March 21/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Curing the deaf man's speech impediment
Mark07/31-37: "Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’"

Bible Quotation For Today/Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters
Letter to the Colossians 03/23-25/04/01-07: "Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.  Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should. Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 20-21/15
Islam Bulldozes the Past/
Daniel Pipes/Washington Times/March 20/15
Iran and the Yemeni Hornet’s Nest/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/March 20/15
Iran’s return: Economic renaissance after sanctions lifted/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/March 20/15

Lebanese Related News published on March 20-21/15
Siniora to testify before STL Monday

Maid was on hunger strike before suicide: Azzi 
Mother’s Day: a tribute to second-class citizens 
Qahwaji Says Army Prepared for 'All Scenarios' in Spring

Berri Says Presidential Deadlock is 'National Obsession'
Protesters disrupt exams at Tripoli university 
Hezbollah denounces triple suicide attack in Sanaa 
Hezbollah readying for Qalamoun offensive 
French Officers in Lebanon to Train Army
Health Ministry Refers Death of Child at Daycare to General Prosecution
Radioactive Material Discovered in 30 Crates of Sanitary Pads at Beirut Airport
Cloudy Beirut Skies Witness Partial Solar Eclipse
Bou Saab Says UAE Not Targeting Lebanese, Denies Deportation of Additional Expats
Daryan Says World in Crisis over Extremism
Report: Lebanon Refuses to Release Arab Inmates in Exchange for Captive Servicemen
Report: Bassil, Nader Hariri Discuss Roukoz's Fate

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 20-21/15
DEBKAfile: Nuclear talks collapse as Iranian delegation ordered to quit and return home
Might Iran’s new baby policy backfire? 
Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus: Iran, not ISIS, is main threat to Iraq
 Sisi says won’t cling to power if Egyptians call for change

Canadian Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Minister Nicholson Appalled by Attacks in Yemen

Syria's Assad Fires Two Top Spy Chiefs
Syria’s Assad fires two spy chiefs: security source
Address by Minister Nicholson to Ambassadors of Members of the Coalition Against the So-Called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Kerry to discuss Iran talks with European officials: State Dept
EL Holders Sevilla head to Russia while Wolfsburg face Napo
North Korea says can fire nuclear missile at 'any time'
Beheaded bodies found by Nigerian town freed from Boko Haram
ISIS claim Yemen mosque bombings, at least 142 dead
War widens in Yemen as jet strikes Hadi’s base
Iranian ship unloads 185 tons of weapons for Houthis at Saleef port
U.S. air power in Afghanistan at five-year low
U.N. hopes Libyan factions come closer to unity government deal
Egypt charters bright new course

Jihad Watch Latest News
Islamic State claims Yemen mosque bombings, death toll now 142
UK: Convert to Islam jailed for plotting Lee Rigby-style beheading of British soldier
Islamic State destroys fourth-century Mar Benham Monastery in Iraq
Islamophobes murder 30 in mosque bombings in Yemen — no, wait…
Get ready for Erdoğan’s caliphate, Turkey’s ruling party official says
Iraqi Shi’ite leader: We turned Islamic State jihadis into Slurpees
all 5 of us were born n raised in your lands, & now here thirsty for ur blood”
Malaysian state assembly considers bill mandating death for leaving Islam
Uganda: Muslim cleric charged in jihad murder of 76 people
Afghanistan: Muslim mob sets woman on fire for burning Qur’an

Alain Aoun In the USA, Replicating his Advocacy for Hezbollah
Elias Bejjani
March 20/15
The same political stupidity and appeasing shameful theatrical play that took place in Canada with MP, Alan Aoun, during the last 10 days, now sadly it is going on and more boldly in the USA with this non Lebanese and Hezbollah Maronite puppet. In reality and practicality, The Lebanese Christian parties with no exception are totally detached from all that is terrorism and anti terrorism global acts. In conclusion No hope what so ever from these Dhimitudians and Zemies.

Obama is Putting the Whole Middle East In A Chaos Status
Elias Bejjani/19.03.15
President Obama in his blind and ignorant support to a USA Iranian alliance no matter what  is destroying every chance for peace in the Middle East and creating a comprehensive havoc status.
His pro Iranian biased Middle East policies are hurting the USA historic allies, especially the Arab Gulf states and giving boldly and openly his country’s blessings on all levels and in all domains for Iran to occupy, humiliate, subdue and steal the Arab countries.
What is going on currently in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon expose his unwise and hostile policies and clearly shows its evil outcome.
In conclusion, his Middle East policies are extremely dangerous because he is fully supporting the Iranian denominational expansionism savage and notorious schemes.
Hopefully the USA congress will to be able to control Obama’s anti Arab policies before it is too late.
In this context Israeli’s PM, Mr, Netanyahu’s reelection is an important deterring factor for Obama’s delusional disastrous thinking and policies.

DEBKAfile: Nuclear talks collapse as Iranian delegation ordered to quit and return home
DEBKAfile Special Report March 20, 2015/debkafile’s exclusive Iranian sources report that the delegation to the nuclear talks taking place in Lausanne received orders from Tehran Friday, March 20, to break off negotiations and return home for consultations. Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif and Iran’s national security chief Ali Akhbar Salehi used the funeral of President Hassan Rouhani's 90-year-old mother as a pretext for packing their bags and leaving the deadlocked talks behind them in Lausanne. This followed the sixth round of talks in the Swiss city with US Secretary of State John Kerry that failed to break the impasse on a nuclear accord.  The Iranians said they would return to resume the talks next week but set no date, although other sources mentioned Wednesday, March 25. Another sign of a crisis was the cancellation of briefing Friday in Brussels of British, German, French and European Union leaders on progress in the negotiations that was supposed to reflect progress toward a deal by the March 31 deadline.
An hour before France, Britain and Germany were to join the talks in Lausanne, the Iranians announced they were about to leave. It was announced subsequently that Kerry would hold the cancelled Brussels briefing in France Saturday for officials rather than top leaders.
Speaking to Western news agencies Friday, Western and Iranian officials admitted that all the sides were very far apart. “We are not close to anything resembling a draft agreement,” said a European negotiator. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the length of an agreement, the pace of sanctions relief and international monitoring remain points of contention. No draft would be circulated until closer to the June 30 deadline for technical annexes, said the Russian official.
In other words, the March 31 deadline for a framework accord appeared to have gone by the board.

