January 18/15

Bible Quotation for today/The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
Luke 16/01-18:"1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—  I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “‘Nine hundred gallons] of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’  “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

What is the heart in the Bible mean

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 17-18/15
Sisis Brave New Egypt/Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/January 17/15
What’s cooking in Moscow/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat// January 17/015
Sharing the Blame for Terrorism/ Osman Mirghani/Asharq AlAwsat/January 17/015
Democracy is the answer to terrorism/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/January 17/015
The problem with Islam/Ben-Dror Yemini/Ynetnews/ January 17/015
Europe rounds up 25 jihadi suspects. Crackdown hamstrung by lack of counterterrorism center

The truth behind Iran’s supposed nuclear ties with Syria/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/ January 17/015
Ankara Mayor: Israel to Blame for Charlie Hebdo Attack/Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/January 17/15

Lebanese Related News published on January 17-18/15
Biting the benefactor
Salam distances Lebanon from Nasrallah remarks
Bassil: Bahrain Issue Should Have Been Addressed in Government
Report: 400 Lebanese from North Joined Syria Rebels since Beginning of Uprising
Lebanon’s Grand Mufti in Qatar to 'strengthen' ties
Daryan Says Following Up on 'Details' of Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Talks, Hopes Viewpoints will be 'Reconciled'
Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel Hails Dialogue between Rivals, Reiterates Calls for Election of President
Municipalities Coalition Considers Waste Plan 'Triumph', Says PSP to Follow Up Naameh Landfill Closure
Sidon fishermen to receive $12,600 in storm relief
Report: Mawlawi, Mansour Plan Attacks against French Interests
Health Ministry Raids Restaurants that Bought Expired Foods from Syrian Dealer
Tripoli Young Man 'Abu al-Walid' Killed Fighting in Iraq
Suspects Involved in Murder of Yves Naufal in ISF Custody
Report: Hariri Meets Girault, Pays Jabal Mohsen Compensations

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 17-18/15
Anbar delegation to call on US to provide more arms, training
ICC opens investigation into Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Hamas 'ready' to help ICC probe Israeli war crimes
Syrian National Coalition invited to Moscow talks: member
Houthi access to gov’t files threatens Yemen’s national security: senior official
Military planning for liberation of Mosul complete: Nineveh governor
Burial for 1 of 3 gunmen behind France attacks
ISIS targeted in 29 airstrikes in Syria, Iraq: joint task force
Hamas 'ready' to help ICC probe Israeli war crimes
Kurds battle Syrian army in country's northeast
Official: Greek police detain 4 suspected jihadis
Yemen arrests 2 French Qaeda suspects: top official
2 Egypt policemen to stand trial for sexual assault
Faten Hamama, Arab film icon, dies aged 83: family
Volunteer dies in accident after Mass by Pope Francis

Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
“Jihad meth” popular among Islamic State jihadis seized in Judea and Samaria
Greek police detain 4 jihadis, including possible Belgium jihad mastermind
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on Hamas-linked CAIR’s effort to destroy free speech
The organized Islamic campaign to silence criticism of Islam
When the Fox Preaches
What we fight — Obama: “Violent extremism”; Cameron: Those “perverting Islam”
Jihadis plotting attacks on Germany’s anti-Islamization movement
Muslim mob on Temple Mount burns French flag in cartoon rage
Niger: Muslim mobs ransack churches, burn French cultural center, in cartoon rage
Pakistan: Anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters fire on police, 3 injured
Obama warns U.S. Congress against more sanctions on Iran
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on the jihad against free speech
French PM: “The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people”

What is the heart in the Bible mean
Answer: First, we’ll state the obvious: this article is not about the heart as a vital organ, a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. Neither is this article concerned with romantic, philosophical, or literary definitions.
Instead, we’ll focus on what the Bible has to say about the heart. The Bible mentions the human heart almost 300 times. In essence, this is what it says: the heart is that spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell.
Before we look at the human heart, we’ll mention that, since God has emotions and desires, He, too, can be said to have a “heart.” We have a heart because God does. David was a man “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). And God blesses His people with leaders who know and follow His heart (1 Samuel 2:35; Jeremiah 3:15).
The human heart, in its natural condition, is evil, treacherous and deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In other words, the Fall has affected us at the deepest level; our mind, emotions and desires have been tainted by sin—and we are blind to just how pervasive the problem is.
We may not understand our own hearts, but God does. He “knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21; see also 1 Corinthians 14:25). Jesus “knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). Based on His knowledge of the heart, God can judge righteously: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).
Jesus pointed out the fallen condition of our hearts in Mark 7:21-23: “From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” Our biggest problem is not external but internal; all of us have a heart problem.
In order for a person to be saved, then, the heart must be changed. This only happens by the power of God in response to faith. “With the heart one believes unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10). In His grace, God can create a new heart within us (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26). He promises to “revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).
God’s work of creating a new heart within us involves testing our hearts (Psalm 17:3; Deuteronomy 8:2) and filling our hearts with new ideas, new wisdom, and new desires (Nehemiah 7:5; 1 Kings 10:24; 2 Corinthians 8:16).
The heart is the core of our being, and the Bible sets high importance on keeping our hearts pure: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Lebanon PM distances country from Nasrallah’s Bahrain remarks
The Daily Star/Jan. 17, 2015
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Saturday sought to end a week-long controversy over comments made by Hezbollah's leader criticizing Bahrain over its crackdown on dissidents, saying the remarks did not represent the position of Lebanon. “Any remarks made by a Lebanese political faction against Bahrain do not represent the official position of the Lebanese government,” Salam said in a statement released by his media office. Lebanon’s official position on regional and international issues can only be voiced by the Lebanese government, he emphasized. The Arab League publicly censured Lebanon in a statement two days ago over comments made by Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah in which he denounced Bahrain's recent arrest of the country's main political opposition leader Ali Salman and its crackdown on anti-regime protesters. The Arab League deemed Nasrallah's remarks during a Jan. 9 speech a “repetitive interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain” and called on the Lebanese government to take clear stance on the issue. According to Salam, Lebanon’s diverse political fabric allows for contrasting opinions and should not be used to justify any harm inflicted on Lebanon’s ties with allied states. Lebanon’s insistence on curbing any interference in the affairs of other states, Salam added, stems from the reoccurrence of international and regional interferences in Lebanon’s own domestic issues. He also expressed his confidence in Bahrain’s ability to overcome its political hurdles. Separately Saturday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, a harsh critic of Hezbollah, issued a personal apology to Bahrain over Nasrallah’s remarks.
“As a Lebanese citizen, I give my apologies to Bahrain, in the hopes that Hezbollah’s position, which runs contrary to national will, would not negatively impact the historic ties between the two countries,” the justice minister said in a statement issued by his media office.
Rifi also called on the Lebanese government to follow suit and publicly apologize to Manama, while noting that he would raise the issue in Cabinet’s next session. Bahrain has been in turmoil since 2011 when authorities, backed by a Saudi-led Gulf force, crushed a pro-democracy movement. A backer of the uprising, Nasrallah in a speech last week accused the Bahraini government of being “tyrannical and oppressive.” He also compared the Bahraini government’s behavior to the "Zionist project" which established Israel, accusing it of naturalizing Sunnis from across the region to change the country’s majority-Shiite demographic, who form the bulk of the opposition. Nasrallah’s criticism led Bahrain to summon Lebanon's envoy over the speech earlier this week. The remarks also prompted a backlash from Bahrain’s foreign minister Friday who accused Lebanon of being controlled by a "terrorist agent,” in reference to Nasrallah.

