June 23/15

Bible Quotation For Today/You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Mark 13/09-13: "‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

Bible Quotation For Today/Peter put all of them outside and then he knelt down and prayed. He then turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.
Acts of the Apostles 09/31-43: "Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralysed. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up.
And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 22-23/15
Judging Whether the Iran Deal Is Acceptable/Michael Singh/Washinton Institute/June 22/15
Pope Francis: Why didn't the allies bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz/REUTERS/J.Post/June 22/15

Baghdadi’s state more dangerous than Bin Laden’s/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/June 22/15
The war in Yemen must not be lost/Raghida Dergha/Al Arabiya/June 22/15
All eyes on Vienna as Kerry and Zarif rendezvous/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/June 22/15
Face it America, Turkey’s Just Not That into You/Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/June 22/15
The Palestinians’ Real Strategy/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/June 22/15
Islamic Hate for the Christian Cross/Raymond Ibrahim/Human Events/June 22-23/15

Lebanese Related News published on June 22-23/15
Lebanon's Cabinet Ministers in Grace Period as Salam Set to Invite for Session Next Week
Torture of prisoners 'disgraceful': Salam 
Officials in Lebanon vow to punish Roumieh guards 
Torture runs rampant across the board 
Roumieh torture won't be repeated: Machnouk 
Tripolitans fear fallout of Roumieh beatings 
Hezbollah, Syrian army foil ISIS attack in Qalamoun 
Police who filmed torture videos among those arrested 
Syrian army advances west of ISIS-controlled Palmyra
Israeli Druze block ambulance with Syrian casualties
Five Lebanese police arrested for torture 
Mashnouq: Abuse Videos Must Not be Exploited to Undermine ISF, Institutions
Kaag Urges Lebanon to Implement U.N. Recommendations on Ending Torture
Speaker Nabih Berri Says 'Either Me or No One Else' Does Not Serve Lebanon
Lebanese Ministers Hint Hostages File Nearing Completion

Yazigi stresses unity, rejects federalism 
Lebanon’s fashion sector held back by lack of finance 
End the violent cycle
1 Dead, 2 Hurt as Members of Jaafar Family Clash in al-Sharawneh
Abu Faour announces malpractice review committee 
Hezbollah, Syrian army ’foil ISIS attack’ 
US: Lebanese banks prudent in combating terrorism 

Lebanon’s fashion sector held back by lack of finance 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 22-23/15
Germany Frees Al-Jazeera Journalist Sought by Egypt

France says Iran deal 'still not clear'
All eyes on Vienna as Kerry and Zarif rendezvous
Britain, France demand Iran nuclear inspections
UNHRC report: Hamas tried to warn Israelis of attacks
Death threats for Saudi satirist who fights ISIS with laughs
Breaking down the UNHRC report on 2014 Gaza war
Israeli Druze block ambulance with Syrian casualties
US rebuffs Israel’s last-ditch bid for nuclear constraints in Iran accord
Egypt army digs trench along Gaza border to prevent smuggling
Terror alert issued for Israeli sites in India
India steps up security amid terror threats against Israelis
Both sides may have committed war crimes in Gaza
Israel revokes eased Ramadan security measure following attacks
Ya'alon: Israel won't tolerate attempts to tarnish IDF soldiers
Netanyahu on UN Gaza report: Israel is not guilty of war crimes
Riots, rocks and terror mark Ramadan escalation
'War Crimes' Likely by Both Sides in 2014 Gaza War, Says U.N. Report
Behind Israeli intelligence
Analysis: Could the IDF be more lenient about detainments?
Thousands cross back into Syria from Turkey
North Carolina man charged in plot to kill Americans for ISIS
One dead, one injured as migrant boat comes under fire off Libya
Gunmen kill two Interior Ministry officers in Baghdad
The Arab world and the future of Africa
Europe cautiously optimistic of Greek debt deal this week
Egypt security forces kill 22 suspected militants in Sinai

Jehad Watch Latest Reports And News
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Pamela Geller: Michelle Obama “sees herself” in UK Muslim women
Deal reached in lawsuit over NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims
Afghanistan: 18 wounded as Taliban attempts to storm parliament
China: Muslim leader says beer festival “open provocation to the Islamic faith”
Austria car attacker on FB liked dozens of pages proclaiming devotion to Allah
A Blundering Stupidity

Lebanon's Cabinet Ministers in Grace Period as Salam Set to Invite for Session Next Week
Naharnet/June 22/15/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has given ministers a one-week grace period and will likely invite the cabinet to convene early next month to resolve the government deadlock. Ministerial sources told An Nahar daily published on Monday that Salam will “definitely” call for a cabinet session on July 2 to resolve several weeks of government paralysis. His move will come as a part of his authorities as prime minister, they said. Aliwaa daily also quoted sources close to Salam as saying that the PM will resort to the Constitution in setting a date for the cabinet to convene following an assessment of the consultations carried out in the past three weeks. Salam will also likely take his decision on the date of the session following a meeting he is scheduled to hold with Speaker Nabih Berri this week, which will be like a “grace period,” the sources added. The cabinet was paralyzed earlier this month when Free Patriotic Movement ministers said they will boycott any session whose agenda is not topped by an article on the appointment of high-ranking officers. The FPM ministers are backed by their allies Hizbullah, the Tashnag Party and the Marada Movement.

Speaker Nabih Berri Says 'Either Me or No One Else' Does Not Serve Lebanon
Naharnet/June 22/15/Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that the legislative and executive powers will enjoy the needed quorum if they convene, saying the policy of either my way or nothing is not in Lebanon's favor.
Berri told officials who visited him in Ain el-Tineh on Sunday that there was no initiative yet to resolve Lebanon’s political crises “because some parties continue to hold onto their stances.” “The government should assume its responsibilities and convene to settle financial and economic issues,” he said in remarks published in several local newspapers on Monday. “The parliament should also meet in an extraordinary session,” said the speaker. He reiterated that there are several urgent draft-laws, including international grants, that need approval. Asked if the cabinet and parliament are capable of convening, Berri said: “There is nothing to worry about. There is quorum both in the government and the legislature.” “The policy of either me or no one else does not serve the country,” he added. The country's political institutions became deadlocked after the rival lawmakers failed to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman, whose term ended in May 2014. The parliament has failed to meet over lack of quorum and the government plunged in paralysis earlier this month over a dispute on the appointment of high-ranking security and military officials.

End torture conclusively
The Daily Star/ June. 23, 2015/There is no argument when it comes to labeling torture a crime – it’s an unacceptable, barbaric practice that says a great deal about the society that tolerates it. Whether it’s being committed against people who have merely been detained, or those convicted of serious crimes, torture is a violation of human dignity and it has no place in a civilized country. The recent emergence of video footage showing the physical abuse of inmates at Roumieh prison has had two contrasting repercussions. On the positive side, the issue of torture is once again part of the national debate and media coverage, generating condemnations from all sides. More importantly, government officials have taken prompt action against the perpetrators who appeared in the video and are vowing to ensure that the practice ends, once and for all. The justice and interior ministers’ statements are encouraging and their actions should be monitored so that no prisoner, whatever his background or affiliation, suffers such physical abuse. But the incident also generated negative fallout – some politicians shamelessly exploiting the video to score points against rivals. They conveniently forget that nearly every major faction at one time or another could be held responsible for allowing such behavior, whether inside or outside state institutions. Instead of focusing on the tip of the iceberg – the latest shocking video – they should come up with ways to melt the iceberg itself. Lebanon has long suffered from a pervasive culture of permissiveness when it comes to physical abuse and torture, and few political factions can claim their hands are clean. They should be ensuring that torture ends, and not pretending that only their rivals are to blame.

Officials vow strict punishment for abusive Roumieh guards
The Daily Star/ Jun. 23, 2015 /BEIRUT: Top officials moved to contain the fallout from a torture scandal in Lebanon’s Roumieh prison Monday, with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk promising to hold all those involved accountable.Leaked videos surfaced on social media sites over the weekend, showing members of the Internal Security Forces brutally beating Islamist prisoners. The scandal sparked nationwide protests, with hundreds of demonstrators calling on Machnouk to resign. Machnouk vowed “strict” punishment for the guards involved, stressing that the individual acts of some ISF members did not represent the whole institution. “Investigation into the torture of detainees is underway, and we will not stop until judicial verdicts are issued against all who participated,” Machnouk told reporters at Roumieh prison, following a brief tour of the detention center. Machnouk said he had delivered two messages to the ISF officers he met at Roumieh. “This perpetration, done by a group of guards, shouldn’t undermine even for one moment the prestige and the stature of the Internal Security Forces. This is a security institution responsible for all Lebanese. An error or perpetration of a crime does not justify attacks against the ISF or any of its services.”
He said the second part of his message was that any member of the ISF violating the human rights of any detainee would be punished under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry.
The videos show guards beating a handful of handcuffed and kneeling prisoners with a baton, and groping and kicking them in the face. Machnouk said that the number of ISF guards arrested in the case had risen to six, and that three of the guards were Christian and the three others were Muslim. He said that during his tour he met with prisoners who appeared in the videos including Sheikh Omar Atrash, Qutaibah al-Asaad and Wael al-Samad. “I listened to the three prisoners who appeared in the video. Indeed, they were subjected to an unjustified and abnormal assault at Block D,” Machnouk added.“I will not allow ... any type of mistakes for any reason against any prisoner, regardless of what he’s accused of or his affiliation.”
Machnouk also warned that those attacking security institutions over the incidents were only serving the cause of extremism.
The minister also addressed the families of inmates, saying, “This mistake will not reoccur ... all human rights will be secured for your sons.”
Machnouk dismissed allegations that Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi was behind the leak of the videos.
The torture videos sparked protests in predominantly Sunni areas in Tripoli, Beirut, Sidon and the Bekaa Valley, with demonstrators calling on Machnouk to resign. Tripoli MP Mohammad Kabbara, Machnouk’s colleague in the Future bloc, also urged him to step down.
Machnouk said he was ready to resign if such a move would prevent outbreaks of extremism. But Nader Hariri, the director of the office of former premier Saad Hariri, visited Machnouk Monday, and expressed the Future Movement’s support.
The footage was shot during last April’s prison riot when prisoners blocked entrances, set mattresses on fire and took 12 guards and two doctors hostage. The riot occurred in Roumieh’s Block D. Prisoners had demanded to be transferred back to Block B, where they had enjoyed considerable autonomy before the ISF forcibly relocated them to stricter quarters in January. It took the ISF days to quell the rioting.
But Machnouk was adamant that allowing “terrorists” to control Block B again “will not happen.”Salam described the inmates’ torture as “disgraceful and immoral.”
The beating of prisoners, the premier said, “violates the Lebanese Constitution, which guarantees human rights,” as well as Lebanese laws that acknowledge the rights of prisoners irrespective of the charges brought against them.
The remarks were issued in a statement following a meeting he chaired to discuss the scandal which included Rifi, Machnouk, State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud and ISF chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous. Salam urged judicial and security agencies to proceed with investigations in a “professional and transparent” manner, to identify the details of the incident and determine who was responsible. He also urged the punishment of the security personnel who resorted to this “unjustifiable use of violence,” and warned against exploiting the incident to attack the ISF. Rifi dismissed claims that he was behind the leak, saying that such claims were “bankrupt,” and described his ties with Machnouk as “good.”
Hammoud told The Daily Star that two of the guards carried out the beatings, one filmed the incidents, and two others who knew about them failed to come forward. Hammoud said the last two had also received and published photos of the incident online.
“The judiciary will take very strict punitive measures against the perpetrators and anyone else who is proven, through investigation, to have executed, participated in, or incited the crime,” he said. “There will be no political cover for anyone.” Hammoud said the crime was not religiously or politically motivated, and asserted that the violation represented an “isolated crime” and not a systematic practice carried out by the ISF’s Information Branch.
For his part, Rifi told The Daily Star that he had “full faith” in the investigation, and that only the judiciary was authorized to punish those accused of “violating basic principles of human rights.”He expressed his hope that the incident would lead to the end of torture in Lebanese prisons and detention centers.

