August 10/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 09-10/2019
Art, music and singing are mere Divine sacred talents and not satanic means
Lebanon’s security chief announces release of Canadian held in Syria
Conferees Say Committed to Lira Stability in Baabda Financial Meeting
Aoun, Berri, Hariri, Jumblat and Arslan Take Part in Baabda 'Reconciliation' Meeting
Jumblat-Arslan Reconciliation Reached in Baabda, Cabinet to Meet Saturday
ISF Chief: Summer in Lebanon Safe and Promising
Report: Qabrshmoun Incidents to Draw European Reaction, ‘Sanctions’ on FPM
Hasbani Says His Exclusion from Baabda Financial Meeting Unjustified
Garbage Crisis in North amid Controversy over Terbol Landfill
Salameh Ranked Among the World’s Best Central Bank Governors
Aid Groups Urge Lebanese Army to Halt 'Punitive' Refugee Raids
Army Chief meets US Congress delegation
Lebanon is Now a Hezbollah-run State

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 09-10/2019
US Warns Commercial Ships from Trap of Iran’s Communications Jamming
France says ‘needs no permission’ to ease Iran tensions after Trump swipe
US report lists Iranian individuals, entities sanctioned for human rights abuses
Syrian constitution body could convene soon: Russian envoy
Explosions rock Turkish ammunition depot near Syria
Trump pledges respect for gun lobby in post-massacre debate
Yemeni Rebels: Saudi-Led Coalition Killed Leader's Brother
An organized terrorist cell murdered Dvir Sorek. Intelligence takes over the hunt
Israel Navy Seeks to Raise Profile with Multi-National Drill
Moscow says US backed protests, despite embassy call to stay away
US defense secretary visits South Korea as region faces myriad challenges
Venezuela deploys troops in anti-smuggling operation at Colombia border
Pakistani foreign minister visiting China to discuss Kashmir
US: Man armed with loaded rifle, body armor arrested at Missouri Walmart
Hong Kong airport on alert ahead of fresh wave of protests
China issues ‘red alert’ as super typhoon approaches mainland
Indian Forces on High Alert after Kashmir Friday Prayers

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 09-10/2019
Art, music and singing are mere Divine sacred talents and not satanic means/Elias Bejjani/August 09/2019
Lebanon is Now a Hezbollah-run State/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 09/2019
A moment of truth for Trump as survivors of religious persecution visit White House/Tala Jarjour/Arab News/August 08, 2019
Putin and the Mullahs/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 09/2019
Oil markets will have to weather the ‘perfect storm/Frank Kane/Arab News/August 09/2019
Offering to meet the leaders of the Iranian regime is a mistake/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 09/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 09-10/2019
Art, music and singing are mere Divine sacred talents and not satanic means
Elias Bejjani/August 09/2019
الفن والموسيقى والغناء مواهب إلاهية مقدسة وليست وسائل شيطانية للترويح للشواذات والفسق والعهر والفجور

Some of those who call themselves falsely artists, musicians and singersو and who recently were publicly rejected in Lebanon because of their moral, ethical and religious deviated heretic approaches and performances did not give up yet and let go.
With their heretic supporters and fans they are still challenging the taste and faith of the majority of the Lebanese people.
And, in spite of the unmasking of all their satanic goals, public nakedness and rejection, the heretic band and its supporters are continuing in our beloved and Holy Lebanon to shamelessly promote for debauchery, ethical, and moral deviations, and at the same time insulting Christianity and Christian Holy major symbols and saints in their songs’ lyrics, music and songs.
They are falsely and evilly hiding their heretic conduct and condemned behaviour behind the mantles of freedom and art, while art, and music are sacred talents and not means of advocacy for social and moral odds, or ethical deviations of any kind.
Thanks to Almighty God, that the majority of the faithful Lebanese people are against their heretics and do not like or watch such performances of bold atheism and moral-ethical-social deviations.
In summary, What is reassuring in this context is that this heretic band is morally, ethically, socially and religious wise is in a very different position from the majority of the God fearing and faithful Lebanese people who Fear God and His Last Day Of Judgment.
May Al Mighty God Bless Lebanon and Its people.الفن والموسيقى والغناء مواهب إلاهية مقدسة وليست وسائل شيطانية للترويح للشواذات والفسق والعهر والفجور
رغم كل تعريتهم وفضح اهدافهم الإبليسية فإن جماعات الشذوذ والإلحاد مستمرون في وطننا الحبيب والمقدس لبنان بالترويج الوقح لفرقتهم المهرطقة متلحفين زورا عباءة الحرية فيما هم إيمانياً بمكان وغالبية شعبنا الذي يخاف الله وحسابه في مكان آخر

Lebanon’s security chief announces release of Canadian held in Syria
Reuters, Beirut/Friday, 9 August 2019
Lebanon’s general security chief Abbas Ibrahim announced on Friday the release of Canadian citizen Kristian Lee Baxter who was held in Syria last year. The Canadian citizen appeared at a news conference in Beirut with Ibrahim. “I thought I would be there forever,” said Baxter.
“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” added Baxter, struggling to speak as he choked back tears while sitting alongside Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon and the Lebanese security chief. Baxter, wearing a grey t-shirt, was detained while travelling in Syria last year, though it was not clear what he was doing there and the Canadian ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux said she could not give any details about the case. Baxter thanked both the Canadian embassy and the Lebanese authorities for helping him get out of Syria.Lamoureux thanked Lebanese security chief Abbas Ibrahim. Ibrahim said Baxter had been detained for reasons related to breaking Syrian law. “I thought I would be there forever,” Baxter said. “I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” he added, and then began to sobs. It was unclear what Baxter was doing in Syria at the time of his detention. Sam Goodwin, the US citizen freed last month, had been travelling in Syria without a visa. Several Western citizens have been held in Syria since the civil war began there in 2011, including some by extremist groups such as ISIS. The United States has said it believes US journalist Austin Tice, who has been held in Syria since 2012, is alive and Washington has sought the help of the Syrian government’s ally Russia to free him. Last year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.

Conferees Say Committed to Lira Stability in Baabda Financial Meeting
A high-level economic-financial meeting chaired by President Michel Aoun was held Friday at the Baabda Palace, after which Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that the conferees expressed their commitment to the stability of the Lebanese lira. “An agreement has been reached on a host of key steps which we will work on implementing in the coming period and which will contribute to activating the economy and enhancing the situation of the state’s finances,” Hariri added. “The conferees expressed their relief as to the pacification of the political atmosphere and the reconciliation,” Hariri went on to say, referring to the reconciliation that was reached Friday in Baabda between Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Democratic Party chief Talal Arslan. The reconciliation puts an end to weeks of political deadlock and tensions, with a cabinet session scheduled for Saturday, the first since a tense cabinet meeting was abruptly adjourned in the wake of the deadly Qabrshmoun incident. In addition to Aoun and Hariri, the meeting was attended by Speaker Nabih Berri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, State Minister for Presidency Affairs Salim Jreissati, Economy Minister Mansour Bteish, the head of the finance parliamentary committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, the head of the Association of Banks Salim Sfeir and Presidency Director-General Antoine Choucair.

Aoun, Berri, Hariri, Jumblat and Arslan Take Part in Baabda 'Reconciliation' Meeting
Naharnet/August 09/2019
A reconciliation meeting kicked off Friday afternoon in the Baabda Presidential Palace in the presence of President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, PM Saad Hariri, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Democratic Party chief MP Talal Arslan. Jumblat had earlier announced that he would take part in a "reconciliation meeting" comprising "the higher leadership" and Arslan.For his part, Arslan replied in a tweet saying: “The meeting in Baabda is a meeting of candor and a roadmap, not a reconciliation until this moment." “The candor meeting can possibly turn into a reconciliation if previous initiatives were taken into account,” he said. LBCI television said the PSP has agreed to an “initiative suggested by Berri” and that they were “awaiting the approval of other parties,” in reference to Arslan. Prior to the "reconciliation" meeting, Aoun had presided over a financial-economic meeting in Baabda in the presence of Berri, Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, State Minister for Presidency Affairs Salim Jreissati, Economy Minister Mansour Bteish, the head of the finance parliamentary committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, the head of the Association of Banks Salim Sfeir and Presidency Director-General Antoine Choucair. The National News Agency said the conferees discussed "the financial and economic situations in the country."The parties are seeking to reconcile Jumblat and Arslan in connection with the deadly Qabrshmoun incident, in which two bodyguards of State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib were killed and a third was wounded in a clash with PSP supporters. A PSP supporter was also injured as the minister escaped unharmed.A Cabinet session was abruptly adjourned in the wake of the Qabrshmoun incident and the Council of Ministers has not convened since that meeting, which has plunged the country into a lengthy political crisis. Gharib and Arslan have insisted that the Qabrshmoun case should be referred to the Judicial Council, a demand opposed by the PSP and its allies. The Military Court has recently started looking into the case, but Jumblat and the PSP have accused ministers and judges close to Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement of interfering in the judiciary to dictate the outcome of the probe.