Qahwaji Says Army Prepared for 'All Scenarios' in Spring
Naharnet /Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji declared on Friday that the military will remain prepared to face the threat of extremists along Lebanon's eastern mountain range. He said before a delegation from the Editors Syndicate: “The army is prepared for all scenarios in the spring season.” He made his remarks in reference to media reports earlier this week that said that the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant fighters are moving “from eastern al-Qalamoun to its west” in preparation for a battle in the area in the spring after the snow melts.
“We have weighed all possibilities and we cannot allow the gunmen to know our plans,” continued Qahwaji. “The army will persevere and it has been successful in its operations,” he stressed. The soldiers have endured harsh winter weather conditions and they will remain firm in their positions, he added. The army commander also denied claims of defections in the military, saying that sectarianism does not have a role within its ranks. The Lebanese army frequently clashes with jihadist militants in their hideouts near the Syria border in the eastern mountain range. The Islamic State, which controls several areas in Syria and Iraq, aims to spread to Lebanon as its fighters position in the outskirts of Bekaa towns bordering Syria.

Berri Says Presidential Deadlock is 'National Obsession'
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has said the presidential crisis has become an obsession, stressing that his repeated calls for parliamentary sessions to elect a new head of state are aimed at pushing MPs into assuming their responsibilities.
Berri's visitors quoted him as saying that the presidential crisis has not only become a “national obsession but it is his daily concern.”The visitors, whose remarks were published in local dailies on Friday, said Berri stressed that his repeated calls on lawmakers to head to parliament to elect a new president are aimed at reminding them of their “constitutional responsibilities.”The speaker also hoped that Christian leaders would reach a settlement on President Michel Suleiman's successor. Last week, the 20th session on the election of a president was adjourned to April 2 over lack of quorum. Suleiman's term ended in May. MPs failed to elect a new president over ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps.


Siniora to testify before STL Monday
Elise Knutsen| The Daily Star/Mar. 21, 2015
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is scheduled to testify at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon starting Monday, after Future bloc MP Ghazi Youssef wrapped up his own testimony. A Sidon MP, Siniora is expected to testify about the political context in Lebanon prior to the assassination of his close friend, late former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Siniora was supposed to appear before the tribunal in January but postponed his testimony due to health reasons. Media reports at the time speculated that the deferral of Siniora’s appearance was related to the ongoing Hezbollah-Future dialogue meetings. But he denied the rumors, stating that he was ill. Siniora twice served as finance minister under Hariri before forming his own government in July 2005. It remains unclear what effect, if any, the former prime minister’s testimony will have on the ongoing Hezbollah-Future talks. Despite three months of sustained dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement, tensions have recently mounted between the two groups after Siniora delivered a fiery speech stating that because of Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian crisis, Lebanon was “no longer safe” and could no longer ensure the “continuity of its institutions.”Five Hezbollah suspects have been charged with plotting the explosion that killed Hariri and 21 others on Feb. 14, 2005.
Youssef, another one of Hariri’s political allies, completed his testimony at the STL Friday. During cross-examination, Youssef said that in the days prior to his assassination, Hariri felt he was being “followed” by members of the Syrian-Lebanese security apparatus.
After a number of employees of Hariri’s benevolent organization were arrested, Hariri called then-head of Military Intelligence Gen. Raymond Azar on Feb. 12, 2005. “Why are you doing this, following me and arresting people associated with me?” Hariri asked Azar, according to a statement Youssef gave to U.N. investigators several years ago.
The statement was read aloud in the court.
Youssef, who was in the room while Hariri made the phone call, said the former prime minister intentionally called Azar from a landline. “Prime Minister Hariri knew that landlines, when he used them, were tapped ... He knew that there were people who were monitoring his communications when he was speaking on a landline,” Youssef told the court. Hariri intentionally used landlines when he wanted to communicate a message to the Syrian-Lebanese security apparatus, Youssef said. “When he sent that message directly to Raymond Azar, he was conveying the message to all those who were behind Gen. Azar who were ... conducting surveillance on him and his allies.” The same day, Hariri also called the head of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ali al-Hajj, reproaching him for allowing the arrests to take place. Two days after the phone calls were placed, Hariri was dead. In the summer of 2005, Hajj, Azar and two other Lebanese generals were arrested in connection to Hariri’s murder. But they were ultimately released in April 2009 for lack of evidence.

French Officers in Lebanon to Train Army
Naharnet/A high-ranking French military delegation is expected to arrive in Beirut on Friday to commence training of Lebanese army personnel on the use of weapons to be delivered by Paris under $3 billion Saudi grant. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, the delegation will stay in Lebanon for a long time as the “deal requires a specialized follow up by France.”A military source told the daily that “Paris is keen to deliver the Lebanese army the requested arms in accordance with its staunch support to Lebanon and an international decision to boost the capabilities of the military.”The source noted that the “Saudi grant is in the process of implementation after the army and the French company that is in charge of delivering arms to Lebanon finalized the deal.”The source pointed out that “the arms delivery will extend to a three-year period.”On Wednesday, a meeting was held in Yarze between Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and a prominent official from the French company ODAS, which is in charge of promoting defense sales in Saudi Arabia, and the accompanying delegation. A military source said in comments to al-Mustaqbal newspaper that a “specialized committee was formed from the two sides to coordinate the arming of the military institution.” “The arms that the French company will deliver to Lebanon are new and not used.”The source continued: “The zero-hour to equip the Lebanese army began on March 2.”Saudi Arabia in 2013 announced it would give the Lebanese army $3 billion to purchase weapons and equipment from France. In August, the kingdom offered another $1 billion in funds to allow the army to purchase supplies immediately. Several allies of Lebanon pledged to step up efforts to bolster its armed forces as the threat from jihadists in the region grows