Torture runs rampant across the board
Philip Issa/The Daily Star/Jun. 23, 2015
BEIRUT: The scenes that emerged from Roumieh last weekend are just the latest in a troubling history of torture and human rights violations in Lebanon’s prisons and detention centers. Two videos circulating on social media sites showed members of the Internal Security Forces beating, kicking and verbally abusing kneeling, handcuffed inmates in the overcrowded prison. But lawyers, human rights advocates and international agencies have known for years that abuses are widespread and systemic.
“What we saw on the tapes is just a small part of what is going on in the Roumieh and Rihaniyeh prisons,” said Tarek Shandab, a lawyer to several Islamist inmates. Roumieh is Lebanon’s largest and most notorious civil prison, and Rihaniyeh is the country’s most widely known military one.
A recent United Nations report implicated the Internal Security Forces and the Directorate of Military Intelligence in routinely torturing inmates. U.N. investigators found several car batteries and a wheelchair by the interrogation room at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Beirut, for example. Military personnel said the wheelchair was “to carry disabled people.”Local enforcement agencies and General Security regularly torture detainees as well, according to Human Rights Watch, especially on suspicions of homosexuality and drug use.
“The problem is much more pervasive than the U.N. report has shown,” said Nadim Houry, the deputy director of the NGO’s Middle East and North Africa Division. “The torture tends to happen during interrogation,” before detainees have been brought to trial, he added.
Detainees suspected of belonging to armed Islamist groups tend to suffer the worst abuse. “Suspected Islamists are always testifying in court of the worst interrogations and torture and beatings,” Shandab said. “It can’t be all fabricated, as what we saw yesterday confirms.”
In June 2013, Nader Bayoumi, 35, died in Army custody after intelligence officers detained him on suspicion of supporting the Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir in Sidon. The Army was engaged at that time in fierce clashes with the sheikh’s loyalists that left over 40 soldiers and gunmen dead. Bayoumi’s body was returned to his family showing signs of severe abuse and internal hemorrhage. It is one of the few documented cases of authorities torturing a detainee to death.
Torture is more likely to befall detainees belonging to marginalized groups or without social connections, as well, according to a Human Rights Watch investigation completed in 2013.
“The police do little to hide their disdain of drug users, sex workers and LGBT people,” the report said. “Physical violence was not just used to extract confessions but also as a form of punishment, discipline and behavioral correction.”
“We’ve documented some of the police abuse against vulnerable groups – migrant domestic workers accused of theft, or drug users that don’t have wasta [connections], or Syrian janitors,” Houry said.
Former Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said detention authorities have exercised torture “for a long time,” but “not every police officer tortures every [detainee].”
The untrammeled abuses threaten to aggravate social unrest. In Tripoli, radical Sunni sheikhs headed a rally of Islamists, accusing the Future Movement and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk of turning the mechanisms of the state against the country’s Sunnis.
Torture also undermines the rule of law and court judgments. “Torture is against our law and contravenes human rights,” said Qortbawi, a former head of the Beirut Bar Association.
“Some policemen think torture is the only way to get the truth. The victim thinks, ‘please don’t hit me, I’ll tell you whatever you want.’ So people testify in court that they’ve been tortured,” Qortbawi added. “And the judge will have to figure out what is truthful and throw out what is not. And this takes time.”“Torture is a crime under Lebanese law and obviously under international law as well,” Houry said. “It corrupts the entire judicial process because then your confessions are obtained under duress.”
Authorities sometimes excuse transgressions, saying torture is a necessary implement of the security services. The government repudiated the 2014 U.N. report on torture, saying it failed to consider Lebanon’s position “in the region’s highly dangerous and sensitive atmosphere and in the shadow of terrorist threats.”
But the practice is counterproductive. “It’s been proven time and again in many countries that ultimately the best fight against terror is good, legal investigative work that does not rely on torture,” Houry said.
Reports of torture in detention, Houry said, are “the best recruiting tools for jihadi groups.”Law professor and former Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar described the videos as shocking spoke about a correlation between torture and extremism. “We’re supposed to rehabilitate them,” Najjar said of the inmates. “But torture turns them into animals. They cannot reintegrate into society.”
Prosecutors have convicted only a handful of abusive officers. “If there is no case, what can I do?” Qortbawi asked. “Most of the time nobody knows exactly what is going on.”The Beirut Bar Association has asked the government to move prison authority out of the hands of the Interior Ministry and into those of the Justice Ministry. “I recommend it,” Qortbawi said. “But it’s not a sufficient solution. You need to train officers and you need to change the guard’s mentality.” “We have to change our mentality,” he said. “Human rights are much more important than trying to extract some information from a prisoner.”

Tripoli residents fear repercussions of Roumieh beatings
Misbah al-Ali|/he Daily Star/June. 23, 2015
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Leaked videos of guards beating inmates in Roumieh Prison have dramatically raised tensions on the streets of Tripoli. Fury over the incident and a fear of reprisals threatens to turn the northern city into a powder keg.Rumors swirled about the circumstances of the videos and the identities of those who carried out the beatings – with some of the victims appearing to be Islamists – and fears of retaliation have left residents uneasy. Tripoli residents briefly took to the streets Sunday evening to protest the footage’s gruesome scenes. The videos, posted to social media sites over the weekend, show members of the Internal Security Forces beating kneeling, handcuffed prisoners with batons, and groping and kicking them in the face. The circulation of the names of two members of the ISF who appeared in the video has created chaos. One is reportedly from Tripoli’s Mina and the other from Jbeil. There is a serious fear that the families of ISF members could be subject to retaliatory violence. A picture of the ISF member from Mina and his relatives emerged on Facebook amid calls for revenge, prompting local Mukhtar Abdullah al-Baqqa to appeal to residents for calm.
“The city of Mina is a model of Muslim-Christian coexistence,” Baqqa said. He emphasized that residents are committed to national unity. “The aim of these rumors against the citizens of Mina is to cause strife, which we will not fall [prey] to, because we believe in one government,” he added. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Sunday that the video was shot during April’s prison riot, when prisoners blocked entrances, set mattresses on fire, and took 12 guards and two doctors hostage. Families of Islamist detainees in Roumieh have suggested that the video is part of a series, and that other videos exist which document the torture of detainees following the raids that ended the riot. The situation in Tripoli could become even more complex if such videos are released or influential militia leaders housed in the prison are known to have been abused. Saad al-Masri and Ziad al-Saleh, better known as Ziad Allouki, influential militia commanders active in Bab al-Tabbaneh, were arrested last year in Tripoli’s security crackdown. Both are now being held in Roumieh, and sources have alleged that Masri’s mother has seen a video documenting the physical torture of her son in the prison. Though the men were incarcerated last April, neither has yet been sentenced.
Khaldoun Sharif, a Tripoli politician, expressed regret at the unease being felt in the city, and said he held the government responsible, singling out the interior and justice ministers. “Originally there should’ve been [more] responsibility in dealing with the case, especially as, at the time, different political positions welcomed the Roumieh Prison operation and the elimination of the Islamist emirate inside,” he said. “But there should’ve been recognition that torture operations did take place and [they should have] solved it.” There is also concern that the leaked video could provoke acts of revenge by ISIS and the Nusra Front against the Lebanese hostages they are holding on the outskirts of Arsal.
ISIS captured 11 Lebanese servicemen during an incursion into Arsal last August, and has since beheaded two of them. The Nusra Front holds another 16 servicemen. ISIS has reportedly issued a direct threat to the family of captured soldier Ibrahim Mgheit in response to the torture revelations. Mgheit’s brother, Nizam, announced that he received a call from ISIS that included a threat that what happened in Roumieh Prison would not be allowed to pass without repercussions for the Lebanese government.
Sources close to the Cabinet crisis cell working on the case of the kidnapped servicemen said the group was extremely concerned that the hostages might be subject to acts of revenge. The Nusra Front and ISIS have both sought the release of the Islamist prisoners in Roumieh, and another source claimed that ISIS is trying to drag the Lebanese government toward direct negotiations. Indirect talks with the Nusra Front, led by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, have made significant progress, and a deal is waiting to be finalized. But negotiations with ISIS are currently at a standstill. Last week, self-proclaimed mediator Sheikh Wissam Masri received assurances by phone on the condition of soldiers held by ISIS. This, however, was before the video was leaked. “There isn’t any communication between ISIS and us,” Masri said. “I got a call from the parents of the captured soldiers, and I told them that I can’t move unless I am officially commissioned by the Lebanese government, and I’m waiting for an answer regarding this.”Masri called for all parties to be mindful of the sensitivity of the issue, and stressed the need to open negotiations in order to de-escalate the crisis.

