November 26/15

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani 

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Bible Quotations For Today

Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 12/46-50: "While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

You are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Letter to the Galatians 04/01-07: "My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 25-26/15
After Turkey's 'stab in the back' to Russia, will anyone support Ankara/Semih Idiz/Al-Monitor/November 25/15/
Khamenei uses Tehran gas summit to slam US/Arash Karami/Al-Monitor/November 25/15
Who Is Jailing and Torturing Palestinian Journalists/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/November 25/15
Why Turkey’s move against Russia was inevitable/Manuel Almeida/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet is a grave error/Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
Britain is showing resilience after Paris - for now/Chris Doyle/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
Where is ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi/Raed Omari/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
Addressing discrimination against Saudi women/Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/November 25/15

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin for Lebanese Related News published on November 25-26/15
Jones Says U.S. to Keep Providing Lebanon with Security Aid, Intel
Hizbullah Slams Tunisia, Egypt Blasts, Says Terror 'Fueled by Foreign Forces'
Report: Riyadh Opposes Meddling in Lebanon's Affairs, Keen on Preserving its Stability
Dialogue Postponed to Dec. 14 as Franjieh Says Willing to Consider March 14 Proposal on Presidency
Saqr Charges 13 Linked to Bourj Barajneh Attack for Belonging to IS
Reports: Rokn Abadi Found Dead in Saudi Arabia
Report: Salam to Tackle Trash Crisis at Dialogue as Environment Minister Skeptical on Exporting Waste
Report: Efforts Ongoing to Schedule Aoun-Franjieh Meeting.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 25-26/15
US-Russian discord over Syria stoked by Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane
Turkey Seeks to Ease Tensions after Downing of Russian Warplane
Rescued Russian Pilot Says No Warning before Jet Downed as Moscow Slams 'Provocation'
Heavy Russia Raids in Syria Area where Plane Downed, Says Monitor
U.S. Has 'Concerns' over Russian Missile System in Syria
Tunisia Closes Border with Libya as IS Claims Deadly Bus Bombing
Less Than Third of Voters Turn Out in Egypt Election
U.S. Sanctions Assad Supporters, Including Man who 'Buys Oil from IS'
Iraq Political Dispute Leads to Gunfire at TV Station
Kerry Fears Israeli-Palestinian Conflict May 'Spin out of Control'
Palestinian Stabs Israeli in West Bank, is Shot
Iran General Soleimani Lightly Wounded in Syria
IS Sinai Hotel Attack Toll Rises to 7
Canada Says Reviewing Military Role in Anti-IS Fight

Links From Jihad Watch Site for November 25-26/15

UN adopts 6 resolutions condemning Israel — no mention of “Palestinian” jihad incitement or knife attacks.
Coming soon: More immigrants from Muslim nations than population of D.C. (680,000).
Pakistan: Muslim mob sets Christian TV station on fire.
Global Jihad? Never Heard of It: Berkeley’s Bazian Still Hyping ‘Islamophobia’.
Dallas mayor ‘more fearful’ of white men than Syrian refugees.
SDSU: Muslim Brotherhood-linked student group rallies not against jihad terror, but against “Islamophobia”.
Washington Post: “Want to stop Islamic terrorism? Be nicer to Muslims.”.
New Islamic State video message to US: “We will drown all of you in blood”.
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: Poster Boy for ‘Islamophobia’ Tries to Join ISIS.
New Glazov Gang: The Dreadful Lessons of ISIS’s Paris Massacre.
Muslim feminist “diversity officer” in the UK sends rape threat to Pamela Geller.
Video: Robert Spencer on the theological aspects of Islam that lead to jihad.
Islamic State video threatens Georgians with beheadings, caliphate

Jones Says U.S. to Keep Providing Lebanon with Security Aid, Intel
Naharnet/November 26/15/U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Richard Jones met Wednesday with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouq as part of his courtesy meetings with various ministers, reassuring that Washington will continue to provide Lebanese security agencies with assistance and “information.”
“We exchanged views on the situation. Of course we're all very concerned, seized I would say, with the security situation,” Jones said after the meeting. “I assured the Minister that the United States would stand by Lebanon. We will continue to provide support for the security services of the country, in terms of training and equipment, and also information,” he added. On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama also vowed continued support for Lebanon. The U.S. remarks come amid a major security crackdown in the country that was launched in the wake of twin suicide blasts in the southern Beirut suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh that killed 43 people and wounded 239 others. The bombings, among the worst in years, were claimed by the jihadist Islamist State group, which has recently claimed responsibility for a series of attacks around the world, most notably the unprecedented assault in the French capital Paris.

Hizbullah Slams Tunisia, Egypt Blasts, Says Terror 'Fueled by Foreign Forces'
Naharnet/November 26/15/Hizbullah condemned Wednesday the deadly bombings that hit Tunisia and Egypt in recent days, noting that terrorism in the Arab world is being “fueled by foreign forces.”The party “deplores the terrorist acts that are targeting several regions in our Arab and Muslim worlds, the last of which were the terrorist bombings that hit central Tunis and the Egyptian town of El-Arish, causing heavy casualties.”“This globalized terror that is invading our cities and killing our people in all Arab and Muslim countries is an epidemic that is being fueled by foreign forces and aggravated by deviant ideologies claiming to be part of Islam,” Hizbullah said. These ideologies “do not belong to any religion,” it added. The party also urged everyone to “show solidarity and unity in the face of this terrorism whose threat is growing.”“If it continues to spread, it will harm all countries, religions and sects without any differentiation,” Hizbullah warned. Its statement comes in the wake of a deadly bombing in the southern Beirut suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh, a Hizbullah stronghold.The suicide attack, among the worst in years, killed 43 people and wounded 239 others. Like the bombings in Tunisia and Egypt, the Dahieh attack was claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group, which has also staged unprecedented deadly attacks in Paris earlier this month.

Report: Riyadh Opposes Meddling in Lebanon's Affairs, Keen on Preserving its Stability
Naharnet/November 26/15/Saudi Arabian officials were not informed of the meeting between Mustaqbal Movement chief MP Saad Hariri and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, stressing however that it is keen on the “situation of Christians in Lebanon”, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Wednesday. A diplomatic source told the daily: “Riyadh will not agree to the presidential candidacy of anyone who opposes the main views of the Christian ranks in Lebanon, especially Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea.”“Riyadh does not like to interfere in Lebanon's internal affairs, but it is keen on preserving its stability on the condition that this stability does not take place at the expense of its sovereignty,” it added. “It is eager to maintain the status quo in the country in anticipation of the developments in Syria. The kingdom will therefore not take any measure that would fall in the favor of the resistance forces at the expense of the sovereign ones,” it explained. “Saudi Arabia is also keen on preserving and strengthening the Christian ranks in Lebanon, not as a balancing factor between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon, but because Christians are the most adamant about protecting the country's sovereignty,” stated the source. “Riyadh therefore advises the election of a consensual president, who can ride the wave of transition in Syria, whereas the election of a March 8 or 14 figure may threaten the points mentioned above,” added the source to al-Joumhouria. Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances over a consensual candidate have thwarted the polls. A meeting held between Hariri and Franjieh last week has sparked media and political speculation that the Marada Movement leader may be a presidential candidate.

Dialogue Postponed to Dec. 14 as Franjieh Says Willing to Consider March 14 Proposal on Presidency

Naharnet/November 26/15/A national dialogue session was held at Speaker Nabih Berri's Ain el-Tineh residence on Wednesday as officials addressed the ongoing presidential vacuum and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh urged the media against exaggerating claims on ending the deadlock. He said after the brief talks: “Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun is the March 8 camp's presidential candidate, but if the March 14 camp makes a proposal, then we are willing to consider it.” “We respect the opinion of the other side and take it into consideration,” he told reporters. “You would be wrong to believe that our positions are being made without consulting Aoun,” he stressed. Media speculation has been rife in recent days that Franjieh would be a new presidential candidate in the wake of claims that he had held talks last week with Mustaqbal Movement head MP Saad Hariri. Franjieh refused to confirm or deny the claims, saying: “Whether I met with Hariri or not is not important..” “We all have our convictions and are united by Lebanon. We should set aside our interests and place Lebanon's interests as a priority,” he stated. Moreover, he urged the media to derive positives from recent developments, saying that efforts are ongoing to reach a settlement to end the presidential deadlock. “We trust the other side and the proposal made by the March 14 camp is serious, but nothing official has been reached,” he remarked. Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances over a consensual candidate have thwarted the polls.

Saqr Charges 13 Linked to Bourj Barajneh Attack for Belonging to IS

Naharnet/November 26/15/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Wednesday 26 people with belonging to the Islamic State extremist group, reported the National News Agency. Among them are 13 detainees who are linked to the twin suicide bombings of Bourj al-Barajneh that took place on November 12. The suspects are charged with receiving orders from IS “prince” Abou al-Walid al-Souri and with planning to carry out terrorist attacks and bombings in various Lebanese regions. In addition, they were charged with transporting explosive material, explosive vests, weapons, and ammunition and hiding them in various apartments in Beirut and the North and transporting suicide bombers and recruiting members for the IS. Syrian suicide attackers Imad Ghayyath and Amer al-Freij blew themselves up at Beirut's southern suburbs of Bourj al-Barajneh, leaving over 43 people dead. Detainee Ibrahim al-Jamal was arrested before he could carry out an attack, added NNA. He could face the death penalty if convicted. Saqr has since referred the case to Military Examining Magistrate Riyad Abou Ghida.