Report: Bassil, Nader Hariri Discuss Roukoz's Fate
Naharnet/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Nader Hariri, the adviser of the Mustaqbal Movement leader, have met away from the media spotlight to discuss the fate of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, As Safir daily reported on Friday. The newspaper said that Bassil, who is a Free Patriotic Movement official, and Hariri held talks on Thursday night. As Safir quoted sources as saying that the meeting came as part of contacts held by al-Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri's adviser Ghattas Khoury with FPM chief MP Michel Aoun. Aoun's main objective is to receive political consensus on the appointment of his son-in-law Roukoz as army chief as part of a package for the appointment of other top security officers, said the sources. Roukoz's tenure ends in October 2015 while the term of army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji expires at the end of September. Despite the reports about his insistence to have his son-in-law as army chief, Aoun denied last week that he had made such a proposal.

Report: Lebanon Refuses to Release Arab Inmates in Exchange for Captive Servicemen
Naharnet /Lebanon reportedly rejects to include Arab inmates in a prisoners swap deal with al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front in exchange for the release of servicemen taken hostage by the group. Diplomatic sources told As Safir newspaper published on Friday that al-Nusra Front, which handed over a list that include 40 inmates, is open to negotiations. The sources said that the authorities agreed to release 19 Lebanese prisoners, whom they described as “not dangerous.” The list also includes the names of three women - Iraqi national Saja al-Dulaimi, Lebanese Joumana Hmeid and Alaa al-Oqaili - who are all detained on terror charges. The sources told As Safir that the Lebanese authorities rejected to include in the swap agreement ten inmates from Arab nationalities due to the preexistence of accords between the country and Arab states that prevent the engagement in any similar deals. The list also includes the names of several “dangerous prisoners,” the sources remarked. “We have been informed by Lebanese authorities that they reject the release of any prisoner involved in the shedding of blood, convicted with the death penalty or life time in prison.” The daily said that negotiations led by Qatar achieved the required purposes as its Intelligence chief Ghanim Khalifa al-Qubaisi is set to head to Turkey to meet with al-Nusra officials and discuss with them the names of inmates included in the prisoners swap deal. The meetings will allegedly be accompanied by similar talks by a Syrian mediator, who represents Qatar, on the outskirts of the eastern border town of Arsal. Sources denied to As Safir newspaper that Qatari authorities paid any ransom for the kidnappers in exchange for the release of the servicemen. A number of soldiers and policemen were abducted by al-Nusra Front and Islamic State group gunmen in the wake of clashes in Arsal in August. A few of them have since been released, four were executed, and the rest remain held. The captors have been demanding the release of Islamists held in Lebanon as a condition to set them free.

Syria's Assad Fires Two Top Spy Chiefs
Naharnet/Syrian President Bashar Assad has fired two top intelligence chiefs after a fight between the two officials, a high-ranking security source in Damascus told AFP on Friday. "General Rustom Ghazaleh, head of political intelligence, and General Rafiq Shehadeh, head of military intelligence, were fired at the beginning of the week by President Assad after a violent dispute between the two men," the source said. Ghazaleh has been replaced by his former deputy, Nazih Hassoun, with Mohamed Mahalla taking over as military intelligence chief, the source added. The two men were replaced after a violent argument over Ghazaleh's involvement in the southern front of the conflict in Syria, according to the source. Ghazaleh had reportedly sought greater involvement in the battle against rebel fighters in southern Daraa province, where he was born. But Shehadeh "was categorically opposed to him taking part in the battle" being waged in the area by regime troops backed by Lebanon's Hizbullah, the source said. "A violent disagreement erupted and Shehadeh's men beat up Ghazaleh badly," the source said. Ghazaleh was briefly hospitalized after the incident two weeks ago, but was readmitted later on suffering complications related to hypertension. The source said Ghazaleh was currently in "critical condition". Ghazaleh and Shehadeh both took their posts in July 2012, after being promoted following a bombing that killed four top regime figures. Shehadeh was previously head of military intelligence in central Homs province, an early bastion of the opposition to Assad's regime.
Ghazaleh was head of military security in Damascus before his 2012 promotion. He is considered a strongman of Assad, since he became president in 2000, succeeding his father Hafez. In 2002, Ghazaleh was named head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, where he was accused of intervening extensively in the country's political affairs. He was also frequently named by witnesses as a suspect in the planning of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, though he has not been indicted by the international tribunal prosecuting the murder. Agence France Presse.