Jumblat-Arslan Reconciliation Reached in Baabda, Cabinet to Meet Saturday
Naharnet/August 09/2019
Lebanon’s top leaders on Friday managed to secure a reconciliation between Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Democratic Party chief Talal Arslan, ending weeks of political deadlock and tensions over the deadly Qabrshmoun incident.
The meeting was chaired by President Michel Aoun and attended by Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. “A frankness and reconciliation meeting was held at the Baabda Palace and the conferees condemned the tragic incident which left two people dead and several wounded and which has become in the hands of the military judiciary,” Hariri announced from Baabda, reciting a statement issued after the meeting. “The military judiciary is probing the case in line with the applicable laws and the Cabinet will take the appropriate decision in light of the outcome of the investigations,” Hariri added, announcing that the Cabinet will convene in Baabda at 11:00 am Saturday. “A reconciliation has taken place,” Hariri confirmed. Berri for his part described the reconciliation as an "achievement."A Cabinet session was abruptly adjourned in the wake of the incident and Hariri refrained from scheduling any session to avoid a possible clash in Cabinet. Arslan had insisted that the case should be referred to the Judicial Council, a top court that looks into crimes against national security, a demand opposed by Jumblat and his allies. The Military Court has recently started looking into the case, amid accusations by Jumblat and the PSP that ministers and judges close to Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement were interfering to dictate the outcome of the probe. Two bodyguards of State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib were killed and a third was wounded in a clash with PSP supporters in Qabrshmoun. A PSP supporter was also injured as the minister escaped unharmed. Gharib and Arslan described the incident as an ambush and an assassination attempt as Jumblat and the PSP accused the minister’s bodyguards of forcing their way and opening fire on protesters. Earlier on Friday, Jumblat announced that he would take part in a "reconciliation meeting" comprising "the higher leadership" and Arslan. For his part, Arslan replied in a tweet saying: “The meeting in Baabda is a meeting of candor and a roadmap, not a reconciliation until this moment." “The candor meeting can possibly turn into a reconciliation if previous initiatives were taken into account,” he said. LBCI television said the PSP had agreed to an “initiative suggested by Berri.”

ISF Chief: Summer in Lebanon Safe and Promising
Naharnet/August 09/2019
Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman assured on Friday that “Lebanon’s summer will be safe and promising,” and the security forces are working hard to relay a message that Lebanon is a safe haven for tourists. “Summer season in Lebanon will be safe and promising. The security forces are working around the clock to provide all the requirements of stability for the success of the summer season, and to send a strong message that Lebanon is a safe haven for tourists, expatriates and its people,” said Othman in an interview with General Security magazine. “With the approval of the budget by the Parliament, the hope was that Lebanon enters a new stage of financial and monetary stability but some political and security happenings emerged and confused this hope. Economic stability remains incomplete if not accompanied with political stability, regularity of institutions and reduction in tense rhetoric,” added Othman. The ISF chief pointed out that security agencies carry their tasks better under a stable economic and political situation. “The combination of economic and political stability allows the security and military forces to carry out their duties in a professional manner, and to devote more time to fighting the scourges facing Lebanese society," Othman added.

Report: Qabrshmoun Incidents to Draw European Reaction, ‘Sanctions’ on FPM
/Naharnet/August 09/2019
The political and economic crisis in Lebanon has reached unprecedented levels which “prompted” the United States to issue a statement on the Qabrshmoun incidents, a move likely to be replicated by Europe "paving way for sanctions" on the Free Patriotic Movement, the Kuwaiti al-Qabas daily reported on Friday. A senior political source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the daily “the statement of the US embassy (on Qabrshmoun incidents) is unusual taking into consideration the US policy in dealing with security or local political events, and here lies its importance, considering that Washington would not intervene in the Lebanese crisis had it not reached an advanced stage of danger.” The source urged Lebanese officials to read “carefully” the contents of the US statement issued at a time when “everyone believed that Lebanon is no longer present in the decision-making circles in Washington currently engaged in major issues like securing the Strait of Hormuz, and its crisis with North Korea.” The source pointed out that the US embassy warning against “any attempt to exploit the incident for political objectives,” meant to deliver a message that ex-MP Walid Jumblat is part of the Lebanese structure and is not abandoned internationally. “According to European circles,” said the source, “a statement similar to that of the US embassy could be issued to pave the way for US sanctions that may affect officials of the Free Patriotic Movement.”On Wednesday, the embassy statement said that the United States “supports fair and transparent judicial review without any political interference.”“Any attempt to use the tragic June 30 event in (Qabrshmoun) to advance political objectives should be rejected. The U.S. has conveyed in clear terms to Lebanese authorities our expectation that they will handle this matter in a way that achieves justice without politically motivated inflammation of sectarian or communal tensions,” the statement added. The Free Patriotic Movement, Hizbullah and some of their allies have slammed the statement as an “interference” in the affairs of Lebanon and its judiciary.

Hasbani Says His Exclusion from Baabda Financial Meeting Unjustified

Naharnet/August 09/2019
Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani on Friday said his exclusion as deputy PM from a high-level financial meeting in Baabda was “unjustified.”“I have not found a justification for the exclusion of the deputy prime minister from such a meeting, especially that we and those whom we represent have clear approaches that serve the government and Lebanon’s higher interest,” Hasbani said in a statement. “There is no need to remind of the role that we played and are still playing in this regard, from devising proposals to exit the crisis to seeking with friendly countries to boost deposits in Banque du Liban, a move that might yield results soon,” Hasbani added. “If some want to marginalize this top Greek Orthodox post in the executive authority, which currently represents a main component of the country, this marginalization would be undermining the principle of institutions in this critical period,” the deputy PM went on to say.
The meeting was chaired by President Michel Aoun and attended by Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, State Minister for Presidency Affairs Salim Jreissati, Economy Minister Mansour Bteish, the head of the finance parliamentary committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, the head of the Association of Banks Salim Sfeir and Presidency Director-General Antoine Choucair.

Garbage Crisis in North amid Controversy over Terbol Landfill
Naharnet/August 09/2019
Controversy grew on Friday over a garbage landfill that is being set up in the northern area of Terbol, as trash filled the streets of several northern districts. LBCI television said Prime Minister Saad Hariri has asked Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati to suspend construction works for 24 hours to “allow finding another location.”Opponents of the landfill meanwhile held a meeting in Minieh, in the presence of MP Othman Alameddine, Markibta mayor Bassam Attiyeh and a number of neighborhood mayors, activists and residents of areas surrounding Terbol. In a statement, the conferees expressed their “total rejection of setting up a garbage landfill in Terbol, given its expected harm at the environmental, economic and health levels.”MP Michel Mouawad of Zgharta meanwhile commented on the controversy in a tweet. “After the several-week suffering of our people in the districts of Zgharta, Koura, Bsharri and Minieh-Dinniyeh due to the garbage crisis, and after several agreements with the premier on more than one solution, we are witnessing the collapse of solutions, not due to the appreciated concerns of some of our people in the neighboring villages, but rather due to suspicious reasons which we will be obliged to unveil should garbage remain on the streets,” Mouawad said. MP Tony Franjieh for his part lashed out at the continued presence of waste on the streets. “Thank you for drowning four districts in trash, with all the diseases this will cause, and thank you for rejecting all the proposed solutions amid the failure of the government and its premier to find any alternative solution,” Franjieh said. “The coming days will expose your usual fragile solutions, your keenness on the environment and state funds, as well as all the intentions,” he added.

