LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive
Matthew 21/17-27: "Jesus left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, "Be lifted up and thrown into the sea", it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’ When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, "From heaven", he will say to us, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "Of human origin", we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Bible Quotation For Today/It is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and then have fallen away
Letter to the Hebrews 06/01-09: "Let us go on towards perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith towards God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And we will do this, if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over. Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March
Mob of Muslims Violently Attack Church in Protest Against Memorial for Egyptian Martyrs/ICC/March 29/15
Arab Ahwaz must be liberated from Iran/Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya/March 29/15
Operation: Decisive Storm’ contains the Houthi threat/Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi/Al Arabiya/March 29/15
Trusting the Ayatollahs: What's in a Fatwa/Raymond Ibrahim/The American Thinker/March 29/15
'Influx of advanced weapons flowing from Iran into Syria, Lebanon unprecedented/J.Post/March 29/15
Lebanese Related News published on March
Kuwait Emir Urges to Salam Need to End Presidential Deadlock
Qassem Slams 'Instigators', Says Dialogue with Mustaqbal to Continue
US to pledge $500M in aid to Lebanon at Kuwait III conference: reports
Jumblatt congratulates Syrian 'rebels' for 'liberating' Idlib
The reasons for our Arab wars lie deep
Saudi envoy denounces Nasrallah’s speech as ‘slanderous
Headless Body of Arsal Man Found after 'Decapitation by IS'
Daryan Says Halting Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue is 'Forbidden'
Report: U.S. to Dedicate 500 Million Dollars to Lebanon at Kuwait Conference
Report: Saudi, Egyptian Officials 'Annoyed' with Bassil's Disassociation Statements
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Pope prays for plane crash dead during Palm Sunday Mass
White House Tells Iran to 'Live Up to Rhetoric'
Ya'alon: You don't have to be in intelligence to know that Iran is lying
Iran, powers seek to break nuclear deal deadlock
West Speaks of 'Provisional Agreement' on Key Elements of Iran Deal, Tehran Denies
Kerry cancels trip in honor of Ted Kennedy as Iran talks intensify
Arab Leaders Agree Joint Military Force
Arab summit calls on Houthis to surrender in Yemen
US surrender on breakout time to a bomb leads to breakthrough on a nuclear deal
Netanyahu: Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis must be stopped
USA House Speaker John Boehner Says White House Showed 'Reprehensible Animosity' towards Netanyahu
Yemen says Saudi-led campaign stopped Iran flights supplying Houthis
50 Houthis killed in clashes with Shabwa tribes
Saudi FM responds to Putin’s letter on Syrian crisis
How Saudi intervention in Yemen prevented a disaster
Saleh offered Saudi Arabia anti-Houthi coup for immunity
Hamas backs Sunni rule in Yemen
Putin letter to Arab summit triggers strong Saudi attack
Saudi envoy denounces Nasrallah’s speech as ‘slanderous
Saudi: No decision on sending ground troops to Yemen
Ancient Egyptian beer making vessels discovered in Israel
UN warns emergency fund for Palestinians in Syria near empty
Nigeria troops battle Boko Haram near Bauchi: residents, military
Turkey detains two policemen in Erdogan spying case
Egypt prosecutor names Brotherhood leaders as terrorists
Regime executed prisoners before Idlib fall: activists
Egypt lists as terrorists top Muslim Brotherhood leader, 17 others from group
Jihad Watch Latest News
Turkey: Armenian church daubed with pro-genocide graffiti
Wives of the Islamic State: “When one husband gets martyred, it’s like a celebration”
Saudis restore envoy to Sweden after Swedes apologize for insulting Islam
CAIR, Left fail to strongarm Ted Cruz into pulling out of event with Robert Spencer
The real meaning of “Allahu akbar” — on The Glazov Gang
Sudan: University student swaps jeans for niqab, joins Islamic State
Islamic State in Illinois planned another Fort Hood
UK: Father of girl who joined ISIS was at rally boasting of Muslim conquest of USA
Iranian Defector: 'U.S. Negotiating Team Mainly There to
Speak on Iran’s Behalf'
5:01 PM, Mar 28, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Weekly Standard/An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America's role in the nuclear negotiations. “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal," Motaghi told a TV station after just defecting from the Iranian delegation while abroad for the nuclear talks. The P 5 + 1 is made up of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, plus Germany.
Qassem Slams 'Instigators', Says
Dialogue with Mustaqbal to Continue
Naharnet/Hizbullah on Sunday lashed out anew at “those who don't want dialogue” between the party and al-Mustaqbal movement, blasting them as “instigators and rabble-rousers," as it called for speeding up efforts aimed at securing the election of a new president.
“We know that dialogue can only succeed if both parties want it and this is the case now. Some voices have rejected dialogue and they have become well-known,” Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem said. Qassem's remarks are an apparent jab at head of al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora, who on Tuesday told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that slain ex-PM Rafik Hariri had told him that “several assassination attempts by Hizbullah” against him had been discovered. But despite the recent war of words between Hizbullah and Mustaqbal over the STL and the Yemeni conflict, the leaders of the two parties, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and ex-PM Saad Hariri, have both expressed determination to carry on with the dialogue. “The instigators and rabble-rousers in Lebanon, whose names are well-known, are only spreading poison,” Qassem added. “Keep boiling up with anger, we will continue with dialogue even if you don't like it, we will carry on with any act that leads to stability, and we won't let you sabotage this stability in Lebanon,” Hizbullah number two said.
Commenting on the presidential vacuum that has been running since May 25, 2014, Qassem noted that holding the election is “a critical and very important issue for Lebanon.”In an apparent reference to Hizbullah's ally and presidential candidate MP Michel Aoun, Qassem added: “Our choice is reasonable, popular and patriotic and it is totally compatible with all the rules of proper representation.” “What is impeding the election of a president is the presence of a group of people who are awaiting the lifting of the foreign veto on the election of the popular president who deserves the presidential post,” Qassem went on to say. “We urge them to return to their conscience and to put the national interest before the interests of some regional countries so that we can speed up the election of a president,” the top Hizbullah official added. Turning to the Yemeni crisis, Qassem called for allowing the Yemeni people to make its own “political choices, internal talks and political solutions.” He also slammed the Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen's Huthi rebels as a “real aggression.”
Arab summit calls on Houthis to
surrender in Yemen
Hamza Hendawi/Associated Press/Mar. 29, 2015
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there "withdraw and surrender their weapons," a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force.