U.S.: Lebanese banks prudent in combating terrorism
The Daily Star/June. 23, 2015/BEIRUT: A senior U.S. Treasury official said Lebanese banks were the most prudent in the Arab world in applying all international measures to combat money laundering and terrorism funding. “Lebanese banks are the most prudent in implementing the international criteria to combat terrorism,” Daniel L. Glaser, the U.S. assistant secretary for the Department of the Treasury, told participants in a U.S. Federal Reserve conference in Washington. The event, which was attended by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, the Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Banks Wissam Fattouh and senior officials from the World Bank, highlighted the efforts by all countries to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. But Glaser expressed some concern about the lack of cooperation by some Arab countries in combating this phenomenon. “The Arab banks, especially those located in Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Syria, should work harder in enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to fighting money laundering and terrorism finance. They should have clearer vision in understanding risk management,” the U.S. official said. Fattouh said the Union of Arab Banks is deeply involved in the international campaign against terrorism financing. “The Arab banking sector is fully committed to the highest criteria of banking operations and especially in anti-money laundering and terrorism financing. These efforts have helped buttress the banks and financial institutions, and give them more trust locally and internationally,” Fattouh said.

Sami Gemayel looks to a multi-sectarian Kataeb future
Wassim Mroueh/The Daily Star/June. 23, 2015
BEIRUT: Newly elected Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel said Monday that his party’s dialogue with Hezbollah was indispensable, despite the myriad differences between them, and revealed that Muslims were joining his group.
“We will not stop the dialogue with Hezbollah because we believe that you cannot build Lebanon without people who represent at least one quarter of the Lebanese,” Gemayel told The Daily Star in an interview at the Kataeb headquarters in Beirut’s Saifi neighborhood.
“You need to speak to those people to come up with solutions, but at the same time you cannot submit ... to the logic which Hezbollah wants to impose on you,” Gemayel said. “We will not agree to abandon the sovereignty of Lebanon, and we will not accept that Hezbollah continues to expose the lives and livelihoods of the Lebanese [to danger].”
Lawmakers from Hezbollah and the Kataeb Party have held a number of meetings over the past two years, seeking agreement on a new election law and an end to the presidential interregnum. But Gemayel noted that the talks have yet to yield any tangible results on these issues. A member of the March 14 alliance, the Kataeb has been a staunch critic of Hezbollah’s arsenal and its military involvement in the conflict in Syria. “We tried to come to solutions, but we realized that today, Hezbollah does not care about the situation inside Lebanon. Hezbollah today is fighting a military battle in the entire region and does not have Lebanon as its priority,” Gemayel said. “We are telling Hezbollah, ‘The moment you decide to think of the future of Lebanon, and how we build a state, and coexist in Lebanon together, then we will be ready to discuss these issues with you.’”Gemayel questioned the legitimacy of Hezbollah’s claim that it is defending the Lebanese from extremist militants, an argument the party uses to justify fighting alongside the Syrian regime. “Did anyone task them with doing so? You defend me contrary to my will? I don’t want you to defend me,” he said, addressing Hezbollah. “Who gave them the right to decide, think and act for me? If they make a mistake, who holds them accountable?”
Gemayel said that the Lebanese Army was fully capable of defending the Lebanese border from ISIS and Nusra Front militants, and that it enjoys unanimous support in carrying out this mission. “The Lebanese Army has completely assumed its [role]. It is deployed on ground, fighting, and its soldiers [have been] martyred ... Did the Lebanese Army say, “‘I am not able [to fight this battle] and I need Hezbollah’s support?’”
Gemayel, 34, was elected on June 14 as the new leader of the Kataeb Party, founded in 1936. While announcing his electoral program, Gemayel invited Muslims to join the party, which was considered to be the strongest Christian party for several decades, particularly during Lebanon’s Civil War, which lasted from 1975 until 1990. The overture appears to have been sincere – Gemayel said Muslims have already begun joining the Kataeb. “I have been contacting Muslim youth from all sects for a long time, and we found that we think alike and have the same goals. We realized that we can set a new example ... of pluralist parties in the full sense of the term, which have members from all sects.” He said any party wishing to propose credible solutions on a national level should be multi-sectarian. Gemayel is the seventh leader of the Kataeb Party, succeeding his father, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel. He is the grandson of late Minister Pierre Gemayel, the founder of the party.
Responding to the notion that he simply inherited the presidency from his father, Gemayel, a Metn lawmaker, stressed that he had worked hard to reach the post.
“I consider that I reached this place because of all the work I have done over the past 20 years of my life. I also know the level of democracy which characterized this election,” Gemayel said. “I also won the confidence of the Lebanese in parliamentary elections, even before the Kataeb elections,” he added, referring to the 2009 election to the Parliament. “Throughout my four-year term [as head of the Kataeb], I have to prove to all those criticizing me ... that I deserve the post I am in.”
Serving his guests coffee as he puffed on a cigarette, Gemayel said his work methods differed from the other political parties in Lebanon. “I don’t believe in the one-man show, I believe in teamwork, which of course has an engine [in] the president. I will play my role as this engine,” he added. Gemayel’s ambitious platform includes improving socio-economic conditions, combatting corruption and the squandering of state resources, building a civil state, administrative decentralization and enacting constitutional reform among other goals.
“We will try to gather the support of the largest number of people to implement this project. We will cooperate with all people and parties who share the ideas of this project,” he said, adding that addressing deteriorating socio-economic conditions was a priority.
But despite such ambitious goals, Gemayel said his aim was not to restore the “inflated” size the party enjoyed during the Civil War years. “Before the Civil War, the party was not much bigger than today. During the war, the party was transformed into a state,” Gemayel said.“When the state disappeared in the Christian area, this area relied on the Kataeb Party ... the party began to provide social services, and had an army and even played the role of police.”
“It took on a size far bigger than the size of any political party ... I believe we are now back to a normal multiparty democratic life.”“My goal is to develop the Kataeb and its project so we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves, whether through becoming more popular and having more MPs and influencing things, or through alliances and cooperation with other parties.”

The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag calls for more funding for UNRWA
The Daily Star/June. 23, 2015/BEIRUT: The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag called on donors to increase funding of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency Monday during a visit to the Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut Monday. “Residents of the camp are facing enormous difficulties every day. All possible efforts should be made to give greater support to Palestinian refugees here,” Kaag said, according to a press release issued by her media office. Matthias Schmale, UNRWA director in Lebanon, said the organization, which focuses on assisting Palestinians living Lebanon, is facing a severe funding crisis and is in danger of completely running out of money by October. The organization has come under increasing strain due to the influx of 44,000 Palestinians who were previously living in Syria and fled the ongoing civil war. Kaag visited several UNRWA facilities in Burj al-Barajneh, which is located in Beirut’s southern suburbs. She also commended the “calm” security situation in the camps that has been maintained since the start of the Syria crisis.

Germany Frees Al-Jazeera Journalist Sought by Egypt
Naharnet/June 22/15/German authorities Monday released Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, two days after detaining him at the request of his native Egypt in a move that sparked outrage from rights groups. "I'm free, I'm free, I'm free," Mansour exclaimed outside the Berlin prison, greeted by dozens of cheering supporters. "Thanks to people around the world who supported me in the last days!" "We welcome this decision by the German prosecutor," said Al-Jazeera spokesman Hareth Adlouni, adding that all charges had been dropped against 52-year-old Mansour, one of the best known TV journalists in the Arabic world. Berlin prosecutors in a short statement said they would not seek his extradition and had ordered Mansour's release, citing both "legal aspects and possible political-diplomatic concerns," without detailing them. Mansour, an Egyptian-British dual national, was controversially arrested Saturday at a Berlin airport, where he had been due to fly to Doha. He had been sentenced last year by an Egyptian court in absentia to 15 years in prison on torture and other charges which he has rejected as "absurd". Supporters and journalists massed outside the Berlin prison where the journalist was being held. They waved banners that said "Freedom for Mansour", with some demonstrators having taped their mouths shut to symbolize what they charge is Egypt's crackdown on free expression.
German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer had earlier Monday cited concerns about the rule of law in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, amid mass arrests and death sentences against his political opponents. "The government has repeatedly asked questions about the rule of law in Egyptian criminal proceedings and has repeatedly asked the Egyptian government to respect human rights and freedom of expression," he said. "Against this background, you will surely understand that there are doubts in the Mansour case," Schaefer said, stressing that for now "we are far, far away" from deciding on an extradition. He added, on Egypt's general use of capital punishment, that "of course no one is extradited by Germany if he is in danger of facing the death penalty."
- 'Arbitrary justice' -
An Egyptian court in 2014 sentenced Mansour for "torturing a lawyer in 2011 on Tahrir Square" in Cairo, epicenter of an anti-regime uprising that brought down former president Hosni Mubarak. The journalist has told Al-Jazeera he rejected the "absurd" accusations, adding that he was also facing rape, kidnapping and robbery charges -- accusations which he also denied. Ties between Doha, where Al-Jazeera is based, and Cairo have been extremely strained over Qatar's backing for the former short-lived Egyptian government under the Muslim Brotherhood. Three Al-Jazeera journalists, including Australia's Peter Greste and Canada's Mohamed Fahmy, were arrested in Cairo in 2013 and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
Greste has since been deported while the other two are facing a retrial. Mansour's detention sparked protests abroad and in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 3 hosted President Sisi for a visit crowned by an energy deal worth 8.0 billion euros ($9.0 billion) with German engineering giant Siemens. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe called on Berlin to "immediately" release Mansour. "With the full respect of the German authorities' legal obligations, I warn that the detention of journalists is a powerful tool to silence media critical of any government," said the OSCE's media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic. The group Reporters Without Borders said that "Germany must not become an accomplice to the Egyptian regime". "Under no circumstances must Mansour be extradited to Egypt, especially not based on dubious and possibly baseless allegations," said its head, Christian Mihr. The German Journalists Association had argued that, based on Egypt's use of the death penalty alone, Mansour must not be sent back to the country. Opposition Greens party leader Simone Peters warned that "Egypt is not a democracy. We must not allow someone to be tried by Egypt's arbitrary justice system and arbitrary rulers." Source Agence France Presse

Iran votes to ban access to military sites amid chants of ‘death to America,'”
Associated Press, June 21, 2015 /With some lawmakers chanting “Death to the America”, Iran’s parliament voted to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of a future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear programme. If ratified, the bill could complicate ongoing talks in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – as they face a self-imposed 30 June deadline for a final deal on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. The talks are focused on reaching a final accord that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Of 213 lawmakers present on Sunday, 199 voted in favour of the bill, which also demands the complete lifting of all sanctions against Iran as part of any final nuclear accord. The bill must be ratified by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, to become law. The terms stipulated in the bill allow for international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, but forbid any inspections of military facilities. The bill states in part: “The International Atomic Energy Agency, within the framework of the safeguard agreement, is allowed to carry out conventional inspections of nuclear sites.”However, it concludes that “access to military, security and sensitive non-nuclear sites, as well as documents and scientists, is forbidden”. The bill also would require Iran’s foreign minister to report to parliament every six months on the process of implementing the accord. Iran’s nuclear negotiators say they already have agreed to grant United Nations inspectors “managed access” to military sites under strict control and specific circumstances. That right includes allowing inspectors to take environmental samples around military sites. But Iranian officials, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, have strongly rejected the idea of Iranian scientists being interviewed. In a statement on Sunday, the US state department said inspections remained a key part of any final deal. All parties “are well aware of what is necessary for a final deal, including the access and transparency that will meet our bottom lines”, the statement said. “We won’t agree to a deal without that.”

