August 11/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations For today
God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts of the Apostles 10/23b//27:34-43/:”So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshipped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, ‘Stand up; I am only a mortal.’ And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 10-11/2019
The unwritten Laws of wars and Peace
Reading In Hariri's Visit To The USA
Art, music and singing are mere Divine sacred talents and not satanic means
Aoun at Cabinet Session: Ramifications of Qabrshmoun Addressed on Three Levels
Lebanese Cabinet Meets after Political Crisis Ends
Cabinet Convenes after Six-Week Pause over Qabrshmoun Deadlock
Jarrah after cabinet session: Investigations into Qabrshmoun incident will continue
Arslan on Qabrshmoun Reconciliation: More Talks are Needed
Report: Border Talks on Hariri’s agenda during Washington Visit
Jabaq: Dialogue is the Only Way for Reconciliation
Hundreds Attend Lebanon Protest Concert after Mashrou' Leila Cancellation
Hasbani Says His Exclusion from Baabda Financial Meeting Unjustified

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 10-11/2019
Israeli Army Kills Four Armed Palestinians on Gaza Border
US service member killed in Iraq: Coalition statement
One person hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested
Danish capital hit by second blast in four days: Police
Iran unveils ‘upgraded missile defense system’
French FM to Trump: Paris ‘Needs No Permission’ for Iran Dialogu
Mechanism to Allow Trade with Iran Hits a Snag
Libya Govt. of National Accord Accepts UN Truce ‘with Conditions’
Sudan: Burhan to Be Appointed 1st President of Sovereign Council, Hemedti Depu
Yemen government says southern separatists staged coup in Aden
Pakistan says will move to UN Security Council with China’s support over Kashmir
Disgraced US financier Epstein committed suicide in prison
Trump: Kim says missile testing will stop when US-S.Korea joint drills end
EU condemns N. Korea over latest missile test
Russia says five died in missile test explosion

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 10-11/2019
The unwritten Laws of wars and Peace/Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 10/2019
Reading In Hariri's Visit To The USA/Elias Bejjani/August 10/2019
Art, music and singing are mere Divine sacred talents and not satanic means/Elias Bejjani/August 09/2019
Khamenei's Nuclear Fatwa is a Deception, a Ploy and a Lie/Majid Rafizadeh/Majid Rafizadeh/August 10/ 2019
Tensions between US and Iran are moving from the high seas to summits/Raghida Dergham/The National/August 10/2019
The White House Once Labeled Them Terrorists. Now It Calls Them Iran’s Next Government/Jonathan Harounoff/Haaretz/August 10/2019
U.S. Safe Zone Deal Can Help Turkey Come to Terms with the PKK and YPG/Soner Cagaptay/ The Washington Institute/August 10/2019
Why Qatari support for political Islamism is a menace/Sir John Jenkins/Arab News/August 10/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 10-11/2019
The unwritten Laws of wars and Peace
Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 10/2019
You could have been a military hero for years. But one, just one collaboration with the enemy, the occupation, makes you a traitor overnight. And you could have worked with the enemy for years, then one day you rejoin your people, and you will become a hero over night
The visit by PM Hariri to Washington is not to protect Hezbollah from sanctions, or Hezbollah's allies, friends and business partners, from sanctions. It should be about helping Washington identify the opposition to Hezbollah, so that it is spared from these sanctions. Only the opposition to Hezbollah will be spared sanctions.

Reading In Hariri's Visit To The USA
Elias Bejjani/August 10/2019
Sadly Mr. Hariri for numerous personal economic difficulties as well as lack of political experience he has succumbed to Hezbollah's Iranian agenda totally and has been openly and loudly its mouthpiece in both the Western and Arab countries. He has abandoned completely his patriotic duties and obligations as well as the Special Tribunal For Lebanon. Currently he is a mere Hezbollah tool no more no less. Hezbollah could not have dreamed in better than such PM. In the same context both samir Geagea and Walid Jumblat are currently in the same succumbing Hariri pro Hezbollah position in spite of their transient and periodic mere rhetoric opposition to Hezbollah's hegemony and terrorism. In life reality as much as the expectations are big turns to be the disastrous disappointments and as deep the love is comes the depth of admonishment, bitterness and anger

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 is that this heretic band and its supporters are morally, ethically, socially and religious wise 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 and safeguard Lebanon and Its people.

Aoun at Cabinet Session: Ramifications of Qabrshmoun Addressed on Three Levels
Naharnet/August 10/2019
President Michel Aoun said at the beginning of a cabinet meeting that the ramifications of the deadly Qabrshmoun incident have been addressed at the political, judicial and security levels, the National News Agency reported on Saturday. “There has been an unfortunate incident in Qabrshmoun that greatly impacted the country,” said Aoun at the onset of the cabinet session. “The ramifications of the incident were addressed at three levels. At the political level, its was completed during yesterday's meeting. At the judicial level, the judiciary will complete its work in accordance with applicable laws and at the security level, the security forces are responsible for implementing the plan set in this regard,” said the President.

Lebanese Cabinet Meets after Political Crisis Ends
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
Lebanon's cabinet met on Saturday for the first time since late June, a day after steps were taken to resolve a political dispute that had paralyzed a government seeking to reduce massive public debt. Information Minister Jamil al-Jarrah, speaking on television after the meeting, said an investigation into the June shooting incident which sparked the crisis would continue and findings would be reported to the cabinet to decide how to proceed. The standoff between Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party and MP Talal Arslan’s Lebanese Democratic Party was sparked by a shooting in the Chouf mountains on June 30 in which two aides of a government minister, Saleh al-Gharib, an ally of Arslan, were killed. Gharib declared the shooting an assassination attempt for which his allies held Jumblatt’s party responsible. Jumblatt’s party says it was an exchange of fire initiated by Gharib’s entourage in which two Jumblatt supporters were also wounded. With both sides represented in Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s cabinet, the government was unable to convene, complicating efforts to enact reforms that are urgently needed to steer the country away from financial crisis. The dispute, pitting Lebanon's two main Druze leaders against each other and embroiling other parties in the coalition government, focused on which court should hear the case. Lebanon's dollar bonds rose on Friday as it became clear that the Druze leaders would hold a reconciliation meeting and that a cabinet session might become possible. With one of the world's heaviest public debt burdens, equivalent to 150% of GDP, the government has made reducing the fiscal deficit and attracting foreign investment a priority since it was appointed in January. A 2019 budget was approved, months late, in July, with big planned cuts to spending. Hariri has said the government is committed to quickly agreeing a 2020 budget that includes further fiscal reforms.Political disputes have derailed economic policy-making for long stretches of the past decade, a period also affected by the war in neighboring Syria. Lebanon's growth has slowed and its public debt has grown.

Cabinet Convenes after Six-Week Pause over Qabrshmoun Deadlock
Naharnet/August 10/2019
Lebanon’s cabinet met on Saturday at the Baabda Palace after a six-week suspension of its meetings over the deadly Qabrshmoun incidents. President Michel Aoun chaired the meeting in the presence of the Premier and ministers to tackle 61 items that were initially listed on the July 2 agenda that was postponed because of the deadly incidents in the Aley town of Qabrshmoun. Aoun and Premier Saad Hariri held a closed meeting before the session. The National News Agency said Education Minister Akram Shehayyeb and Health Minister Abou Faour, of the Progressive Socialist Party, walked into the hall together. Asked whether Shehayyeb would shake hands with State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib (of the Lebanese Democratic Party), Shehayyeb said and smiled: “Good morning.”The PSP and LDP were at loggerheads over said incident that left two guards of Gharib dead when his convoy was passing through Aley. For his part, Gharib did not reply to the same question posed by reporters. On Friday, Lebanon’s top leaders managed to secure a reconciliation between PSP leader Walid Jumblat and LDP chief Talal Arslan, ending weeks of political deadlock and tensions over the incident. The meeting was chaired by President Michel Aoun and attended by Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. “A reconciliation has taken place,” Hariri confirmed on Friday.. Berri for his part described the reconciliation as an "achievement." A Cabinet session was abruptly adjourned on July 2 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.

