March 03/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Listen To What They Say, But Do Not do What They Do
Matthew 23/01-12./: "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."

Bible Quotation For Today/Extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Second Letter to the Corinthians 08/01-09/: "We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." 

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 02-03/15
Full text of PM Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC/March 03/15
Iran at Saudi Arabia’s frontiers/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 02/15
Taking the War on Terror to the Next Level/Fayez Sara /Asharq Al Awsat/ March 02/15 
The fatal flaw in the Iran deal/Charles Krauthammer/Human Events/March 02/15

Lebanese Related News published on March 02-03/15
Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue Makes 'Serious Progress' on Security, Political Files
Ali Eid's Brother Shot Dead in Kuweikhat, Residents Disavow Assailants
Zeaiter meets EU envoy over air safety
Hezbollah seeks secular, democratic state: MP
Lebanon creates committee to organize dairy sector
Jumblatt, Nusra reach agreement on Idlib’s Druze: report
Hizbullah Officials Visit Tashnag Party HQ
Repercussions of a nuke deal
Mashnouq Refuses to Sign Civil Marriage Contracts
Berri Expects Cabinet Session this Week as Mechanism Remains Unchanged
Al-Hujeiri Denies Carrying New Militant Demands on Hostages
Abou Faour Orders Probe into Infant's Death in Akkar
3 Suspected Swine Flu Cases Detected in Tyre
Sidon Resident Killed in Syria Fighting
Israeli Gunboat Violates Lebanese Waters, Threatens Fishermen
Child Sexually Assaulted at Akkar School
Bassil Says 'Strong Flank' Lebanon Prevented 'Syria's Fall'

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 02-03/15
Netanyahu: US-Israel ties stronger than ever

Netanyahu tries to head off Iran’s machinations after Obama empowers Tehran as favored Mid East ally
Netanyahu denies split with US over speech
UN envoy: US committed to preventing nuclear Iran
Iran's Guards increase monitoring of social media
Kerry warns Israel PM against revealing details of Iran nuclear deal
Video shows Los Angeles police shooting homeless man
King Salman, Sisi mull joint anti-terror force
Killer of U.S. teacher in Abu Dhabi referred to Federal Supreme Court
How much longer until Egypt’s parliamentary elections?
Sisi talks on relations with Saudi Arabia
On Turkey’s push to salvage Syrian fighting spirit
Turkey detains 10 ISIS militants: reports
Turkish journalist arrested for 'framing' military officers
Turkey probes soldier for not resisting ISIS: report
Drone strike kills three al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen
Libya’s arms pursuit illustrates geo-political alignments
The U.N. envoy to Syria’s disastrous failure
Attempts to damage Saudi–Egypt ties will fail: Egyptian ambassador
Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood to split from Egypt parent: sources
Spanish PM hits back at Greek accusation of anti-Athens “axis”
Israel rights group criticizes army's use of dogs
Palestine to file ICC case against Israel in April
Vatican on alert for Islamist attack, but no plot
Twitter investigates ISIS threats against co-founder

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Netanyahu: Iran deal could threaten Israel’s existence
Islamic State: Children study Qur’an, get weapons training

Iran behind cyber-attack on Adelson’s Sands Corp.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Authorities raid Christian homes, ask them to leave country 
Saudis give prestigious award to Muslim cleric who said that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”
Saudi prison showers Islamic jihad terrorists with perks
New York Post recommends that Obama tell still more soothing falsehoods about Islam
The History of Every Country
Islamic scholars conclude again that Islamic State is not Islamic, ignore Qur’anic teachings on which it bases its case