Biting the benefactor
The Daily Star/Jan. 17, 2015
Lebanon’s foreign minister has been busy blazing a new trail in diplomacy and policymaking after declaring that his country’s national unity was more important than solidarity with other Arab countries. Gebran Bassil made the comments while expressing his rejection of an Arab League resolution that criticized statements by Hezbollah’s leader, who had accused the kingdom of Bahrain of acting oppressively and compared its policies to those of Israel. Bassil’s performance evoked little surprise, and thankfully it prompted the interior minister to quickly point out that the stance did not reflect the Cabinet’s official policy. If Bassil requires a crash course in recent history, here it is. Arab solidarity has never been in conflict with Lebanon’s national unity; in fact, it has produced, time and time again, political and financial support for the Lebanese authorities and their ailing economy. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese work in Arab countries, primarily in the Gulf, and help keep their homeland afloat. Thus, Lebanese are fully aware that Gulf countries have supported them with both words and deeds. The obvious explanation for Bassil’s actions is that he represents a political party keen to stand firmly with an ally instead of adhering to the official policy of nonintervention in Arab countries. If Bassil is keen on impressing his allies, he should remember people inside Lebanon who have benefited from the Gulf’s repeated financial support, as well as those in the Gulf who might suffer from a deterioration in Lebanese-Gulf ties. The saddest part of the affair is that the foreign minister appears to give these people – for whom he works – hardly any consideration, but works overtime to please those who want to ignore both government policy and decades of history.

Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel Hails Dialogue between Rivals, Reiterates Calls for Election of President
Naharnet/Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel expressed relief on Saturday over the wave of dialogue between the Lebanese arch-foes, stressing the importance of electing a new head of state after the country “entered the red zone.”
“Our interest is to retain the Lebanese sovereignty, in particular the decision of war and peace, in addition to the swift election of a new head of state,” Gemayel said in an interview to al-Akhbar newspaper.
He called on the rival parties to avert danger and threats after the country entered the “red zone,” which impacts the state and its entity.
Melhem Riachi, chairman of the Lebanese Forces communication department, and MP Ibrahim Kanaan from Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc are holding meetings away from the media spotlight to prepare the agenda for the dialogue between the FPM chief and LF chief Samir Geagea.
The Christian leader considered that dialogue, especially between Shiites and Sunnis, defuses tension.
In their third dialogue session, al-Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah announced about “clear progress” in talks between them, and that it may lead to “results that help consolidate the nation stability.”
The first dialogue session between al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah was held in Ain al-Tineh on December 23 under the auspices of Speaker Nabih Berri, and the second session was held on Jan. 5 with the objective of “terminating Sunni-Shiite tensions.”
Asked about the presidential elections, Gemayel said that his only concern is to provide the necessary quorum to elect a new head of state. He accused lawmakers of failing to assume their responsibilities, refusing to point finger at the international community for the presidential stalemate. “The absence of MPs from presidential elections sessions is a shame,” he stressed.
Both Aoun and Geagea have announced their candidacies for the presidency. Their differences, in addition to the rivalry between the March 8 and 14 alliances, have left the presidential post vacant.
President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May.
Gemayel told his interviewer that previous initiatives to end the rift between the rival parties went down the drain, lashing out at those who are impeding the constitution. The Kataeb chief also lauded the cabinet of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, saying: “The achievements of this government are far better than what its predecessors accomplished.” However, he reiterated that the “situation remains abnormal and the cabinet shouldn't replace the president.”
The cabinet assumes the executive tasks of the president as stated by the constitution until a new head of state is elected.

Municipalities Coalition Considers Waste Plan 'Triumph', Says PSP to Follow Up Naameh Landfill Closure
Naharnet /The coalition of municipalities concerned with the closure of the controversial Naameh landfill, which lies in the Shouf district south of Beirut, on January 17 considered on Saturday the “huge accomplishment” regarding the matter is a triumph, slamming all planned protests.“The Progressive Socialist Party will follow up the process of the closure of the Naameh landfill and will remain ready for any escalation and endeavor in case the state violated its pledges,” the coalition of the municipalities of al-Gharb al-Aala and Shahar said in a statement. The coalition stressed that the PSP deems any escalation after the government decision as “useless and harmful as it affects the interests of all the residents.”
“We don't live on an isolated island but under the authority of a state that runs and manages our affairs and with a cabinet that represents all the country's political and social sides,” the statement added.
It pointed out that “reaching a solution regarding the Naameh landfill is within a comprehensive plan to treat waste in Lebanon, which is acceptable by all parties.”
“The technical extension of the landfill's work for several months in order to avoid a new crisis in the country.”
The cabinet's decision to delay the closure of the landfill for three months drew the ire of the residents of Naameh, who vowed to escalate their endeavors.
The government approved the controversial decision after a long-heated debate for several months regarding the country's plan to treat solid waste.
The deadline for the end of the dump's operations expires on Saturday. The residents of Naameh later in the day held a sit-in near the landfill to protest the decision of extension, threatening to challenge it before the Shura Council.
The cabinet has 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.

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti in Qatar to 'strengthen' ties
The Daily Star/Jan. 17, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-latif Derain left to Qatar Saturday on a visit that serves to strengthen political and religious ties between the two countries. In comments made from Beirut’s International Airport, Derian said that his visit will involve meeting several “high-ranking Qatari officials" and will seek to “strengthen Qatari-Lebanese ties.” The visit especially serves to improve Islamic ties between Dar al-Fatwa and Qatar’s religious institutions, he added.  In light of this week’s Roumieh raid, Derian said that inmates should be treated in a manner that respects the notion of human dignity. The raid should also be followed by the speedy trial of Islamist inmates, Derian said, noting that some detainees may turn out to be innocent.
Earlier this week, security forces stormed Roumieh prison and emptied out the notorious Block B building of all its Islamite inmates after intercepting calls between detainees and a terror cell behind a twin suicide bombing that rocked the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of Tripoli last week.