Egypt army digs trench along Gaza border to prevent smuggling
Reuters/Ynetnews/Published: 06.22.15/Israel News/After destroying areas of Egyptian Rafah to widen buffer zone, army digs trench to bolster security in Sinai against Islamist militant attacks, which Cairo says are backed by Hamas. ISMAILIA - The Egyptian army is digging a trench in northern Sinai along the border with Gaza in an effort to prevent smuggling, security sources said on Monday, as the government steps up activities to prevent militant attacks that often target security forces. Egypt had already doubled to one kilometre (0.62 mile) the depth of a security buffer zone on its border with the Gaza Strip after some of the worst anti-state violence since President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the army following mass protests against his rule in 2013. Authorities are still battling an insurgency in which the most active group, Sinai Province, has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed in the attacks, which have surged since the army ousted Morsi. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has described Islamist militant groups as an existential threat to Egypt, the most populous Arab country. The trench would help detect more tunnels used in the smuggling trade, which Egyptian authorities see as a threat. Once the trench is dug, no vehicle or person will be able to pass except through the trench.
Security sources said passages had been made for vehicles and for pedestrians. They said the U-shaped trench is two kilometres away from the border and will have a depth of 20 metres and a width of 10 metres. Egypt has kept its Rafah closing with Gaza largely shut since 2013 but has recently opened it for a few days. The Sinai Peninsula is a strategic region that borders Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal. Cairo has accused Hamas of helping militants in Egypt's Sinai desert, which borders Gaza, to attack its security forces. Hamas denies this. But an Egyptian court earlier this month canceled a previous ruling labelling Hamas a terrorist group, a decision that was praised by Palestinian Islamists. Some residents criticized the trench, saying it had choked traffic and had caused the destruction of vegetation, which many farmers in the area depend on.

UNHRC report: Hamas tried to warn Israelis of attacks
Reuters/Ynetnews/06.22.15/Israel News/Detailed report from investigators led by American Mary McGowan Davis calls on Israel to release details regarding its 'targeting decisions' while questioning 'lamentable track record.' The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on Operation Protective Edge was released on Monday, saying Israel and Palestinian groups both committed abuses in the Gaza war that may amount to war crimes while also citing a press release from Hamas' military spokesperson Abu Obeida, saying that, "In some instances, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza reportedly attempted to warn civilians in Israel of imminent attacks." The report also suggested that Israel doesn't do enough to investigate and punish alleged war crimes, saying that the Jewish nation must "break with its lamentable track record" and hold perpetrators accountable. UN investigators noted Israel's use of precision weapons during airstrikes, but added that "The timing of the attacks increased the likelihood that many people, often entire families, would be at home. Attacking residential buildings rendered women particularly vulnerable to death and injury."Investigators claimed that Israel's failure to change strategy after seeing a large number of deaths in Gaza raises questions about potential violations by "political and military leadership."Israel was called on to provide further details of its "targeting decisions" in the report, saying that this would allow for further independent assessment of its attack on Gaza. Investigators also took aim at Hamas in Gaza however, condemning the executions of alleged "collaborators" that amount to war crimes and demand that someone be held accountable.

Pope: Why didn't the allies bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz?
By REUTERS/J.Post/06/21/2015/TURIN, Italy - People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday. Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin. "If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address. "It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause. He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars. He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah," using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust."The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"Discussing World War One, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia" but did not use the word "genocide." Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century," prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

US rebuffs Israel’s last-ditch bid for nuclear constraints in Iran accord
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 21, 2015
Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen was invited to join two top US officials for dinner in Washington on June 15 to try and make Israel’s case for amending the disastrous nuclear accord taking shape in Vienna between the six world powers and Iran, before it was too late. This meeting is reported here by debkafile for the first time. It was hosted by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and senior US nuclear negotiator Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman. The occasion was arranged by CIA Director John Brennan at the end of his visit to Jerusalem in the first week of June. He had come to offer senior Israelis, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a behind-the-scenes briefing on the provisions the Obama administration had accepted for the final nuclear accord with Iran due to be signed by June 30. This briefing was greeted in Jerusalem with shock and alarm. Very few of the conditions for a deal stipulated by the US upon embarking on the negotiations had survived: Iran would continue to enrich uranium, be allowed to bar international inspections of military facilities suspected of hosting nuclear research activity (where were Obama's "intrusive inspections?) and - Israeli officials heard this for the first time - the Iranian UCF facility at Isfahan would be expanded. This plant is engaged in the conversion of “yellow cake” to enriched nuclear material. They also discovered that President Obama, who had originally promised the deal would provide for “snapping sanctions back” in the event of violations, had assured Tehran that once sanctions were lifted, they would not be re-imposed.
Netanyahu asked Brennan for time to digest the full extent of the Obama administration’s retreat in the face of Iran’s nuclear aspirations. He then asked for his national security adviser to be given a chance to propose changes that would allay some of Israel’s concerns.
Brennan quickly set up a date for Cohen to be received in Washington. debkafile’s Washington sources reveal that at the dinner in Washington, the Israeli official tried a new tack with his hostesses, Rice and Sherman. On the understanding that the main clauses of the nuclear accord had been finalized and gone past the stage of amendment, he nonetheless suggested a number of insertions in the various clauses that would make it a better deal for American as well as Israeli security. Rice and Sherman politely allowed him to finish talking and then turned his proposals down flat.US and Israeli official sources agree that the invitation to Cohen had not been intended for any serious discussion between the two governments on the Iranian nuclear issue. The two top American officials dealing with the nuclear question barely heard a word that Cohen said. His journey to Washington was a complete waste of time.