Reports: Rokn Abadi Found Dead in Saudi Arabia
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/The body of former Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Rokn Abadi, who went missing since the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia in September, has been identified, Iranian media said Wednesday, quashing speculation he was kidnapped. The corpse Rokn Abadi, 49, was identified through DNA tests, the ISNA news agency reported citing reliable sources. "My brothers traveled to Saudi Arabia and after seeing his body announced they have identified him," the ex-diplomat's brother, Morteza, was quoted by the state television website as saying. Rokn Abadi's body will be repatriated on Thursday, he added. Iranian media did not give details of how and when he died. Rokn Abadi was attending this year's hajj when the stampede broke out. More than 2,200 people, including 464 Iranians, were killed, according to tallies given by foreign officials, in what was the deadliest disaster in the pilgrimage's history by far. Until last year, Rokn Abadi was Tehran's envoy to Beirut, a highly sensitive post. Lebanon is home to the Iran-backed Hizbullah, which is allied with President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war and is also a bitter enemy of Israel. The stampede created strong tensions between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. The regional rivals have long had an uneasy relationship and are backing opposing sides in Syria, as well as in the conflict in Yemen. Many Iranian officials had said Rokn Abadi was still alive and asked Saudi Arabia to send him home.
"Our intelligence indicates that he is still alive, and we ask Saudi Arabia to return him alive," Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in November.

Report: Salam to Tackle Trash Crisis at Dialogue as Environment Minister Skeptical on Exporting Waste
Naharnet/November 26/15/Prime Minister Tammam Salam is expected to address Lebanon's ongoing garbage disposal crisis at the national dialogue table later on Wednesday, reported the daily An Nahar. Ministerial sources told the daily that the premier will in the next 48 hours hold various meetings with the concerned ministers to address the issue “until the necessary conditions to hold a cabinet session are met.”The government will meet after the final solution to the crisis is reached, they added. The national dialogue is scheduled to be held at Speaker Nabih Berri's Ain el-Tineh residence. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq voiced skepticism over the current proposal to export Lebanon's waste, saying: “We will be faced with a catastrophe if officials still continue to refuse the establishment of landfills.” “Exporting the waste is very costly at over 200 dollars per ton,” he explained. “We are keen that any solution to the crisis adhere to the laws. Saying that there are landfills in the middle of Paris and we should follow its example is nonsense as those landfills are of the highest standard and we don't want to see the establishment of arbitrary dumps in Lebanon,” he stressed. Lebanon was plunged in trash disposal crisis with the closure of the Naameh landfill in July. Officials failed to find an alternative to the dump, resulting in garbage piling up on the streets of the country as experts warned of the environmental and health hazards of the crisis.

Report: Efforts Ongoing to Schedule Aoun-Franjieh Meeting
Naharnet/November 26/15/The emergence of reports that Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh may be a presidential candidate has created a stir among his alliances in the March 8 camp, most notably the Change and Reform bloc, whose leader MP Michel Aoun is a candidate himself. Efforts are therefore ongoing to possibly hold a meeting between the two Christian leaders, reported As Safir newspaper on Wednesday. Franjieh may visit Aoun at his Rabieh residence to inform him of the details of his meeting with Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri. The meeting, which was held last week, created a media and political frenzy that the lawmaker may be a new presidential candidate. Sources close to the Marada Movement told the daily that contacts are ongoing to take advantage of the positives that were achieved in the wake of the meeting. “Hariri's consultations with a number of his allies reflect his seriousness in dealing with the new opportunity to break the internal deadlock in Lebanon,” they said. Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances over a consensual candidate have thwarted the polls.

US-Russian discord over Syria stoked by Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 25, 2015
On Wednesday, Nov. 25, US President Barack Obama, in a conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said Turkey has the right to defend its territory just like any other country. He also said that the Russian Su-24 plane crossed the border and stayed in Turkey for 17 seconds. In other words, it was 1.6 km inside Turkish territory. However, when it was hit by an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile fired by the Turkish F-16, it was either right on the border or already inside Syrian territory. The pilots apparently landed on the Syrian side of the border and Moscow announced Wednesday that both were "in safe hands."No matter how the incident is interpreted, it has generated five points that could lead to an aerial or naval clash between US and Russian forces in the Syrian theater.
1. It was the first time in 65 years, since 1950, that an American-made warplane from a NATO member state shot down a Russian warplane with an American-made air-to-air missile. This ramifications of this incident were no doubt seriously pondered at the NATO session called after the event.
2. Obama did not only come out in support of the Turkish version of the incident, but asserted that Putin did not speak the truth when he said that the plane was 1 km inside Syrian territory when it was shot down. The Russian president has not yet answered the charge, but there is no doubt that he will.
3. The military clash between Russia and Turkey has now become part of the personal contest between Obama and Putin over the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama says that as long as Assad remains in power, not only will there be no agreement on how to end the war in Syria, but it will be impossible to defeat ISIS.
Putin says, the exact opposite: that it is impossible to end the war, or to defeat ISIS, without Assad as president. After those goals are achieved, he says, Assad’s future may be discussed.
4. On Tuesday night, Nov. 24, Putin made his next move in the ramped-up chess match between the US and Russia in Syria.
The Russian general staff announced that the missile cruiser Moskva, one of the largest warships in the world, was ordered to move closer to the Syrian coast opposite the port of Latakia, near the Turkish border, and to “destroy any target posing danger.”
debkafile’s military sources say the Moskva serves as a floating missile base with a complement of advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles.
This was a message for Ankara that any Turkish warplane nearing Syria, or flying in the Hatay province of southern Turkey - where the Su-24 incident occurred - was exposed to being shot down by Russian missiles. The Russian general command also announced that Russian warplanes would henceforth escort all Russian flights operating in Syrian airspace, including bombers.
5. Although he backed Erdogan verbally, Obama has not resorted to any military steps against Russia. But he does have a card up his sleeve. The USS Harry S. Truman carrier with strike force is on its way to the Mediterranean, having sailed from the US on Nov.16.
The Truman will join the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, whose planes started bombing ISIS targets in Iraq on Nov. 23. If Obama orders the Truman to enter the Syrian theater, there will be two warships from NATO member states facing Russian naval forces off the Syrian coast, led by the missile carrier Moskva.

Turkey Seeks to Ease Tensions after Downing of Russian Warplane
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to play down tensions with Russia Wednesday after Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on the Syria border sparked fears among NATO allies of a wider conflict. Moscow said Russian and Syrian special forces had rescued one of the pilots who ejected from the plane after being shot down early Tuesday but confirmed another was dead, in an incident that threatens to damage relations between two rival players in the Syrian conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted furiously to what he described as a "stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists", recommending that Russians do not visit Turkey, a key tourist destination. Turkey said the Russian Su-24 warplane had violated its airspace 10 times within a five-minute period, but Russia insisted it had never strayed from Syrian territory. The shooting also risks derailing efforts to bring peace to Syria that were gaining tentative momentum following the November 13 Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State militants who control swathes of northern Syria. Erdogan vowed to always defend Turkish borders but appeared to want to avoid provoking further one of the biggest crises between Russia and a NATO member in recent years. "We have no intention to escalate this incident. We are just defending our security and the rights of our brothers," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul. U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington's NATO ally Turkey had a right to defend its airspace but said his priority was to make sure the standoff did not escalate. "Hopefully, this is a moment in which all parties can step back and make a determination as to how their interests are best served," Obama said. Erdogan and Obama agreed on the need to reduce tensions and prevent a repeat of similar incidents in a phone call late Tuesday, the Turkish presidency said.
Following an extraordinary meeting of the alliance called by Ankara, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said "diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation," he said. The Turkish ambassador to the United Nations Halit Cevik said in a letter to the Security Council that two planes were involved, one of which was shot down while the other left Turkish airspace. He said both planes had flown 1.36 miles (2.19 kilometers) into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds from 0724 GMT Tuesday. Ankara and Moscow are already on starkly opposing sides in the over four-year Syrian civil war, with Turkey wanting to see the ousting of President Bashar Assad but Russia one of his last remaining allies. Assad's other key ally Iran also slammed Ankara's behavior. Turkey's behavior "sends the wrong message to the terrorists" in Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
In apparent response to Turkey's move, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would be sending its most hi-tech S-400 air defense system to its airbase in Syria. Russia's Moskva guided missile cruiser will now be stationed near the Syrian Mediterranean port of Latakia, the defense ministry said. As well as canceling a visit to Turkey planned for Wednesday, Lavrov warned Russians against travel to the country, which would be a huge blow for the Turkish tourism industry. Putin Wednesday backed the recommendation as a "necessary measure". Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused Turkey of "practically protecting Islamic State (IS) militants", even accusing Turkish officials of benefiting from trade with the jihadists.
There had been fears of such a mid-air incident since Russia launched air strikes in Syria in September, to the consternation of nations already involved in a U.S.-led anti-IS coalition. Turkey had bitterly condemned Russia's campaign, saying it was aimed at hitting Syrian rebels and buttressing the Assad regime rather than hurting IS jihadists. Two Russian pilots were seen on images parachuting to the ground after the shooting down but their fate risked creating further tensions. Russian military spokesman General Sergei Rudskoi said one had been killed by fire from the ground while Shoigu said the other had been freed by Russian and Syrian special forces and is now at a Russian airbase. Rudskoi said another soldier had been killed in a failed bid to rescue the pair after one of his squadron's helicopters was damaged by gunfire and had to land. The other members of the squad were successfully evacuated. Turkey's pro-government press applauded the shooting down, with Ilnur Cevik in Daily Sabah saying the Russian incursion was "the last drop for Turkey to break its silence towards Russia's violence in the region". However columnist Mehmet Yilmaz in the mainstream Hurriyet daily accused Erdogan of plunging Turkey into a "quagmire", warning of "grave political and economic consequences for Turkey". The repercussions of the incident also affected global markets with oil prices turning higher and stocks down, with shares in airlines and travel firms particularly hit.

