WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
The Apartheid Smear: The launch of an important new publication from BICOM
BICOM, UK reports: Israel is not an apartheid state. The allegation damages the peace process The idea that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ is the intellectual foundation of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). This pamphlet shows it is a smear: a malicious lie that does huge damage to the peace process.
Iran’s Khamenei says nuclear talks will ‘lead nowhere’
The National, UAE reports: Iran’s top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that while he is not against a resumption of nuclear negotiations with the world’s major powers, the talks will “lead nowhere”. “I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere but I am not against them,” he added. Iran and world powers embark on Tuesday on the Herculean task of transforming their interim nuclear deal into a long-term accord satisfying all sides and silencing talk of war for good. After a decade of failure and rising tensions, US President Barack Obama has put the chances of an agreement at “50-50”, while Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has predicted “difficult” discussions.
Iraq: Bombings continue. No let up in February. According to United Nations estimates, 8,868 people were killed in violence in 2013 — Iraq’s highest annual death toll in five years
Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: Bombs exploded in predominantly Shi’ite Muslim districts of the Iraqi capital and in the southern city of Hilla on Tuesday, killing at least 49 people, police and hospital sources said. The deadliest attacks on Tuesday occurred in and around Hilla, 100 km south of Baghdad, where 35 people were killed in seven car bomb explosions inside the city itself and in the nearby towns of Haswa, Mahaweel and Mussayab. “Hilla hospital has received 35 bodies so far from seven car bomb blasts,” said one health official. A further 90 people were wounded in the blasts. Fourteen more people were killed in explosions in mainly Shi’ite districts of Baghdad. In one of those, a bomb inside a parked vehicle exploded near a bus station in the Bayaa district, killing five people, the sources said. There were also blasts in the Amil, Ilam and Shurta districts.
Near Israel border, South Korean tourists killed in Egypt bus bomb
Korea Herald reports: Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis reportedly claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a tourist bus on the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday… The explosion took place at about 9:20 p.m., Korean time, in a border town of Taba as 35 people including two Egyptian assistants were crossing into Israel. Sunday’s blast killed the two Korean guides, a female tourist and an Egyptian driver, a senior official at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said. Another 14 Koreans were taken to hospitals for minor injuries, while the remainder stayed at a hotel in Israel. The victims are members of a church in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, and had been on a 12-day, three-nation pilgrimage since Feb. 10, according to church officials. Sinai is a popular tourist destination housing St. Catherine’s Monastery.
Saudi lovers defy police, celebrate Valentine Day
Kuwait Times reports: Red roses lurk hidden in flower shop back rooms and heart-shaped chocolates are sold under the counter, but Saudis still manage to buy Valentine’s gifts and defy the religious police. Florist Hussein came up with a simple solution to a ban on red tokens of love: he filled his window with white roses, orange irises and violet hydrangeas. “I’ve hidden everything red in the shop, so when a religious police patrol comes along, they find nothing to complain about,” he said. Anti-Valentine’s Day patrols by the Muttawa religious police-formally known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice-started on Wednesday. They began entering premises stocking chocolates, flowers and souvenirs to warn proprietors against selling anything red or heart-shaped and linked to the annual “infidel celebration” of matters romantic.
Nigeria: Boko Haram kills 90, mostly Christians. “…suspected Islamic militants gunned down dozens of Christian villagers and slit the throats of others.”
The Nation, Nigeria reports: No fewer than 90 people were killed on Saturday night by suspected Boko Haram insurgents who invaded a Borno State village. Last week, scores were killed in Konduga also in Borno State. In neighbouring Adamawa State, also last week, nine soldiers were reportedly killed in an ambush. The Saturday night attack took place in Izghe village in Gwoza Local Government. Chanting “Allah is great”, suspected Islamic militants gunned down dozens of Christian villagers and slit the throats of others in an area where the military has been bombing extremists out of forest hideouts, survivors said yesterday… One survivor said the village list of those killed amounted to 63 dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. He said the attackers looted the village’s food stores and made off with about 10 vehicles. Survivors said they were among hundreds of people from Izghe and neighboring villages who fled on foot through the bush in the night from Borno into Adamawa, two of three states under a state of emergency to halt a four-year-old Islamic uprising. The other state under emergency is Yobe State. The area that was attacked is inhabited mainly by Christians.
