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Islam and the West ( 6 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Has Iran offered Assad asylum? : New Age Islam’s Selection From World Press, 7 December 2015


New Age Islam Edit Bureau

7 December 2015


Has Iran offered Assad asylum?

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

ISIL sells its oil, but who is buying it?

By Carole Nakhle

Why Britain was right to vote Yes

By Crispian Cuss

ISIS In Lebanon: An Interview With Andre Vltchek

By Soud Sharabani

Daesh's emergence in Yemen makes it a two-front war

Khaleej Times



Has Iran offered Assad asylum?

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

6 December 2015

Some media reports said that Iran recently offered to ìhostî Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ñ that is, to grant him asylum, and receive him in Tehran as a hero.

This was based on a statement attributed to Ali Akbar Velayati, a foreign policy advisor to the Supreme Leader of Iran, during his visit a few days ago to Syria and Lebanon.

It seems the ìpositiveî atmosphere, rare amidst this destruction, is the reason behind such wishes. The positive news includes the release of the abducted Lebanese soldiers by the terrorist organization al-Nusra Front, following a deal organized by Hezbollah and Qatar.

There has also been positive news on an agreement to bring in Suleiman Franjieh as president of Lebanon, following a long dispute and a presidential vacuum of more than two years.

All this suggests that we've begun to witness breakthroughs! So has the time for Assad's exit come?

Big story, little coverage

If a high-ranking Iranian official like Velayati announces that Tehran will grant Assad asylum, it would be a very significant development that governments and media outlets would certainly not miss.

However, I only read about this in Syrian opposition media outlets, which of course are not a reference regarding news about the regime and rival Iran.

But following a long search, I found the complete video of Velayati's interview with the Al-Mayadeen television channel. Towards the end of the interview, the presenter asked her Iranian guest whether Tehran will receive Assad soon, especially given that Assad ìvisited Moscow a month agoî.

The question hinted that Iran is abstaining from receiving Assad. Velayati said: ìAssadís presence in Damascus is important. We, in Iran, will receive him when itís a duty. We donít impose our opinions on Mr. Assad. We do not want him to leave his country. When he decides to visit Iran, we are ready to warmly receive him, and weíd receive him like a hero. He has defended his people for five years, and we don't want his post to be vacant.î

Mysterious message

He who listens to the last part of Velayati's answer will think that Iran welcomes the idea of granting asylum to Assad. However the original question made it clear that Assad, who visited Russia in October, has not yet been received by Tehran as a visiting president.

Velayatiís answer has nothing to do with granting Assad asylum, and is rather mysterious. Velayati did not welcome Assadís visit directly, but said he did not want Assad to leave his country amid such circumstances. But this is not a convincing excuse, given that weíve seen Assad depart Damascus and head to Russia. This latter journey takes four hours while the trip from Damascus to Tehran only takes two!

I think Iranís connection to the Assad regime is very strong and deep, and about more than just common interests. Tehran has been behind Assadís extremist policy ever since the beginning of the revolution. And those who analyze the situation before the revolution think that the Iranians were managing Syriaís policy since Assad took power in 2000. This explains the Syrian regimeís violent approach in Lebanon and the series of assassinations in which it turned out Iran had an active role in.

Iran also played a role, alongside the Syrian regime, in managing the so-called Iraqi resistance and al-Qaeda from inside Syria following the American invasion of Iraq. The Iranian-Syrian axis lives on until this day, and Tehran will hold on to Assad until the last hour when it loses Damascus.

Final hour?

So are we close to Assad's final hour? It's difficult to estimate the moment of defeat, as many regional and international troops are now involved. However what we do know is that Assad will not emerge victorious no matter how much the Iranians and the Russians succeed at supporting him and at prolonging the duration of war.

As long as the Russians and Iranians agree on Syria, we cannot expect the easy solution of excluding Assad, such as granting him asylum in Iran, to materialize. If Russia and Iran end up having two different stances, the situation of the Syrian regime will be difficult with the presence of Iranian and Russian military forces fighting in Syria ñ in support of the Assad regime ñ via ground and air operations.