Rescued Russian Pilot Says No Warning before Jet Downed as Moscow Slams 'Provocation'

Naharnet/November 26/15/Russia on Wednesday accused Turkey of a "planned provocation" over the downing of a warplane on the Syrian border as a rescued pilot claimed that no warning had been given. As the diplomatic fallout from Tuesday's incident raged on, Ankara sought to play down tensions and its allies in NATO issued urgent appeals for restraint. Moscow said Russian and Syrian special forces had rescued one of the two pilots who ejected from the bomber as it plunged to the earth in a fireball but confirmed the second airman and a soldier sent to rescue him died.
In his first interview, rescued pilot Konstantin Murakhtin told Russian state media there had been no warning before his plane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets. "There was no warning, not by radio exchange nor visually. There was no contact at all," Murakhtin said at Moscow's base in Syria, with his back to the cameras. Turkey insists it gave 10 warnings in the space of five minutes, an account backed up by its NATO ally the United States which spearheads a coalition against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.The downing has threatened ties between two major rival players in the Syrian war and raised fears it could escalate into a wider geopolitical conflict. "We have serious doubts about this being an unpremeditated act, it really looks like a planned provocation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after speaking to Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone in the first contact between the two over the incident. "We do not plan to go to war with Turkey, our attitude toward the Turkish people has not changed," he added, but warned Moscow would "seriously reevaluate" relations with Ankara. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday branded the incident a "stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists", and told Russians not to to visit Turkey, a key tourist destination.
'Friend and neighbor'
Turkey, however, has sought to turn down the heat, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisting Ankara was simply defending its border. "We have no intention to escalate this incident. We are just defending our security and the rights of our brothers," Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called Russia "our friend and our neighbour" and said Ankara did not want to further strain ties. Turkey says the Su-24 bomber violated its airspace 10 times within a five-minute period, despite warnings each time.Turkey's ambassador to the U.N. Halit Cevik said in a letter to the Security Council that two planes were involved. He said both had flown 1.36 miles (2.19 kilometers) into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds in a final violation at 0724 GMT and that one was shot down while the other left Turkish airspace. According to an audio recording released by the Turkish army, the Turks said: "This is Turkish Air Force speaking on guard. You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately." But Russia insists the plane never strayed from Syrian territory. The shooting also risks derailing efforts to bring peace to Syria that were gaining tentative momentum following the November 13 Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State extremists who control swathes of northern Syria.French President Francois Hollande flies to Moscow on Thursday to meet Putin, with both struggling to make good on demands for a broader coalition to fight IS. Lavrov backed a call by Hollande to close the Turkey-Syria border to stem the flow of jihadist fighters.
Moscow sends missile system
Ankara and Moscow are already on starkly opposing sides in the four-year Syrian civil war, with Turkey wanting to see the ouster of President Bashar Assad while Russia is one of his last remaining allies. Assad's other key ally Iran also slammed Ankara. Turkey's behavior "sends the wrong message to the terrorists" in Syria, its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Lavrov. In an apparent response to Turkey's action, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would send its most hi-tech S-400 air defense system to its airbase in Syria. The Moskva guided missile cruiser will be stationed near the Syrian Mediterranean port of Latakia, the defense ministry said. There has been fears of such a mid-air incident since Russia launched air strikes in Syria in September, to the consternation of nations already involved in the U.S.-led coalition. Turkey had protested that Russia's campaign was aimed at hitting Syrian rebels and buttressing the Assad regime rather than hurting IS jihadists.
No warning
Putin said Murakhtin would be given a medal, along with those involved in the rescue operation and the second pilot who was shot dead by rebels after parachuting out. Russia said another soldier had been killed in a first failed bid to rescue the pair. In Moscow several hundred activists hurled stones and eggs at Turkey's embassy and brandished anti-Turkish placards in a brief protest over the jet downing. Europe's main stock markets rebounded from losses Tuesday over the downing, but the spiking geopolitical tensions continued to dominate investor sentiment.

Heavy Russia Raids in Syria Area where Plane Downed, Says Monitor
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria's northern Latakia province on Wednesday, a day after Turkey downed one of Moscow's jets in the area, a monitoring group said. Warplanes believed to be Russian also carried out strikes near the Turkish border in northern Aleppo province, killing at least three people and setting alight several trucks carrying aid and goods for sale, the monitor and activists said. "Russian warplanes have since last night been carrying out heavy air strikes on the Jabal Akrad and Jabal Turkman regions" in the north of Latakia province, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. He said Russian planes had carried out at least 12 strikes in the area since the morning, but had no information on any casualties. A media activist on the ground confirmed the heavy strikes, which he said centered around the Jabal Nuba area where rebels on Tuesday destroyed a Russian helicopter that was forced to make an emergency landing by opposition fire. One member of the crew was killed but the rest were rescued. State television reported that Syrian warplanes were also carrying out strikes in the north of Latakia, a coastal province that is largely controlled by the regime. In recent days, regime forces have been waging fierce battles against rebels in the northern part of the province, making some advances in Jabal Akrad and Jabal Turkman. On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over the province, and rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted down after ejecting from the plane. A second pilot was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces. Russia launched strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad on September 30, over a year after a U.S.-led coalition began strikes in the country against the Islamic State group.
In northern Aleppo province meanwhile, apparent Russian air strikes hit the town of Azaz and the border area around the Bab al-Salama crossing, the Observatory said. The monitor and local Syrian activist Maamun al-Khatieb reported three people killed in the strikes, which also set fire to several trucks parked in a lot not far from the crossing. "Three people have been killed and six injured, most of them are truck drivers," Khatieb told AFP. He said the trucks were carrying aid and goods for sale, and were parked in a lot where vehicles gather after crossing the border, around three kilometers (1.8 miles) away. The Observatory and Khatieb said the region had not been subject to air strikes by either Russian or Syrian war planes in some time. IS is not present in the area.

U.S. Has 'Concerns' over Russian Missile System in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/Russia's announcement it is deploying its most hi-tech air defense system to its base in Syria is raising "significant concerns" for the U.S. military, a U.S. official said Wednesday. Russia says it is sending S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Latakia in northwestern Syria, in a move that comes after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in the increasingly crowded air space along the border on Tuesday. The S-400 missiles have a range of about 400 kilometers (250 miles), posing a potential threat to U.S.-led coalition planes, and adding yet another dangerous element to an already volatile mix of competing military interests in Syria. "It's a capable weapons system that poses a significant threat to anyone," a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP. "There are significant concerns related to air operations in Syria." The United States has for more than a year been leading a coalition that has flown more than 8,000 bombing runs against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq. Russia, too, is dropping bombs in Syria but these are mainly in different parts of the country from where U.S. and coalition planes are flying. Russia and the U.S.-led coalition have agreed on a set of guidelines aimed at ensuring pilots stay out of each other's way, but the prospect of batteries of Russian anti-aircraft missiles arriving in Syria is nonetheless raising eyebrows in the Pentagon. Another U.S. official, also speaking anonymously, said the S-400s "shouldn't" affect coalition flights. "We are not going to interfere with (the Russians') operations and they are not going to interfere with ours. There's no reason for us to be targeting each other," the official said. He also noted that Russia in the past week has delivered more than 30 T-90 and T-72 tanks to Latakia. It was not clear if these were for use by the Russian military or will be provided to forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft along the Syrian border, and rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted down after ejecting from the plane. A second pilot was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces. A Russian rescue helicopter was also destroyed by rebels, who apparently used a U.S.-made TOW missile. The prospect that Syrian rebels used U.S. weaponry to kill a Russian further raises concerns that the Syria conflict could devolve into a proxy war.

Tunisia Closes Border with Libya as IS Claims Deadly Bus Bombing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/Tunisia said Wednesday it is closing its border with Libya, a hotbed of Islamist unrest, a day after a deadly suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. No reason was given, but the interior ministry said earlier the explosive used in the attack that killed 12 presidential guards was the same used to make explosive belts illegally brought from Libya and seized last year. The National Security Council, headed by President Beji Caid Essebsi, decided to close the frontier from midnight with "reinforced surveillance of maritime borders and in airports," a statement said. It also decided to "step up operations to block (Internet) sites linked to terrorism." And authorities would "take urgent measures regarding people returning from hotbeds of conflict, in line with the antiterrorist law," the statement added, without elaborating. Earlier, the transport ministry said security would be reinforced at ports and only passengers would be allowed to enter Tunis's international airport. Thousands of Tunisians have traveled to Libya, as well as to Iraq and Syria, to fight alongside Islamic extremists, the authorities say. The council also announced the government would recruit more interior ministry agents and soldiers next year. IS said a Tunisian, Abou Abdallah al-Tounissi, had boarded a bus wearing an explosives belt only a few hundred meters (yards) from the interior ministry as it picked up guards on their way to work Tuesday. In addition to the 12 killed, another 20 people were wounded, the health ministry said.  IS said 20 people had died. After the blast Essebsi ordered a 9:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew for Tunis and a nationwide state of emergency, less than two months after a previous one had been lifted. That was imposed in June after an IS gunman massacred 38 foreign tourists at the Mediterranean resort of Sousse. In March, two IS jihadists stormed the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 21 tourists and a policeman.And just days ago, a jihadist group claimed the beheading of a young Tunisian shepherd on behalf of IS, accusing him of having informed the army about their movements.
Not properly protected
Some presidential guards expressed concern that not enough was being done to protect them from attacks, noting that the bombing took place where they are routinely picked up to go to work. "As usual, we got on the bus," one wounded guard said on national radio. "Just as the driver started to head off, the explosion occurred." "For years this place has been our gathering point but they didn't think to change it, although we are the first to be targeted," another one said. The site of the explosion was cordoned off, with forensic experts at work around the burnt-out shell of the bus. Behind the barricades set up, dozens of ordinary citizens demonstrated in support of Tunisia's security forces, some carrying the national flag.
Tunisia will not bend
A year ago, a bus carrying troops was attacked by two armed men in northwest Tunisia, according to the defense ministry. Five soldiers were killed.In July 2014, 15 soldiers were killed in the Mount Chaambi region near the Algerian border, in the worst such attack in the army's history. The United States condemned the latest attack and offered to help Tunisia with its investigation. "Terrorists have sought to use fear and violence to undermine the important gains the Tunisian people have made in pursuit of a democratic, stable, and prosperous country," a White House statement said. Tunisia's press called for national unity and resistance. "United against barbarism," declared Le Quotidien. "Tunisia will not bend," said Le Temps, while Al-Maghreb called for "a new philosophy and special measures" to fight terrorism. The killing of 16-year-old shepherd Mabrouk Soltani on November 13 sparked anger in Tunisia. His killers had ordered a 14-year-old who was working with him to bring the victim's head wrapped in plastic to his family. The authorities regularly announce the arrests of suspected jihadists. Seven women were recently detained for engaging in pro-IS propaganda, while 20 people were arrested on suspicion of planning attacks on hotels and security facilities. Meanwhile, thousands of Tunisians are fighting in neighboring Libya, as well as in Iraq and Syria on the side of jihadists.