Poland’s Lech Walesa: Obama ‘Wasn’t Ready’ to Be a World Leader
Newsmax, USA reports: Anti-communist crusader and former president of Poland Lech Walesa tells Newsmax that of all the national leaders currently on the world stage, the one who has “disillusioned” him the most is President Barack Obama. Walesa also asserts that Obama “wasn’t ready” to take on the task of leading the world’s most dominant superpower… And he calls for reforms at the United Nations so the world body can help fill the vacuum left by the United States’ failure of leadership under Obama. “When he was elected, everyone hoped and expected that he would reform not only the United States but also the rest of the world. But he failed to implement any constructive reforms. Moreover, it seems like perhaps he doesn’t even care if America is still perceived as the superpower it once was.”… Asked if the world has lost faith in the United States as the lone superpower and world policeman, Walesa responds: “The United States still holds the military leadership in the world, no question about it. But economically, I think you’re much weaker. Most importantly, I think the United States no longer leads the world morally and politically. They lost that power after getting involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “So it’s unsettling not to have the same world leadership anymore. We’re quite fortunate we haven’t faced any major international crisis so far, because who would defend us?…”
Nasrallah: Hezbollah will keep its fighters in Syria
The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Sunday that his party would continue fighting in Syria despite the wave of car bombings targeting predominantly Shiite areas in Lebanon controlled by the group. “I will not repeat what I explained before about the reason we went to Syria and why we are staying where we should be,” Nasrallah said during a televised speech commemorating martyrs of the resistance. Nasrallah warned that takfiri (extremist Sunni Muslim) forces pose a threat to the entire region and that all of Lebanon is a target. “ Lebanon is targeted by these takfiri groups and they would have come sooner or later regardless of our involvement in Syria,” Nasrallah said. He also accused Israel and the United States of benefitting from takfiri plots in the region. The Hezbollah chief, whose group has been fighting alongside the Assad regime troops in Syria, warned that if extremists gain control of war-torn Syria, the repurcussions would be felt throughout the Middle East… Nasrallah vowed his group would emerge victorious in the battle against these groups. “We are convinced that we will win in this battle; it is just a matter of time,” he said.
Egyptian army launches campaign to create buffer zone on Gaza border
Ma’an News Agency, Palestinian Territories reports: Egyptian border forces destroyed 10 tunnels and seven homes in the Sinai on Saturday as part of new campaign to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip that would extend 500 meters in some places. The campaign began with a military operation in the border town of Rafah, where tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip were targeted in the neighborhoods of al-Brahma, al-Sarsuriya, Salahudeen, al-Helwat, and Zoraba, an Egyptian security source said. The security source added that the tunnels were destroyed and the homes they were located in were subsequently blown up. He explained that the move was part of a wider campaign to set up a buffer zone along the border with Gaza in Rafah that would extend 300 meters in populated areas and 500 meters in open areas.
Islamists lost test with power, Arab and Turkish intellectuals agree
Today’s Zalman, Turkey reports: Gathering in İstanbul at a meeting organized by Turkish Review and Hira magazine, Arab and Turkish intellectuals have discussed the role of the state in Muslim societies and agreed that Islamist politicians have lost their test with power, as they were transformed by the state instead of transforming the state. Stating that Islamism differs in the Arab world and Turkey, the intellectuals participating in the “Turkish-Arab Intellectuals Forum” said the state should not be sanctified. One Islamic scholar and columnist for the Zaman daily, Ali Bulaç, commented on the journey of Islamists in Turkey, saying those who came to power with the promise of changing the state became part of the state as they began to enjoy the benefits of state resources. According to Bulaç, the mistake of Islamists in Turkey was to desire power for the sake of power. Another mistake was making religious communities dependent on the state, although they used to act independently prior to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. Bulaç further argued that because of the corrupt rule of Islamists in Turkey, there has been hatred towards Islam among secular people in the country.