The Russians and Iranians may currently have different points of view, however not so significantly that you can bet on it ñ especially after the Turks downed the Russian bomber, something that has brought Moscow and Tehran closer together.

We may see disagreements between Russia and Iran during the Vienna negotiations on Syriaís future and political solutions. The Russian president has said before that Assad remaining in power is not important and that what matters is to maintain Syrian state institutions. This is very different from the Iranian proposal, which states that Assad himself represents legitimacy. This is what Velayati reiterated during his interview with Al-Mayadeen: he said that Assad will stay until the end of his presidential term, and that he must also participate in the upcoming elections, adding that Iran is confident Assad will win the elections again!

Iranís stance is to insist on Assadís presence, even if they have to resort to a power of arms and to forging election results. If however the Russians lean towards a political solution that excludes Assad, or makes the latter like Iraqís president ñ a figure who holds a mere honorary position ñ the dispute may erupt between the two allies.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 6, 2015.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsatís sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.


ISIL sells its oil, but who is buying it?

By Carole Nakhle

06 Dec 2015

Thanks to the illicit oil trade, millions of dollars enter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's coffers on a daily basis. Although we are getting into guesswork, estimates have varied between $1m and $1.5m a day. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has referred to billions of dollars worth of oil trade, since mid-2014.

These numbers are based on estimates of daily production figures of the oil fields that have fallen under ISIL's control, including some of Syria's largest fields, with a cumulative daily production of around 30,000 to 40,000 barrels, and on prices ranging between $20 and $40 per barrel at which ISIL has been selling the oil.

ISIL has not only been recruiting suicide bombers, it has also engaged petroleum technicians and engineers to manage the oil fields and the refining process, and so far they have been successful.

No one knows how such a terrorist organisation can somehow command the services of these skilled people: Do they offer them payments so lucrative that they cannot resist, or do they simply shoot anyone who refuses to cooperate? In the absence of modern societies' rules of law, anything is possible.

Oil fields - particularly the ageing ones that are under ISIL control - require maintenance to sustain a certain level of production for as long as possible.

But maintenance is costly. That is why some commentators have argued that at some point ISIL's lucrative business will eventually dry out because of the rapid decline in production.

This, however, may not materialise any time soon because even if production drops it can go on for many years, even decades.

Web of buyers

The oil trade, irrespective of its specific value, is supporting ISIL's survival. Not only does oil give the terrorist group the continuous financial backing it needs to recruit new members, secure arms, buy local support, and sustain its far reaching propaganda campaign, it also strengthens its position through self-sufficiency since part of the production is consumed locally, thereby satisfying ISIL's strategic needs for electricity, mobility, and heating.

The other big and more critical question, apart from how much ISIL is making, is who is buying ISIL's oil. Just like any other black market, the answer is murky.

Accusations, even at state level, have been made but with no material evidence produced with respect to who is exactly involved.

Following the shooting of the Russian plane by Turkish forces, the Russians have openly accused Turkey of facilitating ISIL's oil trade. In retaliation, Turkey stated that it was the other way round: by protecting the Assad regime who is one of ISIL's loyal clients, Russia is a de facto accomplice.

While such high level accusations may amuse some and certainly sadden many, the grim reality is that black markets have a highly organised and extensive web of shadow partners and clients, who are attracted by the money, irrespective of their nationalities, religious beliefs or principles, if they have any, and are active in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Investigators may be lucky to identify a couple of individuals or organisations, but it would be naive to believe that such a complex system can be easily exposed.

To complicate matters further, it is important to note that not all those involved in the trade fall into that corrupt category. There are the unconventional clients who rely on ISIL's oil for survival: think of the millions of people living in ISIL-controlled areas who need access to diesel to meet their basic needs for electricity, heating and mobility.

Some rebels, ISIL's own enemies, also ironically fall in that category as they have no other choice. And there are the truck drivers, mostly civilians, who transport ISIL's oil to smugglers, traders and middlemen and are in desperate need for any source of income.

And once the oil and its refined products go beyond ISIL-controlled areas, they become very difficult to trace - someone, somewhere, and completely unknowingly, may well end up burning ISIL oil.