Address by Minister Nicholson to Ambassadors of Members of the Coalition Against the So-Called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
March 19, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario
Your Excellencies; ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here.
We coalition members are making a real difference in degrading ISIL’s threat to the security of innocent lives and security of our own citizens.
Thank you for your commitment to this mission—both in terms of our robust humanitarian response and military engagement.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper confirmed that our government is seeking to extend the Canadian Armed Forces’ six-month mission against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Soon—next week—the Prime Minister will present our government’s intentions in the House of Commons. And as minister of foreign affairs, let me tell you that I am tremendously proud of his decision and the moral clarity that guides it.
I can also tell you that he will ask all parties to come together, as Canadians. He will ask them to support our government’s operations to degrade and to destabilize this gang of thugs.
And in so doing, strip ISIL of its power to threaten the security of the region or to launch terrorist operations in Canada.
Today, I want to lay out for you what our government has already accomplished in Iraq.
And I want to remind you why our government finds it necessary to extend and expand its work there.
Left unchecked, this terrorist threat can only grow—and grow quickly. A threat directly posed against Canada and our allies.
If one situation represents a perfect microcosm of the larger problem, it was the appalling plight of the Yazidi people last August.
Fleeing ISIL, thousands of them took refuge in the summer heat on a high, barren ridge above the Assyrian plain, devoid of food, water or shelter. Even there, ISIL continued its attacks. Many died.
They needed aid, for a catastrophe was in the making. But even before they could receive aid, they needed protection.
The two go hand in hand.
In one of the coalition’s earliest actions, the Yazidis got both. Strikes by coalition aircraft held ISIL at bay, and supplies were airlifted in.
But as ISIL conducted its murderous rampage through the region, it was the same throughout northern Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, ousted from their homes, made into refugees in need of the necessities of life and, above all, of protection.
Canada sees no conflict in meeting both needs.
The plight of innocent civilians—women, children and religious minorities—is well known. All of us can be proud that we are acting boldly to protect them against ISIL’s brutality.
In the territory ISIL has occupied, it has conducted a campaign of unspeakable atrocities against the most innocent of people; it has tortured and beheaded children; it has raped and sold women into slavery; it has slaughtered minorities, taken prisoners—innocent civilians whose only crime is being or thinking differently from ISIL.
That in part is why we have deployed effective military forces to the region, even as we deliver humanitarian aid with the help of our international partners.
I am glad to tell you that in the last six months, we have helped feed 1.7 million people, provided shelter and relief supplies to 1.26 million people and given some education, at least, to half a million children.
Beyond that, we have also been helping support 215,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, with food, water, shelter and protection. In fact, I visited one of the camps a few weeks ago in Erbil, and it was truly compelling.
Canada is the sixth-largest single-country donor to Syria and the fifth-largest to Iraq. Together, Canada and the coalition are improving the lives of millions of innocent civilians from ISIL’s terror.
Meanwhile, for nearly six months, members of our armed forces have been on active service in the region.
As of three days ago, CF-18s of the Royal Canadian Air Force had flown more than 400 sorties to destroy ISIL assets. That would include vehicles, bunkers, buildings used to assemble bombs and munitions; in one case, construction equipment intended for use in building static defences.
Their precision strikes were made possible in part by Aurora aircraft. These Auroras and their crew have flown more than a hundred sorties, and what they learn from the air is put to good use on the ground, identifying targets and minimizing collateral damage. For its outstanding professionalism, this team has received a tremendous amount of acclaim from the coalition.
With these actions we support the Iraqi army and the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga. It is fair to say that ISIL’s ability to move freely has been significantly reduced.
An RCAF Polaris has been keeping other coalition aircraft in the air. In more than 100 sorties, it has delivered more than six million pounds of aviation fuel to Canadian and coalition aircraft.
And of course, Canada’s Special Forces have done excellent work in their advisory roles, in support of both Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga. As we were reminded recently, they do so at considerable risk, and we are deeply grateful for the devoted service of all our men and women in uniform. Sergeant Doiron made the ultimate sacrifice, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
I am pleased to say that the coalition campaign against ISIL is bearing some fruit.
Its momentum stalled, ISIL has lost some ground. Cities it once held have now been restored to Iraqi authorities.
It is also losing people.
Coalition air strikes have cost it several senior leaders.
The coalition has created the conditions for ISIL’s continued decline.
As we pursue the campaign against ISIL—we must also avoid the sectarianism that poses a threat to the unity of our cause… to the stability of Iraq and its neighbours. We must be resolved to confront this threat head-on, united in purpose for a free, stable and democratic Iraq. We all have a stake in this.
ISIL is not dead yet. Clearly, ISIL remains in control of a considerable amount of territory. It has the power to hurt, not merely in Iraq, but regionally and indeed elsewhere in the world.
Among our allies, ISIL has inspired attacks in France, Australia and Denmark.
And it means harm to us.
We are extending Canada’s mission because ISIL has declared war upon Canada.
They have called us out. They have threatened us, told us that we should not feel safe in our own communities.
And they have inspired terrorists who have lashed out at us here, twice, in our homeland, in our capital, at the very centre of our democracy.
Meanwhile, only the most diligent and effective police work has prevented even further attacks against Canadians, by people who appear to share ISIL’s apocalyptic ambitions. We are all aware of the threats ISIL poses to our national security. To our friends. To our family. To our neighbours. Canadians.
I think everyone in this room would agree that when we stand against ISIL and its cruelties, we stand for universal values. We stand for every principle that is good, decent and honourable, every principle that ISIL violates daily.
Yet, for all that Canadians are outraged by ISIL, it is not outrage that drives us to stay the course.
It is a fact that leaders of ISIL claim that ISIL is a direct threat to Canadians.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have seen their actions.
You can be sure of one thing: Canada and our coalition partners will never be complacent.
Through continued cooperation with the coalition, Canada will treat ISIL as the clear and present threat that it is.
The Canadian people fully understand the nature of the threat.
And they would have it no other way.
Thank you for your commitment to this mission. Together, we are combatting this threat, degrading its ability to strike in the region and on our home soil.
Let us continue these efforts to protect our citizens and the lives of so many innocent civilians that depend on our leadership today and tomorrow.
Thank you.
Johanna Quinney
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Might Iran’s new baby policy backfire?
Gareth Smyth/The Daily Star/Mar. 20, 2015
Late in 2013, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran risked becoming a land of elderly people in the “not too distant” future and suggested smaller families were “an imitation of Western life.” The supreme leader, or “rahbar,” thereby encouraged a shift in family planning that is gathering momentum. The Iranian parliament has recently debated two bills that would, says Amnesty International, reduce women to “baby-making machines.”
Iran is often wrongly described as a country of young people. In fact it has an aging population. The median age in 2014 was 27, higher than comparable countries, including an average in the Arab world of 22.
While 35 percent of Iran’s 75 million population is between the ages of 15 and 29, the world’s highest recorded percentage in this age group, it has a relatively low and falling number of people under the age of 25. This results from a “baby boom” after the 1979 Revolution, when the birth rate rose to 3.6 children per couple, and a subsequent fall to 1.8 per couple after 1988, when the state encouraged family planning through countrywide education and free or subsidized vasectomies and contraceptives.
During the term of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, some conservative strategists looked to the baby boomers with glee. As they aged, these young Iranians would shift their concerns from social freedom to the economy, supposedly increasing support for the conservatives at the reformists’ expense.
“When you’re 17 or 18, you care about self-esteem and freedom of speech,” Amir Mohebian, political editor of Resalat, the conservative newspaper, told me in 2004. “After eight years, you’re 25-26 and you need new slogans – about marriage, and homes, and the economic means to have children. Ten years ago our country was very young. Now it’s middle-aged, and in 10 years it will be old. As you get older, you become more conservative and you look for calm.”
In practice, things were neither so simple nor so calm. A focus on material matters helped catapult the populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005 with a promise to “put the oil money on the sofreh” (the dining mat many Iranians sit on). But delivery proved more difficult. This was partly because of Ahmadinejad’s economic mismanagement and short-term policies, but it also resulted from the country’s unusual age profile. Between 1996 and 2006, Iran’s working population (15-64) grew by 3.9 percent, over twice the overall increase in population. So even though annual economic growth was 5 percent, the unemployment rate rose from 9.8 percent to 12.7 percent.
Not enough new jobs, in other words, were created for the high number of young people entering the labor market. Some economists put today’s youth unemployment at over 25 percent, while around half of Iranians in their late 20s are unmarried and live with their parents. The dissatisfaction of young people perhaps contributed to the 2009 street protests after Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election as president.
Falling birth rates have also led politicians, officials and clerics to anticipate a possible decline in population and to fear the costs of having more elderly people. In 2013, Adel Azar, head of Iran’s Statistics Organization, said that within three years 10 percent of the population would be over 65.
Policy has slowly switched. The Ahmadinejad government introduced subsidized marriage loans, and parliament in 2013 increased maternity leave from six to nine months and introduced two-week paternity leave. Ali Akbar Sayyari, a deputy health minister in the government of President Hassan Rouhani, has warned of the dangers of pregnancy above 35 and encouraged couples to have their first child earlier.
Of the two draft parliamentary bills enraging Amnesty International, one would ban surgery to prevent reproduction unless this is necessary on health grounds, and would also reduce funding for family planning programs including subsidized contraceptives. The second bill would give preference in employment, in both the public and private sector, to married men and women with children.
These are major changes. But altering demographics is not as simple as shifting policies. The reasons Iranians have fewer children are complex, and go beyond the whim of government.
An increase in university education has, for example, encouraged couples to delay marriage. Higher material expectations – albeit ones not always met by an economy hampered by sanctions – may also make smaller families more attractive.
Nonetheless, the implications of change are fundamental. A rising population would fly in the face of growing government concern over the environment. When he addressed the issue last year, Khamenei spoke of “at least 150 million people, if not more.”
But Rouhani has already urged today’s 75 million Iranians to reduce water consumption. Famous rivers like the Karoun, which reaches the Shatt al-Arab, and the Zayandeh, which flows under the 17th-century Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, are low or even dry.
Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator, recently told the Tehran Times that Iran, the world’s ninth largest greenhouse gas emitter, faced “a hotter, drier future.” But despite growing diversion of water into agriculture, the country has failed to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat. Growing population would also challenge policies designed to restrain a shift from villages to overcrowded urban areas. With 13 million people, Tehran is already the 10th most densely populated city in the world, with over 25,000 people per square mile (or 9,700 per square kilometer). Historians and demographers dispute the importance of population change. In stressing its impact, the German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn has argued that population spurts, especially youth bulges, caused European witch-hunts, colonialism, genocides, 20th-century fascism and even the Arab Spring. Its implications for Iran could be far-reaching. Politicians should always be careful what they wish for.
Gareth Smyth has reported from the Middle East since 1992, and was chief Iran correspondent of
The Financial Times in 2003-2007. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

