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who then (and probably even to this day) was living under police protection, because he had drawn "blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad" seven years earlier. Prior to that visit, this author made a suggestion to Gormez:
Mr. Gormez, since you are visiting Denmark with the purpose of fighting Islamophobia, perhaps you can do a great service for your objective. Denmark is a small country, and Arhus is not too far away from Copenhagen. So, Mr. Gormez, you can always go to Arhus and visit Mr. Westergaard and start your interfaith dialogue. I am sure Mr. Westergaard and his heavy police protection would welcome you ... But can you do it, Mr. Gormez?
Of course, he did not visit Westergaard.
The government institute that Gormez heads, the Religious Affairs Directorate (or Diyanet in Turkish), enjoys a huge budget (including funds to buy a $400,000, chauffeur-driven Mercedes for Gormez) to eradicate misunderstandings and false knowledge about Islam. When the Islamist extremists in Paris were probably putting the final touches on their gruesome plan, Diyanet was busy issuing fatwas and publishing a religious calendar for three million or so desks and walls in offices and homes.
For instance, Diyanet recently issued a fatwa that urges Muslims who have tattoos to repent if they are unable to erase them. Another fatwa was mentioned in Diyanet's 2015 calendar. "Do not keep pet dogs at home ... Prophet Mohammed once said: 'Angels do not visit homes where there are dogs and paintings.'"
It is perfectly normal that the social fiber cannot remain sterile and sane as the dominant state ideology, and official Islamic teachings, feature such absurdity. Abdurrahman Dilipak, a columnist for the pro-government, Islamist Yeni Akit newspaper wrote:
Now cry, Paris!... These people [who perpetrated the Paris attacks] have nothing to lose. There are many young ones who want to take revenge on those who condemned them to a life full of sins; many young ones who want to take revenge instead of committing suicide."
Yeni Akit also ran a story that said the "anti-terror" march in Paris this week turned into a show of terrorists. The newspaper deliberately put the word terror inside quotation marks in a sign that it does not agree the Paris attacks were acts of terror. And the march had turned into a "show of terrorists" because protesters had waved pro-Kurdish flags as well as flags of the "terrorist state Israel."
Yeni Akit is not a marginal newspaper. One of its staff often is invited to Erdogan's or Davutolu's private jet during flights to foreign countries, a privilege enjoyed by only a handful of lucky journalists.
This is Turkey's own fight against radical Islamist terror, which it claims does not exist. Everything will be fine if Turks stopped sporting tattoos or keeping pet dogs at their homes, while journalists who are Erdogan's protégés keep on shouting: "Now cry, Paris!"
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Muslims Shouldn't Pray to Defeat Non-Muslims
by Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/January 13, 2015
One of the reasons I avoid attending Friday congregations at mosques is a specific ritual supplication uttered by Imams at many mosques in Canada and around the world, just prior to our formal Friday community prayer, the Juma'a.
In the supplication, the cleric prays to Allah for, among other things, to grant "Muslims victory over the 'Qawm al-Kafiroon,'" the Arabic phrase that lumps all non-Muslims — Jews, Hindus, Christians, Atheists, Buddhists and Sikhs — into one derogatory category, the "Kuffar", or non-Muslims.
This supplication is not obligatory. Not uttering this prayer would in no way adversely affect the holiness or solemnness of the collective community prayer.
I have long argued with my orthodox and conservative Muslim friends and family that at least when living among non-Muslims, we should avoid praying for their defeat at the hands of Muslims.
They agree, but it comes down to the challenge: Who will bell the cat?
Last Friday, the world was still in shock over the Charlie Hebdo massacre when news came that another jihadi terrorist had killed French Jews inside a kosher grocery store in Paris.
Enough, I said. I decided to ask friends to take the challenge to a local mosque and stand silently with "I am Charlie Hebdo" placards.
I wanted to encourage Muslims entering the mosque to join those Muslims who renounce jihad, denounce Islamist terror and stand by the right of free expression, even of people who insult our Prophet.
Only a handful responded to my call. Most of my comrades from our life-long struggle against Islamism were terrified and bailed out at the last minute. Only the president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, writer Munir Pervaiz, and two Kurdish exiles, Keyvan Soltany and Hadi Elis, braved the snow to stand beside me.
Far from condemning the acts of terror, the cleric thundered that Islam "will become established in the land, over all other religions."
Inside the mosque, I was hoping that in wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the cleric would have the good sense not to speak about non-Muslims as adversaries or enemies, but my hopes were dashed.
Far from condemning the acts of terror, the cleric, speaking in English, thundered that Islam "will become established in the land, over all other religions, although the 'Disbelievers' (Jews, Christians, Hindus and Atheists) hate that."
I could not believe my ears. There was no indignation expressed at the taking of Jews as hostages by a French jihadi that morning.
The imam did ask us Muslims that in reacting to insults we should take the example of Prophet Muhammad himself and follow in his footsteps.
