May 12/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ this is the first commandment with a promise so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth
Letter to the Ephesians 06/01-09: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.’

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 11-12/19
His Eminence Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfier Passes away..His Soul Is Now In heaven
Patriarch Sfeir has passed Away
Patriarch Sfier's Biography
Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Sfier: A Clergy of Faith love, humility and Perseverance
Berri meets with Aridi, Hammoud and Riachy
Hariri meets with US Ambassador, Press Syndicate Dean
LAF recieves gear and equipment from France
Deputy Chief of Mission Edward White Attends the Launching of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Project at Sidon Sea Castle
Army Commander bound for U.S.
As Lebanese Cabinet Talks Austerity, Protesters Cry 'Thieves!'
Lebanese Cabinet Approves Tax Increase on Bank Deposits Interest Rate
Jumblat: Austerity Plan Unveiled Treasures of Squandered Funds
Report: Lebanon Requests US Mediation with Israel on Demarcation of Maritime Border
Australian-Lebanese Ordered Released in Sydney Bomb Plot

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 11-12/19
IRGC Rejects Negotiations With Washington
US Sends Naval Strike Group as Tensions Rise with Iran
Battle for Libya's Tripoli Gives Chance to IS
Sarraj Urges Trump to Stop Haftar’s Backers from Meddling in Libya
Sources: Turkey Contacts Russia over Escalation in Northwest Syria
Two Fugitives Killed in Security Operation in E. Saudi Arabia
Statement by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs on 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Israel
Houthis Start Withdrawing from Hodeidah Ports
Egypt's Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 11-12/19
His Eminence Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfier Passes away..His Soul Is Now In heaven/Patriarch Sfier's Biography/Elias Bejjani/May 12/2019
Patriarch Sfier's Biography/NNA/May 12/2019
Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Sfier: A Clergy of Faith love, humility and Perseverance/Elias Bejjani/May 11/2019
US ready to go for Iran’s Guards bases if Iraqi Shiite proxies attack Al Tanf garrison/DEBKAfile/May 11/2019
Iran is pursuing a line of strategic recklessness, but still seeks a secret deal/Raghida Dergham/May 11/2019
Trump’s Policy on Iran Is Working/Caroline Glick, BREITBART/May 11/2019
Should the U.S. be the Policeman of the World/Raoul Lowery Contreras/ AMERICAN THINKER/May 11/2019
Trump Faces Growing Foreign Policy Tests/Michael R. Gordon/WSJ/May 11/2019
Congress’ Syria panel warns against Trump withdrawal plan/NAHAL TOOSI and WESLEY MORGAN,/POLITICO/May 11/2019
Trump to Iran: Call me, maybe/NAHAL TOOSI/Politico/May 11/2019
Pinkwashing' and Israel: How to Work against Your Own Best Interests/Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/May 11/2019
Germany: Citizenship for Polygamous Migrants/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 11/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 11-12/19
His Eminence Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfier Passes away..His Soul Is Now In heaven/His Biography
Elias Bejjani/May 12/2019
 With great sorrow the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon said in a statement that was issued few hours ago that the retired great Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Sfier has passed away in Hotel Dieu hospital where he was under intensive for many days. Patriarch Sfier who is a well respected patriotic and religious figure was 99 years old. His patriotic and heroic role in reclaiming Lebanon's dependence was a bench mark  in the country's recent history. He will be remembered as a great Lebanese Clergy and as a great national patriot. May Almighty God bless his soul and welcome him to rest in the peace of Jesus Christ in heaven alongside the angels and saints His memory will remain alive and vivid in the Lebanese both hearts and consciences for a long time.

Patriarch Sfeir has passed Away
NNA/May 12/2019
Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 99, at Hotel Dieu hospital .
Patriarch Sfier's Biography
Nasrallah Sfeir was born on May 15, 1920 in Rayfoun, Kesrowan, Lebanon to Maroun Sfeir and Hannee Fahed. from Ghosta. He has five sisters: Matilla, Jaouhara, Odette, Laure and Melanie.
He completed his elementary and complementary studies at Saint Abda School, Harharya-Aramoun, Kesrouan (1933-1937); he completed secondary studies at the Maronite Patriarchal Seminary in Ghazir, Kesrouan (1937-1939) and at the Oriental Seminary Institute of Saint Joseph University (1940-1943), where he later pursued his philosophical and theological studies (1944-1950).
From Priesthood to Episcopal ordination (1950-1986):
May 7, 1950: He was ordained a priest and appointed Pastor of the Reyfoun Parish and secretary of the Diocese of Damascus (presently Sarba).
1951-1961: He taught Arabic Literature, the History of Philosophy and Translation at the Marianist College in Jounieh, Lebanon.
1953-1961: He was appointed General Secretary of the Maronite Patriarchate.
July 16, 1961: He was ordained Bishop and appointed Patriarchal Vicar.
From his Episcopal ordination to his enthronement as Patriarch:
1974-1975: Patriarchal Administrator with Bishop Antoine Khoureich, who was then Archbishop of the Diocese of Sidon.
1975-1986: President of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1977-1986: Representative of the President of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon at Caritas-Lebanon.
1980-1990: Adviser to the Special Committee to revise the Oriental Canon Law.
1980-1986: Spiritual Director to the autonomous organization “Knights of Malta”.
From his Patriarchal enthronement to his appointment as Cardinal:
April 19, 1986: Elected Patriarch by the Synod of Bishops.
April 27, 1986: Was enthroned to the See of Antioch and All the East. He is the 76th Maronite Patriarch.
1986- Present: President of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1986-1994: He participated in three general councils of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.
1991-Present: He is a founding member of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs in the East.
From his appointment as Cardinal to the present:
November 26, 1994, he was made a Cardinal.
1994-Present: As a member to the Pontifical Council for legislative interpretation.
1994-Present: As a member to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Health Services.
Writings and Translations
His writings in Arabic:
1975: From the Sources of the Gospel.
1983: Disappeared Faces, Volume I.
1984: Disappeared Faces, Volume II.
1986-2000: The Sunday Homily, 12 Volumes.
1986-2000: Fourteen Lenten Pastoral Letters, on various topics.
Translations into Arabic
1966: Jesus: The life of the Soul (from French).
1967: Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (The Doctrine of Indulgences).
1971: Pastoral Exhortation on the Media (from French).
1978: General Instructions concerning the Reciprocal Relations between the Bishops and the Monks in the Church (from French).
Documents of Pope John Paul II
1979: Encyclical Redemptor Hominis (from Latin).
1980: Encyclical Divis in Misericirdia”, The Divine Mercy (from Latin).
1981: Pastoral Exhortation: “Function of the Christian Family in Today’s World” (from Latin).
1984: Pastoral Exhortation: “Reconciliation and Penance in the Mission of Today’s Church” from Latin).
1984: Encyclical Salvici Doloris, The Saving Suffering (from Latin).
1984: Three Letters Concerning the Tragedy of Lebanon, (from French).
1985: Letter to all the Youth in the World (from French at the Occasion of the World Youth Day).
As soon as His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Sfeir assumed the responsibility of the Maronite Patriarchate, he implemented projects in multiple domains. The following are some of his achievements:
In the ecclesiastical and administrative realm
1986-Present: Appointment of Patriarchal Vicars to reside in the regions of Byblos, Batroun, El-Jebbeh, Deir-el-Ahmar, Sarba and Jounieh. of the Patriarchate.
The ordaining of thirty new bishops.
The founding of new eparchies.
The modification of the status of some already established eparchies.
1989: Transforming the Patriarchal Vicariate of Damascus to an independent eparchy.
1990: Joining of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Deir-el-Ahmar to the Eparchy of Baalbeck which became the Eparchy of Baalbeck and Deir-el-Ahmar.
1990: Joining of the Eparchy of Sarba to the Patriarchal Eparchy and declaring the Patriarchal Vicariate of Byblos an independent eparchy.
1999: Joining of the Eparchy of Jounieh to the Patriarchal Eparchy and declaring the Patriarchal Vicariate of Batroun an independent Eparchy.
1986: The republishing of the Patriarchal Magazine.
1992: The promulgation of the new Maronite Liturgy.
1992: The promulgation of the Lectionary.
1995: The holding of the Synod for Lebanon.
1996: The promulgation of the Rites of Ordination of a Priest and a Bishop.
1997: The Holy Father’s visit to Lebanon.
2000: The promulgation of the Book of Ginnazat (Rites of Christian Funerals).
In the Social, agricultural and patrimonial domains:
1987: The creation of the opportunity to terminate the partnership situation on the land of Diman and giving homes to the partners.
1987: The establishment of the Maronite Maronite Fund.
1995-1999: The developing of the land in Diman (The summer Patriarchal See).
1996: The establishing of the common fund for retired bishops.
1999: The declaring of the Holy Valley of Kannoubine and the region of the Cedars as an International Patrimonial Reservation.
In addition to renovating the Patriarchal See in Diman and the Patriarchal Seminary in Ghazir, Patriarch Sfeir is also responsible for the following:
1992: The construction of a private cemetery for patriarchs and bishops
1995: The construction of a center to house the Maronite Tribunal and the Maronite Social Fund.
1996: The building of a new wing, south of the Patriarchal See, with a large documentation hall, a library, a hall dedicated to Pope John Paul II and bedrooms for the bishops.
1999: The building of a new Wing, north of the Patriarchal See, containing a residence for nuns, employees and assistant to the bishops and a large hall for meetings of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.
1999: The housing of the Patriarchal Commission for Liturgical Affairs and the General Secretariat of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops and of the Synod of the Catholic Patriarchs in the East.
1999: The building of Patriarch Sfeir’s Medical Center in Reyfoun, Kesrouan.
2000: The building of a twenty thousand seat courtyard facing the Patriarchal Residence for official religious ceremonies.
Patriarch Sfeir also paid attention to Maronite institutions outside of Lebanon and achieved the following:
1994: The renovation of Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Paris.
1997: The renovation of the Franco-Lebanese Dorm in Paris.
1997: The renovation of Our Lady of Lebanon Church and the Franco-Lebanese Dorm in Marseille, France.
1998: The remodeling of the Patriarchal Residence in Jerusalem.
2000: The reopening of the Maronite College in Rome.
Pastoral and Official Visits
Patriarch Sfeir has gone on Pastoral and Official visits to:
The Vatican: Every Year.
France: 1986, 1994, 1997 and 1999
Soviet Union: 1987
Algeria: 1987
United States of America: 1988
Kuwait: 1989
Cyprus: 1989 and 1998.
Germany: 1989
South Africa: 1992
Egypt:. 1992 and 2000
Jordan. 1993 and 1998
Australia. 1993
Brazil. 1997
and in 2000 he visited Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, and Senegal.
The above is a list of some of His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir’s most notable achievements, from the beginning of his patriarchate to this date, 2000. He accomplished them with all that was given to him as virtues of a good shepherd: piety, personal courage, education and faithfulness to the national and spiritual values that were practiced by all Maronite Patriarchs.

Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Sfier: A Clergy of Faith love, humility and Perseverance
Elias Bejjani/May 11/2019

Our Maronite Patriarch, Mar Nasrallah Boutous Sfier is almost hundred years old.
Currently our great retired patriarch is going through an extremely critical physical condition related to his age.
He is in hospital fighting for his life.
Our genuine prayers as well as prayers of all our Lebanese-Maronite people in Lebanon and Diaspora go for this humble patriarch who is actually and by all means a symbol and role model of love, humility, faith, steadfastness, and patriotism.
We ask Almighty God to shower His mercy on our beloved Patriarch Sfier.
We call on Our Lady Of Lebanon, Virgin Mary, and on all our Lebanese saints to stay beside our Patriarch through his critical physical ordeal, pray for him and intercede for his safety and welfare.
Meanwhile, Patriarch Sfier will remain with us no matter what, alive or dead as a great symbol and role model of faith and love even after his departure from this perishable world.
Yes, definitely mortal death is a fate that no human being can avoid, by all human standards and capabilities, but what is religiously assuring and comforting is that death in our Christian concept of theology is a transformation from death to life.
All our Prays go to Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Sfier.
N.B: This piece was published few hours before Patriarch Sfier passed away.

Berri meets with Aridi, Hammoud and Riachy
Sat 11 May 2019/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri met this afternoon in Ain al-Teeneh with former Minister Ghazi Aridi, with talks touching on the general prevailing situation. The Speaker then conferred with Head of the Banking Control Committee, Samir Hamoud, over the country's financial situation.
Former Information Minister Melhem Riachy also called on the House Speaker Saturday afternoon, with discussions focusing on various hour issues.
On emerging, Riachy said he was pleased to sense the Speaker's optimism, especially in light of the cabinet's near completion of the state budget before transferring it to the Parliament Council for study and endorsement. "Our problems are many, but this is the beginning of a sound path to solve our issues," he said. Riachy added that talks during the encounter touched on the administrative appointments dossier. He relayed to the Speaker the Lebanese Forces Party Chief's views on the matter, and his hope that these appointments will take place on grounds of fairness, equal opportunity and proper qualifications, "to give chances to the largest number of competent Lebanese citizens of all sects."Riachy noted that Speaker Berri is an advocate of this perspective, so that the right people would be in the right place in accordance with their qualifications and competencies, especially in first category positions.

Hariri meets with US Ambassador, Press Syndicate Dean

Sat 11 May 2019/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri met this afternoon at Center House with United States Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, with the general situation and bilateral relations topping their discussion. Later, PM Hariri conferred with Press Syndicate Dean, Aouni El-Kaaki, over the current prevailing conditions in the country. On emerging, Kaaki expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister's continuous optimism despite the difficult circumstances that Lebanon is witnessing. "God willing, things will be settled and we will finalize the budget and benefit from the opportunity of the Cedar Conference, since the country is in dire need of it," he added.Marine Tourism Institutions Head, Jean Beirouti, also called on the Prime Minister today, accompanied by Restaurant Owners' Syndicate Head, Toni El-Rami. Following the meeting, Beirouti said they had fruitful talks where they tackled various issues pertaining to the country's economic situation. He disclosed that the Prime Minister hoped for achieving a decreased-deficit budget, so that Lebanon can move on to the implementation phase of the Cedar Conference and revive its economy. In turn, El-Rami said he was optimistic that the country would witness a blooming and flourishing touristic season, and urged all media to keep us with this season with all positivity.

LAF recieves gear and equipment from France
Sat 11 May 2019/NNA - The Lebanese military received a donation of gear and equipment from the French Government, in the presence of a number of officers, a communiqué by the Lebanese army indicated on Saturday.

Deputy Chief of Mission Edward White Attends the Launching of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Project at Sidon Sea Castle

Sat 11 May 2019/NNA - Today, U.S. Embassy Beirut Deputy Chief of Mission Edward White took part in a launching ceremony with the Ministry of Culture to mark the start of an Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) project to rehabilitate the Sidon Sea Castle. The Ministry of Culture's Directorate General of Antiquities will implement the $100,000 grant. The Sidon Sea Castle restoration is the eighteenth AFCP project in Lebanon. Last year in Sidon, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard inaugurated a completed AFCP project at the Temple of Eshmun, a US Embassy press release indicated Saturday. The U.S. Congress established AFCP grants in 2000. Grants have supported projects in over 130 countries to preserve cultural heritage. To date, AFCP has funded 18 projects in Lebanon. These include the preservation of the Ras-Nahel Khalwet site in the Shouf Mountains, Islamic manuscripts at the National Library, the Mar Bichay Hermitage at the Mar Antonios Monastery in Ehden, a Roman-era temple in Temnin in the Bekaa Valley, historic sites on the Rabbit and Palm Islands Nature Preserve off the coast of Mina near Tripoli, and, in Tyre, the Mubarakeh Tower and the funerary complex at the Al-Bass Necropolis site. To date, grants awarded to AFCP projects in Lebanon amount to $1,181,727.

Army Commander bound for U.S.
Sat 11 May 2019/NNA - Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, left Beirut this afternoon heading to the United States to partake in the annual meeting to assess the US military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces and determine future needs.In this context, Aoun will also meet with a number of US officials assigned to the US Aid Program.

As Lebanese Cabinet Talks Austerity, Protesters Cry 'Thieves!'

Associated Press/Naharnet/May 11/2019/Dozens of Lebanese military and security veterans burned tires and shouted angrily outside government offices on Friday, their second protest in less than two weeks amid fears a proposed austerity budget may affect their pensions and benefits. The protesters gathered in downtown Beirut as ministers met to discuss a budget bill that aims to cut public spending and tackle a national debt that stands at more than 150% of GDP. They denounced leaked reports of cuts to their pensions, calling on the government to address corruption instead. "Thieves. Thieves. They are all thieves," the protesters chanted. One protester said they were burning tires to draw the ministers' attention to their warnings. "If they can't see us, maybe they can smell," the unnamed protester told Lebanese station MTV. Some protesters scuffled outside the Cabinet meeting with security personnel who tried to prevent them from burning tires. "We are back today to tell this government to beware: our pensions and our family rights are a red line," said retired Gen. Sami Rammah. "We are waiting for the decisions of the government meeting. If it is good, then all good and well. If it is evil, we will let them know about evil."
He warned of escalating protests around Lebanon.The government's planned budget cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent that has widened.
Local media reported the planned cuts target public wages, chipping away at end of service and social benefits of civil servants and reducing early retirement compensation. Senior officials would also see their salaries cut and capped. Income taxes on the highest brackets, along with taxes on interest from bank deposits, are expected to be raised, according to a leaked budget proposal. Another measure that might also meet resistance is a debt swap with local banks.Thousands of civil servants and staff of the Central Bank held brief strikes to pressure the government to spare them cuts.
On Friday, professors in the state-owned Lebanese University also protested potential cuts to their wages and the learning institution's budget. The government's budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. Lebanon's economy is struggling with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The $85 billion debt and unemployment believed to be around 36% are compounding concerns that the country will finally cave in economically. Hussein Yazbek, a 59-year-old from Baalbek who retired in 1999, is worried that his $930 monthly pension would be affected. He said instead of targeting veterans like himself, the government should pass laws to fight corruption and reclaim stolen public funds. The army, he said, defended the country in various wars, including Israeli incursions and internal disputes. "If the treasury needs money and the pensions of the veterans is really what saves it, then so be it," Yazbek said. But he added: "These are our legitimate rights." Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab appeared among the protesters briefly, urging them to break up their gathering. He called on them to send representatives to his office to follow up on the planned government cuts.

Lebanese Cabinet Approves Tax Increase on Bank Deposits Interest Rate

Naharnet/May 11/2019/The Cabinet approved an increase in tax on bank deposits on Friday during a session chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail. At the end of the meeting, the Minister of Information Jamal Jarrah said: “It was somehow a long session, but it was very productive in the pending issues, most of which were approved, namely raising the tax on interest rates on banks and individuals, from 7 to 10% for three years. After three years, the tax returns to 7%, and our financial and economic situation would have improved. If there is further improvement, we may reduce it to less than 7% perhaps to 5%. On the issue of the military institutions and the veterans, there was an early retirement on the 18th year. It is now on the 23rd year. The retirement that used to take place on the 20th year is now on the 25th. As for the specialized officers, three years were added to their retirement. There has been a serious discussion of measure No. 3 and the issued decrees, and the government will apply the law that stipulates that measure number 3 applies to confrontation with the Israeli enemy, while the rest is subject to measure number 1.
The heads of security services will identify the cases they consider to be subject to measure number three 3 and those subject to measures number 2 and 1. In the sense that they determine with the Council of Ministers the exceptional circumstances in which a country can pass, and when measures number 3, 2 or 1 apply. Those who are on the frontlines with the Israeli enemy are governed by measure number. 3. There will be proposals from the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior to resolve this issue. The issue of school benefits for the public sector employees was also discussed. The numbers must be studied more thoroughly to take the necessary measures and reduce them gradually to lessen the weight on the state.
Question: What about salary cuts?
Jarrah: The atmosphere is very positive towards a significant reduction in the public bodies salaries. We did not specify the percentage. There was a suggestion of 50% and suggestions for less than that. Hopefully we will decide on this either Sunday evening or Monday noon.
Question: What about the reduction of public sector salaries?
Jarrah: We will decide on them when we finish with the figures.
Question: The Minister of Education said that school grants were reduced by 15%?
Jarrah: We did not decide yet on this matter. There is a proposal of a 15% cut and other suggestions for more.
Question: Did you take a decision to reduce the salaries of public officials by 50%?
Jarrah: We did not take the decision yet. Everyone knows that there are MPs and ministers whose sole source of income is this salary while others are comfortable.
Question: Will there be exceptions?
Jarrah: We are looking for the best way, because the public authorities should contribute to the reduction in the budget deficit, even if slightly.
Question: Was the issue of maritime properties discussed?
Jarrah: A law was issued in Parliament and I was the head of the subcommittee that prepared this law. There is a decree issued by the Council of Ministers regarding the prices, and another decree was issued that increased these prices, and the decree is being implemented. Some institutions paid, while the files of other institutions are being considered by the Ministry of Finance, and others lack documents and the owners are working to complete them. A valid decree is now in force according to the law on maritime property.
Question: But Minister Wael Abu Faour said that the prices are low compared to what they should be?
Jarrah: Minister Abu Faour gave his opinion that the new decree is still low. This issue will be discussed by cabinet but not within the budget because it does not have anything to do with the budget. There is a valid decree that is being implemented, and the people submitted their requests to pay the state on the basis of this decree, and there are those who originally paid on the basis of this decree.
Question: Is there a clear figure on maritime property revenues for this year?
Jarrah: According to the estimations of the Minister of Finance, the revenues reached one hundred billion Lebanese pounds, but he expects that they reach more because the total estimate of maritime assets over the past 23 years was $800 million. 144 billion reached the treasury, and there are one hundred billion put by the Minister of Finance as a preliminary estimate in the budget of 2019, but his conviction is that it can reach more than the number achieved in 2018.
Question: Is there a decision to complete the budget on Monday?
Jarrah: We hope to finish it on Sunday evening. We will start at nine thirty and I do not know at what time we may finish. We are in a hurry more than you are because in the end the budget must be sent to Parliament and it has a path.