Salameh Ranked Among the World’s Best Central Bank Governors
Naharnet/August 09/2019
Governor of Banque du Liban Riad Salameh has been awarded an 'A' rank among 94 central bank governors in the world in the 2019 report of Global Finance, the National News Agency reported on Friday. Salameh's award is his fourth after the rankings in 2011, 2017 and 2018. The central bankers of Australia, Kuwait, Morocco, Russia, South Korea, Iceland, Honduras, Mexico and Taiwan have also been awarded 'A' status.

Aid Groups Urge Lebanese Army to Halt 'Punitive' Refugee Raids
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 09/2019
Dozens of international aid groups are calling on Lebanese armed forces to put an end to a campaign of dismantling homes of Syrian refugees, calling it "punitive" and "traumatic."The statement by 51 groups Friday comes following reports that Lebanese army personnel raided a community of 350 Syrian refugee homes in settlements in the northern town of Akkar around dawn a day earlier. The groups said military personnel used sledgehammers to partially demolish homes on grounds that they violated a recent military order. Earlier this year, the military gave refugees until July 1 to remove any concrete walls taller than waist high -- a measure designed to keep their homes temporary. Lebanon is home to over 1 million Syrian refugees, a strain on the small country's resources.

Army Chief meets US Congress delegation

NNA - Fri 09 Aug 2019
Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Friday received at his Yarzeh office an administrative delegation of the US Congress, accompanied by US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard. Talks reportedly touched on the general situation in Lebanon and the broad region and the US military aid program for the Lebanese army.

Lebanon is Now a Hezbollah-run State
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 09/2019
What began as a small shooting incident in the mountain village of Qabr Shmoun is now a full-fledged political crisis threatening the future of Lebanon.
From weaving an ‘assassination attempt’ in an alleged ‘ambush’ the crescendo has gone to arguing the powers of the President and the Prime Minister. This is an issue that most Lebanese politicians have avoided discussing either because they are convinced that it is untreatable but only kept at bay, or feel it is futile to handle in a dangerous regional climate.
The ‘Qabr Shmoun Incident’, indeed, has shown - like many before it – that the Lebanese may have ended the combat side of the Civil War (1975-1990) but continue to fight it in every other form. Absent are the goodwill, the true reconciliation and entente, the healthy coexistence, and the willingness to have a real state and citizenship.
A few years ago, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general said “… why don’t you build a state first”, when answering a question about why his party refuses to hand over its arsenal to the Lebanese state.
Of course, Nasrallah’s well-spoken words, came before Hezbollah finalized its full takeover of a badly injured Lebanese state, and made it a part of its regional sectarian project. In fact, going through the party’s development of its thoughts, maneuvers, style of action, as well as its wars, one realizes that Lebanon – whether as an entity or a state – means little to it. Unlike Nasrallah’s recurrent claims that his party was “Lebanese”, and under “Lebanese legitimacy”, he himself has declared his real authority: He was proud to be a soldier of Wilayat al-Faqih.
Moreover, even if we were to accept a party’s respect for and commitment to a state’s national borders, its laws, and its constitution, are part and parcel of the said party’s – as well as the state’s – legitimacy; Hezbollah has been uncommitted to all the above under the pretext of ‘Resistance’ (Resisting Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon (1980-2000).
It has been uncommitted to the borders, not as far as attacking Israeli military targets during wartimes, but fighting inside Syria. Hezbollah has fought across the border inside Syria, killing civilians, destroying cities and villages and displacing their inhabitants, without official approval from the Lebanese government. It has also been directly engaged in direct negotiations with foreign governments, and indirectly with ‘enemy states’ through a ‘third party’ without the Lebanese government’s approval.
As for disrespect to Lebanese laws, Hezbollah has refused to hand over its members accused of murder and attempted murder, including the murders of Fighter-Pilot Samer Hanna, and peaceful demonstrator Hashem Al-Salman, and the attempted assassination of former cabinet minister Butros Harb; in addition, to possessing a formidable military ‘arsenal’ built up without import licenses, customs duties, etc.
Last, but not least, Hezbollah has recurrently disregarded the Lebanese Constitution through various means. Its intentions have been to either disable the state, or undermine national coexistence through abolishing the ‘Tae Accords’, turning its weapons inside the country, and actively seeking to marginalizing, and destabilizing religious and sectarian communities.
The new confrontation launched by President Michel Aoun against the powers of the Prime Minister, came directly from the Presidential Palace. This is a serious shift from the silent campaign carried out for some time by his son-in-law Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, manifesting itself by challenging, besieging and intentionally marginalizing Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
It’s now that Hariri has realized that there was a conspiracy to infiltrate and divide the Druze community through bloodshed, and that he is being besieged and ‘squeezed out’ politically, judicially and militarily.
On the political level, Aoun has been pushing Hariri to discuss the ‘Qabr Shmoun Incident’ in the forthcoming cabinet meeting, where the Hezbollah-Aoun axis has a slight majority. The Axis’ aim is to refer the incident in which two young men were killed to ‘The Judicial Council’, a special tribunal that deals only with issues of national security; and hence, accuse the Druze and Socialist leader Walid Jumblatt of a political crime, as a means to blackmail him or force him out of the political scene.
Judicially, under alleged Presidential orders as well as pro-Aoun Justice Minister, there have been dubious handling of the legal side of the investigation; including changing prosecutors and investigators, as well as courts in order to secure a ‘political accusation’.
Finally, in the military-security sphere, Aoun and Hezbollah desire to disregard the results of the intelligence and investigation carried out by the ‘Information Branch’ of the Internal Security Forces (ISF). The Hezbollah-Aoun axis regards the IB-ISF as pro-Hariri, so it will not be possible to tamper with evidence, invent fake data, and turn the invented data into ‘Confidential intelligence’, as was the case during the Syrian security hegemony in Lebanon pre-2005.
The Aounist ‘Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), has been involved in the current from day one; indeed, it has been its incendiary device, and now the FPM is extending its aggressive campaign from Jumblatt to include Hariri and their most powerful Christian ally Samir Geagea. Hezbollah, the de facto ruler of Lebanon and the force that imposed Aoun as President, has – as expected – sided with Aoun and his political henchmen from the first hour after the Incident, unhesitatingly confirming its role in what is going on.
There is no doubt of what Hezbollah, backed by its backers in Tehran and Damascus, wants. Actually, I believe that what this party and its Lebanese henchmen are perpetrating cannot be separated from what is happening in the Arabian Gulf, and what is being planned for Syria. In any case, Hezbollah and its henchmen are executing in Lebanon and Syria exactly what the Houthi militia is, since the command center, the allegiance, and aims are the same.
Furthermore, I wish that those who still believe that the greatest aim for Iran’s Mullahs and their Arab followers was “liberating Jerusalem” recall an interesting quote by the Hezbollah leader.
“If asked, now that I am 56 or 57 years old, about the best thing I did during my entire lifetime, I shall hesitate to reply that the greatest ever position I took has been my position against the aggression against Yemen!”. Indeed, to make the whole picture much clearer, he recently said “the whole region will burn” if Iran is attacked. Thus, it is obvious that neither Palestine nor Syria, and not even Lebanon, are top priorities for Hezbollah. Supporting Iranian expansion from the Mediterranean to Bab El-Mandeb Strait is…

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 09-10/2019
US Warns Commercial Ships from Trap of Iran’s Communications Jamming
Washington - London - Heba El Koudsy and Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 9 August, 20195
The US Transportation Department's Maritime Administration has issued a new warning about possible navigating concerns to the commercial shipping industry, due to a recent spate of attacks in the Arabian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The advisory warns of potential Iranian interference and trouble reported with some tankers' GPS navigation. The warning notes Iran could hinder navigation by interfering with GPS, or using other "communications jamming with little to no warning." The federal agency said US commercial vessels should take certain precautions, including a review of security measures and ensuring Automatic Identification System is transmitting at all times. Iran has attempted to disrupt civilian aircraft and ship navigation with GPS jammers on Iran-controlled Abu Musa Island in the Arabian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz, CNN reported. The report said Iranian military boats have been "spoofing" boats' automatic identification system to pose as merchant ships. The warning about possible navigating concerns came as President Donald Trump accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of getting in the way of US policy and sending "mixed signals" to Iran. "Iran is in serious financial trouble. They want desperately to talk to the US, but are given mixed signals from all of those purporting to represent us, including President Macron of France," Trump tweeted. "I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself. No one is authorized in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!" As the US-Iranian standoff deepens, tensions are soaring in the region, with drones downed, tankers seized by Tehran and mysterious attacks on ships in Gulf waters. Washington has accused Iran of the attacks on ships. In response, the US has been seeking to form a coalition whose mission-- dubbed Operation Sentinel -- it says is to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf. Britain, which already has warships on protection duty in the Gulf after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has said it will join the planned operation. Agence France Presse quoted Iran's defense minister as saying Thursday that the formation of the flotilla in the Gulf "will only increase insecurity in the region." Reacting to reports of Israeli willingness to join the coalition, Amir Hatami said it would be "highly provocative and can have disastrous consequences for the region,"Meanwhile, P&O Cruises said it has canceled cruises around Dubai and the Arabian Gulf over increased tensions. The company said it has canceled its planned program in the region from October until at least March next year and all guests be issued a full refund.