Judging Whether the Iran Deal Is Acceptable
Michael Singh/Washinton Institute
June 22, 2015
In the nuclear negotiations, Tehran wants to have its cake and eat it too by obtaining sanctions relief while preserving the option to build a nuclear weapon in the future; the U.S. goal must be to deny Iran this capability.
If Iran and the P5+1 powers reach a nuclear accord this summer, members of Congress, presidential candidates, and the public will need to assess whether the deal is acceptable. This will require evaluating the strength or weakness of each individual provision on its own merits. Perhaps more important, this evaluation will need to consider the big picture: What objectives do Iran and the United States accomplish via the agreement? And are the U.S. objectives the right ones -- that is, does accomplishing them sufficiently advance American national security interests, or does the agreement set those interests back?
Iran's primary objective in the nuclear talks, as inferred from its actions and negotiating positions, is twofold: to free itself from sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and military threat, while maintaining the capabilities necessary to develop a nuclear weapon in the future should it choose to do so. These are not Iran's only objectives, to be sure; they fit within a larger strategy that aims to secure the regime, project Iranian power, and enhance Iranian prestige. Nor are Iran's views monolithic; for example, significant disagreement exists among Iranian officials regarding the extent to which the country should open its economy to foreign trade and investment. Yet relief from pressure and preservation of a nuclear weapons option appear to be guiding Iran at the negotiating table.
Complicating matters for Tehran, these two aims stand in opposition to each other -- obtaining sanctions relief calls for limiting its nuclear activities, while truly arriving on the threshold of a nuclear weapon requires advancing them. Iran's strategy has thus been to protect those elements of its nuclear program essential to any future effort to produce a weapon. Such an effort would require producing weapons-grade nuclear fuel, "weaponizing" that fuel in the form of an explosive device, and mounting that weapon on a delivery vehicle, likely a ballistic missile. These activities would most likely have to be clandestine, as producing nuclear weapons is proscribed by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and any open move to do so would likely prompt an American or Israeli military strike.
So far, the negotiations have not foreclosed the possibility of Iran accomplishing both of its objectives. While the deal parameters announced in Lausanne on April 2 left important questions unresolved, they raise the prospect of significant sanctions relief without clearly denying Iran what is required to maintain a nuclear weapons capability and undertake a future clandestine effort to develop an actual weapon.
Nuclear fuel. The deal currently under negotiation may leave Iran with three elements essential to clandestinely producing the high-enriched uranium (HEU) required to fuel a nuclear weapon. First, it leaves Iran with a large, legitimized nuclear fuel fabrication supply chain -- mining, milling, converting, and enriching uranium; the manufacture of centrifuges and related technology; and the storage of fuel and centrifuges in various stages of usability -- from which Tehran could seek to divert materiel, technology, personnel, and expertise for any parallel clandestine effort. The deal's current parameters would also permit Iran to continue conducting R&D on advanced centrifuges. This work could dramatically reduce the number of centrifuges required to produce HEU, enabling Iran to do the work in a smaller and thus more easily concealed facility.
Weaponization. While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Western intelligence agencies have already gathered a significant amount of information on Iran's past and possibly ongoing weaponization efforts (termed "possible military dimensions," or PMD), Tehran has resisted answering the IAEA's questions about these efforts or providing access to key personnel and facilities reportedly involved in them. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has publicly insisted that inspectors will not be permitted to speak to Iranian nuclear scientists, and Iranian officials have asserted that the IAEA's PMD inquiries lack any legitimate basis and should be discarded. For Iran, shielding weaponization efforts from the IAEA preserves its ability to use the involved personnel, facilities, and research in any future bombmaking effort out of sight from international inspectors.
Delivery vehicle. Iran already reportedly possesses the largest, most sophisticated ballistic missile arsenal of any non-nuclear weapons state, and U.S. officials believe it is working on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). While this missile work has been the subject of UN Security Council and U.S. sanctions, Khamenei has declared it off limits for the nuclear talks; the issue was referred to only obliquely in the November 2013 "Joint Plan of Action" interim accord and appears to have been dropped by P5+1 negotiators since then.
If Iran is trying to preserve or even enhance its nuclear weapons option, one might expect that the objective of the United States and its partners would be to prevent it from doing so. In fact, however, American objectives in the negotiations have shifted. At the inception of the P5+1 talks, the U.S. goal was indeed to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapons capability. Under Presidents Bush and Obama, U.S. officials envisaged Iran suspending its uranium enrichment entirely and dismantling much of its nuclear infrastructure, as have other countries that gave up their nuclear weapons programs.
With the Joint Plan of Action, however, both the enrichment suspension requirement and the aim of dismantlement were renounced by the P5+1. Instead of denying Iran a nuclear weapons capability, the U.S. goal now appears to be preventing Iran from building an actual weapon while implicitly ceding the capability. Toward this end, U.S. negotiators hope to restrict Iran to a one-year breakout timeline (i.e., the time required to produce one weapon's worth of HEU) at its declared facilities for the next decade through Tehran's voluntary acceptance of limits on its nuclear activities, while relying on stepped-up inspections to ensure that it does not pursue an undeclared parallel program aimed at producing a weapon.
Broadly speaking, U.S. officials offer two reasons for this shift in objective. First, they assert that the increased presence of inspectors will ensure Iran is unable to pursue a clandestine weapons effort, whereas failing to reach an agreement would mean reduced inspections. Second, they insist that Iran will not agree to more far-reaching restrictions, and that the alternatives to the deal being negotiated would be worse for U.S. interests.
Both arguments are problematic, however. The value of increased inspections would be mitigated by several factors, including restrictions placed on inspectors (e.g., lack of timely access to military sites and Iran's continued refusal to address PMD inquiries), limitations on the scope of inspections (e.g., the exclusion of Iran's missile program), and the expanded range of nuclear activities in which Iran is permitted to engage. The downplaying U.S. alternatives underestimates the deterrent value of economic and military pressure. It also fails to take into account that however unappealing America's alternatives may be, Iran's alternatives are worse given the state of its economy and its vulnerability to military threats. This implies that the prospect of the negotiations' failure should be more alarming to Tehran than to Washington, and thus a point of leverage for, not against, the P5+1.
The Obama administration is unlikely to return to the previous goals of requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure or cease, even temporarily, its uranium enrichment. Nor is it likely to insist that Tehran alter non-nuclear policies such as support for terrorism and destabilizing regional activities in connection with a nuclear accord or as a condition for sanctions relief. These facts alone ensure that any nuclear deal will fall well short of longstanding U.S. goals and face significant opposition in Washington and among allies in the Middle East. Yet if the Obama administration wishes to maximize support for a deal and avoid the possibility that it is rejected by Congress or -- far worse -- that it sets back U.S. interests rather than advancing them, it can and should hew as closely as possible to its previous objective of denying Iran a nuclear weapons capability, rather than merely seeking to prevent Tehran from exercising that capability. Leaving Tehran unfettered by sanctions or military threat, yet with the option to clandestinely produce a nuclear weapon -- and, upon the expiration of the accord's restrictions, leaving it as a nuclear weapons threshold state -- reduces the cost to Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon when conditions permit, while increasing the possibility that other regional states will seek nuclear weapons capabilities of their own. Denying Iran a nuclear weapons capability -- or at least severely constraining it -- remains possible even at this late stage of the talks. Doing so would require defending the Lausanne framework's most useful provisions (e.g., relating to long-term inspections of Iran's nuclear supply chain) and significantly strengthening other elements. These should include:
denying Iran license to conduct centrifuge R&D;
insisting on the inspection of any sites deemed suspect by the IAEA, including military sites;insisting that Iran answer the IAEA's PMD inquiries and provide related access as a precondition for any sanctions relief; and
placing limits on Iran's missile work, especially that which is applicable to the design and development of nuclear-capable reentry vehicles and ICBMs.
In addition, the agreement's duration should be based not solely on time, but also on the judgment of the IAEA and UN Security Council that Iran has restored international confidence in the peaceful intent of its nuclear activities. Similarly, any sanctions or financial relief should be phased according to Iranian performance, and sanctions related to matters not addressed by the agreement (e.g., terrorism sponsorship) should remain in place altogether and be zealously enforced. Furthermore, the deal should be buttressed by a broader allied strategy designed to enforce its provisions, deter and respond meaningfully to violations, counter other elements of malign Iranian behavior, strengthen regional alliances, and uphold global nonproliferation norms.
This is a long but not especially onerous list of requirements, which are for the most part compatible with the parameters announced in Lausanne. They would however, force Iran to choose between its twin objectives of relieving sanctions pressure and maintaining a nuclear weapons option. Tehran can thus be expected to resist, meaning that the negotiations would require additional time or even suffer temporary breakdowns. Yet this is an acceptable risk to achieve an accord that durably places nuclear weapons beyond Iran's reach.
**Michael Singh is the Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute.

Baghdadi’s state more dangerous than Bin Laden’s
Monday, 22 June 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
We have a pre-set image of terrorist groups, including young extremists with long hair and beards carrying out suicide operations, bombings and assassinations to sabotage and overthrow regimes. The difference today is that such appearances and acts are coming from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), not Al-Qaeda.
ISIS is a chaotic organization with weapons and videos broadcast on TV. It has the potential of a state, with wealth, power, people and lands. It has oil wells and refineries, trucks to smuggle it, and a network of brokers who can arrange sales and barter. ISIS has also a margin for maneuver - it deals with its enemies, and sells gas and oil to some government-controlled areas in Syria to operate power plants.
It will be difficult to challenge ISIS without the participation of all countries in the region, including conflicting governments and the existing international coalition
It has people in charge of levying money from banditry, trucks in transit and taxes. ISIS has formed municipal councils in the cities and towns it controls, with their own courts and police. They try to control local phone communications and internet distribution. In ISIS-controlled areas, the streets are lit and water reaches all houses on a daily basis. This terrorist state has a leadership, flag and propaganda campaigns. It brutally slaughters people to terrify others.
When I attended the recent World Economic Forum by the Dead Sea, I asked an Arab banker about their branch in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is occupied by ISIS. He said although its business has deteriorated, the branch opens every day on time, and the staff go to work every morning. ISIS has not closed banks, although it considers them forbidden usury.
Iraqi ISIS controls more than 40 cities and towns, the largest of which are Mosul and Ramadi, capital of Anbar province. Its militias are just 80 kilometers away from Baghdad. It shares borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and extends its authority to east, north and central Syria. ISIS controls three dams, and has deprived its opponents of water.
Consolidation and expansion
If ISIS decides not to expand, and if it does not lose future defensive battles, it will be able in a couple of years to have official relations with some countries. Such an evolution makes ISIS more dangerous than its mother-organization Al-Qaeda. The latter’s aim was to spread religious extremism and attempt to overthrow regimes that were against it. However, it lacked proper plans for the aftermath.
ISIS is an advanced and more dangerous model, a project to establish a real state. It targets troubled areas, seizes lands, validate its presence then expands. It seems that it can accurately read its opponents in Syria, Iraq and the West. It takes advantage of sectarian incitement by Iraqi and Iranian Shiite political forces, and exploits it to recruit Sunnis in the areas it occupies.
The sectarian mobilization allows ISIS to present itself as a state to those who do not feel that they belong to a state. They will defend the state with conviction and fearlessness. It seems that the organization is thinking more with its mind than its weapons. It monitors what comes out of opposing governments, especially the United States.
So far, ISIS has not provoked Washington with hostile operations that may lead the U.S. government to repeat what it did in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks. The strategy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s government seems more focused than the leadership of late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Baghdadi is targeting failing states or those suffering from a political vacuum, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. He seeks to control areas that fall within his sectarian interest. He suppresses people and seizes their financial resources. He appoints some people from the area to manage local affairs, and after seizing weapons and lands, he moves to well-planned military operations.
ISIS is a rich state. The Rand Corporation estimates that its income from oil-smuggling last year reached $100 million, its revenue from extortion $600 million, and looting from banks $600 million. Even if these numbers are overstated, it is certain that Baghdadi’s state is richer and much more dangerous than Bin Laden’s. ISIS has oil, banks, massive weapons supplies, and local youths and outsiders fighting for it.
It will be difficult to challenge ISIS without the participation of all countries in the region, including conflicting governments and the existing international coalition. It will be very difficult as long as Washington remains unable to manage Baghdad’s orientations or to stop Iran. Without the criminalization of sectarianism from both sides, the coalition will lack power. The clash between the Gulf and Iran over Syria and Yemen is complicating the situation. With these regional differences and American underperformance, ISIS will prosper and will be very difficult to defeat.