Less Than Third of Voters Turn Out in Egypt Election
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/Less than one third of voters cast ballots in the second phase of Egyptian parliamentary elections held across almost half of the country's provinces at the weekend, authorities said Wednesday. The 29.9 percent turnout was only marginally higher than the 26.6 percent registered in the first stage of voting last month, which was followed by a run-off that saw 21.7 percent vote. Experts say the result of the election is a foregone conclusion, with the 596-member parliament expected to rubber-stamp President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's iron-fisted policies in the absence of any opposition. The turnout in the second stage of voting held across 13 of the country's 27 provinces was 29.83 percent, said electoral commission chief Ayman Abbas. Ninety-nine out of 102 constituencies will now hold a run-off vote on December 1-2, he told reporters, adding that of the 222 individual seats that were contested only nine saw candidates winning with a clear majority. In the latest vote, 60 seats from the lists saw clear winners, while in the first stage, another 60 were swept by a pro-Sisi coalition For Love of Egypt. Of the 596 lawmakers, 448 will be elected as independents, 120 from lists and the rest 28 will be direct presidential appointees. The election is the first since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The previous one was held between November 2011 and January 2012, months after a popular uprising toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.The first round of voting in that election had seen a high turnout of 62 percent. The legislature formed after the 2011 election which followed Mubarak's fall was dissolved in June 2012, just days before the election as president of Sisi's predecessor, Islamist Morsi. Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected civilian leader, was ousted by then army chief Sisi after mass street protests. An ensuing crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood left hundreds dead and tens of thousands imprisoned. While the Brotherhood has been brutally crushed and banned from contesting candidates, many secular and leftist groups are also either boycotting the vote or are badly represented. In addition to the For Love of Egypt coalition, another key group is The Egyptian Front, led by Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last premier. The openly pro-Sisi Salafist al-Nour party, which backed Morsi's ouster, is the only Islamist party standing. Leftist parties lack popular support and have little chance.

U.S. Sanctions Assad Supporters, Including Man who 'Buys Oil from IS'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/The United States imposed sanctions Wednesday on supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, including a middleman it alleged buys oil for the regime from the Islamic State group. "The Syrian government is responsible for widespread brutality and violence against its own people," said Adam Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement announcing the sanctions action. "The United States will continue targeting the finances of all those enabling Assad to continue inflicting violence on the Syrian people." The Treasury Department named four individuals and six entities for sanctions for their support of the Assad regime, "including a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian regime from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)," another name for the Islamic State group. The department highlighted "ongoing government of Syria ties to ISIL." Sanctions were imposed on George Haswani, a Syrian national, and his company, HESCO Engineering and Construction Company. "Haswani is a Syrian businessman who serves as a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian regime from ISIL. HESCO is a Syrian engineering and construction company that operates energy production facilities in Syria, reportedly in areas controlled by ISIL," the Treasury Department said. Other sanctions targets included Russian Financial Alliance Bank, Primax Business Consultants Limited, and Belize-based Kremsont Commercial Inc. The sanctions forbid U.S. individuals or entities from doing any business with those on the blacklist, restricting their access to international financial networks crucial to doing business.

Iraq Political Dispute Leads to Gunfire at TV Station
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/An argument between an Iraqi lawmaker and a political bloc spokesman escalated from angry words to gunfire at a television station in Baghdad, the men involved said on Wednesday. The fracas between MP Kadhim al-Sayadi of the State of Law bloc and Citizen's Bloc spokesman Baligh Abu Gallal -- both members of Shiite parties -- broke out at the Dijla TV station on Tuesday night. "Sayadi began to attack us verbally and then called his guards and began helping them try to take us outside the channel," Abu Gallal said in a statement received by AFP. When that failed, "they began firing their personal pistols directly (at me)," he said. Sayadi accused Abu Gallal of lying and denied direct involvement in the shooting, asserting that one of his guards opened fire, and that he was not carrying a weapon himself. Sayadi said that "the dispute between us at the channel began when I requested that he stop targeting me in the media," to which Abu Gallal said that he "does not respond on this low level." "The dispute escalated, and one of my guards opened fire" in the air, he said. Sayadi was beaten in parliament by other lawmakers earlier this year after vocally objecting to voting procedures. Iraq's 328-member parliament is riven by divisions within its Shiite majority as well as between it and Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers, and has struggled to pass much in the way of significant legislation.

Kerry Fears Israeli-Palestinian Conflict May 'Spin out of Control'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Wednesday that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is at a "pivotal point" and could worsen beyond repair unless both sides make rapid compromises. "As you know, we're very concerned about the violence and the potential for the situation to spin out of control," Kerry told reporters as he arrived home in Boston after visiting leaders from both sides in Jerusalem. "Over these past months we have been encouraging the parties to take affirmative steps to reduce tensions and demonstrate a genuine commitment to a two state solution. "I think we may be reaching a pivotal point now where both sides have important decisions to make for the future and we obviously hope that they make choices that will advance the prospects for lasting peace."Kerry met with both Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday in Jerusalem and Ramallah to urge both to take steps to calm tensions after a spate of unrest. But he left without a concrete breakthrough and said he would continue to press both leaders on the issue in coming weeks.

Palestinian Stabs Israeli in West Bank, is Shot
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/A Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in the neck in the southern West Bank on Wednesday and was shot dead by forces at the scene, the army and a hospital said. A Palestinian teenager also succumbed to his wounds two weeks after being shot during clashes with Israeli forces. The West Bank stabbing was the latest incident in nearly two months of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians and came a day after a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed to produce any breakthrough. "A Palestinian assailant stabbed and wounded an Israeli at the Al Fawwar junction," the military said in a statement. It later identified the victim as a soldier. "In response to the immediate danger forces on site fired at the attacker." A spokeswoman for Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem said the stabber, who was taken there in critical condition, was pronounced dead after resuscitation efforts failed. Palestinians identified him as Mohammad Shubaki, 19, from Al Fawwar refugee camp. A doctor said he had suffered bullet wounds in his chest and stomach. The victim of the stabbing was in "stable" condition, a surgeon with Shaare Zedek's trauma unit told reporters.
Separately, a Palestinian shot by Israeli security forces two weeks earlier died of his wounds, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement. Ibrahim Abdul Haleem Dawood, 16, was shot in the heart during clashes with Israeli forces in Ramallah, the statement added, adding that several operations to try to save him had failed.
On Tuesday, Kerry had hoped to mediate gestures that would ease tensions in separate talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mamoud Abbas. There were however scant signs of major progress, and Netanyahu told him that civilian Palestinian projects would be allowed to advance only when Israel experienced a "return of the quiet," an Israeli official said. The premier also conditioned Palestinian construction in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank on international recognition of Israel's right to build in existing settlement blocs. The United States rejected the notion of settlement recognition with "a big no," a State Department spokesman said. Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are seen as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts since they are built on land Palestinians see as part of their future state. "Every U.S. administration since 1967, Democrat and Republican alike, has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines, and this administration's been no different and will be no different," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said. Kerry at the same time expressed strong support for Israel and condemned Palestinian attacks when he met Netanyahu. In brief remarks after meeting Abbas in Ramallah, Kerry also expressed sympathy for the Palestinians' "very dire" situation and concerns "about the violence," while stressing U.S. commitment to a Palestinian state. Violence since October 1 has left 94 Palestinians dead, including one Arab Israeli, as well as 17 Israelis -- including two Israeli-Americans -- one American and an Eritrean. Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, while others were shot during demonstrations and clashes with Israeli security forces.

Iran General Soleimani Lightly Wounded in Syria

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, was lightly injured in fighting against Syria rebels near Aleppo, a monitoring group and a security source said Wednesday. Soleimani "was injured a few days ago" in an offensive in the southwest of Aleppo province, a security source on the ground told AFP. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, also said the general had been hurt. He was "lightly injured three days ago in the Al-Eis area in the south of Aleppo province," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. For several days, reports have been circulating on social media claiming the powerful commander had been wounded or even killed in Syria, where Iran backs President Bashar Assad against an uprising that began in March 2011.
In response, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards, Rameza Sharif, said Tuesday that Soleimani was "in perfect health and full of energy.""He helps the Islamic resistance in Syria and Iraq," Sharif added, according to SepahNews, the official site of the Revolutionary Guards. Abdel Rahman said the commander was wounded while "leading military operations on the outskirts of Al-Eis, which is under the control of pro-regime forces." "Many Iranian fighters are present in the area," he added. Abdel Rahman said rebel groups launched a counteroffensive on Sunday in a bid to push regime forces from several areas in south Aleppo that they captured with support from Iranian and Lebanese Hizbullah ground forces and Russia air strikes. Russia, another key Assad ally, began air strikes in support of the government on September 30.Last month, a U.S. official said some 2,000 Iranian or Iranian-backed forces were participating in the regime's Aleppo operations. Iran has not officially acknowledged sending troops to Syria, but says it has "advisers" on the ground assisting regime forces. Iran-backed Hizbullah also acknowledges its forces are fighting on the ground, and the presence of Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan "volunteers" has been documented.