Iran and the Yemeni Hornet’s Nest
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat
20 Mar, 2015
Until a few weeks ago, Yemen hardly featured in the Iranian political landscape.
Now, however, it gets top billing as the latest nation to embrace the Khomeinist ideology.
“The people of Yemen have joined Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in a common struggle for the glory of Islam,” said Ayatollah Ali Saeedi, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s religious commissar. Last Monday, Iran’s Kayhan newspaper, reflecting the views of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, reported that forces were being deployed to capture Aden and five southern Yemeni provinces.
Are we witnessing a new episode in centuries of Iranian interest in what was once known as Arabia Felix or Happy Arabia?
Iran’s first intervention came in the 6th century CE when Yemeni Prince Sayf Ibn Dhi-Yazan traveled to the Sassanid capital Ctesiphon (Mada’en to Arabs) for an audience with Khosrow Anushiravan, known to the Arabs as Kasra.
Sayf wanted help to dislodge the Aksumite dynasty in southern Yemen and beat off perennial Abyssinian incursions. Kasra obliged by sending an expeditionary force of around 600 men led by Vahraz, a bombastic general and a master of self-promotion, a bit like Gen. Qassem Suleimani today.
The project succeeded and Sayf was able to impose his Himyarite dynasty on most of the territory. Legend has it that an army of jinns joined the Persian expeditionary force to achieve victory. Sayf’s mother was supposed to have been a princess of the jinns.
However, developing grandiose ambitions, Vahraz refused to return home, and carved out a mini-kingdom for himself.
According to history mixed with legend, as is often the case in our region, the Persian colony in Yemen became a magnet for malcontents from other parts of the empire. Salman Al-Farsi, a Persian aristocrat from Kazeroun, who later converted to Islam and became a companion of the Prophet, is supposed to have been among them after leaving his post as governor of Ctesiphon as a result of royal court intrigues. However, within the first decades of the 7th century all traces of a Persian presence in Arabia Felix had disappeared, confirming the will-o’-the-wisp nature of imperial dreams.
The next time Yemen caught the attention of Iranians was in the 9th century.
By that time, Iran had largely converted to Islam and been drawn into the new religion’s endless schisms. While most Iranian converts were Sunnis, there were also small Shi’ite communities in several places, notably the Caspian littoral. Even then, Shi’ites were divided by dynastic and theological feuds.
One Iranian Shi’ite kingdom was that of Alavis, who regarded Zayd Ibn Ali, a grandson of Al-Husayn—who was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad—as Imam, while other Shi’ites followed another grandson, Muhammad. Located in Gilan, the first state created by Zaydis lasted from 864 to 900 in its initial form and from 914 to 928 in a smaller version.
As pressure from dynasties created by other Islamic sects grew, the Zaydis of Gilan dispatched missionaries to other Muslim lands in search of converts and, if possible, lands to rule. The enterprise succeeded in creating Zaydi states in central Arabia, North Africa, southern Spain, and more importantly, Yemen, which was to become the longest lasting home of Zaydism.
With Yemen falling under Ottoman domination—though it was never annexed—contacts with Iran dwindled. Then, the imposition of Twelver Shi’ism as state religion in Iran under the Safavids added a political dimension to theological differences. Zaydis were accused of being crypto-Mu’tazilites, preferring reason over faith.
Whenever sectarianism reached fever pitch in Twelver seminaries, Zaydis, along with other offshoots of Shi’ism such as Nizaris, were branded “deviants” or worse.
For almost 1,000 years there was little direct contact between Iran and Yemen.
Iranians knew Yemen largely as a concept—a shibboleth of myth and history. They remembered that King (or Prophet) Solomon had had an affair with Bilqis (the Queen of Sheba), and that Bahram, the Sassanid king, had a Yemeni concubine. But that was almost all they knew.
In the 1960s, when Iran, worried about Nasserist domination in Yemen, started raising its profile there, only one cleric in Qom, Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani, knew something about Zaydism.
Although Iran supported Imam Badr Ibn Ahmad in the Yemeni civil war and began to take fresh interest in that remote land, the Communists’ takeover in South Yemen persuaded Iranian policymakers to set up a Yemen Desk.
In the early 1970s, Iran’s involvement in crushing the Communist insurgency in Dhofar, Oman, further heightened Yemen’s profile because the insurgents—trained and armed by the USSR and its Cuban and East German allies—were based out of South Yemen.
At the time, Tehran was concerned about Soviets gaining a presence in the Gulf of Aden and thus being in a position to threaten the maritime shipping lanes used by oil tankers. The Soviet navy had flown its flag in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasar and the south Yemeni ports of Mukalla and Aden. Reports often concocted by the CIA also spoke of a Soviet aero-naval base on the Yemeni island of Socotra. Iranian strategists formulated possible responses to the Soviets seizing control of Ras Musandam, dominating the Gulf of Aden from Socotra and threatening the Bab El-Mandeb strait from Aden as well as the Ethiopian and Somali coasts.
Though often fabricated or widely exaggerated, those fears helped make Yemen an obsession in Tehran during this period. (In 2007, thanks to special permission from president Ali Abdullah Saleh, I visited the island of Socotra, where I ran into a herd of goats but found absolutely no trace of any Soviet base.)
By 1974 Iran had found a strong ally in Col. Ibrahim Al-Hamdi, who seized power in a coup with the help of future president Saleh.
As president, Hamdi visited Tehran and became the darling of the Iranian establishment.
A paragon of charm, he had ambitious plans for modernizing Yemen, and the Shah was more than willing to help, starting with an aid package worth an estimated 100 million US dollars. Over 2,000 Iranian technicians, operating under the label of the “Universal Welfare Legion,” were sent to Yemen to help build roads, clinics and schools. A military mission headed by Gen. Khorsand had the task of reforming the Yemeni army’s Soviet-style structure which was established during the period of Egyptian–Nasserist domination. Work also began on building mooring facilities for the Iranian navy in Al-Salif and Al-Hudaydah. Some mullahs of Qom and Mash’had were also reportedly bribed to issue fatwas formally acknowledging Zaydis as Shi’ites.
However, by 1977, when Tehran policymakers believed they had it all worked out in Yemen, Hamdi was dead, murdered in a coup which was, once again, engineered by Saleh. I was personally deeply saddened by this, if only because I had written that Yemen was my favorite Arab country and, having interviewed Hamdi, presented him as “a ray of hope in a world of darkness.”
In a state of panic, Tehran had to arrange for the speedy repatriation of Iranian military and civilian technicians sent to help Yemen become “modernized” as “Happy Arabia” entered an unhappy period that was to witness the murder of yet another president, Ahmad Al-Ghashmi, a series of massacres in Aden and Sana’a, two civil wars, a reunion and a break-up, to mention only a few incidents. The dream of an Imperial Iranian Navy policing the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden vanished like smoke.
I remember a remark by the then-foreign minister, Abbas Ali Khalatbari: “We didn’t know that Yemen was such a hornet’s nest.”
Indeed, we didn’t, and we still don’t.


Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus: Iran, not ISIS, is main threat to Iraq
Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
Friday, 20 March 2015
Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces during the 2007-2008 surge in the Iraq war, has said that Iran and the Shiite militias it backs pose “the foremost” strategic threat to Iraq, superseding the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terror group.
“I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran,” Petraeus told the Washington Post during a recent visit to northern Iraq.
He said while these Shiite militias helped stop ISIS’ advance toward Baghdad, they were responsible for “atrocities” against Sunni civilians and could later emerge to be the dominant power in Iraq outside the government’s control.
“These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them,” Petraeus said.
“Longer term, Iranian-backed Shiite militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran,” he added.
Petraeus said the increasing Iranian influence in Iraq, through Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Suleimani, underlines “a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East.”
Read also: Obama admin gives cover to Iraq Shiite militia abuses: Ex U.S. official
Answering a question about the IRGC commander Suleimani, who reportedly helped build up the Shiite militias which targeted American troops and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during the surge, Petraeus said: “Yes, ‘Hajji Qassem,’ our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren't suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours.
“What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire.
“It is certainly interesting to see how visible Suleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows,” Petraeus added.
The U.S. general, who is widely credited with purging al-Qaeda from Iraq’s Sunni areas in 2006, said that despite Iran’s help in the fight against ISIS, Tehran is “ultimately part of the problem, not the solution.
“The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging,” he added.
He said: “Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren't careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.”
Petraeus added that in the spring of 2008, Suleimani made it clear to him that he was in charge of Iran’s policy regarding Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.
The message came through as Iraqi and American-led coalition forces battled Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
“In the midst of the fight, I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qassem Suleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: ‘General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qassem Suleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.’ The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Suleimani that he could ‘pound sand’.”
Ali Khedery, a former advisor to Petraeus when the latter headed up the U.S. central command in Iraq in 2009 to 2010, told Al Arabiya News late Friday that he “agree[s] completely” with the general’s comments.
With his cryptic comments on Suleimani, Petraeus was alluding to the Iranian commander’s responsibility for leading Shiite militia groups responsible for the “killing and wounding thousands of American coalition soldiers and Iraqi troops and civilians, so it would be natural for him to wish things upon him that would not be appropriate for a newspaper,” said Khedary, who now works as a consultant for international strategic advisory firm Dragoman Partners.
Last week, the White House said that they were consulting the now-retired Petraeus on the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
The former advisor on Iraq told Al Arabiya News last month that previously, the Obama administration was deliberately turning a blind eye to Shiite militias’ abuses in Iraq - but now with fresh evidence from human rights organizations and with Petraeus's testimony, “Obama now has to clarify what his policy is in the wake of the new evidence that… [has] been revealed,” Khedery said on Friday.
David Mack, a former U.S. ambassador and scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute think tank, said that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi - aligned in part both politically and ideologically with Iran-backed Shiite militias – must contain control of the situation in order to avoid a long-term “threat to their stability.”
Last Update: Friday, 20 March 2015 KSA 21:16 - GMT 18:16

