Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, October 25, 2017 — Unpredictability of God’s coming for the final call — “You must be prepared for the hour….:”

October 24, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 475

Image result for Parable of the Master and Servant, art, pictures

Jesus teaches the parables, by James Tissot

Reading 1 ROM 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies
so that you obey their desires.
And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin
as weapons for wickedness,
but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life
and the parts of your bodies to God
as weapons for righteousness.
For sin is not to have any power over you,
since you are not under the law but under grace.What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law
but under grace?
Of course not!
Do you not know that if you present yourselves
to someone as obedient slaves,
you are slaves of the one you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death,
or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 124:1B-3, 4-6, 7-8

R. (8a) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us–
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive;
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey to their teeth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

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Commentary on Luke 12:39-48 From Living Space

Today we have some further warnings on readiness. The unpredictability of God’s coming for the final call is compared to a thief breaking into one’s house. If one knew when the thief was coming, one would be prepared and have everything well locked up. Few people have not had this experience of being burgled or had their pocket picked. The point is that we do not know the day or the hour. And “the Son of Man will come when you least expect him”.

Peter asks if this image is just for the disciples or for the whole world. Jesus answers by telling a parable.

A faithful and farsighted steward is one who is found doing his job for the household whenever the master returns. The steward was one who had responsibility over the other servants and Jesus could be referring here to his apostles and other leaders of the Christian community. A trusted slave (‘servant’) too could sometimes be put in charge of an estate.

But if the steward feels that the master is “long in coming” and sets about abusing the rest of his staff and wasting his time in debauching himself, he will be severely punished when his master returns unexpectedly. We know that the early Christians believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime but, as time went on and there was no sign of Jesus, Christians could be tempted to become less vigilant and begin to ‘live it up’. It was a dangerous thing to do.

But then Jesus makes a distinction. Those who know their master’s wishes (like his disciples) but are found misbehaving when he returns will be severely punished. Those who do not know (non-disciples, outsiders) will still be punished for doing wrong but their punishment will be less than those who have received their master’s teaching and instructions.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Christian Religious Art Of Jesus Paintings - The Good Shepherd Painting  - Christian Religious Art Of Jesus Paintings - The Good Shepherd Fine Art Print
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By Dale Kunkel
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection

Today’s Gospel presents again the exhortation to vigilance with two other parables. Yesterday, it was the parable of the Master and of the servant (Lk 12, 36-38). Today, the first parable is the one of the householder and the burglar (Lk 12, 39-40) and the other one speaks of the one of the master and the steward (Lk 12, 41-47).

Luke 12, 39-40: The parable of the householder and of the burglar. You may be quite sure of this , that if the householder had known at what time the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the walls of the house. You too must stand ready, because the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. So just as the householder does not know at what hour the burglar will come, in the same way, no one knows the hour when the son of Man will arrive. Jesus says this very clearly: “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father!” (Mk 13, 32). Today many people live worried about the end of the world. On the streets of the cities, we see written on the walls: Jesus will return!

There are even persons who are in anguish because of the proximity of the end of the world, and they commit suicide. But time goes by and the end of the world does not arrive! Many times the affirmation “Jesus will return” is used to frighten people and oblige them to go to a determinate church! After that long wait and speculation around the coming of Jesus, many people no longer perceive the presence in our midst, in the most common things of life, in daily events. What is important is not to know the hour of the end of the world , but rather to have a look capable of perceiving the coming of Jesus who is already present in our midst in the person of the poor (cf Mt 25, 40) and in so many other ways and events of every day life.

Luke 12, 41: Peter’s question. “Then, Peter said, Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone? The reason for this question asked by Peter is not clearly understood. It recalls another episode, in which Jesus responds to a similar question saying: “To you it is granted to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted” (Mt 13, 10-11; Lk 8, 9-10).

Luke 12, 42-48ª: The parable of the householder and the steward. In the response to Peter’s question, Jesus formulates another question in the form of a parable: “Who then is the wise and trustworthy steward whom the master will place over his household to give them at the proper time their allowance of food?” Immediately after, Jesus himself gives the response in the parable: the good steward is the one who carries out his mission of servant, he does not use the goods received for his own advantage, and is always vigilant and attentive. Perhaps this is an indirect response to Peter’s question, as if he would say: “Peter, the parable is really for you! It is up to you to know how to administer well the mission which God has given you: to coordinate the communities. In this sense, the response is also valid for each one of us. And here the final warning acquire much sense: “When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected”.