IS Sinai Hotel Attack Toll Rises to 7
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/The death toll from a gun and bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has risen to seven, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Two of the dead in Tuesday's attack on the Swiss Inn hotel in the North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish were judges who had been overseeing voting in parliamentary elections earlier this week, ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said. Four of the dead were policemen. The seventh victim was a civilian. A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle at the security barrier outside the hotel, allowing at least one other attacker to enter and go from room to room shooting before blowing himself up. Jihadists in the Sinai who have pledged allegiance to IS have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers. They also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger plane after it left the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, killing all 224 people on board. Unlike the north of the peninsula, which has become a jihadist stronghold and is off-limits to tourists, south Sinai is dotted with heavily secured Red Sea resorts. Egypt held a second phase of parliamentary elections on Sunday and Monday, its first legislative vote since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Morsi's ouster unleashed a deadly police crackdown on his followers, and fueled the insurgency in the Sinai.

Canada Says Reviewing Military Role in Anti-IS Fight
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/15/Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada was reviewing its role in the fight against Islamic State jihadists, during a visit to London Wednesday in which he also bantered with Queen Elizabeth II. Trudeau has committed to withdrawing Ottawa's six warplanes out of Iraq and Syria following his appointment as Canada's first Liberal prime minister in almost a decade earlier this month. "The form that our military engagement, which will continue, will take is currently being worked out in close collaboration with our allies," Trudeau told reporters on his first visit to London as prime minister. "What's most important for Canada... is that we continue to be a strong player within the coalition against ISIL... also in terms of military engagement," Trudeau said, using another term for IS. "I have said from the beginning that we will have a shifted approach from the current bombing mission."Trudeau earlier went to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth, who is also Canada's monarch. It was a reunion for the two as they met several times when Trudeau was a child and his father Pierre Trudeau was prime minister. "You were much taller than me the last time we met," he quipped.
The queen laughed and said: "Yes, it's extraordinary to think of, isn't it?"Trudeau's new government removed the queen's portrait from its foreign affairs department lobby after the election, hanging two paintings by a Quebec artist in its place. The ministry said the change, a move away from the monarchist symbolism of the previous Tory government, was intended to "showcase Canada." Trudeau's father is remembered for being captured doing a pirouette behind the queen by a photographer against palace protocols -- thought to be a spontaneous act by a maverick leader at the time but later revealed to be rehearsed. The visit to Britain is a stopover on Trudeau's trip to a Commonwealth summit in Malta, before he travels to Paris for the COP21 climate talks aimed at forging a global agreement on climate change. Trudeau said Malta presented a good opportunity to broker an agreement ahead of the Paris meeting on Monday. "The timing of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting is very propitious for us to talk exactly about how important it is to address urgent issues around climate change... to make sure that it is a global effort," he said.

After Turkey's 'stab in the back' to Russia, will anyone support Ankara?
Semih Idiz/Al-Monitor/November 25/15/Turkish-Russian relations, already tense due to Moscow’s military engagement in Syria to aid the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, took a dangerous turn Nov. 24 when a Russian SU-24 fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish military. Ankara said the plane had violated Turkey’s airspace, a claim that Russia is rejecting. The incident follows angry statements in recent days from Ankara aimed at Russia for hitting targets north of Latakia, in regions surrounding Turkmen Mountain, where Turkmen fighters armed and supported by Turkey are fighting the Syrian army, supported by Russian fighter jets. A fuming Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ankara after the downing of the jet that there would be “significant consequences,” signaling that the tone of Turkish-Russian ties will be changing radically. "The loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way. Our aircraft was downed over the territory of Syria using an air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16. It fell on Syrian territory 4 kilometers [2.5 miles] from Turkey,” Putin told reporters in Sochi while waiting for King Abdullah II of Jordan. “Neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious. They are fighting terrorists in the northern areas around Latakia,” he added. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reacted angrily to Russia on Nov. 22 for hitting Turkmen targets in the region mentioned by Putin, saying that Turkey would respond without hesitation if Turkish airspace was violated during these joint operations by the Syrian army and the Russian air force.
“A massacre of Syrian civilians, and particularly Turkmens, must not take place in this region under the guise of fighting Daesh,” Davutoglu said, using an alternate reference for the Islamic State and underlining that there was no IS presence in regions being bombed by Russia. “We are prepared to take all the necessary diplomatic and other measures in order to protect our brothers there, and wherever they may be, against any threat, and to preserve their human rights,” he said, adding that Turkey would take the matter to the UN Security Council. The two pilots from the downed Su-24 were reported by witnesses on the Turkish side of the Syrian border as having ejected before their jet crashed. Turkish media said after the incident that at least one of the pilots was in the hands of Turkmen fighters. Some reports, including photographic evidence, claimed the second pilot had been killed in the incident. The fate of the two pilots is expected to add to tensions between Ankara and Moscow. The incident comes a day before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was due to visit Turkey for talks on Syria but reportedly canceled the visit. The Turkish General Staff’s office said in its statement on the incident that “a fighter jet of unspecified origin” had been downed by two Turkish F-16 fighter jets around 9:20 a.m. Nov. 24 in the Yayladag region of Hatay province, after having been “warned 10 times within the space of five minutes” that it was violating Turkish airspace. It added that the Turkish air force had responded according to rules of engagement specified for such violations, and provided radar analysis maps which it said showed the violations clearly. In its statement on the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the downed jet belonged to Russia and denied that it had violated Turkish airspace. “The plane was located at an altitude of 6,000 meters (approximately 19,600 feet). The fate of the pilots is being determined. According to the preliminary data, the pilots were able to eject. The circumstances of the plane's crash are under investigation. The Russian Ministry of Defense notes that during the flight the plane stayed strictly within Syrian airspace and the flight was logged," the statement read.
This development has merely added to the complications Ankara faces with regard to the Syrian crisis. Some are suggesting that Turkey may end up gaining little from this incident with regard to its plans for Syria, instead increasing Moscow’s resolve to fight anti-Assad groups supported by Ankara.
Turkey is also taking the matter to NATO and the UN Security Council, where Russia has a veto. A Western diplomat talking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity due to his sensitive position said NATO would show solidarity with Turkey, but would work to de-escalate the crisis, not wanting to get embroiled in a military entanglement with Russia at a sensitive moment in the fight against IS in Syria and Iraq. Ankara insists that there is no IS presence north of Latakia, where Turkmens are located, and says Russia is hitting legitimate groups fighting the Syrian regime. The pro-government Russian media, for its part, has reported that the Turkmens in the region are allied to radical Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been designated as a terrorist group by Washington and Moscow, and even by Ankara, albeit unwillingly, according to Western diplomats.
Earlier in the day Murat Yetkin, the editor-in-chief of the English-language Hurriyet Daily News and an expert on foreign policy issues, told the CNN Turk channel that the planned visit by Lavrov to Turkey for talk with Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu had gained added importance now. “If this visit does not take place, it will show the seriousness of the matter. If he comes, we will understand that he wants to contain and control the crisis,” Yetkin said, speaking before news came that Lavrov had canceled his visit.  Pointing out that Ankara and Moscow are both engaged in the Vienna talks on Syria, Yetkin added that he did not think this incident would lead to a “Turkish-Russian war.” Yetkin also argued that the downing of the Russian jet was a blow to the Syrian regime. Retired Brig. Gen. Naim Baburoglu, who works as a military analyst for the 21st Century Turkey Institute,” said there is no question that the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace. He told Al-Monitor that this fact is verifiable, not just by Turkey, which has already provided radar maps tracking the flight path of the Su-24.
“This is ultimately NATO’s eastern border, and is also being monitored by alliance facilities in the region. The Turkish armed forces would not make such a claim without proof,” Baburoglu said. He added that Russia, through its liaison officer at the Turkish general headquarters, and its military attache in Ankara, were made aware of Turkey’s rules of engagement in the region in the event of a violation some time ago. Baburoglu believes, however, that this incident will increase Putin’s determination to stand behind the Syrian regime, and could also lead Moscow to increasingly support anti-IS Syrian Kurdish groups considered terrorist organizations by Ankara. “Putin is not known to climb down,” Baburoglu said, adding, “Turkish-Russian relations will not be the same after this.” Maintaining that the Turkmens in the regions of northern Syria, which Russia has been bombing recently, are allied to al-Qaeda-related groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, and other radical Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, Baburoglu said Moscow would underscore this fact at the UN Security Council.“Russia will also hit these groups much harder now. This means it will bomb the Turkmens with even more intensity,” he said.
“In addition to this, it has the economic advantage over Turkey in terms of energy supplies and could use this as a weapon against Ankara even if it means a financial loss to itself,” Baburoglu added. Once Turkey’s national “feel good” moment of having shown its resolve and military capability by the downing of the Russian jet fighter is over, attention will shift to the diplomatic field to see what political fallout there is in the aftermath of this incident. The position taken by Turkey’s NATO allies will also be significant. NATO went through the motions of calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, as it has to by its charter, but few expect it to opt for an escalation of the crisis. Given that there is little sympathy in the West for radical Islamic groups following the Paris attack, and that France is acting with Russia to bomb IS targets in Raqqa, it is likely that Moscow will have the upper hand at the Security Council.
This means that Turkey is unlikely to gain much sympathy from its allies for the Turkmens, or other radical Sunni groups in the region fighting the Syrian regime. Turkey ultimately remains at odds with its allies over the question of fighting the Assad regime, which US Secretary of State John Kerry has said is not part of their military mission in Syria, where they are to fight IS and to aid groups committed to fight this group.Without the active support of its allies, though, there is little that Turkey can do in the end to respond to Russia and the Assad regime in northern Syria in order to secure the Sunni-dominated political configuration in the region that it wishes to see.
**Semih Idiz is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. He is a journalist who has been covering diplomacy and foreign policy issues for major Turkish newspapers for 30 years. His opinion pieces can be followed in the English-language Hurriyet Daily News. His articles have also been published in The Financial Times, The Times of London, Mediterranean Quarterly and Foreign Policy magazine.[English]&utm_campaign=12246ce57c-November_25_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-12246ce57c-102494681