France says ‘needs no permission’ to ease Iran tensions after Trump swipe
AFP, Paris/Friday, 9 August 2019
France said on Friday it “needs no permission” to work towards easing tensions between Iran and the US, after President Donald Trump accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of meddling in the standoff. “On Iran, France speaks with complete sovereignty. It is working hard for peace and security in the region, it is working to facilitate a de-escalation in tensions and it needs no permission to do so,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

US report lists Iranian individuals, entities sanctioned for human rights abuses
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 9 August 2019
The US State Department has released a report with an updated list of sanctions targeting human rights abuses linked to Iran, adding Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC – QF) and a range of Iranian militias.
As part of ongoing sanctions combating human rights abuses associated with Iran, the state department released on Tuesday an updated list of individuals and entities designated under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISDA) and subsequent executive orders. Human Rights groups have criticized Iran for its record. Iran carries out the highest amount of executions per capita in the world. According to Amnesty International, the Iranian regime executed 253 people in 2018 and 507 in 2017. The IRGC-QF, the overseas arm of the IRGC led by Qassem Soleimani, was designated under Executive Order 13553 on January 24, 2019. Executive Order 13553, titled Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to Serious Human Rights Abuses by the Government of Iran and Taking Certain Other Actions, was originally issued on September 28, 2010. The same order also sanctioned Iranian proxy militias such as the Fatemiyoun Division, which is made up of Afghan Shiites and founded by Revolutionary Guards in 2013 to fight in Syria, and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade, which is comprised of Pakistani Shiites fighting in Syria,
Also included in the updated list are the financial institutions Ghavamin Bank and Ayandeh Bank. The list was compiled by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to be submitted to the US Congress. Prominent individuals listed in the 29 officials include: Abdollah Araghi, IRGC Ground Forces deputy commander; Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, prosecutor general of Tehran; Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to the Supreme Leader, former chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff; Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC; Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, former commander of the Law Enforcement Forces; Sadeq Mahsouli, former minister of welfare and social security, former minister of the interior and deputy commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement. Among the 14 entities are: The IRGC; IRGC - QF; The Basij Resistance Force; Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran; The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security; Tehran Prisons Organization; Rajaee Shahr Prison; Ansar-e Hezbollah; Evin Prison; Iranian Communications Regulatory Authority; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting; Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance; and the Press Supervisory Board, among others. “The Departments of State and the Treasury continue to seek new targets, and Treasury will designate those persons determined to meet the relevant criteria as information becomes available,” added the announcement.

Syrian constitution body could convene soon: Russian envoy
Reuters, Geneva/Friday, 9 August 2019
Russia hopes that an agreement can be reached soon under UN auspices on forming Syria’s new constitutional committee and that it can convene in Geneva as early as September, Moscow’s ambassador Gennady Gatilov said on Friday. Gatilov, speaking at a Geneva news briefing, said that he expected UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen to announce agreement on the composition of the body soon after the conclusion of negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition. Asked whether the body might convene by year-end, Gatilov replied: “Even earlier, hopefully in September.”

Explosions rock Turkish ammunition depot near Syria
Reuters, Istanbul/Friday, 9 August 2019
A series of explosions rocked an ammunition depot in Turkey's Hatay province, near the Syrian border, early on Friday and nearby homes were evacuated but there were no reports of casualties, Turkish broadcaster NTV said. The cause of the blasts, at around 3:30 am (0030 GMT) in Hatay's Reyhanli town, was not immediately clear, NTV said. Emergency services had sealed off the area, it said. After the explosions fire broke out at some parts of the military ammunition depot, located near a football stadium just to the north of the border town of Reyhanli, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said. The main highway running north from Reyhanli and other nearby roads were closed to traffic after the blasts, NTV said.

Trump pledges respect for gun lobby in post-massacre debate
AFP, Washington/Friday, 9 August 2019
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was talking to the National Rifle Association (NRA) to ensure their “very strong views” on gun control were respected in the wake of last weekend’s back-to-back mass shootings, pitching himself as the America’s biggest supporter of gun rights. Trump confirmed he had spoken to leaders of the powerful gun lobby since last week’s massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which left 31 people dead and reignited calls for stricter controls. “I have... been speaking to the NRA, and others, so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected,” the president said on Twitter. “Guns should not be placed in the hands of mentally ill or deranged people. I am the biggest Second Amendment person there is, but we all must work together for the good and safety of our Country. Common sense things can be done that are good for everyone.”Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s leader, on Thursday rejected calls for tougher restrictions on firearms, and indicated he had raised those concerns with Trump. “The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton,” LaPierre said in a statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rebuffed calls to bring senators back from their summer recess to vote on gun control legislation that has already passed the House of Representatives. “I want to make a law, not just see this political sparring going on endlessly,” he told NewsRadio 840 WHAS in Kentucky, adding that a possible ban on assault weapons would “probably be discussed as well” when lawmakers returned in September. The El Paso and Dayton shooters used semi-automatic weapons, which can be legally bought in most US states, to mow down large numbers of people in minutes or even seconds. The Second Amendment of the US constitution, which enshrines the right of citizens to bear arms, has long been used to justify easy access to weapons designed for warfare. Trump regularly touts himself as its biggest supporter, and days after coming into office signed a resolution passed by the Republican-led Congress to undo an Obama-era regulation limiting gun sales to the mentally impaired.

Yemeni Rebels: Saudi-Led Coalition Killed Leader's Brother
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 09/2019
Yemen's rebel Houthis say the Saudi-led coalition they've been battling since 2015 has killed the brother of their leader. The announcement by the rebel-run Interior Ministry in the capital, Sanaa, was posted on Friday on the rebel Almasirah website. It doesn't provide details or the timing for the killing of Ibrahim al-Houthi, the brother of rebel leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi. The statement says Ibrahim was "assassinated by treacherous hands" of the Saudi-led alliance fighting the rebels on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognized government. Yemen's stalemated war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government has claimed tens of thousands of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world's most devastating humanitarian crisis. The rebels control the country's north and Sanaa while government forces hold mainly southern Yemen.