The coming of the Son of Man and the end of this world. The same problems existed in the Christian communities of the first centuries. Many people of the communities said that the end of this world was close at hand and that Jesus would return afterwards. Some from the community of Thessalonica in Greece, basing themselves in Paul’s preaching said: “Jesus will return!” (1 Th 4, 13-18; 2 Th 2, 2).

And because of this, there were even persons who no longer worked, because they thought that the coming would be within a few days or few weeks. Why work if Jesus would return? (cf 2 Th 3, 11). Paul responds that it was not so simple as it seemed, and to those who did not work he would warn: “He who does not work has no right to eat!”

Others remained looking up to Heaven, waiting for the return of Jesus on the clouds (cf. Ac 1,11). And others did not like to wait (2 P 3, 4-9). In general the Christians lived expecting the imminent coming of Jesus. Jesus would come for the Final Judgment to end with the unjust history of this world here below and to inaugurate a new phase of history, the definitive phase of the New Heavens and the New Earth. They thought that it would take place after one or two generations. Many people would still be alive when Jesus would appear glorious in Heaven (1Th 4, 16-17; Mk 9, 1). Others, tired of waiting would say: “He will never come back!” (2 P 3, 4).

Even up until today the final return of Jesus has not yet taken place! How can this delay be understood? We are not aware that Jesus has already returned, and that he is in our midst: “Look, I am with you always, yes, till the end of time”. (Mt 28, 20). He is already at our side in the struggle for justice, for peace and for life. The plenitude, the fullness has not been attained, but an example or guarantee of the Kingdom is already in our midst. This is why, we wait with firm hope the total liberation of humanity and of nature (Rm 8, 22-25). And when we wait and we struggle, we say rightly: “He is already in our midst!” (Mt 25, 40).

Personal questions

The response of Jesus to Peter serves also for us, for me. Am I a good administrator of the mission which I have received?

What do I do in order to be always vigilant?

 Concluding prayer

From the rising of the sun to its setting,

praised be the name of Yahweh!

Supreme over all nations is Yahweh,

supreme over the heavens his glory. (Ps 113,3-4)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-luke-1239-48

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From 2013 —
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Who is the greatest enemy of life?  It is sin.  Why?  Because St Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death.  (Rom 6:23)  The death that St Paul refers to is not just physical death but the death of the soul and the heart to love.  Secondly, sin is our greatest enemy because it is unlike battling with an enemy from without; this enemy is within our hearts.  Sin lives in our mortal bodies.  Accordingly, St Paul urges us, “You must not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or command your obedience to bodily passions, you must not let any part of your body turn into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin.”  Because of original sin, we share in the fallen nature like the rest of humanity.  It is difficult to resist sin because sin is so attractive, especially the sin of lust, greed and gluttony. Indeed, we appear powerless in the face of sin, succumbing so easily.

So how can we overcome the power of sin?  In the first place, since this battle is not just against earthly forces but against the Evil One, as St Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Eph 6:12)  So against sin and the temptations of the Evil One, we need to solicit the help of the Lord.  Hence, he continued, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph 6:13)  We can fight the battle with God on our side, trusting that He will deliver us from the Evil One.  Indeed, it is with this confidence that we struggle with sin, for we know with the psalmist that “our help is in the name of the Lord.  We were rescued like a bird from the fowlers’ snare; broken was the snare, and we were freed. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

But He can fight for and with us only if we offer ourselves to Him.   If we want God to be on our side, St Paul says, “You should, instead, offer yourselves to God, and consider yourselves dead men brought back to life.”   We need to surrender our body, mind and spirit to the Lord so that He can work in and through us.  Baptism is to put on Christ. This is symbolized in the Baptismal garment that we wear.  Through sanctifying grace, we are now given the strength for the battle to fight against sin and overcome our concupiscence.  No longer do we struggle alone by our own strength but with the grace of the Holy Spirit given to us.  In our hearts, we are disposed to put away sin and not allow sin to muster us.  No longer can we continue to be slaves to sin.  St Paul reminds us, “Does the fact that we are living by grace and not by law mean that we are free to sin? Of course not!  You know that if you agree to serve and obey a master you become his slaves.  You were once slaves of sin, but thank God you submitted without reservation to the creed you were taught.  You may have been freed from the slavery of sin, but only to become ‘slaves’ of righteousness.”  Only when we live a righteous life, can we find true freedom and peace.  How can we fight against sin and evil if we allow sin to dwell in us?  We cannot be servants of God and mammon. (cf Lk 16:13)