The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis. A Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen Thursday, saying it was targeting the Houthis and their allies, which include forces loyal to Yemen's former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh. At the summit, held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby read a final communiqué outlining the leaders' views. "Yemen was on the brink of the abyss, requiring effective Arab and international moves after all means of reaching a peaceful resolution have been exhausted to end the Houthi coup and restore legitimacy," Elaraby said. The Houthis began their offensive in September, seizing the capital, Sanaa, and later holding embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest. The rebels ultimately took over government in Yemen and ultimately forced Hadi to flee the country in recent days. Speaking at the summit Saturday, Hadi directly accused Iran of being behind the Houthi offensive, raising the specter of a regional conflict. Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement, though the Islamic Republic has provided humanitarian and other aid. Speaking after Elaraby, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said leaders also agreed in principle to creating a joint Arab military force. He said a high-level panel will work under the supervision of Arab chiefs of staff to work out the structure and mechanism of the force.
Egyptian military and security officials have said the proposed force would be made of up to 40,000 elite troops and will be headquartered in either Cairo or Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The force would be backed by jet fighters, warships and light armor.
However, it is unlikely that all 22-member nations of the often-fractious Arab League will join the proposed force. Creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense agreement.
Now in its fourth day, the Saudi-led airstrike campaign has pushed Houthi rebels out of contested air bases and destroyed any jet fighter remaining in Yemen, Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmed bin Hasan Asiri said.
The strikes also continued to target Scud missiles in Yemen, leaving most of their launching pads "devastated," according to remarks carried Saturday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. However, he warned that the rebels could control more of the missiles. His account could not be immediately corroborated. Meanwhile Sunday, Pakistan dispatched a plane to the Yemeni city of Hodeida, hoping to evacuate some 500 citizens gathered there, said Shujaat Azim, an adviser to Pakistan's prime minister. Azim told state-run Pakistan Television more flights would follow as those controlling Yemen's airports allowed them. Pakistan says some 3,000 of its citizens live in Yemen.
Saudi envoy denounces Nasrallah’s
speech as ‘slanderous
The Daily Star/Mar. 29, 2015/BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech was full of slander and false accusations, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri said Sunday. “The speech made by Hezbollah’s General Secretary Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah expressed the confusion experienced by the sides he represents [Iran], and contained a lot of slander and false allegations against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Asiri said in a statement. He said Nasrallah words "aimed to distort facts and mislead public opinion.”Nasrallah’s heated speech Friday slammed Saudi Arabia for the recent military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. “The same side supporting Sayyed Nasrallah and directing the Houthis does not want good for Yemen and has been behind obstructing all agreements and pushing the security situation in the country toward escalation and deterioration,” Asiri said, in reference to Iran. “We wish some sides would emulate the wisdom of the kingdom’s leaders.” Nasrallah had also dismissed accusations that Iran was blocking the election of a Lebanese president that isn't supported by Tehran, saying the side responsible for the disruption was Saudi Arabia. “The Saudis have proven that they do not speak two languages,” Asiri responded. “And its officials have announced several times that the Lebanese presidency is a pure Lebanese matter and that it [Saudi Arabia] does not engage in the game of nominations and candidates, but rather supports whoever is agreed upon by the Lebanese.”Nasrallah contended in his speech that the presidential election crisis was due to a veto by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Faisal against the candidacy of FPM chief Michel Aoun. Asiri stressed that Nasrallah’s claim was false, saying the purpose behind the allegation was to “throw ash in the eyes and escape from responsibility.” Lebanon has been without president since May 25 of last year, when former President Michel Sleiman left office at the end of his term.
Report: Saudi, Egyptian Officials
'Annoyed' with Bassil's Disassociation Statements
Naharnet/Saudi Arabian and Egyptian officials were reportedly “annoyed” with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil's remarks at the Arab League summit that Lebanon is committed to its policy of disassociation from regional disputes, said the daily al-Mustaqbal on Sunday.
The officials were bothered that the policy did not coincide with the Arab consensus on backing a coalition to combat regional threats. They were reportedly asked to await Prime Minister Tammam Salam's statement at the Arab League summit ahead of jumping to conclusions over Lebanon's official stance. Salam had declared during his speech on Saturday night that Lebanon is “keen on the joint Arab interest.” He also voiced his “complete support” to any Arab position that preserves the sovereignty of Yemen. The premier added however that Lebanon should “be kept neutral regional conflicts.” The 22 members of the Arab League met in Egypt's Sharm al-Sheikh for a summit overshadowed by the Saudi-led offensive against Yemen's Huthi rebels to discuss a joint-Arab military force to confront "terrorist groups".
Daryan Says Halting
Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue is 'Forbidden'
Naharnet/Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan called Sunday for pressing on with the bilateral dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement, as he suggested expanding it into all-party talks. “We support the dialogues that lead to positive results that can preserve this country's unity and security and its citizens' piece of mind,” Daryan said. A war of words had erupted in recent days between the two parties over a testimony by head of al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which has accused five Hizbullah members of involvement in the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri. Saniora told the STL that Hariri had confided to him that “several assassination attempts by Hizbullah” against him had been discovered. The fresh tensions were further aggravated by conflicting stances on the Saudi-led operation against Huthi rebels in Yemen. The leaders of the two parties, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and ex-PM Saad Hariri, have however expressed determination to carry on with the dialogue. “Yes, let al-Mustaqbal movement engage in dialogue with Hizbullah, and it is prohibited to stop this dialogue, as we're pinning a lot of hopes on it,” Daryan added. “It has achieved positive results and ended sectarian tension,” the mufti noted, calling for “immunizing this situation through further progress in the talks.” He added: “This dialogue must be completed with an inter-Christian dialogue and another among all political parties.”Turning to the protracting presidential vacuum, Daryan said “it is unacceptable to keep the country without a president for such a long period,” urging all parties to reach an agreement over the election of a new president and warning that “the continued presidential void is threatening Lebanon's security and stability.” As for the rapid developments in the Arab world, the mufti voiced support for “Arab unity and Arab solidarity,” lauding the Arab League's decision to create a joint Arab military force. Daryan also backed the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen against Shiite Huthi rebels. “In Yemen they rejected the peace initiative, so they faced a firm decision (Firmness Storm campaign), and we had already supported this firm, brave and right decision for the sake of Yemen's unity, stability and sovereignty,” he said
US to pledge $500M in aid to Lebanon
at Kuwait III conference: reports
The Daily Star/Mar. 29, 2015
BEIRUT: The United States is prepared to announce $500 million in aid for Lebanon at an uncoming donor conference in Kuwait, according to media reports. Future TV quoted Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Saturday night as saying that the U.S. would pledge $500 million in aid to Lebanon at the International Humanitarian Donors for Syria scheduled for Tuesday in Kuwait. The conference, which Kuwait will be hosting for a third year in a row, aims at collecting international financial support for Syrians displaced by war.
