August 16/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Jesus to the Canaanite woman: ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 15/21-28/:”Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 15-16/2019
Freedom is not about "Room Service"...
Hariri Meets Pompeo, Malpass in Washington on Thursday
Beirut Awaits Outcome of Hariri’s Meetings in Washington
Tabbara: US Leading Economic, Security Cover for Lebanon
Abdullah: No Landfills Allowed in Jiyeh
Hizbullah Announces Candidate for Tyre By-Election
Berri: The Lebanese are called upon to stick to the headlines yielding the 2006 victory
Geagea: Lebanon has great interests with US, there is no need to remind Nasrallah of his relationship with Iran
Hasbani: It is necessary to adopt reforms
Al-Rahi marking “Our Lady’s Assumption Day” from Diman: There is a need for a national reform stand that revives Lebanon, restores characteristic of pluralism, openness and democracy
Lebanon: Protests In North Against The Building Of Landfill
Lebanon: No Quick Fixes to Trash Crisis

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 15-16/2019
Iranian cleric: War with the West would be justified on the grounds of religion
Iraqi government cancels permission for anti-Daesh coalition to fly in Iraqi air space
US Justice Department Applies to Seize Iran Tanker off Gibraltar
Gibraltar allows Iranian tanker Grace 1 to leave despite US detention request
Eight Presidents, Guterres to Attend Signing of Sudan Agreement
Abbas Hopes for Dialogue with New Israeli Government
Thousands March in Yemen's Aden for Independent South
Yemeni Government: No Talks before Transitional Council Withdraws from Aden
Saudi-UAE committee in Aden ‘to oversee separatists withdrawal’
Syria Regime Forces Inch Closer to Key Jihadist-Held Town
Israel will not let US Congresswomen visit, says deputy foreign minister
Sudan opposition to nominate economist Abdalla Hamdok for prime minister

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 15-16/2019
Freedom is not about "Room Service"/Dr.Walid Phares/August 15/2019
Lebanon: No Quick Fixes to Trash Crisis//Human Rights Watch/August 15/2019
Iran: Using Torture, Execution to Defy Human Rights/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/August 15/2019
Aden and the Battle on Eid’s Eve/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August 15/2019
As their economy crumbles, Iran’s leaders are anxiously watching the US presidential debates/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 15/2019
Will Turkey and China Become Friends?/Soner Cagaptay with Deniz Yuksel/ The Washington Institute/August 15/ 2019
Militias Are Threatening Public Safety in Iraq/Michael Knights and Alexandre Mello/The Washington Institute/August 15/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on August 15-16/2019
Freedom is not about "Room Service"...
Dr.Walid Phares/August 15/2019
If one particular generation of politicians and their circles cannot or will not launch a new Cedars Revolution, because of fear, tiredness, coziness or interests, that is fine. Another generation will. History doesn't stop at the willingness or unwillingness to act by one particular class of politicians. History is not naïve and doesn't buy the notion of "it's other people's fault." History is not about "room service." Either people are at the station, or they aren't when then train arrives. Countries aren't the personal property of those who can't and won't. History is made by those who want and try.
*One million people rally in Aden, south Yemen to celebrate freedom and oppose the pro Iran Houthi forces and the Ikhwan militias at the same time. Reminiscent of the Cedars Revolution. By the way, no US support of any kind. They did it. by themselves.
"Aden Spring"
Hello Lebanon, you did it too in 2005. Do it again...

Hariri Meets Pompeo, Malpass in Washington on Thursday
Naharnet/August 15/2019
Prime Minister Saad Hariri will meet this afternoon in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the ministry's headquarters in the presence of US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hill, the Premier’s office said on Thursday. Hariri held two preparatory meetings with Schenker and Hill at his residence at the Four Seasons Hotel in the US capital in the presence of former Minister Ghattas Khoury concerning the issues that will be discussed at today's meeting. Hariri also received former Senator Joe Lieberman and will meet today with World Bank President David Malpass to discuss the Bank's relationship with Lebanon and the projects it finances.

Beirut Awaits Outcome of Hariri’s Meetings in Washington
Beirut, Washington- Caroline Akoum and Elie Youssef/Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday. The two men are expected to discuss US-Lebanese relations, and other issues, including the country’s security and political stability. Hariri met with US Assistant Secretary of State David Hale on Wednesday night and discussed a number of issues and common affairs. Hariri is also expected to meet with a number of senators and members of the Lebanese community in Washington, if his visit program allows. The Lebanese prime minister avoided discussing details of his private visit to Washington with the media, despite his meetings with a number of US officials. While the State Department refused to comment on the files to be discussed with Hariri, political circles revealed that the sanctions files on Hezbollah and Lebanon’s commitment to sanctions against Iran would be among the main issues to be tackled. Sources said that Hariri would likely ask Pompeo’s assistance to guarantee the Pentagon’s support for the Lebanese Army, especially since the new Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, who recently took office, is among Pompeo’s close friends. The Lebanese premier arrived in Washington on Monday and met with US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Counter-terrorism Financing Marshall Billingslea. Talks focused on financial procedures related to the banking sector in Lebanon.

Tabbara: US Leading Economic, Security Cover for Lebanon
Naharnet/August 15/2019
Former Lebanese ambassador to Washington Riad Tabbara said the current visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Washington constitutes an “economic and security cover for Lebanon,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. The PM’s trip to Washington “is a continuation of the direct US intervention which began with the (famous) US statement on the Qabrshmoun incidents,” Tabbara said in remarks to the newspaper. “The US leads an economic and security cover for Lebanon, things have reached a level that the US believes is dangerous in light of escalating sectarian rhetoric,” he stated. “Starting from this, Hariri was invited to the US. Any one observing his meetings can clearly see they are security and economic meetings,” said Tabbara. Adding: “My perception is that Europe and the US are not convinced of the reforms the Lebanese state budget has observed for this year. What was needed was radical reforms in return for aid, not deductions from the salaries of pensioners.”

Abdullah: No Landfills Allowed in Jiyeh

Naharnet/August 15/2019
MP Bilal Abdullah stressed on Thursday that the Chouf district will not allow establishing a landfill in the Jiyeh area. “It is enough for this town and its surroundings to bear the existing electricity plants, ships and the new electricity plant to replace the old one….!" he stressed in a tweet. The MP added: “We agreed with Environment Minister (Fadi Jreissati), who showed understanding, to look for other solutions that will be accepted by the people of the region, and he graciously promised to support.”

Hizbullah Announces Candidate for Tyre By-Election
Naharnet/August 15/2019
Hizbullah nominated Hassan Ezzedine for an upcoming by-election in Tyre to succeed ex-MP Nawwaf al-Mousawi, a statement released by its media office said on Thursday. The by-election was called for after Moussawi of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc submitted his resignation following a string of controversial incidents. Before he resigned, Moussawi’s parliamentary activity was suspended by Hizbullah’s leadership following a verbal clash with Kataeb bloc MPs over the 1982 election of Bashir Gemayel. Moussawi was also caught up in controversy after media reports said he opened fire at the Damour police station in connection with a dispute involving his daughter and her divorcee. The MP had decried that he had not been able to help his daughter in her children custody dispute with her divorcee due to the laws of the Shiite religious courts.He is reportedly the only Muslim MP who has voiced support for laws aimed at empowering women in Lebanon.