خطاب رئيس وزراء إسرائيل خلال انعقاد مؤتمر ايباك في الولايات المتحدة اليوم
Full text of PM Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC
J.Post/March 03/15
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the pro-Israel lobby's annual policy conference on Monday.
Thank you. Wow, 16,000 people. Anyone here from California? Florida? New York? Well, these are the easy ones.
How about Colorado? Indiana? I think I got it. Montana? Texas? You're here in record numbers.
You're here from coast to coast, from every part of this great land. And you're here at a critical time. You're here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli-U.S. relations are not only premature, they're just wrong. You're here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever. And because of you, and millions like you, across this great country, it's going to get even stronger in the coming years.
Thank you Bob Cohen, Michael Kassen, Howard Kohr and all the leadership of AIPAC. Thank you for your tireless, dedicated work to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States. I want to thank, most especially, Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans. I deeply appreciate your steadfast support for Israel, year in, year out. You have our boundless gratitude.
I want to welcome President Zeman of the Czech Republic. Mr. President, Israel never forgets its friends. And the Czech people have always been steadfast friends of Israel, the Jewish people, from the days of Thomas Masaryk at the inception of Zionism.
You know, Mr. President, when I entered the Israeli army in 1967, I received a Czech rifle. That was one of the rifles that was given to us by your people in our time of need in 1948. So thank you for being here today.
Also here are two great friends of Israel, former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar and as of last month, former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Thank you both for your unwavering support. You are true champions of Israel, and you are, too, champions of the truth.
I also want to recognize the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, for your genuine friendship, Dan, and for the great job you're doing representing the United States and the State of Israel.
And I want to recognize the two Rons. I want to thank Ambassador Ron Prosor for the exemplary job he's doing at the U.N. in a very difficult forum.
And I want to recognize the other Ron, a man who knows how to take the heat, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Ron, I couldn't be prouder to have you representing Israel in Washington.
And finally, I want to recognize my wife, Sara, whose courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration to me. Sara divides her time as a child psychologist, as a loving mother, and her public duties as the wife of the prime minister. Sara, I'm so proud to have you here with me today, to have you with me at my side always.
My friends, I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital. And I also bring to you news that you may not have heard. You see, I'll be speaking in Congress tomorrow.
You know, never has so much been written about a speech that hasn't been given. And I'm not going to speak today about the content of that speech, but I do want to say a few words about the purpose of that speech.
First, let me clarify what is not the purpose of that speech. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.
I deeply appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel, security cooperation, intelligence sharing, support at the U.N., and much more, some things that I, as prime minister of Israel, cannot even divulge to you because it remains in the realm of the confidences that are kept between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. I am deeply grateful for this support, and so should you be.
My speech is also not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate. An important reason why our alliance has grown stronger decade after decade is that it has been championed by both parties and so it must remain.
Both Democratic and Republican presidents have worked together with friends from both sides of the aisle in Congress to strengthen Israel and our alliance between our two countries, and working together, they have provided Israel with generous military assistance and missile defense spending. We've seen how important that is just last summer.
Working together, they've made Israel the first free trade partner of America 30 years ago and its first official strategic partner last year. They've backed Israel in defending itself at war and in our efforts to achieve a durable peace with our neighbors. Working together has made Israel stronger; working together has made our alliance stronger. And that's why the last thing that anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue. And I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that. Israel has always been a bipartisan issue.
Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue. Ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Look at that graph. Look at that map. And you see on the wall, it shows Iran training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.
And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.
And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there's still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak on our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves.
Well, no more, no more.
The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over. Today in our sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves. And being able to defend ourselves, we ally with others, most importantly, the United States of America, to defend our common civilization against common threats.
In our part of the world and increasingly, in every part of the world, no one makes alliances with the weak. You seek out those who have strength, those who have resolve, those who have the determination to fight for themselves. That's how alliances are formed.
So we defend ourselves and in so doing, create the basis of a broader alliance.
And today, we are no longer silent; today, we have a voice. And tomorrow, as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice.
I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that's devouring country after country in the Middle East, that's exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States agree that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but we disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons. Now disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time, even among the closest of allies. Because they're important differences between America and Israel. The United States of America is a large country, one of the largest. Israel is a small country, one of the smallest. America lives in one of the world's safest neighborhoods. Israel lives in the world's most dangerous neighborhood. America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it's much more vulnerable. American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.
You know I think that encapsulates the difference. I've been prime minister of Israel for nine years. There's not a single day, not one day that I didn't think about the survival of my country and the actions that I take to ensure that survival, not one day. And because of these differences, America and Israel have had some serious disagreements over the course of our nearly 70-year-old friendship.
Now, it started with the beginning. In 1948, Secretary of State Marshall opposed David Ben-Gurion's intention to declare statehood. That's an understatement. He vehemently opposed it. But Ben-Gurion, understanding what was at stake, went ahead and declared Israel's independence.
In 1967, as an Arab noose was tightening around Israel's neck, the United States warned Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that if Israel acted alone, it would be alone. But Israel did act -- acted alone to defend itself.
In 1981, under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor at Osirak. The United States criticized Israel and suspended arms transfers for three months. And in 2002, after the worst wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel's history, Prime Minister Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield. The United States demanded that Israel withdraw its troops immediately, but Sharon continued until the operation was completed. There's a reason I mention all these. I mention them to make a point. Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade.
And our friendship will weather the current disagreement, as well, to grow even stronger in the future. And I'll tell you why; because we share the same dreams. Because we pray and hope and aspire for that same better world; because the values that unite us are much stronger than the differences that divide us values like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, compassion.
As our region descends into medieval barbarism, Israel is the one that upholds these values common to us and to you.
As Assad drops bell bombs on his own people, Israeli doctors treat his victims in our hospitals right across the fence in the Golan Heights As Christians in the Middle East are beheaded and their ancient communities are decimated, Israel's Christian community is growing and thriving, the only one such community in the Middle East.
As women in the region are repressed, enslaved, and raped, women in Israel serve as chief justices, CEOs, fighter pilots, two women chief justices in a row. Well, not in a row, but in succession. That's pretty good. In a dark, and savage, and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of humanity, of light, and of hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family. We're practically mishpocha.
Now, disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we are family.
Rooted in a common heritage, upholding common values, sharing a common destiny. And that's the message I came to tell you today. Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come.
Thank you, AIPAC. Thank you, America. God bless you all.