Jumblat: Austerity Plan Unveiled Treasures of Squandered Funds

Naharnet/May 11/2019/Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblatt on Saturday said in its quest to formulate an austere state budget, the government has unveiled “treasures” of squandered public funds that have for decades been protected with secrecy, al-Joumhouria daily reported.
“The efforts to set an austere state budget has lifted the curtain off treasures of squandering that have for decades been protected with iron domes of secrecy,” said Jumblat. On the government’s possible plan to introduce salary cuts to some public employees, he said: “The PSP considers it a taboo to reduce the salaries of limited-income or middle-class employees.”Jumblat expressed his fear that each political group will seek, for political or sectarian reasons, to protect a certain sector in a bid to exempt it from the "tax" of contributing to the rescue basket of solutions.“It is a dangerous and difficult equation,” he said.

Report: Lebanon Requests US Mediation with Israel on Demarcation of Maritime Border

Naharnet/May 11/2019/Lebanon renewed “requests” from the United States to pursue “mediation” with Israel to demarcate the maritime border in order to preserve its oil wealth right, mainly the border oil field Block 9 which Lebanon fears that Israel could steal, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Saturday. Lebanon made that request during the recent visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Beirut, said the daily. The “initiative” came amid questions on whether Washington would succeed in reassigning the task. Questions also arose on whether the US would task Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, amid some Lebanese reservations, because of his bias positions toward Israel in the debate over Lebanon’s ideas for demarcation of the maritime border with Israel, added the daily. “It is still too early to predict whether the US figure to be tasked with this mission would be a "fair broker.” But he would certainly take into consideration the security situation that would ignite if Israel was to attack the Lebanese wealth, which according to experts is estimated at billions of dollars,” an unnamed source following closely on the issue told the daily. Yesterday, a consultation was held between Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on the “discreet” ideas presented by President Michel Aoun to US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, according to a source. “Out of keenness to make them succeed, the ideas were kept discreet and out of the media spotlight,” he added. fter a meeting with Berri on Friday, Bassil said: “Israel is incapable of touching our wealth. We have no fear for these rights, but there is a mechanism for negotiation," he said.

Australian-Lebanese Ordered Released in Sydney Bomb Plot
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 11/2019/The lawyer of an Australian-Lebanese dual citizen on trial for an alleged plot to bring down a passenger plane says her client has been ordered released on bail by a Lebanese military court. Joceline Adib al-Rai, lawyer of Amer Khayyat, said Saturday the court's decision was delivered a day earlier. Prosecutors can appeal. Khayyat has rejected the charges. Lebanese authorities have held Khayyat in detention since 2017. They have accused him of planning to blow up an Emirati airline flight that was supposed to travel from Sydney to the United Arab Emirates. Two of Khayyat's brothers are on trial in Australia for plotting to blow up the plane with bombs hidden inside a Barbie doll and meat grinder. Australian authorities say Amer Khayyat had no knowledge of his brothers' plot.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 11-12/19
IRGC Rejects Negotiations With Washington

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) rejected negotiations with Washington and denied the likelihood of a US attack. This came a day after President Donald Trump urged Iran’s leaders to hold talks on giving up their nuclear program, adding that he couldn’t rule out a military confrontation. “No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us,” Yadollah Javani, the IRGC’s deputy head for political affairs, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Friday. “Our nation ... sees America as unreliable,” Javani stressed. He went on to say that Iran was not suffering the kind of “internal disarray” suggested by the US after reimposing its sanctions on Tehran. “With the new sanctions and pressures imposed by the United States… Trump thought Iran would face a kind of internal disarray and would eventually negotiate with the United States, but this didn’t happen." Javani’s comments were the first by Iranian military leaders since Trump’s team announced sending troops to the Middle East to deter Iranian threats. Two weeks ago, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “Washington is not ready to negotiate.” “Some claim that the American side is ready to negotiate while, in fact, they are not ready to negotiate.”Tehran would be willing to negotiate only when US lifts pressure and apologizes for what Rouhani called “illegal actions.”“We have always been a man of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we’ve been a man of war and defense,” he said on April 24. His comments coincided with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to New York, during which he sent many signals of his country’s willingness to negotiate on exchange of prisoners between the two sides. This indicated Iran’s willingness to negotiate on “releasing US prisoners,” which is among the 12 conditions put by the US administration in 2018 to reach a comprehensive agreement. Commander of the IRGC Quds Force Qassem Soleimani rejected, for his part, negotiations with the US under enforced economic pressure, saying it would show humiliation and surrender while Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said they would be a “strategic mistake.”

US Sends Naval Strike Group as Tensions Rise with Iran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 11/2019/The United States is deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to bolster an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers already sent to the Gulf, ratcheting up pressure Saturday on archfoe Iran. In response to alleged threats from Iran, the USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing craft and rotary aircraft, and the Patriot air defence system will join the Abraham Lincoln carrier group, the Pentagon announced Friday. The carrier and a B-52 bomber task force were ordered towards the Gulf, as Washington reiterated that intelligence reports suggested Iran was planning some sort of attack in the region. CENTCOM, the US forces for the Middle East and Afghanistan, said Friday on Twitter that the B-52 bombers arrived at the area of operations on May 8, without saying where they had landed.
US President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton has said the deployment aimed to send a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran about any attack against the US or its partners in the region. Washington has not elaborated on the alleged threat, drawing criticism that it is overreacting and unnecessarily driving up tensions in the region. There was no immediate reaction from Tehran on the latest US moves, but earlier in the week it shrugged off the carrier deployment. "Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of an out-of-date event for psychological warfare," Iran's Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keyvan Khosravi said. The increasing tensions come as Tehran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers. Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has re-imposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy.
- US 'not seeking war' -
The Pentagon, for its part, said the deployments were "in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests". "The Department of Defence continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies," it said.
"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region." Amid the rising tensions, Trump said Thursday he was open to talks with Tehran's leadership. "What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We don't want them to have nuclear weapons -- not much to ask," he said. In the latest of a series of escalating statements, however, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the same day threatened a "swift and decisive" US response to any attack by Iran. "Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve," he said, adding however: "We do not seek war." In May last year, Trump pulled the United States out of an agreement aimed at curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions. On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would no longer implement parts of the deal and threatened to go further if the remaining members of the pact, including the European Union, failed to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.

Battle for Libya's Tripoli Gives Chance to IS

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 11/2019/The battle for Tripoli between rival Libyan forces both championing the fight against "terrorism" has created a security vacuum, allowing the Islamic State group a chance to re-emerge, analysts warn. Libya expert Emad Badi says the fighting has given IS "the opportunity to reorganise, recruit and strike alliances with other groups (and organise attacks) to show they are still around". Jihadist groups capitalised on Libya's descent into chaos after the 2011 uprising that killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi to establish a presence in the North African country.
IS had its main stronghold in Kadhafi's hometown of Sirte, east of Tripoli, until it was expelled from the Mediterranean coastal city in December 2016. The group's demise came at the hands of forces loyal to the Tripoli-based internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), especially fighters from the western city of Misrata. Those fighters are among pro-GNA forces now battling the self-styled Libyan National Army of military strongman Khalifa Haftar who launched an assault on Tripoli on April 4. Haftar has vowed to "cleanse" Libya of jihadists and presents himself as the country's saviour. In 2017, he drove hardline Islamists out of second city Benghazi after a three-year battle and ousted jihadists from Derna, also in the east. Then in January he launched an operation to "purge the south of terrorist and criminal groups" before setting his sights on Tripoli. But despite being weakened, the jihadists still pose a threat in oil-rich Libya, where they were blamed for around 20 attacks last year. And over the past week IS has carried out two deadly assaults targeting Haftar's forces -- on a training camp in the southern city of Sebha on May 4 that left nine dead and an attack Thursday in Ghodwa, also in the south, that killed two civilians.
Jihadists feeding on divisions
Instability has reigned over Libya since the 2011 uprising, with rival political and military forces vying for power and fighting for the country's oil wealth and cities. Jihadist groups such as IS have fed on this chaos to grow, and divisions that persist as reflected by the battle for Tripoli only serve to bolster them, analysts say. "The divisions give terrorists an unexpected opportunity to mobilise and reorganise," said Khaled al-Montasser, a professor of international studies who lectures at Libyan universities. After losing Sirte and Derna, IS was weakened but not totally defeated as its fighters withdrew to the country's remote and vast desert in the south or infiltrated coastal communities. The threat jihadists pose was highlighted in a statement Thursday by the GNA, which also blamed Haftar's offensive for giving groups like IS another chance to regroup. "GNA forces continue to repel the Haftar militias but their attacks... destabilise our country and allow terrorist groups like Daesh to re-emerge," it said using an Arabic acronym for IS. Karim Bitar, director of research at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, draws a parallel with Syria and Iraq, where IS built a "caliphate" after a lightning offensive in 2014. "In Libya, as in Iraq and Syria before it, IS took advantage of a vacuum... and the collapse of the state's structures to anchor itself," he said. "As long as Libya is divided and as long as the state's sovereign authority is not re-established across the country, there is a risk that IS will be able to regain ground," he said.

Sarraj Urges Trump to Stop Haftar’s Backers from Meddling in Libya

Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud and Jamal Jawhar Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/The head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, has urged US President Donald Trump to stop foreign support to the military offensive launched by Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar to “liberate” the capital Tripoli.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sarraj said Haftar’s backers were turning Libya into a proxy battleground, risking a war with global implications and further mass migration to Europe. Hundreds of Libyans had been killed, more than 40,000 had been forced to leave their homes, and “hundreds of thousands” could flee for Europe,” he said. “To prevent a bloody civil war with global implications, Libya needs the US to help stop other countries from meddling in our affairs,” Sarraj added. But sources close to Haftar said Washington will not likely heed the GNA chief’s call. The latest contacts between Trump and Haftar have helped change the US president’s view on the developments in Tripoli, said the sources. A statement issued by the White House in April said that Trump recognizes “Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”
It said the two discussed during a phone conversation a “shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”Sarraj’s office said on Thursday that the GNA leader ended a tour to European countries after visiting Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The statement said that Sarraj was back in Tripoli. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned in the strongest terms an attack on an ambulance in Tripoli that left three health workers injured, one severely.“This attack on an ambulance with visible logos is a shocking and intolerable violation of international humanitarian law,” said Dr. Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative in Libya. “Not only did this attack injure key personnel, but the ambulance itself was taken away, thereby depriving patients of future care.”Since the conflict in Libya escalated in early April, 11 additional ambulances have been impacted or suffered collateral damage, the WHO said. As the conflict continues into its second month, more than 400 people have died and over 2,000 have been wounded, it added.

Sources: Turkey Contacts Russia over Escalation in Northwest Syria
Ankara - Saeed Abdelrazek Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/Ankara and Moscow have been holding extensive talks on the situation in Syria's Idlib and the countryside of Hama and Aleppo, diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday. The contacts came in light of the continued attacks by Russian-backed regime forces on Idlib province. “Ankara is attached to a ceasefire only in exchange for rapidly reopening to traffic the two strategic highways running through the province,” the sources said. A deal hammered out between Ankara and Moscow during the Sochi talks stipulated the reopening of the M4 and M5 highways, which run from Latakia to Saraqib, and from Syria’s southern tip to the border with Turkey in the north, and which both have been cut off in Idlib since 2014. The diplomatic sources added that Turkey is extremely concerned about having to brace for another new wave of refugees from Idlib, a city that hosts 3.5 million people in northwestern Syria. The Turkish fears came as regime forces have advanced towards the area and controlled territory in Kfarnabouda, Qalaat al-Madiq, a northwestern village known for its medieval fortress, Tal Hawash, Sheikh Idriss, and Al-Karkat, in addition to the village of al-Sharia in al-Ghab Plain. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu contacted his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Wednesday with reports saying the minister asked Moscow to stop the bombardments in Idlib province. Later, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said operations in Idlib were a reaction to the presence of terrorists in the area and were being carried out “in coordination with our Turkish partners.”In parallel with the Cavusoglu-Lavrov talks, Ankara sent a convoy of more than 50 military armored vehicles to its observation posts in Tal Issa in the countryside of southern Aleppo and Tell Touqan and Sarman in the countryside of eastern Idlib.Media reports said an unannounced deal was reached between Turkey and Russia stipulating that regime forces recuperate areas in Idlib and attack positions of extremist groups in return for allowing Turkey to expand in Tal Rifaat and take it back from the Syrian Democratic Forces. The reports said Turkey wants to control Tal Rifaat to remove Kurdish units from the area and open the Gazi Itab-Aleppo highway. However, the Syrian regime and Iran fear that the presence of Turkish forces in Tal Rifaat, which is close to Aleppo and the two towns of Nubul and Zehra, would cause a threat to the Shiite towns.