Berri: The Lebanese are called upon to stick to the headlines yielding the 2006 victory
NNA- Thu 15 Aug 2019
In commemoration of the July 2006 victory, House Speaker Nabih Berri wrote on his official Facebook account: "As Lebanon made this day a victory, the Lebanese today and at every moment are called upon to adhere to all the headlines that created that triumph, namely the resistance, the army and the people.”

Geagea: Lebanon has great interests with US, there is no need to remind Nasrallah of his relationship with Iran
NNA -Thu 15 Aug 2019
The "Strong Republic" parliamentary bloc held its regular meeting this Thursday in Maarab under the chairmanship of Lebanese Forces Party leader, Samir Geagea, where he congratulated the Lebanese on Eid al-Adha and the Assumption of Virgin Mary, wishing Prime Minister Saad Hariri "success in his visit to Washington." Speaking in the wake of the meeting, Geagea said that "Lebanon shares great interests with the US," reminding Hezbollah of his relationship with Iran. In this context, Geagea called on President of the Republic, Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the government to take necessary measures against Hezbollah's recent stances that the party will not stand idle if Iran will be exposed to any war. At the economic level, Geagea ruled out any possibility for the government to carry out any reform, noting that the implementation of these reforms requires serious decisions. "Wherever we are, we take all issues seriously, such as the recent decision of the Minister of Labor, which created thousands of jobs for Lebanese youth," he said, hoping other ministers would take similar steps.

Hasbani: It is necessary to adopt reforms
NNA -Thu 15 Aug 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani said Sunday during an interview with "MTV" Television that "it is necessary to adopt reforms in order to get the country out of its crisis."He added: "If we don't carry out serious reforms, Lebanon will face a very dangerous situation."Commenting on Prime Minister Saad Hariri's visit to the United States, Hasbani pointed out that "the government has no idea what topics Hariri will discuss with Pompeo."He also noted that "Lebanon is always keen with the US administration to neutralize the banking sector from the sanctions imposed on Hezbollah.""Finally, he deemed that no one could expect any additional US sanctions on Hezbollah because such decisions are usually taken abruptly.

Al-Rahi marking “Our Lady’s Assumption Day” from Diman: There is a need for a national reform stand that revives Lebanon, restores characteristic of pluralism, openness and democracy
NNA – Thu 15 Aug 2019
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Butros al-Rahi, celebrated Thursday the “Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin” by presiding over a Mass service held at the summer patriarchal residence in al-Diman. In his religious sermon, al-Rahi stressed the need for a “national reform stance that would revive Lebanon and restore the characteristic of pluralism, openness and democracy.”“The Feast of the Assumption of Virgin Mary in body and soul to Heaven is a celebration of the dignity of man himself and his body, and marks the sanctity of human life and body,” said the Patriarch, adding, “For this reason the Church continues the cry of the Gospel and condemns every attack on this human being, of whatever kind, be it spiritual, moral or physical.”“We ask the concerned officials to be alert and well-aware of what is going on and work to fix matters in the country,” he added, asserting that “the political system in Lebanon is neither a dictatorship nor a Nazi or a tyrant rule.”The Patriarch concluded by pleading to the blessed Virgin to watch over Lebanon and intervene with her prayers for the Lord to bless this nation and its people.

Lebanon: Protests In North Against The Building Of Landfill
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
Since April, Lebanon’s waste crisis has shifted to the country’s northern governorate, after the closure of the Adwa landfill in the Denniyeh area, which was receiving waste from Zgharta, Koura, Minieh, Denniyeh, Bcharre and Batroun. Trash has been piled in the streets for weeks in these areas after a consensus stumbled upon an alternative landfill, especially in light of popular pressure against turning towns and villages into dumps. The main political forces have recently agreed on the transfer of waste to the area of Jabal Terbol in the district of Minieh-Denniyeh, stirring anger among residents, who staged a sit-in and blocked roads on Wednesday, in conjunction with the beginning of the removal of trash bags under tight security by the ISF and the Lebanese Army. The National News Agency (NNA) reported that citizens staged a sit-in in front of the Tripoli Serail, in protest against the development of a landfill in Terbol, coinciding with a meeting there chaired by the Governor of the North Judge Ramzi Nohra, to explain the waste management plan in the north, prepared by the Ministry of Environment. The protesters announced their refusal to open a new landfill in Trebol, because of its negative effects on groundwater and public health. Sources of the Ministry of Environment told Asharq Al-Awsat that work was underway to move the waste to the specified site in the Jabal Terbol area as a temporary, and not a permanent solution. In a news conference on Wednesday, Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati talked about imminent solutions to the crisis in the North. “We are facing opposition whenever we choose a location for a landfill, but we have to go for a less risky solution because there is no ecological solution without damage,” he said. The minister stressed that every solution would face opposition, adding that the trash issue could not be a platform for political bickering.