Netanyahu: US-Israel ties stronger than ever
WATCH: Speaking to AIPAC ahead of Congress speech, PM devotes most of address to stressing that 'friendship between US and Israel grows stronger and stronger.'
Ynet /Latest Update: 03.02.15, / Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the America Israel Public Affairs Commitee annual conference in Washington DC on Monday, in the first of two major speeches during his visit to the US. "Reports of the demise of Israel-US relations are not just premature, they're wrong," he told the assembled delegates.
"You're here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever," Netanyahu added and said that the relationship between the two countries "is going to get even stronger in the coming years."
"My Congress speech not intended to show disrespect to Obama or the office that he holds," the prime minister said, in response to criticism of his US visit two weeks before the Israeli elections.
He emphasized that "America and Israel are more than friends, we are like a family. Disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable but we must always remember that we are family."
As the leader of the Jewish State, Netanyahu claimed he had a duty to warn of threats to the Jewish people. "The days in which Jewish people are passive in the face of those who want to annihilate us are over."
"Today, we are no longer silenced, today we have a voice, and tomorrow as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice. American leaders worry about the security of their country, Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country. I think that encapsulates the difference," Netanyahu said.
The second, and more controversial, is his speech Tuesday to Congress, in which he will decry the agreement currently being formulated between Iran and the world powers over the former's nuclear aspirations.
"Despite occasional disagreements the friendship between the US and Israel grows stronger and stronger, decade after decade, and our friendship will weather the current disagreement as well. Because we share the same dreams, because we pray, hope and aspire to that same better world," Netanyahu told the AIPAC delegates.
The speech to a joint session of Congress, following an invitation issued by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, was planned without notifying the White House, something seen as a major breach of protocol.
Critics have accused Netanyahu of seizing the opportunity to boost his own chances in the on March 17 elections in Israel, and indeed a Likud MK said Sunday that the party was hoping the speech would have a positive impact domestically. Netanyahu has also come under fire for further straining an already tense relationship with the American president, at a time when Israel is facing increased international isolation.
The Obama administration, known to have tense ties with the Netanyahu government responded coolly to the plan. President Barack Obama said he would not meet with Netanyahu during his time in Washington, citing the proximity to the Israeli elections, while Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are out of the country.

Hezbollah seeks secular, democratic state: MP
The Daily Star/Mar. 02, 2015/BEIRUT: Hezbollah is seeking to establish a secular, democratic Lebanese state, party MP Ali Fayyad said Monday. “We [Hezbollah] believe in equality among all the Lebanese, and in this country we seek to establish a nonsectarian, democratic state,” Fayyad said during a visit of the former Israeli Khiam prison in southern Lebanon. He noted that all Lebanese should enjoy equal rights. “Although [Hezbollah] is a Muslim party we believe that all those fighting against imperialism, racism, discrimination, occupation and injustice, and those who are defending freedom – wherever they are – are our comrades, our partners and our brothers.”Fayyad stressed that Hezbollah’s posture in Lebanon will remain defensive. “And for this goal, we have every right to possess all the means to defend our people, our nation and our land, especially since the Israeli enemy we are facing is backed by the U.S. and a large number of European countries, which supply [Israel] with the most-advanced means of fighting, killing and destruction, including nuclear bombs,” he said.“Hence, we stand on our national territory to defend this country and all the Lebanese people without distinguishing between Muslims and Christians or between Sunni and Druze.”

Ali Eid's Brother Shot Dead in Kuweikhat, Residents Disavow Assailants
Naharnet/A brother of former MP Ali Eid was shot dead Monday in the Akkar town of al-Kuweikhat, in an attack that was swiftly condemned by the residents and the municipality. “Bader Eid, a brother of ex-MP Ali Eid, was transferred to the Rahal Hospital in Akkar with a gunshot wound after he came under fire in the town of al-Kuweikhat,” state-run National News Agency reported. Eid later died of his wounds at the aforementioned hospital, NNA said. Security forces have since arrived on the scene of the incident and launched an investigation. Meanwhile, al-Kuweikhat municipal chief Omar al-Hayek announced after a meeting at his residence that the town's dignitaries condemn the attack, noting that “the residents have nothing to do with” a social media statement giving Ali Eid's relatives a 10:00 pm ultimatum to leave Akkar. The alleged statement was signed “The Gathering of al-Kuweikhat Youths.”“All al-Kuweikhat residents dissociate themselves from this statement and they have nothing to do with the issue in any way whatsoever,” Hayek stressed.
He urged security agencies to unveil the circumstances of the attack and to “prosecute the distributors of such seditious statements that seek to undermine civil peace.”Hayek also underlined “the keenness of al-Kuweikhat's residents in particular and Akkar's residents in general on good-neighborliness and coexistence with everyone.”Later on Monday, NNA said the army closed the Mankoubeen-Qobbeh road in Tripoli as a precaution against any retaliatory acts in the wake of the incident. Residents of the Tripoli district of Jabal Mohsen, which is largely loyal to Ali Eid's Arab Democratic Party, had last year come under several assaults in the city against the backdrop of deadly intermittent clashes with residents of the rival Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.  The army arrested many fugitives from both districts as an unprecedented security plan got underway in April 2014. However, Ali Eid and his son Rifaat managed to flee Lebanon after the judiciary charged them with a number of terror offenses.

Jumblatt, Nusra reach agreement on Idlib’s Druze: report
The Daily Star/Mar. 02, 2015/BEIRUT: An agreement has reportedly been reached between Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and the Nusra Front regarding Druze living in Syria’s Idlib.According to local daily Al-Akhbar, the agreement calls for Idlib’s Druze to embrace Islam and destroy the tombs of their relatives. In return, the Nusra Front would stop imposing Sharia - Islamic law - on Idlib’s Druze. Last year, ISIS and Nusra forced Druze in Idlib, situated in northwestern Syria and bordering Turkey, to announce their conversion to Islam. They have also forced residents of the areas they control to live under Sharia. The report said the deal was reached after negotiators for both sides met with a UAE-based mediator from the Syrian Opposition Coalition, identified as Abu Uday.