In our warfare against sin, we can adopt the strategy of self-defence.  In the gospel, Jesus told His listeners, “You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.”  Clearly in fighting against sin, we must be alert, especially to the temptation of the Evil One.  He comes to tempt us to sin in many ways, especially when we are weak and vulnerable.  Those moments when we fall into sin happen when we are lonely, depressed, discouraged and lax in our spiritual life.  In such a situation, we must not allow ourselves to be near the occasion for sin.

But it is not enough to defend ourselves from the wiles of the Evil One. We must also be on the offensive as well.  In order to fight against the Evil One, we must be strong in faith.  We need to bolster our spiritual life and live a virtuous life.  St Paul says to us, “You should make every part of your body into a weapon fighting on the side of God, and then sin will no longer dominate your life, since you are living by grace and not by law.”  There is no surer way of winning our struggle against sin than to live a life of grace, a life of holiness.  Without a life of prayer, regular confession and frequent reception of the Eucharist and a deep love for the Word of God, we will be like soldiers going to a battle without food and weapons to fight or defend ourselves.

Indeed, Jesus in the gospel exhorts us to faithfulness and watchfulness.  He said, “You too must stand ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  We must welcome the Lord by living consciously in His presence as if He is watching us in every step. This watchfulness is not just being faithful in our spiritual life, but we must also be attentive and responsible to our vocation and our responsibilities in life.  Jesus said, “What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?”  It is in our daily fidelity to whatever the Lord has delegated to us that we build ourselves in character and discipline.  Yes, when we overcome one sin, we find ourselves stronger in overcoming another; and gradually, we become stronger and stronger in fending off the temptations of the evil one.

Conversely, we must remember the idiom that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  Our minds fantasize and plan evil things because we are lazy.  That was the attitude of the lazy servant.  He said to himself, “My master is taking his time coming”, and sets about beating the menservants and the maids and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.”  When we are irresponsible, we open ourselves to all sorts of temptations and sins.  To keep the devil at bay, we must be up and about doing the Lord’s work, recognizing that we are His servants.

We must realize that the punishment for sin is sin itself.  This is what Jesus warns us when He said, “The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”  Often in life we punish ourselves by the very sins we commit.  Many of our woes in life are the consequences of our misconduct, irresponsibility and failures in the past.  In most instances, we are merely reaping what we have sown. Instead of blaming our woes on others, we should use such occasions to repent and do penance for our sins, and use those moments of suffering for our purification. Sin punishes us with more sins; not merely the consequences of our sins.  When we realize this truth, it behooves us not to destroy ourselves, and worse still, our loved ones and our future because of our callous attitude towards our spiritual life and the responsibilities accorded to our state of life.  The pleasure of sin is for a moment but the misery that comes from sin can last for years.  Be aware of the trick of the devil.

Finally, there is a warning to those of us who delay conversion, especially when we know the way but are not living it. Christians have no excuse, especially those who have received baptism and had conversion experiences in their lives.  God has given us the grace but when we take His grace for granted, we will be punished doubly as the parable warns us, “The servant who knows what he wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash.”  Non-Christians can claim ignorance but for us Christians, we have a grave responsibility for the gift of Faith given to us at our baptism.  For that reason, they will be treated lightly since “the one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes.”  Jesus asserts this obligation when He said that “when a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man had had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.”  One should take note that Jesus told this parable to His disciples, which means all of us.  We who are the servants of the Lord must take care that we are faithful and responsible in our tasks; otherwise, the guilt in us will condemn us when we face God and our fellowmen.