An organized terrorist cell murdered Dvir Sorek. Intelligence takes over the hunt

DebkaFile/August 09/2019
After 24 fruitless hours of scouring through the Palestinian villages around Gush Etzion, the hunt for the killers of the Israeli soldier Dvir Sorek on Thursday, Aug 8, was handed over to intelligence agencies. That night, the thousands of mourners attending his funeral at his home community of Ofra, were treated to victory firework displays at neighboring Palestinian villages, while exultant masked students at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah handed out candy to passersby in celebration. The collective joy evinced by Palestinians to the murder of the young Israeli soldier, there and across social media, without a single word of condemnation, was the answer to the critics at home and abroad of the “collective punishment” meted out by Israel by roadblocks and lockdowns of suspect Palestinian districts. The first responses of Israel’s security authorities raise questions. How come they were unable to trace the car used by the terrorists to grab their victim, stab him fatally and then drop him by the side of the road leading to Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion? The cameras covering the scene should have helped the Shin Bet investigators to at least identify the killers’ vehicle. The car also left clear marks on the road of a fast U-turn when they sped away. If they had torched the vehicle as Palestinian terrorists have done before, the charred remains would have been found nearby. Therefore, the attackers had either prepared a hideout for the vehicle in advance; or else they drove it to one of the places near Bethlehem which specialize in chopping up a stolen car in no more than 10 minutes. Either option would attest to the Israel soldier having fallen into the hands of a well-organized Palestinian terrorist cell that had set up the operation in detail under the radar of the Israeli Shin Bet and Palestinian security authorities in Ramallah.
The Israeli searchers lost precious time by assuming that Dvir Sorek had been kidnapped before he was murdered. They therefore focused on catching the perpetrators in the nearby villages of Beit Fajar and Beit Inun before they killed again. Because other theories were ruled out until later, they missed collecting forensic evidence when it was still fresh close by where the body was found. It had meanwhile been trampled underfoot by the troop reinforcements. The body was discovered, furthermore, no more than 100 meters from the gate of the Kibbutz and the camera fixed overhead which covered that distance. If someone on guard duty had monitored the footage in time, Dvir Sorek’s body would have been found and the chase for the killers begun that much sooner.
Israel Navy Seeks to Raise Profile with Multi-National Drill
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 09/2019
A huge earthquake hits northern Israel, killing thousands and knocking out infrastructure -- this doomsday scenario was the premise for a multi-national naval drill this week. Sailors from France, Greece and the United States arrived on their vessels and were joined by the Israelis off the Israeli port city of Haifa for the four-day exercise, called Mighty Waves. They simulated extracting wounded civilians to sea for treatment, fishing people out of the water and transferring humanitarian aid, with representatives of seven other navies taking part as observers. It was the first time Israel hosted and organised a drill of such scope, said Lieutenant Colonel Liav Zilberman. One of the main goals was "of course to learn from these navies" and having them "learn from us", he said. Israel is always looking to boost its profile among Western allies as well as reinforce its image as the Middle East's most powerful military, and the drill was a chance to do that, said Eran Lerman, former deputy to Israel's national security adviser. "The very fact that Israel is perceived by key global players as a state that can and should be cooperated with militarily conveys a message of deterrence to potential enemies, while strengthening the increasing ties with like-minded Arab states," said Lerman, now vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

Moscow says US backed protests, despite embassy call to stay away
AFP, Moscow/Friday, 9 August 2019
Moscow summoned a representative of the US embassy on Friday over what it said were calls to take part in opposition protests, despite US warnings to stay away from the rallies. The US and Europe have criticized Russia’s crackdown on a series of protests for fair local elections. The rallies have seen thousands arrested and police hitting demonstrators with batons. Last week the US embassy issued a “demonstration alert” on it website ahead of a protest on Saturday, giving the time and location of the march along with warnings to “avoid the area” and “avoid demonstrations.”But the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that it considered the posting of a map showing the location of a Moscow rally a “call to participate... which is an attempt to intervene in the affairs of our country.”It added that it had summoned a US diplomat over the issue. Moscow earlier criticized the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle for what it said were calls to take part in the rally. The crackdown on the protests is the largest since demonstrations against Vladimir Putin’s 2012 return to the Kremlin that Moscow also said were encouraged by the US. Over the past few weeks, thousands of Russians have taken part in protests against the exclusion of popular opposition politicians from Moscow’s parliament elections in September. The authorities have pushed back, opening a probe into “mass unrest” and making nearly 2,400 arrests at two recent unauthorized rallies. A further, authorized protest is planned for Saturday.

US defense secretary visits South Korea as region faces myriad challenges
Reuters, Seoul/Friday, 9 August 2019
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with senior South Korean leaders on Friday amid a series of regional challenges ranging from a bitter trade row between Seoul and Tokyo to the cost of US troops stationed in South Korea. Esper, on his first international trip since being confirmed as defense secretary, arrived in South Korea on Thursday evening amid an escalating trade feud between two of Washington’s main Asian allies. While the trade issue, which threatens regional intelligence sharing, came up in his meetings in Seoul, Esper reiterated the importance of the South Korean-US alliance and said the allies would continue to coordinate on North Korea. In his opening remarks of the meeting with Esper, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Japan’s export restrictions against South Korea are “causing adverse effects on South Korea-Japan relations and security cooperation among South Korea, the US and Japan”. South Korea has said it was exploring all options in a bitter trade dispute with Japan, including scrapping an intelligence sharing pact. The accord, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), facilitates three-way intelligence gathering with Washington, which is crucial in fending off North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The deal is automatically renewed annually on Aug. 24. Relations between South Korea and Japan are at their worst in decades, with the trade row rooted in a long-running dispute over compensation for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two. Esper arrived in Seoul a day after US President Donald Trump said South Korea agreed to “pay a lot more” to shoulder the costs required for the upkeep of 28,500 US troops in South Korea and that talks are under way to discuss the issue. But a spokesman of South Korea’s foreign ministry told reporters on Thursday the negotiations had not yet begun. On Friday, a ministry official said Esper did not mention the costs during his meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, according to Yonhap News Agency. Yonhap also said Esper asked South Korea to send troops to join a US-led maritime force in the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran. Jeong told Esper Seoul was considering various options, the report said. A South Korean defense ministry official did not have immediate comment. The trip comes after North Korea recently carried out a series of missile tests and with denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea stalled. “At a time when the security environment is so severe, it is very meaningful to discuss the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and the South Korea-US alliance,” Jeong said. Noting that South Korea and the United States are working together to denuclearize North Korea, Jeong praised “President Trump’s amazing imagination that transcends conventions” for bringing about his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the inter-Korean border in June. On Tuesday, Esper said the United States would not overreact to the short-range missile launches by North Korea and would keep the door open to talks with Pyongyang. He also added that, despite complaints by North Korea, there was no plan to alter future joint military drills with Seoul. Esper’s visit comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in tapped a seasoned diplomat as new ambassador to Washington. South Korea is Esper’s last stop on a trip that has included visits to Australia, Japan and Mongolia.

Venezuela deploys troops in anti-smuggling operation at Colombia border

AFP, Venezuela/Friday, 9 August 2019
Venezuela has deployed around 3,500 soldiers and police to its border with Colombia to combat fuel and drug smuggling, a top military official said. Caracas broke off ties with Bogota in February over its support for opposition leader Juan Guaido in his power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro that has ground to an impasse. Thursday’s deployment in the western state of Tachira was part of an operation being carried out across the country, head of operational strategic command Admiral Remigio Ceballos told reporters from the Tienditas border bridge, which has been closed since February. “We will continue to carry out operations to fight against drug and fuel traffickers,” Ceballos said, adding that 20 tons of drugs had been seized throughout the country. The current exercises began shortly after a massive blackout in Venezuela on July 22, which Maduro blamed on an “electromagnetic attack” by the United States. The economically-devastated South American nation is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other essentials amid the standoff between socialist Maduro and Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries including the United States. After the border was closed, many Venezuelans crossed into Colombia via hidden trails linking the two countries, putting themselves at the mercy of smugglers and armed groups.

Pakistani foreign minister visiting China to discuss Kashmir
Agencies/Friday, 9 August 2019
Pakistan’s foreign minister is visiting China as part of efforts to pressure India to reverse its decision revoking the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir. Shah Mahmood Qureshi will meet with Chinese leaders Friday.
Before leaving for Beijing, Qureshi said he will apprise Islamabad’s “trusted friend” about the situation after New Delhi downgraded its portion of Kashmir from statehood to a territory, limited its decision-making power and eliminated its right to its own constitution. India-controlled Kashmir has been under an unprecedented security lockdown to prevent unrest as the decisions were announced. The Himalayan region is claimed in full by both Pakistan and India and divided between them. Indian authorities will ease a curfew in troubled Kashmir so that the Muslim-majority population can go to Friday prayers, the region’s police chief told AFP. “People are allowed to pray within their neighborhood, there is no restriction on that,” said Dilbag Singh, director general of police for Kashmir. “But they should not venture out of their local area,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a nationwide address on Thursday that people will “not face difficulties” celebrating Eid. Media reports said however that authorities would only make a decision on curfew restrictions on Sunday. Pakistan says it is considering a proposal to approach the International Court of Justice over India’s action.