3 Suspected Swine Flu Cases Detected in Tyre
Naharnet/Three suspected cases of swine flu were discovered in the southern city of Tyre, reported MTV on Monday. It said that one of the patients' health “had declined dramatically.” The patient, aged 55, was receiving treatment at one of the city's hospitals, but was then urgently transferred to a major hospital in Beirut once his health took a turn for the worse. The two other suspected cases are undergoing examinations to verify their infection with swine flu. The year 2009 witnessed an outbreak of the disease in the world.
At least four people died from swine flu in Lebanon that year. Some 18,500 people perished during the global outbreak at the time.

Abou Faour Orders Probe into Infant's Death in Akkar
Naharnet/Health Minister Wael Abou Faour called on Monday for an "immediate investigation" into the death of a baby in the northern Akkar district after hospitals allegedly refused to admit him. Abou Faour ordered the investigation with Rahhal and al-Youssef hospitals.
His decision came after Mounir al-Hawli filed a complaint with the Halba police station over the weekend, claiming several hospitals in the region did not admit his four-month-old son Abdul Raouf. “Could the excuse that there is no place in the hospital be the cause of my son's death?” the man asked. It was not clear what the baby was suffering from. Abou Faour asked the father of the child to come to the ministry and give officials the information he has. The minister stressed that he was committed to guaranteeing the citizens's rights to be hospitalized with dignity. There have been several cases of deaths in Lebanon over the failure of hospitals to admit patients.

Al-Hujeiri Denies Carrying New Militant Demands on Hostages

Naharnet /Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, an intermediary in the case of Lebanese hostages, has denied that he carried with him new demands from jihadists upon his return from the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal. Al-Hujeiri returned from the mountainous area on Sunday after he met with the militants from al-Nusra Front who along with fighters from the Islamic State extremist group took Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage in August last year. A ministerial source also told An Nahar daily that the so-called crisis cell hasn't received any demands from the kidnappers. Four months ago, al-Nusra Front demanded the release of several Roumieh prison inmates in return for each captive serviceman. It has also demanded the release of prisoners held in Damascus jails. There have been reports that al-Nusra Front, which holds 16 soldiers, has also asked for a 1 million dollar ransom in return for each captive. Negotiations with the IS have been frozen, however. Despite al-Hujeiri's mediation, the Lebanese authorities have insisted that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is the only official negotiator in the case of the hostages.

Hizbullah Officials Visit Tashnag Party HQ
Naharnet /A Hizbullah delegation visited on Monday the Tashnag party headquarters in Borj Hammoud and met with its newly elected Secretary General MP Hagop Pakradounian.The delegation, which was headed by Hizbullah politburo chief Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, included the head of Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad, MP Ali al-Meqdad, Minister Mohammed Fneish, former lawmaker Amin Sherri and politburo member Mahmoud Qmati. The Hizbullah officials met with Pakradounian, his deputy Avedis Kidanian, and Tashnag officials Hagop Havatian and Raffi Achkarian. The delegation's visit was aimed at congratulating Pakradounian on his election as Tashnag secretary general last month. He took the party's two-year leadership from his predecessor Hagop Khatcherian.

Mashnouq Refuses to Sign Civil Marriage Contracts
Naharnet/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has said he would not approve the registration of contracts of civil marriage performed in Lebanon despite coming under pressure. The minister told al-Akhbar daily published on Monday that his stance “would not change.”“Civil marriage does not come through an administrative decision. The solution lies in coming up with the law that regulates it,” he said. Al-Mashnouq's stance came after hundreds of activists marched on Sunday from the American University of Beirut campus to the interior ministry to demand support for civil marriage.  They accused the minister of blocking the official recognition of civil marriage contracts performed in Lebanon. The activists claim that more than 40 contracts have been submitted to the ministry. But al-Mashnouq told al-Akhbar there are only 13 contracts.Most faiths have their own regulations governing marriage, divorce and inheritance, and mixed Christian-Muslim weddings in Lebanon are discouraged unless one of the two converts. In 2013, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel took the unprecedented step of registering the civil marriage contract of Nidal Darwish and Kholoud Sukkarieh. Lebanese authorities have all along recognized civil marriages registered abroad, and it has become common for mixed-faith couples to marry in nearby Cyprus. Rather than follow that route, however, Darwish and Sukkarieh decided to work with legal advisers to try to create new jurisprudence, despite no history of civil marriage in Lebanon. Both had their sect, Shiite and Sunni Muslim, legally struck from their “sejel an-nufoos” or family register, to be wed as a secular couple under an article dating from the 1936 French mandate that makes reference to civil unions

Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue Makes 'Serious Progress' on Security, Political Files
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal movement and Hizbullah announced Monday after their seventh dialogue session that they made "serious progress" regarding the security and political issues in the country. “Discussions were continued and serious progress was made over the security and political files,” said a terse joint statement that was issued after the talks in Ain al-Tineh. Earlier on Monday, Hizbullah-affiliated al-Manar television said the dialogue session could tackle the issue of the presidential vacuum. Future TV meanwhile said two topics were on the session's agenda – “defusing tensions” and the “presidential void.”Dialogue between the two parties had kicked off on December 23, 2014. In their sixth talks session on February 18, Mustaqbal and Hizbullah said they explored means to find a “national anti-terror strategy,” amid a continued dispute between them over the state's role in such a plan of action.