Two Fugitives Killed in Security Operation in E. Saudi Arabia

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/Two fugitives were killed during a security operation in al-Qatif region in eastern Saudi Arabia.The identities of the suspects were not revealed. They were killed during a shootout with security forces on Tarout island, just off the city of Qatif. The authorities have yet to issue a statement on the development. The operation took place around a month after a preemptive raid that was announced by the state security agency in which a number of suspects were killed as they attempted to evade arrest in the eastern region.

Statement by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs on 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Israel
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
May 11, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
“Since 1949, Canada and Israel have developed strong bilateral relations, marked by close political, economic, social, cultural and personal ties. We were honoured to welcome Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel, on a state visit to Canada from March 31 to April 2, 2019, as part of the celebration of this milestone. And I remember fondly my own visit to Israel in October 2018, where I witnessed first-hand the dynamism of the Israeli people.
“Canadians and Israelis work together in so many fields, from science and technology to the arts, business, philanthropy, and everything in between. Our countries share a commitment to democracy, pluralism and innovation. Canada stands by Israel and supports its right to live in peace and security. We also have a robust Jewish community in Canada, numbering over 350,000, which continues to reinforce these strong connections.
“Recently, we have had a number of keystone achievements, including Royal Assent for the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Every day, we continue to build on what we have accomplished together by working to combat anti-Semitism and hatred around the world, by making it even easier for young Canadians and Israelis to work and travel in each other’s countries, and by collaborating closely on new technologies and innovation.
“Today we look to a bright and promising future for Canadian-Israeli relations over the years to come.”

Houthis Start Withdrawing from Hodeidah Ports
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militias on Saturday started withdrawing forces from Saleef port in Hodeidah province under the United Nations-sponsored peace deal. UN teams were overseeing the Houthi redeployment in Saleef, used for grain, as other teams headed to the second port of Ras Isa, used for oil, to start implementing the Houthi withdrawal from there, Reuters reported. The UN's Redeployment Coordination Committee said earlier in a statement that the Houthis would make an "initial unilateral redeployment" between May 11 and May 14 from Saleef and Ras Isa as well as the country's main port of Hodeidah. The head of the UN operation monitoring the ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, said Friday that the Houthi pullout from the three ports marked the first practical step toward realizing the ceasefire agreed on in December in Sweden. He added that the Houthis must commit to fully following through on the redeployment.

Egypt's Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

Cairo – Waleed Abdurrahman Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 11 May, 2019/Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, an Egyptian body which works to keep contemporary Muslims in touch with religious principles, said that 10 religious edicts released by the terror group ISIS are highly controversial. For the time during Islam’s holy month of fasting, Ramadan, the terror group outlawed keeping special calendars, allowing women outside homes during the day, decorating homes, and lighting incense. “Hardliners and radical groups are the furthest away from the guidance and teachings of the prophet (pbuh) and his family. Prohet Mohammad, the messenger of Allah, taught values of compassion. He did not come to order us to kill or slaughter, nor to corrupt the earth,” a Dar al-Ifta source told Asharq Al-Awsat. The Egyptian scholastic body is used as a global reference for Muslims looking for clarity on the "the right way," the removal of doubts concerning religious and worldly life, and religious law for the new issues of contemporary life. More so, the terror group has exempted fighters engaged in duty from fasting, releasing an edict which justified the exception by saying that fasting exhausts and strains combatants during battle. Another fatwa prevented women from going out during daytime in Ramadan, so that their departure does not lead to sedition. Female Muslims, only when guided by a guardian, are allowed outside the confines of their houses after the intermittent fasting period is up. Saying it aims to bolster devotion ahead of Eid El-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam’s lunar month of fasting, ISIS released another fatwa ordering the closure of all commercial shops 10 days ahead of the holiday. Its justification was that the closure of shops will help Muslims observe religious affairs more intently. One of the more extreme ISIS fatwas was one which disclaimed the fasting of non-ISIS Muslims. This outrageously means that Muslim congregations living in ISIS-run neighborhoods could be subjected to punishment if found fasting during Ramadan.

Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 11-12/19
US ready to go for Iran’s Guards bases if Iraqi Shiite proxies attack Al Tanf garrison
موقع دبيكا: أميركا ستضرب مقرات الحرس الثوري في إيران في حال تعرضت قاعدتها في العراق، التنف، لإعتداءات من الأذرع الإيرانية العراقية
DEBKAfile/May 11/2019

US-Iranian tensions this week were ramped up by intelligence of a plot for Iran’s Iraqi proxies to attack the American Al Tanf garrison in E. Syria, which commands the strategic Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border intersection. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources, reporting this exclusively, reveal that Tehran’s master-plotter is Qais al-Khazail, head of the Iraqi Kataib Hezballah militia, and he is collaborating with a fellow proxy, the Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq.
This intelligence, which reached the head of US CENTCOM, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, galvanized Washington into action. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hurried over to Baghdad on Tuesday, May 7 with a warning that US punishment would reach Iranian soil and its Revolutionary Guards bases, if US forces came to harm. On Thursday, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group sailed into the Red Sea and on Thursday, the Pentagon announced the redeployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries to the Middle East.
These ramped up US deployments followed a high-powered conference, which took place unusually at CIA headquarters in Langley on April 29 at 7 a.m. The top-secret meeting was attended by CIA Director Gina Haskel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.
For the Trump administration, an Iranian proxy attack on a US asset or ally is tantamount to direct aggression by the Islamic regime in terms of the American response. The Iraqi Hezballah militia is a faction of the multibranched Iraqi Shiite PMU which takes its orders from the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that in recent months, the PMU has concentrated large scale forces in the western Iraqi province of Anbar next door to the Syrian border This has given Tehran’s plot master Qais al Khazali easy access to his target and time to properly prepare a successful hit. Iran has also provided him with a multi-function arsenal of missiles. They include Fateh 110 missiles which have a range of 300km; Zelzal 2 and Zelzal 3 which can reach targets at distances respectively of 150km and 210 km; and Zulfigar short-range ballistic missiles which have a 1,000km range.
This missile arsenal offers Iran’s proxy chief several options for striking US targets outside Iraq across the Middle East – either instead of or in addition to the projected Al Tanf operation.
Ranged against Iran’s preparations, the Americans have deployed: B-52 bombers to the Al-Udaid Air Base in Qatar; F-35A stealth aircraft to Al-Dhafra base in the UAE; and ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln with strike group take up position in the Red Sea.

Iran is pursuing a line of strategic recklessness, but still seeks a secret deal
Raghida Dergham/May 11/2019

Tehran believes that pushing the region to the brink is the best way to achieve its goals.
US President Donald Trump will not rush to activate the military option against Iran, as long as it does not take retaliatory measures against US interests in the Gulf region, which include international navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other GCC member states, and Israel in the broader Middle East.
The first red line for the US is American soldiers in the region, especially in Iraq. Mr Trump does not favour involvement in unpopular wars in faraway countries, but he will not hesitate for a second to respond militarily to what he considers Iranian provocations. Practically speaking, the ball is in Iran’s court.
Washington will not initiate action, regardless of the claims by those who believe that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are hawks planning a war, similar to George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq, based on fabricated pretexts and intelligence.
The diplomatic ball is also on the Iranian side, if Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners in the IRGC accept that the time has come to revise the logic of their regime in exporting the Islamic revolution to Iran’s neighbours, with paramilitary groups aligned to Iran, such as the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
So, what does the regime in Iran want? What course of action will Iran’s leaders – the mullahs and paramilitary commanders, not the ineffective elected leaders who are not serious about moderation – decide on? If these leaders decide that their interest lies in holding on to the present logic of the regime, there will be no US-Iranian dialogue, and no relief from sanctions that are set to bring the Iranian economy to its knees.
Instead, tensions will escalate and edge close to confrontation, especially if Iran decides to avenge itself against the Trump administration. And it will be the Iranian people who will pay the price. However, if the Iranian leadership concludes that the best option for Iran, its people and themselves is to alter their behaviour and radically reform the regime’s long-standing logic, this will mark a new era in the Gulf, the Middle East, and their relationship with the US.
Sources say that the highest echelons of power in Iran have decided on “strategic recklessness” rather than on negotiations. They say that Tehran will accept no half-solutions, and will not agree to back down from its project for regional expansion or the regime’s core logic.
According to these sources, Tehran’s strategy is to push the state of play with Washington into a “red zone”, deliberately drawing it into military action in response to Iranian action in the region, possibly against Saudi oil facilities. The leaders in Tehran want to engineer a Cuban crisis scenario in the region, believing the world will mobilise against the US as a result of the costs and global implications of a military confrontation.
Iran’s dire economic straits have so far led Ayatollah Khamenei to adopt a strategy of intransigence. The logic behind this is that he believes any military action against Iran will cause domestic reactions that will benefit the regime. It also seeks to contain any resentment and any possibility of mutiny against it.
The Iranian leadership is betting that pushing things into this red zone will take the region to the brink. It also believes that, for fear of what might transpire, major powers such as Russia, China, and the European states could pressure the US to suspend its entire Iran policy – military, economic and political. This way, Iran would ultimately emerge victorious.
According to sources familiar with the state of affairs in Tehran, the Iranian leadership is not interested in reforming the regime and will not accept any such conditions. They say that those in power are prepared to set fire to the entire region before they entertain any possibility of changing the regime’s logic.
The Iranian leadership is, according to those sources, seriously considering withdrawing from the nuclear deal and, possibly, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty, in addition to taking direct measures against the Gulf states and their oil interests. Hezbollah is, they add, on standby to ignite the Lebanese front against Israel as soon as US military operations begin against Iran. They added that Tehran has started the countdown to armed conflict, predicted that a confrontation would erupt within days and stressed that the war would be region-wide.
Tehran’s wager is that Russia, China, and Europe will panic and put pressure on the US, which, in turn, will force the Trump administration to back down. This is an extremely dangerous game.
China will not side with Iran against the US, especially in the midst of trade negotiations with Washington and the forging of long-term strategic relations. Europe will scramble, but it will not practically support Iran and cannot put much pressure on the US anyway. Russia will not rush to the rescue when it becomes clear that Tehran prefers war-baiting to strategies such as adaptation and reform. Moreover, Moscow will not be able to support Iran if it withdraws from the nuclear deal or the non-proliferation treaty.
According to sources, Tehran’s decisions have been made and are irreversible.
The US president’s strategy did not adopt the military option as its cornerstone. Rather, it relies on economic strangulation of Iran, which includes halting Iran’s oil exports. Tehran believes that dragging Mr Trump towards war serves its interests. Either he chooses to go into a military confrontation he did not plan on, or backs down, apologises and enters negotiations.
Mr Trump spoke again about looking forward to negotiating with the Iranians, believing that economic pressures will force the leaders in Tehran to the table. In the past, some surmised that Washington could forgo its demand that Iran halt its regional expansions in return for its compliance to demands regarding adjusting the nuclear deal and its ballistic missile programs. This way, Donald Trump will score a historic achievement and no one can accuse him of betraying promises and abandoning friends.
Reports suggest Oman could again play a role in facilitating secret negotiations between the US and Iran to avert a military confrontation. Regardless of its intentions, this is problematic. The objection from Gulf nations would not be to any attempt to avoid conflict, but against bilateral negotiations about the fate of the region that exclude the Arab countries from any potential US-Iranian deal.
This deal is exactly what the Iranian leadership wants after or shortly before the military confrontation erupts. In the view of the Iranians, there is no way for the regime to survive and continue its model of theocratic government, its exporting of the Islamic revolution, and its bid to replicate its paramilitaries in the Arab world and beyond without pushing the entire region to the brink.
The Trump administration has now mobilised, deploying B-52 bombers to the Middle East. Mr Pompeo and Mr Bolton are not the only US officials who have issued stern warnings to Iran. General Kenneth F McKenzie of the US Central Command, has also spoken about the Iranian threat, saying that preparations must be made for all contingencies. The Iranian position described by sources portends bad things. But what will the US response be? The whole world is watching and waiting to find out.