Sisis Brave New Egypt?
Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media
January 18, 2015
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to be the antithesis of longstanding mainstream media portrayals of him.
First there was his historic speech where he, leader of the largest Arab nation, and a Muslim, accused Islamic thinking of being the scourge of humanity—in words that no Western leader would dare utter. This remarkable speech—which some say should earn him the Nobel Peace Prize—might have fallen by the wayside had it not been posted on my website and further disseminated by PJ Media's Roger L. Simon, Michael Ledeen, Roger Kimball, and many others, including Bruce Thornton and Robert Spencer.
Instead, mainstream media headlines on the day of and days after Sisi's speech included "Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter" (BBC, Jan 1), "Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime" (USA Today, Jan. 2), and "George Clooney's wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt" (Fox News, Jan. 3).
Of course, the mainstream media finally did report on Sisi's speech—everyone else seemed to know about it—but, again, to portray Sisi in a negative light. Thus, after briefly quoting the Egyptian president's call for a "religious revolution," the New York Times immediately adds:
Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language.
In other words, jihadi terror is a product of Sisi, whom the NYT habitually portrays as an oppressive autocrat—especially for his attempts to try to de-radicalize Muslim sermons and teachings (as discussed in this article).
Sisi made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass.
Next, Sisi went to the St. Mark Coptic Cathedral during Christmas Eve Mass to offer Egypt's Christian minority his congratulations and well wishing. Here again he made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass—a thing vehemently criticized by the nation's Islamists, including the Salafi party (Islamic law bans well wishing to non-Muslims on their religious celebrations, which is why earlier presidents—Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, and of course Morsi—never attended Christmas mass).
Accordingly, the greetings Sisi received from the hundreds of Christians present were jubilant. His address was often interrupted by applause, clapping, and cheers of "We love you!" and "hand in hand"—phrases he reciprocated. Part of his speech follows:
Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia and we're here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we mustn't call ourselves anything other than "Egyptians." This is what we must be—Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that Allah willing, Allah willing, we shall build our nation together, accommodate each other, make room for each other, and we shall like each other—love each other, love each other in earnest, so that people may see… So let me tell you once again, Happy New Year, Happy New Year to you all, Happy New Year to all Egyptians!
Sisi stood side-by-side with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II—perhaps in remembrance of the fact that, when General Sisi first overthrew President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with him—and paid a heavy price: the Brotherhood and its sympathizers unleashed a Kristallnacht of "reprisals" that saw 82 Christian churches in Egypt attacked, many destroyed.
Under Sisi, Egyptian police have vigorously defended Coptic Christian churches and businesses from Islamist attacks.
It is also significant to recall where Sisi came to offer his well-wishing to the Christians: the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity's most sacred church which, under Muhammad Morsi was, for the first time in its history, savagely attacked, by both Islamists and the nation's security (see pictures here).
Once again, all of this has either been ignored or underplayed by most mainstream media.
There is, of course, a reason the mainstream media, which apparently follows the Obama administration's lead, has been unkind to Sisi. One will recall that, although Sisi led the largest revolution in world history—a revolution that saw tens of millions take to the streets and ubiquitous signs and banners calling on U.S. President Obama and U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson to stop supporting terrorism (i.e., the Brotherhood)—U.S. leadership, followed by media, spoke only of a "military coup" against a "democratically elected president," without pointing out that this president was pushing a draconian, Islamist agenda on millions who rejected it.
That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking — a big no-no for Muslim leaders — is unprecedented.
So what is the significance of all this—of Sisi? First, on the surface, all of this is positive. That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking—in ways his Western counterparts could never—and then continue his "controversial" behavior by entering the Coptic Christian cathedral during Christmas mass to offer his greetings to Christians—a big no-no for Muslim leaders—is unprecedented. Nor can all this be merely for show. In the last attack on a Coptic church, it was two Muslim police officers guarding the church who died—not the Christian worshippers inside—a rarity.
That Sisi remains popular in Egypt also suggests that a large percentage of Egyptians approve of his behavior. Recently, for instance, after the Paris attacks, Amru Adib, host of Cairo Today, made some extremely critical comments concerning fellow Muslims/Egyptians, including by asking them "Are you, as Muslims, content with the fact that today we are all seen as terrorists by the world?… We [Egyptians] used to bring civilization to the world, today what? — We are barbarians! Barbarians I tell you!"
That said, the others are still there—the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, those whom we call "Islamists," and their many sympathizers and allies.
Worst of all, they have that "corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas" that has been "sacralized over the centuries" (to use Sisi's own words) to support them—texts and ideas that denounce Sisi as an "apostate" deserving of death, and thus promising a continued struggle for the soul of Egypt.
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).

Europe rounds up 25 jihadi suspects. Crackdown hamstrung by lack of counterterrorism center
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis January 16, 2015, In the last two days, 25 jihadi suspects were rounded up in secret cells uncovered in Belgium, France and Germany. But these counter-terror operations lifted just one corner of the Islamist terrorist network of active cells spread across Europe, made up of dedicated killers, armed to the teeth and expertly trained in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan in the skills of mass murder.
debkafile’s counterterrorism and intelligence sources note that genuine operational cooperation among Europe’s intelligence and security services at state level is far too rare, even among otherwise friendly governments with common interests.
The Belgian counter-terror operation, which forestalled a Charlie Hebdo-scale attack, was the rare product of an ad hoc partnership with French counter-terror agencies, rather than part of organized intelligence-sharing and regular updates for forestalling assaults.
And so, notwithstanding relaxed interstate diplomatic relations, systemic collaboration is lacking among West Europe’s intelligence agencies, except on rare opportunities when they are pushed into synchronizing their efforts and data by an outside power or ally, or when common diplomatic or economic interests are at stake.
Europol is Europe’s sole central mechanism for fighting crime at continental level - and even its operational effectiveness is in doubt.
The continent has no centralized strategy or a common security mechanism for concerted action to locate or counter a peril that jumps out of the shadows from inside and outside Europe.
The sheer numbers are overwhelming: Belgium has roughly 750,000 Muslims, France – some 5 million; Germany - 4.2 m, Italy - 1.5 m, Netherlands – around 1 m, Spain – 1.2 m and Britain - app. 3 m.
The tasks of hunting needles in these haystacks before the peril jumps out of the shadows from inside or outside – or both – are daunting.
The insular approach by individual European member-nations puts them at a serious disadvantage because the Islamic terrorist organizations share a strong, unified mission and operational and intelligence resources. These groups uniformly condemn all parts of Europe alike as infidels, without distinctions of nationality, language or geographical borders. Each separate country is therefore easy prey for the dedicated, single-minded jihadists, especially when it declares - as Belgium did incredibly - that no links with any other cells were discovered.
Overnight Thursday, German security police raided 11 Muslim residential apartments in Berlin and other places. Two or more suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were detained.
In Paris, French police rounded up 10 people suspected of connections with last week’s terrorist violence. One is a woman who gave the Kouachi brothers her Citroen as their getaway car after their massacre at Charlie Hebdo.
In the Belgian counter-terror raid on 10 apartments Thursday, two suspects were killed in a firefight with the police in the eastern town of Verviers. Searches were also carried out in the Brussels area. Thirteen suspects were arrested in Belgium and two more in France. Weapons, munitions and explosives were found, as well police uniforms and large sums of money. These raids thwarted a plan to kill policemen on the street and at police stations, Belgian prosecutors said Friday. The attacks were imminent.
Jittery French security officials evacuated the big Gare de l’Este railway station Friday over a bomb threat.
In Belgium, Jewish schools, institutions - and even synagogues, for the first time since WWII – closed their doors Friday morning. In France, Jewish schools are also closed for now.
But bombs and submachine guns are clearly not the only weapons the ISIS is wielding against the West.
For some days now, French Internet sites have been under assault. By Friday, 19,000 sites had been hacked.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism and cyber experts report that the Islamist hackers are working out of different locations world wide, many of them in the Middle East, from Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt and the Gaza Strip – but some also out of Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The hackers mostly replace the targeted French site’s home page with ISIS flags and slogans and passages from the Koran. Some websites have crashed under DDOS (Distributing Denial of Service) assault.
The attacks cover a wide range of targets in the Paris region – from banks, public health clinics and hospitals, and government and local authority offices, up to academic research institutions and even a gardening landscape firm and pizza chain.
Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, director of cyber warfare in the French army, has been placed in charge of measures to combat the ISIS cyber war which holds the threat of infrastructure mayhem in France.
Our sources identify one group of Islamist hackers as the Tunisian FallaGa, whose Facebok page carried a list of its targets along with the messages and images it is planting on their sites.
Joint operations against cyber-attacks top the agenda of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s talks with President Barack Obama in Washington Friday.

Democracy is the answer to terrorism
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 16 Jan, 2015
By now you might feel that you have read all you need to about the events in Paris last week that triggered worldwide sympathy for a France absorbing the shock of terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, to discuss ways of fighting back against this latest form of terrorism we may still need to put the event in some context.
Looking for a shorthand analysis, some commentators branded the event as the latest example of the “clash of civilizations” foreseen by Samuel Huntington two decades ago. We are told that the assassination of cartoonists and the murder of Jewish shoppers showed Islam, as a civilization, challenging the Christian civilization, its rival for more than 15 centuries. There are at least two problems with that analysis.
The first is that Islam and Christianity, in their many varieties, are religions and can hardly be regarded as “civilizations.” There is a European civilization which has, in the name of the Enlightenment, progress, human rights, and more recently democracy, helped reshape the whole world. However, that civilization traces back its origins to ancient Greece and Rome. If anything, Christianity, once it had become the state religion under Emperor Constantine, tried to de-Europeanize the European civilization but ended up becoming one of its many ingredients.
On the Islamic side, one could speak of Arab, Iranian and Turkish civilizations, among many others, of which Islam is a major component. However, in every case, none could be understood with exclusive reference to Islam. The Arabs had developed several civilizations of their own, long before Islam appeared, as had the various Iranic and Turkic peoples. In the same way that reducing Chinese civilization to Buddhism or the Indian to Hinduism is reductive, suggesting that all 57 Muslim-majority nations belong to a single bloc at war against a Christian bloc is misleading.
The second problem with the “clash of civilizations” analysis is that even the various groups and countries that use Islam as a political ideology rather than a religion cannot be regarded as a monolithic bloc with a common strategy. We are already witnessing an inflation of pretensions towards Caliph-hood. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has its caliph just as the Taliban have their own Amir Al-Mu’mineen (Commander of the Faithful). Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram have also named their respective caliphs. Iran has a “Supreme Guide” who claims to be the religious leader of all Muslims, while branches of Al-Qaeda have retained their own fatwa-issuing “sheikhs.”
All those caliphs, commanders of the faithful, sheikhs and “Supreme Guides” have killed and continue to kill many more Muslims than Christians, and that is not to mention a string of peaceful pirs, imams, sheikhs, murshids, and qutbs that reign over millions of people in the name of their competing versions of Islam. In Pakistan, for example, the Pir (Elder) of Pagara has more followers than the Iranian “Supreme Guide,” but less money to promote himself.
Does all that mean that the Paris attack had nothing to do with Islam, as President François Hollande suggests? No, it is not up to Hollande to decide who is Muslim and who is not. And it is foolish to deny that trees grown in a forest bear no relation to it. While admitting that the killers were Muslims by religion, just as they were French by nationality, what matters is what they did: terrorism. Didn’t Aristotle suggest that character is action, that you are what you do?
This is not the first time that Europe has experienced terrorism. In fact, in its modern history, the old continent has often suffered from terror used as a means of seeking power. This is partly because it is easier to practice terrorism in a democracy than it is in parts of the world under autocratic and/or totalitarian rule. In those places, the terrorist is quickly caught and wiped out along with his entire family, clan and tribe, or would have to flee abroad to save his life. In Iran, the Shah’s regime, trying to imitate a democracy, never took off the kid gloves and thus failed to eliminate Islamist and Marxist terrorists. Ayatollah Khomeini took off those gloves and all terror groups ended up in graveyards, prison, exile, or (for the more opportunistic ones) in cabinet seats.
There were no terrorists in Nazi Germany, or in the Soviet Union, or under Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Sometimes, the terrorist even comes to power, as happened in Russia in 1917, Germany in 1932, Cuba in 1959, Iran in 1979, and Afghanistan in 1995, which again means the end of private sector terrorism. Terrorism is one of the many parasites that feed on democracy while trying to kill it. European democracy faced a terrorist challenge, in many different shapes and on different scales, from the earliest stages. In the 19th century, it coped with Anarchists, Narodniks, Nihilists and separatist movements.
In the last century, European and American democracies had to fight Marxist groups operating under different labels: Trotskyites, Leninists, Maoists, Castroists, and so on, just as Islamist terrorists now claim to represent “true Islam,” those leftist terror groups pretended to be heirs to “true Socialism.” It was foolish to claim they had nothing to do with Socialism, but even more foolish to believe that Socialism started and ended with them.
The general perception is that terrorism directed against the US started with Al-Qaeda, or at least Islamist groups. However, three US presidents have been assassinated by homegrown Christian terrorists. In the 1960s and 1970s, the US was struck by a range of terror groups, including the Black Panthers, a Puerto Rican liberation army, and smaller armed leftist gangs, all of them composed of people of Christian background, at least in theory. In the 1970s and early 1980s European democracies were wondering how to cope with groups such as Baader-Meinhof, the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigade, the Communist Combatant Cells, and Action Directe, not to mention Corsican, Basque, Breton and Irish nationalist groups.
Unlike the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly, who were French citizens, the jihadist terrorists who carried out attacks in France and other European countries in the 1980s and 1990s were foreigners often sent by the Khomeinist regime in Tehran or Palestinian organizations. A democracy cannot apply “surgical solutions” to terrorism. The families of the Kouachi brothers who killed the Charlie Hebdo editors were released after a few hours of questioning. Their “religious guide,” a Franco–Tunisian nursing student, wasn’t even questioned though he walked into a police station on his own accord.
The long-term and most effective antidote to terrorism is democratization. This is borne out not only by the European experience but also by the success of Latin American nations in defeating their homegrown terrorists. The more democratic they became, the more successful they became in fighting terror.
Terrorists see democracies as soft targets. Provided you are not suicidal, like the Kouachi brothers, the worst that could happen to you is a prison sentence, which, in time, is cut by half for good behavior. What terrorists do not understand is that a democracy does not think like them. A democracy does not want to kill the individual terrorist but to defeat terrorism. This is why, for the past 150 years, terrorism has always lost and democracy has always won. This time will be no different.