Berri Expects Cabinet Session this Week as Mechanism Remains Unchanged
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has expected the cabinet to resume its sessions this week with the same controversial decision-making mechanism which he and Prime Minister Tammam Salam reject. Berri told his visitors over the weekend that Salam could call for a session this week despite his failure to convince the rival ministers from amending the mechanism to activate the government's work. The differences between the ministers on the amendment of the mechanism prompted Salam to suspend sessions in the past two weeks until the cabinet members reach an agreement on the formula, which he wants it to be based on article 65 of the constitution. The article's clause five says: “The legal quorum for a council meeting shall be a two-thirds majority of its members. It shall make its decisions by consensus. If that is not possible, it makes its decisions by vote of the majority of attending members. Basic issues shall require the approval of two thirds of the members of the government named in the decree of its formation.” The current mechanism, which was adopted after the cabinet assumed the responsibilities of the president in accordance with the constitution, states that ministers should give unanimous support to the government's decisions. But it proved to be troublesome after some ministers resorted to veto power. Berri, whose remarks were published in local dailies on Monday, reiterated that he rejects the current mechanism and prefers the adoption of article 65 in taking decisions. He stressed that the ministers representing his AMAL Movement will express reservations during the upcoming session if the same formula was adopted. “Salam's vision lies in having consensus without paralysis,” he said. The prime minister's “password” on the upcoming session will likely come on Tuesday, sources told al-Liwaa newspaper. They said the adjournment of the session for the third week in a row could place the government's credibility at risk. Ministerial sources also told al-Joumhouria daily that Salam would not propose a discussion on the mechanism if he calls for a session on Thursday. They expected a change in the implementation of the current formula. Simple issues would be discussed without objections while important topics would take time to give way for consultations and consensus, they said.

Repercussions of a nuke deal
The Daily Star/Mar. 02, 2015
Until further notice the end of the month looks likely to see an agreement between Western powers and Iran on its nuclear program, judging by the most recent comments by officials involved in the talks. It was thus no surprise to see the leaders of two leading, and feuding, regional countries – Egypt and Turkey – in Saudi Arabia this weekend for talks with senior Saudi officials. The Iran-U.S. agreement is of paramount importance for these leaders, since it will have ripple effects throughout the region. Regional leaders must discuss what the agreement might produce in terms of repercussions down the road, and how any negative impact can be contained. While the formal negotiations center on the nuclear program, the informal agreements reached by Washington and Tehran might cover several regional hotspots: Iraq, Syria and Yemen. All three have borders with Saudi Arabia, meaning Riyadh’s viewpoint is of critical importance. In this climate of rising expectations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry heads for Saudi Arabia this week, with the Iran developments expected to be high on the agenda. Both sides need to be at the top of their respective games. Saudi Arabia should present Kerry with a “unified front” in terms of a common regional vision of what should be done as the Iran-U.S. deal takes shape. Meanwhile, Kerry should act with the utmost level of transparency as he explains what the negotiations are likely to produce, whether based on the texts or the side deals. If Washington and this region’s key players put their cards on the table and speak frankly about what is to come, even more regional turbulence will be avoided.

Iran at Saudi Arabia’s frontiers
Monday, 2 March 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Iran’s fingerprints are everywhere. Its activities expand throughout the region, mostly around Saudi Arabia, in Iraq, Yemen, the Gulf, Syria and Lebanon, where it is involved in politics, media, oil, weaponry and religion. So is it an expanded confrontation, or are the region’s disturbances, resulting from the Arab Spring and its collapses, the only reason for what is happening? The dispute with Iran is old. Some of it has been inherited, and most is the result of a policy followed by Iran’s leadership, which does not hide its aspiration to expand and export its revolution to the region. Despite the enthusiasm and propaganda, it took Iran 34 years to expand. As such, its gains have been humble given the long time period.
Short-lived reconciliation
Riyadh and Tehran previously met in the wake of confronting Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and reached a reconciliation agreement under Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Tensions did end, but reconciliation did not last more than five years, after the Saudis realized that Iran had not stopped its expansionism.
Amid the silent battles between Riyadh and Tehran, the region calmly forms into alliances
Iran is currently in an offensive state, the likes of which we have not seen in modern history. It is directly fighting in Syria and Iraq, and has proxies in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain. It also has a presence in Sudan, although President Omar al-Bashir claims he has shut down all Iranian offices. It is due to Iran’s clear offensive actions that we see Saudi Arabia in a state of defense of its traditional areas - once directly, in Bahrain, but mostly by supporting allies, such as in Yemen and Syria.
Yemen’s cost to Iran.Yemen is the latest Iranian venture, but Tehran is incapable of succeeding there. Regardless of how much effort it makes via the Houthi rebels and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen remains socially and politically close to Saudi Arabia.
Yemen will cost Iran more than it thinks as time passes and as the struggle worsens. Foreign parties, such as Western countries, will realize that Iran’s expansionist appetite is not only a threat to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest of the region, but it also targets areas of stability and supports violent groups that threaten the world.
This has been the nature of the Iranian regime since the 1980s. It imitates the old Soviet model by supporting what it calls “liberation movements in the third world,” for the sake of harming regimes that do not agree with its political path.
Regional interference
Iran also focuses on supporting certain groups in the region against central governments. In Lebanon, it supports Hezbollah and has weakened the central government, although the latter does not oppose Iran in Lebanon’s surroundings.
Similarly, Iran has supported Hamas against the Palestinian Authority, although the latter was never against Tehran. Iran has supported the Houthis for years, although Saleh’s regime then had good relations with Tehran.
In Iraq, Iran’s policy and involvement is much clearer. It supports militias and parties more than it supports the central government. Tehran supports the so-called popular mobilization forces in Iraq as an alternative to the national army, parts of which do not agree with Iran.
Amid the silent battles between Riyadh and Tehran, the region calmly forms into alliances. In this context, and that of an arms race, all parties are re-evaluating their military capabilities and looking to strengthen them. If Iran does not end its incursions in the Gulf and beyond, and if it continues to reject solutions to major struggles such as Syria’s, then confrontations will increase and their severity will worsen.
It will become harder to control disputes and their repercussions. Why do we ask Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, to stop? Because Tehran is always on the offensive while Riyadh is on the defensive, just like what is happening in Yemen.