Iran’s return: Economic renaissance after sanctions lifted
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
Friday, 20 March 2015
According to recent reports, talks between Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - the five permanent members of the Security Council - plus Germany (P5+1) and the Islamic Republic have been ongoing, over the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran’s financial and energy-related sectors.
It is crucial to understand that the sanctions imposed on Iran are among the most complicated that have been imposed on a defiant and rogue state. The sanctions have been developed over 30 years, politically and economically isolating the Islamic Republic from the international community.
The sanctions are not solely due to Tehran’s nuclear defiance, the IAEA’s findings, Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, or Tehran’s previous clandestine and undeclared nuclear activities which breached the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also due to human rights abuses and violations, and being linked to terrorism.
Ultimately when the 30-year regime of sanctions are lifted, the international community will lose its strong leverage against Iran in curbing its nuclear program
In addition, the sanctions can be divided into three major groups: the first set imposed by the European Union, the sanctions enacted by the United States, and finally four major sanctions adopted by the United Nations Security Council.
There are eight U.N. resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear defiance, four of which include arms embargos, as well as prohibiting the Islamic Republic from buying or selling technologies for nuclear purposes and building atomic bombs. However, Tehran had previously managed to skirt some of these sanctions.
Nevertheless, the rule of sanctions which wreaked havoc on Iran’s economy, brought the ruling clerics to the negotiating table, and endangered the hold on power of the Iranian leaders, were those imposed on Iran’s energy, banking and financial sectors by the European Union and in particular the United States.
In addition, the U.S. prohibited third parties from conducting business with Tehran. Although the talks are linked to Iran’s nuclear program, the lifting of sanctions will most likely include all the aforementioned categories. However, this trend is rapidly changing.
Lifting sanctions when outline is reached
The U.S. and European Union had already lifted some major sanctions on Iran when the interim deal was struck. The easing of sanctions were linked to some of Iran’s sectors such as metal, petrochemical, and gold industries. Several billions of dollars were also released to the Islamic Republic by the United States.
Currently, the issue of sanctions has been a sticking point in the 18-month long nuclear talks. The EU and the U.S. might start the process of lifting sanctions against the Islamic Republic by the end of next week, even before the final nuclear deadline is reached at the end of June.
The final marathon nuclear negotiations consisted of two stages: the first is to reach a general outline by the end of March, and the second phase is to strike a deal with regards to the details, nuances and the technicalities.
The lifting of major sanctions (on oil and energy sectors, Iran’s banking system, and financial institutions) can actually begin as soon as an outline for a final stage is reached by the end of March.
In addition, as the ongoing nuclear talks suggests, there is infinitesimal doubt that the six world powers and Iran would agree on a general outline by the end of March.
Why Rush to Lift Sanctions? Geopolitical Implications
Why rush to lift the thirty-year sanctions against the Islamic Republic? It is worth noting that it is not solely the Islamic Republic that is pushing for the speedy removal of the regime of economic sanctions. The U.S. and EU appear to have a considerable amount of invested interest in lifting the sanctions against Iran as well.
This is mainly due to economic reasons, including Western corporation profits, as well as diversifying oil imports from the Middle East. Iran’s economy bears a crucial untapped market for European countries and the U.S..
In addition, Iran has a population of approximately 80 million people, mainly a young population, and possess one of the largest gas and oil reserves in the world.
On the other hand, when Iranian leaders are unshackled from the economic restrains imposed by the international community and when the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic occurs, this phenomenon will bring about significant changes not only in the economic status of the Islamic Republic in the region, but also in the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East.
Economically speaking, when sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors are lifted, Iran will re-enter the world trade market in full speed, impacting mostly regional business competition.
Iran can easily be a major regional competitor in several industries including automobile manufacturing. For example, Iran is one of the top 15 countries when it comes to manufacturing cars outnumbering the number of cars being produced even in some European countries such as Italy.
When it comes to growth of car industry, Iran ranks 5th in the world, and Iran Khodro ranks 13th taking into account production.
Also European countries will diversify their energy imports by investing in Iran’s oil and gas market. In return, Tehran would be capable of modernizing its industries, mainly gas and oil sectors via buying the required technology from Western countries. This can lead to a major economic revival for Tehran.
Geopolitically speaking, Iran’s oil exports will ratchet up, increasing Iran’s leverage in OPEC and subsequently decreasing the political leverage of other oil producing nations.
Being unshackled from economic sanctions, Iran will undoubtedly be a major economic power directing the political situations in some countries more robustly and confidently.
The Islamic Republic’s support of President Bashar al Assad will increase financially and militarily. Iran is likely to interfere in other countries' affairs including Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain by supporting Shiite groups and oppositional groups that serve Iran’s national, geopolitical, and strategic interests.
Ultimately when the 30-year regime of sanctions are lifted, the international community will lose its strong leverage against Iran in curbing its nuclear program. In other words, Tehran can continue its nuclear ambitions covertly or overtly without being concerned that its political system will be endangered due to economic restrictions.
Undoubtedly, the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors will lead to major economic competition in the region, along with impacting the geopolitical and strategic landscapes primarily by shifting the balance of power in favor of Iran and other Shiite coalitions.