Holiness is not something we acquire overnight.  We must first learn to resist temptation, overcome sin, before we can even eradicate the imperfections in our lives.  If we cannot even overcome grave and mortal sins, we cannot expect to purge ourselves of venial sins; the former grieves God tremendously, and the latter makes God sad.  Only when we live a life of holiness and a life of grace, can God live in us and entrust everything to us as the Father did to Jesus.  Truly, as Jesus promised us, “Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns.“  So let us surrender every part of our body and will to the Lord so that He can use us as His instruments to establish the reign of God in the world.

http://www.csctr.net/reflections/

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For People who live in an “instant” culture, waiting has very negative connotations. Our generic western culture tells us that time is for production and for money. If we produce quickly, we amass more wealth. To wait too long is to squander opportunities for production and wealth.

The Gospel reading for today presents us with another understanding of “waiting” Waiting is not simply to prepare ourselves for death, it is also and very importantly waiting for the coming of the master, who comes to ask us to do simple or great but always necessary things for his people.

Waiting is therefore a time of great creativity, when we use our gifts and talents to make us ready for moments of great opportunity.

So Jesus tells his disciples “See that you are ready for action and have your lamps lit.”

And those who have waited creatively and planned will most certainly do better than those who try to be instant entrepreneurs.

If this is true on the commercial level it is even more so on the level of our relationship with God and our vocation to build the kingdom.

At this present moment in, we the believers are all afraid. Crimes of all types, tell us that the kingdom is not very apparent here with us. And in the midst of the murders, kidnappings, robberies and the expanding gap between rich and poor, the gospel tells us “Fear not” because the Kingdom will come, but it also tells us to be ready. Ready for what? Ready to take the opportunities which will present themselves for us to proclaim and build the kingdom.

The “getting ready” means learning to be attentive to the signs and opportunities for proclaiming and bringing the kingdom into being around us.

These opportunities are many. Occasions of injustice are not just moments to decry corrupt officials they are moments to create structures which bring justice to people.

The being ready is in fact the authentic tradition of our church.

http://aecrc.org/wp/19th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-c11th-august-2013/

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Hashed al-Shaabi coalition of Iraqi paramilitary forces report fierce clashes near Mosul Tuesday with Jihadists from the Islamic State group

October 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi coalition of Iraqi paramilitary forces have been instrumental in fighting around Mosul
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Jihadists from the Islamic State group and fighters from Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition were locked in fierce clashes near Mosul Tuesday, with nearly 30 reported dead, the coalition said.

Mosul, Iraq’s second city, was retaken from IS in July after a massive months-long offensive.

“Waad Allah forces are repelling an IS attack southwest of Mosul in the Hatra desert” some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of Mosul, said a spokesman for the Hashed unit.

The Hashed is an umbrella group of paramilitary auxiliaries formed in 2014 to support Iraqi regular forces after IS swept across swathes of northern Iraq.

In a series of online posts, Waad Allah said IS sent “numerous suicide bombers” to attack its forces, and gave a death toll of 24 jihadists and four of its own men.

Iraqi forces have retaken more than 90 percent of the territory IS seized in the country in 2014, with the jihadists now confined to the desert areas in Anbar province bordering Syria.

But despite a series of stinging defeats, IS in Iraq retains the ability to launch attacks in areas declared “liberated” months previously.

After losing Mosul in July, IS has also just lost Raqa, its “capital” in Syria.

The Hashed took over the Hatra area in April this year after IS forces were ousted.

The ancient walled city of Hatra in northern Nineveh province is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Spain’s direct rule is due to strip Catalonia of all local control — The regional government is expected to be sacked, the police force removed and local media taken over

October 24, 2017

AFP

© FRANCE 24 Screengrab

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS Karina CHABOUR

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-10-24

A senate vote in Madrid on Friday to implement direct rule is due to strip Catalonia of powers in response to the region’s independence bid. The regional government is expected to be sacked, the police force removed and local media taken over.

With that prospect looming, FRANCE 24 met with the journalists taking action to keep the voice of Catalan independence on the air.

“We are backed by the Catalan audiovisual council, which recognizes that Radio Catalunya is the media that respects plurality the most,” Montse Poblet, a reporter for the station, told FRANCE 24. “Giving the Spanish government control of our stations won’t improve the situation in Catalonia,” she said.

FRANCE 24’s Karina Chabour and Aurore Dupuis report.

 http://www.france24.com/en/20171024-spain-catalonia-catalan-independence-public-service-broadcasting-democracy-protest

To watch the story, click on the player above.