Netanyahu tries to head off Iran’s machinations after Obama empowers Tehran as favored Mid East ally

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 1, 2015,
Almost the last words Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heard Sunday, March 1, as he took off for Washington to address Congress on Iran, was in effect “Don’t do it!” They came from a group of 180 senior ex-IDF military officers. After the personal abuse is weeded out of their message, what remains is that Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday, March 3, was not worth making because it would damage relations with the US.
Maj. Gen. Amiram Levin, former Northern Command chief and ex-Deputy Director of the Mossad, put it this way: “Bibi, you are making an error in navigation; the target is Tehran not Washington.” He went on to say: “[Instead] of working hand in hand with the president,,, you go there and poke a finger in his eye.”
DEBKAfile’s analysts maintain that the navigation error is the general’s. Before shooting his slings and arrows at the Israeli prime minister’s office, he should long ago have taken note of President Barack Obama’s Middle East record in relation to Israel’s during his six years in the White House.
It took time to catch on to Obama’s two-faced policy towards Israel because it was handled with subtlety.
On the one hand, he made sure Israel was well supplied with all its material security needs. This enabled him to boast that no US president or administration before him had done as much to safeguard Israel’s security.
But behind this façade, Obama made sure that Israel’s security stayed firmly in the technical-material-financial realm and never crossed the line into a strategic relationship.
That was because he needed to keep his hands free for the objective of transferring the role of foremost US ally in the Middle East from Israel to Iran, a process that took into account the ayatollahs’ nuclear aspirations.
This process unfolding over recent years has left Israel face to face with a nakedly hostile Iran empowered by the United States.
Tehran is not letting its oft-repeated threat to wipe Israel off the map hang fire until its nuclear aspirations are assured of consummation under the negotiations continuing later this week in the Swiss town of Montreux between US Secretary John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minsiter Mohammed Javad Zarif. In the meantime, without President Obama lifting a finger in defense of “Israel’s security,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps officers are drawing Israel into a military stranglehold on the ground.
Netanyahu’s political rivals, while slamming him day by day, turn their gaze away from the encroaching Iranian forces taking up forward positions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where they are busy fashioning a Shiite Crescent that encircles Sunni Arab states as well as Israel.
It must be obvious that to bolster its rising status as the leading regional power, Iran must be reach the nuclear threshold - at the very least – if not nuclear armaments proper, or else how will Tehran be able to expand its territorial holdings and defend its lebensraum.
This is not something that Barack Obama or his National Security Adviser Susan Rice are prepared to admit. They are not about to confirm intelligence reports, which expose the military collaboration between the Obama administration and Iran’s supreme leader Aytatollah Ali Khamenei as being piped through the office of Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Washington denies that there is any such collaboration - or any suggestion that the White House had reviewed recommendations and assessments of an option for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Qods Brigades to take over the ground war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as American contractors.
Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani is frequently spotted these days flitting between Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, while his intelligence and liaison officers file reports to the Obama administration, through the Iraqi prime minister’s office, on their forthcoming military steps and wait for Washington’s approval.
America understandably lacks the will to have its ground forces embroiled in another Middle East war. Washington is therefore not about to turn away a regional power offering to undertake this task – even though it may be unleasing a bloody conflagration between Shiite and Sunni Muslims that would be hard to extinguish
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Gulf are as dismayed as Israel by Obama’s regional strategy, which, stripped of its diplomatic veneer, boils down to a straight trade: The US will allow Iran to reach the status of a pre-nuclear power and regional hegemon, while Tehran, in return, will send its officers and ground troops to fight in Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan.
The 180 ex-IDF officers and Israel’s opposition leaders, Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, were right when they argued that Israel’s bond with the US presidency is too valuable to jeopardize. But it is the Obama White House which is trifling with that bond – not Netanyahu, whose mission in Washington is no more than a tardy attempt to check Iran’s malignant machinations which go forward without restraint.

Islamic Republic of Iran: Authorities raid Christian homes, ask them to leave country
March 1, 2015 /Jihad Watch
Iranian Christians“Irani, a convert from Islam, had originally been charged with ‘Mofsed-fel-arz’ or ‘spreading corruption on Earth,’ which carries the death penalty.”“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (Qur’an 5:33)

“Authorities in Iran Raid Christians’ Homes, Ask Them to Leave Country,”
 Morning Star News, March 1, 2015:

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Morning Star News) – A Christian in Iran who received 80 lashes for drinking communion wine has been asked to leave the country, human right activists said.
Agents from the Iranian intelligence service, known as VEVAK, on Feb. 16 raided the home of Mehdi Reza Omidi and two other members of house churches in Rasht, Saheb Fadaie and Yasser Mosayebzadeh, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a United Kingdom-based advocacy group. Omidi was one of four men sentenced on Oct. 6, 2013 to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine and owning a satellite antenna. Rights advocates believe the flogging was carried out within a month after sentencing.
After the Feb. 16 raids on the homes of Omidi and the two others, authorities ordered the three Christians to report the next day for questioning, where officials asked them to leave Iran.
The agents also confiscated their Bibles, laptops, Christian CDs and religious literature, according to CSW. Kiri Kankhwende, press officer for CSW, said authorities asking Christians to leave the country is just one of the many ways the government pressures religious minorities and suppresses Christian growth. Other ways include harassment, confiscation of property, arrests and imprisonment on false charges.
“All of these things are designed to get converts to recant or stop their involvement with churches,” Kankhwende said. “But sometimes it is easier, as prison sentences can result in a lot of unwanted press attention, to make the lives of Christians difficult and untenable, so that they choose to leave of their own accord. Sometimes veiled threats are made, or other times – as is the case here – they can be politely asked to leave.”
The impetus for the raids remains unknown. Omidi was detained previously on Dec. 31, 2012, for his involvement in a house church.
On the same day the raid took place, authorities released Rasoul Abdollahi from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, according to Middle East Concern (MEC), another advocacy group. Officials, however, placed strict conditions on Abdollahi, a convert from Islam, including prohibiting him from participating in Christian activities with others. If he violates any of the terms of his release, he could be forced to serve the one year left on his sentence.
Authorities arrested Abdollahi on Dec. 26, 2010, along with a group of other Christians. In December 2013, he was sentenced to three years in prison on convictions of “collusion against the government” and evangelism. He was sent to Evin Prison, but in October 2014 officials transferred him to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj.
The release resembles the conditional release authorities gave to Vahid Hakkani. On Jan. 26, after holding him for three years, Iranian authorities released Hakkani from Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz. According to MEC, the Revolutionary Court made Hakkani sign a document stating that he would not attend or host any Christian-related activities or house-church services. A condition for issuing his release order was that he would sign the disclaimer.
Previously, Hakkani engaged in a hunger strike starting on March 20, 2014, after authorities denied him a conditional release that inmates are eligible to obtain after completing half their prison terms.
Authorities arrested Hakkani on Feb. 8, 2012, along with several others at a house-church meeting, and charged him with numerous criminal offenses related to his faith. Hakkani was tried with three others over the course of two court hearings, one on Oct. 15, 2012 and another on Dec. 28, 2012. In June 2013, the Shiraz Revolutionary Court issued a verdict, finding all four guilty on charges of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security, according to advocacy groups.
Another pastor, Behnam Irani, who is serving a six-year sentence, last month was refused the same conditional release granted to Abdollahi and Hakkani. According to CSW, prison authorities agreed to Irani’s conditional release, but a judge did not.
Jason Demars, president of Present Truth Ministries, said that it is common for Iranian authorities to force Christians to sign agreements to refrain from Christian activities when they are granted an early release.
“A lot of the times when they let them out, they have them promise that they won’t engage in the activities like they did before,” Demars said.
Demars said it is possible that the Iranian government tried to get Irani to sign such an agreement to be released, which he likely refused. Demars is trying to confirm this with sources in Iran.
On Oct. 19, 2014, Irani was sentenced to six years in prison for “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system,” catch-all terms the Islamist government uses to suppress Christians and political opponents it perceives as threats. When the verdict was handed down, Irani was already serving the remainder of a prior five-year sentence for his involvement with house churches.
Irani, a convert from Islam, had originally been charged with “Mofsed-fel-arz” or “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carries the death penalty. But those charges were reduced on Oct. 2….