No magic bullet

No outsider knows the details of what transpires on the ground. One thing, however, is clear: such a complicated matter is unlikely to be resolved by any one course of action.

Some argue that the only way out is to completely disable the producing oil fields by bombing them. That notion is somehow vague. If the intention is to temporarily halt production, ISIL has proven its ability to bring it back onstream, even if at lower levels.

If the intention is to cause permanent damage to the nine producing assets, then civilians, as well as any hope to rebuild local industries post-ISIL, will all suffer. Another option would be to destroy the transport facilities - namely the trucks.

Here too, there are challenges: the sheer size of the truck trade, the involvement of civilians and the fact that trucks can be more easily replaced than pipelines or oil tankers, are just some examples. Besides, the oil trade - while highly profitable - is not the only source of income for ISIL. Drug trade, crime, hostage-taking, antiquities trade, taxes and donations among others, also play an important role.

There is no one magic or quick bullet to end ISIL's oil trade, irrespective of who is conducting the military campaign.

Turkey can make a major contribution by tightening its border control but such a step alone will not suffice. Under normal circumstances, the fact that oil can be more easily transported than other sources of energy, like natural gas, is a blessing.

In this particular case, however, it is clearly a curse. Even if Turkey prohibits any trade coming from Syria, other escape routes will soon be identified.

The starting point for a more effective solution is a closer cooperation between regional and international governments, especially in terms of coordinating their efforts and military strategies, and sharing intelligence to expose various players involved.

The increasing confrontation between Turkey and Russia is simply putting the international community in its fight against ISIL on the wrong path.

Carole Nakhle is the founder and director of Crystol Energy, an advisory, research and training company in London.


Why Britain was right to vote Yes

By Crispian Cuss

06 Dec 2015

On Thursday, British planes were in action over Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) only hours after the government won a vote in the House of Commons that sanctioned the action. While the military importance of this should not be overstated - numerically Britain's contribution will be quite small and it is already conducting air operations against ISIL in Iraq - politically it was of real significance not least because a previous attempt in August 2013 had been defeated.

Although this time the government won the vote decisively, by 397 to 233, the debate both within Parliament and across the wider public was impassioned. Typically, however, many of the arguments against air strikes were based more on emotion rather than a reasoned understanding of the military campaign to date, the role of air strikes in the wider battle against ISIL or the realities of the refugee crisis.

As such, perhaps it was not surprising that the structural flaws within the Middle East - so skilfully exploited by ISIL - and which air strikes will do nothing to resolve, were not mentioned at all.

A central argument made by opponents of the air strikes is that bombing just does not work. It follows that the continued existence of ISIL after the extensive campaign to date is evidence of its failure. Yet this is to misinterpret its role.

Effectiveness of bombing

While bombing itself will never determine a campaign, it still has real military value. It stopped dead the advance of ISIL after they took Mosul and surged towards Baghdad in June 2014, and has been a significant factor in the military successes of the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces as they continue to regain territory from ISIL.

By extension, to oppose air strikes in Syria should lead one logically to oppose air strikes in Iraq given the de facto lack of border. Yet, few contend that the West should have stood by allowing even more of the Iraqi population to suffer the brutal cruelties of ISIL. As such there is no justification to leave Syrians to the same fate.

In fact, the effectiveness of the bombing also undermines the claim of its opponents that ISIL actually wants the West to bomb them thus radicalising a wider Muslim audience.

While ISIL will no doubt use any footage of air strikes, true or false, to portray it as the victim, that is still not the same as wanting your leadership cadres or military assets destroyed.

Similarly, the argument also demeaningly assumes that Muslim audiences around the world are somehow ignorant of ISIL's behaviour or the fact that the vast majority of its victims are themselves Muslims.

It was also claimed that air strikes will lead to more refugees yet this again fails to recognise the realities of what is already happening. While many refugees are indeed fleeing the Syrian civil war, they are also fleeing ISIL. The flood of refugees from Mosul and its outlying regions to Kurdistan and Turkey were a direct result of ISIL's territorial gains not its military defeat. As its territorial gains are rolled back, the refugees will be able to return.