Trump’s Policy on Iran Is Working

Caroline Glick, BREITBART/May 11/2019
Media analysts and Obama administration officials are working overtime to blame President Donald Trump for Iran’s decision, announced Wednesday, to breach key limitations on its nuclear operations that Teheran had accepted in 2015 in the framework of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the nuclear deal.
Had Trump not withdrawn from the JCPOA, and had he not adopted and implemented an alternative policy of maximum pressure on Iran, then Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on Wednesday that Iran is ending its compliance with key provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal would never have been made, they argue.
That is nonsense.
On Wednesday, Rouhani announced that Iran is suspending its commitment to export all excess uranium and plutonium to third countries. That is, he said that Iran is stockpiling plutonium and enriched uranium.
Rouhani also announced that unless the European Union (EU) breaches U.S. sanctions and allows Iran to export oil and use the international banking system, Iran will increase levels of uranium enrichment in sixty days.
Despite what Trump’s critics claim, there is no causal connection between Rouhani’s announcement and Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and renewal of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
To understand why that is the case, it is important to recall the nature of the nuclear deal itself.
The JCPOA was based on a fiction. Obama and his EU counterparts asserted, in the face of massive, long-standing countervailing evidence, that Iran was a credible negotiating partner. They insisted that Iran’s regime could be trusted not to develop nuclear weapons if the U.S., Europe, and other key players offered it sufficient quantities of cash and other monetary gains. This fiction, in turn, was based on an even more basic lie: that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful rather than military.
This foundational fiction – that the purpose of Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful — was always fanciful. Iran, with its massive deposits of natural gas and oil, has no need for nuclear energy. Moreover, if it were truly interested in peaceful nuclear energy, it could have found ways to secure legal nuclear power capabilities. Tehran had no need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over decades to construct hidden nuclear installations inside of mountains and underground if all it sought were radioactive isotopes for medical research.
And yet, Iran, in the absence of any energy deficit and at great cost, materially breached the nuclear non-proliferation pact and secretly built nuclear installations in Qom, in Isfahan, Natanz, Fordo, Parchin, and other sites throughout the country. It used these secret nuclear installations to enrich uranium illicitly, to develop plutonium, and to engage in other illicit nuclear weapons projects. It similarly breached non-proliferation treaties in its illicit pursuit of ballistic missiles.
Moreover, it engaged in all of these activities in secret and then refused to open its illegal nuclear facilities to UN nuclear inspectors – again, in material breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (TPT).
Obama; the Europeans; China; and Iran’s chief overt nuclear partner, Russia, all ignored these basic realities and chose instead, at President Barack Obama’s urging, to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran that took account of none of these things. Instead, they embraced the demonstrated fiction that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful, and that Iran would give it up for sufficient sums of money.
A year ago, on April 30, 2018, the fiction was exposed conclusively. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shocked the world when he exposed Iran’s nuclear archive, which Mossad officers located, seized and spirited out of Iran. Iran’s nuclear archive proved conclusively that Iran’s nuclear program was a military program. Iran had gone to extraordinary lengths to mask its nature. But its copious documentation of its nuclear knowledge, and the lengths it went to preserve that know-how, showed that the basic assumptions of the JCPOA were fraudulent.
Netanyahu’s revelation of Iran’s nuclear archive set the stage for Trump’s announcement, a week later, that he was abandoning the nuclear deal and enacting a new strategy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In truth, once its true nature of Iran’s nuclear program was finally exposed, there was no rational way the U.S. could have remained in the nuclear deal. The nuclear archive made clear that the nuclear deal was not a non-proliferation agreement. It was a payoff.
Iran agreed to suspend some of its nuclear work for a limited time. In exchange, the U.S. and its partners agreed to pay Iran billions of dollars in cash and sanctions relief, and accept that Iran has a right to nuclear development in contravention of the NPT.
Under the deal, the Iranians have three paths to achieve military nuclear capabilities. They can keep the agreement, and wait for its limitations to expire. After its expiration, as Obama himself confessed, the nuclear research and ballistic missile activity the agreement permits Iran to undertake during the course of the JCPOA would have positioned Iran to develop a nuclear arsenal immediately.
Second, the Iranians could just as easily develop a weapon during the lifespan of the JCPOA by cheating. Since the deal allowed Iran to define nuclear installations as military sites and to bar UN inspectors from entering military sites, the UN had no effective meansof determining Iran’s nuclear capabilities. And indeed, for the past four years, since the JCPOA went into effect, the UN’s biannual determinations that Iran was abiding by the JCPOA’s limitations on its nuclear efforts obscured more than they revealed. After all, the UN’s compliance certifications are based on only partial access to Iran’s nuclear installations. And, as such, they have no credibility.
Finally, Iran can achieve nuclear weapons by abandoning the JCPOA and renewing its nuclear operations. Since the deal was based not on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons but on international monetary payoffs to Iran, Iran’s decision to walk away from the deal now that it is no longer receiving payoffs is perfectly predictable.
Does this mean that the cause of nuclear non-proliferation has been set back? Not at all. The JCPOA itself set back nuclear non-proliferation efforts by inventing a fictional Iran that was credible and appeasable while ignoring the real Iran which is neither of these things.
Given this state of affairs, Trump’s strategy of maximum pressure on Iran, including his decision to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf, is entirely reasonable.
There are only two moves the U.S. and its allies can make to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The first is to apply crippling sanctions on Iran. And the Trump administration is certainly doing that.
By undermining Iran’s financial stability, the U.S. makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Iran to pay for its illicit nuclear and other operations. Iran’s reported curtailment of its financial support for Hezbollah and Hamas is an indicator that the sanctions are having the anticipated positive effect on the region. The more precarious the Iranian regime’s position becomes, the more difficult it will be for it to carry out its nuclear work and maintain its support for terrorism in the Middle East and worldwide.
The second is to develop a credible threat to use force. Over the past year of steadily increasing U.S. economic pressure on Iran, coupled with stalwart U.S. support for Israel and the Sunni Arab states threatened by Iran, President Trump has built up his personal credibility in the Middle East. In the context, his decision to deploy the carrier group to the Persian Gulf constitutes a credible threat to use military force against Iran if it fails to comply with U.S. demands.
Rouhani’s announcement Wednesday was eminently predictable. The regime is clearly hoping that Europe will run to its side to save Iran from Trump’s effective policies. But if the EU’s tepid responses to the move are any indication, it appears that the ploy backfired. Trump has demonstrated his seriousness of purpose to Europe no less than he has to Iran. And so far, the EU is not willing to breach its relations with the U.S. in order to give in to Iranian nuclear blackmail.
While there is every reason to be concerned that unforeseen events will place the U.S. and its allies in challenging positions vis-à-vis Iran and its terror proxies, and the U.S. and its allies must prepare for the worst, Iran’s announcement that it is stockpiling plutonium and enriched uranium is not proof that Trump’s policy of maximum pressure is failing. It is proof that it is working.

Should the U.S. be the Policeman of the World?
Raoul Lowery Contreras/ AMERICAN THINKER/May 11/2019
Ever since the first shots were fired in Massachusetts Colony in 1775 by American patriots demanding independence from England, there have been two American sides to the universal quest for freedom with undecideds in between. This time the focus is on oil-rich Venezuela.
One side of America is passive, its view limited to the border, the other active and global.
Passive view: defend the United States at the Rio Grande not Baghdad. Active view: fight in Europe, Guadalcanal, Korea, Baghdad or Kabul; not in New York or Los Angeles.
Venezuela, with the world’s largest oil reserves, by the way, first experienced American military intervention on October 7, 1892, when United States Marines landed to protect the U.S. Consulate. Venezuelan requests for American help during that era kept the U.S. directly involved in Venezuelan affairs for a decade, albeit, diplomatically helping Venezuela ward off English expansion on Venezuela’s border with British Guyana.
U.S. Marines have landed numerous times in practically every Caribbean country during revolutions that have plagued the hemisphere since the Spanish were expelled after almost 300 years of rule from far-away Madrid. The last two, the Dominican Republic in April, 1965, and Panama in 1989.
Like the pioneering freedom fighters of 1810 Mexico that revolted against Spain, native-born Simon Bolivar led Colombia and Venezuela to independence from Spain. What Bolivar could not do is reap an immediate political harvest of local home political rule experience like freed American colonies. This lack of experience is not unique to Spanish Hemispheric history.
The Arab Middle East/North Africa, South and Central Asia and most of the former Soviet Republics have not implemented democracy when given the opportunity. Generally speaking, the people of those regions are not free and/or democratic. They struggle to survive and have little or no time for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from dictatorships or foreign domination by Russia or Iran. Maybe they don’t care.
In Venezuela, the current crisis is based on the fraudulent “reelection” of President Francisco Maduro that was not recognized by the democratically elected national legislature. It refuses to recognize his election and per its Constitution named its leader as interim president until a new national election can be held. That move is supported by over 50 countries around the world.
Venezuela has deteriorated to the point that food, water, medicine and basic necessities have disappeared. People are eating garbage; they are drinking polluted stream water; they suffer electronic blackouts; their national currency is approaching 1920s-style German inflation. Russian military mercenaries and Cuban intelligence forces keep Maduro in power. They have the guns and food.
In the U.S., on the passive side of American interest in Venezuela’s turmoil are the usual suspects of “peaceniks,” octogenarian former “hippies” and “anti-war” do-nothings. On the active side are Americans willing to stand on the traditional “Europe, keep your filthy hands off our hemisphere” 200-year-old Monroe Doctrine that warned Europe — and specifically warns today’s Russia — to stay on its side of the “pond.”
Then, there is a middle ground.
The American isolationist looks like Senator Rand Paul, columnist/author Pat Buchanan, television commentator Tucker Carlson, former congressman Ron Paul and the ultra-conservative minority of Republican congressmen led by Congressman Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, plus liberals and Democrats like Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Joining them in thought is President Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against foreign wars by George W. Bush as wasteful in treasure and blood. The President is not, however, a 100 percent isolationist. Americans are fighting in Syria and still in Afghanistan. Syria was not in President Barack Obama’s policy wheelhouse.
President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor, John Bolton have made clear that a forceful military option remains available.
Joining isolationists is America’s newest elected America-critic — Minnesota Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar — the ultra-leftist Muslim refugee from Somalia. Though Venezuela has been ruled for two decades by American-hating socialists, she blames the current problems on the U.S.A.
She doesn’t care about those American soldiers who died trying to give her former country stability nor does she care about the three thousand Americans who died on September 11, 2001. About the attack of 9/11 she states “some people did something” on that day. She is a “progressive.”
She subscribes to the “dark” interpretation of U.S. history as conspiracy nuts and her “progressive” allies do. President Barack Obama reacted along “progressive” lines when Iranians hit the streets in 2009 to demonstrate against the mullahs’ rule that keeps millions of people in dictatorial bondage.
The basic question facing the U.S. citizen on Venezuela is: Shall the US. be the policeman of the world nor not?
The answer must be and is, yes. The United States is the only possible policeman of the world. That is, despite some dark history, a dark history that is minimal compared to its overall history and to the history of other nations. The overwhelming evidence is that people the United States supports or protects militarily enjoy opportunities to cut poverty, to gain economically and to ultimately enjoy freedom.
When they do, The United States of America benefits immensely. That is incontestable.