Jarrah after cabinet session: Investigations into Qabrshmoun incident will continue
NNA -Sat 10 Aug 2019
Information Minister, Jamal Al Jarrah, on Saturday announced that the Cabinet has approved during today's session that investigations into the Qabrshmoun incident will continue. Reading out Cabinet decisions following its meeting at Baabda Palace earlier, Minister Jarrah said that "results of the investigation will be sent to Cabinet to make the appropriate decision and that investigations into the Qabrshmoun incident will continue."He added:"Part of the security plans are underway and the other part will be implemented to ensure stability and security in all Lebanese territories."

Arslan on Qabrshmoun Reconciliation: More Talks are Needed
Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan held a press conference Saturday dwelling on the reconciliation talks with the Progressive Socilalist Party on the Qabrshmoun incidents that took place Friday at Baabda Palace. "What happened in Baabda is a summary of initiatives. What was issued yesterday is a brief summary of the four initiatives that contain the same content," Arslan said. Arslan described the Baabda meeting as "good,'' saying it was the first move to ease tension after the deadly incident noting that more talks are needed to resolve its ramifications. Finally, the MP stressed President's keenness to solve the problem in order to maintain justice, law and security in the country.

Report: Border Talks on Hariri’s agenda during Washington Visit
Naharnet/August 10/2019
During his visit to Washington next week and his upcoming meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Saad Hariri will discuss the US role to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel which was suspended for weeks after the diplomat in charge of this file left Beirut, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Saturday. The daily said that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield mediating the border talks has left Beirut a few weeks ago, to join his job as ambassador to Ankara, without informing Lebanese officials of the role of Ambassador David Schenker, who will complete this task after Satterfield. In May, Israel agreed to enter US-mediated talks with Lebanon on maritime borders that would have an impact on offshore oil and gas exploration. Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by its southern neighbour Israel, with which it has fought several wars. A consortium composed of energy giants Total, Eni and Novatek was awarded two of Lebanon's 10 exploration blocks last year. It is set to start drilling in block 4 in December, and later in the disputed block 9. Last year, Total said it was aware of the border dispute in less than eight percent of block 9 and said it would drill away from that area. In April, Lebanon invited international consortia to bid for five more blocks, which include two also adjacent to Israel's waters. Israel also produces natural gas from reserves off its coast in the Mediterranean. Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, although the last Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after two decades of occupation.

Jabaq: Dialogue is the Only Way for Reconciliation
Naharnet/August 10/2019
Health Minister Jamil Jabaq on Saturday said that only through dialogue can Lebanon resolve any crisis it faces, the National News Agency reported. "We have no solution except through consensus and dialogue until we reach the desired result of preserving Lebanon and the Lebanese people," Jabaq said during an exhibition in South Lebanon. The Minister called on all Lebanese sides to “resume national dialogue to tackle all of the country's pending problems."Finally, Jabaq underlined the need to work closely to maintain peace and stability in the country and cast aside all differences.

Hundreds Attend Lebanon Protest Concert after Mashrou' Leila Cancellation
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 10/2019
Hundreds of Lebanese gathered Friday in Beirut for a protest concert in solidarity with a homegrown band being cancelled from a top music festival over alleged blasphemy. Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer is gay and whose Arabic lyrics tackle a range of taboo topics, were supposed to play in the seaside town of Byblos on Friday. But festival organisers cancelled them over security concerns after clerics complained some of their lyrics insulted Christians, and critics threatened to attack the concert. In protest, social and political activists as well as academics came together on Friday night to hold a replacement concert titled, "Music is Always Louder". Under the watchful eye of several members of the security forces, dozens of fans danced in the front row to the band's music before an all-night line-up of musicians. Mashrou' Leila did not attend, but an organiser read out a statement from them to a full hall of more than 1,500 people, as hundreds waited their turn to enter outside. This evening was supposed to be about the band's 10th anniversary, but instead it became about "our freedom to say what we think", Mashrou's Leila said. It's "about a future that allows us at least the most basic of freedoms, a future in which censorship and self-censorship don't continue to forbid us from expressing ourselves," they said. Fans were then treated to a premiere screening of the animated music video for their latest song "Radio Romance". Audience members said they came for a night out, but also to take a stand. "I reject this kind of oppression," said 28-year-old humanitarian worker Hasan Mortada of the events that sparked the Byblos cancellation. Abdulhalim Jabr, 57, an architecture professor at the American University of Beirut where the band studied, said he had come to support "a battle for freedoms"."If we lose them, what will be left in this country?" he said, pointing to a struggling economy and mounting hazards to the environment. Back stage, oud musician Ziyad Sahhab said he was playing to protest "religious authorities interferring in our choices as musicians". "I don't go to mass and tell (them) what to say," he said, before grabbing his instrument and rushing out on stage. Religiously diverse Lebanon is one of the Middle East's more liberal countries, but its myriad of recognised sects still weild major influence over social and cultural affairs. Mashrou' Leila has often played in Lebanon, but it has created waves in the religiously conservative Middle East. After a Mashrou' Leila concert in Egypt in 2017, at which members of the audience waved a rainbow flag, Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown on the country's LGBT community. Its concerts in Jordan were cancelled in 2016 and 2017.

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.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 10-11/2019
Israeli Army Kills Four Armed Palestinians on Gaza Border
Jerusalem- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
Israeli troops shot dead four armed Palestinians on the Gaza border early Saturday, one of whom had managed to cross and throw a grenade at troops, the army said. There have been frequent clashes along the Gaza border since the Palestinians began organizing regular mass protests there in March 2018 but Saturday's exchange was unusual because of the weaponry the army said was involved in the Palestinian side. "The terrorists were equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, RPG grenade launchers, and hand grenades," an army statement said. A spokeswoman said: "The army opened fire after one of the terrorists scaled the barrier and hurled a grenade at the soldiers." No casualties were reported in Israeli ranks. Palestinian demonstrations at the Gaza border demanding the lifting of Israel's more than decade-old blockade have often led to violence and a deadly response from the Israeli army. At least 301 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the border area since March 2018, the majority during the demonstrations. Seven Israelis have also been killed. The protests have declined in intensity in recent months following a truce brokered by UN officials and Egypt. Under the truce, Israel agreed to take steps to ease aspects of its blockade in return for calm on the border. Sporadic violence has continued but the Israeli army has said most of it has consisted of lone-wolf attacks. On August 1, a Palestinian seeking to avenge his brother's death by Israeli fire entered Israel from Gaza armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades. He was killed and three Israeli soldiers wounded, the army said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid a major flare-up in the Palestinian territories as Israel prepares for a snap general election on September 17, its second this year. But he is likely to face political pressure to act firmly against any significant attack. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. The border exchange came as Palestinians prepare to mark Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice.

US service member killed in Iraq: Coalition statement
Reuters, Baghdad/Saturday, 10 August 2019
A United States service member advising Iraqi security forces on a mission was killed on Saturday in the northern Nineveh province, the US-led international coalition fighting ISIS said in a statement. “One US service member died today during an Iraqi Security Force mission in Ninewah province, Iraq, while advising and accompanying the (Iraqi security forces) during a planned operation, the statement said. It added that the name of the service member would be withheld until next of kin have been notified.