Russian Trolling of US Social Media May Have Been Much Greater Than We Thought

October 24, 2017

The latest revelations from inside Russia heighten concern over Moscow’s Internet “troll farm.”

 https://www.thenation.com/article/russian-trolling-of-us-social-media-may-have-been-much-greater-than-we-thought/
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NATO Plans to Create Two New Commands Amid Russia Tensions

October 24, 2017

Defense ministers will review a new command structure at their quarterly meeting next month

A Swedish Navy submarine participates in NATO's Dynamic Mongoose anti-submarine exercise in the North Sea off the coast of Norway in 2015.
A Swedish Navy submarine participates in NATO’s Dynamic Mongoose anti-submarine exercise in the North Sea off the coast of Norway in 2015. PHOTO: MARIT HOMMEDAL/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BRUSSELS—NATO is poised to approve the creation of two new commands to improve allied logistics and protect supply lines, aiming to shore up weaknesses in any potential conflict with Russia, allied officials said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers will review a new command structure at their quarterly meeting next month, the officials said.

The recommendations include a new NATO logistics command that would focus on moving people and materiel more quickly. They also include a command for the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans that would focus on protecting sea lanes, critical for supplying Europe, from submarine threats. Costs and funding for the new commands haven’t been finalized.

Rising tensions with Moscow have prompted NATO members to rethink the speed with which they reinforce front-line forces or move to unexpected conflict zones. NATO’s mobility atrophied during decades of peace and is impeded by European Union rules governing civil transportation, which apply to militaries during peacetime.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-plans-to-create-two-new-commands-amid-russia-tensions-1508837829

China frees Swedish bookseller held for books on party chiefs: Sweden foreign office

October 24, 2017

Reuters

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – China has informed Sweden that it has freed a bookseller detained for publishing books on the personal lives of President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders, the Swedish foreign office said on Tuesday.

Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swede, was abducted in Thailand while on holiday in 2015. He was among five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing in 2015 and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

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Gui Minhai

“We have been told by Chinese authorities that Gui Minhai has been released in China,” foreign office spokeswoman Sofia Karlberg said, offering no further details.

Earlier this year Gui Minhai won a prize for free speech and press freedom awarded by Swedish media organization Publicistklubben.

Hamas Begs Iran for Help, US Envoy Says — “Hamas, which has only brought ruin and misery to Palestinians, now begs Iran for help and again vows to destroy Israel.”

October 24, 2017
BY MICHAEL WILNER, ADAM RASGON
 OCTOBER 23, 2017 19:48

 

US special representative for international negotiations took to Twitter to make the claim.

US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meeting with PA leader Mahmud Abbas

US President’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. (photo credit:AFP PHOTO / PPO / THAER GHANAIM)

WASHINGTON — Hamas is “begging Iran” for help in its armed resistance against Israel, a senior Trump administration official said on Monday, addressing the visit of several Hamas leaders to Tehran over the weekend.

Their visit comes amid talk of Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which have split rule over the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, for nearly a decade.

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Fatah is committed to a peaceful, political path forward in its fight for Palestinian statehood. Hamas– considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and other Western powers– believes that violence is the right path forward in its efforts to “destroy Israel” and claim Palestine their own.

“Hamas, which has only brought ruin and misery to Palestinians, now begs Iran for help and again vows to destroy Israel,” wrote Jason Greenblatt, the US’ special representative for international negotiations, on Twitter. “Palestinians deserve so much better than this. We must find a better path forward toward peace and prosperity.”

Hamas, which has only brought ruin and misery to Palestinians, now begs Iran for help and again vows to destroy Israel. 1/2

Palestinians deserve so much better than this. We must find a better path forward toward peace and prosperity. 2/2

Fatah leaders in the Palestinian Authority are trying to reclaim control over Gaza, but Hamas is drawing a red line, refusing to relinquish security control over the coastal strip. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri drew a clear distinction between its potential reconciliation with Fatah and its policy regarding Israel on his visit to Tehran this weekend.

“Support of the resistance is one thing and Palestinian reconciliation is another thing, related to the civil side in the Palestinian sphere,” he said.

Hamas officials have in recent days recommitted the group to the destruction of the Jewish state through violent means.