Sharing the Blame for Terrorism
Osman Mirghani/Asharq AlAwsat
Friday, 16 Jan, 2015
Claiming that Islam is fully responsible for terrorism now seems easier than arguing that the West, or rather its governments, also shoulders part of the responsibility. In light of the fierce debate taking place over almost the whole world on this issue, and the bickering in the Arab and Muslim worlds, it is now difficult to discuss the topic logically and fully without stirring sensitivities. However, there needs to be an exhaustive conversation on the issue if we truly want to crush the vicious and dangerous blight that is terrorism.
It is not difficult to find voices that consider either Islam or the West fully responsible for breeding terrorism. But between these two sides of the spectrum there is a gray area where it is impossible to place full responsibility on Islam and Muslims and completely absolve Western governments of their role, after they have pursued policies, interventions or wars that created fertile ground for terrorism to grow.
No rational being can pardon Muslims for their part in the growing climate of extremism in which terrorism grows, or for the terrorist attacks their sons have carried out in the region and in Western capitals. Muslims bear responsibility and should have a role in fighting extremist ideology and confronting its preachers and advocates. Defending Islam requires removing impurities produced by the behavior of a radical minority, as well as countering their deviant ideology that continues to mislead Muslim youth and push them into committing the massacres carried out by terrorists. In short, inside all Muslim countries there is a battle taking place between moderation and extremism, between a peaceful and tolerant majority and a violent minority, imbued with excess and hatred. The silence of the majority on this issue is no longer acceptable.
On the other hand, some Western governments bear responsibility for either following policies or pursuing an interventionist strategy that has fed feelings of injustice in hotbeds of extremism. The very “War on Terror” the West declared in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks veered from its original course of being an international war on terrorism, whose confrontation and defeat required true global cooperation and coordination. As a result, it saw abuses that led to a state of chaos and violence, and created a nourishing environment for the preachers of extremism.
There were some objective and brave analysts in the West who critically approached the outcomes of the military operations, including the drone attacks, that killed both terrorists and innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the other hand, there were those who fueled a spirit of hatred against Islam and Muslims, promoting sweeping generalizations that harmed the moderate majority of Muslims, while benefiting the extremists on both sides. If the discourse of hate and incitement is to be rejected by its adherents, then surely the discourse of Islamophobia should be equally rejected by the West. A new trend of attacking Islam as a religion and resorting to negative stereotypes of Muslims has emerged in several Western circles, spreading feelings of blind hostility and hatred toward Muslims in the West. Muslims increasingly feel that they are being targeted and their religion smeared. Terrorist operations are carried out by a minority that does not represent the majority of Muslims, who unreservedly reject and condemn terrorism. Muslims are also victims of terrorism and extremism; in fact they are the primary victim. According to the most recent figures, most of the tens of thousands of lives claimed by terrorist attacks since 2000 all over the world have been nationals of Muslim countries.
The West needs to consider some of the questions that repeatedly go unaddressed, such as: why do terrorist groups and extremist ideologies succeed in attracting Muslim youths who were born in the West, exposed to its values and educated in its schools? Why do Muslim youths in the West feel a sense of injustice and marginalization?
Terrorism is an unpleasant phenomenon and its reasons are complex and not related exclusively to religion; other political and social factors are involved. In addition, there are the ethnic and nationalistic conflicts that feed into the issue. The West has also suffered from political, religious and nationalist terrorism but we did not hear of Christianity or an entire nation being branded as inherently violent in the way Muslims and Islam are. The war on terror requires international efforts and a thorough approach that addresses all the causes of terrorism, including extremist hotbeds and feelings of injustice and humiliation. Otherwise, we will remain stuck in a vicious circle while terrorism continues to claim more lives and create a huge rift between the Muslim world and the West.

What’s cooking in Moscow?
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
Saturday, 17 Jan, 2015
Within the next few days, Moscow will host a “dialogue” to discuss the shape of a forthcoming conference. Any conference to carry out “dialogue” on Syria sounds like a good idea to me. It is also a good idea that this will be taking place in the presence of a “mediator-cum-sponsor” since any honest attempt at relieving the suffering of the Syrian people is more than welcome. The problem, however, is that as we count down to the start of this conference, things are not really as rosy as they seem. To begin with, the “mediator” or “sponsor” in question—which is also claiming that these discussions will be built on the Geneva Communique—is actually a strategic ally of the Assad regime in Syria. Russia has never stopped supplying the regime’s war machine with all the weapons that it needed since the beginning of the popular uprising on March 15, 2011. Then, along with China, its silent partner, it used its Security Council “veto” on three separate occasions to block any UN condemnation of the Assad regime or put an end to its genocide against civilians, including its use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.
Furthermore, since the Geneva I talks, this “pseudo mediator” has outright rejected the Syrian opposition view that it would be impossible to start a transitional stage while Assad and his cronies remain in power, free to continue killing their own people and uprooting and displacing them to the extent that the Syrian refugee crisis is now one of the worst in recent history. Not only that, but Moscow has doggedly turned the argument of a Syrian “popular uprising” on its head by insisting that what has been taking place in Syria is nothing but an “Islamist terrorist conspiracy” against Syria and its regime; ignoring the fact that the popular uprising that started in March 2011 remained peaceful for at least 8 months only to be confronted by massacres and sectarian cleansing.
As for the Syrian opposition itself which Moscow has invited to take part in the proposed conference, Russia has already decided the limits and ceiling of any dialogue. Not satisfied with rejecting any discussion of a transition without Assad and his security apparatus, Russia has practically voided any recognition of the opposition’s representative status. For a start it handpicked the invited opposition figures, and while the regime has been invited as the “legitimate government,” opposition figures have been invited as individuals, not as a recognized group, which implicitly means that Russia does not recognize any opposition organization.
Last but not least, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has openly warned the opposition figures lucky enough to be invited, that they must show up as non-attendance would “weaken” their negotiating position!
From the above, it seems that the Moscow conference has two aims: Firstly, to divide and then destroy the Syrian opposition by playing on its different priorities given its broad and diverse nature; Secondly, “cornering” it in front of the world and portraying it as the obstacle hindering any move towards peace while the regime not only plays by the rules, but is a “virtual ally” in the war against the “takfirist terrorism” as represented by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front et al. With this particular issue in mind, Moscow is not only giving credibility to the regime’s narrative, but is also covering up its own conspiracy against the Syrian uprising, as well as covering up the “change” in the position of the Barack Obama administration towards the Syrian debacle, or rather the “truth” about this position.
Indeed, Moscow is engaged in an open war against the Syrian opposition. Its conference has nothing to do with dialogue whatsoever, as this is nothing but a maneuver to destroy the opposition, exploiting a strong global mood against extremist groups committing atrocities under the banners of Islam. The Charlie Hebdo outrage came just in time to highlight the international community’s political and security priorities.
No doubt fighting ISIS and Al-Qaeda-style terrorism is now rightly a top priority, more so for Muslims as Islam is its first victim and main loser. But some of those in a hurry to join the battle are looking only at the symptoms while ignoring the root causes. It is also important to remind all concerned that the Middle Eastern powers now claiming to be partners in the war against “takfirist terror” have, for decades, traded on such terror, promoting and exploiting it. The current government in Baghdad remembers just whose borders Al-Qaeda terrorists had to cross over in order to enter then US-occupied Iraq, and under whose noses they managed to do this.
Today, in Syria, we are facing a humanitarian tragedy made worse by Washington’s endorsement of Moscow’s positions, giving its implicit blessing to the Moscow conference. It is also important to recall that what has brought about this catastrophic situation inside Syria and its neighboring countries is Washington’s continuous rejection of calls from the opposition and the genuine “Friends of Syria” for no-fly zones and safe havens.
Washington’s inaction has led to the following:
– By not acting against Assad despite issuing several warning, the Syrian president has been left free to use every weapon in his possession against his own people.
– Washington’s passivity has stopped the uprising’s momentum, so mass desertions of politicians and military fizzled out when they discovered the long concealed truth that President Obama was unwilling to confront Iran and Russia, and would not force Assad to abdicate.
– Through the same passivity, Washington has emboldened Iran to order Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi and other (Shi’ite) fighters to back Assad militarily, with Russia taking care of arms supplies.
– Washington has weakened and disheartened the moderates in the Syrian opposition camp, turning the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the weakest fighting force on Syrian soil, while allowing—during 4 long years—thousands of extremists to come to Syria from all corners of the world. These extremists, in turn, have now undermined the uprising’s credibility and blemished its image.
This means that what is being planned in Moscow is nothing more than a conspiracy, not a conference, against Syria and its popular uprising.
Like the “De Mistura Plan” before it, everything now is out in the open.