Khamenei uses Tehran gas summit to slam US
Arash Karami/Al-Monitor/November 25/15
The extraordinarily warm and friendly meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran Nov. 23 dominated the front pages of Iranian newspapers. However, Khamenei also met with a number of other world leaders who were in Iran for a summit of gas exporting countries. The meetings all shared a similar topic: the United States. In a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Nov. 24, Khamenei warned of Iraqi disintegration at the hands of the United States. “The environment should not be such that the Americans give themselves permission to openly speak about the breakup of Iraq,” Khamenei said. He described Iraq as a “large and rich country with a thousand years of history” and warned that if disintegration happens, the smaller states will be in constant conflict.Khamenei said that while Iraqi politicians may have calculated that relations with the United States is in the interest of the Iraqi people, “They must not give the US permission to imagine that Iraq is [America's] own property to say or do whatever they want.” Khamenei added that the Iraq of the past is different today and that the Iraqi youth “will not go under the domination of America.”
While Iran has long had concerns about US influence in Iraq, Khamenei also used meetings with the leaders of Bolivia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria to criticize the United States and its policies. In a meeting with Bolivian President Evo Morales on Nov. 24, Khamenei warned about US soft power upon the indigenous population in Latin America. He warned that if the United States is able to successfully import its culture to Bolivia and change the behaviors and attitudes of the youth, the United States will not need to resort to a military coup or hard power in order to dominate the country. This is a concern Khamenei has long had about US influence in Iran as well.
Khamenei said that strengthening the indigenous identity within the country and teaching it to the youth is the solution to confronting the American policy of seeking influence in other countries. During a Nov. 23 meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Khamenei said that the United States has a “predatory” policy in Latin America and that it views the region as its own backyard. He praised Venezuela’s “unparalleled actions” in turning the region into one that is independent of US influence. He described the US sanctions on Venezuela as having the intention to destroy the country’s resistance to the United States. He described the wars today in the world as “wars of will,” adding that Venezuela with “perseverance and strength of will and using the plentiful capacity of the country will be victorious.”In a meeting with Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari Nov. 23, Khamenei said it is wrong to have hope in the United States for help in combatting terrorist movements like Boko Haram. He said Iran has “precise information” that the United States and some regional countries are directly supporting the Islamic State (IS). Although officials in the Hassan Rouhani administration do not hold this view that the United States supports IS, a number of officials within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made this accusation in the past.
In a Nov. 24 meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Khamenei stressed that Islamic countries should work to expand ties. He said that after the Iranian revolution, those countries who were “followers of America” prevented better Iran-Algeria ties. But, he added, now seems like an appropriate time for unifying Islamic countries who share the same views.
**Arash Karami covers Iranian media for Al-Monitor.[English]&utm_campaign=12246ce57c-November_25_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-12246ce57c-102494681

Who Is Jailing and Torturing Palestinian Journalists?
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/November 25/15
The Palestinian Authority (PA) sees no need for international intervention to halt its own crackdown on freedom of speech. Nor does it consider the closure of a newspaper office and the detention of journalists as a "war crime."
The report reveals that Palestinian detainees have been undergoing severe torture while in PA detention. During the past few years, ten people have died in Palestinian prisons. As far as we can see, no one from the European community has taken the slightest notice.
The detention of Khalil is seen in the context of the PA's continued effort to silence and intimidate Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership and its institutions.
The PA clearly wants a media that reports only against Israel. The only incitement permitted is the one directed there.
Western human rights groups that regularly condemn Israel for its actions against Palestinians have, as usual, failed to respond to this latest assault by the PA on public freedoms. The PA's crackdown on the media is not going to attract the attention of the mainstream media in the West: the story lacks an anti-Israel angle. The Palestinian Authority (PA) recently and not surprisingly announced that it was planning to file a complaint with international organizations over Israeli "assaults" and "crimes" against Palestinian journalists.
The Palestinian Ministry of Information condemned the "assaults" as a "war crime" and said it would urge the International Federation of Journalists to send a commission of inquiry to the Palestinian territories to launch an investigation against Israel.
Ironically, the PA's announcement came only a few days after it ordered the closure of a newspaper office in Ramallah and the detention of a female journalist, Naela Khalil. The announcement also coincides with the PA's ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank, where Palestinians are being arrested for posting critical remarks on social media. The Palestinian Authority, of course, sees no need for international intervention to halt its own crackdown on freedom of speech. Nor, apparently, does it consider the closure of a newspaper office and the detention of journalists a "war crime" when it does it. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority ordered the closure of the Ramallah-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed online newspaper on the pretext that it was operating without a license from the Palestinian Ministry of Information. The decision to shut the newspaper came after Palestinian security officers had raided its offices several times and questioned employees about the nature of their work. The management of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, however, said that it had applied for a license in December 2014, but had never received an answer from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.
A senior official with the Ministry later admitted that the decision to shut down the newspaper was taken after the publication of an article that was considered "offensive to the State of Palestine and its security institutions." In other words, the decision had nothing to do with the newspaper not having obtained a license from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah. The Palestinian Ministry of Information sent a letter to the Palestinian prosecutor-general urging him to authorize the closure of the newspaper. The letter explained why the newspaper had to be shut. The letter read: "A London-based newspaper that has an office in Ramallah recently published a report that offends the State of Palestine and its security agencies. The report portrayed our security forces as if they have nothing to do but arrest people and conduct security coordination with the occupation state (Israel). This is incitement against the Palestinian Authority and its security institutions. We therefore hope you will issue an order to close this unlicensed office." According to Palestinian journalists, the report that enraged the PA and prompted it to take action against Al-Araby Al-Jadeed was actually written by an Egyptian journalist, Shaima Al-Hadidi.
The report criticizes the Palestinian Authority for clamping down on journalists and political opponents in the West Bank and refers to security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and Israel. "The Palestinian Authority does not hesitate to open the doors of its cells for [to hold] its opponents," the report charged. "The Palestinian Authority prisons in Ramallah are full of dozens of political detainees accused of resisting occupation."
The report reveals that Palestinian detainees have been undergoing severe torture while under Palestinian Authority detention. In just one month last August, there were at least 12 cases in which detainees complained that they had been tortured by Palestinian Authority interrogators. Some detainees were denied medical treatment, the report said, and pointed out that during the past few years, ten Palestinians have died in Palestinian prisons. As far as we can see, no one from the European community took the slightest notice. Such information is presumably considered, in journalistic terms, "dog bites man:" The Palestinian leadership is abusing its own people again? Who cares, glad it's not us. Some of the Palestinians who died in detention were identified as Majd Barghouti of Ramallah, Fadi Hamadneh of Nablus, Arafat Jaradat of Hebron, Ayman Samara of Jenin, Nawaf Kawazbeh of Bethlehem, Rabi Mahmoud al-Jamal of Hebron and Raed al-Hitleh of Tulkarem. In another case, Palestinian Authority security officers arrested the journalist Amer Abu Arafeh after raiding his home and confiscating documents, cameras and computers. Abu Arafeh later said that he was interrogated about Facebook entries he had posted, in which he had reportedly criticized the Palestinian Authority.
The report about Palestinian Authority human rights violations in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed angered the Palestinian Authority to a point where it felt that closing the newspaper's Ramallah office was not enough. Last week, the newspaper's correspondent, Naela Khalil, was detained for interrogation. After protests by her colleagues, the PA agreed to release her on bail. Journalists Amer Abu Arafeh (left) and Naela Khalil (right) were recently arrested by Palestinian security services for criticizing the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. The detention of Khalil is seen in the context of the Palestinian Authority's continued effort to silence and intimidate Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership and its institutions. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and a few human rights groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have since condemned the decision to detain Khalil and shut the offices of her newspaper.
However, most Western human rights groups that regularly condemn Israel for its actions against Palestinians have, as usual, so far failed to respond to this latest assault by the Palestinian Authority on public freedoms. It is a punishment for freedom of expression that apparently bothers no one apart from us.
The cases of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Naela Khalil, the female journalist detained in Ramallah, show that the Palestinian Authority leadership effectively does not tolerate any form of criticism. Palestinian officials have accused the newspaper and its journalist of "incitement" against the Palestinian Authority. But this is the same Palestinian Authority that has long been engaged in a massive campaign of incitement against Israel, especially during the past few weeks. The Palestinian Authority clearly wants a media that reports only against Israel. The only incitement permitted is the one directed there. Palestinian journalists who incite against Israel are safe; they do not face any form of harassment by the Palestinian Authority security forces. But once a journalist or a media outlet dares to publish anything that is considered "offensive" against the Palestinian Authority, they quickly find themselves behind bars in Ramallah.
It is forbidden to criticize President Mahmoud Abbas or any of his top officials. It is also forbidden to report about human rights violations and torture in Palestinian Authority prisons. During the past few years, several Palestinians have been arrested or summoned for interrogation for posting critical remarks about Abbas and other Palestinian officials on Facebook. But this is not a story that most Western journalists or supposed human rights groups are interested in covering. A story that reflects negatively on the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is not "news that is fit to print." The Palestinian Authority's crackdown on the media is not going to attract the attention of the mainstream media in the West because, as noted by the left-wing Associated Press reporter, Matti Friedman, the award-winning journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and a few others, such stories lack an anti-Israel angle. Had Al-Araby Al-Jadeed been shut by Israeli authorities, the story would probably have made it to the front pages of most newspapers in the U.S. and Europe.
As such, the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas have no reason to be worried about the response of the international community to their continued assaults on freedom of expression. They can continue to arrest as many journalists as they like and close newspaper offices without having to worry about a backlash from the media, so-called human rights groups or the international community.The Palestinian Authority is now demanding international protection for its journalists against Israeli "assaults." But the real question that the international human rights organizations need to ask the Palestinian Authority when its leaders come calling to complain about Israeli "violations" is: Who is going to protect Palestinian journalists from the Palestinian Authority and its security forces?
**Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East