The problem with that suggestion is that while there were indeed times when Prophet Muhammad forgave those who mocked him, there were others when he ordered them killed.
At the end of his "khutba" (sermon), the cleric repeated the ritual praying to Allah to grant Muslims victory over non-Muslims. That prayer is: "O Allah, pour patience upon Muslims, strengthen their feet and give them victory over 'Qawm -el Kafiroon' (Non-Muslims).
"O Allah, give victory to our brothers the Muslims, the oppressed, the tyrannized and the 'Mujahedeen' (those who fight jihad against non-Muslims)".
Then we all stood up in orderly rows, turned towards Mecca and followed the imam as he led us in the ritual prayer that is obligatory for all Muslims.
As I left, I knew I would not be returning to that mosque again.​
**Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.

Shifting priorities
The Daily Star/Jan. 15, 2015/Meeting ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday sought to show the word they are committed to achieving a new agreement. Both sides have much to lose should no new deal be reached by March – the new deadline, after November’s was missed, but much more appears to be at stake for the U.S. Since the talks began, Tehran seems to be holding more and more trump cards, while Washington continues to look weaker on the world stage, its foreign policies failing from Ukraine to Syria and Iraq. This latter problem – and in particular the growth of ISIS, which poses a threat to the entire world – is one on which the U.S. needs Iranian cooperation. Iranian support for the governments in both Damascus and Baghdad has rendered it impossible to continue to dismiss Tehran, and the Obama administration now finds itself in a difficult position – seeking to simultaneously reassure Israel that Iran cannot build nuclear weapons while also not irritating the government in Iran with endless or increased sanctions. Obama himself has already threatened to use his veto powers should Congress seek further sanctions on Iran. This has led to an almost revolving door policy, with the U.S. dropping its once regular call for Assad to step down. Speaking Wednesday, Kerry spoke of the need for Syria’s “government” to put the people’s interests ahead of itself, not the need for the “regime” to resign. And across the region, countries are aware that their own futures will be affected by these U.S.-Iran talks, not just the super powers themselves.

Iraq could become a quagmire for Iran
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 14 Jan, 2015
A recent Associated Press report investigated Iran’s growing domination of Iraq under the cover of supporting it against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization. According to the sources quoted in the report, the Iranians have sold Iraq nearly 10 billion US dollars’ worth of weapons to fight the terrorists with. Although these shipments include Kalashnikov rifles, rocket launchers, and ammunition, the actual value of this weaponry may not exceed 50 million dollars.
Of course, it’s needless to explain that 10 billion dollars is a massive amount of money, enough to buy advanced weapons from major arms exporters instead of rusty simple arms from Iran. But the objective was to fund Iran’s military at a time when it is confronting domestic economic pressures.
The Iraqis, who are currently overjoyed with this Iranian support, will in the future end up complaining about Tehran’s domination over them. They will complain that they cannot freely take decisions according to their national interests. Iraq will then become submissive to Iran due to the latter’s increased political and security influence—just as Lebanon came under Syria’s influence in the 1970s when the latter’s troops entered the country to save it from Palestinian militias and only withdrew after 30 years of a quasi-occupation thanks to pressure from the UN Security Council.
Iraq, too, will become an Iranian farm which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, politicians, mediators and brokers exploit. Iraqis then will find problems coming from Iran increasing by the year, just like what happened to the Lebanese people who brought the Syrians into their country only to find out later that the chaos and violence of Palestinian militias were less than that caused by the Syrian army. The Syrians controlled the Lebanese population, exploited the country and dictated all of its affairs, from the smallest details to major decisions such as who would become president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament. They killed whoever disagreed with them.
The Iranian regime will go as far as to humiliate the Iraqis after claiming credit for protecting Baghdad from an ISIS invasion. We all know that the terrorist organization ISIS turned away from the capital and headed towards Mosul and Kurdistan when the Iranians weren’t even there to confront it. Shi’ite leaders will pay a higher price than others for the Iranian presence on Iraqi soil because Iranian influence will remain limited in Sunni areas no matter how much their military and security presence expands in other parts of Iraq.
A Shi’ite leader claimed that the United States supported Sunni extremists over the past years and that it must accept Shi’ite extremists as well. This is an indicator of how Iran will empower Shi’ite extremists over moderates and other peaceful Shi’ite and Sunni political parties. The American presence in Iraq was temporary, and it was the Americans who toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime after the Iraqi resistance—both Shi’ite and Kurdish—failed to do so.
If Iraqis remain silent over the Iranian regime’s incursion into their lives, they will suffer the oppression and cruelty which the Iranian people themselves are suffering from. In the end, the Iraqis will view the Iranians as an occupying force and they will fight and expel them from Iraq just like their Mongols, the British, and the Americans.