The truth behind Iran’s supposed nuclear ties with Syria

Friday, 16 January 2015
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
A new Western intelligence assessment points to efforts by the Syrian government to renew its operations in an underground and clandestine facility, close to Qusayr near the border of Lebanon, in order to produce nuclear weapons. Citing the Western intelligence assessment, the German weekly Der Spiegel stated that the reconstruction of the nuclear facility is being conducted with the assistance of the Islamic Republic, North Korea, and Hezbollah.
The report has led to a war of rhetoric among Western officials, outlets, along with Iranian and Syrian officials. The Western intelligence report indicates that dialogues among Ibrahim Othman, head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, Iranian, North Korean and Hezbollah affiliates were “intercepted.” In addition, according Abu Mohammad al-Bitar, the Free Syrian Army has also noticed the “unprecedented” presence of Iranian and Hezbollah security members in the town of Qusayr on the suburbs of Homs. Although one should be cautious about jumping to conclusions about Western intelligence reports, Iran-Syria or North Korean-Syria military and nuclear cooperation is not something new
The report rattled Iranian leaders, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded immediately by stating: “The magazine’s allegation is one of the attempts made by those circles whose life has been based on violence and fear to cloud the international community with illusion and create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic, and this is a ridiculous claim.” In addition, a Syrian source refuted the report and called it “mere lies.”
Although one should be cautious about jumping to conclusions about Western intelligence reports, Iran-Syria or North Korean-Syria military and nuclear cooperation is not something new; however, the reaction of Iranian and Syrian leaders have been different this time.
Iran-Syria nuclear cooperation? The fact that high Iranian officials responded immediately to the Western intelligence assessment refuting the report and calling it “ridiculous“ reflects the notion that the Rowhani administration’s attempts to exclude any efforts that might scuttle the nuclear negotiations between the six world powers (China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) known as the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic.
Reports with respect to the Syrian government renewing its nuclear program were previously published in 2013. There had been reports that some activities were being carried out at an alleged Syrian nuclear facility close to eastern suburbs of Damascus, Marj Sultan. Nevertheless, Iranian leaders took the matter more seriously this time around. Iranian and American chief diplomats will be meeting on Wednesday to find ways to speed up the nuclear negotiations and strike a final nuclear deal. According to Zarif, the reason behind these direct talks with American Secretary of State John Kerry “is to see if we can speed up and push the negotiations forward” The Islamic Republic is attempting to show that it is complying with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the interim nuclear deal by restricting its uranium enrichment, not engaging in the international black market for obtaining nuclear material, and halting operation in its Plutonium reactor in Arak.
Syria’s nuclear program
In comparison to Iran’s sophisticated nuclear program, Syria’s nuclear program seems potentially nascent. There are two major nuclear sites in Syria. The first one is Al-Kibar reactor in the northeast of the city of Deir Azzor and the second one is Marj Sultan in the outskirts of Damascus- where the fuel is reportedly stored.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) previously reported that Damascus was building a nuclear reactor in Deir Azzor. Reportedly, tons of enriched uranium in Damascus are being protected by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah.
This issue has resulted to heightened tensions between Israel and the Iranian-Syrian nexus as well. Formerly, Syrian nuclear site Al-Kibar reactor in the northeast of the city of Deir Azzor, was target of Israeli strikes in 2007, almost destroying the infrastructure and halting the program. There are three common concerns about the undeclared Syrian nuclear site and nuclear proliferation. First of all, the argument is that the nuclear material might fall in the hands of the wrong side. In other words, if these nuclear sites are seized by some radical groups or al-Qaeda-linked affiliates, they might be capable of utilizing the highly enriched uranium and producing nuclear weapons.
Technically speaking though, the primary question is whether the 50 tons of uranium is natural or highly enriched to a level that can be transferred to nuclear warheads. In order to build nuclear weapons, weapons-grade highly enriched uranium or an adequate amount of centrifuges are needed. The second question is whether the radical militants possess the capability of transferring Syria’s enriched uranium into weapon-grade bombs. But more fundamentally, Syria possess other military capabilities that can pose the same threat such as ballistic missiles and biological weapons. For example when it comes to the issues of ballistic missiles, Syria has previously cooperated with Iran and North Korea. In addition, since Syria can hardly make an estimate of 50 tons of natural uranium, the role of other state and non-state actors is inevitable. Third, one can make the argument that without doubt, becoming a nuclear state for the Syrian government can be a formidable tool and deterrence against foreign intervention.
But more fundamentally, this report has diverted attention from Iran’s other indisputable and multi-layered activities and engagements in Syria- including the military, financial, intelligence, and advisory assistance to the Syrian government which have further radicalized and militarized the ongoing Syrian war.