The war in Yemen must not be lost
Monday, 22 June 2015
Raghida Dergha/Al Arabiya
The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany (P5+1) may not conclude at the end of this month. Indeed, two main contentious issues have yet to be resolved, namely, how to verify Tehran’s pledges not to pursue a nuclear weapons program; and how to re-impose sanctions in the event Tehran fails to abide by its commitments. This delay does not mean the negotiations will collapse, even if the delay were to last months. The reason is that U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei are adamant about preventing this, the first to safeguard his legacy, and the second to safeguard his regime, which is in dire need for financial injections to strengthen its hand internally and regionally.
The other nations concerned with the negotiations, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, and France, while differing over some details, are all also in agreement that the negotiations must succeed at any cost. For this reason, these nations, which are supposed to be the guardians of international law and peace, are collectively burying their heads in the sand as they watch Iran violating international resolutions prohibiting Iran from exporting weapons and military personnel outside its borders. This reality should awaken the Arab nations as to the new situation in international relations, including Arab and Gulf relations with Tehran. Something major is taking place in the context of political and geographical transformations, and it is important to talk about this candidly without being sensitive about criticism. Let there be brainstorming sessions across the Arab region, not only to diagnose the problems ravaging the region but also to propose practicable solutions.
Not the only threat
The theocratic regime in Tehran is not the only threat to the Arab region, albeit its expansionist ambitions are part of the threat. Turkey has its own ambitions and means to intervene in the Arab region to further its interests or its president’s own agenda. Israel has its own stubborn policies that reject the two-state solution and insist on continuing the occupation and building illegal settlements that undermine the project for Palestinian statehood. ISIS and similar jihadist groups are massacring Arab people and destroying their cultures, cities, and civilizations. Some Arab leaders, meanwhile, have decided that they are more important than their countries, and their obsession with power has led them to scorch their countries and dispossess their peoples. Other Arab leaders have made astonishing mistakes that will force generations to come to pay a lofty price if they do not quickly rectify their course. Last but not least, there are the major powers, which have for long manipulated the Arab region, its people, and its resources, in collaboration with local leaders.
Iraq needs Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries to play a coherent and calculated role to help it overcome the ISIS threat
The crisis of confidence therefore is operating at local, regional, and international levels. The overall state in the Arab region is one of fragmentation, partitioning, and involvement in quagmires, bloodbaths, and wholesale destruction.
The United States has made up its mind. It has communicated to the Gulf leaders who met with Obama in Camp David last month that the nuclear deal and the ensuing bilateral relationship between the United States and Iran, is now a fait accompli that the Arab leaders have little say in. The Gulf leaders were told that it would be best for them to learn to coexist with this reality if they want to get the guarantees they are seeking from the United States, including guarantees of direct protection for these countries but solely in the event of direct military aggression.
Breaching Saudi national security
In other words, if the Gulf nations consider that Iran is breaching Saudi national security through Yemen, this in Washington’s view would not be an aggression requiring the activation of U.S. security guarantees. In effect, Washington differs radically with the Gulf over the Iranian role in Yemen, and does not agree that it is encroachment on Saudi national security. Regardless of Obama’s determination to protect the nuclear deal with Iran as a supreme national strategy and priority, the U.S. administration does not sympathize with the logic of the Arab coalition in Yemen, which sees the Houthis as a proxy of Tehran targeting Saudi Arabia.
For this reason, the Arab coalition is unlikely to receive U.S. military assistance in Yemen, regardless of the indications to the contrary issued previously by the U.S. administration. Accordingly, any military strategy that the Arab coalition pursues must rely on self-capabilities and not on U.S. promises.
The Arab coalition must make a choice: Pursue a qualitative military escalation, including a marine landing to secure major cities like Aden and Taez without relying on the United States or even Pakistan; or accepting that an exit strategy backed with a Marshall plan for Yemen means thwarting the Iranian project based on implicating the countries of the Arab coalition, led by Saudi, in a quagmire in Yemen.
It would be wrong to believe that air strikes alone are enough to weaken the Houthis and deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, or that destroying the Yemeni army will empower pro-Saudi tribes. The mistake that was made was watching for many months as the Houthis and Saleh consolidated their grip on Yemen’s territory. A mistake was made by not securing pledges by the members of the Arab coalition and Pakistan to intervene on the ground before the start of military operations. Now, further mistakes must be averted. A strategy for a ground intervention must be developed relying solely on Gulf capabilities, if needed. There is a dire need for a comprehensive long-term plan with decisiveness instead of relying on successive tactics that change daily without a long-term vision.
Arab and Iranian thinking
Frankly speaking, there is a major difference between Arab and Iranian thinking in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Iran’s strategy is based on allied ground forces that Iran supplies with everything they need. Saudi Arabia’s strategy is based on the air force and relying on tribes in a traditional manner. So there is a clear need for a reassessment now, towards serious support and full involvement, away from half-solutions and hesitation. Let Yemen be the first stop in such a qualitative shift in Arab strategic thinking.
But neither of the two options would be a blunder: qualitative military escalation with a maritime landing to secure cities; or accord with Iran. If the Saudi national interest requires accord with Tehran on Yemen, or as part of broader regional accords, then there would be nothing wrong with that.
Naturally, an accord means concessions by both sides. Yet any portrayal of accord as a defeat is shortsighted because the supreme interest must come above all else. Courageous leaders’ achievements are measured by how much they move their peoples forward, and not by doing what could lead to more destruction. This applies to Tehran before anyone else.
Tehran is reportedly seeking a deal with Riyadh based on the following: Let us act in Syria as we please, and we will leave you be in Yemen. It has been reported as well that Riyadh is opposed to such a deal, not willing to abandon Arab Syria and give Tehran the chance to build a “Persian crescent” to gobble up Arab countries – or parts of them – and impose its dominance on them, reducing the Arab weight in the regional balance of power.
There is a valid logic behind this. For the other point of view says: Let Iran become involved in Syria so that Syria can be its Vietnam. It is impossible for Iran to dominate and control Syria anyway. A bargain over Yemen and Syria is therefore rational. Yemen is very important in the Saudi backyard, and it is vital for it to be secure. On the other hand, Syria has become fragmented and Saudi Arabia will not be able to rescue it from fragmentation. It is possibly too late. Syria has paid the price and no one is innocent in what happened in this country. But if Iran is so desperate to get Syria, let it reap what it sowed there and let Syria be its own Vietnam.
Iraq’s fate would also be better in the event regional accords are concluded, including a Saudi-Iranian accord. Iraq is not ready to choose between the two nations. In Iraq as well, the difference is clear between the Iranian strategy based on ground forces and the Saudi strategy that has steered clear of Iraq, leaving a vacuum that was soon filled by Iran.
Coherent and calculated role
Iraq needs Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries to play a coherent and calculated role to help it overcome the ISIS threat and prevent Iran from unilaterally defeating ISIS on the ground. If a Gulf-Iran accord were to take place on Iraq, Iraq may be saved from the plans to partition it, which Iran is accused of sponsoring to further its plans for a “Persian crescent.”
All this does not mean that Iran is ready to enter into accords. Iran is on the verge of becoming an international partner in the
U.S. pivot to the east. It is also on the verge of being embraced by the European nations, and China, Russia, India, and Brazil with boundless eagerness. Any talk about isolating Iran belongs to the past.
Hence, the actors have no choice but to adapt to the new reality, in one way or the other, through accords or initiatives on the ground with a strategy for confrontation to let everyone know that the war in Yemen cannot be lost, and that the battle with Iran from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon is a fateful one. Half-solutions are no longer useful, nor are half-wars.

All eyes on Vienna as Kerry and Zarif rendezvous
Monday, 22 June 2015
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
During Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, when businesses are slow and quality family time has so much value, very important events are ongoing in Vienna. It may seem as though it is only important for Iranians and Americans, but that is not the case – it is very important for whole world, regardless of their opinion about Iran’s nuclear talks with the Western powers.
The impact of these talks will affect the region and will shift all political dynamics soon after Ramadan.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry removed the last barricades holding Iranians back from stepping forward and paved the way to make a final decision easier for Tehran.
The region is embroiled in crises that continue to threaten the long-term security of Iran
“What we are concerned about is going forward.” The U.S. secretary of state said.
Iran's options
Kerry appeared at a State Department briefing by video conference on June 16 and asked whether under a final deal, Iran would need to disclose all of the past and present military aspects of its nuclear program before sanctions against the country would be lifted.
“The possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” he told reporters. “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way,” Kerry said.
There is a famous Persian proverb that says “If you want death, then go to Ghilan,” which is used to refer to somewhere faraway – Iran is on the brink of making that decision.
Recently, Iran’s top negotiator indicated that the deadline is not a sacred date and if there is a need for extra time to reach a “good deal,” they wouldn’t rush themselves.
The deadline which has been agreed with Iran by negotiators of P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) suggested June 30 as final day to wrap-up these two years of ongoing talks.
However, in the U.S.’s point of view and that of other negotiators, the main issue is Iran dodging of the questions brought forward by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) over whether Iran’s nuclear program has military dimension.
Easing pressure
Two weeks before the deadline, Kerry released Tehran from this pressure and now it is Iran’s turn to prove if genuinely is ready to make the necessary step. Secretary Kerry is set to come back to Europe to meet Zarif at the end of this week. Meanwhile, Zarif speculated that the talks might goes beyond the deadline in early July.
The biggest rendezvous of these talks might be that between Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry scheduled later this week. While all eyes are on Vienna and the deadline, the observers having doubts if the parties can seal the final agreement before the end of Ramadan.
The region is embroiled in crises that continue to threaten the long-term security of Iran. Therefore, more than ever, Iran needs to reach a nuclear deal which would pave the way to international cooperation to confront and contain all of the regional threats, including ISIS. The nuclear deal will also allow Iran to gain new, more reliable allies who will help develop Iran’s economy, and that simply could be the most immediate neighbors who quietly have their eyes on Kerry and Zarif’s next meeting in Vienna.

End the violent cycle
The Daily Star/ Jun. 22, 2015
The latest round of fighting in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp should be the final catalyst for a security plan for the area. What began life as a refuge for Palestinians thrown off their land during the creation of Israel has been manipulated in the decades that followed into a proxy fighting ground for outside powers. Many refugees, living in extreme poverty due to a lack of access to the jobs market and insufficient assistance from UNRWA were tempted by the promise of weapons, money and power that neighboring countries offered, with no genuine concern for the state of Palestine, or the right of return, but only their own private interests, financial or political. These frequent clashes between sparring militias within the camp are followed by cease-fires, with no one arrested and nothing achieved. Lives are lost – often civilian – and homes are destroyed, as RPGs are now being used alongside the machine guns. And meanwhile the Army guards every entrance to the camp, and the perpetrators are fully known to the authorities and allowed to carry on their lives.
For any real change to come about, the authorities need to become strict with the culprits, and begin meaningful dialogue with the actors involved to create internal security in the camp which works and which leaves civilians safe to go about their daily life. Those in the camp have been suffering enough over the last 60 years: They have been rendered homeless and stateless, and forced to live in abominable conditions, with a lack of access to a basic standard of living.
The Lebanese authorities can no longer be merely passive, or reactive. They must become proactive, and introduce a well thought out, concrete and long-term plan for the camp. Otherwise this vicious cycle of violence will continue.
Those involved on the streets must also realize that this externally sponsored violence is not getting them anywhere, and not contributing to the fight for Palestinian statehood in any way. Rather, it is doing Israel’s work for them, and creating divisions within the refugee community which must be worked through, so that all Palestinians can focus on what is needed.