Taking the War on Terror to the Next Level
Fayez Sara /Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 2 Mar, 2015
The Middle East has witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent months, including visits by various leaders from around the world to the region’s capitals, particularly Riyadh. Following all this activity we have seen Jordan, Egypt and Turkey all step up their involvement in the international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region. This is something worth pausing over, as it represents a major turning point in relations between four of the most important countries in the region concerned with the outcome of the ongoing conflict in Syria—that is: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan—and provides an opportunity for the Kingdom especially to play a central role here.
All this diplomatic activity cannot be detached from the state of the relationships the countries in the region currently have with others outside it, particularly those from Western Europe and the United States. All the recent meetings, exchanged messages, and joint statements between representatives from countries in the region and those visiting from outside it show complete consistency in terms of the positions held by both, with all this taking place within the context of the efforts against ISIS, which have now become a kind of blueprint for the war against terror as such.
The recent diplomatic efforts should not also be detached from efforts to increase military cooperation between the regional members of the coalition—along the lines of recent Iraqi–Iranian coordination in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, where we saw how Iranian fighter jets were given the go-ahead by Baghdad to bomb ISIS targets in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. The kind of military cooperation I’m talking about also resembles that offered by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to train and equip the moderate armed opposition in Syria. It also resembles recent efforts by the French to market their own Rafale fighter jets to coalition members the UAE and Egypt to use to bomb the group—and, in fact, Egypt has been using Rafales it has purchased from France as part of its recent air offensive against ISIS in Libya.
But amid all the meetings and diplomatic activity, it would seem the main aim here is to expand the current fight into an an international war against all terror groups around the world, and not just ISIS, using the current fight as a springboard to defeat first ISIS itself—and not only in Syria and Iraq, but also Libya, Egypt and anywhere else it rears its ugly head—and then its other sinister cousins.
By most accounts the airstrike campaigns currently being carried out against ISIS by coalition members need serious bolstering. Such moves could include the formation of a regional military force to fight ISIS in the region—which would represent a major strategic turning point in the conflict so far because it is impossible to defeat and destroy this group without direct confrontation involving ground troops. From here we can look to train domestic fighting groups such as the Kurdish Peshmerga and arm them with enough weapons and ammunition to enable them to really take the fight to ISIS, as is happening right now among the Syrian armed opposition.
But this would still not be enough to really take the fight against the group to the next level. Parallel to the aforementioned steps, the countries of the region and the rest of the international community would need to step up their efforts to cut off financing to ISIS, stem the tide of fighters joining the group from around the world, and effectively monitor and sabotage its much talked-about media campaigns.
The current efforts against the group represent an important step in terms of bringing together different and wide-ranging international and regional military capabilities within a single force, in addition to the indirect efforts targeting ISIS’s streams of financing and manpower, and its highly sophisticated media machine.
So the international coalition against ISIS, led by the US, took initial form in the shape of targeted airstrikes against the group in Syria and Iraq. But it was soon realized that the airstrikes would not be enough, that the fight needed to be widened. When these changes came, positive results followed—but there are yet further steps that can be taken.
First among them in terms of importance is of course widening the scope of the military offensive against ISIS to include other terrorist–extremist groups as well. This would mandate expanding the target list so it also includes the forces of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad—certainly no stranger to the “terrorist” label since this conflict began and whose regime regime we know has been involved closely with terrorist groups.
The second step would involve offering humanitarian aid and assistance to the people living in territory under ISIS’s control and to help to normalize everyday life for them once again. The third meanwhile requires planning and launching anti-extremist media campaigns, ones focusing especially on how these groups have veered away from orthodox Islam and indeed perverted it through their ideologies, and on showing how joining such groups takes one out of the fold of Islam—or any other religion, for that matter. We have many examples of such campaigns, whether past or current ones, which concentrate on this point, that extremist and terrorist groups are the first to break basic religious and ethical norms on how to treat others.
The war on terror groups is a crucial one, and what is most crucial about it is that it be a wide-ranging and comprehensive fight, garnering the support and involvement of the largest possible slice of the international community and using all weapons, military or otherwise, at our disposal. If this is not achieved then the war on terror will not succeed in defeating a single one of these groups, and the fight will go on longer, giving enough time for the terror groups of today to hatch, like Al-Qaeda did before them with ISIS and Al-Nusra, the terror groups of tomorrow.

The fatal flaw in the Iran deal
Charles Krauthammer/Human Events
Monday Mar 2, 2015 10:29 AM
WASHINGTON — The news from the nuclear talks with Iran was already troubling. Iran was being granted the “right to enrich.” It would be allowed to retain and spin thousands of centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. Yet so thoroughly was Iran stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that just last Thursday the IAEA reported its concern “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed … development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
Bad enough. Then it got worse: News leaked Monday of the “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.
Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would re-enter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview last December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.
The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.
Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations.
Why is Iran building them? You don’t build ICBMs in order to deliver sticks of dynamite. Their only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. Nor does Iran need an ICBM to hit Riyadh or Tel Aviv. Intercontinental missiles are for reaching, well, other continents. North America, for example.
Such an agreement also means the end of nonproliferation. When a rogue state defies the world, continues illegal enrichment and then gets the world to bless an eventual unrestricted industrial-level enrichment program, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dead. And regional hyperproliferation becomes inevitable as Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others seek shelter in going nuclear themselves.
Wasn’t Obama’s great international cause a nuclear-free world? Within months of his swearing-in, he went to Prague to so declare. He then led a 50-party Nuclear Security Summit, one of whose proclaimed achievements was having Canada give up some enriched uranium.
Having disarmed the Canadian threat, Obama turned to Iran. The deal now on offer to the ayatollah would confer legitimacy on the nuclearization of the most rogue of rogue regimes: radically anti-American, deeply jihadist, purveyor of terrorism from Argentina to Bulgaria, puppeteer of a Syrian regime that specializes in dropping barrel bombs on civilians. In fact, the Iranian regime just this week, at the apex of these nuclear talks, staged a spectacular attack on a replica U.S. carrier near the Strait of Hormuz.
Well, say the administration apologists, what’s your alternative? Do you want war?
It’s Obama’s usual, subtle false-choice maneuver: It’s either appeasement or war.
It’s not. True, there are no good choices, but Obama’s prospective deal is the worst possible. Not only does Iran get a clear path to the bomb but it gets sanctions lifted, all pressure removed and international legitimacy.
There is a third choice. If you are not stopping Iran’s program, don’t give away the store. Keep the pressure, keep the sanctions. Indeed, increase them. After all, previous sanctions brought Iran to its knees and to the negotiating table in the first place. And that was before the collapse of oil prices, which would now vastly magnify the economic effect of heightened sanctions.
Congress is proposing precisely that. Combined with cheap oil, it could so destabilize the Iranian economy as to threaten the clerical regime. That’s the opening. Then offer to renew negotiations for sanctions relief but from a very different starting point — no enrichment. Or, if you like, with a few token centrifuges for face-saving purposes.
And no sunset.
That’s the carrot. As for the stick, make it quietly known that the U.S. will not stand in the way of any threatened nation that takes things into its own hands. We leave the regional threat to the regional powers, say, Israeli bombers overflying Saudi Arabia.
Consider where we began: six U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding an end to Iranian enrichment. Consider what we are now offering: an interim arrangement ending with a sunset clause that allows the mullahs a robust, industrial-strength, internationally sanctioned nuclear program.
Such a deal makes the Cuba normalization look good and the Ukrainian cease-fires positively brilliant. We are on the cusp of an epic capitulation. History will not be kind.