Canadian Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Minister Nicholson Appalled by Attacks in Yemen
March 20, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada strongly condemns the barbaric terrorist attacks on two mosques in Sanaa earlier today that claimed the lives of more than 100 people and injured more than 300 others.
“Canada continues to be deeply concerned about ongoing violence in Yemen, including deadly clashes yesterday in Aden.
“The political instability and ongoing violence in Yemen will only continue to destabilize the country and exacerbate the severe humanitarian crisis faced by Yemenis.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my condolences to the families of those killed in these attacks and wish a swift recovery to the injured.”

Islam Bulldozes the Past
Daniel Pipes/Washington Times
March 20, 2015
The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, and Korsabad, three of the world's greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi'i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.
Worse, the ISIS record fits into an old and common pattern of destruction of historical artifacts by Muslims.
Some attacks target the works of other, rival religions, such as Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus (since 1974), the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (in 2001), the Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia (2002), an historic Hindu temple in Malaysia (2006), and the Assyrian antiquities ("idols") in Mosul (2015). On a personal level, a Saudi national smashed historic statues at the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo in 2014. Nor is this danger over: Islamic leaders have bruited plans to destroy Persepolis in Iran, St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
After the 1974 invasion, Turkish forces made many churches in northern Cyprus fit only for animals.
In some cases, conquerors turn non-Islamic holy places into Islamic ones, thereby asserting the supremacy of Islam. This can be done by converting them into Islamic sanctities, such as the Kaaba in Mecca, the Cathedral of St. John in Damascus, and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; or building on top of them, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India.
Muslims of one denomination sometimes destroy the legacy of other Islamic sects. Recent examples include the tomb of Sidi Mahmoudou, a medieval structure in Timbuktu (2012), Sufi tombs in Libya (2012), and the libraries of Mosul (2015). But best known is the Saudi destruction of antiquities in Mecca since the 1990s, applying strict Wahhabi principles of non-intercession; even Muhammad's tomb in Medina is in jeopardy.
The Taliban blew up a monumental sixth-century Buddha statue in 2001.
Destruction also accompanies the fighting of war; the Syrian conflict since 2011 has been particularly devastating in this regard, with battles causing severe damage to such grand antiquities as the Citadel of Aleppo, the Umayyad Mosque, and Crac des Chevaliers. Alongside, smuggling and other profit-making activities to pay for war costs leads to the wholesale stealing and trafficking of rare antiquities; UNESCO reports, for example, that the ancient Syrian site of Apamea is "completely destroyed."
Ancient artifacts might even be demolished because their space is needed for something deemed urgent. The Palestinian Authority threw out precious Temple Mount archeological remains as mere rubble in 2000 to build a mosque. In 2013, Hamas bulldozed part of the 3,000-year-old Anthedon Harbor in Gaza for military purposes and the Turkish authorities damaged the Byzantine-era walls of the Yedikule Gardens to build a decorative pool.
Al-Qaeda bombed the Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia in 2002.
Finally, there are gratuitously self-inflicted cultural wounds. These include the pillaging of Iraqi museums, libraries, and archives (2003), the burning in 2011 of L'Institut d'Égypte and looting of the Egyptian Museum, the 2013 destruction of manuscripts in Timbuktu and the ransacking of the Mallawi Museum in Minya, Egypt, and the 2014 destruction at the Saeh Library in Tripoli, Lebanon and at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.
Why does Islam inspire its adherents to annihilate their own patrimony? Because humiliation establishes and reinforces one's superiority. Destruction of infidel remains confirms the superior power of Muslims and, by implication, the truth of Islam. In parallel, eliminating the vestiges of Muslim rivals establishes the superiority of Islamism over other, less assertive interpretations of Islam.
ISIS blew up Shi'ite mosques in Mosul in 2014.
While the seizure and appropriation of other monuments began at the very inception of Islam (i.e., the Kaaba), the destruction that has reached orgiastic heights with ISIS is something new; note that nearly all the examples listed here date from the twenty-first century. Turned around, those recently-destroyed antiquities survived so long because Muslims had left them alone. In this regard, things are far worse these days than ever before – not a surprise, as Islam is in its worst shape ever. All other major religions have moved beyond such crudely violent impulses whose motive is unacceptable and whose results are tragic.
Is there a Middle Eastern country that exults in its multi-religious heritage, celebrates ancient artifacts on coins and stamps, builds fabulous museums for its antiquities, treats archeology as a national pastime, and studies manuscripts rather than burns them? Well, yes, there is. It's called Israel. The rest of the region could learn a thing or two about historical appreciation from the Jewish state.
Both the name of the Quwwat al-Islam ("Power of Islam") Mosque in Delhi and the fact that it was built with materials from "27 idolatrous temples" point to Islamic supremacism.
Mr. Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Mar. 20, 2015 addendum: For more details on most of the incidents mentioned above, see my blog, "Islam vs. History."