US: Man armed with loaded rifle, body armor arrested at Missouri Walmart

Reuters/Friday, 9 August 2019
Police arrested a man in body armor, with a loaded rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, who walked into a Walmart store in Springfield, Mo., on Thursday, alarming customers within in a week of back-to-back shootings that shocked the nation. A national debate on gun safety was reignited by Saturday’s shooting in Texas that killed 22 in a Walmart store in El Paso on the border with Mexico, hours before another in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday that killed 9 people and the suspect. No shots were fired in Thursday’s incident and it was unclear what the man’s motives were, Springfield police said in an online statement. A police representative was not immediately available to speak to Reuters early on Friday. “An armed white male in his twenties was detained by an armed, off-duty fireman until officers arrived on the scene and took the suspect into custody,” the statement said, describing the incident at about 4 p.m. in southwest Springfield. He was arrested after walking out of the store with his weapon, police said. It was not immediately clear if the man had made any threats or had even committed a crime. His identity was not released and no information on possible charges was available. Police believe the man intended to cause chaos, but they were also working to determine his motives, they told the Springfield News-Leader newspaper. It was a “really scary, dangerous situation,” police at the scene told media, adding that they would investigate the man’s social media accounts to try to determine if a threat was intended. Missouri is an “open carry” state that allows people to openly carry firearms without a special permit, but there are some restrictions, for example, on convicted felons. US President Donald Trump and the first lady visited both El Paso and Dayton on Thursday to show support for the victims, their families and first responders. The visits have drawn some criticism as protesters and some Democrat presidential candidates have accused Trump of inflaming tension with anti-immigrant and racially charged rhetoric. While the motive for the Dayton shooting is unclear, the accused gunman in El Paso had posted an anti-immigrant screed online.

Hong Kong airport on alert ahead of fresh wave of protests
Reuters, Hong Kong/Friday, 9 August 2019
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said on Friday only departing passengers with travel documents will be allowed to enter the terminal as anti-government activists gear up for a three-day rally to raise awareness among tourists entering the city. The move comes as officials confirmed on Friday that a police commander who oversaw pro-democracy demonstrations that roiled the former British colony in 2014 has been recalled to help deal with protests that have plunged the financial hub into crisis. Former deputy police commissioner Alan Lau Yip-shing has been appointed to help handle large-scale public order events and steer operations, including activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, the government said in a statement. Reuters reported late on Thursday, citing sources, that Lau had been recalled in a move that suggests the government lacks confidence in the capacity of the current police leadership to manage the response to protests. Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is embroiled in its worst political crisis for decades after two months of increasingly violent protests that have posed one of the gravest populist challenges to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he took office in 2012. The escalating cycle of violence has prompted travel warnings from countries including the United States and Australia. Activists plan to converge on the airport on Friday afternoon, with more protests planned across the city at the weekend. “To maintain the smooth process of the departure procedures of passengers and the terminal operation, only departure passengers with an air ticket or boarding pass for the next 24 hours and a valid travel document, or airport staff with identity proofs will be allowed to enter to the check-in aisles at Terminal 1,” the Airport Authority said in a statement. What started as an angry response to a now-suspended extradition bill has grown to include demands for greater democracy, the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and even keeping mainland Chinese tourists out of the city. The extradition bill would have allowed defendants to be sent to the mainland for trial.

China issues ‘red alert’ as super typhoon approaches mainland
Reuters, Shanghai/Friday, 9 August 2019
China’s weather bureau issued a red alert early on Friday as super typhoon Lekima approached Zhejiang province on the eastern coast, after forcing flight cancellations in Taiwan and shutting markets and businesses on the island.
The National Meteorological Center (NMC) said the typhoon, the strongest since 2014, was expected to hit the mainland in early on Saturday and then turn north. It has issued gale warnings for the Yangtze river delta region, which includes Shanghai. Taiwan has already canceled flights and ordered markets and schools to close on Friday as the typhoon heads northwest, cutting power to more than 40,000 homes and forcing the island’s high speed rail to suspend most of its services. The island’s authorities issued landslide warnings after an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck its northeastern coast on Thursday, hours before the typhoon approached, which was forecasted to bring rainfall of up to 900 mm (35 inches) in its northern mountains. More than 300 flights to and from Taiwan have been canceled and cruise liners have been asked to delay their arrival in Shanghai. Some trains from Shanghai have also suspended ticket sales over the weekend, and Beijing also said it would cancel several trains heading to and from typhoon-hit eastern regions in the Yangtze delta region. Heavy rain and level-10 gales are expected to hit Shanghai on Friday and continue until Sunday, with 16,000 suburban residents set to be evacuated, the official Shanghai Daily reported. The NMC warned that 24-hour rainfall levels across eastern China could reach around 250-320 millimeters from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. Port authorities have already been ordered to take action, with ships set to be diverted to Hong Kong to help prevent accidents and collisions. China’s Ministry of Water Resources has also warned of flood risks in the eastern, downstream sections of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers until Wednesday. China is routinely hit by typhoons in its hot summer months but weather officials said last week they have been relatively infrequent so far this year.

Indian Forces on High Alert after Kashmir Friday Prayers

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 09/2019
Indian forces across Kashmir were on alert to head off protests after Friday prayers at mosques, as tensions remained high over the ending of the disputed region's autonomy, residents and reports said. A five-day-old lockdown with no internet or phone communications appeared tighter than ever though the region's police chief told AFP the curfew would be eased so the Muslim-majority population could pray. Dilbag Singh, Kashmir director general of police, said people could go to mosques "within their neighborhood" but added: "They should not venture out of their local area."The giant Jama Masjid mosque in Srinagar -- a longtime focus for separatist protests -- remained closed as the government sought to keep a lid on unrest after it cancelled the constitutionally guaranteed privileges of the former Himalayan kingdom, residents told AFP. Protests against Indian rule have frequently broken out in Srinagar's old quarter after weekly prayers at the mosque, which can hold more than 30,000 worshipers. "It's tense," one resident said after going near the mosque. "There are troops everywhere."
China's shadow
Tens of thousands of extra Indian troops were sent to enforce the clampdown imposed ahead of Monday's presidential decree to tighten central control on the region that is also claimed by Pakistan. The reinforcements and the 500,000 troops already in Kashmir fighting a three-decade-old insurgency were put on "high alert" for trouble around Friday prayers, the Press Trust of India news agency reported from Srinagar, quoting a security official. "There is apprehension of mass protests and accordingly necessary steps were taken," the official added. Despite the huge security presence, sporadic protests have been reported in recent days in Srinagar and the Ladakh region which the government has split away from Jammu and Kashmir under the new measures. Police have chased groups of pro-separatist demonstrators in Srinagar, many of whom gather at night, residents said. One youth died this week after jumping in a river to escape security forces, according to police. In a sign of international concerns raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi went to Beijing for hastily arranged talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Pakistan has strongly condemned New Delhi's action in Kashmir. On Friday, some 3,000 protesters marched in Islamabad, chanting slogans against the move, such as "Kashmir will become Pakistan." While Pakistan has expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended bilateral trade, Qureshi has said his country would not seek a new conflict with its neighbor. China, which also controls a sector of Kashmir, protested this week after India reaffirmed its claim to China's territory on a Himalayan plateau. India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is to visit Beijing from Sunday for talks with Wang.
Crucial test
Friday prayers were the start of a crucial test of New Delhi's ability to enforce the decision by Modi's Hindu nationalist government. The major Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha is on Monday. Modi said in a nationwide address on Thursday that people will "not face difficulties" celebrating Eid. Media reports said, however, that authorities would only decide on curfew restrictions on Sunday. In his speech, Modi strongly defended his intervention in Kashmir. The right-wing prime minister called it a "historic decision" and added: "I have full belief that we will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism under this (new) system." He accused Pakistan of taking advantage of the region's special status to stir troubles there. India and Pakistan split Kashmir after their independence and angry division in 1947. They fought two of their three wars over the former princely state.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 09-10/2019
A moment of truth for Trump as survivors of religious persecution visit White House
تالا جرجور: وقفة لترامب مع الحقيقية خلال مقابلته في البيت الأبيض للناجين من الأضطهاد الديني
Tala Jarjour/Arab News/August 08, 2019