An-Nahar newspaper said Sunday that the $500 million would be channeled via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.) The reports did not specify if the aid will be provided to Syrian refugees or vulnerable Lebanese communities, or whether it would be distributed through the Lebanese agencies. Lebanon hosts around 1.2 million Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As many as 78 nations and 40 international organizations will attend the conference in Kuwait, also known as Kuwait III. The previous two gatherings collected nearly $3.9 billion in aid pledges. However, U.N. humanitarian agencies have complained that many donor countries have failed to follow through on pledges.
Kuwait Emir Urges to Salam Need to End
Naharnet/The Emir of Kuwait has stressed the need for Lebanon to end the vacuum in the presidency, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Sunday. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah had urged Prime Minister Tammam Salam to end the presidential impasse and elect a new president, sources accompanying the premier to the Arab League summit at Egypt's Sharm al-Sheikh told the daily. “We need a president for Lebanon,” the emir was quoted as saying. Salam and the accompanying delegation had arrived in Egypt on Saturday. The prime minister had met with a number of Arab officials on the margins of the summit, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Iraqi President Fuad Maasoum, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise presidential candidate have thwarted the polls.
USA House Speaker John Boehner Says White House Showed 'Reprehensible Animosity' towards Netanyahu
Naharnet/The Obama administration has displayed "reprehensible animosity" towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Speaker John Boehner says. Netanyahu's recent election victory dramatically exacerbated a diplomatic crisis with Washington, bringing his thorny relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama into sharp focus. In a bid to ramp up votes, Netanyahu had veered sharply to the right, vowing there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, promising to increase settlement construction and warning that Arab Israeli voters were going "in droves" to the polls, drawing a rebuke from the White House. Republican Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to Washington in the lead-up to the Israeli election without consulting the White House, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday: "I think the animosity exhibited by our administration toward the prime minister of Israel is reprehensible. "And I think that the pressure that they've put on him over the last four or five years has, frankly, pushed him to the point where he had to speak up. I don't blame him at all for speaking up."Boehner said his trip this week to Israel was planned "months ago.""So it's not quite what I would describe as a victory lap," he added. Agence France Presse
Saudi FM responds to Putin’s letter on
Al-Faisal during his closing speech at the Arab League summit held in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. (Al Arabiya)
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Sunday, 29 March 2015/Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Sunday that Russia proposes a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis while it continues to provide arms to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudi foreign minister said Assad has “lost his legitimacy” as Russia continues to supply his government with arms that are killing the Syrian people. Al-Faisal noted that Arab states are looking forward to have better relations with Russia if it shows more “positivity.” His statements over the Syrian crisis responded to a message sent earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin to participants at the Arab League summit, held at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. In the message carried by the Russian Interfax news agency, Putin stated that he insists on settling the Syrian crisis peacefully and based on international law principles.
Isreali Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon:
You don't have to be in intelligence to know that Iran is lying
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, HERB KEINON/J.Post/03/29/2015
Addressing talks between the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran in Switzerland, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday that "one does not have to be an intelligence agency member to know that Iran is lying without blinking, that today it is the biggest danger to the stability of the Middle East and the entire world."Ya'alon added that the "Iranian appetite to export the revolution through terrorism will only get bigger, and with the seal of approval it receives as a legitimate state that is a touching distance away from being nuclear – the danger to the West and its allies in the Middle East will be enormous." Ya'alon's comments came amid news of progress in negotiations between world powers and Iran to reach a framework deal to restrict Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Western leaders, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, were in Lausanne, Switzerland on Sunday attempting to reach a framework agreement by Tuesday's deadline which would set the outline for a comprehensive agreement by the end of June.Israel has warned repeatedly that the agreement emerging is a "bad deal" that will allow Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state while gaining international legitimacy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting that the nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran apparently emerging from the talks in Lausanne confirm all of Israel's concerns, “and even more than that." At the same time that the talks are taking place in Switzerland, he said, Iran's proxies in Yemen are in the process of occupying large segments of Yemen and trying to gain control of the strategic Ba'ad el-Mandeb waterway which is critical to the free flow of the world's oil. "After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is carrying out a pincer movement from the south to take over and occupy the entire Middle East. The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity and it must be stopped,” he said. A US official told The Jerusalem Post in response that Netanyahu's position was well known and that they continue to brief the Israeli leader on the negotiations with Iran.
Michael Wilner and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.
Trusting the Ayatollahs: What's in a
Raymond Ibrahim/The American Thinker
March 29, 2015
Originally published under the title, "Trusting the Ayatollahs: What's in a Fatwa?"
President Obama apparently takes great comfort in the fact that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei once issued a religious decree against building nuclear weapons.
As Iran continues edging closer to developing nuclear weapons—a major threat to the entire Mideast region, especially longstanding U.S. ally Israel—U.S. President Obama has come to the aid of the Islamic Republic, by citing an Islamic fatwa no less.
In a video recording posted on the White House's website, Obama said, "Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon."
This is the same Rouhani who, after recently showcasing Iran's newly developed missiles, described his nation's diplomatic talks with the U.S. as an active "jihad":
Our negotiations with the world powers are a source of national pride. Yesterday [during the Iran-Iraq War], your brave generals stood against the enemy on the battlefield and defended their country. Today, your diplomatic generals are defending [our nation] in the field of diplomacy–this, too, is jihad.
Other administration officials—such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes—have previously referred to the ayatollah's reported fatwa in the context of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.
The Obama administration's citation of this fatwa is utterly wrongheaded on many levels.
First, the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka'b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances (discussed here), taqiyya became second nature to the Shia—the sect currently ruling Iran.
Then there is the fact that Islamic law takes circumstance into account. When Muhammad was weak and outnumbered in Mecca, he preached peace and tolerance (hence why Meccan Suras appear peaceful); when he became strong in Medina, he preached war and went on the offensive (hence why Medinan Suras are violent and intolerant). This dichotomy—preach peace when weak, wage war when strong—has been Islamic modus operandi for centuries.
Speaking of fatwas, Dr. Yusuf Burhami, a prominent Islamic cleric in Egypt, recently said that destroying churches in Egypt is permissible if not advisable—but not if doing so prompts Western infidels to intervene and occupy Egypt, which they could do "because the condition of Muslims in the current era is well known to the nations of the world—they are weak." Burhami further added that circumstance is everything, "just as the prophet allowed the Jews to remain in Khaibar after he opened [conquered] it, once Muslims grew in strength and number, [second caliph] Omar al-Khattab drove them out according to the prophet's command, 'Drive out the Jews and Christians from the Peninsula.'"
Islamic doctrine permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims.
And who can forget Yasser Arafat's reference to Muhammad's Hudaybiya pact? In 1994, soon after negotiating a peace treaty criticized as conceding too much to Israel, Arafat addressed an assembly of Muslims and said: "I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the [infidel] Quraysh in Mecca." In other words, like Muhammad, Arafat gave his word only to annul it once his ranks became strong enough to go on the offensive.