Hamas Deputy Chairman Salih al-Arouri said that Iran agreed to continue to support “Palestine and the resistance” after meeting with senior Iranian officials in Tehran including Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The main result [of our meetings] is the continuation of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]’s commitment towards Palestine and the resistance in Palestine…We hope this support will continue and grow until the resistance will be able to defeat the occupation,” Arouri said in an interview on Sunday with Iran’s al-Alam TV, referring to Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzeldin Qassam Brigades.

Iran has long supported the Qassam Brigades, which is comprised of some 25,000 members who have fought in three wars with Israel over the past ten years.

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Qassam Brigades.
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According to Arouri as well as Hamas Chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, Iran is the biggest backer of the Qassam Brigades.Arouri also responded to Israeli criticism of his visit to Tehran, saying that Hamas undertakes many actions and holds multiple positions that do not please Israel.

Greenblatt is in the region meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials as part of his ongoing effort to restart peace talks.

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Iraqi PM slams US call for Iranian militias to quit Iraq — “Nobody has the right to interfere in Iraqi affairs.”

October 24, 2017

The Iraqi prime minister has challenged US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over his comments on Iranian militias in Iraq. Tillerson had called on the militias to “go home” as the fight against IS was ending.

Fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Petit Tesson)

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), “are Iraqis who have fought terrorism, defended their country and made sacrifices to defeat ‘Islamic State’,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Iranian and Iran-backed Shiite militia in Iraq to either return to their
homes, integrate into the Iraqi army or leave the country, as the fight against the “Islamic State” (IS) was ending.

“Those fighters need to go home,” Tillerson said. “Any foreign fighters need to go home.”

Read more: Tillerson tries to undercut Iran in Saudi Arabia summit

The 60,000-strong Hashed al-Shaabi was cobbled together from Iranian-backed militias in 2014 after IS took over large parts of northern Iraq. It is answerable to the prime minister’s office, and parliament has voted to integrate it into state forces.

Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fire against Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Tal Afar, Iraq in August REUTERS/StringerPMF fighters have taken on ‘Islamic State’ militants in the battle to reclaim Iraqi territory

“The Hashed is an institution that depends on the Iraqi state and the constitution does not allow the presence of armed groups outside the law,” Abadi said. The cabinet added that “nobody has the right to interfere in Iraqi affairs.”

Critics allege that visits by Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who advises the PMF, reflect Tehran’s influence in the country.

Iraq has close links with Shiite-majority Iran, which is the regional rival of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

Critics argue that pro-Baghdad Shiite-dominated PMF are supported by Iran, with Tehran seen as using them to expand its influence in Iraq.

Tillerson urges dialogue over Kirkuk

Meeting in Baghdad, Tillerson and Abadi discussed “government measures taken to restore the authority of the federal government in Kirkuk,” said Abadi’s spokesman Haydar Hamada.

Read more: What you need to know about the Kurdish-Iraqi dispute

Central government forces won back control of the oil-rich province from Kurdish forces last week after a controversial Kurdish independence vote.

“We are concerned and a bit saddened by the recent differences that have emerged between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi central government,” Tillerson said.

“We have friends both in Baghdad and we have friends in Erbil and we encourage both parties to enter into discussion and dialogue.”

jbh/cmk (AFP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/iraqi-pm-slams-us-call-for-iranian-militias-to-quit-iraq/a-41083136

Trump-Tillerson rope in India and Afghanistan to bring Pakistan to heel

October 24, 2017
Chidanand Rajghatta| TNN | Updated: Oct 24, 2017, 09:46 IST

 Image may contain: text

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The US, India, and Afghanistan want Pakistan and its terrorist proxies to butt out of the war-ravaged country Afghanistan
  • Tillerson offered a blunt preview of his agenda for the Islamabad visit saying the US now has a “conditions-based” approach with regards to Pakistan
(AFP photo)

Trump-Tillerson rope in India and Afghanistan to bring Pakistan to heel

WASHINGTON: There was a time not so long ago when a US cabinet member or high official visiting Islamabad and New Delhi on the same trip to the region would have irked India and invited grumbling about American hyphenation of the two countries. But such is the rapidly evolving nature of ties between Washington and New Delhi, seen in some quarters as being just short of a formal alliance, that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not only touching down in Islamabad on his way to New Delhi on Tuesday, he’s also tailing Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in to the Indian capital after an unannounced stopover in Kabul+ for what could end up as a trilateral US-India-Afghanistan meeting aimed at bringing Pakistan to heel+ .