For the second year running, the United States Department of State has hosted an international meeting for government officials, religious leaders and community representatives, as well as professionals concerned with religion. The 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom was hailed as “the largest human rights ministerial ever held at the United States State Department,” by US Vice President Michael Pence.
The opening session of the three-day event in Washington, D.C., last month featured welcoming remarks by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and, on the final day, a presidential address delivered by Pence. In between, a series of presentations and plenary sessions included high-profile speakers, representatives of a large number of religious communities and charities, as well as US government officials concerned with religious affairs and interreligious relations.
Invited speakers included members of religious communities who have experienced forms of persecution because of their religions or beliefs. Some speakers had experienced persecution personally or through close family members. The version of the program published online listed these speakers as “survivor” and identified each only by their country and religion in parentheses, such as “(Sudan, Muslim),” “(New Zealand, Muslim)” or “(Eritrea, Christian).” It is not clear why the names of the survivors were omitted, while those of ministers, UN officials and representatives of international organizations were not.
One survivor, Nadia Murad, was identified by name, alongside the parenthetical country-religion note “(Iraq, Yazidi).” The Nobel Laureate spoke on the first day of the event, along with three unnamed survivors: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim from Pittsburgh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, respectively. In the video recording of the session, the guests are introduced as survivors of violent attacks that targeted religious groups in the past year. They are Rabbi Jeffrey Myers; Yamini Ravindran, the legal and advocacy officer of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka; and Dr Farid Ahmed, whose wife was killed as she was attempting to help injured people in one of the mosque shootings in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
Their experiences underscore, according to Sam Brownback, US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, the notion that “religious persecution is, tragically, not a thing of the past,” and that a majority religion in one country is the minority in another.
A highlight took place on the second day, when the speakers identified as survivors visited the Oval Office. The international guests stood behind President Donald Trump as he delivered a short speech from his desk. Media representatives watched and listened, as the world was told there were 27 survivors in the room. The meeting appeared to be carefully coordinated, as most such events typically are, down to the scripted short speeches by Trump, Ambassador Brownback and one of the guests, introduced as "Reverend Samson from Burma," who spoke for approximately 40 seconds.
Surviving Boko Haram, Daesh, imprisonment camps and the oppressive chaos of war leaves marks on the human body, even when the soul is comforted by religious faith.
When Trump initiated what appeared to be a spontaneous conversation with his staff, members of the group interjected with individual pleas, apparently unrehearsed, on behalf of their communities and relatives. This part seemed unplanned, but necessary. The president listened, even when his staff appeared to be hurried for time, to everyone who came forward with a request for help in one region of the world or another. He gave the impression of being engaged, even when not displaying familiarity with the particular plea.
It would be difficult to determine whether Trump was genuinely moved or just wanted to appear sympathetic to this diverse group of people during a week in which his exclusionary remarks about minority members of Congress were drawing strong criticism and dominating the headlines. What we do know, however, is that when one’s pressing plea is a matter of life or death, the listener’s political motivation becomes of secondary importance.
This incident was in many ways similar to the regular appearances by the current occupant of the Oval Office, flanked by elegantly dressed individuals and facing the cameras. But in stark contrast to the smiling faces normally seen supporting President Trump, the faces in this gathering told stories of suffering that no elegance can hide. Surviving Boko Haram, Daesh, imprisonment camps and the oppressive chaos of war leaves marks on the human body, even when the soul is comforted by religious faith. Deep pain, like love, is difficult to hide.
The final day of the ministerial focused on government action. According to the Department of State’s website, government officials from around the globe and representatives of international organizations discussed new commitments to protecting the freedom of religious belief and “developing innovative responses to persecution on the basis of religion.”
It is not clear whether there will be a third installment of this global gathering in the upcoming election year. But if the conversation that took place in the Oval Office on July 17 is any indication, then let us hope future recommendations will extend to supporting survivors, individuals and communities alike, as they attempt to live with unimaginable loss.
*Tala Jarjour is author of “Sense and Sadness: Syriac Chant in Aleppo” (OUP, 2018). She is currently Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale.

Putin and the Mullahs
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 09/2019
In 2015 when President Hassan Rouhani advertised his “nuke deal” with the Obama administration as “the greatest diplomatic victory in the history of Islam,” few people realized that he had, in fact, endorsed a neo-colonial document that put key aspects of Iran’s economic, industrial, scientific and security policies under the tutelage of six foreign powers led by the United States.
For several reasons, the “nuke deal” did not provoke the popular explosion in Iran that some analysts expected. To start with no one had signed that deal which meant it was neither a treaty nor a binding international agreement but a wish list. Nor was it put through the legislative process to give it legal authority. More importantly, perhaps, the text did not offer a readily recognizable and concrete image of the humiliation the “Islamic Republic” had accepted in the name of Iran.
Rouhani’s euphoria that “even the Americans have recognized our right to enrich uranium” sounded good to some who did not know that the right to enrich uranium is recognized for all nations by international law. Having got away with that odious exercise, Rouhani and his team decided to do a similar favor to Vladimir Putin. This came last year when Rouhani flew to Kazakhstan to sign a Russian text on the Caspian Sea.
The text, in 24 articles, suffers from a crisis of identity.
It is not clear whether it is a treaty or a draft for a future accord. It offers no definition of the Caspian, either as a lake or a sea – a definition that would automatically establish its status under existing international maritime laws and conventions. It pretends to establish the legal status of the Caspian Sea without tackling the crucial issue of sovereignty.
In its preamble, the text refers to “changes and processes that have occurred in the Caspian region at the geopolitical and national levels”, and insists on “the need to strengthen the legal regime of the Caspian Sea.”
Leaving aside the confusion between “Caspian region” and “Caspian Sea” the text implies that a legal regime already exists but needs to be strengthened.
So, what is that legal regime?
It is shaped by three treaties between Iran, the Tsarist Russia and, finally, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Under those treaties, Iran and Russia (in its two epiphanies) have joint sovereignty over the Caspian Sea. The treaties do not mention the figure 50-50 and, in reality for many decades, the Caspian was a Russian lake for all practical purposes. Nevertheless, the treaties show that Iran and Russia were the only two sovereign powers in the Caspian.
That could be challenged with the internationally recognized legal principle of change, notably by the emergence of “successor states” or “rebus sic stantibus” in Latin.
The Russian text does not do so. For if it did it would have to accept that the four Caspian littoral states that emerged from the disintegration of the USSR would have to share their half of sovereignty among themselves, leaving Iran’s share as unchanged.
To muddy the waters, the text, which, according to its first article, is the exclusive work of The General Department of Navigation and Oceanography of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, ignores the issue of sovereignty altogether and goes straight for ascertaining the share of littoral states in the ownership of the body of water.
In that context, Iran with the shortest coastline on the sea ends up with the smallest share, just around 11 percent.
However, sovereignty and ownership are two different concepts.
You may own an apartment in Paris and be recognized as proprietor. However, the sovereignty of the area in which your apartment is located belongs to the French Republic. Several Scottish islands are owned by individuals but are still under British sovereignty.
The relationship between sovereignty and ownership comes in numerous forms. The entire state of the Vatican is sovereign but located in the middle of the Italian capital Rome and subject to its municipal rules. The Republic of San Marino, on the Italian coastline has a similar status while Monaco’s real estate is 80 percent owned by foreigners without the princely family losing their sovereignty. Andora is owned by Andorans but under joint French and Spanish sovereignty. Initially, the Congo was the private property of Leopold I, the Belgian King, who, in the absence of a sovereign status, treated the vast territory as he pleased.
Sovereignty could also be exercised long distance. New Caledonia, in the Pacific Ocean, is under French sovereignty as are the Falkland Islands under the British, both being thousands of miles away from their respective sovereign authorities. Closer to the Caspian we have the Shah-i-Mardan enclave in Kyrgyzstan that is under the sovereignty of neighboring Uzbekistan to the west.
To make sure that this is an exclusively Russian document, the text uses Russian terminology, measurements and even pseudo-legalistic shibboleths instead of internationally recognized concepts, terms and references codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. What is the good of ownership, and property rights, if we do not know which sovereign authority shall enforce them?
Because this is a Russian text, in the preparation of which other littoral states played no part, the implication may be that Russia is the sole sovereign power, and thus ultimate arbiter of disputes in the Caspian Sea. If that assumption is correct, we may conclude that Russia has acquired a colonial advantage that it could not obtain even when Iran was weak, famine-stricken and war-broken under the Qajar Dynasty.
With this text, Russia secures two other advantages.
First, it gains control of pipelines transiting the Caspian Basin’s immense oil and gas reserves to world markets, notably Europe. That would push Iran, which is the economic route for those pipelines, out of competition. Russia will retain its principal card in facing Western powers.
Russia, already the only significant military force in the Caspian, will retain its monopoly by forbidding other littoral states to build a military presence with the help of non-littoral allies. In trying to push this text through, President Vladimir Putin is acting like a tactician seeking quick advantage even though that may produce a strategic loss. Shaken by the consequences of their childish adventures, the mullahs of Tehran may swallow this Russian brew. However, I doubt that any future Iranian government worth its salt would not spit it out.