Why Turkey’s move against Russia was inevitable

Manuel Almeida/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
There are various similarities between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin. The presidents of Turkey and Russia are strongmen with unlimited political ambitions, who will mark an era in their countries for better or worse. They are both ardent nationalist leaders who champion social conservatism. They often warn about foreign plots and are highly suspicious of Western meddling. Under the two leaders, the foreign policy of both Turkey and Russia has been aimed at restoring at least some of the lost imperial glory, with poor results in the case of Erdogan and mixed ones in Putin’s. This similar mind-set has developed into a good relationship between the two. Yet on Tuesday morning, Turkish-Russian ties may have been seriously damaged over the main foreign policy issue Erdogan and Putin have consistently disagreed on: Syria. On the Turkish-Syrian border, a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian SU-24 fighter jet. The jet fell on the Syrian side of the border and the Turkish and Russian governments continue to argue over different versions of the story. One part insists the jet violated Turkish airspace and was warned several times to change course because it was approaching Turkish airspace, while the other claims it was still over Syrian territory and there were no warnings.
The gravity of the incident contrasts with how predictable it was. But there is evidence the Russian pilots were warned to change course. A civilian pilot was in the area at the time of the incident, on a flight from Beirut to the Gulf, and provided Al-Arabiya News with a recording that proves several warning were issued by the Turkish pilot of the F-16. Other international media outlets have posted very similar recordings of the incident. As for the fate of the two Russian pilots, the same day news emerged (including a video) one of the pilots had been killed by a Syrian rebel group, allegedly of ethnic Turkmens. On Wednesday, it turned out the second pilot was alive and efforts were under way to secure his safe return.
Russian reaction
So far, the Russian reaction has been vigorous but has fallen short of direct military action. Expectedly, Putin was quite adamant about the incident, warning about “serious consequences” and saying “we received a stab in the back from accomplices of terrorism”. This was a clear accusation against the Turkish government about its role in supporting the growth of ISIS. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, cancelled a visit to Ankara due to happen on Wednesday to discuss the bilateral relation and find a bit of common ground on Syria, but said Russia does “not plan to go to war with Turkey.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev insisted on the links between the Turkish government and ISIS. He accused some Turkish officials of having a “direct financial interest” in the oil trade with the radical group and said Russia had information about these deals. Medvedev also mentioned Russia is considering the cancelation of various projects with Turkey and barring Turkish companies from the Russian market. Militarily, Russia has deployed a missile cruiser off the Syrian coast. Russia’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, also announced the deployment of the S-400 surface-to-air missiles in Syria’s Khmeimim air base in Latakia province, although that was probably already happening before the incident. However, possibly the most worrying measure of all is the announcement that the military communications with Turkey will be suspended. This could open the door for other similar incidents which could dangerously escalate.
The gravity of the incident contrasts with how predictable it was. Last week, the Turkish foreign ministry had already summoned the Russian ambassador to warn him there would be very serious consequences if the Russian air force did not stop the bombing of Turkmen villages in Bayir Bucak in Syria near the Turkish border. In October, tensions between Russia and Turkey over Russian fighter jets’ violations of Turkish airspace had already emerged, including an incident where the Turkish military shot down a Russian-made drone that had entered its airspace. In fact, these tensions between Moscow and Ankara date back to 2012. In June that year, a Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet was shot down by Syrian regime air defenses likely operated by Russian military. Above all, these tensions are the perfect example of foreign policy and national interests narrowly defined. Russia, Turkey and various other governments directly or indirectly involved in the conflict have so far failed to find some basic common cause to address one of the biggest catastrophes the region has witnessed in modern history. Turkey and various other governments directly or indirectly involved in the conflict have so far failed to find some basic common cause to address one of the biggest catastrophes the region has witnessed in modern history . At a time the diplomatic contacts and negotiations to find a political settlement for the Syrian conflict were gathering momentum, this incident may bring unnecessary tensions to a table where the Russian government has the key seat and the Turkish government an important one. Also the efforts to build closer coordination between the U.S., France and Russia in the aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria could be affected, partially due to Turkey’s NATO membership. The Russian ambassador to Paris, Alexander Orlov, hinted on Wednesday that Turkey could still be part of a hypothetical coalition with Russia, the U.S. and France (including a joint command centre) against ISIS, if the Turkish government so wishes. Nevertheless, as the U.S. government has been noting in recent weeks, without a strategic change on the current Russian focus on targeting primarily other Syrian opposition groups rather than ISIS, it will be almost impossible for such coalition to emerge. From the outset, Russia and Turkey have been at loggerheads over every single aspect of the Syrian crisis, including the future of Bashar al-Assad. Despite recent signs of a more flexible Turkish position on Assad’s future, Erdogan might return to his initial position after the Justice and Development Party’s electoral success earlier this month. However, despite the rift over Syria, both governments had managed to separate things and maintain constructive relations on various other fronts. In 2014, Turkey was Russia’s seventh largest trade partner (reaching almost $20 billion) and became the second largest buyer of Russian natural gas. After the cancelation of the South Stream pipeline project, Russia and Turkey also announced they would be building the alternative TurkStream pipeline that would transport gas to Europe via Turkey without crossing Ukraine. Hopefully, Russian-Turkish trade ties might work as a dissuading factor against rising tensions over Syria.

Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet is a grave error
Maria Dubovikova/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
During last week’s G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that according to his country’s intelligence, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is financed by private individuals from 40 countries, some of them G20 members. He highlighted the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. “The motorcade of refuelling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,” Putin said, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems. Turkey is using its involvement in the fight against ISIS to hit the Kurds, whose militias are among the most effective forces against the group in Syria. Turkey’s weakly controlled 565-mile southern border is the main gateway for foreign extremists from all over the world to join ISIS. In Turkey jihadists get all they need, even fake ID cards and passports. Ankara violated international law, as the jet should have been escorted away from Turkish airspace, not shot down. Ankara apparently does little to stop these dangerous activities. The passports of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks were fake and made in Turkey. Turkish businessmen make deals with ISIS oil smugglers, providing the group with billions of dollars. After the G20 summit, Russia launched a true war against ISIS’s oil infrastructure and the caravans of trucks transporting oil to the Turkish border. This has made Ankara nervous. Last week, following intense Russian bombing in Syria along the Turkish border, Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador, warning that bombing Turkmen villages could lead to “serious consequences,” and urging Moscow to “to immediately end its operation.”
On Nov. 24, Turkey went from threats to deeds. According to a leaked letter of the permanent mission of Turkey to the United Nations, revealed by WikiLeaks, the Russian fighter jet that was shot down by Turkey had been violating its airspace for only 17 seconds. In 2012, when a Turkish F-4 Phantom was downed by the Syrian military for entering Syrian airspace, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that “the slight violation of the border could not be a pretext for an attack.” Now, however, a 17-second violation appears to be enough of a pretext. Ankara violated international law, as the jet should have been escorted away from Turkish airspace, not shot down. The latter measure should only be taken in case of a real threat to the state. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the plane was hitting areas with a high concentration of militants from the North Caucasus who joined ISIS in Syria. Almost all ISIS supporters from Russia get into Syria via Turkey, so they are mainly stationed near the border. Putin’s description of what happened as a “stab in the back” by “supporters of terrorists” is the first official acknowledgement of Turkey as a state sponsor of terrorism. Moscow will not stop its operation in Syria - on the contrary. The more Russia is poked, the more hawkish it becomes. Most likely it will target ISIS oil facilities with greater vigour. Moscow will not answer Ankara militarily. It has warned its citizens against travelling to Turkey under the pretext that it is unsafe for them. This will be a huge blow for Turkey’s tourism industry. If Russia decides to do so, it will reveal all its intelligence regarding Turkey’s dirty games, to ruin its reputation on the world stage. Russia could start ignoring Ankara’s warnings against arming and supporting Syrian Kurdish forces fighting ISIS. Russian and U.S. support for Kurdish militias could be a true headache for Ankara. Putin’s description of what happened as a “stab in the back” by “supporters of terrorists” is the first official acknowledgement of Turkey as a state sponsor of terrorism. This raises a lot of questions that Ankara will not be able to answer. It has hugely miscalculated, and will have to pay a high price.