Face it America, Turkey’s Just Not That into You
Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute
June 22, 2015
Originally published under the title, “Obama’s Model Partner Thinks Israel, U.S., Biggest Threats.”
This is how the Turkish foreign ministry’s official website describes Turkey’s relations with the United States:
From a historical point of view, relations between Turkey and the United States are multidimensional and based on mutual respect and interest. As NATO allies, Turkey and the U.S., carry out their bilateral relations on the basis of universal values, including democracy, freedoms, respect for human rights, rule of law and free-market economy.
It then further beautifies the “model partnership” that U.S. President Barack Obama once portrayed:
During the visit [in 2009], President Obama defined Turkish – U.S. relations as a ‘model partnership’ and the leadership of both governments reached a high level consensus to bring the bilateral economic, commercial, investment and technologic dimension of the relationship to a level proportionate with political, military, and security cooperation. The concept of ‘Model Partnership’ reflects the advanced level that Turkey and the U.S. have reached in the relationship.
Really? Does Obama still think he found a “model partner” in a country that once was a staunch ally of both his country and of NATO?
Over one-third of Turks view the U.S. as the greatest security threat to their country.
A recent study on the Turks’ foreign policy perceptions reveals that Obama’s model partner nation has a totally confused mind — not just over Turkish-American ties, but also over its own identity and security concerns. The research, unveiled on May 27 by a team of academics from Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, shows that the Turks view the US as the second biggest security threat to their country (35.3%, just after Israel with 42.6%). Reflecting a similarly negative mindset, 32.3% of Turks think that the U.S. has colonial ambitions.
According to the same study, however, 74.3% of Turks think that Turkey is cooperating with the U.S., and 44.3% think the cooperation is of a military nature. Further, 53.3% of Turks think Turkey “has no problems with the US.”
Interesting mindset: More than half of Turks think their country has no problems with the U.S., and nearly half think their country has a working military cooperation with the U.S., yet they view the U.S. is the second most dangerous country to the security of their country.
Even more strangely, the U.S. ranks second in the list of countries with which Turks believe their country should most cooperate in overseeing foreign policy. 14.2% of Turks cite the U.S. as necessary for foreign policy cooperation, compared to 12.4% who say Turkey should cooperate most with Islamic countries.
42.6% of Turks think the biggest security threat to Turkey is Israel (only 0.4% view Israel as a friendly country). By contrast, they view the European Union (12.8%), Armenia (7.2%), and Cyprus (3.9%) as the biggest security threats after the U.S.
According to a popular saying in Turkey, “A Turk has no friend other than a Turk.”
It might sound paradoxical that 12.8% of Turks view the EU rich club as the biggest security threat while 47.5% of them approve of Turkish accession into the EU. If not paradoxical, it might at least sound paranoid, given that the combined population of the three countries they cite as top their security threats after the U.S. — Israel, Cyprus and Armenia — have a combined population of barely 12 million, compared to Turkey’s population of 78 million.
But this paranoia should be normal in a country where the popular saying “A Turk has no friend other than a Turk” is a national dictum. The study also found that 38.7% of Turks think that their country has “absolutely no friends.”
That is the “Turkish delight” — a bit bitter, but very Turkish. Nearly two-thirds of Turks think that their national identity is either “Islam” or “Middle Eastern” while nearly half of them wish to join Europe’s “Christian” club (only a quarter of Turks view themselves as “European”).
Ironically, Turkey is located in one of the world’s most violent, unstable and turbulent regions. While the Turks’ most tangible threats are their Muslim neighbors — and the Islamists they have overtly or covertly supported in their country’s “neighborhood” — they tend to look for enemies in unlikely territories.
This is not the first time that research has found that the Turks seem confused. Once again, the Turks seem to feel lost. They seem not to know which countries pose a real security threat, where their country or they themselves belong, or where they should belong.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East

The Palestinians’ Real Strategy
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute
June 22, 2015
Marzouk’s remarks refute claims by some in the Arab and Western media that Hamas is moving toward pragmatism and moderation, and that it is now willing, for the first time, to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Many in the West often fail to understand Hamas’s true position because they do not follow what Hamas says in Arabic — to its own people. In Arabic, Hamas makes no secret of its call for the destruction of Israel.
The current strategy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to negotiate with the international community, and not with Israel, about achieving peace in the Middle East. The ultimate goal of the PA is to force Israel to its knees. For the PA, rallying the international community and Europe is about punishing and weakening Israel, not making peace with it.
Their strategy is no longer about a two-state solution so much as it is about inflicting pain and suffering on Israel. It is more about seeking revenge on Israel than living in a state next to it.
Hamas’s terrorism also helps the PA’s anti-Israel campaign in the international community. Each terrorist attack provides the PA with an opportunity to point out the “urgent” need to force Israel to submit to Palestinian demands as a way of “containing the radicals.”
All signs indicate that the Palestinians are planning to step up their efforts to force Israel to comply with their demands. But as the Palestinians are not united, they are working on two fronts to achieve their goal.One party, headed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), believes that, with the help of the international community, Israel will be forced to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, and accept the “right of return” for millions of refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel.
The second party, represented by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and several other terror groups, continues to reject any form of compromise, and insists that the only solution lies in the elimination of Israel. Unlike the first party, this one believes that direct or indirect negotiations with the “Zionist enemy” are a waste of time and that terrorism is the only means for the Palestinians to achieve their goal.The two Palestinian parties, the PA and Hamas, have been at war with each other since 2007, when Hamas seized full control over the Gaza Strip and forced the Palestinian Authority to flee to the West Bank.But while the two rival parties are fighting each other, they are also working separately to overpower Israel.On June 19, a Hamas-affiliated group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack that killed Danny Gonen, a 25-year-old man who was visiting the West Bank.Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups rushed to “welcome” the killing of the young Israeli man who, by the way, was not a “settler,” but a resident of the Israeli city of Lod, near Ben Gurion Airport.
In separate statements, these terror groups explained that the attack came in the context of Palestinian efforts to “preserve the resistance” against Israel in the West Bank. They said that such attacks were “legitimate means” to achieve Palestinian rights and aspirations.These groups made it unavoidably clear that their real objective is not to “liberate” the West Bank, but to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. As one of them said, “We will continue to support any resistance action on the land of Palestine until it is liberated, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river, and cleansed from all Zionist usurpers.
“Hours after the West Bank attack, a senior Hamas leader, Musa Abu Marzouk, repeated that his movement was seeking to replace Israel with an Islamist state: “Hamas wants a state not only in the Gaza Strip, but in all of Palestine; we won’t give up our weapons and will continue to fight in order to liberate our land.”Marzouk’s remarks refute claims by some Arab and Western media that Hamas has been moving toward pragmatism and moderation, and that it is now willing, for the first time, to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Many in the West often fail to understand Hamas’s true position because they do not follow what Hamas says in Arabic — to its own people. In Arabic, Hamas makes no secret of its call for the destruction of Israel.
To Hamas’s credit, this message is often repeated in English and other languages.While Hamas and its allies work toward destroying Israel through terrorism, the Palestinian Authority seems more determined than ever to step up its worldwide campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel with the help of various international parties, such as the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.Some senior Palestinian officials like to describe this campaign as a “diplomatic war” against Israel. They argue that this war has thus far proven to be much more “effective” than rockets and suicide bombings. “When we launch rockets at Israel, we don’t get any sympathy,” explained one official. “But everyone in the international community is now supporting our diplomatic efforts.
That’s why we believe that what Hamas is doing right now is harmful to Palestinian interests.”Shortly before the Israeli man was fatally shot in the West Bank, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, revealed his plan to rally the world against Israel so that it would be forced to submit to the Palestinian Authority’s demands, above all a complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.Erekat’s plan calls for working very closely with EU countries and members of the UN Security Council, to increase pressure on Israel to comply with the Palestinian demands. It also calls for recruiting international support for recognition of a Palestinian state and paving the way for it to join various international organizations and conventions.In his plan, Erekat warns against endorsing any UN Security Council resolution that would include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, or offer concessions on the “right of return” for refugees.
He also repeats the Palestinian Authority’s rejection of the idea of land swaps between the future Palestinian state and Israel. In addition, Erekat emphasizes his opposition to the idea of creating a demilitarized Palestinian state or giving up any part of Jerusalem.The Palestinian Authority’s current strategy is to negotiate with the international community, and not with Israel, about achieving peace in the Middle East. The PA knows that it is not going to get from Israel all that it is asking for. That is why the Palestinian leaders have chosen to negotiate with France, Britain, Sweden and the US. The Palestinians are hoping that these countries will give them what Israel cannot and is not prepared to offer at the negotiating table.Even if Israel wanted to give one hundred percent of what it gained in 1967, the reality on he ground does not allow it. Since 1967, both Jews and Arabs have created irreversible “facts in the ground,” such as the construction of tens of thousands of houses for both Arabs and Jews.
A full withdrawal would mean that tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs would lose their homes both in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.The ultimate goal of the Palestinian Authority is, with the help of the international community, to force Israel to its knees. For the PA, rallying the international community and Europe is about punishing and weakening Israel, not making peace with it. The PA wants to see Israel degraded, isolated and turned into a rogue state. It wants to see Israelis brought before the International Criminal Court and expelled from as many international organizations as possible.From talking to senior Palestinian Authority officials, one is left with the impression that their true goal is to see Israel in a state of surrender and defeat. Their strategy is no longer about a two-state solution so much as it is about inflicting pain and suffering on Israel.
It is more about seeking revenge on Israel than living in a state next to it.In many ways, the PA’s “diplomatic war” on Israel also helps Hamas. By constantly accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “atrocities,” the PA is helping Hamas justify its terror attacks against Israelis. The PA’s anti-Israel campaign also helps in creating sympathy and understanding for Hamas’s terror attacks.Meanwhile, Hamas’s terrorism also helps the Palestinian Authority’s anti-Israel campaign in the international community. Each terrorist attack provides the PA with an opportunity to point out the “urgent” need to force Israel to submit to Palestinian demands as a way of “containing the radicals.”This is how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, although remaining sworn enemies, complement each other’s role against Israel.And many in the international community seem to be helping these two Palestinian camps in their effort to undermine and destroy Israel.