In short, it's all very standard for Islamic leaders to say they are pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while they are weaker than their infidel foes—as Iran is today—but once they acquire nukes the jihad can resume in earnest.
Then there is the fact that Shia theology is rife with apocalyptic aspirations. An August 2007 report compiled by the Congressional Research Service said: "Ahmadinejad [previous president of Iran] believes his mission is to prepare for the return of the 12th 'Hidden' Imam, whose return from occultation [i.e., "hiding"] would, according to Twelver Shi'ite doctrine, be accompanied by the establishment of Islam as the global religion."
Like other Iranians, Ahmadinejad cited the eschatological (and canonical) hadith wherein Muhammad said: "The Hour [Judgment Day] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and until the Jews hide behind the trees and rocks and the trees and rocks will say, 'O Muslim, O Servant of God! Here are the Jews! Come and kill them!"
Indeed, during a recent speech, supreme leader Khamenei—whose fatwa Obama is now citing—boasted about Iran's uranium enrichment, even as his military commanders shouted, "Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel."
Yet despite all this—despite the fact that Islamic doctrine mandates lying to infidels; despite the fact that the Shia—Iran's leadership—have perfected taqiyya into an art; despite the fact that Islamic law holds that Muslims should preach peace when weak, war when strong; despite the fact that Iranian leadership openly boasts that its nuclear negotiations are a "jihad" against the infidel; despite the fact that Iran has previously been exposed developing uranium enrichments suitable for nuclear warheads—here is Obama and his administration relying on the "word" of the ayatollah of Iran.
*Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).
Netanyahu: Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis
must be stopped
By HERB KEINON/MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/03/29/2015
JERUSALEM/LAUSANNE - The nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran apparently emerging from the talks in Lausanne confirm all of Israel's concerns, “and even more than that,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting.
At the same time that the talks are taking place in Switzerland, he said, Iran's proxies in Yemen are in the process of occupying large segments of Yemen and trying to gain control of the strategic Ba'ad el-Mandeb waterway which is critical to the free flow of the world's oil.
"After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is carrying out a pincer movement from the south to take over and occupy the entire Middle East. The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity and it must be stopped,” he said.
Before the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu met with visiting Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and spoke over the weekend with the Democratic leader in the Senate Harry Reid, discussing Israel's deep concern about the emerging agreement. He said that they both spoke of “firm, strong and continuing” bipartisan support for Israel.
Talks intensified on Sunday in Lausanne, a Swiss city on the shores of Lake Geneva, as foreign ministers gathered to discuss the possibility of a political framework.
They seek to reach an understanding by March 31, which will frame a comprehensive nuclear agreement concluded by the end of June.
A UN-backed deal on Iran's nuclear work is expected to cap, restrict, monitor and roll back its program for a finite period. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council will have to sign off on the agreement.
US Secretary of State John Kerry began meetings early with his Iranian and European counterparts. The foreign ministers of Russia and the United Kingdom are scheduled to arrive later in the day.
"The endgame of the long negotiations has begun," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday. "As one sees the cross on the summit, the final meters are the most difficult but also the decisive ones."
US surrender on breakout time to a
bomb leads to breakthrough on a nuclear deal
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 29, 2015
President Barack Obama and John Kerry promised that the nuclear deal to be signed with Iran in Switzerland this week will give the world powers a year’s warning after the Islamic Republic’s breakout up to an operational weapon. debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that, to clinch the framework deal in Lausanne, even this concession, which imperils Israel, the Gulf and the Middle East at large, was not enough. In a further surrender, the president authorized the US delegation to fall back again on the space granted the world powers for reacting to breakthrough, dropping it from a year to six or seven months:
Our nuclear experts explain why even that grim arithmetic does not do full justice to the advantages Iran has gained for its push to a nuke:
1. Because Iran is permitted to continue running up to 6,500 elderly IR-1 centrifuges for enriching uranium to a low 3.5 percent grade, even if it is permitted to keep only 500 kilos of its stock of 7.5-8 –tons, Tehran would still be able to build a bomb in 7-8 months, i.e. a lot faster than Obama and Kerry have promised.
2. But if Tehran activates secret facilities undetected by US intelligence, it can produce a larger quantity of enriched uranium and so shrink the time between breakout and bomb to three, at most, four months, totally insufficient for the world powers to detect, step in and abort the bomb’s manufacture, in view of the following considerations:
--- To obtain proof that Iran is cheating on its accord with the world powers, “environmental” samples would have to be obtained and tested in laboratories outside Iran. Results would be available only after two months, further slashing the time line for stopping Iran building a weapon. But that is not all.
--- If Iran is shown by the first round of tests to be in violation of the accord and enriching uranium to a higher grade than 3.5, a second batch of “environmental” samples must be collected to analyze the exact quantities of uranium illicitly enriched and grade of purity.
There goes another month of valuable time for action, cutting it down to 10-12 weeks.
3. And, finally, the US President, Secretary of State and International Atomic Energy leaders have affirmed Iran’s faithful compliance with the first interim nuclear accord – known as the Joint Plan of Action – JPOA – that was signed in Geneva November 2013.
That information is equally false.
It is a fact which is known to intelligence agencies that Iran never complied with its commitment to reduce its UF6 stocks below 7.5 tons and convert added amounts to harmless oxides. Indeed, they estimate that Iran has enlarged its approved amount of stock to 8.5 tons or more, by means of the “creep-out” strategyit has repeatedly pursued in the past to conceal its nefarious nuclear activities.
3. A final concession which Iran has managed to wring out of the six world powers led by Washington allows Tehran to keep an extra 9,000 IR-1 centrifuges Tehran idle - though not dismantled - and permission to continue research and development on high-speed IR-8 or IR-5 centrifuges. This mans thatn the Islamic Republic will not only keep its nuclear infrastructure under the accord the six powers plan to sign, but add improvements along with the freedom to shorten at will the critical time lapse between breakout and bomb.
The tons of spoken and printed verbiage poured out on the Iranian nuclear issue and ongoing diplomacy year after year have exposed, rather than disguised, President Obama’s willingness to sign a nuclear deal with Iran – however bad and whatever the price.
The inescapable conclusion is that the US president has come around to accepting the reality of a nuclear-armed Iran. As seen from Washington, America never stopped India, Pakistan and North Korea from becoming nuclear powers, and has therefore decided it can live with a fourth - Iran.
'Influx of advanced weapons flowing
into Syria, Lebanon unprecedented,' navy source says
By YAAKOV LAPPIN/J.Post/03/29/2015
Hezbollah has range of surface to sea missiles; Yakhont can be used as surface to surface missile to hit Tel Aviv, source warns.