Trump Faces Growing Foreign Policy Tests

Michael R. Gordon/WSJ/May 11/2019
T. Belman. I am surprised that the M.E. is not mentioned in this list. Trump’s efforts have been focussed on creating a new alliance of Israel, the Gulf States , Jordan and Egypt. Related to that is the Deal of the Century soon to be tabled.
U.S. ambitions under pressure by crises in China, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela
President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is being challenged on four fronts at once, creating an extraordinary test of the White House’s ability to manage multiple crises and deliver on its ambitious agenda.
In the Middle East, Iran is threatening to ramp up its nuclear program and, according to U.S. intelligence, has prepared to attack American forces. In Latin America, Venezuela has thwarted a U.S.-backed change of government campaign, with Russian and Cuban support.
The array of difficulties the administration faces was underscored Thursday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cut short a diplomatic trip to rush to Washington for a top-level meeting that was also attended by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford.
What makes the moment all the more unusual is that Mr. Trump has put aside the time-honored practice of setting foreign policy priorities—handling one, then another, foreign policy analysts say.
Instead, Mr. Trump has simultaneously doubled down on an array of goals, any one of which would be an ambitious single undertaking for a U.S. administration: The remaking of China’s economic model, the denuclearization of North Korea, a wholesale change in Iran’s security policy and the ousting of a Latin American government.
“In all of these cases, the administration had staked out an extraordinary definition of success,” said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a veteran of the George W. Bush administration. “All of this is taking place with no serious interagency process and with a president who is allergic to the large-scale use of military power.
“There is an enormous gap between ends and means and sanctions can’t fill the gap,” he said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders played down the notion that the administration was in danger of being overwhelmed by events.
“Members of President Trump’s National Security team had a routine meeting today to discuss a range of topics,” she said Thursday.
Following the meeting, Mr. Pompeo threatened military force against Iran, while leaving open the possibility for of eventual talks, saying, “Any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against U.S. interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive U.S. response.”
To be sure, no president has the luxury of choosing what crises may emerge on his watch. The upheaval in Venezuela was spurred by the country’s autocratic leader while China’s disregard for intellectual property rights and trade tensions have long colored relations between Washington and Beijing. For the U.S., Iran has long posed an adversarial presence in the Middle East, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are an old issue.
When discussing the trade dispute with China, Mr. Trump again argued that he is facing problems left behind by others. “I blame our past leadership for allowing this to happen,” he said Thursday. “As president of our country, I had to do something about it.”
But some of the escalating tensions are the result of decisions in Washington. The Trump administration was still trying to sort out its trade fight with China and puzzle through the new diplomatic steps with North Korea after the failed February summit meeting in Hanoi and when it decided to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran by issuing fresh curbs on Tehran’s oil exports.
“They are creating more crises than need to be the case at any one time,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. “We can’t control Venezuela imploding, but Iran was in a frozen situation and they are creating a crisis that need not have happened at this time.”
The White House’s determination to fight geopolitical battles simultaneously on multiple fronts also shows a disdain for some of the trade-offs long common to international diplomacy and politics. On the diplomatic front, the U.S. is seeking China’s help in getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, even as it is raising tariffs on Beijing.
Militarily, The Pentagon’s strategy has been to build up capabilities to deter China and Russia while shifting forces from the Middle East. Now, it has needed to make a course correction by sending an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East with possibly more deployments to come.
To a great extent, Mr. Trump’s foreign policy reflects his leadership style, which is to stake out ambitious positions in the hope that the other side will blink.
The president’s bold and unorthodox approach to foreign policy, his supporters say, already has led to some important milestones, such as the first-ever, top-level meeting between an American president and a North Korean leader. Even though North Korea is testing short-range missiles, it is still holding to a moratorium on long-range missile launches and nuclear tests.
And when it comes to using force, Mr. Trump appears to be more cautious than his hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, who last year asked the Pentagon for options against Iran after a U.S. consulate came under mortar fire from Iraqi militias that officials suspect might have had Iranian support.
In the case of Iran, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement and to maximize economic pressure against Tehran has put it at odds with its European allies. And some former military officers have questioned the administration’s capacity to deal with multiple crisis should tensions rapidly escalate. “We have multiple positions within our government either empty or occupied by those considered ‘acting,’ which means there is limited capacity for reacting to crises and decision making as they unfold,” said John Allen, the president of the Brookings Institution and a retired four star Marine general.

Congress’ Syria panel warns against Trump withdrawal plan
The Trump administration should stop withdrawing troops from Syria, where the Islamic State terrorist group already is reconstituting itself and Iran is undeterred in seeking to expand its influence, a congressionally mandated panel of experts is telling lawmakers.
The Syria Study Group’s key findings in an interim report to Congress run against President Donald Trump’s stated desire to pull U.S. troops out of the war-torn Arab state, and contradict his boasts that the Islamic State’s territorial defeat is complete.
Trump ordered — and then partially halted — a withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops from the country late last year, and by some reports intends to keep a few hundred American personnel there.
But the panel concluded that the drawdown nonetheless “undermines confidence in the American commitment to Syria.” It also notes that numerous Islamic State militants and their families remain detained in Syria, and that if their fate is unaddressed, they could in the long run boost the terrorist group’s resurgence.
The interim report, obtained Friday by POLITICO, asserts that U.S. sanctions on Iran are insufficient to convince the longtime U.S. adversary to eliminate its military presence in Syria. And it warns that while Israeli actions have slowed Iran’s progress in Syria, a wider Israeli-Iran confrontation remains a possibility.
“Iran remains undeterred in its strategy of entrenching itself in Syria,” the report states, adding that Tehran is integrating some of its forces into the Syrian regime’s army, cultivating Syria militias and continuing to transfer sophisticated weapons to Syria “with the objective of enhancing its regional power projection capabilities and threatening Israel.”The Syria Study Group, housed at the U.S. Institute of Peace, was created by legislation spearheaded by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who worked with the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the proposal. The interim report — produced by a dozen experts, each appointed by a member of Congress — was delivered to lawmakers earlier this month. The group’s final report is expected to be finished by September. The findings so far are the latest reminder of deep bipartisan reservations within Congress about Trump’s hands-off attitude towards Syria, which he has said amounts to nothing more than “sand and death.” The Republican president’s December order to withdraw American forces was a final straw leading to the resignation of his Defense secretary, James Mattis, and his special envoy for the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, Brett McGurk. It also led to a Senate rebuke of Trump led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican.
The report warns that al-Qaida operatives remain active in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, where U.S. aircraft rarely venture due to Russian air defenses in the area. “ISIS is not the only terrorist threat emanating from Syria,” the report notes, explaining that al-Qaida “is in effective control of Idlib and retains the capacity to conduct external attacks.”Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Russia, have in recent days used airstrikes and other means in moves apparently aimed at retaking Idlib. The violence threatens a Turkish-Russian negotiated ceasefire in the area that has kept the calm for months.
The report calls on the U.S. to reassert “involvement in diplomacy over the cease-fire.” It says Assad intends to retake all of Syria and is unwilling to accept political compromises, but adds that Assad’s present control over parts of the country remains tenuous.
The report asserts that the conflict in Syria has “enhanced Russian prestige in the region,” posing a long-term challenge to the United States. “Perceived success in Syria has emboldened Russia to seek to undermine U.S. influence in other parts of the region,” it states.
Like Iran, Moscow has put money and military muscle into supporting Assad. U.S. activities in Syria have been largely confined to battling terrorist groups, not Assad‘s regime.

Trump to Iran: Call me, maybe
NAHAL TOOSI/Politico/May 11/2019
Days after he redirected warships toward their coast and spurred talk of U.S. military action against them, President Donald Trump says he wants to hold nuclear talks with the Iranians — and that he can help their economy get “back to great shape.”
Trump’s call for talks, uttered at least three times in roughly 24 hours, suggest that the president isn’t fully on board with his aides’ hawkish approach to Tehran’s Islamist rulers. And they further the impression that Trump is sometimes at odds with his hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, which the president acknowledged in comments today.
Trump’s promises on Iran’s economic potential also echo the approach he’s used, unsuccessfully so far, to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
“What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.
The president even hinted that the 12 conditions his administration has outlined for talking to Iran weren’t set in stone.
Those conditions go well beyond demanding Iran give up its nuclear program, covering everything from releasing detained U.S. citizens to ending its support for proxy militias beyond its borders.
But on Thursday, Trump seemed focused on just one thing: “We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not too much to ask. And we would help put them back to great shape.”
“We can make a deal, a fair deal,” he also said.
This is not the first time Trump has said he’s willing to talk to Tehran. At a Wednesday rally, Trump raised the prospect of talks with Iran as well, saying “we’re not looking to hurt anybody.” He also spoke last year about his willingness to chat with Iran, saying then that he’d do so without pre-conditions.
Yet, he has also pursued extremely tough measures toward Iran, imposing numerous economic sanctions on the country after pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last year -- a strategy his administration has labeled “maximum pressure.”
Trump on Thursday did not rule out the possibility of a military conflict with Iran. Asked about the Pentagon’s dispatching of an aircraft carrier to the region, he said the U.S. had learned of Iranian threats that he didn’t specify.
But his invitation to Iran and suggestion that he’s open to a “fair deal” struck many Iran watchers as a possible shift in posture.
Trump’s comments came as recent reports indicate that he’s frustrated with Bolton over Venezuela, where the national security adviser has raised the prospect of military action.
Bolton has previously called for the U.S. to bomb Iran and vocally supported the idea of regime change in Tehran.
Trump dismissed reports of friction with Bolton on Thursday, while suggesting that they had disagreed on the appropriate use of force.
“He has strong views on things but that’s OK. I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing,” Trump told reporters. “I’m the one that tempers him. That’s OK. I have different sides. I have John Bolton and other people that are a little more dovish than him. I like John.”
The president ran in 2016 pledging to reduce such U.S. entanglements abroad, and in office he has generally been skeptical of calls for direct military action. His administration’s official policy on Iran is that is seeks a change in the Islamist regime’s behavior, not to overthrow it.
However, the 12 conditions Trump aides have laid out are so broad -- and so hard for Iran’s clerical rulers to swallow -- that analysts say they amount to a call for regime change.
In a statement on Wednesday announcing new sanctions on Iran, and marking the one-year anniversary of his decision to quit the nuclear deal, Trump mentioned the conditions, yet also ended the missive with something of an olive branch.
“Since our exit from the Iran deal, which is broken beyond repair, the United States has put forward 12 conditions that offer the basis of a comprehensive agreement with Iran,” Trump said. “I look forward to someday meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves.“
There’s no serious indication yet that Iran’s leaders will dial up Trump, or even send him a “beautiful” letter the way North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has done in the past.
Iranian officials have said that during the 2017 United Nations General Assembly, Trump reached out to them seeking talks, which they rebuffed. When Trump spoke of talks with Iran in 2018, the Iranians said the U.S. needed to rejoin the nuclear deal before they would consider it.
Trump supporters who favor an aggressive approach toward Iran have suggested that if Trump were to meet with an Iranian official, it should be with the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a cleric who has the final say on matters of state.
But Khamenei is not likely to agree to that, leaving such a role to the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani.
Iran’s economy has been badly hit by the Trump-imposed U.S. sanctions, which are structured in a way to punish other countries that do business with Iran. Trump mentioned Iran’s economic travails, including inflation and protests, in his appeal for talks.
“I look forward to the day when we can actually help Iran,” he said.
Trump has made a similar pitch in two summit meetings with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who has promised to modernize North Korea’s isolated, anemic economy. Just days ago, the president tweeted: “I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it.”Talks between the two sides broke down at Trump’s meeting with Kim in Hanoi, where the North Koreans offered to shutter only parts of their nuclear program in exchange for full and immediate sanctions relief, according to the U.S. account.
On Thursday, North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea -- a clear signal that Trump’s negotiating tactics have yet to succeed.