On the other hand, it may be in the interest of other countries for Iran to be sucked into a quagmire in Iraq and clash with Arab Sunni powers and with Arab Shi’ite powers later. The Iranian regime has been smart and cautious enough to avoid direct military confrontations outside its own borders. Even when the Afghani Taliban forces provoked the Iranian regime by killing a number of its citizens, Iran withdrew from the front line and did not attack them. During the wars of the past 30 years, Iran has relied on regional proxies—like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen—to defend its agendas. It is the members of these parties who die on behalf of the Iranians. The entrance of Iran’s forces into Iraq and of its militias into Syria shows another side of Tehran and marks a new advanced phase of the struggle in the region.

A Seismic Shift in Egyptian Public Opinion
Ali Ibrahim /Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 14 Jan, 2015
Financial markets experts are well aware that psychological factors can sometimes play a marked role in the movements of the markets, whether positive or negative. Such factors are usually characterized by how much confidence there is among traders and fund managers with respect to a particular market. In the end, they are of course people like anyone else, subject to their whims and moods. When their mood is bullish and they feel confident about the market, they will begin to invest and pump money into the system. When their mood and confidence shift to the opposite end of the spectrum, however, they begin a process of frantic selling, bringing down the market with them.
This same is true of societies and political systems. If there is trust between each signatory to the social contract—the rulers and all their machinery of government, and the ruled with all their different societal groupings—then political disturbances become less frequent and government decisions meet with the approval of the populace, even when those decisions require great sacrifices.
In Egypt, indicators of public opinion suggest large chunks of the population came to view their rulers with suspicion over the last two decades. But it appears this has changed since the election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi last summer via a clear landslide and a massive tide of popularity firmly behind him.
This was made clear when Sisi decided to slash subsidies on fuel and food as part of necessary economic reforms. We could have seen a number of large protests and mass opposition to the decision, as happened during the eras of the last two presidents, Mohamed Mursi and Hosni Mubarak. However, this time there was a clear understanding among the public that this decision had to be made for the future good of the country, even if it was a bitter pill to swallow.
When the new administration took over the reins of power last year in what some are now calling “the Third Republic”—following the first inaugurated after the abdication of King Farouk in 1952 and the second after Egypt’s revolution in 2011—it was faced with a very heavy responsibility. The country’s economy was tanking after three years of instability adding to its already existing structural problems thanks to decades of mismanagement. On top of that, Egypt faced serious internal strife and dangers to its societal makeup and identity in those three years.
At the same time that many expected the new administration to fail in the face of these difficult challenges after its popularity in the street eventually waned, the street itself was keeping a close, somewhat tense, eye on how those in power would proceed. The previous choice of president, which came as a result of a moment of panic when Egyptians were forced to choose in a runoff between Mubarak’s former prime minister and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood—and which eventually saw the latter come to power—had been a catastrophic one, one that almost brought the country to the brink of a civil war. No one wants the new administration to fail as the previous one did, and no one has the luxury of “trying out” the new administration and seeing what it can do—as Egyptians were told to do when the Brotherhood came to power. Right now everyone, both inside and outside the country, is observing the situation closely, attempting to place their fingers firmly on the pulse of public opinion.
As far as this goes, there are currently some indicators which point unmistakably to public opinion being in support of the new administration. There are many who watched President Sisi’s warm reception at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo when he went there to briefly attend Christmas Eve celebrations with some of the country’s Coptic Christian community. It was a different scene to those we have been used to seeing in Egypt during the period of Muslim Brotherhood rule, when suspicion was the more prevalent feeling the public had toward its rulers. There was a dangerous atmosphere in Egypt during that time, with extremists threatening to alter the country’s national identity. Another scene which indicates the new bond of trust between the public and the administration came during the sale of shares to the public to help finance the country’s new Suez Canal project. The public flocked in their thousands to banks and other public institutions both day and night in order to participate.
No one can say there has been a sudden or radical change in the daily lives of ordinary Egyptians. Many of the societal, political or economic problems that have accumulated in the country for decades still remain and no one expects them to be solved after a day, a year, or even many years to come.
What, then, has caused this shift in public opinion, and the trust and optimism Egyptians currently have toward the administration in power? The answer is simple: seriousness. Egyptians of different educational and social backgrounds all appreciate that no one can come along with a magic wand and solve all their problems at once. At the same time, however, problems, no matter how long they might take to solve, can be solved. This needs an administration that is serious about tackling these issues head-on. When people see their leaders are serious about solving problems they will follow in their footsteps and participate in the process. This is what has happened with the Sisi administration; this is how the president was able to win over public opinion.
The Reuters news agency published a report on Monday comparing the way Sisi has dealt with the bread subsidy problem to that of his predecessors Mursi and Mubarak. Both men failed to adequately solve the problem, but Sisi has succeeded in making the system more focused on those who need it by introducing a smart card system in several provinces across the country. This new system has been met with widespread public approval: lines are now shorter at state bakeries, everyone is able to get their share of bread, and consumption is down 30 percent due to a decrease in waste.
These success stories show what both Mursi and Mubarak failed to do. They also show that success is possible, that seriousness and a willingness to tackle problems head-on eventually yield fruit, no matter how difficult the problems