Advanced weaponry, much of it supplied by Iran, is flowing into Syria and Lebanon, a senior Israel Navy source warned on Sunday. The Navy is spending a large chunk of its operational time dealing with advanced weapons smuggling, according to the source, who added, "Such weapons pose a challenge to all Western navies in the area." He said the northern front has become unified, and that Lebanon and Syria can not be viewed as separate entities anymore." What happens in Syria happens in Lebanon [in terms of weapons availability], and vice versa. I'll go a step further and say that everything that happens in Iran can end up in Syria, which can then end up in Lebanon," the source stated. "In the event of war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, I'm not sure Syria will remain on the sidelines. Hezbollah assists the Assad regime, and the help is mutual," he added.
Describing the quantity and quality of surface to sea missiles in Hezbollah's possession as "unprecedented," the source said there are dozens of such weapons in Hezbollah's possession, covering around 10 different kinds of such missiles. "The types of warheads and their ranges are many," said the source. "We are in a completely different situation. The sector has changed." The source said he assumed Hezbollah is in possession of the Yakhont guided anti-ship missile, adding that the navy is capable of defending itself from it.
He warned that the missile can also be used to attack targets on land deep inside Israel. "They can fire it at military headquarters in Tel Aviv," he said. The Yakhont has a 300 kilometer range, according to the source. "It is very fast. It has unusual capabilities. It can fly at a very high altitude, or a low one, depending on the variation." Iran continues to develop its own weapons, copying the arms of other states, and smuggles them to its allies and proxies in Syria and Lebanon, said the source. Meanwhile, semti-state organizations are growing in Syria, and jihadi groups are likelier now than before to attempt to mount a sea-based terror attack, such as a bomb-laden vessel.
In Hezbollah's view, the naval arena is becoming central, the source continued, and the organization's chief, Hassan Nasrallah is planning offensive moves against Israel in the next clash, rather than just waging a lengthy war of attrition. Meanwhile, the Israel Navy is preparing to receive four new missile ships, to secure four gas drilling platforms in Israel's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean, an area two and a half times larger than Israel. The gas rigs, which will form most of Israel's electricity supply, are attractive targets for Hezbollah, the source said. The navy is setting up layers of defense around them, including anti-missile defenses on ships, and underwater defenses. "Additional ships for this task are a must," the source said. A second source added that the navy's submarines carried out dozens of covert operations off enemy shores in 2014.
"We conducted series of operations in various sectors. Some lasted weeks," the source said. He emphasized the ability of submarines to gather intelligence, including signals intelligence, and remain submerged for long periods far from Israeli shores.
He added that the INS Tanin, the fourth German- Dolphin submarine to join the navy's fleet, and the first vessel to use Air Independent Propulsion, received weapons and communications systems from domestic defense companies in Israel after arriving from Germany in September. Israel ordered three AIP-enabled new generation Dolphins from Germany, with the fifth, the INS Rahav, expected to arrive in the coming months. The submarines work closely with other navy ships, naval commandos, the air force, and infantry units.
"The number of missions we receive is higher than the number we are able to carry out because of the number of submarines at our disposal," the source added.
Kerry cancels trip in honor of Ted Kennedy as Iran talks intensify
By Louis Charbonneau, John Irish and Parisa Hafezi | Reuters
Sunday, 29 March 2015
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled plans to fly to Boston for a ceremony in honor of his late friend Edward Kennedy as talks on Iran's nuclear program intensified in Switzerland, with two days left to a deadline. Kerry's spokeswoman said on Sunday he regretted missing the dedication ceremony for an institute named after the U.S. senator, who was a mentor to him. Officials close to the talks said the French and German foreign ministers, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, were considering delaying a planned joint trip to Kazakhstan in order to focus on clearing the remaining hurdles to a deal. Iran denies charges from the West and Israel that it wants to build a nuclear weapon, and says its program is purely peaceful. It wants the removal of international sanctions that are hurting its economy.
The six world powers negotiating with it are seeking a halt to its most sensitive nuclear work. The dispute dates back more than a decade and has threatened at times to trigger a new Middle East war. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been in Lausanne for days to try to reach a preliminary deal by a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday. They held several rounds of talks on Saturday and met again on Sunday morning. Fabius and Steinmeier joined the talks on Saturday, and their counterparts from China, Britain and Russia were to take part later on Sunday. Close as the sides have come to the outline of an agreement, they still have deep disagreements on Iran's demands for uranium enrichment research and the immediate removal of all U.N. and key U.S. and European Union sanctions. Those disagreements could wreck a deal, officials say.
Zarif says the six powers are now the ones who must compromise. "In negotiations, both sides must show flexibility," Zarif said on Twitter. "We have, and are ready to make a good deal for all. We await our counterparts' readiness." Western officials close to the talks said it was up to Iran to compromise on the remaining sticking points. "The serious but difficult work continues," a senior U.S. State Department official said. "We expect the pace to intensify as we assess if an understanding is possible." Israel meanwhile kept up its public campaign against the possible nuclear with Tehran. "I say here, this morning, in the name of the government of Israel, this is a bad deal, full of holes." Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio. A key point in the framework accord the sides are trying to agree by Tuesday is expected to be the duration of the agreement, which officials from the six-power group said would have to be in place for more than 10 years. The framework accord should be followed by a comprehensive deal by June 30 that includes full technical details.
‘Operation: Decisive Storm’ contains
the Houthi threat
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi/Al Arabiya
Decisive Storm, a name with so many meanings in the international war against Houthi militias in Yemen, is currently under way.
However, Saudi Arabia is known to be cautious in diplomacy. It is known for giving opportunities for moderate solutions. The kingdom and the Gulf countries played a role in helping Yemen and saved it from collapse thanks to the Gulf initiative, which was signed by many parties with international backing.
The Houthi coup was a serious issue that canceled that agreement. Unfortunately, after an move that rescued former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and gave him immunity, he himself allied with the Houthis and conspired with them against the legitimate government. The victims were the Yemeni citizens who were already suffering with economic difficulties and are being torn because of internal conflicts.
The GCC released a statement ensuring that Yemen’s security is essential for the Gulf’s security and that the GCC is committed to supporting legitimacy. Even until now, the Gulf suggested hosting a Riyadh-based conference to initiate a dialogue between the conflicting parties.
However, the Iranian-backed Houthis ignored all attempts, expanded to Aden and used airstrikes to hit the presidential compound and threaten the Yemeni citizens.
Iran has intensified efforts to intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and found Yemen as a strategic location and used the sectarian politics as a way to intervene in their internal affairs.