Lebanon: No Quick Fixes to Trash Crisis
News Release/Human Rights Watch/August 15/2019
(Beirut) – Lebanon’s ministerial committee tasked with solving Lebanon’s waste management emergency has yet to act despite a four-month trash crisis in the north, Human Rights Watch said today. The crisis has resulted in trash in the streets and harmful open burning of waste.
Absent action by the central government, the Environment Minister has proposed a short-term solution that has triggered a public outcry. The ministerial committee should urgently study the roadmap submitted by the Environment Ministry on June 3, 2019 aimed at implementing the new solid waste management law and submit a final draft to the cabinet that would protect everyone’s right to health. “The government has had four months to find a solution to the north’s trash crisis, but it is still dragging its feet and relying on temporary half-measures,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Residents in the north are paying the price for the government’s continued failure to manage the country’s waste.”The Aadoueh dumpsite, an unregulated open dump that had been used by the northern districts of Minieh-Dinnieh, Koura, Zgharta, and Bcharre for 17 years, was closed by the owner on April 5.
Local media have reported that some residents in the north are burning the waste that has piled up on the sidewalks and in some instances blocked streets, even though the practice is illegal, endangering the health of nearly 330,000 people. Media reported that an elderly woman fainted from smoke inhalation from waste burning in the town of Sir al-Dinnieh.
A 2017 Human Rights Watch investigation found that burning waste was risking the health of nearby residents. Residents reported health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coughing, throat irritation, skin conditions, and asthma. Air pollution from open waste burning has been linked to heart disease and emphysema, and can expose people to carcinogenic compounds.In the absence of action by the central government, on August 6, the Environment Minister announced that trash would be removed from the streets and stored in a “parking” site until a location for a new sanitary landfill could be agreed upon. The Environment Minister did not announce the proposed site, but Tony Frangieh, a parliament member form Zgharta, told local media that it was in the village of Terbol in the Minieh-Dinnieh district. Local residents objected to this plan, saying that it would be an “environmental catastrophe” and that “they will not accept the establishment of a landfill at the expense of the health of residents.”
An Environment Ministry official has described the roadmap as a step toward carrying out the nationwide strategy that the ministry was tasked with establishing under Law 80/2018 on integrated solid waste management, passed on September 24, 2018. Although the strategy should have been adopted in March, the ministry official said it is still being finalized in line with the comments from civic groups and other stakeholders and will be sent to the cabinet before the end of the month.
The roadmap recommends expanding the Borj Hammoud landfill in Beirut and includes a map of 24 other proposed sites for new sanitary landfills across the country, but not all of these have had the required Environmental Impact Assessment. In at least one case, an assessment was conducted more than a decade ago. Under Lebanese law, the assessment is valid for two years, after which the Environment Ministry must consider whether any changes on the ground call for a new assessment.
The cabinet should not agree to landfill expansions or new landfills without first ensuring that adequate environmental assessments have been carried out, Human Rights Watch said.
The roadmap also includes a draft law outlining the fees and taxes that the central government and municipalities can impose to cover their waste management costs. Without such a law, neither the ministry nor the municipalities will be able to fulfill their responsibilities under the law and the strategy, Human Rights Watch said.
Outside Beirut and Mount Lebanon, municipalities are responsible for collection, treatment, and disposal of their waste. Municipalities are supposed to receive part of their funding from an Independent Municipal Fund financed with taxes collected by the central government. However, disbursements have been irregular and several years behind schedule. The Aadoueh dumpsite’s owner told Human Rights Watch that the main reason for his decision to close the dumpsite was the municipalities’ failure to pay their dues.
Residents across Lebanon have told Human Rights Watch they have lost faith in the government’s ability to manage waste in a way that is not detrimental to their health and environment. Since the 2015 trash crisis, during which garbage built up on the streets of Beirut, the government has been relying on stopgap measures and temporary fixes that do not solve Lebanon’s underlying waste management problems. About 85 percent of Lebanon’s waste goes to open dumps or landfills. But American University of Beirut researchers have found that only 10 to 12 percent of the waste cannot be composted or recycled.
As Beirut’s landfills also rapidly reach capacity, the ministerial committee should urgently review the roadmap and the strategy and adopt an integrated approach to solid waste management that decreases Lebanon’s reliance on landfills and gives municipalities the resources they need to fulfill their duties. Any plan presented to the cabinet should comply with environmental and public health best practices as well as Lebanese and international law. The plan should ensure that the authorities respect everyone’s right to health and to live in a healthy environment, and that everyone is fully informed of threats to their health in their area. Once the ministerial committee submits the roadmap and strategy to the cabinet, the cabinet should urgently meet and take the necessary decisions. The cabinet has not met in over a month due to political deadlock resulting from clashes between two parties. The cabinet should not allow a political dispute to hijack its operation, endangering the health of millions of residents, Human Rights Watch said. The Environment Ministry should also urgently begin monitoring compliance with the solid waste management law and ensure that violators are appropriately penalized and cases are referred to the relevant environmental public prosecutors. “Lebanon’s residents have a right to a healthy environment, yet the Lebanese government has continuously failed to uphold its international obligations to protect that right,” Fakih said. “If Lebanon is to avoid another trash catastrophe in the next few weeks, the ministerial committee needs to act quickly.”

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 15-16/2019
Iranian cleric: War with the West would be justified on the grounds of religion
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 15 August 2019
Muslims must engage in “widespread conflict” with the West for the Hidden Imam to appear, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts said on July 31, speaking on Iran’s Ofogh TV Channel. “In order for the Hidden Imam to appear, we must engage in widespread conflict with the West,” said Mohammad Mehdi Mirbagheri. The Assembly of Experts is a governmental body comprising of Islamic jurists. Twelver Shia Muslims believe that the Hidden Imam is the 12th and last of the Prophet Mohammed’s spiritual and political successors. According to Twelver Shia belief, he will appear one Friday to bring peace and justice on earth and put an end to tyranny. “This conflict is not just a military conflict, but it is [also] a political, cultural, and economic one,” he added. “If we had to go to a military war in defense of our beliefs, it would be completely moral,” said Mirbagheri. On negotiations with the West, he said: “Negotiations are good, if Iran’s approach to them leads to the triumph of [Islamic] civilization, but if negotiations are carried out to cooperate with the society of the infidels, then they are bad.”“During the past few years, we have been the victors in the negotiations,” claimed Mirbagheri. Western civilization is “an anti-religion civilization,” he said. The US is not “that powerful,” claimed Mirbagheri. “Our competitors have understood that America is not all that powerful. We want to announce to the world that they are not that powerful,” he said. “You can negotiate with them and not surrender. If they exit the negotiations, so will we. If we are not more powerful than America, then why did they create the 5+1 and bring in the Europeans?”

Iraqi government cancels permission for anti-Daesh coalition to fly in Iraqi air space
BAGHDAD/News Agencies/August 15/2019
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has canceled permission for the international anti-Daesh coalition and Iraqi armed factions to use Iraqi airspace.“All (Iraqi and non-Iraqi) parties shall abide strictly by this directive and any violation will be considered hostile and will be handled by our air defenses immediately,” a statement from the Iraqi National Security Council said on Thursday.

US Justice Department Applies to Seize Iran Tanker off Gibraltar
Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar, just hours before the Gibraltar government was poised to release it, reported the Gibraltar Chronicle on Thursday.
Gibraltar had been due to lift the detention on the ship this morning, but the move by Washington means the decision has now been adjourned until the afternoon. The grounds for the US application are not clear at this stage, but the court was told it was a request from the Department of Justice for mutual legal assistance, said the Chronicle. Speaking in court, Chief Justice Anthony Dudley made clear that were it not for the US move, “the ship would have sailed.”The commandeering of the Grace 1 on July 4 exacerbated frictions between Tehran and the West and led to retaliatory moves in Gulf waterways used to ship oil. Britain accused the vessel of violating European sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a charge Tehran denies. Although Grace 1 was seized by British forces, Britain said on Tuesday that investigations into the tanker Grace were a matter for Gibraltar. The territory has denied Iran’s claim that the action was taken on the orders of Washington. Tehran has denied the vessel was doing anything improper and in retaliation Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps troops seized the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 for alleged marine violations. The Gulf tanker crisis has added to worsening hostilities since Washington pulled out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for lifting most international sanctions on Tehran. The Iranian capture of the Stena Impero drew condemnation from Britain and other European parties to the nuclear deal that have been trying to salvage it by shielding Iran’s economy from reimposed and toughened US sanctions. Unlike the seized Iranian tanker, which was carrying a cargo of up to 2.1 million barrels of oil, the Stena Impero was on its way to the Gulf and empty at the time it was seized by Iranian forces. Millions of barrels of oil pass daily through the various bottlenecks from Middle East oil producers to markets across the globe.