This argument is also based on the false proposition that the air strikes target civilian areas whereas, in fact, the opposite is true. One of the reasons why the air strikes to date have not been as effective as they could have been is because of the very restrictive rules of engagement around targeting static targets such as buildings.

The vast majority of targets are mobile military assets far away from residential areas. Similarly, to claim that air strikes will cause unnecessary civilian casualties is to deliberately ignore the ongoing suffering that is already taking place.

Appeasing ISIL?

Leaving Syria and the plight of its people aside, it was also argued that air strikes would leave the UK more vulnerable to terrorist attack. Indeed, some commentators even cited the attacks in Paris as evidence of this.

Yet, while there may be some colouration between active engagement in the Middle East and subsequent terrorist attacks, to use this as justification for appeasing ISIL is to surrender your political decision-making process to whoever threatens you most.

While those perpetrators of previous attacks in London or Paris may well have felt some form of grievance over Britain's involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan, the justifications given in their recorded testimonies were incoherent at best. They were also individuals capable of true evil.

While supporting the destruction of ISIL does bring the risk of domestic terrorism, those that support its ideals should not be handed control of our political system. Rather, that its supporters are capable of such acts shows how essential it is to destroy them.

Ultimately, however, while air strikes do have real value, and the British government was right to call for their expansion into Syria, it is a short-term solution to a much deeper and intractable regional problems, ie, the acceptance of intolerant Islamist thinking, the continued ability of politicians to exploit the sectarian divides between Shia and Sunni communities, and the failure of secular governments to address their peoples' needs.

ISIL's true strength has been its ability to exploit these structural problems and operate in the vacuum left behind.

As such, while air strikes are central to the destruction of ISIL, ultimately they do little to address its root causes. The British government was right to take this step but it now has to make sure this is the start of a genuine reassessment of the region, its needs and the West's role within it.

Crispian Cuss is a former British Army officer who has worked and lived in the Middle East. He currently acts as a defence and security consultant.


ISIS In Lebanon: An Interview With Andre Vltchek

By Soud Sharabani

06 December, 2015

Lebanon’s stability is hanging on by a thread. There is war raging on its border; Syria, the economy has all but collapsed, the central government is extremely weak, and there are over 2 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees. So when ISIS attacked the Bourj al-Barajneh district in southern Beirut recently, it is just one more problem that the Lebanese have to deal with.

I spoke with Andre Vltchek about the present and the future of Lebanon. Andre Vltchek is a writer and a journalist who has written extensively about the Middle East, and who was actually present in Lebanon during the recent ISIS attack. – Souad Sharabani


Souad Sharabani: until recently, relatively to the rest of the Middle East, Lebanon has been calm Do you agree with that?

Andre Vltchek: No, Lebanon was tremendously affected by the wars in Iraq and Syria. It has over two million Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Not to mention the Palestinian refugees. Two million new refugees is an enormous toll for such a small country. European Union is claiming they cannot coop with a million refugees in the entire continent.

You know those terrorist cells were dormant for months and years, in the capital of Beirut. Although Hezbollah was fighting ISIS in the northern border, the northern front. But the rest of those terrorists like ISIS were sitting dormant all over the country and in particular in Beirut, and they were waiting for the opportune moment to strike. ISIS did strike Lebanon in 2012 and 2013 but nothing as horrific as we have witnessed recently.

Souad Sharabani: Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, sent troops into Syria to fight on the side of Assad’s Army. Why did he do that?

Andre Vltchek: Hezbollah fighting ISIS is something very ideological, since Hezbollah’s followers see the destabilization of Syria as yet another imperialist act of the West. As you know Hezbollah was fighting the Israeli invasion into Lebanon in 2006. Furthermore, Hezbollah is very much opposed to the hegemony of Saud Arabia in the region. So it is logical to see Hezbollah fighting against the Wahhabi movement that is supported both by the Gulf and the West.

Souad Sharabani: Who is supporting ISIS in Lebanon?