The schedule, and even more, statements preceding and accompanying his travels to the region, tell the story of the new American strategy for the region under President Trump, fairly transparently. The US, India, and Afghanistan want Pakistan and its terrorist proxies to butt out of the war-ravaged country; all three hold Pakistan and its military responsible for the decades-long crisis because of Islamabad’s neurotic search for strategic depth against India. And all three are working together to sideline Pakistan after its toxic role in the region, partly with Chinese help.

Tillerson himself offered a blunt preview of his agenda for the Islamabad visit saying the US now has a “conditions-based” approach with regards to Pakistan, and the Trump administration had made some “very specific requests” of Islamabad to undermine its support for terrorist groups. “We are concerned about future stability of Pakistan as much as Afghanistan. Pakistan needs to take a clear-eyed view of the situation they are confronted with,” he said. In Washington, a senior administration official bluntly stated that Afghanistan needed India’s help primarily so that the state can be “hardened and strengthened against any regenerative capacity of the Taliban which lies mainly across the border in Pakistan.”

The statements were preceded by a withering policy speech in Washington last week in which Tillerson not only spoke of US ties with India+ in a 100-year framework, but also characterized Pakistan and China as disruptive spoilers in the region.

Whether Pakistan will submit to the combined will of Washington, New Delhi, and Kabul remains to be seen. The initial signs are not promising. Following up on US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ warning that the Washington has many instruments at its disposal to bring Pakistan to heel that President Trump “is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” US Drones launched a flurry of missile strikes in Pakistan last week killing dozens of purported militants.

In what appears to be retaliatory attacks, Pakistani proxies attacked Afghan military barracks and mosques with suicide squads, killing dozens of Afghan military personnel.

Commentary in the Pakistani media suggests that Islamabad is gearing up to reject the Trump administration’s strategy of giving India a lead role in stabilizing Afghanistan, even though talking heads are warning that Pakistan’s economy is crumbling and it does not have the capacity to stand up to Washington. With domestic internal political crisis strangling the country, the expected bailout from China, Russia and other supposed allies has not come, and key leaders, such as its former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa have been making a beeline to Saudi Arabia, the last resort arbiters and patrons of the Pakistan state.

One question vexing New Delhi would be whether it can or should have long-term confidence in President Trump’s strategy and personnel. Already, the tattle in Washington is that Tillerson’s days as Secretary of State is numbered (Washington Post tipped U.S ambassador to U.N Nikki Haley as a possible replacement). Trump is also heading to China on November 8, and given his temperament, there is no saying what he will say or do during the visit, notwithstanding stated policy or planned choreography. For now though, the action is in the Indian subcontinent will Tillerson set on a three-nation swing.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/trump-tillerson-rope-in-india-and-afghanistan-to-bring-pakistan-to-heel/articleshow/61189581.cms

In Video: Rex Tillerson slams Pakistan, tells Islamabad to stop support to terrorism now

Spain will use force if Catalonia protests against direct rule

October 24, 2017

By Graham Keeley
The Times

October 24, 2017

Catalan police will be told to restore order if independence protests escalate into violence
Catalan police will be told to restore order if independence protests escalate into violence.  ALEJANDRO GARCIA/EPA

A senior Spanish cabinet minister has warned that Madrid is prepared to use force to restore order in Catalonia as separatists vowed to resist direct rule.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Spanish government spokesman and education minister, told The Times that Catalan police would be used to quell protests that threatened public order.

“No government wants any acts of violence but the government has to make sure that the law is obeyed and if there are people on the other side who do not want to obey the law, then, through the Mossos d’Esquadra [the Catalan police], we will have to restore the law,” Mr Méndez de Vigo said.

Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, said at the weekend that Madrid would impose direct rule on…

Read the rest:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/madrid-will-use-force-if-catalonia-resists-rule-5knck5g6s?CMP=Sprkr-_-Editorial-_-thetimes-_-World-_-Imageandlink-_-Statement-_-Unspecified-_-TWITTER&linkId=43862312

(Paywall)