One person hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested

AFP, Reuters, Oslo/Saturday, 10 August 2019
One person was injured in a shooting inside a mosque in a suburb of the Norwegian capital Oslo on Saturday, police said, adding that a suspect had been arrested. “One person is shot. The severity of that person’s injuries is unknown. One suspect is arrested. The police are working at the location,” Oslo police said on Twitter. The shooting occurred at the al-Noor Islamic centre in the town of Baerum, an Oslo suburb. The suspected shooter was described as “"a young white man,” the police added. They said they had no information about the suspect, and there was no indication that more people were involved. The victim was a 75-year-old member of the congregation, mosque director Irfan Mushtaq told TV2. “The man carried two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol. He broke through a glass door and fired shots,” he said. The shooter, who wore body armor and helmet, was overpowered by members of the mosque before police arrived, Mushtaq added.

Danish capital hit by second blast in four days: Police
Reuters, Copenhagen/Saturday, 10 August 2019
An explosion occurred outside a local police station in Copenhagen, police said, in the second blast to hit the Danish capital in four days. No one was injured in the blast, which happened outside a mobile police station in the Norrebro, just outside the city center, police said.On Tuesday, one person was slightly injured in an explosion outside the Danish Tax Agency’s office in Copenhagen, in what police said was a deliberate attack. Police told Reuters it was too early to say whether the two blasts were connected, but could not immediately comment further. Police were searching for a man running from the scene of the blast, Ekstra Bladet said. Serious attacks or violence are rare in the small Nordic country of 5.7 million people that prides itself on a reputation for safety and social tolerance.

Iran unveils ‘upgraded missile defense system’
Reuters, Dubai/Saturday, 10 August 2019
Iran unveiled on Saturday what authorities said was a locally upgraded missile defense system with a range of 400 kilometers, designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones. The announcement comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and United States. Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Arabian Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. Tehran says the drone was over its territory, but Washington says it was in international airspace. State television showed the Falaq, a vehicle and a mobile radar installation it said was an improved version of the Gamma system, which military experts said was of Russian origin. Western military analysts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, though concerns about its long-range ballistic missile programme contributed to Washington last year exiting the pact that Iran sealed with world powers in 2015 to rein in its nuclear ambitions in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions. “This system has high capabilities and can detect all types of cruise and ballistic missiles and drones,” Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, commander of the regular army’s air defenses, was quoted as saying by semi-official news agency Mehr. Sabahifard said the Falaq was a locally overhauled version of a system which had been out of operation for a long time, Mehr reported. He did not give the system’s country of origin. US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the nuclear deal, which its other signatories are struggling to maintain as Washington also lobbies to establish a maritime security coalition to safeguard shipping in the Gulf in a related standoff with Iran over oil supplies.

French FM to Trump: Paris ‘Needs No Permission’ for Iran Dialogue
Paris - Michel Abou Najm/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
A response to two Tweets, in which US President Donald Trump accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of meddling in the dispute between Washington and Tehran, came on Friday from France’s Foreign Minister. In a tweet Thursday, Trump claimed that Iranian officials 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." "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!" he said in another tweet. But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian responded Friday, saying in a statement that Paris "needs no permission" to work towards easing tensions between Iran and the US. "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," Le Drian said. Trump has taken a previous swipe on Twitter at his French counterpart, vexing him. In response to a law passed in France that will require American tech giants to pay higher taxes, the US president said last month: “We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly.”Paris fears that the “renewed” diplomatic tension between the two leaders would have negative repercussions on the G7 meeting that is scheduled to be held in the southwestern French town of Biarritz at the end of August, well-informed sources said. The nuclear deal with Iran and the security of the Gulf are to be discussed by the G7 leaders. Trump has reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at curbing the country's nuclear ambitions. But the European partners to the accord, including France, have resisted his attempts to isolate the Iranians. Le Drian said Friday that the worsening tensions between Tehran and Washington, called for initiatives to try to restore dialogue. "That's what President Macron is doing, in full transparency with our partners, above all our European partners," he said, adding that Macron was "obviously keeping American authorities informed".

Mechanism to Allow Trade with Iran Hits a Snag

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
A German senior diplomat who had been designated to run INSTEX, a mechanism to allow trade with Iran despite US sanctions, will not assume the post, it emerged Friday. Bernd Erbel, 71, has informed that he will not be available, Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild. German's foreign office told Agence France Presse that Erbel will “not be available for personal reasons.”Bild said Erbel's appointment was halted after it reported on controversial comments the ex-ambassador to Baghdad and Tehran had made in recent interviews. The Associated Press said Erbel has pulled out of the job after reports he defended Tehran's ballistic missile program. INSTEX was created by Germany, France and Britain to coordinate import and export payments so European companies can do business with Iran despite US pressure, and thereby convince Tehran to stick to the 2015 nuclear deal that limits its nuclear efforts. However, INSTEX is not yet operational. Berlin remains in talks with London and Paris on filling the post of INSTEX managing director, which needs confirmation from the institution's supervisory board. According to AFP, Bild slammed "two scandalous appearances" in which Erbel had given long interviews to former public radio journalist Ken Jebsen, whom the tabloid-style paper accused of being "a conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite". Erbel had said that Israel represents "a foreign body in the region" and had been founded "at the expense of another people that lost their homeland".

Libya Govt. of National Accord Accepts UN Truce ‘with Conditions’
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
The Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) announced Friday it was ready to accept “with conditions” the United Nations-proposed truce in fighting around Tripoli on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday. The GNA said it was keen to "ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission".Therefore it said it "accepted a humanitarian truce for Eid al-Adha," which will be celebrated in Libya on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. But it listed "four conditions". It said the ceasefire must be observed "in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops". It said the truce must include "a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights across the entire (Libyan) airspace as well as a halt to flights from airbases". The UN had called on the Libyan National Army and Tripoli-based GNA to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday. The LNA has yet to comment on the truce proposal. The LNA had launched an operation against Tripoli to cleanse it of criminal and terrorist gangs in April. Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in fighting, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). UN envoy Ghassan Salame has already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success. In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a ceasefire for Eid al-Adha.

Sudan: Burhan to Be Appointed 1st President of Sovereign Council, Hemedti Deputy
Cairo, Khartoum- Sawsan Abu Hussein and Ahmed Younes/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 August, 2019
A senior Sudanese military commander announced on Friday that Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, who currently presides over Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC), would be appointed the head of the future Sovereign Council. “The Sovereign Council will chair the first transitional period under the leadership of Abdel Fattah Burhan, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo will be his deputy,” Gen. Salah Abdelkhalig, a TMC member, told Sputnik news agency. The TMC and the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change agreed on Saturday on a constitutional declaration to govern the transitional period following months of political instability. The declaration stipulated that the presidency of the Transitional Sovereign Council shall be assumed by the military for the first period of 21 months. It shall be composed of five representatives of the military and five representatives of the civil community, in addition to one other member who will be appointed by a collective vote. The civilian-picked prime minister will appoint a cabinet where the defense and home ministry seats have been reserved by the military. Abdelkhalig stressed that the constitutional agreement was “one of the most important strategic achievements, as it has saved the country from the civil war disaster.”Meanwhile, Cairo is expected to witness important talks between representatives of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the coalition of Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, to negotiate controversial issues between the two parties related to achieving peace and ending war with the armed movements. The armed movements - operating under the Revolutionary Front – expressed reservations over the constitutional document signed with the TMC, noting that it failed to include the “peace paper” that was approved in Addis Ababa.

Yemen government says southern separatists staged coup in Aden

Reuters, Dubai/Saturday, 10 August 2019
The Yemeni government accused southern separatists of staging a coup in Aden after their fighters took over all military camps in the southern port city, seat of the internationally recognized government, on Saturday. “What is happening in the temporary (government) capital of Aden by the Southern Transitional Council is a coup against institutions of the internationally recognized government,” the foreign ministry said in a Twitter post.

Pakistan says will move to UN Security Council with China’s support over Kashmir
Reuters, Karachi/Saturday, 10 August 2019
Pakistan says it will move to the United Nations Security Council with China’s support with a motion to condemn India for its decision to strip its portion of the Kashmir region of special status. “I have shared with China that the Pakistan government has decided to take this issue to UN Security Council. We will be needing China’s help there,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a press conference on Saturday. “China has assured full support to Pakistan,” he added. Qureshi said he planned to approach Indonesia and Poland, both non-permanent members of the 15-strong Security Council, for their support.

Disgraced US financier Epstein committed suicide in prison

AFP, New York/Saturday, 10 August 2019
The wealthy US financier Jeffrey Epstein, indicted on charges he trafficked underage girls for sex, committed suicide in prison, US news media reported Saturday. Epstein, who had hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities over the years and was already a convicted sex offender, hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center and his body was found around 7:30 Saturday morning, The New York Times and other media said, quoting officials. Epstein, 66, had been found in his cell in late July with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt. The hedge fund manager was denied bail in late July after appearing at a New York court charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. He denied the charges and had faced up to 45 years in prison -- effectively the rest of his life -- if convicted. The Metropolitan Correction Center, a federal facility in Manhattan that is often used to house suspects awaiting or during trial, is considered one of the most secure penal establishments in the US. The infamous Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman spent more than two years there before being convicted and transferred to a federal prison in Colorado.

Trump: Kim says missile testing will stop when US-S.Korea joint drills end
Reuters, Seoul/Saturday, 10 August 2019
US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told him missile testing would stop when US-South Korea joint exercises ended. Trump said in a tweet that Kim complained in a letter of the “ridiculous and expensive” exercises and would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint drills were over. On Friday President Trump said he has received a “very beautiful letter” from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday and added that he could have another meeting with him. Speaking to reporters, Trump did not say when such a meeting would take place. North Korea has been testing missiles despite a June 30 meeting between Trump and Kim at which the two agreed to revive stalled working-level talks, which have yet to resume.

EU condemns N. Korea over latest missile test

AFP, Brussels/Saturday, 10 August 2019
The European Union on Saturday condemned North Korea for the latest in a series of missile launches, saying the tests undermined international efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula. Defense officials in Seoul said what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles were fired at daybreak from near the northeastern city of Hamhung, flying 400 kilometers (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea. It was the fifth round of launches in two weeks, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un labelling them a “solemn warning” over the joint US-South Korean military drills. “With the launching of two short range ballistic missiles today, a fifth such test in recent weeks, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to undermine international work for building trust and establishing lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons,” a spokesperson for the EU said in a statement. “We expect the DPRK to refrain from any further provocations, abide by its stated commitments, and fully implement its international obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”The statement urged Pyongyang to take “concrete and credible” steps towards abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile program and called for more talks.

Russia says five died in missile test explosion
Moscow, AFPS/Saturday, 10 August 2019
Russia’s nuclear agency on Saturday said an explosion at an Arctic missile testing site had killed five of its staff after the military had put the toll at two. The accident on Thursday happened during testing of a liquid propellant rocket engine at a missile test site in the far northern Arkhangelsk region. In a statement, Rosatom said the accident killed five of its staff and injured three, who suffered burns and other injuries. The statement came after authorities in a nearby city said the accident had caused a spike in radiation levels but the military had denied this. Rosatom said its staff were providing engineering and technical support for the “isotope power source” of the missile engine. The authorities have released few details of the accident at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles used in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era. The defense ministry initially said that six defense ministry employees and a developer were injured while two specialists died of their wounds. The authorities in Severodvinsk, a city around 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from the test site, said on their website that automatic radiation detection sensors in the city “recorded a brief rise in radiation levels” on Thursday morning, without saying what the levels were. The post was later taken down. Russian online media published unattributed video that journalists said showed a line of ambulances speeding through Moscow to take the injured to a center that specializes in the treatment of radiation victims.
Rosatom said that the injured were being treated at a “specialized medical center.”

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 10-11/2019
Khamenei's Nuclear Fatwa is a Deception, a Ploy and a Lie
د. مجيد رافيزادا: فتوى الخامنئي بتحريم القنبلة النووية كبة ومجرد خدعة
Majid Rafizadeh/Majid Rafizadeh/August 10/ 2019

If history is anything to go by, the Supreme Leader's statement is barely worth a pinch of salt. It is notable that that the first time Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons took place right after his government was caught red-handed pursuing secret nuclear activities and enriching uranium in two clandestine nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002 in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Having been found out for their deception, the Iranian authorities subsequently adopted deception as a national policy by promoting the narrative of aversion to nuclear weapons to the world while embracing and furthering their nuclear activities privately.
First of all, no one, it seems, has ever laid eyes on this proclaimed fatwa.
Khamenei's nuclear fatwa is nothing but a phony decree aimed at deflecting attention from Iran's nuclear ambitions and activities. It is designed solely to serve the interests of his umma (Islamic community) and the Islamic Republic.
Iranian authorities adopted deception as a national policy by promoting the narrative of aversion to nuclear weapons to the world while embracing and furthering their nuclear activities privately. Some world leaders bought Iran's lie and began pressing others to follow suit. Pictured: Then US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2014.
In the world we live in where many things are certain, one of them is the Iranian regime's recent efforts to invoke a fatwa in an attempt to deceive the West. The declaration of a fatwa by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to serve as "proof" that Tehran is not pursuing nuclear weapons is a move both mischievous and clever.
Recently, the junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, met with Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif, who in his deliberations with Senator Paul told him about Iran's unwillingness to seek nuclear weapons because of Khamenei's fatwa.
Iran's Supreme Leaders had been previously quoted as saying: "We consider the use of such weapons as haraam [religiously forbidden] and believe that it is everyone's duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster".
Going even further, the Supreme Leader claimed that the production or use of nuclear weapons are governed by Islamic laws which ban them. On his official website, he adds that "Both sharia [Islamic laws] and aqli [related to logic and reason] fatwas dictate that we do not pursue them."
If history is anything to go by, the Supreme Leader's statement is barely worth a pinch of salt. It is notable that that the first time Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons took place right after his government was caught red-handed pursuing secret nuclear activities and enriching uranium in two clandestine nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002 in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Having had their deception found out, the Iranian authorities subsequently adopted deception as a national policy by promoting the narrative of aversion to nuclear weapons to the world while embracing and furthering their nuclear activities privately.
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for instance, Iran deployed Khamenei's declaration of a fatwa to dodge further discussion about its nuclear program. Iran claimed that "the production, stock-piling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons."
Unsurprisingly, some world leaders bought Iran's lie and began pressing others to follow suit. Former President Barack Obama, for example, in an attempt to appease Tehran and curry the favor of the Iranian mullahs, naively declared in his address to the U.N. General Assembly (September 24, 2013), that "The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons."
As if to echo Obama's statement, former US Secretary of State John Kerry also 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."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also lent her support to the farce by further pushing the narrative of Iran's innocence to the word. According to her: "The other interesting development which you may have followed was the repetition by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that they would – that he had issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, against weapons of mass destruction. Prime Minister Erdogan and I discussed this at some length, and I've discussed with a number of experts and religious scholars."
First of all, no one, it seems, has ever laid eyes on this proclaimed fatwa.
Second, if only Clinton, Obama, Kerry or other politicians were smart enough to study the fundamentals of Islam, they would be cognizant of the fact that taqiyya can be a reason to issue fatwas under Shia Islam. Taqiyya, which is particularly emphasized in Shia Islam, is an Islamic juridical term which dictates that lying is allowed when one's interests or the interests of Islamic government or community is under threat. In other words, taqiyya is a type of jihad, the battle to win the fight against the supposed enemies.
For those still willing to grasp at straws by believing the Ayatollah issued a nuclear fatwa, and who know anything about Islam, they would realize that fatwas are not carved in stone; they can be changed at any moment at the discretion of the Muslim leader.
In summary, the quick reference to Ayatollah Khamenei's nuclear fatwa declaration as evidence of Iran's innocence in the nuclear arms race amounts to self-deception. Khamenei's nuclear fatwa is nothing but a phony decree aimed at deflecting attention from Iran's nuclear ambitions and activities. It is designed solely to serve the interests of his umma (Islamic community) and the Islamic Republic.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
© 2019 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Tensions between US and Iran are moving from the high seas to summits
راغدة درغام: انتقال التوتر بين أميركا وإيران من أعالي البحار إلى قاعات المؤتمرات
Raghida Dergham/The National/August 10/2019

All efforts are focusing on the G7 summit later this month in France, when Instex will be the main topic of discussion
The rift between Iran and European countries is intensifying amid threats and warnings from Tehran. The Europeans, however, are refusing to cave in, even as they lobby the US to take a softer stance on the Instex special purpose vehicle intended to skirt around sanctions.
Iran is threatening to withdraw from the nuclear deal, with a view to causing panic in Europe. Indeed, European powers are obsessed with salvaging the deal and do not want to see Iran resuming uranium enrichment and other activities that could help it expedite its quest to develop nuclear weapons. This is also a red line for US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to take measures should Iran resume high-level uranium enrichment, which could include strikes on Iranian nuclear reactors.
At present, all efforts are focusing on the G7 summit later this month in France, when Instex will be the main topic of discussion. Tehran has already issued an ultimatum to Europe to activate the special purpose vehicle for oil revenues by mid-August or it will scale back its nuclear commitments. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is walking a tightrope between the financial mechanism and mediation efforts between the US and Iran, was snubbed by Mr Trump this week, who told him not to speak to regime leaders on behalf of the US.
At the same time, the idea of forming a US-led naval taskforce to secure navigation in the Gulf has taken practical steps with Britain announcing it would join and Israel expressing interest as well. Iran has warned against “disastrous consequences” if Israel participates and said the conference scheduled to take place in Bahrain on August 31 to discuss the mission was a “provocation”. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the US in threatening language, saying there can be no security in the Gulf without Iran’s consent and that no country will be able to export its oil if Iran is prevented from resuming its exports. His declaration has clearly drawn the lines of Tehran’s negotiating position, coupled with allegations of jamming GPS systems to lure ships into Iranian waters.
All this means the possibility of military escalation, either as a result of an accident in the Gulf or following strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. On the surface, things appear calm but some say it is the calm before the storm. Other sources suggest it reflects the managed escalation strategies of both the US and Iran, although there is always a risk of miscalculation.
Russia is trying to play the role of influencer in Tehran. Moscow could send a special envoy to Tehran next week seeking de-escalation through two measures: freezing the level of uranium enrichment and refraining from attacking tankers in the Gulf.
President Vladimir Putin is also trying to work with his French counterpart. Mr Macron is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a bid to co-ordinate positions prior to the August 20 ultimatum for Instex and the three-day G7 summit from August 24, which will be attended by Mr Trump.
In the meantime, Mr Rouhani is inching closer to adopting the line of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif could resign and pave the way for a tougher successor who will pursue less flexible positions in negotiations with the West, which could further increase tensions.
Iran is tired of waiting on the Europeans but it was a mistake to assume they could be pushed into panic and prompted into coercing Mr Trump into a compromise. Now Tehran is making another mistake by issuing an ultimatum ahead of the G7 summit.
It is hard to predict the outcome of the summit. However, the US stance on various Middle Eastern and Gulf issues does not indicate Washington is worried. Rather, the US position seems coherent in its bid to use sanctions to force a new deal and expand the scope of alliances and security partnerships to share cost and responsibility. Mr Trump does not want to be the region’s policeman but he will not baulk in the face of threats or fall into the trap of being lured into military confrontation. In fact, he has successfully copied Iran’s “strategic patience”, because the US can afford to wait without having to be dragged into a military scenario. It is Iran that has lost patience as it finds itself bowing under crippling sanctions and forced to adopt strategic recklessness.
Iran’s proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon are flexing their muscles to compensate for its structural weakness caused by sanctions. The IRGC has also chosen to put on a display of force in the Strait of Hormuz and Bab Al Mandeb. The force now exerts influence on the civilian component of the regime in Tehran through Mr Rouhani’s newfound belligerence and is determined to escalate further, from the Gulf to the Mediterranean, via Iraq and Yemen.
It is perhaps for this reason that Tehran last week pushed back against a bid by the Iraqi government to merge the Popular Mobilisation Forces into the regular armed forces, with a view to ensure the grouping’s command is repatriated from Tehran to Baghdad. Iran wants to maintain its regional expansionist agenda, which it pursues by creating proxies outside its borders. Another purpose is to maintain pro-Iranian armed groups close to US forces if Tehran decides to raise the stakes in the confrontation. But Washington is aware of Iran’s plans and has recently reinforced its forces in Iraq and even at the Tanf airbase in Syria, a departure from its earlier pledges to withdraw troops from the war-torn nation.
In Lebanon, the US has intervened after a war of words in the wake of a fatal shooting, in what is effectively a warning to president Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, as well as to their allies in Hezbollah, which was sanctioned by the US in July. Hezbollah’s allies reacted violently to the statement from the US embassy in Beirut affirming Washington’s support for “fair and transparent” judicial review without any political interference into the Qabr El Shamoun incident. US retaliation through sanctions will not be restricted to Hezbollah and could affect its wider circle, including the president and his son-in-law. The US is well aware of the methods used by Hezbollah to evade sanctions and is also working to take action against such attempts to do so.
The battle between the Trump administration and the IRGC-led administration in Iran is multifaceted, from the seas and high oceans to the corridors of power in the region’s capitals. It is likely now that in the coming days, the Iranian regime will move from smiles and embraces to vengeance and anger.

The White House Once Labeled Them Terrorists. Now It Calls Them Iran’s Next Government
جونسون هارونوف/الهآرتس: البيت الأبيض يرى في حركة مجاهدي خلق الإيرانية المعارضة لنظام الملالي كبديل مستقبلي لهم بعد أن كان يعتبرها إرهابية
Jonathan Harounoff/Haaretz/August 10/2019

With high-profile supporters like John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, the Mujahedeen Khalq — or MEK — is being touted as a viable alternative to the ayatollahs. But many question these Iranian dissidents’ intentions for their homeland.
As tensions between the United States and Iran continue to escalate, many in President Donald Trump’s inner circle have called for swift regime change in Tehran — pledging support for a dissident Iranian opposition group currently headquartered in, of all places, rural Albania.
Despite its checkered history and only recent delisting as a terrorist organization, Mujahedeen Khalq — known as MEK — has garnered glowing endorsements from international policymakers who have described the group as a viable and democratic alternative to the “ayatollah regime.”
The MEK is not the only source of Iranian opposition to the Islamic Republic, of course. In recent years, Reza Pahlavi — the exiled crown prince of Iran’s final monarch — has also emerged as a leading secular and democratic opponent to the regime in Tehran. Pahlavi has called for nonviolent resistance and, in February 2019, launched an initiative called the Phoenix Project of Iran. According to the National Interest, this is “designed to bring the various strains of the opposition closer to a common vision for a post-clerical Iran.”
However, Pahlavi enjoys nowhere near as much U.S. support as the MEK. Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, argues that this could be because while there are many opposition elements critical of the regime, the MEK is the only one to view itself as a viable alternative.
Last month, as the United States and Iran seemed to be edging closer to a full-on conflict, the MEK hosted a five-day conference at its Albanian base, which is known as Ashraf 3.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was the keynote speaker and was joined by other high-ranking luminaries, including former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, Canada’s former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Conservative lawmaker Matthew Offord.
In a rousing speech, Giuliani lauded the MEK as a “government in exile” and a “group that we can support. It’s a group we should stop maligning and it’s a group that should make us comfortable having regime change.”
But Giuliani is not the only member of Trump’s coterie to be paid to speak at pro-MEK events: In June 2017, John Bolton headlined an MEK rally in Paris, shortly before joining Trump’s administration as national security adviser. (MEK expert and investigative journalist Joanne Stocker estimates that both men have been paid tens of thousands of dollars for their efforts.)
“I have said for over 10 years since coming to these events that the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Iran,” Bolton told a rapturous crowd in 2017, adding that they would all be celebrating the collapse of the government before the end of the decade.
And since joining the Trump administration in April 2018, Bolton’s hawkish attitude toward the Iranian government hasn’t wavered. When Trump authorized, then canceled, a military strike on Iran in mid-June following the shooting down of a $130 million U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf, The New York Times reported that Bolton was one of the most vocal proponents of military action.
The MEK’s deep pockets have long been a source of intrigue in Washington. In addition to Bolton and Giuliani, other prominent politicians paid to speak in favor of the MEK at rallies and conferences include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and several former heads of the CIA and FBI.
Active U.S. politicians, barred from accepting money directly from foreign entities while in office, have nevertheless allegedly received generous campaign donations. Joanne Stocker, an editor at media outlet The Defense Post who has been investigating the MEK for a decade, tells Haaretz that Rep. Brad Sherman (Democrat of California) received at least $5,200 in campaign donations between 2004 and 2013, and that Rep. Judy Chu (Democrat of California), who was a vocal proponent of the MEK’s delisting as a terrorist entity in 2012, pocketed at least $27,500 between 2010 and 2013 in campaign contributions.
Stocker tells Haaretz that pro-MEK groups like the Organization of Iranian American Communities have played a crucial role in securing broad, bipartisan support in the United States for the opposition group by successfully portraying the group as a democratic, human rights-supporting alternative to the current regime. Stocker, whose findings are based on extensive interviews, public records and court filings, believes the money the MEK uses to pay its international supporters is coming from the Saudi government, which may see the dissident group as a strategic and ideological ally with a similarly antagonistic view toward the Tehran government.
This may be highlighted by the fact that Saudi officials and advocates regularly address MEK rallies. For instance, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, who is also a diplomat and politician, addressed several pro-MEK rallies in France in 2016 and 2017. More recently, Salman al-Ansari, the founder and president of D.C.-based, pro-Saudi lobbying group SAPRAC, spoke at last month’s MEK conference in Albania, declaring his commitment to the Iranian opposition in both Arabic and Farsi.
“I’m proud to be here with you and to fight against [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei,” Ansari said. “At the end of the day, the ruling mullahs in Iran will be overthrown.”
The MEK has been able to sustain remarkably broad support from both Democrats and Republicans over the years — something I have spent the past six months probing. My investigation centered on the OIAC, an MEK-linked, all-volunteer advocacy group based in Washington that has allied with administration officials and congressional leaders of all political stripes in clamoring for regime change in Iran.
Former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, who was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission and once publicly condemned the MEK in Congress, is now a firm supporter. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi have also made cameo appearances at the OIAC’s annual Nowruz (New Year) celebrations on Capitol Hill, reaffirming their party’s support for the organization’s agenda of securing a secular, democratic and nonnuclear Iran.
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour, who lives in Falls Church, Virginia, has been OIAC’s political director since 2012. He tells me that his heart remains in the Iran he grew up in under the shah, but that he now despises the Islamic regime that recently celebrated its 40th birthday. “America’s vibrant institutions embody democracy,” he says, “which, unlike Iran’s ayatollahs, strive for human rights and liberty for all.”
By day, the 63-year-old Sadeghpour — thin as a rail, clean-shaven, bespectacled and with gray hair — administers medicines and health supplements behind the counter at his local pharmacy. Away from his day job, he is preparing for a revolution. For a new Iran.
For him, the future of Iran is in the tiny town of Manëz, western Albania, where the MEK is drawing up plans for the day the ayatollahs no longer rule Iran.
According to Sadeghpour, thousands of Iranian Americans living in more than 40 U.S. states, from Hawaii to Connecticut, share this vision. And, as Bolton and Giuliani have shown, so do some prominent American statesmen.
The MEK’s origins can be traced back to the mid-1960s when a group of leftist, Marxist and Islamist graduate students from Tehran University joined together to oppose the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Headed by a charismatic revolutionary named Massoud Rajavi, the group briefly joined forces with the Islamists who would eventually oust the shah and bring Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
However, the MEK’s alliance with Khomeini was short-lived. When MEK members, including Rajavi, were banned from running for office in the new theocracy, the group resorted to violence — including a bombing attack on Khomeini’s party headquarters in Tehran that killed more than 70 leading Islamist officials.
Some of the MEK’s leadership then fled to Europe, but most of the group’s rank and file crossed the border into Iraq in 1986, midway through the Iran-Iraq War. Iraq’s then-president, Saddam Hussein, who had recently invaded Iran to claim territorial sovereignty over strategic areas of the Euphrates River, offered them protection, funding, equipment and military training. The MEK pledged loyalty to Saddam in return, and its members were sent on martyrdom missions to capture strategic Iranian territory.
One such mission — known as Operation Eternal Light — was botched in July 1988, resulting in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard detaining and executing more than 2,000 MEK members. Today, many Iranians still refer to the MEK as monafeghan, or hypocrites, for fighting alongside Saddam and taking up arms against fellow Iranians.
In 1997, the Clinton administration designated the MEK a foreign terrorist organization for its violent activities, including a wave of attacks on Iranian embassies worldwide in the early ’90s and the assassination of U.S. colonels and officers who had been stationed in Iran in the ’70s. Canada and the European Union followed suit in the early 2000s.
In 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq, Massoud Rajavi vanished, leading most analysts to assume he had been killed. The MEK never confirmed his death but his wife, Maryam Rajavi, has since assumed leadership of the movement.
Saddam’s overthrow in 2003 spelled the end of the MEK’s welcome in Iraq; the group could no longer rely on Iraqi protection and funding. Later that year, the Iraqi Governing Council passed a resolution that called for the total expulsion of all elements of the MEK from the country.
The U.S. military disarmed and rounded up more than 3,500 MEK fighters into the group’s then-base, Camp Ashraf, to protect members from attacks by Iraqi security forces and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, while exploring resettlement options for the group outside of Iraq.
A decade later, in September 2012, the Americans delisted the group as a foreign terrorist organization, allowing the Obama administration to more easily negotiate the MEK’s resettlement to Albania a year later.
Overwhelming pressure had come from an elite group of former CIA and FBI directors, including Porter Goss and James Woolsey, and Gen. James Jones (President Barack Obama’s first national security adviser), while even renowned journalists like Carl Bernstein argued that the MEK had positively refashioned itself, and that its terrorist designation might be interpreted as an invitation for Iraqi and Iranian agents to attack MEK members who had not committed acts of violence for decades.
“The United States has a duty to 3,500 people whose fate they simply left behind with the departure of the American military forces” from Iraq, said Bernstein in a 2012 speech at a pro-MEK symposium in Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria. Bernstein later disclosed to Pro Publica that he was paid $12,000 for his appearance, but was not there “as an advocate” but as someone “who believes in basic human rights and their inalienable status.”
Since the MEK’s move to Albania, Iranian historian Ervand Abrahamian tells Haaretz in a telephone interview, the group has focused less on combat training and more on bolstering its public image on social media, and also carrying out cyberattacks on critics and defectors.
An investigation by The Intercept in June found that “Heshmat Alavi” — a supposed anti-regime Iranian activist who had written for Forbes, The Hill and other outlets — was in fact a persona invented by the MEK, resurfacing concerns over the group’s antidemocratic and anti-liberal tendencies. The group’s sophisticated cyber operations and social media presence have also provoked discussions over the true extent and breadth of the MEK’s support, both abroad and in Iran.
The controversies didn’t end there. The reaction by Albanians to having the MEK in their midst did not seem favorable after an Albanian police “threat assessment” from early 2018 — obtained by Britain’s Channel 4 later that year — concluded that MEK members had been “deeply indoctrinated, been part of military structures and had participated in acts of war and terror.”
The MEK’s move from Iraq to Albania in 2013 also led to a rapid increase in defections, with former members going public about the realities of life under the MEK in Iraq and Albania.
A former MEK intelligence officer, Massoud Khodabandeh, tells Haaretz in an email interview that the group was no longer the highly organized and influential student-led movement of the ’70s that opposed the shah. By the ’80s, Khodabandeh says, the MEK had evolved almost unrecognizably into a violent, anti-ayatollah and pro-Saddam guerrilla organization that had no clear objectives other than pledging unwavering loyalty to the Rajavis.
Another defector, Masoud Banisadr, spoke about gender segregation and how families were torn apart at MEK camps. Children were forcibly separated from their parents, celibacy was enforced and love was criminalized, he alleged — unless that love was directed toward the Rajavis. Members had to divorce their spouses because “we were ordered to surrender our soul, heart and mind to [Massoud] Rajavi,” Banisadr told Vice News in 2014. “The idea was that we were in a war to take back Iran, so you cannot have a family until the war is won,” he said. In 1990, as couples under MEK control in Iraq were forced to divorce, wedding rings were allegedly replaced with pendant necklaces adorned with Massoud Rajavi’s face. Operatives were also required to attend weekly “cleansing” sessions where they would confess their sexual thoughts.
The MEK did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent to its European-based affiliate, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Ideological alignment
I first met Majid Sadeghpour last September, at the Sheraton Hotel near New York’s Times Square. We were there for the OIAC’s flagship “Iran Uprising” summit. Security was extra tight that day, Sadeghpour later told me, not only because 25 Iranians had been killed at a military parade in southwest Iran earlier that morning, but because the OIAC believes regime spies have infiltrated past summits, monitoring the activities of Stateside dissidents. In July 2018, Reuters reported that an Iranian diplomat was arrested on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack on a “Free Iran” rally attended by OIAC members in Paris.
The only difference Sadeghpour sees between Iran’s pro-government agents and groups like ISIS is that “in Iran, they’re hiding behind a diplomatic veil.”
More than 1,500 Iranian-American delegates attended the New York summit, cheering on Giuliani (who made an in-person appearance) and a tribute video that marked the passing of Sen. John McCain.
Many Iranian Americans — even those with family still in Iran who were impacted by Trump’s January 2017 travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries — told me they never felt ideologically closer to the White House. “Both Iranians and the U.S. administration see that a prosperous future is one where the current regime in Iran is no longer in power,” says Ideen Saiedian, 25, a slim, blond-haired account executive at Oracle and self-described human rights advocate for the OIAC.
Another delegate, Navid Tavana, also in his mid-twenties, was similarly enthusiastic about this newfound partnership between Iranians and U.S. officials. “I can’t recall ever seeing executives who are working so closely with the president and being so vocal about their support for a change in the Iranian regime,” Tavana says.
But the biggest star of the summit was neither a Republican nor Democrat — nor even, for that matter, an American. It was the MEK’s exiled leader, Maryam Rajavi, who spoke to the delegates via satellite from Albania.
When she appeared on the large screen, the room fell silent. Most of the delegates stood up in deference, their heads looking upward at the screen. “You have organized a gathering that glows with unyielding resolve to secure a free Iran,” Rajavi told the delegates in Farsi.
For them, 65-year-old Rajavi is not just the leader of the most organized resistance group against the Tehran regime; she is president-elect of a post-theocratic Iran. When hawkish U.S. politicians talk about the future of Iran and a post-ayatollahs government, many are talking about her.
“Maryam is the only one with a plan to ensure a free and democratic Iran,” Sadeghpour tells me, referring to her 10-point plan that promises a future Iran with free and fair elections, a separation of church and state, no capital punishment and gender equality.
But when Sadeghpour speaks of regime change, he does not favor foreign intervention. “The Europeans and the U.S. should help weaken the aggression of the Iranian military machinery through sanctions and economic pressure,” he says, “but the people of Iran will bring about a new government.”

U.S. Safe Zone Deal Can Help Turkey Come to Terms with the PKK and YPG
Soner Cagaptay/ The Washington Institute/August 10/2019
Checking the YPG’s ascendance in Syria could bring the PKK back to the negotiating table, ultimately making Turkey more amenable to Kurdish enclaves across the border.
Earlier today, Ankara and Washington agreed to “stand up a joint operations center in Turkey as soon as possible to coordinate and manage the establishment of a safe zone” in Syria. This development could help realign the relationship between Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoot, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), a group that controls large swaths of Syria’s northern frontier. That in turn could help heal a major sore point in U.S.-Turkish relations.
Since 2014, Washington has relied on the YPG to fight the Islamic State presence in Syria, greatly boosting the Kurdish group’s power and territorial holdings in the process. Yet this policy runs against another U.S. imperative: restarting the collapsed peace talks between NATO ally Turkey and the PKK, a group that Ankara regards as its chief domestic threat. The PKK is unlikely to halt its provocations in Turkey or come back to the table so long as its Syrian offshoot is ascendant. Fortunately, the safe-zone arrangements proposed thus far envision drawing down the YPG presence along the border—a good starting point for reining in the PKK, improving U.S. ties with Ankara, and avoiding a potentially destructive Turkish intervention in Syria.
The YPG is the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group that was spun out of the PKK in 2003. The PKK has waged war against the Turkish government for decades, leading both Washington and Ankara to designate it as a terrorist entity. Yet only Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group, viewing it as synonymous with the PKK.
For years, the PKK played the role of the mother organization in its relationship with the PYD, significantly shaping the latter’s policies. Likewise, the PKK’s military successes in Turkey long animated the PYD’s Kurdish base in Syria.
Yet the war in Syria changed these dynamics. In 2012, Ankara threw its support behind rebels opposing the Assad regime, spurring Assad to play the Kurdish card—that is, he withdrew his troops from Kurdish-majority areas of the north, allowing YPG forces to fill the void as leverage against Turkey.
Ankara did not take an actively hostile stance toward the YPG’s moves at first, in part because Turkish officials were in the process of entering peace talks with the PKK in 2013. A year later, however, the YPG came to the forefront during the siege of Kobane, where the group not only pushed back Islamic State invaders, but also won the United States as an ally in the broader campaign against the jihadist organization. With U.S. support, the YPG subsequently took vast tracts of territory in the north, including nearly 50 percent of Syria’s oil fields and many of its natural gas fields. It then declared “autonomy” in Kobane and other northern towns under its control. These gains, coupled with ongoing U.S. military support and tacit backing from Russia, have given the YPG great confidence regarding its future.
At the same time, the YPG’s change in fortune seemingly altered the PKK’s calculus on peacemaking and threw a wrench in the U.S.-Turkey relationship. As the YPG built on its military success post-Kobane, the PKK launched a fresh campaign of attacks inside Turkey, causing the talks with Ankara to collapse in July 2015. PKK leaders apparently aimed to import the “Kobane model,” hoping to seize Kurdish-majority Turkish towns and declare autonomy there in the same manner the YPG did in north Syria.
This and later developments show the extent to which the YPG’s successes have been animating the PKK’s policies—a complete reversal of their prewar dynamic. So long as the YPG is soaring in Syria, the PKK is unlikely to end the regular attacks it has been conducting against Turkish security forces since 2015. Put another way, Washington’s Syria policy has unwittingly empowered the PKK.
U.S. officials should therefore ensure that their coming efforts on the safe zone agreement and other policy matters serve to dilute rather than strengthen the YPG. In particular, they should follow through on implementing the “Manbij model” in northeastern areas held by the group—that is, transferring governance from the YPG to local communities (including Kurds, who could still hold official posts in safe zone towns, particularly Kurdish-majority communities, so long as they are not formal members of the YPG or PYD).
The safe zone agreement is a positive step, but it comes with formidable challenges. While advancing the idea, Washington and Ankara should prioritize the following goals:
Improve bilateral ties. Today’s statement of intent mentioned that authorities will aim to transfer control of communities inside the safe zone to non-YPG elements as a matter of U.S. policy. Such statements can only benefit U.S.-Turkish relations, since the PKK will not deescalate tensions inside Turkey until its Syrian offshoot is taken down a peg. These benefits are important even if the shrinking U.S. military footprint reduces Washington’s influence on events in Syria, including potential military intervention by Turkey or the Assad regime.
Ensure Turkey’s stability. Renewed talks between Ankara and the PKK could bolster the bilateral interest in minimizing domestic and foreign threats to Turkey. For one, they would jumpstart broader Turkish dialogue on Kurdish issues, providing a much-needed vent for the country’s potent ethnic tensions. They would also disarm a potential Russian proxy—Moscow helped establish the PKK during the Cold War and has maintained ties with the group and its offshoots, which it could conceivably use against Ankara. Talks with the PKK could also keep the YPG from falling into the arms of the Assad regime or Iran and becoming their proxy against Turkey.
Create suitable conditions for a Turkish-YPG modus vivendi. Ankara cannot live with the existence of YPG enclaves in Syria unless the PKK is willing to open substantive peace talks with the Turkish government. In other words, if Washington takes the right steps regarding the PKK, it can create suitable conditions for eventual Turkish-YPG coexistence. Even if the latter goal takes longer than some may like, slow detente is preferable to the current state of dire threats and imminent Turkish military intervention against a valuable U.S. partner.
Prevent an Islamic State resurgence. Many YPG-controlled areas cut across Syrian communities where Arabs constitute the majority or plurality. Besides being a Kurdish nationalist organization, the YPG also has a hard leftist pedigree that is at odds with some of the conservative Muslim traditions practiced by most of these rural Arab inhabitants. If the group continues to dominate such communities, it could face anti-leftist, Arab nationalist, and religious backlash, sowing the seeds of another Islamic State-style insurgency. A properly implemented safe zone agreement could help the United States stave off such scenarios.
Meet the refugee challenge. Given the massive number of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the growing socioeconomic unrest that has coincided with their presence, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is eager to use the proposed safe zone as a means of repatriating them into Syria. Yet most of these refugees are Arab, so moving them into Kurdish areas could result in ethnic tensions and violence. Washington and Ankara will therefore need to coordinate their efforts closely to prevent clashes and ensure that Kurdish civilians in northeast Syria are not displaced.
Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family Fellow at The Washington Institute and author of the forthcoming book Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East.