Some have misunderstood the Saudi carefulness when treating this issue. Saudi and the Gulf states noted how Iraq, an important Arab country, was heading in the same direction as Iran. Yet the Gulf countries respected their neighbors and left the internal affairs to Iraqis. At the same time, Iran was intervening and establishing its militias to play a role in the Iraqi affairs.
The international alliance led by Saudi Arabia is the right move. Hooliganism in the region and proxy wars have put the region in successive crises and threatened the entire regional system
Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi
Baghdad, once the safeguard of the eastern gate of the Arab world, was used by Iran as a path to influence Damascus and the Southern Dahyieh in Beirut.
That is why international decisiveness to confront the Houthis was needed. The war, albeit ugly, was the last resort and came in response to the request of the legitimate government. This is why there was a strong international support to this military campaign with 10 countries participating in the military operation.
The U.S. and Europe have also supported this campaign. This was a clear message that the world is gaining conscience about Iran’s expansion in the region and that the policy of lenience gives a better chance for this expansion. ‘Decisive Storm’ was a strong message that this policy doesn’t show weakness but an attempt to avoid the difficult case scenario. The message was clear that the Gulf states are ready for a military response if necessary.
Yemen is a sister state and many Yemenis live in Saudi Arabia, with guarantees that the current events will not affect them. Saudi Arabia is Yemen’s largest supporter and there is a public and governmental appreciation in Yemen for the military intervention. Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin appreciated the rapid response by the Gulf countries to protect Yemen from the Houthi coup.
The international alliance led by Saudi Arabia is the right move. Hooliganism in the region and proxy wars have put the region in successive crises and threatened the entire regional system. Sometimes, there’s a need for a strong position that will make countries that threaten others realize that there are red lines that can’t be crossed.
Arab Ahwaz must be liberated from Iran
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya
Whenever the Arab world is discussed, forgotten are the five million Arabs struggling to survive under the Persian yoke in an Arab region bordering Iraq and the Arabian Gulf, rich with oil and gas. Once an autonomous area, separated from Persia by the Zagros mountain range, under the governance of Sheikh Khazaal bin Jabber - whose family had ruled for over a century - it was grabbed by Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1925 with a nod and a wink from Britain eager to preserve its relationship with Iran due to its oil interests.
Formerly known as Arabistan, the Iranian occupiers wasted no time in changing the name of this new Iranian province to Khuzestan, rejected by its Arab residents even today. Arabs and Persians have little in common and as Sir Arnold Wilson, a British colonial administrator, once said: Arabistan is “a country as different from Persia as is Spain from Germany.”
Although Arabistan provides Iran with 80 percent of its oil requirements as well as half of its gas, its sons are exploited and oppressed; their human rights tramped upon, their very identity in danger of being obliterated. Iran’s policy of ethnic discrimination combined with its Persian resettlement endeavors has resulted in turning the Ahwazi Arabs into an economic and social underclass.
Numerous Arab villages are without schools and those ‘lucky’ enough to attend school are educated in Farsi. Some 80 percent of Ahwazi Arab women are illiterate as opposed to 50 percent of Ahwazi men. Over thirty percent of the under-30s are unemployed in this heavily industrialized region, primarily because Persians receive priority and jobs often advertised outside the governorate.
Thousands are without access to drinking water, because rivers have been diverted to arid Persian provinces. Their streets open sewers; many are deprived of electricity and gas. In 2013, Arabistan’s capital, Ahwaz, was classed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most polluted city on earth partly due to desertification and industrial smog. Arab farmers are regularly stripped of agricultural land and although there has been loud international condemnation of Israel’s separation walls, there have been no media headlines about the segregation walls hiding squalid Arab ghettos from wealthier Persian settlements and glossy new towns.
Driven to protest
It’s no wonder that Ahwazi Arabs are now driven to protest against such blatant discrimination. According to the Ahwaz Studies Center, “increasing joblessness and rising poverty is creating a humanitarian crisis among Ahwazi Arabs that threatens to lead to widespread unrest…” The authorities use a heavy hand against demonstrators and rights activists.
Although Arabistan provides Iran with 80 percent of its oil requirements as well as half of its gas, its sons are exploited and oppressed; their human rights tramped upon, their very identity in danger of being obliterated
However, one of the central reasons behind the Ahwazis’ discontent is their evaporating sense of who they are; the erosion of their roots, their language, their Arab identity. That was brought home to me a few days ago as I watched a video of Iranian security forces attacking Ahwazi football fans for wearing traditional Arab dress while celebrating the triumph of the visiting Saudi al-Hilal team against the local Foolad Khuzestan side. In truth, the video touched an emotional chord in me.
The authorities were alerted when Ahwazis referred to the Saudi players as “their Arab Brothers” and welcomed them to “Arab lands.” The forces attempted to move the Arabs away from the cameras, provoking resistance. The crowd responded by destroying posters of Iran’s Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, in the face of Iranian Revolutionary Guards and threw stones at police. This resulted in arbitrary arrests when peaceful protestors were also swept-up. “Iran will never be able to smother our voice and our Arab identity,” say the demonstrators.
For me, this was emotional because despite all Iran’s measures to choke the Ahwazi’s inner being and stifle all dissent over the past 90 years - even to the extent of forcing them to give their babies Persian names - they remain proud to be Arab.
It also saddens me when I remember that those Arabs, our own people, have been abandoned to fend for themselves. Why isn’t the United Nations taking up their cause? Why are those western countries, endlessly trumpeting human rights to the Middle East, not only turning a blind eye but actively wooing Iran’s ayatollahs? Most importantly, we can no longer stay silent when five million Ahwazi Arabs equates to a population three times bigger than that of Gaza?
Here I would call on Arab countries – especially GCC states and their allies – to stand tall with our Ahwazi brothers so as to empower them on their journey to freedom. Apart from the fact that this is our moral duty, it could also off strategic benefits at a time when Iranian officials boast of a new Persian empire that includes four Arab capitals.
Help Arabistan gain its independence and Tehran can kiss goodbye to its oil exports and the revenue it uses to fund its terror proxies.
Iran’s meddling in Arab countries is rife and unrestrained. Yemen is just one example and I’m gratified that Saudi partnered with GCC states, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Pakistan, has launched a military intervention to free this historic Arab heartland from Iranian-backed Shiite militias; this action is one that I’ve long called-for. Iran deserves to be treated in kind.
The first step towards freeing the people of Ahwaz is a vigorous and determined campaign by GCC leaderships to undermine the Iranian fist on this dear Arab land involving billions of dollars in direct financial aid to support the development of al-Ahwaz.
Secondly, the Arab League and/or the GCC should bring the forgotten truth that al-Ahwaz is, indeed, Arab territory to the international spotlight so as to raise awareness.