Andre Vltchek: You have a sector of the population who believe that the radical approach is the only future for Lebanon. Furthermore, the destabilizing of Syria and destabilizing of the Middle East from Iraq, to Libya, to Syria, is sending millions of refugees all over the region. Among the displaced Syrian and Iraqi refugees there is a very small percentage of Jihadists, that hide among the refugees and they join the dormant Lebanese cells. These cells stay dormant for a long time. They wait for the moment that they can perform a spectacular action from their point of view meaning inflict as many casualties as possible.

Again this situation did not come out of the blue. It was expected that Western support of Syrian oppositions against Assad, and also supporting many Jihadist groups. Arguably they were making life of ISIS very easy by supplying them directly or in directly in Turkey and also in Jordan.

Souad Sharabani: We know about the wars in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya and now possibly in Lebanon. What are the benefits for Israel, and the West in destabilizing the region?

Andre Vltchek: at best it is a perpetual conflict because it feeds its military complex and its desire to control. The never-ending conflicts in the Middle East are benefiting its military production and its military complex.

Souad Sharabani: Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia; We know they have been arming and giving financial aid to Jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, fighting the Shiites ethnic group in Yemen, but are they also willing to see the destabilization of Lebanon?

Andre Vltchek: Saudi Arabia is very involved in Lebanon financially and in many other ways. What we do know there is a link between the terrorist organizations and Wahhabist teachings that comes from Saudi Arabia. There are fractions of the Lebanese government that are very closely linked to Saudi Arabia, as there are fractions of the government that are closely linked to Iran.

But the recent bombing of the suburb of Beirut did not come directly from Saudi Arabia. ISIS has been pounded by the Russian air force, and the Syrian government forces are gaining ground. Russians are intensely trying to get rid of ISIS. And as a result ISIS feels threatened. So they are panicking that they will lose in Syria, they would like to have another geographic location where they will be able to hold power and that is in Lebanon, or at least northern Lebanon.

Souad Sharabani: If ISIS starts getting stronger in Lebanon, do you think Iran would be drawn into the conflict because of the Shiite population and Hezbollah?

Andre Vltchek: No I don’t think so. But Iran is already very closely allied to several political factions inside the political establishment in the Lebanese government and of course it is closely allied to Hezbollah.

Now we have to remember, in the West, Hezbollah is portrayed as a terrorist organization mainly because of its decisive stance against Israel. But Hezbollah is the only inclusive force in Lebanon. By inclusive I mean they do not only assist their supporters, the Shiites, they extend help to other Muslims and to Christians.

You know Lebanon is absolutely a destabilized country economically. And Hezbollah is the only social force in the country that helps the people. Hezbollah is an extremely respected force even among Christians. When you talk to Ashrafiya or to most people even if they do not support Hezbollah they respect them tremendously for the things they are doing. They are a pure socialist movement that acts by its strict socialist doctrine. It is not the perfect force, but the only one in Lebanon that works for the good of the people.

The West and Israel do not want you to know that about Hezbollah. They want you to believe that Hezbollah is a fundamentalist terrorist movement. So Hezbollah is a sore in the eyes of the West and Israel.

Souad Sharabani: So now what is next? What is going to happen in Lebanon?

Andre Vltchek: What is going to happen in Lebanon is not yet certain. Very disturbing things are happening there and people are fed up. They do not want sectarianism they want unity. Most Lebanese do not want to be seen as Sunni, or Shiite or Christians or Druze. They want to be seen as Lebanese. They are fed up with the present economic system when everything is collapsing in a country that prides itself as being Paris of the Middle East yet its is sinking socially and economically. The Country is producing almost nothing. You are talking of a country, which lives from remittances, that lives from direct and indirect foreign aid, and from the production of narcotics. We just had a situation, which I wrote an article about, where one of Saudi Arabia’s Princes tried to smuggle two tons of narcotics out Rafic Hariri international airport. This was at the end of October so imagine the entire Bekaa Valley is producing drugs. Everyone talks about it. It is not a secret.

So people are fed up in Lebanon. It is not only the issue of ISIS, or other terrorist groups like al-Nusra, which is armed, helped and supported by Turkey and other NATO countries and western alliances. So Lebanon could collapse. It is a very volatile and dangerous situation.