Pinkwashing' and Israel: How to Work against Your Own Best Interests
Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/May 11/2019
A secular government that uses religious law to suppress human rights is a sign of how deeply ingrained homophobia is in Muslim countries, most of them much more conservative than Tunisia.
How is it, then, that LGBT people who claim to love the Palestinians and care about their lives, pinning all blame for whatever suffering they undergo on the state of Israel, never say a word about the excesses against gays – and other extreme abuses -- by of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority?
More perversely, why is nothing said about Aguda and the work it does to save and protect gay Palestinians?
Why are no gay rights activists boycotting any of those lowest-ranking countries or protesting outside their embassies? Why do they choose instead to condemn and act against one of the world's most genuinely progressive and liberal states?
In 2015, Israel ranked number 7 on the first Gay Happiness Index, a survey that measured public opinion, public behaviour, and life satisfaction for gay men in 127 countries. Pictured: The annual LGBT pride march in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 8, 2018. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)
Early in April, the British gay newspaper Pink News ran a headline: "LGBT performers to boycott Eurovision in Israel with online broadcast". The broadcast, known as Globalvision, will be part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which tries hard to delegitimize Israel economically and politically.
Referring to a letter which activists had written to the pop star Madonna, Pink News reported:
"We feel we must write to you to express our deep concern at the political use of the Eurovision that is being made by Israel this year, and to highlight in particular the issue of 'Pinkwashing,'" the letter said.
The letter said that 'pinkwashing' is a "PR tactic used by Israel which cynically exploits support for LGBTQIA people to whitewash its oppression of the Palestinian people."
The open letter argues that Israel is attempting to ingratiate itself with LGBT+ people in an attempt to distract from its "colonial and apartheid reality."
Before commenting on the situation of Israel, it might help to turn our attention to the conditions of LGBT people in countries that are sworn enemies of Israel, but which no-one swears to boycott, divest from, or sanction.
It is hard to know where to start when it comes to the mistreatment of LGBTQ people, especially male homosexuals, across the Muslim world. It is a scandal that has been little exposed in the mainstream media, although even there it has begun to attract unfavorable comment.
The Iranian case is the worst. According to a Wikileaks report published by Britain's Telegraph newspaper:
"Human rights activists and opponents of the Iranian regime claim between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference since 1979."
That report was published in 2011, a full eight years ago. On April 12, 2018, Radio Farda wrote about an Amnesty International report released the same day:
Amnesty International said "more than half (51%) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran."
Iran ranks second in the world after China in terms of executions and has "carried out 84% of the global total number of executions with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan"...
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Amiri Moghaddam, head of the Iran Human Rights Organization in Norway, said in an interview with Radio Farda that some 70 to 80% of executions in Iran are not reported.
Within that overall context, it is impossible to guess just how many Iranian citizens with unorthodox sexual identities have suffered this fate over the 40 years the Islamic regime has governed the country -- ironically a country whose world-famous literature has repeatedly celebrated homoeroticism.
The death penalty for homosexual acts is in the penal codes in other Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Nigeria (northern states), Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Not all actually carry out executions, but the same source indicates that in some regions, gays have been murdered by Islamist militias, such as Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria and the Houthi movement in Yemen.
At the beginning of April 2019, it was announced that the state of Brunei had called for homosexuals to be stoned to death. A storm of criticism from governments, international bodies, celebrities, and gay rights activists continued over the month, and on May 6, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah placed a moratorium on the new legislation. But that legislation had been based on Islamic law, and not even the Sultan will find it easy to remove the basic decree as Brunei moves further in a hard-line direction, and there seems no way that gay sex will ever be considered legal in the country.
Also in April 2019, it was reported that Saudi Arabia had carried out beheading 37 men, five of whom were gay. Under Saudi law, homosexuality is punishable in several ways, from whipping to life imprisonment to execution. In other words, under the Saudi system LGBT people have no rights whatever.
At the western end of the Muslim world, the North African state of Tunisia underwent significant changes after its 2011 Jasmine Revolution. It shifted almost overnight from a single party regime to a multi-party democracy. Briefly ruled by a moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, in 2014 secular parties edged out the Islamists and all seemed set for further democratic reforms. Since then, however, reforms have slowed down. It might at one point have seemed that Tunisia might become the first Muslim country to backtrack on severe anti-homosexual attitudes and practices. Its government already had a number of organizations promoting human rights for gays and a thriving LGBT community.
Yet at the end of April, it emerged that the government, run by the secular Nidaa Tounes party, is now invoking shari'a law in order to shut down the country's leading gay rights activist organization, Association Shams. Shams has for some years called for the abolition of the dated French article 230 of its penal code. One spokesman for gay rights now says:
Although the LGBT activism scene marks 'a notable post-revolution achievement... we have seen no decrease in article 230 arrests and prosecutions, and there is little indication that parliament is willing to abrogate article 230 in the near future. As of now, article 230 continues to be widely implemented.'
A secular government that uses religious law to suppress human rights is a sign of how deeply ingrained homophobia is in Muslim countries, most of them much more conservative than Tunisia.
If one goes beyond the Islamic world:
72... countries and territories worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex relationships, including 45 in which sexual relationships between women are outlawed.
There are eight countries in which homosexuality can result in a death penalty, and dozens more in which homosexual acts can result in a prison sentence, according to an annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Having said all this, it is time to take another look at the anti-Israel -- but of course no other country -- attempt to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Tel Aviv between May 14 and 18. The problem is where to start....
Why not here? In 2015, Israel ranked number 7 on the first Gay Happiness Index, a survey that measured public opinion, public behaviour, and life satisfaction for gay men in 127 countries. The only countries that ranked above Israel were Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Uruguay, and Canada. The Netherlands, another liberal state, came next at 8. The UK came in at 23, the US at 26, Russia at 87, Turkey at 82, Iran at 121, and many African and Muslim states in the 100 to 127 slots.
Before that, Tel Aviv stood out even more internationally. In January 2012, it was announced that:
Tel Aviv has been named the Best Gay City of 2011 in an international American Airlines competition selecting the most popular destinations among LGTB tourists.
The Israeli metropolis won 43% of the votes, leaving New York City behind in the second place with only 14% of the votes.
On February 23, 2016, Israel's parliament introduced the country's Gay Rights Day, making support for LGBT people official. That was really icing on the cake. As in other democracies, LGBT rights took time to develop, but in 1988, in a decision of Israel's Supreme Court, same-sex relations were decriminalized. This was a full 15 years before the US Supreme Court did the same in its 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling.
Much of the groundwork that went into making Israel one of the friendliest places for gays in the world was done by the country's National LGBT Task Force Ha-Aguda, founded in Tel Aviv in 1975 by eleven gay men and one lesbian. Aguda's work in the political and legal realms brought real changes at the highest levels. Its other initiatives cover several other fields, such as social services that provide LGBT people with therapy, social assistance, medicine, healthcare, a helpline, youth projects and support groups. Its pride and community department organizes gay pride events alongside communal gatherings that bring LGBT people into the core of Israeli life by dinners for Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Shabbat.
Aguda is not an afterthought. It is a serious and important part of Israel's diverse society, playing a key role in a small nation that ensures full rights to women, a wide range of Jewish communities and a startlingly broad spectrum of non-Jewish religious minorities. What is often overlooked is that none of those groups is given any rights in those countries that condemn Israel and threaten to wipe it off the face of the earth.
Let us look again at "pinkwashing", the charge that Israel uses its promotion of LGBT rights to cover up its ostensible "crimes" against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Accusations of "pinkwashing" come from all the usual suspects who seek -- or invent -- pretexts to defame Israel, such as, for instance, Columbia University's Joseph Massad, who has said, "The Jews are not a nation.... The Jewish state is a racist state that does not have a right to exist," and that Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism.
As a result, "pinkwashing" protests and campaigns have become a regular feature for anti-Israel activists, including many gay and lesbian groups. David Kaufman, writing in Time magazine in 2011, summarized the situation:
Although its foundations lie in decades of political struggle, the pink-washing movement has recently kicked into high gear. In June 2010, gay-pride parade organizers in Madrid banned a contingent of Israeli marchers in response to the deadly Gaza flotilla raid weeks earlier. That same month, activists protested the Israeli government's co-sponsorship of San Francisco's Frameline LGBT Film Festival. In March this year, the pro-Palestinian group Palestina protested a conference in Stockholm featuring Israeli LGBT cultural figures.
It is not hard to see how one-sided and perverse this sort of activism is. More than anything, it is rooted in a very real ignorance or acquiescence in the denial of LGBT rights in the Palestinian territories, a denial accompanied by beatings, torture, and killings. With reference to Palestinian treatment, one gay online site quotes Yossi Klein Halevi, writing for New Republic in August 2002:
[He] described the treatment of one gay youth: "He was beaten by his family, then warned by his father that he'd strangle (him) if it ever happened again." Later, "he was arrested ... and forced to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects and other creatures he could feel but not see."
This is not by any means the worst. Halevi quoted the friend of another victim. "They put him in a pit. It was the fast of Ramadan, and they decided to make him fast the whole month but without any break at night. They denied him food and water until he died in that hole."
How is it, then, that LGBT people who claim to love the Palestinians and care about their lives, pinning all blame for whatever suffering they undergo on the state of Israel, never say a word about the excesses against gays -- and other extreme abuses -- by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority? Would that be rocking too many boats for comfort?
More perversely, why is nothing said about Aguda and the work it does to save and protect gay Palestinians? One of Aguda's many ventures is its Palestine Project:
The Palestinian Project of the Agudah has existed since 2000 in response to the great need of LGBT Arabs and Palestinians. This population is mainly closeted because of the Arab community's traditionally conservative stance on LGBT persons. LGBT Arabs have almost no personal freedom to come out. This means a higher suicide rate, drug abuse and alcoholism. Fear of violence and persecution from their peers, families and community is extraordinarily high.
Palestinian gay men often seek asylum in Israel. But for basic security reasons and the political demand not to favour anything that might trigger calls for a "right to return", it is not easy for the Israeli government to offer full asylum status. However:
That's where Aguda has stepped in by running its 12-year-old SOS project offering social and legal assistance to LGBT Palestinians residing illegally in Israel. Over the years, the organization has dealt with about 800 applications. About 60 began a process toward gaining political asylum abroad but only 17 chose to finish the process, Deutsch said.
More, I am sure, than anything else, the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel far left shows its true colors. The knowing fantasy about "pinkwashing" and Israel's perpetuation of suffering by a people who have clung to their often imaginary agonies sum up the hollowness of anti-Israel groups and their supporters, who demand of Israel behavior they evidently do not even begin to expect of any other country. It is time for a major rethink, not just about Eurovision, but of the moral balance between Israel and its two-faced enemies.
It is worth taking pause here to ask two simple questions. Why are no gay rights activists boycotting any of those lowest-ranking countries or protesting outside their embassies? Why do they choose instead to condemn and act against one of the world's most genuinely progressive and liberal states?
*Denis MacEoin PhD has studied and written about the Middle East for some fifty years. Resident in the UK, he is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's 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.