Thirdly, the file should be lodged with the United Nations Security Council for investigation with the aim of procuring a resolution to the effect that Ahwaz has been and is under illegal occupation and, thus, has a right to self-determination. Such applications have been lodged by Ahwazis previously but haven’t been taken with the seriousness they deserve. The GCC should use its power to ensure the Ahwazi cause can no longer be swept under the carpet.
Just a year ago, I would have had little hope that this appeal would be heard. But, thankfully, GCC states and its Arab friends have at last resolved to be proactive in defending Arab peoples and lands. Operation “Decisive Storm” in Yemen is just the beginning, signaling Iran’s hitherto clear path towards regional domination is now strewn with roadblocks.
I still bristle when I recall a conversation I had, many years ago, with former U.S. Ambassador Richard W. Murphy, who informed me that America was now responsible for Gulf security. When I asked him on what authority, he answered without flinching, saying, that the Brits handed the region to us. In response, I remember thinking: What are we, sheep? Today, we are emerging as lions. We are standing with our Yemeni brothers in distress and proving to the Islamic Republic of Iran, its militias and proxies that we will never be parceled-off to any country’s hegemonic ambitions ever again.
Mob of Muslims Violently Attack Church in Protest Against Memorial for Egyptian Martyrs/
At least six Coptic Christians wounded as armed mob storms church in Al-Our village, home to 13 of the martyrs executed by ISIS in Libya
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East
with ICC's Egypt Representative
03/29/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - As the country prepared to mark the fortieth day since the release of a video showing the execution of 21 Christians by ISIS jihadists in Libya, the home village of 13 of the 20 Egyptian martyrs was again the focus of Islamic extremists.
At least six cars from a surrounding village carrying more than twenty armed men arrived in Al-Our village as dark started to settle over the village of 5,000. These men joined joined a crowd of more than 100 locals from Al-Our and made their way to Virgin Mary Church, currently the only church for the towns nearly 2,500 Christians.
"At 8 pm, a group of armed Muslim young men in six or seven cars from nearby villages stormed our village. Many Muslim fanatic young men joined those who came from the other nearby villages and attacked the church," Milad Nageh, of Al-Our told International Christian Concern (ICC).
"They shot guns at the church and pelted the church with stones and blocks," Milad said. "They smashed the sign of the church, destroying the ground of the church yard and breaking the widows of the service buildings of the church. They also burned a car that was parked in the front of the church."
It was not only those who came from the other villages, but many of the Muslims from Al-Our were involved as well. "The Muslims whose homes surrounded the church were throwing stones at the church from the roofs of their homes," Milad said.
"This attack on the church was arranged before because a truck loaded with cement blocks had unloaded all of their blocks in the front of a Muslim home nearby the church two days ago," Milad told ICC on Saturday morning, March 28, from inside the Virgin Mary church. He and others from the church stayed awake all Friday night to help protect the church in case there was another attack.
"We thought that these blocks would be used in construction of a building belonging to the owner of this home, but these blocks were prepared to attack the church," Milad said.
Calls for Protection Went Unanswered
Church leaders were concerned that there would be protests from Muslims on Friday.
Fr. Makar Issa, the priest of The Virgin Mary Church in Al-Our village told ICC, "On Thursday evening, March 26, I was informed that the next day, Friday there will be Islamic demonstrations in the village against us."
At the Mass on Friday morning, "Bishop Raphael who came from Cairo to take part in the prayer of the memorial of 40th day of our martyrs informed that some Muslims from the village and the other nearby villages will organize march in our village after their Friday noon prayer," Milad said. "They were protesting the building of a new church and they intend to attack the Christians and the church."
Fr. Makar asked the community not deal with the demonstrators during their march in the streets of the village even if they tried to provoke, and asked the youth to remain in the church to protect it from any attack.
"I called the police many times and asked them to come to guard us but they came late and after their arrival they didn't guard the church. They stopped in the entrance of the village. Even still they allowed the cars of the attackers to enter the village and attack us and the church without any intervention from them to protect us," Fr. Makar said.
"I charge the responsibility of what happened to the policemen," Fr. Makar Issa continued, "and I accuse them accuse them of inaction, indifference and complicity."
At least six Christians were wounded by the attackers, three of them suffering serious injuries.
Martyrs' Families Attacked Again
On Friday, March 27 the Virgin Mary Church in Al-Our held a mass to commemorate the Arbaieen, marking 40 days since the release of the video showing the beheading of the 21 Christians in Egypt. A larger service was to be held in Samalout city on Saturday, March 28.
13 of the 21 martyrs were from Al-Our village. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had declared that a church would be built in the village to commemorate them, but, as Ishak Ibrahim documents, even this had sparked a reaction of protest from some Egyptians.
This overflowed on Friday, following the afternoon prayers at the mosques in the village. Demonstrators made their way through the streets chanting slogans against the church.
They were chanting things like "Islamic, Islamic" and "By no means, no church will be built on this ground," and "We will make the church on the ground," Milad told ICC.
They also made their way to the home Samuel Alham Wilson, one of the martyrs, and pelted it with stones and rocks.
Bebawy Alham Wilson, the brother of the Martyr Samuel Alham Wilson, told ICC, "After the Muslim Friday noon prayers some Muslim young men attacked our home which located in the entrance of the village. During their march while I was alone in the home with the my wife, wives of my brothers, and my mother. My brothers were in the church at this time. The attackers attempted to storm my home, I hurried and locked the door and barred it. They then hurled stones at my home."
After more than two hours of protesting and assaulting the Wilson home, three police cars arrived and deployed in the entrance of the village. "They set up in the front of the mosque of the village, not even going to guard the church," Milad told ICC.
Then when more rioters came in the evening, the police again did almost nothing to prevent the attacks on the church, only after much of the damage had taken place did the disperse the crowd.
"There is a situation of panic and fear among all of us here. We are afraid that more violent attacks will occur against us and the church after the departure of the security forces who are deployed across the village now," Malak Nageh Ishack, a resident in the village told ICC.
"We gave the security forces names of 100 Muslim young men from the village who took part in attacking the church, but police men arrested only five of them and the rest of them are free," he said.
"The police asked us to stay in our homes, leaving the Muslim attackers free walking in the village streets," Malak said, "plus we have received threats from the Muslims that they will attack us again after the security forces leave the village."On Saturday, the diocese of Samalout held a large memorial service, presided over by Bishop Anba of Samalout and attended by many of the local leaders. The hall of the church was packed and the church yard was full of people watching the mass on screen.
Absent, however, were many of the relatives of the 13 martyrs from Al-Our. "I couldn't go to the Diocese of Samalout to attend the service for the 40th day of the Martyrs," Beshir Stephanos Kemal, brother of the two martyrs Bishoy and Samuel, told ICC. "I had to stay to protect my home," he said.