Why Qatari support for political Islamism is a menace
Sir John Jenkins/Arab News/August 10/2019
I remember the 1960s and 70s only too well. Internationally it was the height of the Cold War. In Britain there was regular industrial unrest, fueled by militant trades unions and often inept senior management and politicians. In the 1970s, the National Union of Miners (NUM) under Arthur Scargill, like many of his colleagues a former communist with pronounced Marxist views, were a thorn in the flesh of successive governments. In the 1974 general election, the question became: Who governs Britain? During the miners’ strike of 1984-85 the NUM received funding from Qaddafi’s Libya and the Soviet Union.
Thanks to the release of official papers and the work of some diligent journalists, we now know a lot more about the efforts the USSR and its Eastern European satellites made to target trades unionists and prominent politicians as potential agents of influence. They were extensive and well funded. They sometimes succeeded. Much the same happened across the whole of Western Europe, where communist parties were often stronger than in the UK.
Acutely aware of the threat to national security, government ministers regularly registered their deep concern. In 1966, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson denounced the leaders of a dockers’ strike as “politically motivated men.” In the mid-1970s another Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, and his finance minister, Denis Healey, bravely stood up to extreme left-wing pressure at successive Labour Party conferences. Later, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock from opposite ends of the political spectrum took firm stands against those they believed sought to undermine democratic politics and an open economy.
They did so because Marxist-Leninism aimed not to advance or improve the liberal capitalist system that formed the basis of British and other European democracies, but to overthrow and replace it.
Marxist-Leninism in its various forms is still with us, but it lacks a determined state sponsor. Its cause was severely damaged by the failure of the Soviet Union, at least as long as that remains a living memory. The new threats to liberal democracies and open economies come from elsewhere. One such source is the emerging new authoritarianism in China, Russia and elsewhere, which seeks to take advantage of the messiness of the democratic process, political stresses in Europe and the US and new and sophisticated digital tools. These authoritarians certainly wish to rebalance the global order in their own favor. But they don’t particularly want to replace — as opposed to shape — other political systems, at least not yet.
This is not the case with another threat to liberal democracy, that of political Islamism. The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain. This year two journalists in Paris published the latest in a series of French books on the subject, Qatar Papers, detailing claims of a massive network of Qatari funding across Europe designed to benefit Islamist causes and groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The book describes what is happening as “entryism,” a word once commonly used to describe alleged communist subversion of Western institutions, and which has come back into vogue in the UK as a consequence of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.
The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain.
This has predictably caused a bit of a fuss, but it is an important and timely warning. The principle of non-intervention is an established part of international law, even if what it means in practice in a highly interdependent world is much less clear. States have a broad if not unrestrained right to sovereignty and to their own domestic political, social and economic arrangements in so far as they pose no threat to others. But Islamism, like communism, does not seek to compete with other systems in friendly (or unfriendly) rivalry. It seeks to replace them.
This is a highly sensitive subject, for both Muslims and non-Muslims. But that cannot mean we must be silent. The matter is too urgent. Islamism is the purposeful mobilization of religious and cultural identity in the interests of a sometimes violent but always socio-revolutionary supercessionist and often transnational political enterprise. In pursuit of this it views the extraordinarily complex, diverse and rich civilisation of Islam through the lens of an absolutist and impoverished historicism and claims an exclusive right to decide the exact nature of Islam and the true identity of a Muslim. This can be totalitarian and is certainly deeply destabilising. A brief glance around the Middle East and North Africa suggests several reasons why this might be so. It is equally damaging outside majority-Muslim countries, where social cohesion and national identity have become matters of huge concern at a time of economic turbulence and increasing national populism.
Saudi Arabia was once a patron of numerous Islamist groups globally, for a number of complex reasons; some to do with the threat from Nasser’s Egypt and other varieties of trans-national Arabism, some doubtless to do with a misplaced confidence that the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood simply wanted to promote Islam. By 2002, when the late Prince Naif gave his famous interview on the subject to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Siyasseh, those illusions had been well and truly shattered, and the Kingdom now seeks other paths.
Qatar, for reasons I still fail to understand, seems not to wish to apply the same lessons, in spite of repeated promises to fellow Gulf leaders. Turkey seems to be following suit not just in parts of the Middle East and North Africa but in Germany, Austria and the Balkans. This is a big problem. And it will remain a problem as long as the Muslim Brotherhood and other forms of political Islamism receive state backing in their attempts to replace not just the international but also domestic political, social, economic and cultural orders with one of their choosing.
• Sir John Jenkins is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. Until December 2017, he was Corresponding Director (Middle East) at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Manama, Bahrain and was a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He was the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia until January 2015.