Gibraltar allows Iranian tanker Grace 1 to leave despite US detention request
MADRID/News Agencies/August 15/2019
Gibraltar's Supreme Court ruled Thursday to release an Iranian supertanker seized last month on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, despite a last-minute US request to detain the vessel. Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that since Iran had guaranteed in writing that the Grace 1 "was never destined to an EU sanctioned entity... there are no longer reasonable grounds to suspect that the detention of the Vessel is required."He added that the court had not received a written detention request from the United States. A spokesman for the Stena Impero tanker, seized by Iran last month, said the situation remained the same with the Stena Impero and that the company awaited further developments from the United Kingdom and Iran. Earlier on Thursday, the Gibraltar government confirmed earlier media reports that the US Department of Justice had sought to extend the detention of the oil tanker Grace 1, prompting the Supreme Court in the territory to adjourn a scheduled decision on whether to release the ship until later in the day. "The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations, which are now being considered," the Gibraltar government said in a statement, adding that the matter would be reviewed by the court at 4 p.m. local time.The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement that the "investigations conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the government of Gibraltar" and that it could not comment further as the investigation was ongoing. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office said that Iran was discussed during the UK leader's meeting with Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton earlier in the week, though no details were released on the talks.
While there was no immediate reaction from Tehran, the US move likely will further stir tensions in the Persian Gulf. The detention of the Grace 1 saw Iran seize the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by Iran. Analysts had hoped the release of the Grace 1 by Gibraltar would see the Stena Impero similarly released.In past weeks, the Persian Gulf region has seen six attacks on oil tankers that the US has blamed on Iran and the downing of a US surveillance drone by Iranian forces. Iran has denied being behind the tanker attacks. Iran also has seized other oil tankers. The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil, was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The vessel was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened international tensions in the Persian Gulf. Iran called the seizure by Gibraltar an "act of piracy."The Gibraltar government had said it was seeking to "de-escalate" the situation over the Grace 1.
Signaling preparations for the expected release of the ship, the captain, an Indian national, and three officers of the Grace 1 had been released from detention, a Gibraltar government spokesman told The Associated Press. The spokesman was not authorized to be identified by name in the media.
The whereabouts of the released crew, none of whom are Iranian, were not immediately known. The crew of the Grace 1 includes sailors from India, Pakistan and Ukraine, according to Iranian state television. As speculation mounted over the Grace 1's release, a lawyer representing the territory's General Attorney Michael Llamas announced during a Thursday morning hearing at the Gibraltar Supreme Court that the US had moved at the eleventh hour. Speaking in court, Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that were it not for the U.S. move, "the ship would have sailed," the Gibraltar Chronicle reported. This is the second time the Trump administration has moved to seize a ship in recent months. In May, the Justice Department announced that it had seized a North Korean cargo ship used to supply coal to the isolated nation in violation of international sanctions. At the time, US officials said the ship, the Wise Honest, was one of North Korea's largest bulk carriers and for several years had been used to deliver Russian coal to North Korea. Tensions have escalated in the region since President Donald Trump over a year ago unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The decision stopped billions of dollars' worth of business deals, largely halted the sale of Iran's crude oil internationally and sharply depreciated Iran's currency, the rial.In recent weeks, Iran has begun to step away from the nuclear deal by increasing its production and enrichment of uranium. It has threatened to take further steps in early September if Europe can't help it sell its oil abroad.

Eight Presidents, Guterres to Attend Signing of Sudan Agreement

Khartoum- Ahmed Younes/Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
At least eight heads of state, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, EU Commission President, and Arab and Western leaders are expected to arrive in Sudan to attend the signing ceremony of the agreement between the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the Transitional Military Council, over the political and the constitutional declaration documents. Preparations are underway for the signing of the constitutional declaration on Saturday, after which the chairman of the Transitional Military Council, Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, will preside over the first term of the Sovereign Council. According to information available to Asharq Al-Awsat, heads of states who will attend the ceremony will include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in his capacity as president of the African Union, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Chadian President Idriss Deby, and African Union Commission President Moussa Faqih. The historic meeting will also be attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as a representative of the US State Department, foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and other Gulf leaders, who have yet to be identified, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. A spokesman for the Transitional Military Council had earlier announced that the signing ceremony would be broadcast in popular squares and neighborhoods, while the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change will hold popular celebrations across the country. Meanwhile, in a speech broadcast on state television to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Sudanese Army, Al Burhan, said that the army has heroically maintained the country’s security and independence and was able to protect the democratic transformation and the goals of the glorious December Revolution.
Happy Birthday. All wishes for health. success and peace of mind

Abbas Hopes for Dialogue with New Israeli Government

Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his hope to resume dialogue with the new government that will be formed in Israel after the next elections. Abbas, in a secret meeting with members of the Democratic Camp, including Noa Rothman - the granddaughter of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of refusing to meet with him several times in Moscow, referring to the invitation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to both leaders. Abbas strongly attacked Netanyahu, saying he had “repeatedly opposed the formation of a unity government with Hamas and the establishment of Palestinian internal reconciliation, but he immediately paid millions of dollars to Hamas.” The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, was not published by the Palestinian official news agency, but was revealed by the Israeli channel 13, which broadcast images of Abbas receiving the Israeli delegation. The meeting with Abbas was secretly organized, with the sole knowledge of the party chairman Ehud Barak, who supported the initiative to meet with the Palestinian Authority president. Rothman asked Abbas to take steps to free Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin Avera Mengistu, who is being held by Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian president promised to help. Hamas immediately described the meeting as “suspicious” and said it was a form of normalization with Israel and disregard for Palestinian sacrifices. The Democratic Camp seeks to attract voters from the Blue and White or Labor parties. Relations between Netanyahu and Abbas are currently at their worst with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing the Israeli government of waging an open war on the Palestinian people. Israel’s general elections are set for September 17.

Thousands March in Yemen's Aden for Independent South
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/2019
Thousands of Yemenis marched through Aden Thursday demanding renewed independence for the south after separatist fighters drove unionist forces out of its former capital in deadly fighting last week. The demonstrators rallied in the Khormaksar district in the heart of the sprawling port city, waving southern flags and banners proclaiming loyalty to the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC). Organisers said many of the demonstrators had travelled into the city from neighbouring southern provinces to add their voice to the calls for secession. South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990. An armed secession bid four years later ended in occupation by northern forces, which provoked resentments that persist to this day. Separatist forces trained and equipped by the United Arab Emirates seized the presidential palace in Aden on Saturday following days of clashes with rival, unionist forces loyal to the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. The clashes left at least 40 people dead and 260 wounded, according to the United Nations. Hadi's government on Wednesday ruled out any talks with the separatists until they withdraw from the positions they seized last week.
Saudi Arabia, which has led a long and costly military intervention supporting the government against Huthi rebels from the north, has also called on the separatists to pull back to clear the way for dialogue. But a petition signed by southern civil society organisations and trade unions called on the Saudi-led coalition to hand over administration of the south to the separatist STC. It urged STC chief Aidarus al-Zubaidi to declare independence and appealed for international recognition for the breakaway state. Analysts say the break between Hadi's government and the separatists reflects a wider split between the main partners in coalition, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, that threatens to undermine their common battle against the Huthis. After four and a half years of military intervention, the rebels remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the more populous north. The conflict has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced some 3.3 million. Two-thirds of the population -- some 20 million people -- require humanitarian support, according to the United Nations.

Yemeni Government: No Talks before Transitional Council Withdraws from Aden
Aden - Ali Rabih/Asharq Al-Awsat./August 15/2019
The Yemeni legitimate government welcomed Saudi Arabia’s call to hold a meeting to address the Southern Transitional Council’s coup in the city of Aden. However, it said that it would not take part in the talks before the STC complies with the Arab coalition demand to withdraw from all positions that it seized in the temporary Yemeni capital following four days of fighting against government forces last week. The foreign ministry said in a tweet that separatists "must first commit to total withdrawal from areas forcibly seized by STC in past few days before [the] start of any talks."The United Nations had “welcomed the initiative by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to convene a meeting in Jeddah between the relevant stakeholders to resolve their differences through dialogue.” On Wednesday, government spokesperson Rajeh Badi confirmed the government's commitment to the Saudi-led Arab coalition's call for ceasefire. Supporters of the STC, led by Aidarous al-Zubaidi, prepared to hold the “Million March of Empowerment and Persistence” in Aden Thursday. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahmed al-Maysari sacked Major General Shalal Ali Shaya from his post as police chief in Aden. He also referred him to investigation for his direct role in the Aden coup. The Interior Minister also fired the commander of special forces in Aden, Lahj Abin and Dhale, Major General Fadl Baesh, and Lahj chief of police, Brigadier General Saleh al-Sayyid, for failing to perform their duties during last week’s violence. Last week, the STC assumed control of public institutions after days of fighting against government forces.The government deemed the unrest a coup against it.The violence in Aden died down after Saudi Arabia’s decisive intervention. The Saudi-led Arab coalition had called for an end to hostilities and withdrawal of the STC. It urged the rival parties to join the upcoming Saudi-hosted dialogue.

Saudi-UAE committee in Aden ‘to oversee separatists withdrawal’
JEDDAH/Arab News/August 15/2019
A Saudi-UAE committee arrived in Aden Thursday to oversee the withdrawal of southern separatist troops from positions they seized last week from the government. The delegation arrived in the temporary Yemeni capital to ensure troops loyal to the Southern Transitional Council leave government institutions, Al Arabiya reported, citing a Yemeni government source. Yemeni presidential guard forces took over Al-Maasheeq palace after the STC withdrew following calls from the Arab Coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the source said. The government has ruled out talks with the STC until it hands over to the presidential guard all the positions it captured. The separatists and the government, who are meant to be on the same side in the fight against the Houthis, clashed for several days after tensions overspilled at a commander's funeral. The separatists seized the palace on Saturday and at least 40 people, including civilians, were killed in the fighting. Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Monday urged forces in the city to observe a ceasefire. The call followed talks in Mina between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Also Thursday, thousands of Yemenis rallied in Aden in support of the separatists. South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990.

Syria Regime Forces Inch Closer to Key Jihadist-Held Town
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/2019
Syrian regime forces captured a string of insurgent-held villages in northwest Syria on Thursday, inching closer to a key jihadist-run town in the Idlib region, a war monitor said. Over the past week, pro-Assad fighters have advanced on the southern edges of Idlib province, controlled by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). On Thursday, regime loyalists stood just three kilometres (1.8 miles) away from the key town of Khan Sheikhun, after capturing five villages to its northwest overnight, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.The town lies on a key highway coveted by the regime. The road in question runs through Idlib, connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which was retaken by loyalists from rebels in December 2016. "The aim of the advance is to surround Khan Sheikhun and reach the highway," Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP. Fighting in southern Idlib on Thursday killed five regime combatants and 11 jihadists and allied rebels, said the Britain-based monitor. A day earlier jihadists downed a regime plane near Khan Sheikhun, and took the pilot prisoner. A video released by HTS on Thursday purported to show the captured pilot, who identified himself as General Mohammad Ahmad Sleiman of the Syrian air force. HTS has since January controlled most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighbouring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces. A buffer zone deal brokered by Russia and Turkey last year was supposed to protect the Idlib region's three million inhabitants from an all-out regime offensive, but it was never fully implemented. Regime and Russian air strikes and shelling since late April have killed more than 820 civilians, according to the Observatory. It said more than 1,280 jihadist fighters and 1,140 regime forces have died in the same period. The violence has also displaced 400,000 people, according to the United Nations. AFP correspondents have reported seeing dozens of families flee fighting over the past few days, heading north in trucks stacked high with belongings. Syria's conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions at home and abroad since starting with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests in 2011.

Israel will not let US Congresswomen visit, says deputy foreign minister

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 15 August 2019
Israel has decided to block a visit by US Democratic members of Congress Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Thursday, according to Reuters. “The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter,” Hotovely told Israel’s Reshet Radio. Earlier on Thursday, US President Donald Trump called on Israel to block the two lawmakers from visiting the country. On Thursday, AFP reported that Israel may bar the visit by the two US congresswomen who have expressed support of a boycott of the Jewish state despite having signaled they would be allowed in, a government official said Thursday. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, were expected at the weekend for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held consultations on the visit on Wednesday. “There is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format,” the official said. “Professional teams and legal counsel in various government ministries are continuing to examine the decision. According to Israeli law, the authority lies with the minister of the interior.”The official, however, added that “if Congresswoman Tlaib makes a humanitarian request to visit her family, the decision on her matter will be considered favorably.”In 2017, Israel passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country. The law was passed in response to a movement to boycott Israel as a means to pressure the country over its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists deny, saying they only want to see the occupation end. Prominent Arab Israeli parliament member Ayman Odeh said: “A state that has nothing to hide would not think of preventing the arrival of two members of Congress.”“Another desperate attempt to hide the reality to the world,” he wrote on Twitter. Both Omar and Tlaib have been critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and treatment of Palestinians. They have also faced accusations of anti-Semitism, which they firmly deny. The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, had previously signaled the two congresswomen would be allowed to visit out of respect for Washington, Israel’s most important ally. They are also outspoken political opponents and critics of US President Donald Trump, who has a close relationship with Netanyahu.
(With Agencies)

Sudan opposition to nominate economist Abdalla Hamdok for prime minister
Reuters, Khartoum/Thursday, 15 August 2019
Sudan’s main opposition alliance will nominate economist Abdalla Hamdok to serve as prime minister in the country’s transitional government, sources told Reuters on Thursday. Sudan’s sovereign council, which will be sworn in on Monday, will appoint the prime minister based on the nomination from the opposition alliance, the Forces of Freedom and Change, according to a constitutional declaration agreed on earlier this month. The opposition alliance will also nominate Mohamed Alhafiz Mahmoud as deputy prime minister, sources said, and Abdelqadir Mohamed Ahmed as head of the judiciary. On Tuesday, Egypt wrapped up a two-day summit with Sudan’s main protest leaders, its foreign ministry said, days before they are due to sign an agreement paving the way for civilian rule in the country.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 15-16/2019
Iran: Using Torture, Execution to Defy Human Rights
أزي بولوت/معهد كايتستون: إيران تتحدى وتنتهك كل شرع حقوق الإنسان وتمارس التعذيب والإعدامات بإستمرار
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/August 15/2019
"[T]orture is widely used against suspects after their arrest and in the pre-trial phase in order to extract a confession," in spite of the fact that "Article 38 of the Iranian Constitution bans all forms of torture and forced confessions." — Latest Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, Iran Human Rights.
"In 2014, a man who had confessed to the crime but was absolved of all charges 48 hours before his execution was to be carried out was asked as to why he had confessed to a murder he had not committed. He answered: 'They beat me up so much that I thought if I don't provide a false confession I would die during the interrogation.'" — Latest Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, Iran Human Rights.
"So far in 2019 [just the last six months] at least 140 people have been executed and 80% of them were charged with murder. At least two of them were juveniles, under the age of 18." — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, a neuroscientist who fled to Norway from Iran, to Gatestone Institute.
"The escalation of military tension is something that the Iranian authorities are seeking, as a way of diverting all the world's attention to the Persian Gulf, thus enabling them to get away with abusing their own people. Leaders of the Islamic Republic consider the freedom-seeking Iranian people as their main threat." — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam to Gatestone Institute.
As a result of torture during interrogation and a lack of a fair trial, many Iranians have been put to death unjustly. "So far in 2019 at least 140 people have been executed," according to the spokesperson for the NGO, Iran Human Rights. Pictured: A public hanging in Iran.
More than a dozen political prisoners in Iran recently launched a hunger strike to protest the unspeakable conditions under which they have been living since their incarceration for civil-rights activities, according to Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for the NGO, Iran Human Rights (IHR).
Amiry-Moghaddam, a neuroscientist who fled to Norway from the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s, told Gatestone:
"Aside from being placed with often dangerous common criminals, many are in poor health. There is no hygiene in jail. They suffer from abuse at the hands of prison guards."
Amiry-Moghaddam went on:
"Iranian authorities often use the above poor conditions as leverage to exert extra pressure on political prisoners. In June, Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali, a young prisoner who was arrested for his social-media posts, was killed by two other prisoners. This is after he told prison authorities that his life was in danger, and even went on a hunger strike to protest. But his pleas were ignored and he was murdered. One of his cellmates, Soheil Arabi, has been on hunger strike for the same reason. Meanwhile, Iranian authorities abducted Arabi's mother, because of interviews she gave about her son to human-rights organizations and Farsi media outside of Iran."
Furthermore, according to the IHR's latest Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, "torture is widely used against suspects after their arrest and in the pre-trial phase in order to extract a confession," in spite of the fact that "Article 38 of the Iranian Constitution bans all forms of torture and forced confessions."
The report also states that the above practices are "not limited to those with political or security-related charges alone."
In fact, the report reveals that: "Almost all prisoners who are arrested for drug offences have been kept in solitary confinement and subjected to physical torture in the investigation phase following their detention, while being denied access to a lawyer. In many cases, confessions provided during detention have been the only evidence available for the judge to base his verdict upon. Torture is also used in other criminal cases involving rape or murder where there is not enough evidence against the suspect. In 2014, a man who had confessed to the crime but was absolved of all charges 48 hours before his execution was to be carried out was asked as to why he had confessed to a murder he had not committed. He answered: 'They beat me up so much that I thought if I don't provide a false confession I would die during the interrogation.'
"The Iranian Penal Code has described several execution methods, including hanging, firing squad, crucifixion and stoning. However, hanging has been the main method of execution and the only method used since 2010."
Amiry-Moghaddam also told Gatestone that, as a result of torture during interrogation and a lack of a fair trial, many Iranians have been put to death unjustly: "So far in 2019 [just the last six months] at least 140 people have been executed and 80% of them were charged with murder. At least two of them were juveniles, under the age of 18. One person executed in June was charged with espionage for the United States.
"In 2018, at least 273 people, seven of whom were juveniles, were executed – 70% on murder charges. Thirty-eight people were sentenced to death on vague charges of 'corruption on earth' and moharebeh (war against God), a charge often used against political prisoners. Iranian authorities claim that there are no political prisoners in Iran, and that those executed for such charges are 'terrorists,' but actually Iranian authorities use the death penalty as the main instrument to instill and spread fear in civil society, so as to counteract protests against the regime."
Murder and "corruption on earth" are not, however, the only offenses punishable by lashing, stoning or death. Other charges that incur such retribution include adultery, same-sex relations and "cursing the Prophet of Islam, any of the other grand prophets or for accusing the infallible imams and the Prophet Mohammad's daughter, Fatima Zahra, of sodomy or fornication."
Responding to reports of European reluctance to reimpose sanctions on Iran -- even though the regime announced recently that, "for the first time," it had broken the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal -- Amiry-Moghaddam told Gatestone:
"The international community, especially the EU, which has good relations with Tehran, would do well to pay more attention to the Iranian regime's human-rights violations. We [human-rights advocates] want the world to put human rights at the top of the agenda in their dialogue with Iran. We do not want military intervention, because we believe that a war will just prolong the regime's existence. The escalation of military tension is something that the Iranian authorities are seeking, as a way of diverting all the world's attention to the Persian Gulf, thus enabling them to get away with abusing their own people. Leaders of the Islamic Republic consider the freedom-seeking Iranian people as their main threat. In the long run, a democratic Iran that respects the rights of its people is the only guarantee for sustainable peace and stability in the country itself and in the entire region."
*Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
© 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/Asharq Al Awsat/August 15/2019
Amid the blessings of Eid, the emotional behavior of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) almost resulted in a tragedy that would have lasted 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 or 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 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 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.
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. Thus, 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 circumstances.
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.

As their economy crumbles, Iran’s leaders are anxiously watching the US presidential debates
د.مجيد رافيزادا: قادة إيران يراقبون بقلق المناقشات الرئاسية الأمريكية فيما اقتصاد بلدهم ينهار
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 15/2019

Of the 20 Democrat US presidential candidates who recently participated in the first two rounds of debates on CNN, nine so far have qualified for the next stage.
Statements from the Iranian leaders and the coverage of the debates by the Iranian media show that the Islamic Republic is closely watching and examining the process. This is because the outcome of next year’s US presidential election will be one of the most important developments for the ruling mullahs; it will have significant implications for the geopolitical, strategic and economic landscapes of the regime in Tehran.
Nothing better illustrates this than considering the effects of two successive US presidents — Barack Obama and Donald Trump — on the theocratic Iranian establishment.
When Obama assumed office, the ruling mullahs’ hold on power was in jeopardy as a result of four rounds of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Tehran was having a difficult time financially assisting its militias and Syrian ally Bashar Assad. In fact, at one point many policy analysts, politicians and scholars thought the Syrian government was on the verge of collapse, because the balance of power in had shifted considerably in favor of the opposition and rebel groups.
But then the US began the nuclear negotiations and high-level diplomatic initiatives with Iran. For the first time, officials from both sides met regularly and Obama made a historic phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. It was the highest-level communication between the two countries since 1979.
It is important to point out that the US was the single most important player during the negotiations with Iran at that time, helping to shape the P5+1 group comprised of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — plus Germany.
Obama was willing to make significant concessions to the Islamic Republic. This included the transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran and releasing billions of dollars in previously frozen Iranian assets. This shows the effect of US policy on Iran. It altered the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East by giving Tehran global legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. This newfound legitimacy and the lifting of sanctions freed up billions of dollars in funding for Iran’s military institution, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as for Iran's militia and terror groups.
A country that was exporting more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil under the Obama administration is now exporting 300,000 bpd or less
Tehran used the influx of money to expand its influence throughout the region, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. The expansion campaign proved to be immensely successful. Iran was capable of spending between $6 billion and $35 billion a year to keep Assad, its staunchest regional ally, in power. Iran’s Shiite militias and proxies — specifically Hezbollah, the Houthis, and the conglomerate of about 40 Iraqi Shiite groups under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces — also gained significant power.
But the regime’s situation in Iran and the wider region altered dramatically when Republican nominee Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and assumed office. Within couple of years, a country that had benefited to the tune of billions of dollars and enjoyed free cash flow spiraled downwards until it had one of the worst economies in the world. The US pulled out of the nuclear agreement, reintroduced the primary and secondary sanctions that had been lifted under the Obama administration, and imposed a policy of applying “maximum pressure.”
Even Rouhani admitted, in January, that the Islamic Republic is enduring the worst economic crisis since its establishment in 1979, after inflation skyrocketed, the unemployment rate increased significantly, and the national currency, the rial, dropped to historic lows.
The regime has faced threats domestically and abroad. Protests erupted across the country as tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest against corruption, the thievery and tyranny of the ruling theocracy, and its funding of proxy armies and terrorists across the region. For the first time, chants such as “death to the dictator,” “death to (Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei,” “death to Rouhani,” “reformists, hardliners, your game is now over,” “mullahs, have shame and let go of our country” and “we will die but will take our country back” were loudly heard across the country.
Iran’s expanding role in the region swiftly changed as well. A country that was exporting more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil under the Obama administration is now exporting 300,000 bpd or less, according to Reuters. Data from financial analysis company Refinitiv suggests the figure is about 240,000 bpd, which represents a decline of more than 90 percent.
As a result, the Iranian leaders were forced in the space of only two years to cut funding to their allies, militias and terror groups.
Iran is, therefore, nervously watching the US Presidential debates — because the outcome could either extend or further threaten the survival of the ruling mullahs.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Will Turkey and China Become Friends?
Soner Cagaptay with Deniz Yuksel/ The Washington Institute/August 15/ 2019
Despite their limited economic relations and ongoing differences over the Uyghur issue, the two countries could grow closer if Western partners fail to provide the financial boost Turkey needs so badly.
In June, China’s central bank reportedly transferred $1 billion to Turkey as part of a currency swap agreement that dates back to 2012. While the influx of cash is the largest Beijing has ever provided to Ankara, the most it can do is lend a minor short-term boost to the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves. For China to fully sponsor Turkey’s struggling economy, the two governments would have to overcome key historical policy differences, especially regarding the Turkic Uyghurs in China’s restless Xinjiang region.
With few natural resources of its own, Turkey relies on foreign capital injections and strong ties to international markets for growth. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s electoral success since 2003 has been largely driven by the record amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) the country has attracted during his tenure, mostly from Europe. The resultant economic growth boosted his voter base—many of his diehard fans are attracted to him because he helped lift them out of poverty.
More recently, however, the economy has been shrinking amid financial volatility, political uncertainty, rising unemployment (currently 15 percent), and rampant inflation (17 percent). Erdogan therefore needs more FDI to finance the growth he relies on politically.
Given the size of Turkey’s economy—just under a trillion dollars—only the U.S.-headquartered International Monetary Fund would have the funds necessary to rescue it in case of financial meltdown, as Erdogan is well aware. He also realizes that Russia cannot afford to play that role on its own. In theory, China could do so, but this would require the two countries to bridge their differences on the Uyghur issue.
In June 2018, Erdogan sent Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to seek economic assistance from Beijing at a time of dire need—the lira was collapsing, a wider meltdown loomed, and relations with Washington were in crisis over the Pastor Andrew Brunson affair and related U.S. sanctions. Yet Cavusoglu returned home with no promise of a Chinese rescue.
This result seemed surprising given that Beijing had been courting Turkey through its enticing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at developing extensive trade routes to Europe and other locales. In Ankara’s case this meant providing soft loans for construction of new metro lines and other infrastructure. These investments are at the core of China’s Turkey policy, and Ankara has repeatedly expressed its desire to benefit from the BRI. Almost all Turkish ministries have developed action plans to boost ties with China, and the BRI has been incorporated in the policy papers of Turkish bureaucracy.
Despite this momentum, Beijing remains deeply worried about Ankara’s deep historical ties with the Turkic Uyghur community in Xinjiang. Previously known as East Turkestan, Xinjiang was a nominal part, and occasionally a vassal state, of China’s nineteenth-century Qing dynasty. Turkey’s involvement in Uyghur affairs dates back to that time, when Ottoman sultans instrumentalized Islam to spread their influence.
For instance, in 1873, Sultan Abdulaziz sent the Uyghurs a shipment of weapons for use against the Qing in return for recognition of his suzerainty. At the time, the Qing were once again trying to advance deep into Xinjiang, laying the foundations of Chinese domination that would become formalized and deeply entrenched in the next century.
After the Turkic region became firmly integrated into China following the 1949 Communist Revolution, Mao Zedong initiated a crackdown against nationalist Uyghurs, forcing many to flee in search of political asylum. Turkey, then a newly minted and committed U.S. ally in the Cold War, gladly welcomed these ethnic kin. In doing so, it further solidified relations with Washington and undermined Beijing ahead of the Korean War. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Ankara resettled thousands of Uyghurs with U.S. support. Another wave arrived in the late 1970s, following post-Mao reforms.
Ankara has maintained strong support for the Uyghurs under Erdogan, who in 2009 called Chinese policies in Xinxiang “a genocide.” Meanwhile, the issue has emerged as the most serious political challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, spurring him to respond with a heavy-handed crackdown on the Uyghurs. In addition to sending hundreds of thousands of them to “reeducation camps,” he has initiated mass surveillance of their communities via closed-circuit camera systems and high-tech eavesdropping on smartphones and social media.
More recently, Erdogan has downplayed the issue in the state-dominated Turkish media, which now carries very few stories about the suffering of the Uyghurs. This strategy seems aimed at currying favor with Beijing. Nevertheless, leading Uyghur activists still meet regularly with Turkish officials, and their community in Turkey remains the center of the global Uyghur diaspora. No official data is available on their numbers, but tens of thousands of them are estimated to live in Turkey, and they are well liked by Turkish foreign policy elites. Aware of these deep ties, Beijing has shied away from providing the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to definitely ward off a Turkish economic meltdown.
Another obstacle to Beijing throwing Ankara an economic lifeline is the fact that their current trade and financial relations are relatively small. Although Erdogan has diversified Turkey’s trading partners, none of them, including China, has emerged as a strong alternative to the country’s traditional markets in the West. Turkey’s exports to China are a fraction of Europe and America’s, and its trade deficit is large—in 2018, its imports from China amounted to $19.4 billion, but its exports were only $2.7 billion. And while the non-Western share in Turkish trade has increased to nearly 30 percent, the EU alone still accounted for 42 percent last year, compared to just 6 percent for China.
Similarly, while Turkey’s investment partners have diversified under Erdogan, the U.S. and European share of FDI inflows has increased as well. In 2005, the EU was Turkey’s largest investor, accounting for 58 percent of net FDI inflows; by 2018, the figure had grown to 61 percent. In contrast, Chinese investment flows remained under 1 percent.
Some recent developments hold the promise of future growth—for instance, a Chinese state-owned company owns a majority share in Istanbul’s Kumport container docks, and Chinese companies have reportedly offered to take over management of Istanbul’s “Third” Bosporus Bridge. Yet Beijing’s overall financial footprint in Turkey is still quite small compared to the West’s.
A resource-poor nation with an annual energy import bill of about $30 billion, Turkey needs tens of billions of dollars in FDI or heavy annual cash flows to maintain economic growth and keep Erdogan’s base satisfied. Attracting such a windfall from China would require Ankara to substantially change its Uyghur policy—a tall order given historical patterns. Yet Turkish businesses have had trouble obtaining credit from European and American investors of late, creating a void that Chinese investors may decide to fill in greater numbers. If that scenario comes to pass, Beijing’s political muscle over Ankara could increase considerably, moving Turkey closer to the emerging China-Russia axis in global politics.
*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. Deniz Yuksel is a research assistant at the Institute.

Militias Are Threatening Public Safety in Iraq
مايكل نايتس والكسندر ملو/معهد واشنطن: الميليشيات في العراق تهدد السلامة العامة
Michael Knights and Alexandre Mello/The Washington Institute/August 15/2019

Exploding ammo dumps are only one of many problems posed by out-of-control militias, making it more urgent than ever to warehouse heavy weapons, halt mass detentions, and protect Iraqis and Iraq’s investors alike.
On August 12, a large militia ammunition dump caught fire in southern Baghdad, sending rockets careening across the skies over the capital. The incident is one of several major explosions at such facilities around the city in recent years; it also follows other recent hazards directly tied to Iran-backed groups, from militia attacks on Western investors to suspected Israeli strikes against militia bases. With the government thus far proving unable to rein in even the smallest militias, the negative impact of unchecked foreign-backed armed groups is increasingly falling on Iraqi civilians, a consequence that the international community should devote much more attention to when engaging Baghdad.
Perhaps the most pressing public safety issue is the growing pattern of major explosions in densely populated urban areas, caused by militias storing explosives and projectiles in unsafe conditions during periods of high heat.
The August 12 explosion occurred at an ammunition storage facility at Camp al-Saqr, killing one civilian and wounding twenty-nine others. Debris rained down as far as three miles away. The base was used by two militias from the Popular Mobilization Forces—Kataib Jund al-Imam (PMF Brigade 6) and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (PMF Brigade 14)—along with various armed groups affiliated with the Iran-allied Badr Organization.
On November 3, 2018, a munitions explosion occurred at a base in Tuz Khormatu used by Kataib Hezbollah (PMF Brigades 45, 46, 47), wounding thirty-six civilians.
On August 6, 2018, a blast occurred at an ammunition storage warehouse owned by al-Abbas Combat Division (PMF Brigade 26) on the highway between Baghdad and Karbala, killing one and wounding nineteen.
On June 6, 2018, an ammunition cache exploded inside a Shia mosque in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, killing eighteen civilians, wounding ninety, and reducing an entire city block to rubble. The cache likely belonged to either Asaib Ahl al-Haq (PMF Brigades 41, 42, 43) or Saraya al-Salam (PMF Brigade 313)
On September 2, 2016, another arms cache belonging to AAH exploded in the Ubaidi district of east Baghdad, killing fifteen civilians, wounding dozens more, and igniting eight rockets that landed within the city.
At least two such incidents have occurred at militia bases where Iranian long-range rockets and other explosives are reportedly stored. In at least one case, the evidence points to precision military strikes, perhaps by Israel.
On July 19, an explosion rocked a militia base in Amerli operated by Quwat al-Turkmen (PMF Brigade 16) and Fawj Amerli (PMF Brigade 52). One member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed, according to related funeral announcements. Numerous indications suggest a very precise military strike against an Iranian-provided missile system, with the intention of minimizing harm to civilians.
On July 28, three explosions were reported at Camp Ashraf, the Badr Organization’s main militia facility in Iraq, located northeast of Baghdad. The nature of the incident—simultaneous explosions at three widely separated locations in a 10 kilometer by 10 kilometer camp—rules out accidental causes. Iraqi and U.S. analysts consider it likely that the camp contains Iranian-provided missile systems.
Militias associated with Iran have also been credibly accused of violence against civil society groups and individual civilians.
Large-scale illegal detention. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued substantial reports documenting the disappearance of 643 Sunni Muslim males from Fallujah and Saqlawiyah, and further mass disappearances of Sunni males at Razzaza. These were largely attributed to Kataib Hezbollah, which maintains an illegal detention facility with at least 1,700 prisoners in Jurf al-Sakhar just south of Baghdad. The Iraqi government has taken no action to free these detainees or investigate human rights abuses related to their captivity.
Suppression of civil society. In Basra, where public discontent has been simmering due to poor services and unemployment, some militias have been allowed to disrupt demonstrations against the government. This tactic—reminiscent of Iran’s use of Ansar-e Hezbollah vigilantes to break up protests in its own cities—has resulted in dozens of assassinations and violent abductions of civil society activists in southern Iraq this summer.
Attacks on clergy. In Baghdad, even the most politically connected members of society are not safe if militias choose to target them. Alaa al-Musawi—appointed head of the Shia waqf (religious endowment) by Iraq’s most senior cleric, Ali al-Sistani—suffered a home invasion by AAH forces on July 10 and thereafter had to be sheltered in a government safe house. Although the exact identity of his attackers is widely known in Iraqi society, nothing has been done to punish the AAH militiamen involved.
In recent months, Iraq’s most important investors—oil companies—have suffered escalating violence.
Attacks on Basra consulate. Militias launched a series of rocket strikes on the U.S. consulate in Basra on September 7, 8, and 28, 2018. Armed groups also threatened local employees of the consulate, menaced vehicle movements to and from the facility, and issued kidnap warnings. The consulate was shuttered soon after these incidents, damaging investor confidence in Iraq.
Rocket attacks on oil company sites. On June 18-19, 2019, rockets were fired at three foreign engineer camps in Basra’s Rumaila oil field and nearby Burjesia. Three Iraqis were wounded when the strikes hit the state-owned Iraqi Drilling Company, damaging the government’s efforts to achieve greater energy self-sufficiency.
Rocket attack on defense contractors. On June 18, a rocket was launched at U.S. contractors in Balad who were providing technical services to help Iraq’s F-16 fleet continue striking Islamic State forces.
Attack on U.S. embassy supply vehicles. On July 6, three roadside bombs detonated against a U.S. embassy logistical truck convoy in Safwan. Fragmentation-type munitions packed with ball bearings were used, injuring one driver.
Attack on investor vehicles. On August 6, Western oil industry personnel were struck by a roadside bomb in Basra, seriously damaging their vehicle. The incident involved the same type of fragmentation device seen in the Safwan attack, which likewise resembled four devices found in Rumaila, Ratawi, and Halfaya within a week in early December 2018. All of the latter devices had been placed near oil field highway entrances used by foreign engineers.
Iran-backed militias are implementing an independent foreign policy in Iraq, making a mockery of the country’s government and constitution. They are not just threatening Westerners—Iraqis are the principal victims of their activities, and always have been. More attention should be focused on these effects, which include greater security risks for Iraqis, disruption of their ongoing struggle against the Islamic State, and the loss of much-needed foreign investment and international prestige.
Militia control of heavy weapons is a particularly pressing issue. For the most part, Iraq’s cities are no longer threatened by regular Islamic State attacks; instead, Iraqis have more to fear from a militia ammunition dump exploding in their neighborhood. Militias have evolved from a source of protection to one of the last remaining sources of threat to urban populations. In particular, when they hide large Iranian missiles in smaller towns like Amerli, they put the entire local citizenry at risk.
The United States and other international actors should doggedly raise the heavy weapons risk in all meetings with senior Iraqi government leaders. PMF brigades do not require rocket artillery for their counterinsurgency missions against the Islamic State, much less Iranian short-range ballistic missiles. All such weapons should be declared, accounted for, documented, and moved to secure government storage facilities outside the cities.
International actors should also draw Baghdad’s attention to ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by some militias, in many cases Iran-backed players such as Kataib Hezbollah, AAH, and lesser-known units. Kataib Hezbollah’s well-documented mass detention center just outside Baghdad is a travesty, and one that human rights watchdogs should keep focusing on. This same facility—Jurf al-Sakhar—was the launch point for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities on May 14, further underlining the consequences of the Iraqi government’s failure on this crucial issue.
*Michael Knights, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, has spent considerable time since 2003 embedded with the Iraqi security forces. Alexandre Mello is the lead security analyst at energy advisory service Horizon Client Access.