August 15/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 15/10-20/:”Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 14-15/2019
Report Accuses 2 Lebanese Companies of Smuggling Iranian Oil to Syria
Report: Berri Opts for PSP-Hizbullah Reconciliation
Report: Lebanon’s 2020 Budget on Front Burner
Jreissati: Waste Crisis in North Nearing a Solution
Russia lets Iranian-Hizballah forces redeploy opposite Syrian-Israel border
Lebanese Young Man Dies in Guinea After Saving Two People From Drowning
Aoun moves to Beiteddine summer residence Friday
Body of Hussein Fashikh to reach Beirut Friday: General Kheir
Zghorta's Alma residents gather in protest against Terbol dump
Man hitting woman in Alma Zghorta turns out to be her brother
Iran Guard Commander: Hezbollah Could Destroy Israel on Its Own
Hezbollah’s Lebanese Allies Can Be Contained

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 14-15/2019
Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady
Iran's Khamenei Meets Yemen Rebels after Blow for Saudi Coalition
Conflicting Reports Emerge over Targeting of PMF Arms Depot in Iraq
Family Spares Ex-Tehran Mayor Facing Death over Wife's Murder
Poll: Likud, Blue and White are Neck and Neck ahead of Israel Elections
Greenblatt Reaffirms Washington Isn’t Looking to Replace PA’s Abbas
Saudi-UAE 'Rift' Weakens Fight against Common Yemen Foe
Syrian Troops Push Closer to Major Rebel-Held Northwest Town
Trump says China should treat Hong Kong ‘humanely’ before trade deal
Hong Kong Airport Protesters Retreat, but City in Turmoil
Russia flies nuclear-capable bombers to region facing Alaska
Police: Gunman shooting at police officers in Philadelphia
UK PM Johnson says Britons want Brexit, not an election

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 14-15/2019
Report Accuses 2 Lebanese Companies of Smuggling Iranian Oil to Syria/Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 14/2019
Russia lets Iranian-Hizballah forces redeploy opposite Syrian-Israel border/DEBKAfile/August 14/2019
Hezbollah’s Lebanese Allies Can Be Contained/Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute/August 13/ 2019
Killing Free Speech in Canada/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/August 14/2019
UK and US: Toxic Politics/Andrew Ash/Gatestone Institute/August 14/2019
Aden and the battle on Eid’s eve/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Arab News/August 14/2019
The bitter cost of fighting in Yemen and the urgent need for a united stand/Peter Welby/Arab News/August 14/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 14-15/2019
Report Accuses 2 Lebanese Companies of Smuggling Iranian Oil to Syria
Beirut - Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 14/2019
A Western report accused two Lebanese companies of smuggling Iranian oil to the Syrian regime, in violation of US sanctions against Tehran. While some experts emphasized the lack of proof in the report, others warned against “turning Lebanon into a platform to circumvent international sanctions.”Asharq Al-Awsat could not contact the companies to confirm or deny the accusations. Tankers Trackers - an International tanker tracking website - published a report in which it announced that Lebanese commercial records and traceability data for ships showed that two companies owned and operated oil tankers transporting Iranian crude oil secretly in the Mediterranean to Syria. According to the report, two tankers – Sandro and Jasmine – turned off their transponders when they reached the Syrian coast, as many Iranian vessels do, to avoid detection while en route to their destination.
The report noted that Sandro turned its transponder off near Cyprus, effectively disappearing from the maritime map.
In a similar incident, the location of the tanker Jasmine disappeared from radars while in the Mediterranean. The tanker is on the US list to monitor illegal activities, the report noted. There was no official Lebanese comment on the report, either from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Economy, which are the concerned authorities to clarify this issue. Lebanese Economist Jassem Ajaka pointed out that there were several ways used by uses to export its oil and evade sanctions. “But it is difficult to ascertain whether Lebanese entities or companies are involved in this issue,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Sami Nader, director of the Middle East Institute for Strategic Affairs, feared the negative repercussions of such activity on Lebanon. “The Americans do not joke about the issue of sanctions,” he stressed. Nader called on the Lebanese government and the Ministry of Economy to respond to this report, saying that the issue could be brought up by Prime Minister Saad Hariri during his ongoing visit to Washington.

Report: Berri Opts for PSP-Hizbullah Reconciliation
Naharnet/August 14/2019
Speaker Nabih Berri is likely to kick off an initiative to reconcile tense ties between Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. According to the daily, Hizbullah sources said “the reconciliation is in the hands of Speaker Berri,” who is eager to restore ties between the two parties to normalcy. Ties between the two took a negative turn against the backdrop of “Jumblat’s repeated positions on the Syrian refugee crisis,” and a license annulment to establish an industrial complex in Ain Dara.

Report: Lebanon’s 2020 Budget on Front Burner
Naharnet/August 14/2019
The efforts of the finance ministry have accelerated to complete Lebanon’s 2020 draft state budget in order to pass it on time unlike the 2019 budget that was passed eight months late. The team at the finance ministry responsible to complete this task has expedited preparations, after which Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil submits the draft to the Cabinet by the end of August before it is referred to the Parliament in early October, said al-Joumhouria daily on Wednesday. According to the daily, the approach to be adopted in the 2020 draft budget will be a continuation of the approach in the budget of 2019. Khalil will work on reducing the deficit further by 1 percent less than 2019 in line with the pledges made by Lebanon to reduce the deficit by 1 percent annually for 5 years. In May, Lebanon’s government approved a long-awaited austerity budget trimming Lebanon's deficit to 7.59 percent of gross domestic product -- a nearly 4-point drop from the previous year. Lebanon has promised donors to slash public spending as part of reforms to unlock $11 billion in aid pledged at a conference in Paris last year. Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks in recent years, compounded by the 2011 breakout of civil war in neighbouring Syria. The country has been racking up public debt since the end of its own 1975-1990 civil war, which now stands at more than 150 percent of GDP, according to the finance ministry.

Jreissati: Waste Crisis in North Nearing a Solution
Naharnet/August 14/2019
Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati said it was “shameful” how “sectarianism” is affecting solutions for the waste crisis in Lebanon, pointing out that efforts are ongoing to resolve the newly emerged crisis in the Northern districts of Zgharta, al-Koura, Bsharri and Dinniyeh. In a press conference from the Ministry, Jreissati stressed that “politicizing” solutions for the waste crisis will affect us all “we are the ones who will eventually pay the price. "Establishing landfills is expensive, we can not establish separate landfills for each region. The truth of co-existence has been unveiled today: it is a lie,” he added. “LAW Number 80 in 2018 stipulates that decentralization must be adopted in implementing integrated waste management through local administrations. We have to cooperate and not run away from responsibilities,” he said. On the crisis in North Lebanon that emerged after the closure of Adweh landfill, he said: “We are growing closer to a solution, but people must know that it will not meet the approval of everyone. We have contacted the Mirador project owner and the land has been offered for free. There are four substitutes between Minyeh and Dinniyeh," he explained. “Wherever we decide to establish a landfill we face opposition, but we must always choose for a less risky solution because there is no ecological solution without damage. Trash cannot be a platform for leadership," the Minister concluded.

Russia lets Iranian-Hizballah forces redeploy opposite Syrian-Israel border
DEBKAfile/August 14/2019
Exclusive: Deep apprehension in Israel over a Russian U-turn, which is letting small Iranian Al Qods and Hizballah units regain former positions 10-15km from the Israeli and Jordanian borders. They are coming back after Russian forces drove them out last year and established a safe zone at those border districts in their stead. Reporting this turn of events, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources add that the Russian forces, not content with allowing this Iranian-Hizballah comeback, have also evacuated their own positions, leaving the local population under the control of the Al Qods and Hizballah invaders. These actions violate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commitment last year to US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to purge S. Syrian borders of the hostile elements ruled from Tehran an provide monitors for a safe zone. Washington and Jerusalem have interceded strongly with Moscow against this breach while trying to establish whether they were ordered from Putin’s office in the Kremlin or the local command on a directive from the Russian defense ministry. For now, neither the US nor Israel has decided how to respond to the new pro-Iranian buildup at Israel’s back door. They are also trying to find out if the Russian step is Moscow’s response to the US-Turkish safe zone initiative for northeastern Syria. This week, a large American unit landed in southern Turkey to start activating the joint US-Turkish safe zone, which aims to separate the Turkish army from the pro-US SDF militia which is dominated by Syrian Kurds. Moscow may have opened the door to Iran in southern Syria to counter expanding US involvement in the north. Israel showed first resistance to the new hostile presence at its border on July 24 by firing surface missiles at the intelligence stations Iran was setting up on the Tal Al-Harara hilltop opposite the Golan border. But the Russian move continued notwithstanding.

Lebanese Young Man Dies in Guinea After Saving Two People From Drowning
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
Hours after his disappearance, news emerged about the death of Lebanese teenager Hussein Fsheikh in Guinea, West Africa, where he emigrated two years ago. Head of the Higher Relief Committee Maj. Gen. Mohammed Kheir announced that Guinean authorities officially informed him that the body of a teenager who drowned in the Konkouré River while trying to save two people from drowning belonged to Lebanese Hussein Fsheikh. He died after rescuing an Egyptian woman and an African young man from drowning in a waterfall in the Conakry region of West Africa, where he was washed away by the river. The young man was born in 1994 and had visited his family for the last time on Eid al-Fitr, in his hometown of Btormaz in Dinnieh, North Lebanon. Kheir said under the directives of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, contacts were ongoing with authorities in Guinea to take the necessary measures to return the body to Lebanon as soon as possible. In a Tweet, Hariri mourned the death of Fsheikh, saying: “Martyr Hussein al-Fsheikh, a Lebanese ambassador for chivalry, nobility, and courage, drowned in Conakry as he was rescuing two people from inevitable death.”The premier expressed his sincerest condolences to the family of the deceased and to all people of Btormaz in Dinnieh. Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants expressed in a statement on Tuesday its “sincere condolences” to the family of the deceased and to the Lebanese Diaspora in Guinea.

Aoun moves to Beiteddine summer residence Friday
NNA -Wed 14 Aug 2019
President Michel Aoun is scheduled to move to the summer presidential residence in Beiteddine on forthcoming Friday. Separately, the President met today (Wednesday) at Baabda palace, with MPs Assad Dergham and Mustafa Hussein from the "Strong Lebanon" parliamentary bloc. Talks reportedly touched on the current general situation in the country and an array of developmental affairs in the northern region of Akkar.

Body of Hussein Fashikh to reach Beirut Friday: General Kheir

NNA -Wed 14 Aug 2019
Secretary General of the Higher Relief Committee, General Mohammad Kheir, announced that the body of Hussein Fashikh will reach Beirut airport at 6:30 am Friday. He added that the body will be transported by the Moroccan airlines.

Zghorta's Alma residents gather in protest against Terbol dump

NNA -Wed 14 Aug 2019
Locals of the town of Zghorta's Alma gathered in the town's main road, in protest against the reopening of the new Terbol dump, NNA Correspondent reported on Wednesday. Protestors attacked some trucks carrying waste to the landfill on Alma-Terbol road.

Man hitting woman in Alma Zghorta turns out to be her brother
NNA -Wed 14 Aug 2019
The Internal Security Forces' member shown in a widely circulated video online hitting a woman in Zghorta's Alma, turned out to be her brother, ISF Directorate General said in a statement on Wednesday. The ISF patrol was carrying out a mission of maintaining security and order in Alma Zghorta, when the patrol's ISF member was surprised to see his sister among the group intercepting their way nearby their residence in said town. The ISF member asked his sister to leave the premises and return home, yet she refused which prompted him to hit her. Investigations are underway under the supervision of the concerned judiciary.

Iran Guard Commander: Hezbollah Could Destroy Israel on Its Own 14/2019
Head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, on Wednesday indicated that Hezbollah “has acquired capabilities in Syria that allow it to obliterate Israel alone.”“The Iranian people forgot about talking to the United States and removed it from their thought," he said during a press conference, adding that “any negotiation with the US is aimed at making us surrender.”His comments came in reference of the recent weeks’ suggestions of talks between Iran and the US to reduce tensions between the two countries. “Negotiations would be a farce and not a way to resolve [matters],” arguing that conducting talks with the US will only increase the pressure and demands. "The US and its allies’ attempts to undermine Iran's regional influence has backfired and instead formed a united front against the Zionist regime,” he noted.

Hezbollah’s Lebanese Allies Can Be Contained
حنين غدار/معهد واشنطن: بالإمكان احتواء حلفاء حزب الله اللبنانيين
Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute/August 13/ 2019
The group’s local partners balked when U.S. officials warned them to back off a recent political smear campaign, but more should be done to expose and exploit their rifts.
On August 7, the U.S. embassy in Beirut released a statement calling for “fair and transparent judicial review” in Lebanon, noting that “any attempt to use the tragic June 30 event in [Qabrshmoun] to advance political objectives should be rejected.” Both the statement itself and the incident it referred to—a violent clash in which two Lebanese bodyguards were killed—highlight the manner in which Hezbollah and its political allies have been increasingly weaponizing sectarian tensions against their rivals. With Prime Minister Saad Hariri visiting Washington all this week and U.S. diplomats firing a shot across Beirut’s bow, a closer look at this trend and Washington’s options for stunting it is warranted.
Although the U.S. statement did not mention any Lebanese leaders by name, it was seen as a clear message to President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Bassil is Aoun’s son-in-law and hopes to succeed him in the next presidential election cycle, maneuvering for which has already begun. Yet he has long understood that he cannot fulfill this dream without Hezbollah and Iran’s blessing—and that obtaining such approval will require him to become their favorite Maronite leader, since Lebanon’s presidency is automatically allotted to that Christian sect.
Bassil has been delivering on that prerequisite so far. As foreign minister, he has not diverted once from Iran’s foreign policy preferences in Lebanon, such as supporting Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war and echoing Tehran’s stance on international affairs and U.S. policy in the region. On domestic policy, he allied with Hezbollah during the 2018 parliamentary elections and has subsequently followed the group’s legislative lead.
Bassil is also keen to boost his political strength against rival Joseph Aoun, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) commander whose own candidacy became more serious following his recent visit to Washington. Knowing that the Trump administration will remain lukewarm toward him given his association with Hezbollah, Bassil decided to focus his efforts locally by going after Lebanese figures who could hamper his goals. The U.S. embassy warning has temporarily thwarted his pressure campaign, but he has not been weakened. More needs to be done to expose his alliance with Hezbollah, limit his sway in Lebanon, and protect Hezbollah’s local political rivals. The United States still has enough leverage with key Lebanese figures to do just that, especially while Prime Minister Hariri is in Washington.
The main target of Bassil’s ire has been Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who was subjected to a vicious political and legal assault for over a month leading up to the U.S. statement. On June 30, Jumblatt’s supporters clashed with rival Druze in Qabrshmoun, and two bodyguards working for a visiting Hezbollah-backed minister were killed under circumstances that are still under investigation. Bassil jumped at the opportunity, launching a targeted campaign to implicate Jumblatt in the deaths and accuse him of attempting to assassinate the minister.
Hezbollah supported Bassil’s effort because weakening Jumblatt would greatly serve its own interests and those of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. In a recent television interview, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Jumblatt and other critics of conspiring against the so-called “axis of resistance.” Indeed, Jumblatt has been a staunch critic of the group and its Syrian regime ally since 2005, a stance he maintained when Hezbollah joined the war next door. This May, Jumblatt further incensed the group by arguing that the disputed Shebaa Farms area was Syrian territory, not Lebanese—a direct contradiction to one of Hezbollah’s main justifications for keeping its weapons. Jumblatt is also widely seen as a champion of Syrian refugees, whom both Nasrallah and Bassil are eager to deport.
The campaign against Jumblatt resembled previous Iranian and Syrian attempts to brand their critics as traitors, thereby justifying their persecution. The strategy almost worked again. At the time of the June 30 incident, the government could not convene to address the matter immediately, but Bassil would have been satisfied with simply referring the case to the Judicial Council, a body controlled by Hezbollah and its allies. There, Hezbollah may have been able to use its influence to frame, convict, and sentence Jumblatt, perhaps destroying him politically and personally.
Yet the firm U.S. embassy statement turned things around—it 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.” Aoun and Bassil immediately backed down and agreed to reconciliation with Jumblatt’s camp, without any further mention of the Judicial Council. Political sources in Beirut have said that Washington also threatened to issue sanctions against figures within Bassil’s party, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM).
The U.S. statement has put Bassil, Aoun, and Hezbollah’s camp in a difficult position while strengthening Jumblatt’s posture as a Druze leader and a national political figure. Hariri should hear the same clear and firm message in Washington this week.
After all, it was Hariri’s political agreement with Bassil that brought Aoun to the presidency, cost Lebanon international support, and dragged it further under Iran’s influence. Since then, the prime minister has repeatedly compromised with Hezbollah’s camp, unconvincingly justifying his appeasement in the name of ensuring Lebanon’s security and boosting its ailing economy. Although the Sunni community punished him for this stance during the 2018 parliamentary elections, where he lost one-third of his parliamentary bloc, not even this setback has made him reconsider his alliances—he continues to work as the perfect cover for a government in which Hezbollah and its proxies hold majority control. Yet if Jumblatt keeps refusing to compromise with the group, and if Washington keeps backing this stance, Hariri may finally see that there are other options, and that he does not have to surrender Lebanon to Iran.
The anti-Jumblatt campaign has been contained for now, but the June 30 investigation is now in the hands of the military courts, where Hezbollah has enough influence to buy time and resume its threats against Jumblatt. To help ensure that the case is handled fairly and transparently, the United States should use its aid to the LAF—around $2.29 billion since 2005—as leverage, since the military courts are part of the army.
Meanwhile, the FPM and other Hezbollah allies should no longer be permitted to implement Iran’s agenda in Lebanon without consequences. When Bassil meets with U.S. officials or visits Washington, he often downplays his relationship with Hezbollah as a temporary alliance aimed at bettering his chances for the presidency, thereby avoiding U.S. sanctions. Back in Lebanon, however, FPM officials and media constantly denigrate U.S. policy and defend the legitimacy of Hezbollah’s weapons.
To be sure, even if the threat of sanctions stops Aoun and Bassil from overstretching their power in Lebanon, it may not be enough to break their alliance with Hezbollah. Yet the same message may be more effectual with other Christian figures, including Aoun’s political camp and business community, who might reconsider supporting Bassil’s bid for presidency. Sanctions could also help limit Hariri’s acquiescence to Hezbollah and push him away from Bassil. More important, they could sway businesspeople from Amal and other Shia parties, who are already considering options to distance themselves from Hezbollah’s business community.
If sanctions are implemented as part of a comprehensive U.S. policy aimed at exploring ways to restore political balance in Lebanon, then Hezbollah’s alliances and financial support base may truly be shaken. The best place to start is by exerting more pressure on Bassil’s partnership with Hezbollah, and not hesitating to levy sanctions when diplomatic attempts fall short.
*Hanin Ghaddar is the Friedmann Visiting Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Geduld Program on Arab Politics.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 14-15/2019
Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady
Arab News/August 14/2019
LONDON: Iran has arrested a British-Iranian dual national, further threatening tensions between the UK and Tehran following the seizure of a British tanker last month. Kameel Ahmady, a social anthropologist, was arrested on Sunday from his home in western Iran without any reason, his wife told BBC Persian. Shafaq Rahmani claimed security agents came to their house and confiscated documents, including his ID card. She said he had not been officially charged, but officials at Evin prison say he faces several charges related to his activities. “They have not provided any information about the reason for the arrest or the charges against Kameel,” Rahmani wrote on Instagram. According to a website affiliated with his name, Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriages and other issues related to gender, children and minorities in Iran, the Middle East and Africa.
Ahmady, who was born in Iranian Kurdistan but moved to Britain in his 20s, took global campaigners by surprise in 2015 when he published a study suggesting tens of thousands of Iranian women have undergone FGM.
The report called on the Iranian government to introduce laws on FGM, develop a national plan to end the practice and incorporate the issue into education and health programs. “Iran doesn’t have a brilliant record when it comes to women’s rights and is very worried about destabilizing border areas,” Ahmady told the Reuters. “It doesn’t want a headache with these communities where its motives are generally not trusted.” A spokesman for the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, who reported his arrest, said Ahmady has lived in Iran for many years, the BBC reported. Rahmani also said Iranian authorities told her that a local judicial official, based at Evin Prison, had given Ahmady a temporary one-month detention court order. Located in northern Tehran, Evin prison is notorious for keeping political prisoners, dissidents and dual Iranian nationals accused of plotting against the government since 1972, even before the Iranian revolution started. They are held in a purpose-built wing nicknamed “Evin University” due to the number of intellectuals imprisoned there. The prison has been accused of committing “serious human rights abuses” against its political dissidents and critics of the government, according to the US government. Iran does not recognize dual nationality. Another British-Iranian national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit. She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge she denies. In May, the UK Foreign Office advised British-Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran out of fear they face an “intolerable risk of mistreatment” and arbitrary detention. It came after British Council worker Aras Amiri was jailed for 10 years for spying, while visiting her grandmother. The recent arrest comes amid heightened tension between Britain and Iran over the seizure of oil tankers. The British territory of Gibraltar is holding an Iranian oil tanker seized by Royal Marines in the Mediterranean.
In retaliation Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps troops seized the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.

Iran's Khamenei Meets Yemen Rebels after Blow for Saudi Coalition
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/2019
Iran's supreme leader has held talks with a senior Yemeni rebel official just days after the long-running intervention against the rebels by its regional foes Saudi Arabia and the UAE suffered a major setback. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hosted Huthi rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam at his Tehran residence late Tuesday after southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates seized Yemen's second city Aden on Saturday. The defeat for President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's unionist supporters, who have been backed by Saudi Arabia, exposed the divergent ambitions of the key coalition partners and threatened to weaken their common struggle against the Huthis. Khamenei renewed his support for the rebels, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of the north, and accused Iran's foes of a "plot" to partition the country. "I declare my support for the mujahidah (struggle) of Yemen," he said in a statement issued after the talks. "Saudi and UAE and their supporters have committed major crimes in Yemen. "They seek to divide Yemen. This plot should be strongly resisted and a unified, coherent Yemen with sovereign integrity should be endorsed," the Iranian leader said in an English-language statement. South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990. An armed secession bid four years later ended with its occupation by northern forces, which provoked resentments that persist to this day. Four and a half years of Saudi- and UAE-led military intervention in support of Hadi has seen the Huthi rebels pushed out of the south. But the UAE, which has led ground operations in the region, has relied heavily on southern separatists at the expense of the unionists, who dominate Hadi's government. Khamenei called for talks to stop Yemen being divided. "Given Yemen’s religious and ethnic diversity, protecting Yemen's integrity requires domestic dialogues," he said. The conflict has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced some 3.3 million since 2015. Two-thirds of the population -- some 20 million people -- require humanitarian support, according to the United Nations. Khamenei blasted the "Western world's indifference towards the crimes committed in Yemen". "The Islamic republic's anti-US and anti-West stances are not out of fanaticism," he said. "Rather, they're based on realities, US politicians' and West's actions, who fake a humane, civilised and ethical appearance while committing the worst crimes and talking about human rights." The United States and its Western allies have kept up huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, despite an international outcry over the human cost of the war. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have repeatedly accused Iran of supplying weapons, including ballistic missiles, to the Huthis rebels, an accusation Tehran has consistently denied,

Conflicting Reports Emerge over Targeting of PMF Arms Depot in Iraq
Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the interior minister and commanders in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) inspected on Tuesday the PMF’s Saqr training camp weapons depot in southwestern Baghdad after several blasts rocked the site on Monday. One person was killed in the explosions that caused panic among the people. The premier had ordered a probe into the incident, urging officials at weapons depots and training camps throughout the country to take “necessary safety precautions to avoid such unfortunate incidents.” Conflicting reports have emerged over the possibility that the depot may have been targeted by Israeli or American jets, while others speculated that the blasts may have been due to an accident at the site. Speculation also centered on which party runs the camp. Federal police and PMF equipment were found at the location, said the interior ministry. Thirteen people were wounded, including two police officers and four PMF members, it added. Vice President Bahaa al-Aaraji said that the nature of the fire and blast at the camp reveals that it housed “weapons that are not used by Iraqi forces or even the PMF.”“We can conclude that the weapons were being stored for safe keeping by a neighboring country and were targeted by an unjust colonial state based on a treasonous Iraq tip off,” he tweeted in clear reference to Iran storing arms in Iraq. A security source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is obvious that we are confronted with a real bone-grinding battle between the United States and Israel on the one hand, and Iran and its allies in Iraq on the other.” “It is also obvious that both sides have chosen Iraq as the ground for their undeclared battle,” he added on condition of anonymity. “All signs indicate that Israel is completing, with US backing, what it started in Syria by striking Iranian targets,” he explained.
He speculated that Iraq will not announce the results of the investigation into the Saqr blasts in order to avoid “bothering the Iranians”. Tehran has for years adopted a policy of refraining from disclosing Israeli and American strikes against it in Syria and now in Iraq. Meanwhile, a member of the PMF, Adel al-Karaawi suspected that the US may have been behind the Saqr blasts. In televised remarks, he said the US may have used an armed drone to carry out the attack. He predicted that more strikes will take place in the future “if we do not seize control of Iraqi airspace, especially after Israeli jets have also flown over Iraqi territory.”

Family Spares Ex-Tehran Mayor Facing Death over Wife's Murder
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
A former mayor of Tehran sentenced to death over the murder of his wife has been spared by her family in a post shared on Instagram on Wednesday, said AFP. Mohammad Ali Najafi, 67, was sentenced to death last month after being convicted of shooting dead his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home in the Iranian capital on May 28. Ostad's family had appealed for the Islamic law of retribution to be applied -- an "eye for an eye" form of punishment which would have seen the death penalty served. But her brother Masood Ostad said the family had decided to grant him a reprieve, according to a post on his private Instagram account cited by various media outlets. State news agency IRNA said a lawyer for the family, Mahmoud Hajiloui, had confirmed the reprieve. "My father, my mother and our Mahyar (his sister's son) forgive Mr Mohammad Ali Najafi" after mediation that involved others, he wrote.
"We are happy that we made no deal for the blood of that honorable (person)," he added, referring to retribution for his sister's murder. "We hope Mr. Mohammad Ali Najafi in his remaining years... engages in cleansing himself." Najafi remains behind bars after also receiving a two-year jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, but it was not immediately known if he still has to serve time for murder. The former mayor's trial received detailed coverage in state media where scandals related to politicians rarely appear on television. A mathematician, professor and veteran politician, Najafi had previously served as President Hassan Rouhani's economic adviser and education minister. He was elected Tehran mayor in August 2017, but resigned the following April after facing criticism from conservatives for attending a dance performed by schoolgirls. Najafi married Ostad without divorcing his first wife, unusual in Iran where polygamy is legal but socially frowned upon. Some of Iran's ultra-conservatives said the case showed the "moral bankruptcy" of reformists, while reformists accused the conservative-dominated state television of bias in its coverage and highlighting the case for political ends.

Poll: Likud, Blue and White are Neck and Neck ahead of Israel Elections
Ramallah -Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
The Likud party is likely to win 30 seats, one seat more than its rival, the Blue and White party, in upcoming general elections in Israel. The Blue and White party is projected to lose six of its 35 seats, according to a poll conducted by the Midgam agency on behalf of Channel 12.
According to the survey, the “United Right” list would win 11 seats, as would the Arab Joint List party. In previous elections, the Likud and Blue and White got the same numbers. However, Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won more seats in the right-wing coalition, failed to form a government, prompting the new elections that are scheduled for September 17. This means Yisrael Beitenu party, led by Avigdor Lieberman, will play a deciding role in who forms a government. Any bloc needs 61 seats to control the formation of the government. Nevertheless, for voters in the poll, Netanyahu is still the most favored to form the next government with 41 percent, compared to 32 percent for Benny Gantz of the Blue and White. During the poll, Likud members were asked to choose their candidate likely to succeed Netanyahu from within the party if he could not form the next government. Knesset member Gideon Saar, Netanyahu's most prominent opponent within the party, came first with 22 percent. Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan and Minister of Culture Miri Regev each received 12 percent, Foreign Minister Israel Katz 9 percent and Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein 6 percent. The results raise concerns about the persistence of the state of uncertainty in Israel. Netanyahu has many options, including joining a coalition with the Blue and White, striking a deal with Lieberman, or failing again to form a government. The Blue and White party has said it would ally itself with the Likud only if Netanyahu is left out of the picture.

Greenblatt Reaffirms Washington Isn’t Looking to Replace PA’s Abbas

Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 14 August, 2019
The US special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, has confirmed that the United States is neither seeking to topple the incumbent Palestinian regime nor to replace the Palestinian National Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. In an interview Bloomberg early Tuesday, Greenblatt said that the US doesn’t look forward to changing the Palestinian regime. Speaking about the partnership between the PA and the US, Greenblatt said relations are at their worst stage as a result of an ongoing rupture since US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Ties were strained after Trump's recognition at the end of 2017, and tension worsened after Abbas refused to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence. Both sides then engaged in a fiery confrontation at the United Nations Security Council, which was followed by Abbas stepping up and launching an attack on Washington, rejecting its mediation in any political process. Trump responded by cutting off all aid to Palestinians, closing their office in Washington, and expelling Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representatives from there, a Palestinian party chaired by Abbas. The PA says such a move translates into Trump seeking to shake up Palestinian leadership. Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian diplomat who served as chief of the PLO Steering and Monitoring Committee until 12 February 2011, has repeatedly stated that there is an Israeli-American campaign waged against Abbas and that he fears the leader will face the fate of the late leader Yasser Arafat. Palestinian officials accused the US of working to create an alternative Palestinian leadership through a series of steps to weaken the current leadership. These convictions were reinforced in Ramallah as Greenblatt himself held meetings with Palestinians at home and abroad, contrary to the wishes of the Palestinian leadership and away from coordination with them. Palestinian sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian leadership is alert to attempts to create an alternative leadership, and added that such attempts “aren’t new.”

Saudi-UAE 'Rift' Weakens Fight against Common Yemen Foe
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/2019
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi put on a display of unity over Yemen, but the capture of Aden by UAE-backed separatists exposes simmering divisions that analysts say weaken their joint campaign against Iran-linked rebels. The seizure of the presidential palace in the southern port city on Saturday dealt a fresh blow to Saudi Arabia, which has led a costly four-year military intervention that has failed to defeat the Huthi rebels while triggering a humanitarian crisis. The deadly bout of fighting in Yemen's already convoluted conflict pits Saudi-backed government forces against the UAE-trained Security Belt Force -– both allied against the Huthis. With handshakes and smiles, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi held talks with Saudi leaders near Mecca on Monday, backing Riyadh's calls for dialogue between the warring parties. But beneath the bonhomie lurked divisions that are fuelling the infighting and weakening the campaign to uproot the Huthis, who control vast swathes of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, analysts say. "Saudi Arabia needs the (UAE-trained) southerner fighting force," Washington-based Yemeni analyst Fatima Abo Alasrar told AFP. "If the Saudis need to win the fight against Iran-backed Huthis, they will need to encourage ceasefire and reconciliation between the government and the separatists." Four and a half years of war against the common Huthi foe have exposed the divergent ambitions of the partners in the coalition. The United Arab Emirates –- which in July announced it was scaling down its military presence in Yemen amid Gulf tensions with Iran -– has long viewed southern Yemen as a vital base to expand its political footprint in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. The UAE has recruited and trained thousands of separatists, who seek renewed independence for the south. Its larger neighbour Saudi Arabia views the Huthis as an existential threat, likening the rebels to a Hezbollah-like force in its backyard. Yemen has emerged as Riyadh's proxy battleground with Tehran as the rebels step up drone and missile attacks on Saudi cities. "A key Saudi frustration with the UAE will be something they cannot resolve –- for the UAE, Yemen was a war of choice, for Saudi Arabia, it isn't," said Ryan Bohl, of US geopolitical think tank Stratfor.
"That basic strategic difference was always going to create friction."
- 'Huge blow' -
The UAE's military drawdown is another development that appears to have left Riyadh isolated in Yemen, despite assurances from Abu Dhabi that it is only a tactical retreat, not a full withdrawal. "It is a huge blow to Saudi Arabia's coalition in Yemen and it will be difficult for Riyadh to replace the UAE," said Olivier Guitta, managing director of GlobalStrat, a geopolitical risk consultancy firm. As Iran tensions increase the risk of a regional conflict, "the UAE has clearly gone down a couple of notches regarding its anti-Iran rhetoric in the past few weeks." But Riyadh needs the UAE's support to bring the southern secessionists to the negotiating table. The Saudi foreign ministry said it has invited all warring parties for urgent talks in the kingdom. The separatists say they are open to dialogue and de-escalation. However, after Saudi-led warplanes hit separatist targets around Aden on Sunday, Southern Transitional Council vice president Hani bin Breik said his group will not "negotiate under threat".
- 'Quagmire' -
Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman has warned the infighting could be exploited not just the Huthis but also by other groups active in Yemen like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The potential security vacuum also exacerbates the risk of Western weapons falling into the hands of local armed groups -- especially after the US Senate last month failed to prevent the controversial sale of $8.1 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia. "There have been end-use monitoring concerns raised about Saudi Arabia and the UAE transferring US weapons to various factions in Yemen, particularly the southern separatists," said Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation. The Gulf states dismiss the concerns, but the hasty retreat of Saudi-armed government forces from Aden is likely to reignite concerns that their weapons could have fall into the hands of separatists. "Regarding Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the best outcome they can hope for is a draw," said Guitta. "A victory should have happened in the first year (of their intervention). Now it is turning into a quagmire a la Vietnam."

Syrian Troops Push Closer to Major Rebel-Held Northwest Town

Associated Press/Naharnet/August 14/2019
A Syrian war monitor and state-controlled media say that government forces have captured two northwestern villages, inching closer to a major rebel-held town. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked war monitoring group, says Syrian troops captured the villages of Tel Aas and Kfar Eean early on Wednesday. The villages are just west of the rebel stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media also says pro-government fighters captured the villages after fierce fighting with al-Qaida-linked militants.Syrian troops have been on the offensive against main rebel strongholds in the north of Hama province and the southern districts of Idlib, the last major concentrations of rebels in the country. Over the past days, troops have intensified their offensive, capturing the town of Habeet on Sunday.

Trump says China should treat Hong Kong ‘humanely’ before trade deal
Reuters, Washington/Thursday, 15 August 2019
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China wants to make a trade deal but it should treat Hong Kong “humanely” first.“Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!” Trump said on Twitter.

Hong Kong Airport Protesters Retreat, but City in Turmoil
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/2019
Pro-democracy protesters retreated from Hong Kong's airport on Wednesday following two days of hugely disruptive rallies that turned violent and plunged the global financial hub further into turmoil. The protests ended early Wednesday morning following a series of clashes in which a policeman drew his gun after being beaten by demonstrators and other officers fired pepper spray. The rallies paralysed one of the world's busiest travel hubs, deepening a 10-week crisis that is the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of Hong Kong since its 1997 British handover. US President Donald Trump added to fears Beijing may be prepared to stage a military intervention to end the unrest, saying on Tuesday his intelligence had confirmed Chinese troop movements toward the Hong Kong border. The people power movement, which has seen millions take to Hong Kong's streets, was sparked by opposition to a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. It quickly evolved into a much broader campaign for democratic freedoms, and to stop the growing influence of China's authoritarian rulers in the semi-autonomous city.
Suspicion, violence
On Monday and Tuesday, thousands of protesters wearing their signature black T-shirts gathered at Hong Kong's airport, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled. After initially just voicing their demands with peaceful demonstrations, the protesters adopted more aggressive tactics on Tuesday and created barricades with luggage trolleys to block passengers at the departure halls. Late on Tuesday night, the protests descended into a series of violent confrontations with police, and demonstrators scuffling with passengers desperate to get on flights. In one particularly ugly scene, a group of protesters ganged up on a policeman and beat him. They stopped their attack when the policeman pulled his gun and pointed it at them, but did not fire. Demonstrators also turned on two men, fuelled by suspicions within their ranks about undercover police or spies. The first man was held for about two hours and assaulted before eventually being led away in an ambulance. Riot police briefly deployed pepper spray and batons to beat back protesters while they escorted the vehicle away from the departures hall. Another man, wearing a yellow journalist vest, was surrounded, zip-tied and then beaten by a small group who accused him of being a spy.
In a tweet, Hu Xijun, the editor of China's state-controlled Global Times tabloid -- which has vociferously condemned the protests -- said the man was working for the paper. By early Wednesday, most protesters had left and many flights were operating as scheduled in the morning. However, it was unclear if the protesters, who have no public leaders and organise via social media, would return to the airport. "The airport is our last bargaining chip," one of a handful of protesters who remained at the airport on Wednesday morning told AFP. Michael, a 25-year-old tourist from Dubai, got to the airport on Wednesday more than 12 hours ahead of his flight home in a bid to avoid potential protests later in the day. "I can feel like they are really fighting for my freedom, so my heart goes to them in a way," he said of the protesters. But he said they were now targeting the wrong people. "The passengers have nothing to do with what's happening, they mostly are tourists," he told AFP.
The 'abyss'
On Tuesday morning, the city's leader, Carrie Lam, gave an at-times emotional press conference in which she warned of dangerous consequences if escalating violence was not curbed and said the hub was being "pushed into an abyss." But she once again refused to make any concessions to the protesters. The Chinese government has repeatedly signalled the protesters are reaching the limits of the "one country, two systems" legal framework that gives Hong Kong its autonomy. Authorities in Beijing on Monday described some of the violence as "terrorism", and state-run media this week began promoting videos showing security forces gathering in Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong. Trump on Tuesday said his intelligence had confirmed Chinese troops were gathering across the border. "I hope it works out for everybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully, nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed," he said. The United Nations' human rights chief on Tuesday voiced concern over force used against protesters and called for an impartial probe. However, Trump has said little to support Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, drawing criticism from both sides of the American political spectrum. "Trump favours both sides in Hong Kong protests. Hardly a profile in courage," said Nicholas Burns, a former senior US diplomat now at the Harvard University Kennedy School.

Russia flies nuclear-capable bombers to region facing Alaska
Reuters, Moscow/Thursday, 15 August 2019
Russia said on Wednesday it had flown two nuclear-capable TU-160 bombers to a far eastern Russian region opposite Alaska as part of a training exercise that state media said showed Moscow’s ability to park nuclear arms on the US doorstep. The Tupolev TU-160 strategic bomber, nicknamed the White Swan in Russia, is a supersonic Soviet-era aircraft capable of carrying up to 12 short-range nuclear missiles and of flying 12,000 km non-stop without re-fueling. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the planes had covered a distance of more than 6,000 km in over eight hours from their home base in western Russia to deploy in Anadyr in the Chukotka region, which faces Alaska. The flight was part of a tactical exercise that would last until the end of this week, it said, and was designed to rehearse the air force’s ability to rebase to operational air fields and to practice air-to-air refueling.
The flight comes amid heightened tensions over arms control between Moscow and Washington. The United States withdrew from a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia this month after determining that Moscow was violating that treaty, an accusation the Kremlin denied.
On Tuesday, the Kremlin boasted that it was winning the race to develop new cutting-edge nuclear weapons despite a mysterious rocket accident last week in northern Russia that killed at least five people and caused a brief spike in radiation levels.

Police: Gunman shooting at police officers in Philadelphia
The Associated Press, Philadelphia/Thursday, 15 August 2019
Authorities say several Philadelphia police officers have been injured in an “active and ongoing” shooting situation in the city. Sgt. Eric Gripp tweeted there was at least one suspect firing at police officers Wednesday afternoon. A police spokesman confirmed the shooting in the Nicetown section of the city but offered no other information. Video shows a massive police presence in a neighborhood with dozens of police cars and officers, many of them with their guns drawn. One officer appeared injured and was taken away in a police car. Video also showed two other officers carrying a man and putting him in the back of a police car.

UK PM Johnson says Britons want Brexit, not an election
Reuters, London/Wednesday, 14 August 2019
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday Britons wanted politicians to get on with delivering Brexit and were frustrated that they had failed to ensure a departure from the European Union. Asked if he would hold an election after October 31 to ensure parliament could not prevent Brexit on that date, Johnson said: “I think the British public have had a lot of elections and electoral events. “I think what they want us to do is deliver Brexit on October 31 and I never tire of telling you that is what we are going to do,” Johnson said in a “People’s PMQs” question-and-answer session on Facebook. “We’re coming out of the European Union on October 31,” he said. “I think that is what the British people voted for and they feel very frustrated that three years after they gave that instruction, and after the British parliament promised again and again to people that we would do it, they feel very annoyed and frustrated that we haven’t - so that’s the first thing we are going to do.”

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 14-15/2019
Killing Free Speech in Canada
جودث بركمن/معهد كايتستون: قتل حرية الرأي في كندا
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/August 14/2019
As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes "hate", making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. France is working on it.
The Conservative members of the committee... recommended instead that sanctions regarding hate crimes online or elsewhere should be dealt with under the appropriate sections of the Criminal Code. They also recommended that "The definition of 'hate' under the Criminal Code be limited to where a threat of violence, or incitement to violence, is directed against an identifiable group" and that "rather than attempting to control speech and ideas, the Government explore appropriate security measures to address all three elements of a threat: intent, capability and opportunity".
"Sickening ideologies which encourage individuals to take the lives of their fellow human beings have faced a concerning proliferation both at home and around the world. Yet sadly, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Members of this Committee have tried to use these troubling events as a way to bolster their political fortunes. They have tried to paint anyone who doesn't subscribe to their narrow value set as an extremist." – Conservative Party dissenting opinion in "Taking Action to End Online Hate".
If Canada's government proves sympathetic to the new recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the prospects for free speech in Canada look increasingly bleak. In May, Canada launched a so-called Digital Charter, meant to promote "trust in a digital world". The charter contains ten principles, three of which deal with "hate speech and disinformation".
The charter, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will target fake news and hate speech online. "The platforms are failing their users, and they're failing our citizens," he said. "They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don't, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences."
"The Government of Canada," the charter says, "will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions. Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content."
"There will be clear, meaningful penalties," it adds, "for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles."
As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes "hate", making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online "criminal offenses" within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint; the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law. France is working on it.
The Digital Charter was launched the week after Canada signed the "Christchurch Call to Action -- yet another government-led drive for more censorship in the name of fighting "terrorist and violent extremist content online".
Canada already has hate speech laws in its criminal code, according to which anyone who publicly "incites [or willfully promotes] hatred against any identifiable group" commits an indictable offence"[1]. The "identifiable group "includes "any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability."[2] Section 318 prohibits advocating or promoting genocide.
To some, however, the criminal code on hate speech is apparently not enough. In June, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in a report titled "Taking Action to End Online Hate," recommended that the Canadian government establish a "civil remedy" for those who claim that their human rights have been violated. After hearing a large number of witnesses, the majority of the Committee suggested that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act -- or something similar to it -- be reinstated.
Section 13 was a very controversial provision, repealed in 2013 under the Stephen Harper government after being criticized by free-speech advocates for enabling censorship on the internet. Section 13 stated that it was discriminatory for people to communicate via computer or on the internet "any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination". [Emphasis added][3]
In its report, the House of Commons Committee also made a number of other recommendations to the Canadian government for the fight against "online hatred", among them:
Increasing funding for law enforcement, crown attorneys and judges to ensure sufficient training "on the importance, and the need to combat online hatred, including being sensitive to complainants".
Improving data collection, so that the government ensures that, "we have a more complete understanding of the extent of hatred in Canada, particularly hatred that is directed online". This undertaking includes the establishment of "uniform pan-Canadian guidelines and standards for the collection and handling of hate crime data and hate incident data" and "a national database to retain and analyze hate crime and hate incident data". To do this, the committee asks that the government address that "members of marginalized groups... feel more comfortable reporting hate incidents and hate crimes directly to civil society organizations which reflect their community rather than law enforcement officials... resources need to be allocated to assist in the collection of data, by both governmental institutions as well as civil society organizations".
Crucially, police forces and other "agents of the state" who work with hate crimes must "reflect the racial, religious, LGBTQ and general diversity of the populations they represent. Police forces, particularly their hate crimes units, must work collaboratively alongside civil society organizations..."
A similar cooperative model with civil society organizations already exists in the UK, where the reportedly discredited civil society organization "Tell Mama", for instance, has operated in cooperation with British police.
Furthermore, in order to "prevent online hate", the government "should educate the population as to what on the Internet constitutes hate".
Unlike many other such initiatives, the committee wants the government to formulate a definition of what constitutes "hate", pointing out:
"It is critical that this definition acknowledges persons who are disproportionately targeted by hate speech including but not limited to racial, indigenous, ethnic, linguistic, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious groups".
Finally, and in line with European developments, the committee asks the government "to establish requirements for online platforms and Internet service providers with regards to how they monitor and address incidents of hate speech, and the need to remove all posts that would constitute online hatred in a timely manner". As in Europe, the suggestion is that online platforms will be financially penalized if they fail to live up to the requirements:
"Online platforms must have a duty to report regularly to users on data regarding online hate incidents (how many incidents were reported, what actions were taken/what content was removed, and how quickly the action was taken). Failure to properly report on online hate, must lead to significant monetary penalties for the online platform".
Not everyone, however, agrees with the proposed strategy for the Canadian government. The Conservative party wrote a dissenting opinion[4] in the report, according to which:
"... many of the suggestions would, if implemented, have the dual impact of stifling free speech of those acting in good faith, while also serving to further radicalize bad actors by driving their communication out of the public square... Driving reprehensible ideas underground will not end them. It will merely prevent them from being debated and debunked."
The Conservative members of the committee were against reintroducing the repealed section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. They recommended instead that sanctions regarding hate crimes online or elsewhere should be dealt with under the appropriate sections of the Criminal Code. They also recommended that "The definition of 'hate' under the Criminal Code be limited to where a threat of violence, or incitement to violence, is directed against an identifiable group" and that "rather than attempting to control speech and ideas, the Government explore appropriate security measures to address all three elements of a threat: intent, capability and opportunity".
The Conservative members conclude: "Far too many innocent individuals have been impacted by extremist violence in recent years. Sickening ideologies which encourage individuals to take the lives of their fellow human beings have faced a concerning proliferation both at home and around the world. Yet sadly, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Members of this Committee have tried to use these troubling events as a way to bolster their political fortunes. They have tried to paint anyone who doesn't subscribe to their narrow value set as an extremist. This is dangerous. Conservatives believe that Canadian society is resilient precisely because it offers a big tent for all sort of views, but that we also must hold those accountable who distribute material that radicalizes individuals and leads to extremist violence".
If the government proves sympathetic to the recommendations of the committee, the prospects for free speech in Canada look increasingly bleak.
*Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
[1] Section 319 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
[2] Section 318 (4) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
[3] See Taking Action to End Online Hate, p 61.
[4] Taking Action to End Online Hate, p 55-56.

UK and US: Toxic Politics
Andrew Ash/Gatestone Institute/August 14/2019
What neither side of this transatlantic tag-team seems to realise is that by putting into words their apparent hatred of the West and its allies, they are exposing themselves as antagonists of the very freedoms that enable them to speak or have economic opportunity without fear of reprisal -- freedoms they would never have in Somalia, the Palestinian territories, or many of the tyrannies entrenched on the planet.
What voters can see is that those are the very freedoms that these politicians might try to take away from them, too, if their policies were adopted.
By refusing to rein in his support for a variety of dubious ideas and bedfellows, Corbyn has seen his popularity dwindle to almost nothing, and turn the Labour Party into a brand that even formerly like-minded outlets now call toxic.
The rise and continuing slide of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) is a good example of what happens when the vote-hungry-courting of a certain demographic backfires, something that his far-left US counterparts -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) and her "Squad" -- might do well to take on board.
In the often staid world of politics, the allure of the outsider appeals to a desire for change. Sometimes all it takes to impress the public in today's political climate is to look and sound the part.
The rise and continuing slide of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, however, is a good example of what happens when the vote-hungry-courting of a certain demographic backfires, something that his far-left US counterparts -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley & Rashida Tlaib -- the newly minted "Squad" -- might do well to take on board.
Propelled to into the limelight by the same anti-economic-freedom wave, Ocasio-Cortez & Co, despite the age gap, share more in common with Jeremy Corbyn than the other white-haired Socialist, Bernie Sanders, ever did.
As a long-time outspoken ambassador for a variety of unsavoury organisations, whose interests clearly sit at odds with those of the UK, Corbyn has succeeded in alienating himself -- and his party -- from both traditional Labour voters and mainstream politics. For all of his frenzied endeavours to sound relevant, his efforts seem to have backfired. Instead of focusing his attention on Britain's infrastructure or the needs of the working class -- the very people Labour traditionally represented -- Corbyn's adoption of the populist-progressive memes of the day, and his allying himself to too many "controversial" causes, has resulted in his becoming sidelined. As a result, Boris Johnson, is almost certain to remain prime minister for the foreseeable future.
For Corbyn's supporters, Brexit was the tantrum-inducing, polarising issue. For the Squad, it is an equally tunnel-visioned Trump-Hatred that unites them with their flock. Their refusal to accept the democratically elected winner of the 2016 election, mirrors perfectly Corbyn's base rejecting the result of the Brexit referendum. The irony of Corbyn having spent his entire career wanting out of the common market, was not lost on the droves of traditional Labour voters: they jumped ship to side with Nigel Farage.
Corbyn's seemingly unoffical role as ambassador for the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, have all contributed to his downfall. Fickle adoration, as Bernie Sanders could probably have warned him, tends to dissolve rapidly; and just like Bernie before him, Corbyn welcomed his role as the old white guy it is okay to like. Having backed himself into a corner, however, through his over enthusiastic embracing of the economically ruinous Marxist pretensions of his naive eco-warrior supporters, it looks as if the same fate could await Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley. By championing causes that are open to serious probing, or making remarks -- such as Omar's 9/11 jibe, her defensive stance on female genital mutilation (FGM), or Ocasio-Cortez's refusal to disavow organisations such as Antifa -- although they might appease hardcore followers, will they also, as with Corbyn, backfire?
What neither side of this transatlantic tag-team seems to realise is that by putting into words their apparent hatred of the West and its allies, they are exposing themselves as antagonists of the very freedoms that enable them to speak or have economic opportunity without fear of reprisal -- freedoms they would never have in Somalia, the Palestinian territories, or many of the tyrannies entrenched on the planet. What voters can see is that those are the very freedoms that these politicians might try to take away from them, too, if their policies were adopted.
The Squad would do well to recognise that since the surprise promotion of their new comrade Corbyn to leader of the opposition in 2016, he has single-handedly frittered away the good will on which he rode in. By refusing to rein in his support for a variety of dubious ideas and bedfellows, Corbyn has seen his popularity dwindle to almost nothing, and turn the Labour Party into a brand that even formerly like-minded outlets now call toxic.
*Andrew Ash is based in the United Kingdom.
© 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.

Aden and the battle on Eid’s eve
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Arab News/August 14/2019
Amid the blessings of Eid, the emotional behavior of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) almost resulted in a tragedy that would have lasted for years to come. The council came close to destroying recent achievements in the country and all but ruined its political project of independence from Sanaa in the future — a goal that cannot be achieved by defiance, fueling enmity and creating chaos.
The battle on Eid’s eve erupted following two attacks on Thursday when an Al-Qaeda suicide car bombing on a police station killed 13 people and a Houthi strike using a ballistic missile or drone targeted a training center, killing 32, including the commander of the First Brigade, who is from the south. Aden was filled with funerals and calls for revenge, but the anger was directed at the Saudi-led coalition forces, which have chosen Aden as the provisional capital and the seat of the government. The STC, a political movement that was established during the Cold War and which later collapsed with the fall of the former USSR in 1990 and which hopes to establish an independent state in South Yemen, led the retaliation.
South Yemen has the right to seek to establish an independent state, but the STC’s actions reinforce the Houthi coup and Iran’s infiltration, perpetuate the civil war, and threaten to open new war fronts in Yemen with the support of Qatar and Turkey. It is a dangerous development that also threatens the security of the regional countries, primarily Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the STC thought it could take advantage of the Saudi-led coalition’s weakness, embarrass the coalition’s member states, use the anger in Aden following the two horrific attacks as a pretext to seize control, and declare secession and the establishment of the new state, but possibly it failed to take into consideration the more complex and dangerous implications.
The dream of secession exists around the world, but is rarely achieved. Close to Yemen and to the west of the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland’s experience offers a lesson for the STC. Somaliland is a province that declared itself an independent republic in 1991 following the collapse of Somalia. It established an integrated political system with a constitution, two Houses of Parliament, a currency, a flag and elections. Until today, Somaliland has remained a stable model “country,” but technically it is not recognized as a legitimate state.
There is a fear that without a peaceful transition, political consensus and universal ratification, South Yemen will be divided into smaller states fighting each other.
The history of Somaliland is similar to South Yemen. The Somaliland region was not part of Somalia at the beginning of the 20th century, and it voluntarily agreed to unity. When civil war erupted, the region separated, but the UN refused to recognize it, and it will have to return to Mogadishu’s rule unless it is legally and consensually separated. This is a living example for Yemeni separatists, and there are many others, most notably the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Kurds are a distinct ethnic group with their own language and, historically, their region was forcibly annexed to Baghdad during British rule. Despite all these considerations and five decades of demanding independence, the international community has thwarted their attempts at self-rule. The independence of Kurdistan requires the approval of Baghdad and the states of the region.
In my opinion, South Yemen can achieve independence, but its approach was wrong in language and action. It needs to convince Sanaa after liberation and the return of political life. Without Sanaa’s approval, South Yemen cannot win the approval of the UN or the acceptance of regionally important states. “North” Yemen might accept a political formula suitable for both parties under objective circumstance.
I do not wish to anger my brothers, the politicians of South Yemen, but I must remind them that the south has long suffered from conflict between those seeking power. The British had to name 12 sultans and princes to rule the south. And so did the Soviet Union with the support of the EU troika — it named three communists to rule Aden. At the time, President Ali Salem Al-Baid had to go to Sanaa and hand over the keys of his capital, Aden, not because he was in favor of Yemen’s unity, but because he wanted to prevent his rivals from seizing control in South Yemen. That is why, today, we fear that without a peaceful transition, political consensus and universal ratification, South Yemen will be divided into smaller states fighting each other. If this happens, evil states such as Iran will find new territory to infiltrate.
In effect, the STC shot itself in the foot and hit its project in the heart, raising suspicions and wounding its regional relationship. No one applauded this move but the Houthis, Iran and Qatar. None of the STC’s excuses justifies the coup, or else it would have accepted the Houthi coup and struck a deal with the rebels and others who are seeking to rule Yemen.
*Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

The bitter cost of fighting in Yemen and the urgent need for a united stand
Peter Welby/Arab News/August 14/2019
Twelve years ago, when I lived in Aden, protests by the Southern Movement were a regular occurrence — and with equal regularity, they were brutally suppressed. The complaint of the Movement was this: that the unification of Yemen in 1990 had been carried out with a promise of parity between North and South, but this had failed to materialize.
When I left Yemen — young, naive and overconfident of my analytical prowess — I predicted a civil war within three years. But, like many, I was thinking about a re-run of the civil war of 1994: a north-south clash over the steamrollering of the promises made four years earlier. The South lost that one, and northern dominance of the economy and government of Yemen grew apace.
But while the troubles that began in 2011 were not triggered by the Southern Movement, the legacy of 21 years of broken promises is hard to erase. It is that legacy that we have seen played out in blood on the streets of Aden this week.
Once again, we can only wonder what might have happened if only the transitional process that started in 2011 had been left to run its course. The National Dialogue was intended, through democratic means, to settle the future of Yemen and address the grievances that built up over the three decades of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. That hope of resolving the southern issue was taken away by the Houthi coup in 2014. Now, with five years of bitter fighting under their belts, certain separatist factions in the South have decided they have waited long enough.
The cost to Yemen is bitter and costly enough as a result of the war currently being fought, the lives that have been lost and the legacies of the conflict: fields of landmines, devastated infrastructure and broken communities. We can only hope for the future of Yemen to be placed in the hands of its people.
But any just resolution is even further off when there is war within a war — and historical experience demonstrates that, in the words of President Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
While the anti-Houthi forces argue and fight over control of this city or that, the Houthis themselves have not been defeated.
Although in retrospect the achievement of victory in war seems obvious, in the moment it is not. While the anti-Houthi forces argue and fight over control of this city or that, the Houthis themselves have not been defeated. The squabbling factions are like the owners of a stolen cow arguing about who should drink the milk. Meanwhile, the outside world watches in bewilderment. The sterling efforts of Yemenis to convince the world that they are engaged in a just war against the forces of theocratic tyranny are dealt blow after blow by incidents such as these.
No one disputes the fact that the legitimate government of Yemen does not have a perfect record. Nor is there any dispute that the grievances felt by those parts of South Yemen represented by the Southern Transition Council (STC) are genuine. In some parts of the South, including Aden, there persists a security challenge from groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, as well as from bandits.
Regrettably, in a speech on Sunday the president of the STC appeared to blame terrorist attacks — and even a Houthi attack that killed a senior military officer — on the government. This is not going to solve any of the issues facing Yemen, North or South. Security will only be restored to territory liberated or secured from the Houthis if all of the factions are working together.
While Aden suffers, both sides have appealed to Saudi Arabia to mediate. Given the Kingdom’s own strong interest in securing the defeat of the Houthis — a course of action to which both the government and the STC remain committed — this commitment to engage in mediation is a positive sign of the continued focus by the factions on the true goal.
Civil war is never simple — there are too many competing interests and desires within a country. This is not only obvious from recent experiences in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, but from historical experience around the globe. Ego and vanity lead to courses of action against one’s allies in ways that can prove deeply harmful to the cause. Being on the side of right does not guarantee victory; only unity, sound strategy, and discipline can achieve that. Fragmentation and factionalism not only make victory unlikely, they are likely to extend the war and exacerbate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
There is one goal that matters in Yemen: to demonstrate conclusively that private interests cannot succeed by force of arms. The Houthis’ mistake was to believe that their own factional desires justified starting a war. They must be shown the error of their ways. When that has happened, Yemen will require a new political settlement. The years of war since 2014 have changed the country; the sound conclusions of the National Dialogue Conference will need to be revisited.
There will be ample opportunities for the STC to make its case at that point. There will also be opportunities for new elections, renewing the legitimacy of the national government. But Yemen will only reach that point if the forces fighting the Houthis remain united. In the flush of victory over the Houthis, space will be created for a generous and imaginative national settlement.
I hope that the words of the STC leadership, and of Yemen’s government, supporting Saudi Arabia’s mediation will be matched by actions that restore unity. Because that is the only way that Yemen’s war will be won.
Peter Welby is a consultant on religion and global affairs, specializing in the Arab world. Previously, he was the managing editor of a think tank on religious extremism, the Center on Religion & Geopolitics, and worked in public affairs in the Gulf. He is based in London and has lived in Egypt and Yemen. Twitter: @pdcwelby