Islamic Hate for the Christian Cross
Raymond Ibrahim/ Monday Jun 22, 2015 /Human Events Web Site
Originally published by PJ Media
Last May in Italy, a Muslim boy of African origin beat a 12-year-old girl during school because she was wearing a crucifix around her neck. The African schoolboy, who had only started to attend the school approximately three weeks earlier, began to bully the Christian girl—“insulting her and picking on her in other ways all because she was wearing the crucifix”—before he finally “punched the girl violently in the back.”
What is it about the Christian cross that makes some Muslims react this way?
The fact is, Islamic hostility to the cross is an unwavering fact of life—one that crosses continents and centuries; one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity.
Doctrine and History
Because the Christian cross is the quintessential symbol of Christianity—for all denominations, including most forms of otherwise iconoclastic Protestantism—it has been a despised symbol in Islam.
According to the Conditions of Omar—a Medieval text which lays out the many humiliating stipulations conquered Christians must embrace to preserve their lives and which Islamic history attributes to the second “righteous caliph,” Omar al-Khattab—Christians are “Not to display a cross [on churches]… and “Not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims.”
The reason for this animosity is that the cross symbolizes the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims. According to Dr. Sidney Griffith, author of The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, “The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Koran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross.” Thus “the Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints often aroused the disdain of Muslims,” so that there was an ongoing “campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity, especially the previouslyubiquitous sign of the cross.”
Islam’s hostility to the cross, like all of Islam’s hostilities, begins with the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He reportedly “had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into his house with its figure upon it.” He once ordered someone wearing a cross to “take off that piece of idolatry” and claimed that at the end times Jesus himself would make it a point to “break the cross”—an assertion the Islamic State regularly makes.
Islamic history following Muhammad is riddled with anecdotes of Muslims cursing and breaking crosses. Prior to the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, which pitted the earliest invading Muslim armies against the Byzantine Empire, Khalid bin al-Walid, the savage “Sword of Allah,” told the Christians that if they wanted peace they must “break the cross” and embrace Islam, or pay jizya and live in subjugation—just as his Islamic State successors are doing today in direct emulation. The Byzantines opted for war.
In Egypt, Saladin (d. 1193)—regularly touted in the West for his “magnanimity”—ordered “theremoval of every cross from atop the dome of every church in the provincesof Egypt,” in the words of The History of the Patriarchate of the Egyptian Church.
Europe: Growing Violence against the Cross
Centuries later, not much has changed concerning Islam’s position towards the cross, though much has changed in Western perceptions. In other words, an African boy punching a Christian girl in Italy for her crucifix is part of a long continuum of Islamic hostility for the cross. Perhaps he learned this hatred in mosque—the same European mosques where Islamic State representatives call Muslims to jihad?
After all, earlier this year in Italy, another crucifix was destroyed in close proximity to a populated mosque. The municipality’s Councilor, Giuseppe Berlin, did not mince words concerning the identity of the culprit(s):
Before we put a show of unity with Muslims, let’s have them begin by respecting our civilization and our culture. We shouldn’t minimize the importance of certain signals; we must wake up now or our children will suffer the consequences of this dangerous and uncontrolled Islamic invasion.
Nor is Italy the only European nation experiencing this phenomenon. In neighboring France, a “young Muslim” committed major acts of vandalism at two churches. Along with twisting a massive bronze cross, he overturned and broke two altars, the candelabras and lecterns, destroyed statues, tore down a tabernacle, smashed in a sacristy door and even broke some stained-glass windows. (Click for images.)
And in Germany, a Turkish man who checked himself into a hospital for treatment went into a sudden frenzy because there were “too many crosses on the wall.” He called the nurse a “bitch” and “fascist” and became physically aggressive.
Of course, other times Europeans willingly capitulate to Islamic hostility for the cross. Real Madrid, a professional football (soccer) team in Spain reportedly stripped the traditional Christian cross from its club crest as part of a deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi—“so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates.” And in the United Kingdom, offensive crucifixes are being removed from prisons in order not to offend Muslim inmates (who are further provided with food baths for Islamic rituals).
Muslim World: Christians Killed for the Cross
If this is how some Muslims react to the Christian cross in Europe—where Muslims are aware of their outnumbered, minority status—how do other Muslims react to the cross in the Islamic world, where vastly outnumbered and ostracized Christian “infidels” are easy prey?
The answer is murderous—literally, Christians are being murdered by Muslims provoked at the sight of the cross:
Last year in Egypt,a young Coptic Christian woman named Mary was mauled to death—simply because her cross identified her as a Christian to Muslim Brotherhood rioters. According to an eyewitness who discussed the episode, Mary Sameh George was parking her car by the church to deliver medicine to an elderly woman:
Once they [Brotherhood rioters] saw that she was a Christian [because of the cross hanging on her rearview mirror], they jumped on top of the car, to the point that the vehicle was no longer visible. The roof of the car collapsed in. When they realized that she was starting to die, they pulled her out of the car and started pounding on her and pulling her hair—to the point that portions of her hair and scalp came off. They kept beating her, kicking her, stabbing her with any object or weapon they could find…. Throughout [her ordeal] she tried to protect her face, giving her back to the attackers, till one of them came and stabbed her right in the back, near the heart, finishing her off. Then another came and grabbed her by the hair, shaking her head, and with the other hand slit her throat. Another pulled her pants off, to the point that she was totally naked.
In response, the Coptic Christian Church issued the following statement: “Oh how lucky you are, Mary, you who are beloved of Christ. They tore your body because of the Cross. Yet they offered you the greatest service and gave you a name of honor as one who attained the crown of martyrdom.” The statement also quoted Christ’s warning to believers: “Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).
In October 2011, seventeen-year-old Ayman Nabil Labib, a Coptic student, was strangled and beaten to death by his Muslim teacher and some fellow students—simply for refusing to obey the teacher’s orders to remove his cross. Student eyewitnesses present during the assault said that while Ayman was in the classroom he was told to cover up his tattooed wrist cross, which many Copts wear. Not only did he refuse, but he defiantly produced the pectoral cross he wore under his shirt, which prompted the enraged Muslim teacher and students to beat the Christian youth to death.
Before that, an off-duty Muslim police officer on a train from Asyut to Cairo shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and opened fire on six Christians, killing a seventy-one-year-old man and critically wounding the rest. Before opening fire he had checked for passengers with the traditional Coptic cross tattooed on their wrists. (Days ago, another Coptic woman was “shot dead by an Egyptian police officer. Although officially an “accident,” the Muslim officer is notorious for hating Christians.)
In Pakistan, when a Muslim man saw Julie Aftab, a Christian woman, wearing a cross around her neck,
The man became abusive, shouting at her that she was living in the gutter and would go to hell for shunning Islam. He left and returned half an hour later, clutching a bottle of battery acid which he savagely chucked over her head. As she ran screaming for the door a second man grabbed her by the hair and forced more of the liquid down her throat, searing her esophagus. Teeth fell from her mouth as she desperately called for help, stumbling down the street. A woman heard her cries and took her to her home, pouring water over her head and taking her to hospital. At first the doctors refused to treat her, because she was a Christian. ‘They all turned against me . . . even the people who took me to the hospital. They told the doctor they were going to set the hospital on fire if they treated me’. . . . 67 percent of her esophagus was burned and she was missing an eye and both eyelids. What remained of her teeth could be seen through a gaping hole where her cheek had been. The doctors predicted she would die any day. Despite the odds she pulled through.
All this because she was wearing a cross.
Even in Muslim nations deemed “moderate,” violence provoked by the cross is not uncommon. In 2012, a 12-year-old boy in Turkey who converted to Christianity and decided to profess his new faith by wearing a silver cross necklace in class was spit on and beat regularly by Muslim classmates and teachers.
In the Maldives, October 2010, authorities had to rescue Geethamma George, a Christian teacher from India, after Muslim “parents threatened to tie and drag her off of the island” for “preaching Christianity.” Her crime was simply to draw a compass in class as part of a geography lesson. The compass was mistaken for the Christian cross.
Christians ‘Killed’ Again for the Cross
If some Muslims kill the wearers of the cross, so do they disturb the slumber of those already dead for having the cross on their tombstones. A few of the many examples follow:
Libya, March 2012: A video of a Muslim mob attacking a commonwealth cemetery near Benghazi appeared on the internet. As the Muslims kicked down and destroyed headstones with crosses on them, the man videotaping them urged them to “Break the cross of the dogs!” while he and others cried “Allahu Akbar!” Towards the end of the video, the mob congregated around the huge Cross of Sacrifice, the cemetery’s cenotaph monument, and started to hammer at it, to more cries of “Allahu Akbar.” Other Christian cemeteries in post-“Arab Spring” Libya have suffered similarly.
France, April 2015: Christian crosses and gravestones in a cemetery were damaged and desecrated by a Muslim. After being apprehended, he was described as follows: “The man repeats Muslim prayers over and over, he drools and cannot be communicated with: his condition has been declared incompatible with preliminary detention.” He was hospitalized as “mentally unbalanced.” (See his handiwork.)
Malaysia, February 2014: A Christian cemetery was attacked and desecrated in the middle of the night by unknown persons in the Muslim majority nation. Several crosses were destroyed, including by the use of “a heavy tool to do the damage.”
Germany, June 2014: After Muslims were granted their own section at a cemetery in Seligenstadt, and after being allowed to conduct distinctly Islamic ceremonies, these same Muslims began demanding that Christian symbols and crosses in the cemetery be removed or covered up during Islamic funerals.
One can go on and on with more recent examples of Islam’s hostility to the cross. Last April in “moderate” Malaysia, a Muslim mob riotedagainst a small Protestant church due to the visible cross atop the building of worship. It was quickly removed.
And in Pakistan, a nation where the mere accusation of offending Islam get Christians burned alive—a Muslim shopkeeper is allowed to sell shoes which depict the Christian cross on their sole: “In Pakistani culture, showing the sole of one’s shoe or foot is offensive because placing anything on the ground is considered to be an insult to the object. Therefore, something on the sole of a shoe is going to be constantly insulted as the person walks.”
From an African School Boy in Italy to ‘ISIS’
In light of the above, it should come as no surprise that the Islamic State—“ISIS”—also exhibits violence to the Christian cross. In its communiques to the West, hostile reference to the cross is often made: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah…. [We will cast] fear into the hearts of the cross worshippers….”
After carving the heads of Coptic Christians off in Libya, the lead executioner waved his dagger at the camera and said, “Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq’s plain [Syrian regions], chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time. And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.” He concluded by declaring: “We will fight you [Christians/Westerners] until Christ descends, breaks the cross and kills the pig” (all eschatological actions ascribed to the Muslim “Christ,” Isa).
Moreover, the Islamic State has committed countless atrocities against and because of the cross: it made and disseminated a video showing its members smashing crosses in and atop churches in territories under its sway; it beheaded and stabbed a man with his own crucifix after it exposed him as a Christian; and it published pictures of its members destroying Christian crosses and tombstones in cemeteries under its jurisdiction — and quoted Islamic scriptures justifying its actions.
Careful readers will note the similar parallels here: destroying crosses in churches and cemeteries and even killing Christian “infidels” for wearing them, as documented above, is not limited to “ISIS” but is happening all around the Muslim world, and even in Europe.
In short, Islam’s age-old hatred for the Christian cross—and what it represents—is not a product of the Islamic State, but of Islam.