ICC opens investigation into Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Palestine to become full ICC member on April 1
Posted by : Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 16 Jan, 2015
Amsterdam, Reuters—The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, thrusting it into one of the world’s most chronic, heated conflicts and opening a path to possible charges against Israelis or Palestinians.
In a statement on Friday, prosecutors said they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014 during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed the Palestinians—whose peace talks with Israel have collapsed—will formally become an ICC member on April 1 at their request, a move strongly opposed by Israel and the United States. “The case is now in the hands of the court,” said Nabil Abuznaid, head of the Palestinian delegation in The Hague. “It is a legal matter now and we have faith in the court system.” Prosecutors will assess evidence of alleged crimes and determine if they are of sufficient gravity and scale to warrant charges against individuals on either side. The investigation was branded as “outrageous” by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “The court, which after more than 200,000 killed in Syria did not see fit to intervene . . .finds it necessary to ‘examine’ the most moral army in the world,” Lieberman said in a statement. “We will act in the international arena in order to bring an end to this court.” The ICC has been criticized for focusing on Africa while being unable to intervene in some of the world’s bloodiest and most intractable conflicts. An initial inquiry could lead to war crimes charges against Israel, whether relating to the recent Gaza war or its 47-year-long occupation of the West Bank. It also occupied Gaza from 1967-2005. Palestinians seek statehood in the two territories. ICC membership also exposes the Palestinians to prosecution, possibly for rocket attacks on Israel by militant groups operating out of Gaza. The ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, is the court of last resort for its 122 member states, aiming to hold the powerful accountable for the most heinous crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to act. But the ICC has struggled over its first decade, completing just three cases and securing two convictions. Critics say it has been vulnerable to political pressure and opposition from non-members the United States, China and Russia.

Turkish premier says Israeli 'provocations' radicalizing Muslim world
By REUTERS/J.Post/01/16/2015
Turkish PM says Netanyahu on par with Paris terrorist...
Erdogan: 'Charlie Hebdo' guilty of provoking Muslims,...
In a Reuters interview, Davutoglu said peace in the Middle East and the eradication of extremist groups would be virtually impossible without the establishment of a Palestinian state. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of terrorism and said Israeli "provocations" such as the bombardment of Gaza were contributing to radicalization in the Muslim world. In a Reuters interview, Davutoglu said peace in the Middle East and the eradication of extremist groups would be virtually impossible without the establishment of a Palestinian state. "(Netanyahu) himself killed, his army killed children in the playground. They killed our citizens and an American citizen in international waters. This is terrorism. Nobody can argue about Israeli aggression in Jerusalem in the Al-Aksa mosque," Davutoglu said. "These provocations create frustration in the Muslim world and are becoming one of the reasons why these radical trends are emerging," he said. "If we want to establish peace and order in the Middle East, eliminating all the extremist forces, we have to solve the Palestinian question." Davutoglu on Thursday compared Netanyahu to the Islamist militants who carried out attacks last week in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity. In the interview in Istanbul, he said Turkey would continue to do everything it could to stop foreign fighters crossing to and from Syria, describing the conflict in its southern neighbor as a major national security threat.
But he said the solution did not lie in fighting Islamic State militants alone and called for an internationally policed no-fly zone to protect the city of Aleppo from President Bashar Assad's forces. "The source of the problem is the Assad regime's brutality ... (We want a) no-fly zone ... so that Aleppo will be protected at least against the air bombardment and there will be no new refugees coming to Turkey," he said. Turkey may widen a series of militarized zones along its border with Syria to try to stop the passage of foreign fighters without closing the frontier completely to Syrian refugees, he said. "On the border, up to now, there are refugee camps, there are certain places where there is much more strict control ... These military zones might be enlarged," Davutoglu said, adding that Turkey had so far been reluctant to do this so as not to deter refugees.

The problem with Islam
Ben-Dror Yemini/Ynetnews/Published: 01.16.15
Op-ed: The distorted mutation that is Islamic fundamentalism has to be acknowledged; many Muslims recognize there is a problem, which is not just a handful of Jihadists involved in terrorism.
Any debate on Islam in Muslim countries and among Muslim communities in the West is like stepping into a minefield. When it comes to the media outlets and academe, for the most part, the subject of Islam sparks a convoluted and apologetic discourse; on the social networks, on the other hand, the discourse it prompts is a racist one.
The thing is there's a problem. It's hissing and bubbling. Many Muslims realize there's a problem. The Egyptian president spoke recently of "a need to effect a substantial change in Islam." And in 2004, Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the former general manager of the al-Arabiya television news channel, said: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
The problem is not a handful of Jihadists involved in terrorism. The problem is that the Muslim world in recent years has produced most of the high-casualty conflicts across the globe. The Muslim world struggles to embrace universal values, such as the status of women. And the problem extends to the free world. Entire neighborhoods in Europe are becoming "no-go zones" for veteran residents, and the police too in some cases.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb stated that the major problem was resistance to integration. The percentage of social misfits and individuals opposed to integration is higher among the Muslim communities than among the other minorities. In addition, many of the world's Muslims, even those who live in the West, want to see Sharia law in effect, not only for themselves, but also forcibly for others. They are basically saying in the clearest of terms: We have come here to impose our values on you.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Jordanians, 74 percent of Egyptians and 89 percent of the residents of the Palestinian Authority support enforcing Sharia law – with the emphasis on the enforcement.
The WZB Berlin Social Science Center conducted a similar survey on the viewpoints of Muslims in Western Europe. The findings show that 65 percent support the implementation of Sharia law, with 75 percent stating that Sharia has only one interpretation. And there are numerous and various surveys that reveal far more worrying data. One such poll, which made waves recently, determined that 27 percent of the Muslims in France support Islamic State. OK, so some surveys may be a little suspect; but the serious ones clearly show that the picture is bleak even without the need for any exaggeration.
Most polls reveal another alarming finding – support for fundamentalism, Islamic State or terrorism is higher among second and third-generation Muslims. The trend, thus, is not one of integration, but of radicalization and Islamization instead. True, we're talking about a minority; nevertheless, the bottom line is that millions in Europe support, at some level or another, the fundamental notion of the global Jihad – the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. They fall into the same ideological expanse as the Taliban, Hamas, Islamic State and Boko Haram.
Christian – or non-Muslim rather – Western Europe is not free of discrimination against Muslims. Studies conducted in almost every country in Western Europe show that an individual with a Muslim name has less chance of securing a job than someone with a local name. Fear of Muslims and Islam is on the rise. A survey conducted in Germany reveals that 70 percent of Germans believe that there is a clash between Islam and the values of the West. A similar survey reveals that 74 percent of French citizens think that "Islam is not compatible with the values of French society," with some 76 percent of Brits expressing the same sentiment.
Is this racism? Not necessarily. Stanford University Professor David Laitin sent employers in France job-application forms from three female candidates – a white French Christian, a Senegalese Muslim and a Senegalese Christian. The Senegalese Christian woman suffered no discrimination in relation to the white French Christian; the Muslim woman, however, did. In other words, it's not a matter of color or country of origin. The concern is for religious affiliation, which is becoming more threatening. The desire of too many Muslims to impose their values is encouraging fear and discrimination.
There are other minorities who have chosen a different path. The Hindus who arrived in Britain, for example, are no different in color to the Muslims. They suffered from the same discrimination, at the outset at least. But they integrated. And not only did they integrate, but they have made some amazing achievements in numerous fields. In education, for example, they have surpassed the white children, and the Jewish ones too. They have never sought to impose their culture. They don't have religious centers that nurture hatred and incitement – like some of the mosques. Many academics argue that Islam's hostility towards the West is the result of white Europe's exploitative and colonial history. Post-colonialists promote this claim in almost every academic institution in the free world. It's a flawed argument. After all, the Hindus, too, suffered under colonialism. They, too, were exploited. The Jews suffered too, a whole lot more, at the hands of the racist forces on the European continent. And not just suffered. They were destroyed en masse. But we don't hear about Jewish or Hindu terrorism, or about vengeance, or about incitement, or about the nurturing of extremism because of dark chapters in white history.
Others, like Jimmy Carter, argue that terrorism, like we witnessed in Paris, stems from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Really? After all, 99 percent of the violence in the Muslim world is directed against Muslims. Were 148 people massacred at a school in Pakistan because of Israel? Has Carter lost his mind? But Carter – oh, the shame – is offering justification for terrorism. The current US president, too, Barack Obama, insists on living in denial. He refuses to acknowledge the fact that we are dealing with radical Islamic terror – as if millions of Muslims didn't come out in protest against the cartoons. One thinks there is no Islamic radicalism, and the other thinks that Israel is the reason for its existence. With such leaders, the free world is in big trouble.
The most serious problem in the Muslim world is the status of women. Most so-called honor killings occur in the Muslim world. It has nothing to do with colonialism or discrimination. Those who oppress 50 percent of their community will always be oppressed. Lowering the status of woman lowers the status of society as a whole. Societies that promote equality don't produce terror. Patriarchal societies breed oppression and fundamentalism. But the post-colonial scholars and Carter choose to ignore the reality.
Those who absolve the Muslims of responsibility, who go easy on them and make excuses for them, who ignore the massacres perpetrated by the Islamists, primarily against Muslims, and who ignore the oppression of women are the racists, the ones who regard them as inferior. The truth is they are equal. There are millions of Muslims who choose democracy, equality for women, human rights. But the enlightened in the West, of all people, are the ones who are strengthening the radicals.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and billionaires like Alwaleed Bin Talal are investing fortunes in the establishment of "Islamic study centers" and Middle East studies faculties at leading universities in the West. The tainted money has corrupted countless academics. They have nurtured the idea that the West is to blame, and have absolved the Muslim world of all responsibility. They haven't helped the Muslims. They have exacerbated the problem.
One has to admit then: Neither the Western hostility nor the colonial legacy is to blame for the Muslim fundamentalism. It's Muslim fundamentalism, it's a system of values that promotes the oppression of women that is causing and intensifying the hostility towards Muslims. After all, some of the perpetrators of the attacks, such as Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist from the Jewish supermarket in Paris, are new converts to Islam. They undergo concentrated brainwashing that allows them to recite slogans about "the West that is bombing the Muslims," whereas the Islamists are the ones, for the most part, who are massacring the Muslims. Islam, too, has a glorious history of achievements. But one has to recognize the existence, too, of a distorted mutation that is harming, first and foremost, the Muslims themselves. There is no instant solution. But self-deception, of the Muslims and the West, only exacerbates the problem. We need to listen to brave Muslim