Just 20 or 30 from Al-Our made the trip to Samalout to attend the service, mostly women and children, with the men staying behind fearing there may be more attacks.
Local leaders from the Christian and Muslim communities are to hold customary "reconciliation meetings" to try to stem the tensions that sparked this latest round of violence.
The Sisi government has made declarations to improve the status of Christians in Egypt, but the reality has hardly changed.
For the families of the men martyred in Libya, these attacks serve as yet another reminder that it is not just ISIS abroad, but even in their home village in Egypt they face armed attackers who are hostile to them as Christians and the presence of the church.
West Speaks of 'Provisional
Agreement' on Key Elements of Iran Deal, Tehran Denies
Naharnet/Iran and world powers have reached tentative agreement on parts of a deal sharply curtailing Tehran's nuclear program, Western diplomats said Sunday while cautioning that the deal is by no means done.
As negotiators raced against the clock in a rainy Switzerland, in Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a blistering attack on the "dangerous" accord that may be emerging.
One Western diplomat said Iran had "more or less" agreed to slash the number of its centrifuge machines by more than two-thirds and to ship abroad most of its stockpile of nuclear material.
A senior Iranian negotiator denied any such thing, saying any such claims were aimed at "disturbing" the talks.
"No deal has been reached, and the remaining issues have to be resolved," the Iranian official said.
But at the same time Iranian officials have expressed guarded optimism that after 18 months of tortuous negotiations and two missed deadlines, a breakthrough might be in sight for a deal ending 12 years of tensions.
"If we manage to resolve all the remaining issues today or in the next two to three days, then we can begin to draw up a text. But for the moment we are still in discussions," a source close to the Iranian delegation said Sunday.
In Lausanne, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled plans to leave for an event in Boston on Monday in order to keep negotiating, the State Department said.
"It's going all right. We're working," Kerry said Sunday during a break from talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a luxury hotel in the Swiss town.
His French and German counterparts, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also scrapped plans to go to Kazakhstan, diplomats said. Steinmeier said Saturday talks were in the "endgame."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived on Sunday morning. Russian and British top diplomats Sergei Lavrov and Philip Hammond were expected later, completing the line-up of foreign ministers.
- Aim of the game -
The aim is to agree broad outlines for an accord by Tuesday's midnight deadline, and then flesh out a series of complex annexes containing all the technical details by June 30.
The mooted deal would see Iran scale down its nuclear program and allow unprecedented inspections of its remaining activities.
The hope is to prolong the theoretical "breakout" time that Iran would need to produce enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb to at least a year from the current estimate of several months.
This would require a combination of slashing the number of centrifuges, converting existing nuclear plants such as the underground Fordo facility, exporting its stocks of enriched uranium and limiting the development of newer, faster equipment.
The latter is thought to be a particularly thorny issue, as is the issue of sanctions.
Iran is insisting that in exchange global powers must lift sanctions that have choked its economy by strangling its oil exports and banks.
The issue of U.N. sanctions is proving particularly thorny, diplomats said, with global powers insisting the sanctions should be eased only gradually to ensure that they can be "snapped" back into place if Iran violates the deal.
"Ultimately, it's time for the Iranians to send a clear signal to the international community about whether or not they're willing to make the serious commitments required," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC television Sunday.
- 'Dangerous' -
But for Israel and U.S. President Barack Obama's Republican opponents, the agreement will not go far enough to stop Iran one day getting the bomb.
Kerry is under pressure to return from Lausanne with something concrete to head off a push by Republican lawmakers to introduce yet more sanctions, potentially torpedoing the whole negotiating process.
"The dangerous accord which is being negotiated in Lausanne confirms our concerns and even worse," Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast on public radio.
He said the "Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis" was "dangerous for all of humanity" and that combined with Tehran's regional influence, a nuclear deal could allow Iran to "conquer" the Middle East.
"I just don't understand why we would sign an agreement with a group of people who in my opinion have no intention of keeping their word," House Speaker John Boehner, due to travel to Israel this week, told CNN.
Russia has also warned that U.S.-supported airstrikes by Iran's foe Saudi Arabia on Iran-backed rebels in Yemen -- hence Netanyahu's comment -- were "having an impact" on the negotiations.
SourceAgence France Presse
Arab Leaders Agree Joint Military
Naharnet/Arab leaders agreed on Sunday to form a joint military force after a summit dominated by a Saudi-led offensive on Shiite rebels in Yemen and the threat from Islamist extremism. Arab representatives will meet over the next month to study the creation of the force and present their findings to defense ministers within four months, according to the resolution adopted by the leaders. "Assuming the great responsibility imposed by the great challenges facing our Arab nation and threatening its capabilities, the Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the summit in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The decision was mostly aimed at fighting jihadists who have overrun swathes of Iraq and Syria and secured a foothold in Libya, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said ahead of the summit. On Sunday, Arabi told the meeting the region was threatened by a "destructive" force that threatened "ethnic and religious diversity", in an apparent reference to the Islamic State group. "What is important is that today there is an important decision, in light of the tumult afflicting the Arab world," he said. Egypt had pushed for the creation of the rapid response force to fight militants, and the matter gained urgency this week after Saudi Arabia and Arab allies launched air strikes on Huthi rebels in Yemen. Arabi, reading a statement at the conclusion of the summit, said on Sunday the offensive would continue until the Huthis withdraw from regions they have overrun and surrender their weapons. Several Arab states including Egypt are taking part in the military campaign, which Saudi King Salman said on Saturday would continue until the Yemeni people "enjoy security."
- 'Months to create' -
Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi at the start of the summit called for the offensive to end only when the Huthis "surrender", calling the rebel leader an Iranian "puppet."However, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to find a peaceful resolution in Yemen. "It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," he said. James Dorsey, a Middle East analyst with the Singapore-based S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that despite support for a joint-Arab force, "it would still take months to create and then operate on an ad-hoc basis. "I don't think we will get an integrated command anytime soon, as no Arab leader would cede control of any part of their army anytime soon," he said.
"Today we will have a formal declaration that would be negotiated every time during action." Sisi said in a recent interview that the proposal for a joint force was welcomed especially by Jordan, which might take part alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Aaron Reese, deputy research director at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said "each of these countries would bring a different capability. "The Jordanians are well known for their special forces capability... the Egyptians of course have the most manpower and bases close to Libya." Before Egyptian air strikes in February targeting the IS in Libya, the United Arab Emirates, which shares Cairo's antipathy towards Islamists, had reportedly used Egyptian bases to launch its own air strikes there.
Cairo had sought U.N. backing for intervention in Libya, dismissing attempted peace talks between the rival governments in its violence-plagued North African neighbor as ineffective. Agence France Presse