I don’t really know what the future of Lebanon will be. But what I can see clearly is the more the Russians squeezed ISIS out of Syria, the more panic we see amongst ISIS, and they will install themselves in Lebanon. The Lebanese will inherit them from Syria and the devastation we saw in Syria will come to Lebanon. It would be very easy to destabilize a much smaller country than Syria with a weaker central government than in Syria.

Souad Sharabani: It feels like wherever you turn in the Middle East there is more destruction and there is no end in sight to the destruction and suffering.

Andre Vltchek: There is no Middle East any more. We are talking about the oldest and the greatest cultures of the world with great humanist traditions, not only religion. There is nothing left, a complete devastation. Totally uprooted. You have people who are running the Gulf countries and the Middle East who are basically criminals. Basically, there is nothing left there except confusion.

As one of the greatest Turkish writer said to me. In Turkey and in all the Middle East

People are very smart and they know perfectly well what is going on but they are all feeling helplessness hopelessness’ and full of cynicism. Because you either accept the game and try to get ahead, or you will be crushed. And Lebanon is a great example of this. You go to Beirut and you see the unimaginable contrast between the rich and poor. If you go to Abu Dhabi after Zaitunay Bay in Beirut, Abu Dhabi bay would look pathetic. Zaitunay Bay has all these yachts and speedboats; Ferraris and Maseratis racing in the middle of the night, but there is no public transportation during the day. You cannot even move because of the total collapse of public transportation. You see the mansions and skyscrapers going up everywhere but when you look around there is misery and no one wants to deal with it. It is all show. This is what the Middle East is. Their leaders with the encouragement of the West have injected the lowest type of consumerism, of capitalism.

Souad Sharabani: You left us on a very low note with no hope for the future of the Middle East and more specifically of Lebanon.

Andre Vltchek: Before we leave it on this hopeless note. I think there are still many positive elements. People in Lebanon are educated. Lebanon has great artists great filmmakers, musicians and writers. All are watching the world and they follow closely what is happening in the world. I believe it has hit rock bottom and it can only go up from here. It is going to prevail.

Souad Sharabani: I hope so.

Soud Sharabani for 30 years has been a freelance radio journalist based in Toronto Canada. She has worked for the CBC and BBC, as well as for PEN INTERNATIONAL.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with Noam Chomsky:On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania - a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.


Daesh's emergence in Yemen makes it a two-front war

By Khaleej Times

Government efforts to reassert control over the city have been hit. It could also slow down humanitarian work undertaken by the UAE in the area.

Daesh is making its presence felt in Yemen with a series of attacks on coalition troops and government officials. This is not a new phenomenon. There have been several attacks in the year which have been ignored as the Arab coalition intensified its campaign against the Houthi rebels backed by Iran. It also points to the fact that Daesh is recruiting followers from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

The death on Sunday of the governor of the southern port city of Aden, Jaafar Saad, in a car bomb attack claimed by Daesh, should not divert the focus from the war to oust the Houthis from their strongholds. Aden is controlled by the coalition but there remain pockets of militant influence like in the Tawahi district.

The assassinated governor was believed to be close to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. His death will be a blow to the Arab coalition's efforts to secure the city after it fell two months ago.

Government efforts to reassert control over the city have been hit. It could also slow down humanitarian work undertaken by the UAE in the area. Roads and health facilities are being built, and government and coalition troops have to throw in reinforcements to ensure more attacks do not occur during the next phase of the campaign.

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the 'treacherous' deed would not go unpunished. He said operations against the militants would continue. The offensive is likely to diversify against the new enemy, Daesh, which is swiftly taking over territory ceded by Al Qaeda.

"These crimes will not discourage our common resolve to restore security and stability throughout the brotherly nation of Yemen," said Dr Gargash.

The Houthi terrorists, meanwhile, are dragging their feet over talks. They see themselves in a better position to bargain for the spoils of war as the coalition trains guns on the city of Taiz and troops have their eyes set on Sanaa, the capital.

Aden has to be secured to free up coalition troops in their push for Sanaa in the north. Gulf and Arab coalition efforts should speed up training for the Yemeni police, a task led by the UAE. Daesh should not be allowed to sneak in. The war is now being fought on two fronts against different enemies - and it's getting increasingly complex.


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