Germany: Citizenship for Polygamous Migrants?

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 11/2019
Critics say that the bill, as it currently stands, would not only create a legal backdoor for polygamous migrants to become German citizens, but would effectively legalize the practice for Muslim immigrants. The changes would, consequently, enshrine into German law two parallel legal systems, one based on German Civil Law and another based on Islamic Sharia law.
In May 2013, RTL, one of Germany's leading media companies, aired a documentary about how Muslims in Germany use polygamy to commit welfare fraud. Muslim men residing in Germany routinely bring two, three or four women from across the Muslim world to Germany, and then marry them in the presence of a Muslim cleric. Once in Germany, the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and for their children, on the claim of being a "single parent with children."
"The acquisition of German citizenship is more than just a formality, but also expresses the recognition of a system of values. Polygamy is a form of marriage that disregards the rights of women and is incompatible with this order of values. Therefore, there is a need for legislative action here." — Secretary General of the Free Democratic Party, Linda Teuteberg.
"If people who are arriving here are married to several women according to foreign laws, we currently have to recognize these marriages. This is an unacceptable contradiction. We cannot just accept polygamy because another legal system allows this. We do not want to accept harems in Germany." — Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback.
The German government has withdrawn proposed legislation that would have banned immigrants in polygamous marriages from obtaining German citizenship. The Deputy Leader of the anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), Beatrix von Storch (pictured), said: "To allow Islamic polygamy in Germany is a betrayal of our Western values ​​and a slap in the face for equal rights."
The German government has withdrawn proposed legislation that would have banned immigrants in polygamous marriages from obtaining German citizenship. The proposed ban had been included in draft changes to Germany's naturalization law, but was quietly removed from the final text, apparently in the interests of political correctness and multiculturalism.
Although German law clearly prohibits polygamy for German nationals, some have argued that the law is unclear as to whether the law applies to foreign nationals living in Germany. The interior ministers of Germany's 16 states had unanimously called on the German government to clarify the issue by enshrining into law a blanket ban on German citizenship for polygamous migrants.
Critics say that the bill, as it currently stands, would not only create a legal backdoor for polygamous migrants to become German citizens, but would effectively legalize the practice for Muslim immigrants. The changes would, consequently, enshrine into German law two parallel legal systems, one based on German Civil Law and another based on Islamic Sharia law.
The German government has long been debating proposed changes to the country's Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, StAG) that would strip German dual-citizens of their German citizenship if they join jihadi groups abroad. The proposed changes would not be retroactive and would not, for instance, apply to German jihadis who joined the Islamic State.
The original draft included language that would have prohibited immigrants in polygamous marriages, as well as immigrants who lack legal identification, from becoming German citizens. The language was removed from the bill after a Cabinet meeting in early April. The removal of the text, first reported by the newspaper Welt am Sonntag on May 5, has been greeted with outrage.
The parliamentary spokesman for the Christian Democrats, Mathias Middelberg, blamed Justice Minister Katarina Barley, of the Social Democrats, for removing the language. "This is completely incomprehensible and unacceptable," said Middelberg. "It should be self-evident that naturalization of persons living in polygamous marriages is out of the question in the Basic Law."
The secretary general of the libertarian party FDP, Linda Teuteberg, described Barley's intransigence as "nonsense":
"The acquisition of German citizenship is more than just a formality, but also expresses the recognition of a system of values. Polygamy is a form of marriage that disregards the rights of women and is incompatible with this order of values. Therefore, there is a need for legislative action here."
The Deputy Leader of the anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), Beatrix von Storch, added:
"To allow Islamic polygamy in Germany is a betrayal of our Western values ​​and a slap in the face for equal rights."
Barley, who is the SPD's top candidate for the European elections to be held later this month, has advocated more liberal EU immigration policies and mandatory distribution of migrants throughout the 28-nation bloc. Her refusal to approve the ban on German citizenship appears aimed at ingratiating herself with Muslim voters as well as with the European establishment in Brussels.
Although polygamy is prohibited under Germany's Civil Code, and punishable under Germany's Penal Code, German authorities have long tolerated — and even encouraged — the practice.
In September 2012, for instance, Die Welt reported that at least 30% of the Arab-born men living in the Neukölln district of Berlin are married to two women: one according to civil law, and another according to Sharia law. Die Welt offered five reasons why polygamy, despite being illegal, has been established in Germany:
"First, Sharia authorizes men to marry up to four women. Second, in the anonymity of modern society and the diversity of partner relationships, coexistence with several women or families can easily be camouflaged.
"Third, economically, the man does not need to worry about the second wife, because the state takes over the maintenance obligations for the second wife and her children by means of Hartz IV welfare benefits. Fourth, the imams do not care about the backgrounds of marriages and are not interested in whether they trust the first, second or third wife.
"And fifth, religious marriages are not controlled. They are registered only at the mosque where they are contracted. There is no central register for Islamic marriages. That is, men can move from mosque to mosque without anyone monitoring how often they marry."
In May 2013, RTL, one of Germany's leading media companies, aired a documentary about how Muslims in Germany use polygamy to commit welfare fraud. Muslim men residing in Germany routinely bring two, three or four women from across the Muslim world to Germany, and then marry them in the presence of a Muslim cleric. Once in Germany, the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and for their children, on the claim of being a "single parent with children."
Although the welfare fraud committed by Muslim immigrants is an "open secret" costing German taxpayers millions of euros each year, RTL reported that government agencies are reluctant to act due to political correctness.
"Yes, most men have several wives," an interviewee told RTL. "That's completely normal with us, among Muslims. It's completely normal these days because the prophet had several wives. So, it's normal. Yes, one can do it in Germany. It's also in the Koran that one can have several wives, so many do it."
In July 2013, then German President Joachim Gauck became the honorary godfather of Ismail, the three-month-old son of a 24-year-old Kosovo Albanian named Sabedin Tatari, who was living — at the expense of German taxpayers — with his parents, two wives and eight children in Gelsenkirchen. Gauck was criticized for effectively legitimizing polygamy in Germany.
In June 2016, then Justice Minister Heiko Maas, in an interview with the newspaper Bild, said that Germany would not recognize polygamous marriages, but he failed to outline specific measures to limit the practice. He said:
"No one who comes here has the right to put his cultural values or religious beliefs above our law. Everyone must abide by the law, no matter whether they have grown up here or have only just arrived."
In August 2016, Rhein Zeitung reported on a 49-year-old Syrian migrant named Ghazia A., who was living — at the expense of German taxpayers — in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate with his four wives and 23 children.
In February 2018, Spiegel TV aired a documentary about a 32-year-old Syrian, Ahmad A., who was living — at the expense of German taxpayers — in a "mini harem" in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein with his two wives and six children. Despite Germany's ban on polygamy, German authorities allowed Ahmed to bring to Germany his second wife, the mother of four of his children. Critics of the move said that German authorities had created a precedent for other refugees to demand the same.
According to Spiegel TV, Ahmad's family lives solely on welfare benefits, which include a two-story home and various forms of financial aid, including extra allowances for the children and free health care services. Ahmad, who received a German work permit, decided to stay at home with his family rather than find a job. "There's support here," Ahmed said of his new life in Germany. "They give us social benefits, they give us this house. I thank you very, very, very much, Mama Merkel."
In March 2018, German newspapers reported that an Iraqi family — a man, his two wives, and their 13 children — had been living in Bavaria at taxpayer expense for more than two years. After public outrage, Bavarian officials decided that the welfare payments could continue because the polygamous relationship, although illegal, was deemed to be a "hardship case."
In July 2018, Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback introduced a bill that would invalidate polygamous marriages contracted abroad:
"If people who are arriving here are married to several women according to foreign laws, we currently have to recognize these marriages. This is an unacceptable contradiction. We cannot just accept polygamy because another legal system allows this. We do not want to accept harems in Germany."
The Bavarian bill states that courts may overturn polygamous marriages that are contracted abroad. In addition, the bill clarifies that foreign nationals cannot contract polygamous marriages in Germany. Registrars would be prohibited from approving marriages if it is known that there are other wives.
The managing editor of Bild, Patrick Markowski, expressed frustration over the refusal of Germany's political class to crack down on polygamy in the country:
"In some Arab states and in Muslim West Africa, polygamy is still a lived reality. In peasant societies, the man as breadwinner should provide for several women. Over the centuries, however, polygamy has become a symbol of the degradation of women and is simply incompatible with our social principles.
"Germans who enter into a second marriage face up to three years in prison. It is abysmally wrong that we tolerate polygamy, whether the marriages were contracted by imams in Germany or they existed before arriving in Germany.
"It is all the more incomprehensible that the SPD-led Ministry of Justice strikes from a bill a ban on the naturalization for foreigners who live in polygamous marriages.
"What kind of civil servant or politician does this kind of thing? Who can seriously approve of naturalizing men who have multiple wives? One cannot imagine a greater failure of politics!"
Writing for the respected blog Tichys Einblick, commentator Giovanni Deriu noted:
"With this careless handling of legislation, I wonder if it was really an exaggeration when Italian Interior Minister Salvini, during his recent visit to Hungary, warned: 'If we do not overturn the ideologies and majorities of all the leftists and socialists in the European Parliament and we fail to send them home, Europe will be threatened with a Caliphate.'"
In the face of a public backlash, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, perhaps embarrassed by his failure to prevail over outgoing Justice Minister Barley, pledged to introduce new legislation this fall to ban the naturalization of polygamous migrants.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based 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.