Ankara Mayor: Israel to Blame for Charlie Hebdo Attack
by Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
January 18, 2015
Originally published under the title, "'I killed because they were spies'."
This columnist's first of a few encounters with Melih Gökçek, the unchallenged mayor of the Turkish capital since 1994, was through a press release from the municipality, sent by fax to this newspaper, in the mid-1990s. It was grotesquely (but cutely) signed: Melih Gökçek, Lord Mayor of Ankara. It caused laughter in the newsroom. But no one knew the Lord Mayor of Ankara would not always be naively amusing.
In 2011, the nationalist-turned-Islamist Mr. Gökçek promised to erect an Algerian genocide/massacre monument right across the French Embassy compound in Ankara if the French parliament went ahead with a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide. In fact, Paris ended up recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but Mr. Gökçek's monument still remains to be erected right across from the French Embassy compound. Meanwhile, French defense companies are making an impressive comeback to the lucrative Turkish market, with President François Hollande having risen to become President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "new Berlusconi."
Last summer, when a Turkish-Kurdish pop star wrote on her Twitter account, "May God bless Hitler," the popular mayor of Ankara replied: "I applaud you!" And when hundreds of angry Turks hurled stones and rocks at, and tried to break into, the Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul, the Lord Mayor of Ankara said: "We will conquer the consulate of the despicable murderers." Just like the Algerian genocide monument waits to be erected, the Israeli diplomatic missions remain to be conquered.
Mr. Gökçek may have a couple of unkept promises to the people of Ankara. He may have the habit of applauding people who admire Hitler. But the Lord Mayor's more important virtues make him absolutely eligible for either of two strategic positions: The head of counter-intelligence at the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) or the head of the anti-terror unit at the special operations unit.
"It is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents."
Commenting on the Paris massacre, the Lord Mayor suggested that Israel was annoyed with the Lower House of French Parliament for voting for the recognition of a Palestinian state, and with France's vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for the same recognition. He unmasked the plot: "Israel certainly doesn't want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That's why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents: Mossad enflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents."
So now the world has learned the real culprit behind the murders. The French prosecutors and the International Criminal Court know which organization to indict for the killings: Mossad, the same silly spy network that in the past was caught red-handed by sending spies of various bird species to Turkey, with metal rings around their legs stamped "Israel."
Meanwhile, other Turks who use the same logic to impress may be less lucky. In 2011, one of two Turkish celebrities who was accused of raping call girls defended himself by saying that the whole incident was an "Israeli plot against him." This author has not since learned whether the man targeted by Israel was found guilty or acquitted.
And last year, Ziyaettin Yaraşır murdered Sultan Kaymaz, the owner of a driving school in Istanbul and the wife of a garrison commander. Yaraşır faces a life sentence for the murder. At the latest hearing a few days ago, Mr. Yaraşır, in his defense, claimed that "Mrs. Kaymaz's real name is Hülya Çevik and he was her ex-lover." But not just that: The defendant also claimed "the victim's family had raped his mother, poisoned his father and killed his brother." And that he killed the victim because "all of these people are Mossad agents!"
The court ordered a thorough medical check to determine whether the suspect is sane and accountable for his actions. Your columnist is not convinced that the man is insane. With his pragmatic and creative thinking, he could even have won a municipal election somewhere in Turkey, if not the capital. He's just an unlucky soul.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Faten Hamama, Arab film icon, dies aged 83: family
Agence France Presse/Jan. 17, 2015/CAIRO: Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, an Arab film icon and Omar Sharif's former wife, died Saturday at the age of 83, their son Tarek Sharif told AFP. Hamama, who was less than 10 when she made her screen debut, appeared in almost 100 films and worked with masters of Egypt's massive film industry, including Youssef Chahine. She often starred with Omar Sharif. Born a Christian, he converted to Islam to marry Hamama and described her as the only love of his life. "The Lady of the Arabic screen," as she was known, suffered "a sudden health problem which led to her death," Egypt's official news agency MENA reported. It said she had been hospitalised weeks earlier due to illness but had returned home. A figure of the golden age of Egyptian cinema, Faten Hamama's career reached its pinnacle in the 1940s and 1950s. She starred in romantic movies alongside the famed Arab crooner Abdel Halim Hafez as well as in films advocating women's rights and condemning social injustices.