Britain is showing resilience after Paris - for now
Chris Doyle/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
Auditing the impact of the Paris attacks with only a dozen days past is more an anecdotal and impressionistic exercise than a scientific analysis. In Britain, a country that has had a long history of terrorist attacks, there is a grim, sober atmosphere. People are resilient, not allowing the threat to change their lifestyle, but they are also alarmingly aware that after Paris, London could be the next pit stop for this latest extremist round of outrages. The security services say that so far they have prevented seven attempted attacks in the UK this year. Britain is on its second highest security alert level. The government has reacted by increasing its funding for the security services. There is heated debate about proposed police cuts and also increased intercept powers for the security services. And as part of the standing shoulder to shoulder with France, David Cameron wants Britain to fly side-by-side with it over Syria whilst bombing ISIS. A vote is expected within weeks on this issue as the government looks almost certain to win the Parliamentary approval that is has been seeking for months. What Britain will add to the bombing frenzy over Raqqa is precious little, but being left out is politically and diplomatically unacceptable it seems. There are sensitivities over accusations that Britain will not share the burden. The politics have then largely taken a well-worn path - no panic, stand in solidarity with our friends, show revulsion for our enemies and pledge increased resources for the security services. As with other states, nothing must have surprised the authors of the Paris atrocities. In public, the standard rulebook has been followed. One aim will have been achieved if Britain does join the attacks in Syria – ISIS, like al-Qaeda, is more than happy to suck in western forces into a long protracted war in the Islamic heartlands.
But for ISIS, sparking tension, division and fear are their primary desired ambitions as part of a self-reinforcing strategy that will increase their support in Europe. Will societies in Europe play ball and react by turning on Muslims and refugees? In Britain the reactions are mixed.
To an extent in the immediate aftermath of such atrocities there is always an initial spike. One anti-racist group reported a 300% spike in anti-Muslim attacks in Britain since Paris. This extends a worrying long-term trend where anti-Muslim attacks have been rising year-on-year. Most of the attacks have been on Muslim women, largely because they are more vulnerable and typically identifiable because of the veil. The most serious was a mob assault on a takeaway in Scotland. The political classes have largely not gone down the racist Republican route as seen in the United States. Still, few prominent politicians have dared publicly criticize the likes of Donald Trump and Ben Carson - after all, what would they do if one of them actually became the 45th President?
Public reaction
Sadly Britain has according to the polls joined others in becoming less accepting of taking in refugees. In early September calling for support for the refugees was all the rage. Now, opinion polls show that only 20% would support taking in more refugees down from 36 percent in early September. They have little – the government’s refugee resettlement program is only for 20,000 over 5 years. ISIS, like al-Qaeda, is more than happy to suck in western forces into a long protracted war in the Islamic heartlands. Another reaction to Paris would appear to be increased desire for Britain to leave Europe. Support for staying in dropped 7% with a majority now wanting ‘Brexit.’ Some feel that the attacks have shown how vulnerable the EU is. The far right in the form of UKIP tried to profit on their twin aims of getting out of Europe and bashing immigration. A UKIP leader as the Paris crisis was unfolding could not wait to make the case on Twitter that “France closing borders imply terrorists are not 'home grown' but incomers taking advantage of current migrant crisis?” Its leader Nigel Farage declared “We have a fifth column”, resurrecting a line he used after the Charlie Hebdo attacks to much criticism. One UKIP candidate called for mosques to be closed and the hijab and burka to be banned but these do still appear to be fringe views. UKIP’s poll ratings have not shot up so far.
Tabloid scaremongering
But it is perhaps in the media that the most worrying signs have surfaced. The Daily Mail published a widely slammed cartoon that depicted bearded and veiled refugees entering Europe with guns and rats. Yet it was a headline in the most widely read paper of all, the Sun, that perhaps stirred things up most. The Rupert “all 1.6 billion Muslims are responsible for extremism” Murdoch-owned tabloid carried the findings of a an opinion poll it commissioned that the paper claimed showed that 20% of British Muslims had “sympathy for Jihadis” - one in five of Britain’s 2 million Muslims. A survey to scare the masses, not least as the majority believe that the number of Muslims is more like 20% of the population than the actual 5 percent. But it was hugely and deeply flawed. The question was not about sympathy for Jihadis but “sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”, clearly a totally different issue given the numbers who left to fight the Syrian regime. A survey of the whole British population showed average support for fighters in Syria to be at 14 percent. Still, the damage may have been done. Overall, Britain has not journeyed very far down the path of scaremongering and scapegoating. Community tensions are minimal considering and there are also heartening stories like when a Muslim woman was defended from assault by a crowd of Newcastle football fans. The reality is that British Muslim communities are largely far more integrated than their French and Belgian counterparts and perhaps better able to whether the storm. But will this be the case in the event of an ISIS horror in Britain? That will be the true test of community cohesion and political leadership.

Where is ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
Raed Omari/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
There has been no revelation about the whereabouts of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), since his appearance in June 2014 preaching in a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul. This, and the fact that there are only two authenticated photos of him, have earned him the nickname “the invisible leader.” Following rumors about his death in May this year, Baghdadi released an audio message in which he emphasized his group’s advances. Had there been no rumors of his death, he would probably not have released the message. Iraqi officials had said they hit a convoy carrying Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders, but then the Iraqi military said it could not confirm the killing. The recording was not only a response to the Iraqis, but a morale booster for his fighters.
However, Baghdadi did not do the same in October, when there were rumors of his death and critical injury following a U.S.-led airstrike against an ISIS base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. Why did he remain silent? Certainly to ensure that he could not be tracked down.
A veil of mystery surrounds Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders, even to other members. After all, the showmanship of the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, led to his location and death by U.S. bombing in 2006. A veil of mystery surrounds Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders, even to other members.
None of the group’s leaders appeared to praise its attacks in Paris or its bombing of a Russian plane over the Sinai, except for letters circulated on the internet. They know that ISIS-held territories are not safe for them, because the brutality of their rule means most people would readily provide information on their whereabouts if they knew them. Plus, ISIS is surrounded by enemies, including the Kurds, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and even Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra. Moreover, ISIS leaders do not have the advantage of Afghanistan’s caves and mountains, in which Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders hid. Given the multiple ways in which ISIS leaders are being tracked down, the group’s central command must have developed a complicated system for their protection. However, it is uncertain for how long such a system will remain effective given the renewed international determination to eliminate ISIS.

Addressing discrimination against Saudi women
Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/November 25/15
The women’s sections in government offices are marginalized and ineffective. They do not have the authority to serve the needs of women or address their problems, according to Abdulaziz Al-Magly, the Director of the Monitoring and Investigation Department of Human Services. The government has lately stepped up its inspection campaigns on various ministries and conducts regular investigations to discover any negligence or inadequacies. It is comforting to know that officials are supporting the official role of women in government. The appointment of women to the Shoura Council has also given the progressives among us some hope. Nevertheless, progress is still slow and women have yet to create pressure groups in all sectors of society to address social and political needs.
Women face barriers in municipal elections
It is still unclear whether women running for election to municipal councils will succeed and it remains to be seen whether, if elected, society will acknowledge their role on these councils. There are many skeptics who think that there are too many social barriers and that the majority will not support the move.
Many women did not run because of the inaccurate information that preceded the registration for elections. Official rules were deliberately misinterpreted to discourage women from participating. Many felt insulted by claims that any woman who was found in the company of men during the election campaign would be fined or face a prison sentence. Another equally demeaning claim was that women candidates would not be allowed to present their programs in person but needed to appoint a male representative to speak on their behalf.
Extremists and ill-informed scholars have twisted facts and made women subservient to their male guardians
Unfortunately, there was no immediate clarification of the rules governing the elections. It was later explained that women candidates were required to specify the name of a male representative who would be officially recognized to speak on their behalf in case they were unable to attend a certain function. As for the fines, they were only intended to restrict any individual man or woman from entering undesignated sections of the election headquarters. The social conflict continues between progressives and extremists who advocate the unjustified discrimination against women in society. The negative attitude toward women remains a cause of public discontent and a source of frustration to many citizens in society today. What is needed is a push for a paradigm shift in attitude toward women.
Discriminatory laws
Meanwhile, women should reflect upon their role in society and should not be dissuaded by those who stand against progress. They need to be more effective in ending male domination that deprives them of their basic rights. They need to be more assertive in rejecting discriminatory laws imposing male guardian controls that include: their right to employment; litigation; the issuance of passports; the execution of private and governmental contracts; and discharge from rehabilitation or detention institutions and others. The issue of full citizenship for women was recently the subject of a long debate among members of the Shoura Council. Women in the Shoura Council on October 13, 2015 were able to push for the amendment of the Civil Status Law calling for enhancing women’s citizenship and eliminating any form of discrimination against women, especially the right of women to have their own ID cards and the right to pass their citizenship to their children or their husband. Other discriminatory laws include retirement regulations for women stipulating that a woman cannot have her retirement benefits if her husband is also retired. There are also laws that allow child marriages, arbitrary divorce, confinement and the absolute male domination over women in this day and age. In the absence of public transportation, women are confined to the four walls of their homes and are unable to practice their right of movement. There is no justification in ignoring this legitimate right at both religious and social levels.
Hopefully, the amendments will eliminate the contradictions in the laws that govern the legal rights of women and will stipulate compliance with the laws with pertinent procedures. Laws governing civil society need to be amended in order to grant legal permits for social institutions that can protect the rights of women and support the empowerment of women nationwide. Extremists and ill-informed scholars have twisted facts and made women subservient to their male guardians. Women today should arm themselves with proper Islamic education to confront the rigid interpretations of the Holy Qur’an and adopt the true teachings of Shariah to refute the discriminations against them in the name of Islam. Those in the Shoura and municipal councils have a duty to help society evolve and support women who may be unaware of a better way of life. They should put more pressure on religious scholars to promote a more tolerant narrative which declares that it is not un-Islamic to adopt a modern lifestyle in order to serve the modern-day needs of women at work and in their homes.