Oil markets will have to weather the ‘perfect storm’

Frank Kane/Arab News/August 09/2019
That was a week the oil industry will want to forget, but there is little chance energy policymakers will be allowed to do so. The “perfect storm” of negative forces on the global crude benchmarks looks set to continue blowing for the foreseeable future.
Next week, Saudi Aramco, the biggest oil exporter in the world, will hold its first-ever investor briefing. The agenda will include the performance in the first half of 2019, the prospects for the long-awaited initial public offering of shares, and progress on the transformational merger with Sabic.
But the plummeting oil price, and what measures Aramco can take to halt its slide, will probably be question number one on participants’ minds. There will be good news from Aramco in most areas. Chief Executive Amin Nasser will be able to demonstrate with cold hard numbers how profitable the Saudi oil giant is, even in a turbulent time in the energy industry, and will probably highlight the fact that the integration of Sabic is virtually completed — a vital step toward the IPO.
But the oil price is outside even his control. Since the middle of July it has shed roughly 20 percent — Brent crude stood at $57 per barrel (ch) yesterday — and some of the most bearish voices in the industry believe it could fall still further, even as far as $30 in a worst-case scenario, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Geopolitics is the main reason. The latest salvos in the US-China trade war — with Washington imposing more sanctions and Beijing allowing its currency to fall further on forex markets — scared the life out of oil markets, and with good reason.
Traders see the latest threat to world trade as a big negative for global economic growth. There are already significant signs that the two-year confrontation between America and China is impacting world growth forecasts, and any downturn in industrial production means less demand for oil.
The prospect of falling demand — the International Energy Agency downgraded its forecasts for the rest of 2019 — is the big factor behind recent oil price falls.
The fear that US-China confrontations, until now largely confined to a barrage of tariffs on trade between the two countries, could spill over into forex markets especially spooked oil markets. A wakening renminbi means a stronger dollar, which traditionally puts downward pressure on dollar-priced crude prices.
Rising regional tensions in the Gulf also played a big part. Normally, any threats to regional security would lift the oil price, as traders begin to worry about security of supply through the Strait of Hormuz.
But this time there is so much crude on world markets that prices failed to react to further aggressive actions by the Iranians in the Gulf seaways. In fact, the possibility that China could escalate its confrontation with the US by buying more Iranian oil — in defiance of American sanctions — was another big downward pressure.
The world has all the oil it wants in current circumstances. The American shale industry, having already made the US self-sufficient and a major exporter, shows no sign of slowing, though some experts believe it must eventually hit a financial or geological barrier.
In the face of this perfect storm of economic, geopolitical and supply worries, the options of any one producer, even one as big as Saudi Arabia, are limited.
The Kingdom, as the biggest exporter in OPEC, has already done more than its share to reduce supply, and in partnership with Russia, the biggest global oil producer, continues to reduce its output.
But any further unilateral reductions would weaken the domestic Saudi economy, still dominated by energy revenue despite diversification strategies — as are virtually all Gulf economies.
So the outlook for oil markets is bleak. The big producers, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, will probably have to grin and bear it until such time as the global economic and geopolitical storms abate.
The problem is nobody is confident that will happen any time soon.
• Frank Kane is an award-winning business journalist based in Dubai. Twitter: @frankkanedubai

Offering to meet the leaders of the Iranian regime is a mistake
د. مجيد رافيزادا: العروض بدعوة قيادات إيرانية لاجتماعات ولقاءات في الأبيض هي الخطأ بعينه
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 09/2019

This week, Iran’s state-controlled Persian news outlets put significant emphasis on a report that the White House had invited Iran’s top diplomat to the Oval Office.
The invitation was reportedly extended by the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, the first GOP senator to take any steps to initiate a meeting with Iranian leaders. He was said to have invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to meet US President Donald Trump in the White House.
This was good news for Iran, as the Islamic Republic projected Paul’s offer as a victory for Tehran and a blow to the United States. This is due to the fact that, from the perspective of the Iranian leaders, any offers for negotiations from world powers is a demonstration of weakness, and grants Tehran more leverage.
In addition, the Iranian leaders’ proposals to resolve the tensions over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as Iran nuclear deal, are preposterous. For example, Zarif told Paul that Tehran is willing have its parliament turn a fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei into a law that would forbid the production of nuclear weapons, if the Trump administration lifts the sanctions against Iran. The foreign minister was referring to a fatwa against nuclear weapons that was reportedly issued by Iran’s supreme leader in 2010, which stated: “We consider the use of such weapons as haram (religiously forbidden) and believe that it is everyone’s duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster.”
But these fatwas issued by Iran’s ruling mullahs can be nothing but collections of words. Unfortunately this has not stopped some world leaders from falling into Iran’s trap and believing the narrative. For example, in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013, former US President Barack Obama invoked Khamenei’s fatwa, stating: “The supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.” Former US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The supreme leader...says he has issued a fatwa, the highest form of Islamic prohibition against some activity, and he said that is to prohibit Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon.”
Even if we trust the words of the regime’s leader, Khamenei’s fatwa does not forbid the development of nuclear weapons; it only bans the “use of such weapons.” In addition, while all other fatwas issued by Iran’s supreme leader are listed on his official Persian website, the nuclear fatwa is not included.
More importantly, nothing can prevent the supreme leader or the Iranian parliament from changing laws and fatwas. In fact, Iran’s previous supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, changed several of his fatwas regarding women, the economy and human rights after he took control of the country.
Zarif also reportedly stated that the Islamic Republic could expand its ratification of the Additional Protocol — an expanded set of requirements for information and access to help the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) confirm that states are using nuclear material only for peaceful purposes — to permit inspectors “to conduct complementary access to any location in Iran.”
However, there is an important caveat to this. The Additional Protocol does not include military sites, at which it is suspected Iran is conducting nuclear research and development. Iranian opposition group the National Council for Resistance of Iran was the first to reveal Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities at two major sites, Natanz and Arak, in 2000. Last year it released critical information showing that Iran’s nuclear activities continue at the military site in Parchin, which is out of the reach of IAEA inspectors.
When leaders of a world power shake hands with Iranian leaders and sit at the same table with them, they are only granting the Iranian regime more credibility.
Meeting diplomats of such a rogue state is also a mistake for several other reasons. First of all, it grants legitimacy to the regime. When leaders of a world power shake hands with Iranian leaders and sit at the same table with them, they are only granting the Iranian regime more credibility and photo opportunities. For instance, when the Obama administration began meeting Iranian leaders, Tehran gained global legitimacy and significantly improved its ties with European countries.
Secondly, meeting a regime that is a leader in human rights violations would be a blow to the Iranian people who seek democracy, because it will embolden and empower the regime’s forces. According to the Oslo-based non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights, at least 273 people were executed in Iran in 2018. This ranked Iran second in the world in terms of the number of people executed last year, and first in terms of the number of executions per capita.
The Iranian regime also continues to be a leading executioner of children, and the number of juveniles executed increased in 2018. In addition, at the discretion of the judiciary or the Islamic Revolutionary Court, many activists continue to be arrested and tortured on ambiguous charges, such as “spreading moharebeh” (corruption on earth), “waging war against God” or endangering the country’s national security.
Thirdly, Iranian diplomats do not have the final say in Iran’s foreign policy; Iran’s supreme leader and the senior generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Force make the final decisions.
In a nutshell, meeting with Iranian leaders will accomplish nothing except empowering the rogue state, giving it credibility and legitimacy, and further suppressing those in the Iranian population that seek democracy and freedom.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh